Books On A Shelf

“You are a reader, and therefore a thinker, an observer, a living soul who wants more out of the human experience.”     Salil Jha


” Old books exert a fascination for me – – their smell, their feel, their history; wondering who might have owned them, how they lived, what they felt.”         Lauren Willig




Books are my friends, my companions. They make me laugh and cry and find meaning in life.”     Christopher Paolini
” Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”     Charles William Elliot



I’ve always had old books in my library. Some for a very long time now. The books on this shelf for example.

My Life And Work by Henry Ford, 1922.     Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe,      The Treasury of American Folklore,     Theodore Roosevelt Hunting the Grizzly, The Wilderness Hunters, The Rough Riders, 1889      Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Life Among the Lowly, Harriet Beecher Stowe, published by the Federal Book Company (no date, an original?),     Elliot Moore’s Textbook on Writing the Photoplay, 1918,     The Webster Franklin Fourth Reader for the use of Public and Private Schools, 1873,     Everybody’s Complete Encyclopedia, Whitman Publishing Company,    Short Stories New and Old, 1916,     Danny Orlis and the Wrecked Plane, Bernard Palmer, 1956,     Hopalong Cassidy and The Trail to the Seven Pines, 1950,     American Boy’s Handy Book – What to do and How to do it, 1882,    The New Etiquette, Margery Wilson, 1937,     Henry David Thoreau – Three complete Books, The Maine Woods, Walden, Cape Cod.


“The beautiful thing about reading old books, is realizing all your struggles, aren’t a you thing but a human thing.”     Atticus


“Oddly enough, my favorite genre is not fiction. I’m attracted by primary sources that are relevant to historical questions of interest to me, by famous old books on philosophy or theology that I want to see with my own eyes, by essays on contemporary science, by the literatures of antiquity.”     Marilynne Robinson
“Half of my library are old books because I like seeing how people thought about their world at their time, so that I don’t get big headed about something we’ve discovered and I can be humble about where we might go next. Because you can see who got stuff right and most of the people who got stuff wrong.”     Neil deGrasse Tyson




“Raised in a house filled with old books, I’m drawn to them: the dust jackets that call out a historical moment, the marbled boards, the words pressed into the page with moveable type.”    Jacob Weisberg




” Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”     Plato

For the love of old books.

Happy Trails, Dohn


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A Small Patch Where Little Flowers Grow

Where Little Flowers Grow


I left a small patch

A place I didn’t mow,

Just a small patch

Where little flowers grow.


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In the morning sun I see

The oasis radiantly glow,

I’m seated on the Earth

Where little flowers grow.


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Lazy bees and ladybugs

Pause to say hello,

At that isolated patch

Where little flowers grow.


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A healthful spirit is restored

When the mind is slowed,

While breathing deeply

Where little flowers grow.

                           Dohn Chapman


Aloha, Dohn




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Remembering the First King of Hawai’i

King Kamehameha the Great

Statue of Kamehameha the Great at the Capitol Bldg. ,Washington, D.C.

June 11 is King Kamehameha Day in Hawai’i. This official holiday was established by royal decree on December 22, 1871 by King Kamehameha V to honor his great grandfather, Kamehameha I who united the Hawaiian Islands in 1810 and became Hawaii’s first king.

King Kamehameha was revered by his subjects and is still honored across the Hawaiian Islands today. On King Kamehameha Day there are speeches, songs, hula dancing and parades with floats, equestrian units and the wonderful Hawaiian Pau Riders.

Festivities begin with a draping of lei over statues of King Kamehameha in four locations. One in Washington, D.C., one at Iolani Palace, Oahu, Hawai’i, another in Hilo, Hawai’i and one at Kapa’au, Big Island, Hawai’i. The statue at Kapa’au is the original cast bronze statue and was retrieved from the bottom of the sea before being installed in Kapa’au, the birthplace of Kamehameha.

The statue of Kamehameha the Great, arm outstretched, bedecked in lei is a beautiful sight.

You can see more photos and learn history at 


King Kamehameha was known as a fierce warrior, superior statesman and a fair and just ruler. He was worthy of the name  “Great”. Learning the history and attending celebrations for Hawaii’s first king has left a lasting impression with me. I treasure it.

Today, June 11th we honor King Kamehameha, the first king of Hawai’i.

Aloha, Dohn

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Muhlenberg, Kentucky. The Loss of Paradise.

Paradise….. a folk song

Commonly associated with folk lore, folk music is known for story telling. Originating in popular culture, folk songs are passed down from generation to generation, often with words or their meaning changing in the retelling. Historically these songs were transmitted orally and learned by singing with others. That changed in the 1930s with electrical music recording, record players and radios.

The Oklahoma dust bowl followed by the Great Depression left thousands of Americans in desperate conditions. Folk singers Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger wrote songs to bring hope to the disenfranchised. They traveled the country singing in union halls, at rallies and political gatherings. Besides personal appearances radio airwaves provided a forum for their controversial social commentary and criticism.

In 1960s America the momentum of social activism promoting concepts of peace and notions of equal rights gave rise to a new generation of folk singers and protest songs. Civil liberties, civil rights, women’s rights, economic injustice, politics and war were popular subjects for protest songs. They were effective in drawing people together and inspiring them to take action or reflect.

Every now and then a song comes along that has a lasting impact on our perspective. The first folk song I remember that addressed environmental concerns was like that. I have kept it close in my memories and recall it often.

Paradise… John Prine

When I was a child my family would travel
Down to Western Kentucky where my parents were born
And there’s a backwards old town that’s often remembered
So many times that my memories are worn

chorus…And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking
Mister Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away

Well, sometimes we’d travel right down the Green River
To the abandoned old prison down by Airdrie Hill
Where the air smelled like snakes and we’d shoot with our pistols
But empty pop bottles was all we would kill

chorus…And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County

Then the coal company came with the world’s largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man

chorus…And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County

When I die let my ashes float down the Green River
Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester dam
I’ll be halfway to Heaven with Paradise waitin’
Just five miles away from wherever I am

chorus…And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County

Songwriters: John Prine Paradise lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Peace, Dohn

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Apple Blossoms and Lilacs


Apple blossoms bring back memories of my youth. In back of the homes across the street from where I lived was a long narrow cornfield. Running in a perfectly straight line on the far side of the cornfield was “the woods” or wilderness to me. A clean straight border that divided the modern world from the wilds of nature. Growing on the very edge of the border line was a mature old apple tree. Full of blooms, the tree gave off the sweetest of smells. I scrambled up the scaly trunk and plucked three small branches full of buds. I took them home and proudly gave them to my mother. “Oh flowers for me?” she exclaimed. They made her happy (although all the petals fell off in a day or two). That was my first gift of a bouquet of flowers. A memory of long ago.

From my porch I watched the wild apple tree in my neighbors field fill with blossoms pink and white. The beauty of Spring and new growth. So to do the lilac bushes purple blooms appear in mid May. Driving by in my automobile I would marvel at the purple, white and lavender cones backed by an azure sky. The beauty of Spring.

Apple blossoms and lilac blooms do not last long. I almost missed the blooming this year. The weather here in the canyon had been rather cool with blustery winds. I dismissed the idea of traipsing about in the fields. At last a warmer day and a break in the clouds, I ventured out and was richly rewarded.

Standing under the apple tree I felt at peace breathing the gentle fragrance of the blossoms above. Later when snipping a few sprigs of lilac the smell released heightened all my senses. Spring is a time for smelling the reawakening and new growth. Sightseeing by automobile has its place but it is no substitute for being up close to flowers and trees in nature.

Mother Nature abounds with wonder. The geology of the Earth with grand vistas and majestic mountains, water filled lakes and rivers, deserts and dense forests, and an incredible diversity of animals around the globe. Humans evolved because of agriculture. Our ancestors grew natural organic foods and farmers have always had to deal with the vagaries of weather. The weather forecast for this growing season looks favorable and if all goes well I look forward to a good old fashioned, organic apple harvest this year.

Scientists and chemists have developed new foods to feed a growing population by gene splicing, use of byproducts and inclusion of fillers and chemicals. These practices bring into question how these altered foods affect human health and farm soils.

An Apple Orchard in the Spring  …… William Martin

“…..Have you plucked the apple blossoms in the Spring?     In the Spring?    And caught their subtle odors in the Spring,     Pink buds pouting at the light,     crumpled petals baby white,     Just to touch them a delight –     In the Spring.

…..If you have not, then you know not, in the Spring,     In the Spring,     Half the color, beauty, wonder of the Spring!     No sweet sight can I remember     half so precious half so tender,     As the apple blossoms render     In the Spring!”

Lilacs…….Edgar Albert Guest

“It’s hard to find fault with the world     with the old- fashioned lilacs in bloom.     We all are together again,     The mother that loved them is here;    The grandfather taps with his cane      The walks that he once held so dear.     The family circle is whole     And sunshine has banished the gloom,     And memories sweet flood the soul,                                                  With the old-fashioned lilacs in bloom.

Home is nearer to Heaven it seems,
And the stream that divides not so vast;
For we live once again in our dreams
The scenes of our sanctified past.
And back to us come in a troop
The loved ones, asleep in the tomb,
To sit for a while on the stoop.

With the old-fashioned lilacs in bloom,     The lilacs in bloom at the door,     Then the banners of grouchdom are furled     And life is worth living once more,     The loved ones gone yonder come back     To breath once again their perfume,     And joy has a clear, open track.”

Do you have a memory of apple blossoms and lilacs?

Peace and Aloha, Dohn

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Wellness at the Waterfall


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Waterfalls…noisily rushing over a precipice of land, crashing to the surface below, the air cooler where the water mists, an ancestral memory. Besides their captivating appearance in nature, waterfalls have been shown to improve mental and physical well being in people.


One of the psychological effects we’re most aware of when we’re by the sea, lakes or waterfalls is a feeling of awe. There’s something about the beautiful vastness of a natural scene that has a profound impact on the way we feel. Science has found that such feelings can lead to prosocial behavior like altruism, loving kindness and magnanimity.

Waterfalls are a natural source of wonder and entertainment.We hike to see them, stand beneath their plunge, swim in their pools and gasp in admiration. They are a destination that we seek for a variety of reasons.  For reasons we can’t always explain, we feel better when being near waterfalls.

So many drops, so many atoms, so many ions. The area around waterfalls is known to have a high volume of negative ions in the air. It is known as the Lenard Effect.

Atoms are made of electrons and protons. An unequal number of protons to electrons, you have an ion. When the ion loses at least one electron, it is positively charged and called a cation (+) and when an ion has extra electrons, it is negatively charged and called an anion (-).

The standard pH level of the human body is 7.4 which is slightly alkaline – but this balance is destroyed when too many positive ions enter your body because they cause oxidation. When too many positive ions accumulate in the body they increase the active oxygen. Activated oxygen is believed to be a cause of cancer and other serious sickness.

Positive ions are found in profusion in polluted air. They proliferate in closed buildings and sealed environments. Electric devices that produce electromagnetic fields, including computer screens, television sets and fluorescent lighting produce positive ions. Synthetic materials like plastics and manmade fibers , like nylon carry their own positive charge.


How does being near a waterfall improve the well being in people? The answer is the number of negative ions in the air. Negative ions are absorbed through the skin or while breathing. Once negative ions reach the bloodstream they are said to increase our bodies production of serotonin, which is the chemical responsible for relieving stress and depression and boosting our energy and happiness.

Waterfalls provide soothing sights and sounds that help you relax and destress. They also lower your blood pressure, improving your health. Simply watching a watercourse is a psychological aid in lowering stress levels and is found to be similar to hypnosis techniques.

The mist cleanses and deposits natural minerals in the air which means cleaner, healthier air to breath.

The sound of water is soothing to us. It’s why many sleep aid devices feature a setting that sounds like falling water. Scientific studies show that the sound of running water initiates a flood of oxygen to the brain and diminishes depression, helps to increase mental clarity, gives greater emotional stability and promotes our overall well being. Water sounds have long been used in meditation. In listening to these sounds we learn to be present in the moment and directly experience things instead of lost in rumination. Science suggests that the sound of running water can affect the rhythm of neuronal “waves” in our brains, encouraging a more peaceful pace of thought.










Waterfalls form when there is a watercourse traversing over different layers of rock. Water is a powerful erosive agent, and different types of rock erode at different rates. When a river or stream flowing over hard rock (like granite) where erosion is slow and also flows over soft rock (like shale) where erosion is more rapid, over time the soft rock is cut into by the water, ultimately making the watercourse steeper beyond the hard rock layer. This steepening effect also accelerates erosion as the influence of gravity on the water increases the water’s speed. Eventually, the watercourse steepens until it’s nearly vertical or completely vertical. This geologic stage is the  waterfall we travel to see.










While erosion is the primary process that creates waterfalls, geologists note that other cataclysmic events (such as earthquakes, landslides, glaciers and volcanoes) may also create waterfalls.










On my spring expedition earlier this year I made a special excursion to visit my Aunt Norma in the mountains of western North Carolina. My two cousins, Paula and Tammy graciously took me sightseeing up steep mountain roads to visit the waterfalls seen in this article. It made me happy.

Macon County, North Carolina is in the southern Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachians are 300 – 500 million years old, the oldest mountains on Earth. Waterfalls are common in the Appalachian system. In the north, waterfalls are mostly the result of glacial activity during the last ice age. In the southern Appalachians waterfalls are generally formed by the action of water on alternating layers of soft and hard rock.

Next time you are hiking to or visiting a waterfall why not plan on spending a little extra time for your health? It’s an opportunity to meditate on the soothing sights and sounds and absorb more of the negative ions flowing around you. Let Mother Nature help with your well being.

To your health, Dohn

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Preserving History – through old buildings

The winter homes of T. Edison and H. Ford

There are towns and cities worldwide that have preserved the homes of important persons of historical significance. These museum homes promote respect for those that lived in prior times. The town of Fort Myers, Florida has conserved the winter estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, two of it’s most famous residents.

Inventor Thomas Edison purchased a countryside, riverfront property near the fledgling town of Fort Myers in 1885. He then had the land cleared  and built a home the following year. Edison soon set out to improve and beautify the property. The subtropical climate of southern Florida displayed promising qualities for Edison’s interest in experimenting with plants. He grew shrubs, flowers, trees, stands of bamboo and a wide variety of tropical plants, some for study others for their beauty. Edison designed the landscape to include walking paths with benches, fountains, a lily pond, a separate office building, an artesian fed swimming pool and a moonlight garden. “Seminole Lodge” as the new home was called  became a winter retreat for Edison and his family for the next 61 years.






Conserving old homes help us to understand the history that occurred there, sometimes long before we were born. The winter estate of Thomas Edison attracts over 25,000 visitors a year that come to experience the “spirit” of the place.

The year that Thomas Edison bought the property in 1885 was the same year that the town of Fort Myers was officially incorporated. The population was 349. By 1890 when Edison was getting “Seminole Lodge” in good order the census registered 575 citizens. There were only a few mercantile stores and a handful of businesses in Fort Myers back then. Grocery stores as we know them did not exist. At that time food that needed to be kept chilled was kept in an “ice box”, cooled by blocks of ice. Fortunately for Edison he could afford a full time groundskeeper that supplied fresh vegetables, fruit, eggs and honey for the tale.

Living history museums and preservation homes can inspire visitors to examine models of self sufficiency. Historical exhibits that display traditional methods of maintaining a household may showcase economic alternatives. Herbs and table vegetables, fruit, eggs, all harvested on a property were ways our forefathers were self sufficient. There is much to learn from history where there are alternatives to today’s corporate controlled world.

A very important purpose for preserving old buildings is that they document innovations in architecture. Use of new materials and building techniques mark a specific time when there were shifts in architectectural style. The advent of electrical lighting and the subsequent appliances used at the turn of the 20th century fundamentally changed architectural design for oncoming generations. Edison’s perfection of the light bulb and inventive work with electricity changed how interior spaces could be utilized and added hours to productive or leisure time for a household. Thomas Edison was not only a prolific inventor but a successful business man as well. The lighting fixtures at Seminole Lodge were designed and manufactured at his lighting company.

As changes in architectural design can be placed on a timeline, so to can interior furnishings. New materials and advanced manufacturing are not the only methods that influence style, other influences from the world of politics or art have also changed public taste. For example; world events … In 1853 -54 Commodore Matthew Perry with an expeditionary fleet of U.S. Naval warships and a policy of gunboat diplomacy threatened the island of Japan into a negotiation that ended it’s 220 year period of isolation. The opening of trade with Japan led to a fascination by western countries with Asian culture. The coined term Japanism was first used in France to describe the sweeping Japanese influence on the arts.  Japanism affected fine arts, sculpture, architecture, performing arts and decorative arts in western culture. The influence of this at Seminole Lodge can be seen in the preserved, original bamboo and wicker furniture owned by Edison. The light airy design and materials were well suited to the Florida climate as opposed to the heavy upholstered Victorian furniture in favor a few decades earlier. When maintained wicker and bamboo furniture is long lasting, very durable, the material has sustainable quick growth potential and is biodegradable.

In this age of world wide plastic contamination it is important for all of us to find alternatives to plastic when possible. Bamboo, rattan and wicker are renewable resources. A historical alternative to consider.

Business associate and friend, automobile tycoon Henry Ford purchased a home next to Thomas Edison in 1916. Here Edison and Ford could participate in idle conversation, discuss business activity and share inventive ideas while sitting under shady porches. They could enjoy the waterfront grounds or go fishing and boating on the Caloosahatchee River. Set in such fine surroundings the Edison/Ford winter estates offered a pleasant respite from the cold northern winters where the men lived the remainder of the year. The town of Fort Myers took great community pride in having two such famous people as residents. It could be said that it was one of the reasons that led to the development of the town. There is no doubt that the Edison/Ford winter estates offered opportunities for the growing communities future and since it has been preserved, it continues to offer opportunities for the IMG_0401communities future.





Preserving buildings and objects of historical significance is not only a reflection of our history but can improve the economic prosperity of a neighborhood area or town. Maintaining and saving architectural monuments can attract tourists that also stop at nearby cafes, restaurants, attractions, shops, and filling stations. Places like the Edison/Ford historical property stimulate the local economy through employment. Locals are hired for grounds and maintenance, cashiers, office staff, greeters, interpreters and security. Professional positions needing filled  at various old buildings and home museums  might be facilities manager, public relations, historian, archivist, curator, preservationist, exhibits designer and researcher. Preserving old buildings promotes the living heritage of a town. That heritage will continue if preservationists will interpret and manage the resource well for future generations.

It’s ironic that Henry Ford master of the assembly line and mechanized manufacturing would have his winter home decorated in the Arts and Crafts style. Founders of the Arts and Crafts movement were the first major critics of the Industrial Revolution. They sought to return to a simpler more fulfilling way of life. The practitioners of the movement believed that the connection between the artist and his work through handcraft was the key to producing human fulfillment and beautiful items. Ford’s living room area of the home has an extensive use of wood in the trim, ceiling and paneling. A signature of Arts and Crafts architecture. The Gustav Stickley and Mission Style oak furniture compliment the woods natural warmth and the combination exudes a relaxing, less formal comfort to the room.

Notice the fireplace. In Florida during December and January evening temperatures can drop into the 40s and lower. Both Edison and Ford had wood burning fireplaces to keep off the chill.

The difference between the Arts and Crafts style and the earlier Victorian style can be seen by comparing the lighting fixtures at Edison and Ford’s homes. At Edison’s Seminole Lodge the lighting fixtures are fanciful and of intricate design, common in the Victorian Era. Remember, Seminole Lodge was built in 1886.

At The Mangoes, Henry Ford’s winter retreat the lighting fixtures are of the Arts and Crafts style. Built in 1915 and purchased by Ford in 1916 we can affix a point on the timeline when architectural style and design transitioned from older previous fashions. The lighting fixtures at The Mangoes have the identifying handcrafted appearance of the Arts and Crafts movement. In America there was not the ambivalence towards machines used in the manufacturing process as there was in England. The important factor was the style and design.




At The Mangoes there was a wing with servants quarters and a guest room. Simple practical rooms, nothing extravagant. When the Mangoes was purchased in 1916 Henry Ford was a wealthy man, not as rich as he would become in the following decades but quite well off. It’s interesting to note how modest the home and interior design is. An insight into Ford’s personality? Quite a contrast to the vacation homes of today’s wealthy class.

The name Ford is recognized worldwide. Henry Ford’s legacy that started in the early years of the 20th century continues to this day. His development of the assembly line, improved manufacturing processes, innovations in automobile design, marketing a motor car for the masses and business success in operating a company that exists to this day all contribute to his legacy. Thomas Edison on the other hand is not a name as recognized as it once was. One of America’s most prolific inventors, Edison’s work on the light bulb, electrical systems, generators, batteries, telephones, phonographs and movie projectors had a major impact on society at the turn of the last century. Now he is relegated to a historical past. His inventions have been surpassed by new technologies.


Thomas Edison is mostly associated with electrical inventiveness and the copious number of  his patents. Lesser known about him was his interest and passion for plants of all kinds. In 1925 Edison planted a four foot tall, two inch diameter Ficus Benghalensis (India Banyan tree). The tree produces a white sap that Edison and his friends Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone hoped to use in making natural rubber. The banyan was not the answer to the rubber experiment but it has remained. It has been preserved. It has been protected.

The tree now dominates the entrance to the Edison Ford Winter Estates. It is the largest banyan tree in the continental United States, covering more than an acre and supported by more than 350 roots. A living memorial to Thomas Edison.









Visiting historical properties reminds us of the possibilities of humankind. Monumental structures or a simple cottage both tell a story. They are part of a communities heritage. When those buildings are lost so to go the old stories, and the living heritage is diminished.

Preserving old buildings and the homes of historically significant people promotes respect for those that lived in prior times. These places can attract visitors that come to experience the “spirit” of a place. Old buildings show that there are alternatives to today’s corporate controlled world by relearning the ways our forefathers practiced self sufficiency. Preserving old buildings document innovations in architecture. To slow down the world wide plastic contamination a historical alternative to consider is the use of renewable resources like bamboo, wicker and rattan. In the past the Edison/Ford winter estates offered opportunities for the growing communities future and since it has been preserved, it continues to offer opportunities for the communities future. Preserving buildings and objects of historical significance can improve the economic prosperity of an area. Maintaining and saving architectural monuments can attract tourists. Places like the Edison/Ford historical property stimulate the local economy through employment and tourism. Preserving old buildings, historically significant homes and various monuments makes good sense.

Whether it be sentimental nostalgia, research studies for a historical project or simple curiosity, old buildings and homes provide educational resources. History can teach us much about living, including alternatives to today’s fast paced world.

Be well my friends, Dohn


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