Category Archives: Bits & Bites

Forest Bathing

Forest Bathing

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”- John Muir

I’ve always felt that a hike through the forest was rejuvenating however I just discovered that In Japan a restorative walk in the forest is known as “forest bathing’ and is actually prescribed by some doctors for preventative health care and healing.

The Japanese call it “Shinrin-Yoku”, coined by a Japanese forester with reference to the benefits of being in lush forests.  Scientifically there is more to it than merely experiencing the fresh air and exercise. Yoshifumi Miyazaki of Chiba University has carried out studies that show forest bathing can significantly lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

Trees, in particular conifers such as red cedar and fir, release chemicals known as phytoncides and exposure to these ‘tree emissions’ lower blood pressure, heart rates and stress hormones and  research points out that walking in the woods can boost the body’s immune system by increasing anti-cancer proteins and enhancing the so-called natural killer activity of certain cells.

In this case, it’s believed humans benefit from breathing in phytoncides, the chemicals plants emit to protect themselves from rotting and insects.IMG_0175



So, If you want to feel rejuvenated in both body and soul go on a hike and while you are enjoying a lovely trek in the forest the trees are actually providing you with a shot of “Timber Tonic”

Note:  Phytoncides are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds derived from plants. The word, which means “exterminated by the plant”, was coined in 1928 by Dr. Boris P. Tokin, a Russian biochemist from Leningrad University.

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Posted by on February 7, 2016 in Bits & Bites


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Sometimes when I’m curled up on the couch with a cup of tea, comfortably relaxed and enjoying one of my favorite things which is reading, the sun shines down from the skylight like a spotlight, glowing, sparkling, warming me and gently illuminating the words I am reading.  I call this the ‘sweet spot’.sweet spot


Posted by on May 25, 2013 in Bits & Bites


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An Example of one of the Carved Lintels

An Example of one of the Carved Lintels


Some years ago, following my urge to cut, carve and gouge, I became one of a group of apprentices participating in a Community Center Carving Project. The group project was led by George Norris, a celebrated artist, sculptor and wood carver. I longed to learn carving from a master and our task was to carve intricate details in broad wooden lintels that would be placed throughout the Community Center. George shared many insights, from his rich career of carving with the group, among which was an important lesson: Don’t bleed on the wood as it penetrates the grain and unfortunately there is only one way to remove blood stains from wood and that is by removing the blood stained area, hence the wood itself.

Carvings on Yellow Cedar Posts

Carvings on Yellow Cedar Posts

I learned this important lesson by experience while blood spurted wildly from a hand wound, caused by my ineptness with a lethal weapon aka the number seven carving tool. I mention that it was a number seven so that anyone who is aware of carving tools can appreciate how hazardous this tool can be in the hands of a beginner. Anyone who can’t imagine the damage that it can cause may want to check out my scar, a rather large one, to validate this.

Carving Exercise Block

As you might imagine I yelped a little when I stabbed my own hand, drawing the attention of the master carver who quickly came to my side to observe, not my wound, but the lintel where I had unknowingly leaked some blood. While I stanched the flow of blood as best I could, George quickly drew up a plan to remove the bloodied wood and in haste created an altered carving design to accommodate the removal of the bloodstain. There was no denying that my bloody wound came second to the importance of the lintel being carved.

Artists and artisans often recall with fondness the words of wisdom from a mentor and for me the words I remember most fondly as my first words of professional advice were


What words of wisdom do you recall from a mentor?


Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Bits & Bites


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