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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring's Springing and Singing

Finally it's here. Hard to believe. In our yard it was winter-looking even on Sunday.

The pond still had some white ice.
The small glacier in the backyard was still the size of a long sofa.

And then. Whoosh! Monday's mild temps erased the ice. The glacier was no bigger than a dinner plate.

There's a hint of spring in the lawn. Green shoots have popped up everywhere, and amidst the crusty brown leaves appears the first purple crocus!!

The birds are doing their sweet singing, and those wonderful spring peepers are making a racket, which always sounds a bit extraterrestrial to me.

One other thing: the cardinals are coming back more and more frequently. Just now, the red bird was knocking so hard at the window that he once again caught my attention.

More often than not, the red bird is now accompanied by his pale green girlfriend.

Together they sit in the tree branches facing each other and fluttering their wings.  I'm wondering where the nest will be. It's hard to imagine, but wouldn't it be amazing if it showed up right outside the window!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Disappointing Results from Colorado's Marijuana Dispensaries

So we are going to Colorado next week to visit our amazing daughter, Lindsay, and while we are there we will definitely visit a couple of marijuana dispensaries. It's really quite mind-boggling to think that you can walk into a store, say, the Fresh Baked marijuana dispensary in Boulder, and select your clear little baggy of weed and have it weighed and then after it's paid for you go home and invite your friends over to smoke.

I never was much of a marijuana smoker, but one funny thing I haven't told my daughter is that back in the 1970s (yes, way back then) when I was living in Berkeley, I had marijuana plants
growing on my window sill. I was no druggy but everyone I knew smoked marijuana in those days, and sometimes we ate it in brownies too. I remember going to a concert with my friend Greg and eating a couple of bites of a brownie first and then getting so stoned that I couldn't remember the concert the next day.

One disappointing thing I have to tell my daughter: she's been saying for months that the state of Colorado is getting rich by taxing marijuana sales, that the state has so much money coming in that they don't know what to do with it.

Alas, yesterday's New York Times reported that the amount of taxes being collected by the state of Colorado aren't as high as officials expected they would be. In February of 2014, the governor of Colorado projected that in the first year of legalization, $118 million in taxes would be collected on recreational marijuana. Now it looks like the real figure will be more like $69 million.

Part of the problem is that legal sales of marijuana aren't what officials expected they would be. That's because customers of medical marijuana have been slow to switch to the recreational drug market. The reason? Medical marijuana is taxed at a lower level.

Still, it's quite an amazing thing that Colorado has done, legalizing a drug that is less dangerous than alcohol.

Will keep you posted on our visit next week.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015


By Claudia Ricci

and stops
for reasons
too mysterious
to ignore.

One day, you sit down at your computer and out pours
A perfect little poem. Your heart soars and you send the litte gem
-- your adorable child --
Out into the world and wait for the applause.
Ah, you say, I am quite the poet. I am 
An ARTIST, sigh, what a glorious thing it is to
To imagine yourself sitting in a sunny café in Paris
The tower soaring above your
Your head is adorned in a beret
You are penning poems all day long
When suddenly with no warning 
along comes a nasty spell
that lasts more than one day
one week
one month
OMG one year?
Before you know it,
you are dead inside 
because you cannot write a thing.

The well is absolutely dry
The soul shrinks
The heart is wrung out
Like a dishtowel after
The dryer spins is spinning
so loud you feel like you are inside!

"NOT FAIR" you shout you scream
You try everything you know 
But the mind will not budge
You think you are going
You ARE going crazy and

So what do you do besides wait and drink and smoke 10,000
No, silly, you don’t smoke.
You sit there feeling yourself choking
What is the word for living and dying all at once?
You beg you plead please God
Please just one more just one more
and then one morning 
even before
you wake
out of nowhere comes a voice 
“You will write again today!”

Did somebody actually say that?
If I didn't then WHO? 
Did I say that
Smooth road?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Feeding on Light

By Claudia Ricci 

Maybe because so many late winter days are white and overcast,
the dawn of a clear sunny morning brings a thrill.
No matter that there is still frigid air biting your skin if you step outside.
No matter that the sun may not last past noon.
It's still a gift to open your eyes to see the pine-treed hillside outside the window
turning gold in long lazy rays.

Downstairs, the sun streams across the kitchen, bathing the
cabinets orange. The same rays cross the threshold into the laundry room and leave a tiny square of spring green light on the washing machine.
I set my finger into that delightful green spot.
It's got promise, that spot.

The fruitbowl, with its orange, green and yellow curves and shadows, becomes a still life painting.
And in the dining room, the long strips of light spread across the rug beckon to me.
I stretch out flat in one, as if I'm lying in a chaise lounge on the beach.

I stare right into the flood of sunlight coming through the window
and I am delighted to be blinded. I smile. I think Florida, I think emerald waves and long white beaches. Palm trees and the smell of ocean breezes. Bathing suits. Flip flops and suntan lotion and the grainy touch of sand.

Maybe because this morning's light is so rare, and I know there is no holding onto it,
(just now the sun slipped behind the clouds and all turned shadow)

Every place my glances happens to land -- on deeply furrowed grey bark, on the white pond, on green pine needles --
I let my gaze dally.
The day becomes a meditation, eyes feeding on light.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Obamacare's Nine Lives!

By Richard Kirsch 
If Obamacare survives the newest Supreme Court challenge, it will really be the cat with nine lives.
The death of what became the Affordable Care Act has been predicted regularly ever since President Obama’s election in 2008. Right after Obama’s election, I got a wave of calls from reporters, each highly skeptical that the President-elect would really try to get health care passed. When you consider the relentless attacks and near-death experiences ever since, the reporters’ skepticism was understandable.
So when I found myself with a fresh wave of anxiety before the Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday on the latest assault on the law, I decided to list all the times that the survival of what became the Affordable Care Act was up in the air. And when I then counted them, it turned out that they number eight. So if Obamacare survives this last, desperate challenge at the Supreme Court, it really will have nine lives. Here they are, in chronological order:
1. The Great Recession: After Obama’s election a chorus of pundits predicted that the new President would have to give up his promise of health care reform because of the economic crisis. Instead, the President worked to get the economic stimulus passed, while paving the ground for health reform moving. Just a few weeks after the stimulus became law, the President went on a national tour to push for action on health care. 
2. Tea Party August: The tea party movement came to national attention, with loud, vitriolic attacks on health care at congressional town meetings held by Democrats in August 2009. Republicans gleefully predicted they had killed the bill. But by the second half of August supporters of health reform had rallied at dozens of town hall meetings, usually turning out more activists than the tea partiers. The press didn’t give the same attention to meetings that were not marked by raucous demonstrations. But Democratic members of Congress were sent back to Congress knowing they had support in their home districts to move ahead.
3. Scott Brown’s Election: The surprise election of Republican Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate in January 2010, on a platform opposing health care, looked like it might kill the bill. But having voted to pass the legislation in both houses, Democrats were not going to turn back. President Obama rallied the public by finally attacking the practices of health insurance companies and even without a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law.
4. The Supreme Court Challenge: Immediately after the ACA’s passage, opponents launched a legal attack, which – shocking most legal scholars – was taken seriously by the courts. And by the time the Supreme Court heard the challenge, the odds were that the Court would gut the key provision of the law that enabled insurance to be affordable to individuals. But Chief Justice Roberts saved the day  – and much of the Court’s credibility.
5. The 2012 Election: If the Senate had gone Republican in 2012 – as was widely predicted – and Mitt Romney been elected, Obamacare would have been repealed. Instead, the ACA emerged with a new electoral mandate.
6. Government Shutdown and Congressional Repeals: I hesitated to put the 50 or so Republican votes to repeal the law, culminating in the government shutdown in the fall of 2013, on the list, only because of President Obama’s veto pen. But even if the ACA always had the presidential veto as armor, the barrage of repeal missiles has got to be counted. Texas Senator Ted Cruz led the government shut down before health insurance enrollment opened up because, as he said, “no major entitlement has ever been implemented and then unwound.”
7. Healthcare.gov: And then, with the disastrous launch of the website to enroll people in health care, Ted Cruz appeared to have gotten his wish fulfilled. The ACA might not be legally dead, but much of it was functionally comatose. Then the administration resuscitated the website, and millions were enrolled and started benefitting from the coverage. It looked like, As Cruz feared, the ACA was here to stay.
8. Supreme Court Redux: That is until the Supreme Court agreed to hear a desperate, last minute challenge to ACA’s for millions of newly enrolled people in the King v. Burwell case. Could this be like one of those movies where the soldier survives the war, only to be killed by a bullet on his way home, fired by an enemy that hadn’t heard the war was over?
The news reports of the oral arguments yesterday were encouraging, particularly Justice Kennedy’s raising of a constitutional issue with the plaintiff’s case. And there are a host of other legal reasons to believe that the lawsuit is groundless. But then it did get this far. The opponents have been relentless. They haven’t gotten the message that the war is lost.
In June, we’ll find out if the ACA is the cat with nine lives. Easy to laugh at, if not for the fact that the actual lives of millions of people who rely on the law for life-saving health care are at stake. 
Richard Kirsch is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a Senior Adviser to USAction, and the author of Fighting for Our Health. He was National Campaign Manager of Health Care for All. www.Fightingforourhealth.com. This piece ran first on the Huff Po: http://huff.to/1H0whey and on Next New Deal: http://bit.ly/1NlmKDj

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Please Make a Donation: Help Rescue These Dogs!

By Michelle Burawski

Those of us who are animal lovers would find it very difficult to imagine a community where there are hundreds of unwanted animals literally abandoned like trash at dumpsters and in the streets, simply because there are no shelters or animal welfare services whatsoever!

One such community is in Burke County, Georgia, a mostly rural area with a population of about 23,000 people. The county is the size of Rhode Island.  Concerned residents and animal rescuers have pleaded with the county commissioners, the decision-makers in that community, for many years urging them to allocate funds for a desperately-needed shelter and animal control services, but their pleas always fall on deaf ears!  It is very well known and visible in that community that unwanted animals (dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens), are abandoned daily, struggling to survive!

Ironically, that community refers to itself as the “Bird Dog Capital of the World,” and even has a cemetery for bird dogs.  However, many residents say it is more like the “Stray Dog Capital of the World.” 

Old Fella Animal Rescue, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, one of only two in that community, has a handful of very dedicated volunteers who have taken in hundreds of abandoned dogs and puppies.  (No rescue group exists for cats; however, people often leave food for them). Old Fella, founded in 2008, provides veterinary care and places the dogs in foster homes. When ready for adoption, volunteers arrange transportation (with Puppy Pipeline of Georgia, Inc.), to a wonderful shelter in Salem, Massachusetts called Northeast Animal Shelter. This particular shelter takes in all of the animals that are rescued by Old Fella! http://www.northeastanimalshelter.org/ 

Donations and local foster homes are always needed. Although Old Fella does receive a small grant from the county for their spay and neuter program, it is often a struggle to keep their rescue going. 

Jimmie Jenkins, a retired teacher and volunteer liaison for Old Fella, participated in rescuing animals in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Jenkins said, “I have heard and seen a lot, but volunteering with Old Fella was certainly an eye opener. In some respects, this situation is worse than New Orleans after Katrina! I know that’s hard to believe, but when you get call after call about animals inside or around a dumpster, it just blows you away! Just to be a part of that kind of rescue is a feeling like no

Part of Jenkins’ role is to handle donations, provide information about the spay and neuter vouchers program, take cruelty calls, and along with other volunteers, arrange for dog food to be delivered to pet owners who fall on hard times.

One dog that Old Fella rescued from a dumpster in 2009, appropriately named Bingo, turned out to be their 2000th rescue, and he found a loving home up north! Since then, Old Fella has rescued countless more, and there seems to be no end of animals that need saving!

“The most rewarding thing about rescuing animals is seeing them get their forever families and knowing the suffering has ended," said volunteer Margie Riggs.  

So while residents wait anxiously for the county to provide animal welfare services, saving the animals is left up to rescue groups like Old Fella, as well as kind-hearted souls who cannot bear to do nothing.

There is currently petition created by South Carolina resident and animal advocate, Lisa Floyd. The petition, on www.change.org urges Burke County Commissioners to step up and approve funding for a shelter and animal control services. Please sign and share!

Finally, please visit our Facebook page, created for the cause, at the link below:
https://www.facebook.com/Animaldumpburkecoga. A GoFundMe account for the rescue groups is available there. 

Michelle Burawski is a Georgia-based writer and animal lover. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Just how white
can it get.
Outside the window
the wind whips
and whips so hard
it sneaks through
the door.
Outside there is clearly
enough ice
to bury us
the garage
the porch
are already
and still
it falls
it falls
it falls and
still it
it falls
down and
down and
down and
the white is brighter
is it possible that there is
an end in sight?

Thursday, February 05, 2015

For Medical Issues, Some Seek Advice From Clairvoyants

On August 6, 2003, I had a medical intuitive reading that blew me away. Ever since I wrote a Huffington Post piece on that amazing reading, I have received numerous requests from readers asking for the name and contact information for Karin Newhouse, the woman who did the reading. Unfortunately, she is no longer doing readings, and until now I didn’t know of any other medical intuitives to recommend. Now I do, and I am happy to pass them along.
When I had my reading, I was in California and Karin Newhouse was in Vermont.
She knew absolutely nothing about me, not even my last name.

At the time, I had just been told that my Hodgkin’s disease (diagnosed in 2002) had reappeared. I got that very bad news from an oncologist at Sloan Kettering in Manhattan. This doctor told me that I would need a stem cell transplant, a major medical intervention. Meanwhile, I made an appointment to get a second opinion from a Hodgkins’ specialist at Dana Farber in Boston.

So back to the medical intuitive reading. When I called Newhouse, she told me to “go lie down. You will feel all of your limbs get very heavy. When that feeling passes, call me back.”

As she predicted, my body felt like a sack of wet cement. And then, after about 45 minutes, the feeling lifted. I called her back.

“Did your mother have lung cancer?” Newhouse asked.

“No,” I said.

“Did she have a serious lung ailment?”

“Yes, she has had asthma most of her adult life.”

“Well that is the main issue you need to resolve. You need to stop resenting your mother.” Newhouse went on. “You have one spot of cancer, it’s on the left side of your body, below your ribcage and above your diaphragm. You will be cured of this spot, but you will need some more chemo and radiation.”

I almost dropped the phone. How could she possibly know the precise location of the cancer? The only two people who knew its location were my husband and my doctor!

I was still spinning when I got a phone call a few minutes later from the doctor at Dana Farber. The spot of cancer was NOT a new tumor. Rather, the doctor at Dana Farber told me that the Sloan Kettering team had failed to radiate my chest thoroughly, essentially saying they missed a spot in the first round of treatment.
Ever since I wrote that article on my medical intuitive reading, I have had numerous email requests for Karin Newhouse’s contact information. I wasn’t able to supply other names.

About a month ago, however, a young woman named Michelle Burawski, who lives in Georgia, contacted me about Newhouse. As always, I wrote back that I couldn’t help her.

But it turned out that Burawski herself had already consulted with at least two other medical intuitives.

I phoned each of the intuitives and had a nice chat with Charley Castex, a medical intuitive in Asheville, North Carolina. Castex is celebrating his 20th year as a clairvoyant spiritual counselor (the term he prefers.) He has done readings on more than 40,000 people on six continents, and his readings are not just regarding health and medical issues.

Castex knew at a very young age that he was spiritually “very sensitive.” At the age of ten, he was already meditating, and he was having dreams and visions. He was an altar boy, and was drawn to the mysticism of the Catholic Church. Coincidentally, his father died about that time, and Castex thinks that may explain his deepening connection to the spiritual world.

Later on, he studied with two different medicine men on the West Coast. He began taking clients when he was in his mid-twenties. He had some misgivings about doing readings, however: “I wanted to help people,” he said. “But I’m not a doctor. My reading shouldn’t supplant a visit to the doctor.”

Just how does he do the readings? Castex says “I look, listen and feel;” from these observations, he gets visions, feelings, impressions and images. To prepare for a reading, he may do automatic writing. He quietly sets an intention that the session will provide a “healing beyond words.”

Some of Castex’s impressions are symbolic. For example, in one reading he had an image of a washing machine. From that impression, he correctly surmised that the client had kidney disease.

In other readings, he might directly “see” that a person has high blood pressure or a nutrient deficiency.

Half of his practice is over the phone; his rates are $125 for a 45-minute reading, $150 for an hour, and $175 for a more comprehensive reading. He makes his living doing readings. “It’s been fascinating,” he says. “I consider myself really blessed.”

Michelle Burawski, who supplied Castex’s name as well as the names of two other psychics, has worked with Castex several times since. “He's truly gifted and one of the best. He has given me numerous readings about health issues and is always on target. Charley’s readings cover a wide range of topics, he’s really able to see what’s going on physically and emotionally. He is also a very kind, gentle soul.”

Caxtex’s phone number is (828) 251-5043 and his website indicates that he has been spotlighted by The New York Times, as well as by ABC and NBC national news. His clients include people from “all walks of life,” including Fortune 500 companies.

The other two other intuitives Burawski supplied are:

A Colorado-based intuitive named Julie Cobb. Burawski says she had a phone reading with Cobb and was pleased. Cobb’s prices are reasonable, too. “She talks fast, but she packs a lot of information into the reading and provides a recording, an mP3 download, via e-mail, afterward. She told me several things that were accurate and rang true. After I hung up, I felt really inspired and energized.” The following comes from Cobb’s website:

“We all have a spirit/soul that wants to be heard. It's sometimes hard to hear that spirit, through all of the fears that we carry on top of it and all of the ‘noise’ that we create for ourselves. My psychic readings and healings simply channel for your spirit and validate what you are carrying in your energy. I see energy and have the ability to translate the ‘story’ of why that energy may be stagnant or blocked in your body. All energy has a story and all pain is a form a of communication. 

“A true spiritual psychic is not about telling you the future. The present moment and energy you carry is the only thing that matters. We identify the origin of the fear or blocked energy you may be holding, giving you the ability to release it. As well, We can see where your energy flows freely and help you see your gifts. “

A third psychic, trained by the legendary medical intuitive Carolyn Myss, is Elizabeth Thorson. Thorson’s prices are reasonable. Burawski has not had a session with Thorson but plans on contacting her in the future. Thorson’s phone number is (207) 712-9495According to her website, she includes a video of herself explaining each type of reading that she offers, which helps to clarify her services.

To all those seeking a medical intuitive, I wish for you the very best outcomes!

Monday, January 26, 2015


It occurred to me as I stared out at the feeders today,
that there are way too many bluejays,
and too many chickadees,
scarfing up the black-oiled sunflower seed.
They are both so common and they eat so
darn much of the pricey feed that I have a hard
time appreciating them.

Meanwhile, the visit from an amazing red-bellied woodpecker
this morning made my bird feeder day.

So here is my question:
if the red-bellied woodpeckers
were as plentiful as
the bluejays and chickadees, and the bluejays and chickadees
were as rare as
the red-bellied woodpeckers...

You get the picture.
I'm pretty sure I would be delighted with blue jays and

Realizing this, I try to remind myself to be grateful for all of the
birds that visit. Every single thing in nature is a miracle.

P.S. Meanwhile, bluejays have rich symbolic meaning. Check it out.

Friday, January 09, 2015

To Reduce Stress Try Chanting the Chakras!

Maybe you know all of this already. But for those of you who don't, the chakras are energy points in the body.  There are seven  of them. Says Wikipedia:

"Their name [chakra] derives from the Sanskrit word for "wheel" or "turning", but in the yogic context a better translation of the word is 'vortex or whirlpool'."

Chanting the sounds associated with the chakras is like giving your energy body a kind of vocal massage up and down your spine (each chakra is associated with a different color light.)

It's easy to chant the chakras, and it doesn't take long at all. If you have five minutes to spare in the morning, set a timer and then make these sounds one by one (taking a big breath in before chanting each chakra):

Chakra one, corresponding to the Crown Chakra at the top of the head and the third eye in the middle of the forehead: Say "EEEEEEE" 

Chakra two, corresponding to the Throat Chakra: Say "AYYYYYYYY" 

Chakra three, corresponding to the Heart Chakra: Say "OHHHHHHH" 

Chakra four, corresponding to the Solar Plexus Chakra: "UUUUUUU" 

Chakra five, corresponding to the Lung Chakra: "AHHHHHHHH"

Chakra six, corresponding to the Reproductive System: "MMMMMMMM"

Chakra seven, corresponding to the Base of the Spine: "SSSSSSSSS"

Try making each chant as long as you can. Over time, you will find that you go on and on with the vocalization!

If you do this chanting daily, you will be amazed how much they help reduce stress. One artist friend of mine, Barbara Beach, says she chants the chakras "to tune herself up in the morning."

Thanks to my energy healer and long-time friend Denise for instructing me in chakra chanting! I hope it works for you as well as it has for me!

Good luck with this, and have a good day!