Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Overwhelm and Stress Busters

As the days get shorter the stress level climbs. Article

I Love My Old Subaru Wagon

I just filled up my leaky tire with air using my little red bike pump. It's just like using the nautilus machines at the gym but I had to hold my umbrella with one hand during the downpour. Then she started right up and purred like a kitten. Only a little bit of gas has evaporated out of the tank over the four months since I've driven her. I prefer terra firma in the form of walking preferably with my dog, but on rare occasions I have to drive.

Franz Kafka’s Letter to His Abusive and Narcissistic Father

The main thing was that the bread should be cut straight. But it didn’t matter that you did it with a knife dripping with gravy. Care had to be taken that no scraps fell on the floor. In the end it was under your chair that there were most scraps.

It is, after all, not necessary to fly right into the middle of the sun, but it is necessary to crawl to a clean little spot on earth where the sun sometimes shines and one can warm oneself a little.


Monsoon Day

The last time I drove my car was May 6th of this year. Today I have to use it and I hope she starts up. First I have to pump up the flat tire with my bicycle pump. If she doesn't start up I will call triple A, but on a monsoon day like today everyone is calling triple A.
I boiled the chicken carcass at 5AM and made 2 quarts of stock. The air is so humid and hot it is ridiculous even my dog and cat are lounging. We closed the windows and put out the plastic buckets to catch the various roof leaks. My basil plants are happy. My tomatoes have ripened. I ought to rescue the picnic table umbrella.

solve major national problems

One recurring theme is Mr. Kennedy’s belief that the Senate in the 21st century was not working hard enough to solve major national problems, continually limiting debate and amendments or avoiding issues entirely if passage could not be guaranteed in advance. When he was elected in 1962, he said, the Senate would be busy five days a week and stay on a bill as long as it took to pass it or defeat it.

Alive when Alone

“The first thing that distinguishes a writer is that he is most alive when alone.”
—Martin Amis

Talk about Walking

by Philip Booth

Where am I going? I’m going
out, out for a walk. I don’t
know where except outside.
Outside argument, out beyond
wallpapered walls, outside
wherever it is where nobody
ever imagines. Beyond where
computers circumvent emotion,
where somebody shorted specs
for rivets for airframes on
today’s flights. I’m taking off
on my own two feet. I’m going
to clear my head, to watch
mares’-tails instead of TV,
to listen to trees and silence,
to see if I can still breathe.
I’m going to be alone with
myself, to feel how it feels
to embrace what my feet
tell my head, what wind says
in my good ear. I mean to let
myself be embraced, to let go
feeling so centripetally old.
Do I know where I’m going?
I don’t. How long or far
I have no idea. No map. I
said I was going to take
a walk. When I’ll be back
I’m not going to say.

- by Philip Booth

from Lifelines: Selected Poems 1950-1999 (Viking Press)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Lentil Hunter Michael Smith


Joshua Fields Millburn: Why I Wake at 3:30 A.M.

First Thing in the Morning: Why I Wake at 3:30 A.M.

By Joshua Fields Millburn

I like to wake early, before the rest of the world—often as early as 3:30 a.m.

I don’t wake to an alarm clock, however: I simply follow my body’s cues. I like to fall asleep by 9 p.m., but life happens, so sometimes I go to bed later. Some nights I sleep three hours, some nights nine: I wake when my body tells me it’s rested. As soon as I’m awake, no matter the time, I get out of bed and start my day.

Getting out of bed: that’s the secret. No snooze button, no lying around, no tossing, no turning—as soon as I wake, I’m up and moving.

For the longest time I didn’t know why I enjoyed getting up so early—my days just went better when I did; during my twelve years in corporate America, one of the few things in which I found solace was my early mornings spent in solitude.

I discovered a few reasons I enjoy the morning—while there is no routine, my pre-sunrise time typically involves three activities that fuel my productivity and add value to my life:

. I love to read literary fiction. For me, fiction, unlike any other art form, demonstrates what it means to be human; thus, I read to better understand my life and the world around me.

Write. Writing is my passion. I write fiction to convey the feelings and emotions that can only be told through the lives and consciousness of characters within a narrative, and I write nonfiction to add value to other people’s lives.

Exercise. My health is important to me: everything I do depends on me staying healthy. Plus, exercising first thing in the morning—even just 18 minutes—gives me momentum and sets a positive tone.

Whenever I do these activities in the morning, the rest of my day flows freely.

More Solitude

She wanted to be a detective and catch the bad guys while wearing a flattering red lady-suit and carrying a mother-of-pearl-handled pistol. She was the beautiful buxom bottle blonde. She lived alone in a walk up tenement with dusty venetian blinds and a bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling, swaying whenever the L train roared by. She played La Traviata and Ray Charles on her phonograph. She painted her nails red, and sometimes played solitaire while baking biscuits, greens and gravy. She sometimes went undercover as a male taxi driver, overheard everything and wrote it down. Eventually she reinvented herself as an undertaker to have more solitude.


When I was 4 I rubbed the webbing between my fingers until it bled. I dug at my gums until they bled. I wrapped my leg in toilet paper and tried to get my sister to sign my "cast". I spoke with a fake speech impediment to be like my friend Lori, telling my sister it was how I really spoke. I wore a long blonde "fall" wig from Woolworth's with a pink head band told my neighborhood friends it was my real hair, while hiding my short brown curls. I told these same kids I had a nail polish factory in my basement and I could make any color they want if they gave me all of their nail polish first. It worked! But then I got busted by my parents. I was seven. I remember being obsessed with Colorforms especially the weatherman you could dress to match the day. I wanted one! I really wanted a carrying-case record player to play 45's and dance. No dice. I remember deciding it sucked to be a mother at home and being convinced that my stepfather had a better life going to his midtown Manhattan office by commuter train every day. His office was full of art supplies and artists and photographers and a lady switchboard operator. His secretary was a Judo expert and a black belt in Karate. There was even a Chock Full O' Nuts downstairs on the street level and my sister and I sat at the counter and ate brownies wearing matching dresses (we were 5 and 7). I remember at age 11 slamming my thumb between two hard plastic-topped school desks so I'd have ridges on my thumbnail like Jacob had. Well, I do have those ridges on my thumb now.

Ray Charles

Ray Charles Robinson, professionally known as Ray Charles, was an American singer, songwriter, musician and composer. He was sometimes referred to as "The Genius", and was also nicknamed "The High Priest of Soul". Wikipedia

Ed Shea, Actor, Theatre Director

"The peaceful place for the meditator is the creative place for the artist."
- Ed Shea

Ed Shea: Beginner's Mind

How meditation changed everything for 2nd Story Theatre's Ed Shea
Shea says he is just a beginner when it comes to meditation and Buddhism. But he is a very enthused beginner.

Ed Shea, on set at 2nd Story Theatre, says he sees Buddhism as psycho-spiritual
By Andy Smith

Journal Arts Writer Posted Sep. 28, 2015 @ 12:01 am

WARREN, R.I. — About a year ago, Ed Shea, artistic director of the 2nd Story Theatre in Warren, picked up a book at Books on the Square in Providence.

"I was looking for a little something, a little peace of mind," he said. "I guess you can say I felt a 'spiritual urgency.' "

The book was called "The Power of Now," by Eckhart Tolle, and it led Shea into a deepening interest in meditation, and beyond meditation into Buddhism. As Shea learned more, he saw parallels between the techniques used in meditation and those used by actors.

"I frame things in terms of what I understand about acting and theater," Shea said. "I kept thinking how related [meditation] was to the theory and craft of acting. Being in the present moment is where actors need to be. ... In meditation, you focus on the breath. Actors need to focus on what they are saying at that moment. Focus on the line."

Shea said the same focus even applies to audiences, and their ability to suspend disbelief long enough to concentrate on a theatrical experience.

The enemy of that focus, Shea said, are all the handy devices with glowing screens that we can use to access everything from our work emails to Angry Birds.

"So much is available at our fingertips that the idea of going into a room and experiencing just one thing for two hours is a lot for people," he said.

Sitting in a patterned chair on the set of "Dangerous Corner," the current production at 2nd Story, the 57-year-old Shea said he is just a beginner when it comes to meditation and Buddhism. But he is a very enthused beginner.

After reading Tolle, Shea wanted to learn more. He began researching online, and found a book called "How to Sit" by Thich Nhat Hanh, which he said is a very pragmatic guide to meditation. "It's just about finding a quiet place to sit and breathe."

Now he meditates for about 45 minutes each morning, and sometimes more later in the day. He said you need to work up to it: "At first, if you sit still and pay attention to your breath for five minutes, it seems like eternity."

In February, Shea began attending sessions at the Shambhala Meditation Center in Pawtucket. He also attended a week-long silent meditation retreat at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Mass.

He'll attend another week-long silent retreat in October, in West Virginia, and late next year he's planning on a three-month silent retreat in Barre. Shea said that his interest in meditation has progressed to the study of Buddhism, particularly a form of meditation called Vipassana, which means "clear seeing."

Shea said he sees Buddhism as a psycho-spiritual process, a way of seeing how your mind works and being able to break old patterns of behavior."

On Thursday, he'll be speaking at the Shambhala Center, talking about the similarities between the process of meditation and acting. "The technique of acting is uncannily similar to the state of meditation," he said. "The peaceful place for the meditator is the creative place for the artist."

But Shea has not been on stage as an actor since he discovered meditation. "I haven't hit the stage and seen how it affects me," he said.

That will change in February, when Shea will perform at 2nd Story in a play called "Hysteria," a farce about an encounter between Sigmund Freud and Salvador Dali.

In the meantime, Shea said meditation has changed his life.

"I'm happy. Genuinely, authentically happy," he said. "You find it within yourself. You don't need outside stimulus to make you happy. There's no greater happiness than peace, and when you meditate, you find peace."

Shea said it has changed him at work, as well. The challenges of running a small nonprofit theater haven't gone away, but Shea said he is dealing with them differently.

"I see things as they are. Not as they were, not as they're supposed to be, or as they could be, but as they are," he said. "I try to talk less about the problem, and more about the solution."

As artistic director for 2nd Story, Shea said he incorporates elements of meditation into his theatrical world — but cautiously. "I'm not forcing it on anyone," he said. "It's not like we're sitting in a circle at rehearsals chanting and breathing."

Shea said he wants to continue studying meditation and Buddhism. Someday, he said, he would like to teach, although he acknowledges he still has a lot to learn.

And he remains intrigued by the connections between meditation and theater.

"Just as there is a practical approach to creative inner peace, there is a practical approach to creative theatrical expression," he said. "I could think of nothing better than combining those two worlds."

Shea will speak at the Shambhala Meditation Center, 541 Pawtucket Ave., Pawtucket, on Thursday at 6 p.m. The talk is free, although donations are welcome. Find more information online


(401) 277-7485

on Twitter: @asmith651


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A stroopwafel (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈstroːpʋaːfəl] ( listen)) (English translation: syrup waffle, treacle waffle, or caramel waffle; lit "syrup waffle") is a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle.[1][2] It is popular in the Netherlands. They were first made in the Dutch city of Gouda.

Ingredients and baking

The stiff dough for the waffles is made from flour, butter, brown sugar, yeast, milk, and eggs. Medium-sized balls of dough are put into a heated waffle iron and pressed into the required uniformly thin, round shape. After the waffle has been baked, and while it's still warm, it is split into thin layered halves. The warm filling, made from syrup, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon, is spread between the waffle halves, gluing them together.[1]

The stroopwafel originates from Gouda in the Netherlands. It was first made during the late 18th century[3] or early 19th century[1] by a baker using leftovers from the bakery, such as breadcrumbs, which were sweetened with syrup. One story ascribes the invention of the stroopwafel to the baker Gerard Kamphuisen, which would date the first stroopwafels somewhere between 1810, the year when he opened his bakery, and 1840, the year of the oldest known recipe for syrup waffles.[1] In the 19th century, there were around 100 syrup waffle bakers in Gouda, which was the only city in which they were made until 1870. After 1870 they were also made at parties and in markets outside the city of Gouda. In the 20th century, factories started to make stroopwafels. In 1960, there were 17 factories in Gouda alone, of which four are currently still open.[1]

The Happy House is Empty

I hope someone wonderful moves in. It is the cutest house green pea soup colored on the corner of Oak hill ave and Rathbun Street.

Secret Gardens of New York


Interview with Colin Dexter


The Feast Day of Saint Michael

It's the Feast Day of Saint Michael in the Greek and Roman Catholic Churches, which was a very important day in times past, falling near the equinox and so marking the fast darkening of the days in the northern world - the boundary of what was and what is to be. Today was the end of the harvest and the time for farm folk to calculate how many animals they could afford to feed through the winter and which would be sold or slaughtered. It was the end of the fishing season, the beginning of hunting, the time to pick apples and make cider.

Folks in central Pennsylvania make it a point to have their annual goose dinner tonight; a local tradition that grew out of the old English proverb: "If you eat goose on Michaelmas Day, you will never want money all the year round."

-Writer's Almanac

Monday, September 28, 2015

Chef Michael Smith: Make Ahead Meals

Chef Michael's warm voice draws the reader in and encourages them to get in the kitchen, play with flavours and have fun. Recipes are simple, but crammed with flair." --Aimee Wimbush-Bourque, author of Brown Eggs and Jam Jars and creator of the Saveur award-winning blog Simple Bites
About the Author

CHEF MICHAEL SMITH is the bestselling author of eight cookbooks, including Family Meals, Back to Basics, Fast Flavours, Chef Michael Smith's Kitchen, and The Best of Chef at Home. He is the popular host of several Food Network TV shows, including Chef Michael's Kitchen, Chef at Home and Chef Abroad, and is a judge on Chopped Canada. He lives on Prince Edward Island with his wife, Chastity, and their children, Gabe, Ariella, and Camille.


Ram Dass: A Journey of the Living Spirit

A Journey of the Living Spirit

Welcome! It’s so graceful to share the Journey. We’ve been on the journey a long time together. We’ve gone through a lot of stages. And just as in any journey, some people have dropped along the way, have had enough for this round. Others have been waiting for us to catch up. The journey passes through the seven valleys, the seven kingdoms, the chakras, the planes of consciousness, the degrees of faith. Often we only know we’ve been in a certain place when we pass beyond it, because when we’re in it, we don’t have the perspective to know, because we’re only being. But as the journey progresses, less and less do you need to know. When the faith is strong enough, it is sufficient just to be. It’s a journey towards simplicity, towards quietness, towards a kind of joy that is not in time. It’s a journey out of time, leaving behind every model we have had of who we think we are. It involves a transformation of our beings so that our thinking mind becomes our servant rather than our master. It’s a journey that has taken us from primary identification with our body, through identification with our psyche, on to an identification with our souls, then to an identification with God, and ultimately beyond identification.

Because many of us have traversed this path without maps, thinking that it was unique to us because of the peculiar way in which we were traveling, often there has been a lot of confusion. We have imagined that the end was reached when it was merely the first mountain peak — which yet hid all of the higher mountains in the distance. Many of us got enamored because these experiences along the way were so intense that we couldn’t imagine anything beyond them. Isn’t it a wonderful journey that at every stage we can’t imagine anything beyond it? Every point we reach is so much beyond anything up until then, that our perception is full, and we can’t see anything else but the experience itself.

For the first few stages we really think that we planned the trip, packed the provisions, set out ourselves, and are the master of our domain. It’s only after a few valleys and mountains some ways along that we begin to realize that there are silent guides, that what has seemed random and chaotic might actually have a pattern. It’s very hard for a being who is totally attached and identified with his intellect to imagine that the universe could be so perfectly designed that every act, every experience is perfectly within the lawful harmony of the universe — including all of the paradoxes. The statement, “Not a leaf turns but that God is behind it,” is just too far out to think about. But eventually we begin to recognize that the journey may be stretching out for a longer span than we thought it was going to.

We in the West seem to have become very reactive toward traditional religious forms, which I think comes from the way we’ve seen rituals and ceremonies used as ends in themselves — as a mechanical, ritualistic priestcraft, with the living spirit gone out of it. That has certainly happened in the East, and it’s happened in Western religions as well.

A lot of us now have come through a time of throwing one tradition after another. In this culture, we’ve thrown over sexual traditions; we’ve thrown over traditional social relations concerning marriage and the family; we’ve thrown over traditions about economics and working conditions; we’ve overthrown all kinds of political traditions. In most cases, that’s come out of a healthy awakening to the deadness of the existing structures. But somehow we’ve gotten a little lost in thinking that traditions are per se bad, when maybe what’s needed is not to throw them away, but to reawaken them. I think that one of our challenges now is to become sophisticated enough not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

I have gone to a lot of traditional religious communities in both the East and the West. You go into a church or a temple, and often what you see is that everybody’s going through the motions: they go through the ritual as if they were checking off their shopping lists at the supermarket. They may be singing wonderful songs about resurrection and rebirth, but nothing’s happening. The ceremony and the ritual originally came out of the living spirit, but that’s gotten lost in the shuffle, and what’s left is just the mechanical stuff.

But now if I come back to it with eyes that are tuned to other planes of consciousness, and if I can center and not get lost in my own reactions to the situation, suddenly there it all is: Living Spirit again. I think that we are all being prepared — all of us — to serve in that capacity of reinvesting our society with Living Spirit. And that happens through our becoming Living Spirit — because the only thing you can really transmit to another person is your Being. The fancy words don’t mean a thing.

-Ram Dass

Local Summer: Block Island

“We call it local summer,” says Shannon McCabe, who was raised on Block Island and works at Rustic Rides Farm, her family’s guided horse ride business.

Bill Greene/Globe staff

“We call it local summer,” says Shannon McCabe, who was raised on Block Island and works at Rustic Rides Farm, her family’s guided horse ride business.
By Bella English Globe Staff September 21, 2013

BLOCK ISLAND — In mid-September last year, Howard LeFevre and his wife, Donis Tatro, stayed here a couple of nights, their first trip to the island. The days were warm and the traffic light, great for biking and hiking. Sure, fewer restaurants and hotels were open than during the height of the summer, but there were still plenty to choose from.

As they were checking out of their inn, they rebooked, a year in advance, for late September this year.

“Fall is the best time of the year to go,” says LeFevre, a house painter who lives in Milton. “There aren’t many people there, and it’s cheaper.”

Though “the season” on Block Island is, like in many New England resort areas, Memorial Day through Labor Day, autumn here is ideal for tourists, with good weather and good deals.

Gone are the cars and the crowds, and the vibe on this scenic spit of land 13 miles off the Rhode Island coast is decidedly more relaxed.
If you go to Block Island. . .

If you go to Block Island. . .

“We call it local summer,” says Shannon McCabe, who was raised here and works at Rustic Rides Farm, her family’s guided horse ride business. “I always tell people it’s the best time to be out here. Hotels are usually flexible on rates, and it’s the best time to do nature walks and hiking because it’s less congested. It’s much, much more peaceful in the fall.”

About that flexibility: LeFevre got a special fall deal at the Avonlea bed-and-breakfast, where he stayed last year. If he booked for two nights, he’d get a third one free. The inn is right on Crescent Beach, with a big porch overlooking the ocean.
Moderated by the Atlantic, the island’s temperatures can indeed edge into the 70s into October.

Block Island Tourism Council

Moderated by the Atlantic, the island’s temperatures can indeed edge into the 70s into October.

Few locals know Block Island as well as Howard Rice does. In the 1920s, his grandparents bought land here, and Rice moved to the island as a kid in 1945. He’s the school-bus driver; the island, with a year-round population of about 1,000, has one school, which graduated seven students last year.

“It can be in the mid to upper 70s in the fall,” says Rice. “I know people who have swum up until Christmas time. All the kids wear shorts till then. They go bike riding on New Year’s Day.”

Moderated by the Atlantic, the island’s temperatures can indeed edge into the 70s into October. Nearly half the island is conservation land, and there are 27 miles of meandering greenway trails, 17 miles of beaches and dozens of ponds. The island, with its flat, paved roads, is also beloved by bicyclists.

On a recent visit, we took our dog, Gumbo, and stayed at the Darius Inn just down the street from the ferry terminal in the Old Harbor historic district. The cedar shake inn, built in 1803 as a pharmacy, was recently bought by two sisters from Philadelphia who have worked at other inns on the island. In the attic, they found leather invoice books for prescriptions written in beautiful, old-fashioned hand and costing just pennies.
The South East Light on Mohegan Bluffs on Block Island.

Paul E. Kandarian for the Boston Globe

The South East Light on Mohegan Bluffs on Block Island.

Becca Zendt, who is 26, laughs at one prescription. “It said, ‘If your wife is still bothering you, give her the whole bottle.’ ” Her sister Christy is 28 and responsible for the happy-hour wine and nibbles and the breakfasts served to guests who don’t rent a suite with a kitchenette.

When traveling, it’s never easy to find a decent place to stay with a dog, but Darius fills the bill for a $50 dog fee. Dogs are only allowed in the five suites that include a kitchenette and porch; there are also five motel rooms. The sisters provided us with a “dog towel” for wiping Gumbo off when we returned from Crescent Beach, just across the street.

Most places that will accept dogs require that Fido leave the room whenever you do. Not the Darius. They’ll even walk him if he’s barking and you’re at the beach; just leave them your cellphone number.

The Block Island beaches are mostly dog-friendly, and Gumbo loved wading in the water and digging for whatever it is that dogs dig for. An added bonus in the fall: There are fewer dogs, which is good news for both dog lovers and those other people.

The Darius, like many of the hotels and inns here, will decide its closing date depending on demand. “We’ll close either Halloween or Thanksgiving,” says Becca Zendt. “We’re not winterized. But the season is getting pushed further and further into the fall every year.”

Don’t come here looking for fall foliage, though. The island doesn’t have the leaf-peeping colors that many associate with New England. Elizabeth Connor, who oversees nine properties, including the iconic 1661 Inn and Hotel Manisses, says she has regular customers who swear by the off-season.

“September, October, and early November are a nice compromise,” she says. “It’s my favorite time of year. Our spring may come a little later than the mainland, but the flip side is that fall extends a little later.” The rates all go down after Labor Day, and a few of her properties are open year-round.

Old Block Island was a fishing and farming community without a good harbor until one was dug in 1875, ushering in tourists — and the stunning Victorian homes and hotels that remain today. At the Block Island Historical Society Museum, Ben Hruska shows short videos about the Victorian years when horses and buggies carted people around, and sun bathers posed on the beach, the ladies in long dresses, the men in long pants. The Block Island Ferry, which runs from Point Judith and Newport, celebrated its 100th anniversary this summer. Ferries run every day of the year except Christmas Day.

No trip to Block Island is complete without a visit to the Southeast Lighthouse, built in 1873 atop a 150-foot cliff. Due to erosion, the lighthouse was poised to fall into the sea when a group of volunteers raised the money to have it moved several yards back in 1993. We walked down the road from the lighthouse to Mohegan Bluffs, and more than 150 wooden stair steps down to the ocean. It is a stunning vista, good for both your soul and your calves.

Food, in particular sweets, is good for the soul, too, and my soul soared once I wandered into Blocks of Fudge, a charming candy shop run by Sheila Fowler. She’s open through Thanksgiving, with a warning: “I might not have the Creamsicle or the Amaretto Chocolate Swirl after Columbus Day.”

Not to worry. Fowler makes 20 kinds of fudge, and it’s creamy and creative. (“I came up with Chocolate Fluffernutter Fudge during a 2 a.m. hot flash in February,” she says.)

September is her favorite month, October a close second. “In September, the weather’s gorgeous, not so humid. You can stand on Front Street and see the lights of the Newport Bridge. We don’t usually get a frost until November.”

Fortified by my fudge fix, I wandered into Block Market, a cool clothing boutique run by Sean Dugan, who grew up in Lenox, Mass., and summered here as a child. An island resident for 16 years now, Dugan travels to Indonesia where he buys fabric and jewelry and has his signature logo — the shape of the island — embroidered on clothing. His own Block Island Brand has men’s shorts bearing the logo, sort of a play on the whales that adorn those preppy Nantucket threads. Block Island Market is open until Columbus Day and on weekends until Christmas. It’s the place with the colorful batik sarongs hanging outside.

Nearby is the fantastic Farmers’ Market, where arts and crafts — all made on the island — are sold, along with organic flowers and produce from farmers, and honey and beeswax candles from Littlefield Bee Farm. The market is open Wednesday and Sunday mornings until Columbus Day.

The Glass Onion is another great shop that has been around a long time, selling clothing and gifts. Owner Mary Anderson keeps it open until December, but only on weekends in October and November. She loves autumn on the island. “You can walk the beach and see 10 people,” says Anderson. “It’s also better for biking, and the ocean is still warm.”

Fall is the high season for one population: birds, which of course attract bird-watchers. Block Island is on the Atlantic Flyway, the “avian superhighway” for migratory birds, and 150 species stop here on their way south. “In October and November, the Audubon Society people go to conservation land and set up nets to trap and band birds, and check those that have already been banded,” says Rice.

Life on the island slows down markedly after Columbus Day, though the annual Christmas Stroll on Thanksgiving weekend still attracts tourists. The stores are decorated and offer deals, hot chocolate, and cider. There’s the Christmas tree lighting, and as of last year a new tradition: the building of a towering Christmas tree made out of lobster traps in a local park.

After that, the island gets some hard-earned sleep for the winter.

Bella English can be reached at

Skating Away: Hans Christian Andersen Fantasy

I always wanted to skate to school. Now I can!
Skating Trails in Rhode Island

Blackstone River Greenway (RI)


State: RI
Length: 11.8 miles
Surface: Asphalt
The Blackstone River Greenway (previously known as the Blackstone River Bikeway) represents a big undertaking in this tiny state: The 11.8-mile trail is the largest open segment on a nearly 50-mile corridor that will eventually connect Providence ...
Burrillville Bike Path


State: RI
Length: 1.2 miles
Surface: Asphalt
Burrillville Bike Path runs for just over a mile through its namesake rural community in northwest Rhode Island. It connects the villages of Pascoag and Harrisville through a corridor that once belonged to the York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad. ...
East Bay Bike Path


State: RI
Length: 14 miles
Surface: Asphalt
Rhode Island's best-known rail-trail, the East Bay Bicycle Path, hugs the shores of Narragansett Bay, from Bristol in the south and north to India Point Park in Providence. The 14-mile paved path accommodates a wide variety of users. Markers ...
Ten Mile River Greenway

State: RI
Length: 3 miles
Surface: Asphalt
The Ten Mile River Greenway follows the winding course for 3 miles along the James Turner Reservoir (Ten Mile River). Though short, the trail is quite scenic and runs between the Kimberly Ann Rock ball fields in East Providence and the north ...
Warren Bike Path


State: RI
Length: 0.9 miles
Surface: Asphalt
The pleasantly tree-lined Warren Bike Path, built along the former Warren-Fall River Railroad, runs just under a mile from Long Road west to the Kickemuit River. The trail ends in an 18-acre park along the river known as The Meadows, which offers ...
Washington Secondary Bike Path


State: RI
Length: 18.9 miles
Surface: Asphalt
The Washington Secondary Bike Path actually comprises four trails along an old Hartford, Providence, & Fishkill Railroad corridor. Together, the Cranston Bike Path, Warwick Bike Path, West Warwick Greenway and Trestle Trail create nearly 19 ...
William C. O'Neill Bike Path


State: RI
Length: 6.8 miles
Surface: Asphalt
Named for the late state senator who spearheaded development of the trail, the William C. O'Neill Bike Path (a.k.a. South County Bike Path) follows the route of the former Narragansett Pier Railroad, which connected the coastal village of South ...

Anne Lamott from Small Victories

The reality that most of us lived our first decades feeling welcome only when certain conditions applied: we felt safe and embraced only when the parental units were getting along, when we were on our best behavior, doing well in school, not causing problems, and had as few needs as possible. If you needed more from them, best of luck.
It also doesn't help that the planet is not nearly as hospitable as one might have hoped.

In the beginning there was implantation which was either the best or the worst news, and then God or life did some voodoo knitting that created each of us. We came into the world one by one. The next thing we knew, we were at the dinner table with delusional unhappy people, who drank, or should have drunk,and who simultaneously had issues with rigidity and no boundaries. These people seemed to go out of there way to make it clear that we were not the children they'd had in mind. You were thwarting their good intentions with your oddness and your bad posture.

They liked to think their love was unconditional. That's nice. Sadly though, the child who showed up at the table for meals was not the child the parents had set out to make. They seemed surprised all over again. They'd already forgotten from breakfast.

The parental units were simply duplicating what they'd learned when they were small. That's the system.

It wasn't that you got the occasional feeling that you were an alien or a chore to them. You just knew that attention had to be paid constantly to their moods, their mental health levels, their rising irritation, and the volume of beer consumed. Yes there were many happy memories marbled in, too, of picnics, pets, beaches. But I will remind you now that inconsistency is how experimenters regularly drive lab rats over the edge.

Maybe they knew the child was onto them, could see through them,could see the truth,could see how cracked, unstable and distant they were. We knew there most intimate smells sounds and vulnerabilities, like tiny spies. The whole game in the fifties and early sixties was for no one to know who you really were. We children were witness to the total pretense of how our parents wanted the world to see them. We helped them maintain this image, because if anyone outside the family could see wo they really were deep down, the whole system, the ship of your family, might sink. We held our breath to give the ship buoyancy. We were like little air tanks.

They knew deep down they were manic depressive crazy people, but they wanted others to see them as good family men and women, peaceful warriors,worker bees,and activists who were making the world safe for democracy. Their kids knew about their tempers and vices, but the kids were under the wizard's spell and also under the constant threat of exile or hunger.

The silver lining to this is that since the world we came into is an alcoholic, sick, wounded, wounding place, we also ended up with an owner's manual for dealing with craziness. We knew how to keep secrets. Also our parents came with siblings who adored us, because we were not theirs. They actually got me. When I'd come through the door, the expression on my uncles' and aunts' faces would be so happy. There she is! There's Annie. Isn't she something? The way the looked across the table at me, with pleasure and wonder, taught me what love looked like.
- Anne Lamott, from Small Victories The Book of Welcome pg 18-20

Hard Bop Sax Quartet

"Gospel Fever!" - performed by the Hard-Bop Sax Quartet ...
Video for hard bop sax quartet▶ 3:07
Oct 25, 2006 - Uploaded by Russ Peterson
Performed by the Hard-Bop Saxophone Quartet Concordia College Recital Hall Moorhead, Minnesota USA ...
"Wade in the Water" played by the Hard-Bop Sax Quartet ...
Video for hard bop sax quartet▶ 5:09
Jan 15, 2012 - Uploaded by Russ Peterson
Arranged by Russ Peterson played by the HBSQ Jan, 2012 At Concordia College, Moorhead, MN Contact ...

Inspiring Saxophone on Michelle Willson's WICN

Michelle Willson picks the best tunes at 6:AM~9AM morning blend. WICN jazz out of Worcester!

his father made him buy a dictionary

W.C. Handy published “Memphis Blues” on this date in 1912. William Christopher Handy came from northern Alabama, the son of a Methodist preacher who didn’t approve of secular music. The boy saved his money to buy a guitar, but his father made him buy a dictionary instead. Mr. Handy agreed to pay for organ lessons only, but his son wanted to play the cornet. W.C. Handy went to college and was teaching music by the time he was 19. He eventually made his way to Kentucky, and was asked to lead the band for W.A. Mahara’s Minstrels in 1896.

Blood Moon and Counting

Last night Bill woke me up at ten PM to see the amazing blood-red moon. it looked like a bloody eyeball in the sky. "Next time this happens again will be in 18 years," he said. "I hope we're alive and together to see it," I said. "How old will we be?" I asked. I'd be 78 and you'd be 72, he said.

Kate Douglas Wiggin

It’s the birthday of Kate Douglas Wiggin (books by this author), born in Philadelphia, (1856), who wrote Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1903) and many other novels. She also started the first free kindergarten on the West Coast, in San Francisco. She spent much of her own life working as a teacher, and she once said, “Every child born into the world is a new thought of God, an ever fresh and radiant possibility.”

The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama by Pico Iyer

In the altogether magnificent The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama (public library), writer Pico Iyer — who has known the beloved spiritual leader since adolescence and, by the time he began writing this book, had visited him in his exile home for nearly thirty years — describes how the Dalai Lama begins each day:

[By] nine a.m. … the Dalai Lama himself had already been up for more than five hours, awakening, as he always does, at three-thirty a.m., to spend his first four hours of the day meditating on the roots of compassion and what he can do for his people, the “Chinese brothers and sisters” who are holding his people hostage, and the rest of us, while also preparing himself for his death.

Compressed into this humble and humbling morning routine is the entire Buddhist belief that life is a “joyful participation in a world of sorrows.” This daily rite of body and spirit is the building block of the Dalai Lama’s quiet and steadfast mission to, as Iyer elegantly puts it, “explore the world closely, so as to make out its laws, and then to see what can and cannot be done within those laws.” He writes:

To understand the Dalai Lama … especially if (as in my case) you come from some other tradition, perhaps it’s most useful to see him as a doctor of the soul.

As someone deeply invested in the crucial difference between information and wisdom, I was particularly fascinated by the Dalai Lama’s information diet — that is, what daily facts he chooses to fuse with ancient wisdom in his dedication to unraveling the nature of reality and making use of it in fortifying the soul. Iyer writes:

As a longtime student of real life, ruler of his people before the age of five, he listens every morning to the Voice of America, to the BBC East Asian broadcast, to the BBC World Service — even while meditating — and devours Time and Newsweek and many other news sources (I think of how the Buddha is often depicted with one hand touching the earth, in what Buddhists call the “witnessing the earth” gesture).


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Super Moon Lunar Eclipse


Cover your Face to Breathe

Whoever invented dryer sheets should be sent to jail.

I couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t afford not to forgive.

Ram Dass:

Relationships - Wisdom - Forgiveness – The Bridge Between Self & Soul

Question: I’d like to know about forgiveness as a bridge between the separate self and the awakened soul.

Ram Dass: That’s a nice way of phrasing the question. It’s a step on a ladder that goes from dualism into non-dualism. Because as you forgive or allow or acknowledge or say “Of course you’re human” or “We all do that” or something, you open your heart again which embraces the person or the situation back into you, which allows the play. See, every time you close off something with judgment, it’s as if you take a bit of energy and you lock it away and make it unavailable to you. Until pretty soon you are exhausted. You don’t have any energy, because you are so busy.

I often visualize it as having little doors inside your head. You’re holding a grudge — and so every time you think of that person your heart closes down. It’s as if you’ve got a little room with a guard at it that doesn’t allow you to flow freely. And they’re all the no’s of life — the no, no, no, no, no. It’s an emotional “no” against the world — against the Universe — against the way the Universe is. As opposed to “yes”. We’ve been telling you how to say no without closing your heart, but the no I’m talking about is the heart-closing no. It’s the judging, grudge, non-forgiving no. And it costs more than it’s worth. Even though you are right, righteousness ultimately starves you to death.

Righteousness is not liberation. It is known as the golden chain. You’re wonderful and you’re absolutely right, but you’re dead. I mean you’re dead to the living spirit. And finally, you want to be free more than you want to be right. And you have to forgive somebody not because they deserve forgiveness within your other model, in a righteous sense.

Maharajji said to me “Ram Dass, I told you to Love everyone and tell the truth.” And I looked at those people who I had built up all this righteous indignation and hatred towards, sitting across the courtyard at the temple. And I went over there and I was in this ecstatic state from being with Maharajji and also my ego was in incredible pain, and I took apples and I cut them into little pieces and I know that you can’t feed somebody with anger, or it’s like giving them poison. And I went up to each person who I had built up resentment to and justifiable, righteous resentment. I mean I am very creative in justifying my reactions, so I had a good reason to be angry with that person. And I stood there, and he didn’t say work it out, which is what we in the West psychologically like to work out our anger so that everyone saves face. He said “Give it up.” And I looked at the person, and I had to just let it go. And it was so painful! And when I had let it go and I could look at that person with Love again, I stuck the apple in their mouth. And it took me over an hour and a half to do that for these people. Before I could finally really let go enough to do it. Because I couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t afford not to forgive. Once you are in the One, nothing builds up so there is no forgiveness. No forgiveness is required, because you don’t forgive a tree and you don’t forgive a river. You know? It’s like lightning strikes your house and you say “I forgive you.” I mean, who are you forgiving?

It’s interesting. You know that story — the Chinese story about the boats and the fog? As the boatman, he hits another boat, and he starts swearing at the other –“You, why didn’t you look where you were going?” And then the fog lifts for a moment and he sees there is nobody in the other boat. And he feels like a fool. Well, it’s roughly the same thing. I mean you hold a grudge against your father, as if he’s in there. He isn’t in there. Psychologically you think he is, because you think you are in you, but once you begin to see he’s just a set of phenomena happening. You are busy saying “I forgive you. I forgive you.” To a clock? You know, it’s really nothing different than that. I don’t mean to demean personality. It’s quite interesting. But it is a lawful set of events. It’s not freedom.

In Rome: Walk Your Dog Three Times a Day or Be Fined

Published April 25, 2005 12:00 AM
Walk Your Dog Three Times a Day or Be Fined, Says Turin

ROME — Dog owners in Turin will be fined up to 500 euros ($650) if they don't walk their pets at least three times a day, under a new law from the city's council.

People will also be banned from dyeing their pets' fur or "any form of animal mutilation" for merely aesthetic motives such as docking dogs' tails, under the law about to be passed in the northern Italian city.

"In Turin it will be illegal to turn one's dog into a ridiculous fluffy toy," the city's La Stampa daily reported.

Italians can already be fined up to 10,000 euros and spend a year in prison if found guilty of torturing or abandoning their pets, but Turin's new rules go into much greater detail.

Dogs may be led for walks by people on bicycles, the rules say, "but not in a way that would tire the animal too much".

Italy considers itself an animal-loving nation and in many cities stray cats are protected by law. Still some 150,000 pet dogs and 200,000 cats are abandoned in Italy every year, according to animal rights groups.

To enforce the law, Turin police would rely largely on the help of tipsters spotting cruel treatment by their neighbours, La Stampa reported.

It said the 20-page rulebook gives Turin the most stringent animal protection rules in the country. It even bans fairgrounds from giving away goldfish in plastic bags.

Source: Reuters

Rise and Shine Cornbread

When I got up Orion was overhead and Venus was staring right at me. So I made cornbread, a big yellow round one in my cast iron skillet. This is how I wake the guest.

I LOVE Ram Dass: Look at your life, see what message it is you are

Reflect about death. And become friendly with it.

Find a community around you of people who would like to really grow inwardly if you’re lucky enough to find them. They’re called satsang or sanga or the family or the community of spirit. If you don’t then you’ve got books of sadhaks, of wise women, of all of that. Tune back into nature more deeply so you can feel the cycles, the natural cycles of which your body and your personality are a part.

Find practices of meditation. Meditation on impermanence, meditation on suffering and the end of suffering. Meditation on non-self. Meditation on dependency.

Learn how to act in the world in caring and compassionate way without being trapped in being the actor by using it all to go inward more deeply, more deeply.

Just to give you just a flavour, I’m about to draw to a close here.

These are the kind of spiritual teachings I work with.

You should rest in naturalness. A clear, empty and naked mind essence, free from any concerns, just rest in your awareness.

When your body falls sick don’t indulge in it, but rest in naturalness.

Look into the painful sensation itself. The pain doesn’t cease, however you will directly realize the inate state of awareness free from any thought about where it hurts, what it hurts, how it hurts as well as the object of the pain.

At that moment the sickness grows less intense and becomes more insubstantial.

Regard disturbing emotions from within the space of emptiness.

Any disturbing emotion that may arise is wisdom the moment you relax in naturalnesss. Look directly into it. Don’t deliberately reject it or regard it as a fault or indulge it in concreteness, or even regard it as a virtue, just look at it. And keep coming back into spaciousness, come back into spaciousness.

The result of the kinds of spiritual work I’m talking about is that you are growing towards being equanamous, peaceful. Where you see that the process of the aging is itself the creative act. And you see the way in which you are your own creation and when you are creating from peace and equanimity and the quiet spaciousness of being in love in the universe, the unity of the universe, you become a wise elder in to the society.

When you are dependent on others, the way in which you are dependent is a message to other people. To help them get free of their fear of dependency.

The people I work with who are dying, I have to tell you, are my great teachers. They are people who in the way they work with these processes keep teaching me. So understand that … Mahatma Gandhi’s line, he was on a train, it was rollling out of the station, a reporter rushed up and said ‘Mahatmaji, give me a message to take back to the people.’ He had just time to scribble on a paper bag, he handed out the bag and it said: My life is my message.

I invite you to look at your life and see what message it is you are. And when you find that part of you that is afraid, that is caught in time and that which changes, get to work.

There’s no better time to do than now.

Full Interview

Saturday, September 26, 2015

We're Lucky

Just now I was loading cans of kidney beans and tomato juice from the curb into my little red wagon. A fight erupted down the block. A group of adult men were chasing a very tall man in my direction. There was lots of screaming and yelling. I reached into my bag to find my cell phone to call the police when a man yelled over his porch, "The police are on the way!" Within two minutes three Woonsocket police officers showed up in two cruisers and arrested and cuffed the man. As I said to a curious neighbor. "It was just a fight. We're lucky in our city, the police get here fast." She agreed.

On the Front Lines

When I was teaching there were a number of times the kids came to me for help. Once we even cried together.


During her freshman year, Ms. Hong said, a friend told her that she had been sexually assaulted, and counseling the friend was formative. “It was a devastating experience, even for me,” she said. Other people “in the community,” Ms. Hong said, were not taking her friend’s situation seriously. “I was confused by that. No one seemed to care and I didn’t know what resources to direct her to. I didn’t know how to deal with something so serious.”

Anne Lamott: Small Victories

Loving this book. She's done it again.

The Ego: A Dichotomy of Fear and Love

by Ram Dass

What I was wondering is if you could talk a little about distinguishing between healthy independence, like your refusal to go to medical school, and an egoism that would be an obstacle to personal growth.

Ram Dass: Well, let’s first just define the term a little bit. The term ego is a structure of mind that organizes the universe particularly around the relationship to separateness. It’s in the domain of separateness. It is the steering mechanism for you as a separate entity. There are two mechanisms going on inside you, you could equate them to the head and the heart at one level, although that’s a little shoddy. At the level of the intellect, or the conceptual structures of mind, there it is a mechanism, it’s a steering mechanism for keeping you as a separate entity surviving and functioning within the universe, within this world, on this plane.

Then there’s the other part of you. The Atman, the Jivatman, the heart, the intuitive wisdom, whatever that is, that merges, that goes out and balances and flows, and gives away everything and doesn’t care, it’s like the lilies in the field, the unconditional lover. And there’s a tension between those two things.

Now when you develop the ego structure, this mechanism, this central computer necessary for running the game, the question arises as to how attached you are, or how identified you are with it. In spiritual evolution, you don’t destroy the ego, you merely turn away from identifying with it, to having it as a functional unit. You still need it as a functional unit so that when I’m talking to you I realize there’s a you and a me and I’m talking to you on this plane. I’ve also gotta have my heart open so that at another plane I’m just talking to myself. Right? These are two planes of reality. Because it’s God talking to itself.

So when I have this ego structure for orienting me and functioning on this plane, it is going to be functional when I’m not identified with it. Swami Vivekananda said that the ego is a lousy master but a wonderful servant. See? And the art is to convert it into being a servant. The original image from Ramakrishna is when he’s talking about a horse drawn carriage and there’s a coachman is sitting up on top, and the horses are the desires and the coachman is the ego and the coachman thinks he’s handling the whole thing. And then at one point the man inside the carriage, or woman inside the carriage taps on the glass and says, “Turn left here,” and the coachman says, “Who the hell are you?” or you know, “Who are you to tell me? What are you doing in there?” And this is the higher self that is awakening, and the higher self, says, “I own the carriage and you’re my servant.” And the ego says, “The hell you are!” Like, “I’m running this show. You need me to survive.”

You gotta remember the ego – this is in the Fear/Love Dichotomy. The ego is built on fear. It’s not built on love; it’s built on fear. It’s built on the fear of non-survival, and so you build a structure in order to make you safe. And it’s beautiful instrument, but if you’re identified with it, you’re fearful all the time. And because you’re fearful you’re always going to overcompensate and make ego decisions that are a little inappropriate, because they’ll be colored by your looking from inside this place.

When you’re outside of it you see that you use your ego as you need to to make decisions. You come back into sombody-ness. I mean I go in and out of it. Like the other night when I was tired, and my mind wasn’t clear, by the end of the evening I was in my ego, and I said to you, “I’m sorry, I’m fatigued,” and I felt depressed and I felt bad. That was ego. When I come up out of that, what you like about me is that I have a charming ego, but you’re not just stuck with my charisma, that you’re feeling something behind it because there is something behind it, ‘cause I’m back here.

And you and I are meeting back here behind this dance that we’re doing which is charming and fascinating. And that’s really the beauty of playing with the ego and the higher consciousness. And it’s only when those two planes work that the ego becomes really functional, okay?

– Ram Dass

Listening Heart Series, 1989

Miles Davis Blue Portrait by Joni Mitchell

Miles Davis Portrait

(Joni Mitchell, quoted from Miles Electric - A Different Kind Of Blue)
I spent the days after his death painting a portrait of him as I frequently do when I lose somebody that I cared for, and a... this... Wayne took a look at the painting and he said a... "Well you painted him a kinda blue", the skin tone 'cuz he had that magnificent mahogany colour y'know in my rendition of it was kinda blue.

(from: A Conversation with Joni Mitchell by Daniel Levitin © Grammy Magazine March 1997) JM: Yeah, he liked my painting and he'd seen this print that a mutual friend of ours had and he called me up, (whispers) 'Joni, I like that painting that you did. Nice colors. I want to come over and watch you paint.' So he would talk painting but he wouldn't talk music with me. He never would talk music.

DL: So you knew him?

JM: A little bit. I approached him on many occasions to play with me see, and he wouldn't play with me. When he died, his son inherited his record collection, and he said to me, "Joni, did you give Dad all your records?"

I said "no, on a couple of occasions I gave him just a tape that I wanted him to play on and an art print to bribe him, or something (laughs)..."

He said, "well he had all your records. And at the end he moved your print from the bathroom up to the side of his bed."

And I thought he must have just been getting ready play with me when he died.

I went to see him four days before he died, along with Wayne Shorter and a whole group of us. He was playing at the Hollywood Bowl, and I walked into the dressing room, and Miles had his hand on Wayne's shoulder and he was talking music to him.

This was unusual, because Miles never talked music; he ordinarily didn't give a lot of instruction. After the show I asked Wayne what they were talking about, and Wayne said that Miles was kind of passing the baton to him. He must have known he was gonna die ...

Music a Magical Mysterious Force

How to create a stress-reducing playlist

David Bowie's Striped Vinyl Bodysuit

Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto designed this striped vinyl bodysuit for the singer

Van the Man

Van Morrison – the secret stories behind 10 of his best albums

Tom Pinnock

Transcendental telepathy. Mystical rushes of energy. Entire bands dismissed on Christmas Eve. A 33/1 bet on Celtic Mist… Meet the real VAN MORRISON. For some 50 years, Van The Man has been one of the most enigmatic heroes of the rock pantheon. Now, though, Uncut elicits the secret stories behind 10 of his greatest solo albums. And Morrison himself lifts the lid on his extraordinary art. “I don’t really know,” he says, “if there is any tradition anymore…” Words: Graeme Thomson

Originally published in Uncut’s May 2015 issue (Take 216).


Van Morrison speaks!

“I don’t really ponder past songs unless I want to maybe redo it or do a different arrangement. I get a different experience, working with different people. If you have your own band all the time, then you become too fixed. You need to interact with different players. Well, I do anyway. Lots of people.

“A lot of my songs are difficult, actually. Some people think it is easy. They hear me sing a song. ‘I can do that.’ Then they try it, and they realise, ‘There is more going on here than I really realised.’ The way I am doing it, it sounds like it is easy but its actually not. The songs are quite complex.

“I come from a different era than a lot of people. The people I would be hanging out with when I was a kid would have been much older than me, for instance. Some people my age were into jazz, blues, country music. There were a lot of people in my area, for some strange reason, who had recordings and were into this stuff. I don’t know how that turned out, because it was a very small area. That was the kind of era I grew up in. It was more esoteric. Stuff you had to think about.

“You listened to jazz, it was an intellectual engagement listening. Blues, you had to listen to lyrics, you had to be engaged. You had to feel it. It wasn’t like, turn on the radio and get the Top 10. So I was brought up with that, thank God, rather than getting the perceived wisdom of BBC Radio; even though in those days they had some good music programmes, oddly enough. So that is where I was coming from. Nowadays that would be like a dinosaur, that era is completely gone. It was all kind of interconnected, jazz, blues, folk, the beat thing was going on. There was poetry and jazz. I am from a whole bygone era. I don’t know if there is any tradition anymore. I was lucky to even meet, work and hang out with all these people. I remember the first time I saw Jimmy Witherspoon play in London, it was unbelievable. Like a spiritual experience for want of a better word.

“I met him, it was ’65 or something, hung out at the bar just like normal people. It’s all based on timing. Jazz and blues phasing is all based on playing with time. Some people may think a 12-bar blues is a jam. Jimi Hendrix-type people would think, ‘Jimi played really loudly, so that’s what I am supposed to do.’ That is not 12-bar blues. It’s not what its about at all. It’s all about breaking it up. I don’t know about loud guitar music, but for singers it’s about playing with time; same for jazz. How do you carve up the time, stretch it out? How do you bridge it, how do you make space? It’s all about creating space. It is only transmitted by listening and watching it, and being around it and absorbing it.

“The key is having musicians who understand this. Sometimes, one is lucky and one will connect with musicians who understand what it’s all about. That’s when you can go somewhere. Unfortunately, most musicians don’t understand this at all. They might be great technically; but they don’t have the feeling. They don’t know what you are trying to do, even though you tell them. It’s not something you can even tell people. They have to get it.”

Susan Dominus

I was impatient when my mother’s attention was occupied elsewhere. But my 9-year-old children, when they see me on my phone, feel something more intense, something closer to indignation. They are shut out twice over: They see that I am otherwise occupied, but with what, they have no idea. This is what makes the smartphone such a rich source of paradoxical guilt for the current generation of parents. We are considered at once overbearing and totally oblivious, so besotted by our own children that it’s unseemly, yet so absorbed by our phones, so unaware as precious moments of childhood slip by, that it’s shameful.


. . .she was found wandering London at five o'clock in the morning, confused, apparently asking passersby if her husband had been beheaded.

Gideon Rosen: Exercise of Philosophy

2 minutes

Friday, September 25, 2015


Here too


Targeting the neighborhood Our local mini mart has hundreds of kids under the age of nine visiting daily.

Robots and Pretty Girls

Pulp Imagery
Movie Imagery

Zebra: never been truly domesticated

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Zebras (/ˈzɛbrə/ ZEB-rə or /ˈziːbrə/ ZEE-brə)[1] are several species of African equids (horse family) united by their distinctive black and white striped coats. Their stripes come in different patterns, unique to each individual. They are generally social animals that live in small harems to large herds. Unlike their closest relatives, horses and donkeys, zebras have never been truly domesticated.

There are three species of zebras: the plains zebra, the Grévy's zebra and the mountain zebra. The plains zebra and the mountain zebra belong to the subgenus Hippotigris, but Grévy's zebra is the sole species of subgenus Dolichohippus. The latter resembles an ass, to which it is closely related, while the former two are more horse-like. All three belong to the genus Equus, along with other living equids.

The unique stripes of zebras make them one of the animals most familiar to people. They occur in a variety of habitats, such as grasslands, savannas, woodlands, thorny scrublands, mountains, and coastal hills. However, various anthropogenic factors have had a severe impact on zebra populations, in particular hunting for skins and habitat destruction. Grévy's zebra and the mountain zebra are endangered. While plains zebras are much more plentiful, one subspecies, the quagga, became extinct in the late 19th century – though there is currently a plan, called the Quagga Project, that aims to breed zebras that are phenotypically similar to the quagga in a process called breeding back.

National Geographic Weed Article

he’s not particularly in favor of legalizing cannabis for recreational use. He doesn’t think anyone should go to jail for possessing it, but he insists that marijuana is “not an innocuous substance”—especially for young people. He cites studies showing that the prolonged use of high-THC strains of marijuana can change the way the developing brain grows. He notes that in some people cannabis can provoke serious and debilitating anxiety attacks. And he points to studies that suggest cannabis may trigger the onset of schizophrenia among those who have a genetic predisposition to the disease.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

My buddy J, told me he was a fetal alcohol baby. FAS Read all abut it here.

David B. Fankhauser's Farmer Cheese

How to Make Farmer's Cheese
©David B. Fankhauser, Ph.D.,
Professor of Biology and Chemistry
University of Cincinnati Clermont College,
Batavia OH 45103

File "Farmers_Cheese.htm" was last modified on 26 Mar 2005.
This page has been accessed Counter times since 9 March 2001.
Created 15 February 2001

This simple cheese has several aliases. Two common ones are soft farmer's cheese and "chevre." They both are rather loose names. "Farmer's cheese" can refer to any of a number of different soft home-made cheeses which are eaten fresh. "Chevre," which actually means goat, could refer to many different cheeses. This recipe for "Farmer's Cheese" is nearly identical with Neufchatel Cheese, the recipe for which I posted some time ago on my Cheese Page.

I have modified this recipe from one I got from Julia Farmer a year or two back. She states that she got it from a book by Jean-Claude Le Jaouen, but did not mention the name of the book.


Two gallons goats milk
1/4 cup cultured buttermilk
½ tablet Rennet (or two drops of liquid rennet)


Warm milk to room temperature (68-70°F)
Dissolve 1/2 of a rennet tablet in 1/4 cup luke-warm water.
Stir in buttermilk, mix thoroughly.
Stir in rennet, mix thoroughly, cover, let sit for 24 hours.
Check for clean break. The curd should be firm enough to cut into 1/2 inch cubes (see page on Making 5 gallons of milk into cheese for pictures). Some recipes call for stirring the curds into a slurry, and pouring into a fairly tight weave bag to drain. However, if the weave is too loose, such as with a single layer or two of cheese cloth, the fine curd will run through at first. I far prefer to cut the curd as it makes for more easily separated curds and whey.
ladle the curds into a sterile cloth in a strainer (or colander), and suspend in a refrigerator or cool place.
Let the whey drain for 24 hours in a cool place.
Salt to taste (about 1-2 teaspoons), store covered in the refrigerator for a week or two. This cheese will not keep for much longer.

Julia Farmer further says that you can

press into small cheese molds for little cheeses
roll them in ashes, place in a jar with garlic and herbs, cover with extra virgin olive oil
Use it in cheese cake
whip the cheese up with some powdered sugar, vanilla extract and a bit of lemon juice until its well blended and then serve as dessert with sliced strawberries over the top.


"You can add a pinch of penicillium mold with the starter and cure them at 50°F for a Brie/Camembert clone." I have not tried that one yet, but have made Blue Cheese with these curds with great success.

Return to Fankhauser's Cheese Page
Go to David Fankhauser's Main Page

Send Email to: David.Fankhauser@UC.EDU

So, you may ask, what kept me reading?

David Carr turns the gun on himself -- and lives to tell the harrowing tale
By Jesse Kornbluth July 27, 2008

"Let's say, for the sake of argument, that a guy threw himself under a crosstown bus and lived to tell the tale," David Carr writes. "Is that a book you'd like to read?"

Good question. Indeed, it's the question that prospective readers of "The Night of the Gun", Carr's warts-and-all memoir, will have to consider --- because this is that book.


A talented kid without much direction graduates from high school pot smoking to cocaine at college.

He starts a career in journalism that has him reporting on police and government officials by day --- and freebasing cocaine at night.

He hooks up with a woman who deals dope. Driving to see her, he's so wrecked he almost crashes into a station wagon filled with kids. He skids into a ditch, has to spend the night in jail, misses his girlfriend's birthday. When he finally shows up, he gives her what can't be bought in any store: a black eye and a broken rib.

He introduces his girlfriend to crack. She gets pregnant. They become so thoroughly addicted that, just as her water is breaking, he's handing her a crack pipe. Their twin daughters are crack babies.

He splits with his girlfriend, and, because he has a nice job, keeps the girls with him. This does not stop him from locking them in the car while he runs into a dealer's house to score.

The gun: As he recalls it, he was so out of control that his best friend not only has to call the cops but wave a gun at him. His best friend remembers it another way --- as David's gun.

In detox, his arms are so nasty that the staffers have him reach into a tub of detergent so they don't have to touch him. It takes a full month for the drug psychosis to wear off. And he does rehab four times before he finally gets clean.

There are 300+ pages like that in "The Night of the Gun" --- it is a long downward spiral. Reading it, I thought of the Emmylou Harris lines: "One thing they don't tell you about the blues/When you got 'em/You keep on falling cause there ain't no bottom/There ain't no end..."

So, you may ask, what kept me reading?

In part, because David Carr emerges from the darkness into a kind of radiance: a new wife, intact family, great job. And because, at the center of his redemption, is a reason a lot of guys can relate to: "Everything good and true about my life started on the day the twins became mine."

And, in part, because I know David Carr. Like him a lot. Knew nothing about his past. And so was gobsmacked by every page. For those who do not traffic in New York media circles or read the paper of record, David Carr is the media columnist and sometime culture reporter for The New York Times. He's witty and gutsy and almost always fun to read --- when he's in the Times, I open it with actual enthusiasm.

There's another, better reason I kept reading. I have known a number of people who became addicts. I don't know any now --- some died, some got clean, and those who didn't drifted far from my ambitious, middle-class circle. As a result, I sometimes find my sympathies for addicts to be more abstract than real.

But at least I can still see addicts as victims of a terrible disease. A great many people in our country can't --- which is one reason we spend many times more money on a "war on drugs" and on jails that don't rehabilitate than we do on treatment centers. "The Night of the Gun" is a stark reminder that nice people from good families can sink just as low as the hard case from the projects --- and that drug addiction can, with luck and skill and love and patience, be cured.

David Carr was lucky. His sickness struck him when he lived in Minnesota, an enlightened state with many treatment facilities. He was lucky to have a friend like Dave, who showed up every Sunday to babysit the girls so Carr could go to meetings. (I dare you not to burst into tears when Dave is dying and Carr leans over him to whisper: "I owe you everything in the world.") And he was way lucky that a good woman took him in and made a home for him and his kids.

A few years ago, armed with a tape recorder and a video camera, David Carr went on the road to interview the people who knew him when. The results aren't pretty --- there are videos on his web site that made me wince --- but they certainly leave no doubt about the veracity of the story that he tells. The columnist who wrote about James Frey is not, in any way, like him.

David Carr now finds himself a "genuine, often pleasant person. I am able to imitate a human being for long spurts of time, do solid work for a reputable organization, and have, over the breadth of time, proven to be a loving and attentive father and husband."

For all that, he says, "I now inhabit a life I don't deserve."

I disagree.

The Night of the Gun: A reporter investigates the darkest story of his life. His own. by David Carr Review

Amazon Best of the Month, August 2008: In his fabulously entertaining The Kid Stays in the Picture, legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans wrote: "There are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth." David Carr's riveting debut memoir, The Night of the Gun, takes this theory to the extreme, as the New York Times reporter embarks on a three-year fact-finding mission to revisit his harrowing past as a drug addict and discovers that the search for answers can reveal many versions of the truth. Carr acknowledges that you can't write a my-life-as-an-addict story without the recent memoir scandals of James Frey and others weighing you down, but he regains the reader's trust by relying on his reporting skills to conduct dozens of often uncomfortable interviews with old party buddies, cops, and ex-girlfriends and follow an endless paper trail of legal and medical records, mug shots, and rejection letters. The kaleidoscopic narrative follows Carr through failed relationships and botched jobs, in and out of rehab and all manner of unsavory places in between, with cameos from the likes of Tom Arnold, Jayson Blair, and Barbara Bush. Admittedly, it's hard to love David Carr--sometimes you barely like the guy. How can you feel sympathy for a man who was smoking crack with his pregnant girlfriend when her water broke? But plenty of dark humor rushes through the book, and knowing that this troubled man will make it--will survive addiction, fight cancer, raise his twin girls--makes you want to stick around for the full 400-page journey. --Brad Thomas Parsons --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly

An intriguing premise informs Carr's memoir of drug addiction—he went back to his hometown of Minneapolis and interviewed the friends, lovers and family members who witnessed his downfall. A successful, albeit hard-partying, journalist, Carr developed a taste for coke that led him to smoke and shoot the drug. At the height of his use in the late 1980s, his similarly addicted girlfriend gave birth to twin daughters. Carr, now a New York Times columnist, gives both the lowlights of his addiction (the fights, binges and arrests) as well as the painstaking reconstruction of his life. Soon after he quit drugs, he was thrown for another loop when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Unfortunately, the book is less a real investigation of his life than an anecdotal chronicle of wild behavior. What's more, his clinical approach (he videotaped all his interviews), meant to create context, sometimes distances readers from it. By turns self-consciously prurient and intentionally vague, Carr tends to jump back and forth in time within the narrative, leaving the book strangely incoherent. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

how to be there for the newly bereaved and heartbroken


Elizabeth Spencer

“I was not writing as much as letting something come through me.”
—Elizabeth Spencer

Burnout and post-traumatic stress disorder: Dr. Geri Puleo

Video Ted Talk 20 minutes

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President/CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., a boutique B2B consulting firm helping clients who are planning, implementing, or struggling with change. The creator of the Burnout During Organizational Change (B-DOC) Model, she has over 25 years of entrepreneurial experience in the B2B and B2C markets. The founding president of Tri-State Society of Human Resource Management (a Superior Merit winner), she is currently launching a new SHRM chapter in the Airport area. The former author of 2 columns for E-Magnify and The Employment Paper (a subsidiary of The Pittsburgh Business Times), her blog, http://a-new-way-, focuses on achieving professional success by reducing burnout and maintaining work-life balance during organizational change. A frequent and popular keynote speaker and trainer at national, regional and local conferences, Dr. Puleo has also taught undergraduate and graduate courses in business, human resources, organizational development, leadership/ management, and strategy at Penn State University, Seton Hill University, Robert Morris University, Strayer University and CCAC.

Jo Harvey

Lecture 9 minutes

Rewriting The Story Of My Addiction | Jo Harvey | TEDxUniversityofNevada
TEDx Talks

Night Falls Fast by Kay Jamison

“When people are suicidal, their thinking is paralyzed, their options appear spare or nonexistent, their mood is despairing, and hopelessness permeates their entire mental domain. The future cannot be separated from the present, and the present is painful beyond solace. ‘This is my last experiment,’ wrote a young chemist in his suicide note. ‘If there is any eternal torment worse than mine I’ll have to be shown.”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

“Suicide is not a blot on anyone’s name; it is a tragedy ”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

“It is tempting when looking at the life of anyone who has committed suicide to read into the decision to die a vastly complex web of reasons; and, of course, such complexity is warranted. No one illness or event causes suicide; and certainly no one knows all, or perhaps even most, of the motivations behind the killing of the self. But psychopathology is almost always there, and its deadliness is fierce. Love, success, and friendship are not always enough to counter the pain and destructiveness of severe mental illness ”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

“Each way to suicide is its own: intensely private, unknowable, and terrible. Suicide will have seemed to its perpetrator the last and best of bad possibilities, and any attempt by the living to chart this final terrain of life can be only a sketch, maddeningly incomplete ”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

“I wish I could explain it so someone could understand it. I'm afraid it's something I can't put into words. There's just this heavy, overwhelming despair - dreading everything. Dreading life. Empty inside, to the point of numbness. It's like there's something already dead inside. My whole being has been pulling back into that void for months. (81)”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

“The awareness of the damage done by severe mental illness—to the individual himself and to others—and fears that it may return again play a decisive role in many suicides ”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

“...Time does not heal,
It makes a half-stitched scar
That can be broken and again you feel
Grief as total as in its first hour.
-Elizabeth Jennings”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

“Suicide Note:
The calm,
Cool face of the river
Asked me for a kiss.
-Langston Hughes”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

“Look to the living, love them, and hold on.”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

“I had tried years earlier to kill myself, and nearly died in the attempt, but did not consider it either a selfish or a not-selfish thing to have done. It was simply the end of what I could bear, the last afternoon of having to imagine waking up the next morning only to start all over again with a thick mind and black imaginings. It was the final outcome of a bad disease, a disease it seemed to me I would never get the better of. No amount of love from or for other people0and there was a lot-could help. No advantage of a caring family and fabulous job was enough to overcome the pain and hopelessness I felt; no passionate or romantic love, however strong, could make a difference. Nothing alive and warm could make its way in through my carapace. I knew my life to be a shambles, and I believed-incontestably-that my family, friends, and patients would be better off without me. There wasn't much of me left anymore, anyway, and I thought my death would free up the wasted energies and well-meant efforts that were being wasted on my behalf. (290)”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

“Looking at suicide—the sheer numbers, the pain leading up to it, and the suffering left behind—is harrowing. For every moment of exuberance in the science, or in the success of governments, there is a matching and terrible reality of the deaths themselves: the young deaths, the violent deaths, the unnecessary deaths ”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

“Conditions of thought, memory, and desire, persuaded by impulse and irrationality, are influenced as well by personal aesthetics and private meanings.”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

“The horror of profound depression, and the hopelessness that usually accompanies it, are hard to imagine for those who have not experienced them. Because the despair is private, it is resistant to clear and compelling description. Novelist William Styron, however, in recounting his struggle with suicidal depression, captures vividly the heavy, inescapable pain that can lead to suicide:

What I had begun to discover is that, mysteriously and in ways that are totally remote from normal experience, the gray drizzle of horror induced by depression takes on the quality of physical pain. But it is not an immediately identifiable pain, like that of a broken limb. It may be more accurate to say that despair, owing to some evil trick played upon the sick brain by the inhabiting psyche, comes to resemble the diabolical discomfort of being imprisoned in a fiercely overheated room. And because no breeze stirs this cauldron, because there is no escape from this smothering confinement, it is entirely natural that the victim begins to think ceaselessly of oblivion. (105)”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

“Everyone has good cause for suicide, or at least it seems that way to those who search for it. (74)”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

“Each way to suicide is its own: intensely private, unknowable, and terrible. Suicide will have seemed to its perpetrator the last and best of bad possibilities, and any attempt by the living to chart this final terrain of a life can be only a sketch, maddeningly incomplete. (73)”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

“Often, people want both to live and to die; ambivalence saturates the suicidal act.”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

Nina Simone


Talking with Children About Loss By Maria Trozzi

My pal Aimee Grause and I went to hear Maria Trozzi speak at Mount Saint Charles Chapel last night sponsored by Holt Funeral Home. It was a tremendous evening. I'm off to get her book.

Required Reading For Every Adult
- review written by a reader
This book was a Godsend to me! My sister died suddenly in her sleep of a brain aneurysm, 9 days after giving birth to her second child. The oldest child, not quite 3 years old at the time, was the first to try to wake her that morning. How do you help a little child understand death and loss - what do you say? What should you not say? I needed specific answers and detailed explanations to guide my nephew through this horrible time for all of us. The author not only verified my instinct to be honest with my nephew, but also encouraged me to become a grief-model for him. She also explains how a child will "regrieve" a loss, such as the death of a parent, many times throughout their lives, and shows how crucial it is that a child learn to deal with and work through grief. Other losses that children experience, such as divorce, are also dealt with in a very comprehensive manner. Loss is a fact of life, and Ms. Trozzi and Ms. Massimini offer invaluable lessons to help you teach your child to deal with these inevitable losses. I keep several copies of this book on hand, because I give it to almost everyone I know. Don't wait till you need this book - read it now!!! I honestly think my nephew is dealing with his loss in a good way, and we've both learned to help each other. To the authors, I am forever in your debt.

James Moody


Tiny Tim

Tiny Tim (born Herbert Khaury; April 12, 1932 – November 30, 1996) was an American singer, ukulele player, and musical archivist.[1] He was most famous for his rendition of "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" sung in a distinctive high falsetto/vibrato voice.[2]

Tiny Tim was born in Manhattan, New York City, the son of a Polish Jewish mother, Tillie (née Staff), a garment worker, and a Lebanese Catholic father, Butros Khaury, a textile worker.[3][4][5] He displayed musical talent at a very young age. In a 1968 interview on The Tonight Show, he described the discovery of his ability to sing in an upper register in 1952: "I was listening to the radio and singing along as I was singing I said 'Gee, it's strange. I can go up high as well.'" He then entered a local talent show and sang "You Are My Sunshine" in his newly discovered falsetto. He started using the stage name Tiny Tim in 1962 when his manager at the time, George King, booked him at a club that favored acts by performers short in stature.

Girl (with Brave Combo) (Rounder Records, 1996)

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun Ra

Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, legal name Le Sony'r Ra;[1] May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993) was an American jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his "cosmic philosophy," prolific musical output, and performances. He was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1979.

Controversial[2] because of his eclectic music and unorthodox lifestyle, and claiming that he was of the "Angel Race", and not from Earth but from Saturn, Sun Ra developed a complex persona, using "cosmic" philosophies and lyrical poetry that made him a pioneer of afrofuturism. He preached awareness and peace above all. He abandoned his birth name and took on the name and persona of Sun Ra (Ra being the Egyptian God of the Sun), and used several other names throughout his career, including Le Sonra and Sonny Lee.[3] Sun Ra denied any connection with his birth name, saying "That's an imaginary person, never existed... Any name that I use other than Ra is a pseudonym."[4]

From the mid-1950s to his death, Sun Ra led "The Arkestra", an ensemble with an ever-changing name and flexible line-up, although certain core members remained with the group through its various incarnations (Marshal Allen, John Gilmore, June Tyson, and others). It was by turns called "The Solar Myth Arkestra", "His Cosmo Discipline Arkestra", the "Blue Universe Arkestra", "Myth Science Arkestra", "The Jet Set Omniverse Arkestra", and many other variations. Sun Ra asserted that the ever-changing name of his ensemble reflected the ever-changing nature of his music. His mainstream success was limited, but Sun Ra was a prolific recording artist and frequent live performer. His music ranged from keyboard solos to big bands of over 30 musicians and touched on virtually the entire history of jazz, from ragtime to swing music, from bebop to free jazz. He also used free improvisation and was one of the early musicians to make extensive use of electronic keyboards.[5]

Surrounded by Raptors

Bird of prey - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Birds of prey, also known as raptors, hunt and feed on other animals. The term "raptor" is derived from the Latin word rapere (meaning to seize or take by force). These birds are characterized by keen vision that allows them to detect prey during flight and powerful talons and beaks.
‎Osprey - ‎Eagle - ‎Harrier - ‎Falcon


Birds of prey, also known as raptors, are divided into two main groups, the diurnal (day flying) birds of prey and the nocturnal (night flying) birds of prey, better known as the owls.

Roland Kirk 1970

Introduction in French!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Grief Has No Age

Submitted by NAGC Editor on Thu, 2015-07-02 12:29

"Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other" - Walter Elliot

I remember my speech teacher giving me a book and the Elliot quote was on the first page. I have never forgotten it probably because at the age of nine it took me at least three minutes to sound out the word 'perseverance'. HA!

I had no idea how often I would return to the quote over the next 19 years.

I remember a hazy summer day in 1997 as I sat on the couch with my mom. She was sick... so all of my family came over to help her clean. This was odd, because my family usually only got together on holidays. I think their gathering was meant to happen that way. We finally convinced her to go to the ER. I remember her looking so pale and only wanting to eat banana popsicles. She finally agreed to go after battling back and forth with her sisters. Mom didn't want to go as I had my first day of fourth grade the following day and she wanted to see me off on the bus. She didn't trust my father to get me on the bus, I assume. My mom was the kindest person I have ever met, no one had a negative thing to say about her and she loved me with every ounce of her being. I loved her too; she was my best friend. Grief has no age

I remember asking her to stand up and that I would help her. She was so weak, but she tried to stand. Before I knew what was happening my mom collapsed to the floor and took her last breath. At that moment, my life as I knew it, would be a thing of the very distant past. My family heard the commotion and my screaming, and came running and immediately called for help. My mother's sister Anne was giving her mouth to mouth resuscitation until the paramedics arrived which seemed like a life time. When I peeked in to check on her the only thing I remember seeing was my mother's eyes roll back in her head. I knew at 9 years old that I would never hug my mom again.

I remember asking the paramedics "Did you save my mommy?" They didn't even look at me. They rushed my mom to the hospital where she was pronounced dead at 5:47pm.

I didn't cry, I couldn't. I didn't know how.

Even though I had no idea what was going on, I realized how fragile life is. I remember holding a flashlight and turning it on and off. Bright to dim, and I told my family as we all sat in the living area that we were like flashlights, one minute shining bright the next minute fading away. Pretty deep thoughts for a 9 year old.

Visitation came and went, I kissed mom on the forehead. (I tell you this because it was the first time I had touched a DEAD person.)

I had questions, a lot of questions, most of which would go unanswered for years. I remember asking the funeral directors what would happen next and they told me not to worry that it would all be over soon... (easy for them to say, I was going home without my mommy!) I just went along letting people pat me on the head and continue to converse about who was going to "take care" of her little girl.

I didn't have any other choice.

Now you ask, where was my father in all of this mess? He was more than likely drinking and wondering where he was going to find the money to bury her. My father was very abusive and he was a long-time alcoholic.

He didn't go to my mother's funeral (burial) so in turn neither did I.

Let me say it again, my own father didn't let me go to my mother's burial. I never got closure. I never got to say goodbye. The pastor who preached the funeral said that in his 30 plus years of preaching he had never witnessed a husband and child not attending their loved one's funeral.

I didn't want anyone else to have to witness that same nightmare.

It was on August 25, 1997 that I knew my calling in life was to become a funeral director. I didn't want another person to go through what I experienced. I didn't want another child to be left grieving alone. I wanted to be the one with answers. I wanted to be a shoulder someone could cry on.

Here I am, 19 years, 3 children, a husband and 1 pug later working with what I consider the best company in the world SCI/ Berry Funeral Home, Knoxville, TN. I have grown so much with this company and I owe all of my future successes to them.

From my largest most painful experience came my greatest calling.

I now have the opportunity to make things easier for families and children. I can help them understand the process and give them the tools to get the proper help they may need to grieve.

I was one of the lucky ones, I believe my life could have gone either way. Now don't get me wrong, it has not been easy. I sought professional help and even though I struggle daily I have not let it define me. It has, in fact, been the "wind beneath my wings". (my mom loved Bette Midler)

Every day I think of her and what could have been, but I also know that I would be different, my path in life would have been different. Death is a part of life, but when you experience the loss of a parent as a young child without the proper tools grief is very hard to work through.

This life was handed to me because I am strong enough to live it and if I can be of help to just one person, one child, then it has been worth all the pain.

This is my life's purpose, this writing (righting) here, right now.... My story.

Grief has no time limit, no age.

I was put on this earth to change the future for someone, and in a beautiful way I am finally finding closure -- because I too, am still a grieving child.

About the Author:
Laura Shugart is a Funeral Director Apprentice at Berry Funeral Home in Knoxville, TN and a new NAGC member.

Update: Laura is currently planning to have a memorial service for her mother this August. It is to be held in the same church with friends and family. It's the memorial service she never got the chance to attend, complete with register book and all. A manager who is also a pastor at the funeral home where she works will be officiating. Laura wrote that she can't undo the past but can make her future better.