Beating Swords into Plowshares.....


It's been a very interesting 24 hours in my life.  It's almost too long a story to tell. Let it suffice to say that when you say that you are done with a certain behavior, if you cross your own boundaries you are in big big trouble with the universe.  I decided a couple of  weeks ago that I was going to stop reacting to every political and cultural shit storm that I saw.  I had begun to feel like fighting about any and every issue was getting in the way of my emotional and physical health. It's truly been much more emotionally satisfying to talk about the things that make me happy.  I'd pretty well decided that I was only going to worry about transforming me. I  put myself on the equivalent of the 12 step programs for activists. "I am powerless over my lust for political and cultural controversy" goes on and on.

So yesterday I woke up to a Facebook post that was bound and determined to trigger all of my worst behaviors and instincts. I'm not even going into the details but you can probably figure out if you know me well that it had everything to do with current Republican and Democratic political chaos. I went into blame mode, activist mode and even worse, teaching mode ; the political activist methodology and manifesto of "you're too stupid to be able to comprehend this unless I throw it in your face" mode. 

As the day progressed it got worse. I fed the addiction by looking at Facebook constantly and editing the post....feeling the shame, feeling the righteousness... all of it. 

Then we went out to dinner with a couple we'd just met, one of whom really reminded me of my mother. My mother was many wonderful things and I really loved her. One of the things that she was the most ego-identified with was her activism. We marched together many times in Washington, she was always rallying about something. I loved that about her and that part of her nature was easily imprinted on me.

That being said, she was a fighter and she never learned the art of surrender. She always played to win  but the shadow side of her personality was when she didn't win it left her  very bitter, fearful and disillusioned. 

 By the time she died she was exhausted from fighting , sick and very very angry. She had (in the Doc's own words) one of the worst strokes they'd ever seen. It was terrible to watch. It was her way of finally escaping a world which she perceived as spinning to quickly out of her control. I know that if she'd simply slowed down, stopped taking it all so personally, stopped trying to control what she couldn't and instead accepting all of the wonder life had brought her, that she might be with us still. 

Moving forward, last nights dinner conversation turned into a diatribe about white entitlement, and then how crazy the current state of the Republican party was. It quickly morphed into railing against Monsanto and of course climate change. The only thing that we didn't chew on was factory farm animals because they were eating meat. It was self serving gluttony at it's finest. It went on for hours and somewhere during the night I began to feel a pain in my eyelid. 

I went to bed feeling as if I'd really overindulged and the pain in my eyelid continued to get worse, swelling larger by the second. I awoke at 3:00 am this morning and it had gotten unbearable, my eye was practically swollen shut. I began wondering what it was that I wasn't willing to "see"?  It was then I'd realized that instant karma had bitten me once again. I went to Facebook, saw that I seduced others into participation and quickly deleted the offending post. Within minutes, the pain began to subside and the swelling began to decrease. It doesn't hurt any more, but what's taken it's place is a small spark of enlightenment.

I participate over and over again with the world in this addictive fashion.  

I'm totally boring to myself and probably others because of it.

What I noticed in the wee hours of the morning is that us self identified liberals, vegans, conservatives, animal rights, gun and planet activists - you name it... there's a crack for it, engage with each other in ways that are just plain mean.  We bludgeon each other. I will always believe in equal rights, fair treatment of animals, fair wages, ending racism, freedom of religion, making love not list goes on and on. I'll always sign petitions, vote, make my voice heard whenever I can. I'm sure that if the spirit moves me, I'll be back in Washington someday , marching for something I believe in.

That being said...I don't think that anyone gave me the right to be a complete and total bully. To hate someone that I don't even know because they might have the audacity not to agree with me. To violate someones energetic, physical and emotional boundaries because I do not approve. 

About anything. 

I don't appreciate having policies and ideologies slammed down my throat, but the irony of that is that I fight back with the same ferocity. I might as well be my own religious zealot and I have that that to thank for my black and swollen eye. I beat my self up with hypocrisy.

The funny thing is? All of this fighting that we're doing with each other is just making the energy that loves to divide us even stronger. 

We will never free the whales, stop the trophy hunting, end the needless abuse of factory farming, stop nuclear proliferation, curb terrorism,  end racism and religious intolerance, let alone save the planet and all of us on it, if we don't find another way to communicate with each other. 

Currently, I've started to wonder if many of us aren't using the smokescreen of "activism" for evil. You know what I's the thrilling high you get when you've made someone wrong about something they believe in, that of course you're right about. It's the gossip you indulge in about the behavior of liberals , conservatives, gun owners and meat eaters and vegans gone wild.

Political activism is my crack and I give it power over me that instead I need to own in the name of love.  

I find myself wondering how much further ahead we'd all be if we stopped shouting and started listening to each other for a bit. I am wondering how much more effective we'd be if we stopped feeding our addictions to self-righteousness? What life might be like if we asked "why" instead of screaming "wrong". What would happen if we slowed down enough to look at the whole, instead of expecting the world to be fashioned in the way that we wanted it to be? I have no clue how I could expect anyone to listen to my point of view when I'm very loudly making them wrong for their own. 

Right now these are just the questions that I'm asking myself. I don't expect anyone else to agree.

That being said I woke up this morning remembering the day that my mother died. She'd been in a coma for a week after succumbing to the stroke that put her there. We moved her from the hospital into Hospice.  By that time, she had horrible and deep diabetic ulcers the size of quarters all over her legs, because she was being too stubborn to stay off of her feet long enough to let them heal. I spent that week putting lipstick on her and brushing her hair and perfuming her because she would never have wanted to be seen without her makeup and that morning was no different.

 All of a sudden, her robe fell away. 

The sores that had plagued her for several years had cleansed themselves,  healed and were almost completely closed, so much so that if she'd been at home we would not have had to worry about them really at all. 

Six days...that's all it took.  Six days of putting down the sword. Six days of rest and surrender.

We have problems in this country and in this world that are not going away.  We have to ask ourselves why and moreover, we have to do it together. We all have to be 100 percent accountable for each other....not just those who agree with us. Ask yourself how you really feel (in your heart and soul) after you've made someone terribly wrong for something that they don't believe in or simply hadn't thought about enough to know how they'd feel one way or another.  Lets stop tearing each other down and start instead building each other up. Even when we don't agree, perhaps we can start by agreeing to love one another.  

I heard you this morning mom. Loud and Clear.

This is my white flag of truce.






I do not know who to attribute this flag picture to, but I did not take it. 

Claires Herbs ~ Garlic

I can't even begin to list all of the reasons that I love garlic! Besides its obvious deliciousness , it's so incredibly good for you. Not to make you squeamish but it's said that a clove of fresh garlic a day keeps the intestinal parasites away, and a poultice of garlic and raw honey under a bandaid has helped me heal many a wound when neosporin just wasn't available! Come fall when the weather is turning I'll always make a hot soup of fresh garlic, green herbs, , shrimp chili and coconut milk to help beef up my immune system in time for the cold and rainy weather that October usually brings! Some of this particular batch is going to be pesto for a potato and mushroom pizza tonight! Bon Appetit! @herbalacademy #myherbalstudies #MiladysOutlanderHerbCampCulinary #MiladysOutlanderHerbCampMedicinal

A photo posted by BethSchreibmanGehring (@bethsgehring) on

Love Potions ~ Guerlain Shalimar



I think that everyone has a perfume that is so completely evocative, so emotionally relevant that a simple waft of it can spin you back decades. Such is it with me and Shalimar. So many have such a strong love/hate relationship with this scent, but I have always loved it and it me. It was the fragrance that my mother wore for her entire married life and my father used to buy it for her constantly and in every form because he adored it! I always assumed that she did too, but she confided in me several years before her death that she’d always hated it. I was surprised because it smelled absolutely devastating on her. She was an excellent wife in that respect and a bit of a contradiction , a feminist to the core and way before her time , however making my father happy was as she saw it” her most important job”. Fortunately she passed the knowledge on. The day that I married my husband, she pulled me into the back bedroom and said “Remember darling, you can buy your own whatever he gives you, wear it to bed, even if it’s a toaster!” That alone has been the best piece of advice that I ever received from her with the exception of one other that I can’t share here...if you want to know, write me privately:)



So wear Shalimar she did and some of my earliest memories of her are of that scent. Until about 2 years before her death, my parents went to hear the Cleveland Orchestra every Thursday night. I loved watching her dress for the symphony, she was unbelievably elegant. She would slip on one of several black dresses, comb back her raven colored hair and spray it into submission. Then she would put a bit of blush and paint on her lipstick, always the same “Fire and Ice red and then pick up her bottle of Shalimar. She had a ritual for it, a little behind her ears, a bit in her hair , her cleavage and around her ankles. To an impressionable 8 year old it was the most glamorous act ever. Then she would put on her opera length gray pearls, knot them twice and walk into the kitchen to find my father who would always be enchanted simply by the sight of her. She was completely gorgeous,when she was younger she looked just like Hedy Lamarr. My father would whisk her off into the night and I would be left to wonder about that magic, hoping someday that it would be my birthright too. She shared all of that part of herself with us, it was important to her. She was very generous in that way, a powerful priestess of love.

She had a beautiful closet for us growing up, a dress up closet filled with all kinds of wonderful things that she’d outgrown. Velvet capes and beautiful high heels, shawls and scarves. We would play in it for hours and when I had put together the perfect outfit she would take me into the bathroom and fix my makeup, always finishing with just a touch of her perfume. I loved it, especially the black and burgundy velvet cape that I would always wear. But most of all, I loved her Shalimar. I have always found it to be a warm and enveloping fragrance, very very sexy. Shalimar lingers like a kiss from just the right man, one who knows you well and yet adores the mysteriousness about you that he can’t quite understand. Wearing Shalimar reconnects me with the old stories of the Sacred Prostitutes of Isis, who spent hours preparing themselves in their temples to receive the passions of strangers coming to worship them embodied as the sacred feminine on earth. I can imagine spending hours brushing my hair, anointing myself with sacred oils, preparing myself for that passion. I love it’s vanilla qualities, the musky balsam and benzoin with the hints of leather and the strange seductiveness of orris. I love that when I wear it I feel absolutely gorgeous and ready for love.

Shortly after my mother’s death I inherited her gray pearls. Receiving them was only one of the many rites of passage associated with my mothers dying but putting on those pearls felt more than a little strange for they sang of her soul and I wanted her to be there with me instead laughing and putting on her lipstick. With a deep sigh I looped them around my neck, knotted them and took a deep breath and there it was, the scent of her Shalimar leaving me spinning happily back in time suddenly and completely unafraid and no longer alone.




This Post was originally published in the Perfume Magazine in 2010

Claires Herbs ~ The Beautiful and Deadly Datura

Jamies Horses ~ 10 dead horses is 10 too many.



Channeling my inner Jamie Fraser......I'm a lifelong horseman . There are a million reasons that I could recite that...

Posted by My Outlander Love Affair- Milady's Pantry and Stillroom on Monday, 27 July 2015

Jamies Horses ~ 10 dead horses is 10 too many.



Channeling my inner Jamie Fraser......I'm a lifelong horseman . There are a million reasons that I could recite that...

Posted by My Outlander Love Affair- Milady's Pantry and Stillroom on Monday, 27 July 2015

Claires Herbs ~ Herbal Medicine for Horses & Humans


One of my Stallion's ~ Setauket Station  


“Jamie disappeared for a few minutes. He came back with a handful of dark green oblate leaves, chewing something. He spat a glob of macerated green into the palm of his hand, stuffed another wad of leaves into his mouth and turned me away from him. He rubbed the chewed leaves gently over my back, and the stinging eased considerably.
“What is that?” I asked, making an effort to control myself. I was still shaky and snuffling, but the helpless tears were beginning to ebb.
“Watercress,” he answered, voice slightly muffled by the leaves in his mouth. He spat them out and applied them to my back. “You’re no the only one knows a bit about grass-cures, Sassenach,” he said, a bit clearer.”
Excerpt From: Gabaldon, Diana. “Outlander.

Many people over the years have asked me about my involvement with alternative medicine, most specifically my use of herbal remedies to address the various maladies that periodically plague me, my friends or my family. As we find out with increasing frequency about the corruption of the large pharmaceutical companies as well as the continuing dangers of the untested drugs that they create, I think that it's natural to have become more curious about holistic methodologies and their effectiveness. The overuse of antibiotics in America has created some of the scariest and most resistant strains of Staphylococcus and other superbugs that we've ever seen and having had a 3 year fight with one of them (a strain of Klebsiella that only 2 antibiotics could fight, one of which would have knocked out his kidneys within 6 months)that eventually killed my father, I do believe that there is cause for alarm.

I've seen a dramatic rise in the number of people turning to alternative remedies for self healing and daily I'm asked for suggestions to increase immunity. Although there has been much improvement, health insurance (or lack of effective coverage) is still at the forefront of the current political debate.  It's clear that it's become time for a powerful paradigm shift relating to the way that we deal with illness. 

I became familiar with herbal medicine very early in my life, because as a child I had an Irish riding instructor from County Galway who hardly ever used veterinary medicine to treat her beloved Welsh ponies.  Colic , which is a horrible impaction of the gut was never an issue with our horses. Every morning she would boil flax seed on her stove and create a jelly to be given in the mornings feed. We rarely wormed our horses with the fancy new paste wormer filled with chemicals, but kept them parasite free with  the pine and spruce that she kept in the pasture for them to eat. 

Yellow Dock

 I began to notice that our horses were eating all kinds of different plants that were growing with rarely any ill effects and they ate them readily. Horses that seemed a bit lackluster  ate certain plants and when I pointed them out to her she was always able to tell me what was ailing them because of what they were eating. One day, one of the horses went straight for a patch of yellow dock which she told me indicated a weakness in his stomach. After a day or two he brightened and was much happier and far stronger than he'd been several days before. Not a miracle cure at all, he was just an animal who trusting his natural instincts to choose the plants that would help him heal. It was pretty amazing stuff for an impressionable 12 year old to see. We used tinctures of  chamomile and beer in the bran mashes that we made to help promote calmness and vitality before horse shows. We  rarely used chemical liniments, relying on herbal vinegars that we made with saltpeter, sage , fresh mints and comfrey leaves.


Fresh Comfrey

I use poultices of comfrey and French green clay to draw out abscesses and instead of relying on injections to help keep Setaukets sperm count up and his energy  balanced during breeding season, I added a few fresh artichokes, beet pulp and Guinness stout everyday to his feed until breeding season was over. He never dropped weight like so many stallions do and was happy and very easy to handle.

I think that it  was only natural for me to question the amounts of medicine that were being used by my family Drs. to "promote health" , because I had been exposed to something so different in my very early years which made complete and total sense to me. 

In my early 20's after a tangle with birth control pills, antibiotics and the ensuing amount of damage that they did to my body,  I really swore off of the convenience of modern medicine as the first resort when I fell ill, always the last. 

In my mid 20's  (I'm 55 now!) I was fortunate to find a wonderful wise woman named LaWanna Rine who is a very experienced herbalist and healer. She became my teacher and I still work with her to this day, she's always got something new and wonderful to teach me!

 LaWanna has been a practicing herbalist and aromatherapist for decades and graciously taught me by example. I spent many hours with her helping her to prepare teas, salves and tinctures and walking through her woods while we gathered the plants that we would use.

Her herbal practice is a very complete example of a whole body system for healing. She is is totally vegan and she practices her yoga and meditation everyday. She uses herbs from her property and water from her spring to create her healing teas. She is an aromatherapist and uses essential oils and hydrosols in the wonderful treatments that she gives. Her powerful medical intuition as well as her vast knowledge of the body's systems are her most profound diagnostic tool.

Poke Root

She is to this day, one of the only herbalists that I've ever met who I would trust with the dosage of the more powerful herbs like poke root, because she knows how to use them with the safety and precision that we wish that our Doctors practiced with their candy box of  pharmaceuticals.  I was very lucky to find her and she taught me that the practice of herbalism is everyones birthright, something to be shared and not hoarded. 

 LaWanna encouraged everyone in her circle to learn as much as possible so that  you could live well wherever you found yourself and not be at the mercy of a medical system that she felt had betrayed our humanity. She also was very firm about her belief that eating with the seasons , harvesting and growing your own foods as well as wildcrafting your own herbs  provided the most potent medicine for body, mind and spirit.   She taught me to use fasting, whole foods and mini cleanses as tools to promote a healthy digestive system thereby creating a strong immune system.  She's also 89 years old, still teaching and wildcrafting in her woods. She's really quite a remarkable woman!

Now that so many natural herbal preparations can be found in our local Whole Foods store and even in grocery stores that are not traditionally "Health Food " stores, it's more important than ever to learn as much as you can about this old and wise tradition of healing. Herbs are indeed natural, but they are powerful medicines. There are many wonderful books available by herbal legends such as Susan Weed or the late Juliette De Baricli Levy as well as home study courses that you can purchase and enjoy at your own pace. I still use holistic remedies on all of my animals  and the vet ONLY when I find something that I cannot treat myself. By the way in case anyone is wondering, I always vaccinate my animals. 
 Herbal remedies  in most of their forms are very gentle yet powerful and effective. They should not be taken carelessly because they can be as toxic as  the  drugs we are trying to avoid.  Take the time to do the research and always remember to consult your pharmacist if you are taking any other prescription drugs.  Herbs  can mix poorly with many pharmaceuticals,  so it pays to proceed with with caution. No herbalist in this country can legally prescribe herbs , so be very careful if you run across one that tells you to take something and prescribes a dosage for a certain illness as it's a pretty sure sign of either immaturity or arrogance on the part of the practitioner. Always consult your Dr. before you change your medicines or embark on an unknown course of supplementation.

What I strive to do instead is what my friend LaWanna taught me to do, I suggest and educate and try as much as possible to empower people to create their own template for their healing journey. Use your own good judgment and learn as much as you can. You'll have a lot of fun doing it..I promise!

In this age of global uncertainty and instability , I truly believe as LaWanna does that it is so very important to be able care for yourself and your family with as much self sufficiency as possible. We are fortunate to live in a world where so much is readily available to us including excellent Doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists.  However,  the tradition of herbal medicine for healing has been passed down from generation to generation and it  belongs to everyone, not just a chosen few. Thankfully, it is a traditional, yet sophisticated and effective folk medicine that can be readily utilized by anyone who cares enough to truly take the time to learn about , respect and understand fully the properties of the many herbs that are so readily available to us all.





Pictures of comfrey, yellow dock and poke root are not taken by me. I do not know who to attribute them to.