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April 2012

Bewitching words of Wisdom: Jonas Salk




"It is relevant and even part of wisdom to ask not only are we being good citizens of the world today, but are we being good ancestors. " Jonas Salk

Jonas Salk was more than the inventor of the polio vaccine. He was a humanitarian and cared deeply about the world and the size and quality of the footprint that he (and all of us) left upon it. The Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation  "is dedicated to preserving and extending the contributions of one of society's great scientists and humanitarians. It will do so by helping to organize and make available the collection of Jonas Salk's papers and historical artifacts, participating in and assisting with educational programs and projects, and exploring continued application of his scientific and philosophical vision towards solution of ongoing problems confronting humanity." Please visit The Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation  and Beyond Polio for more information about how you can participate in this transformational shift towards cooperation , community and inspiration.

Yoga brings me such peace....

I love Yoga, I really do. I discovered my practice a couple of years ago when my son and his girlfriend at the time gave Jim and me several sessions each for Christmas. Since then I've studied with many wonderful teachers, studied several different forms and definitely fallen more in love with the peace and flexibility that it brings me everytime that I practice.

Tonight though , we enjoyed a really extraordinary class. We used to go to one of the many designer studios that are available in Cleveland, but for the last year we've been working out at the local JCC. We love it, we spend an evening on the treadmills and bike, play with the weights and then jump into the whirlpool together and relax after our day. Well, one day Jim looked at the schedule and said "Hey, we should try one of their Yoga classes. " I thought to myself..."yuck...it can't possibly be as good". Boy was I about to be proven wrong.

To be sure, the practice room lacks the spiritual accoutrements of the boutique studios, but that's not where the heart of Yoga is. In walked our Yogi Eleanor, who quietly dimmed the lights and then led us through a series of movements that she designed specifically in honor of Earth Day, using all natural forms like the Tree and the cobra, but for the evening eschewing the bridge and wheel poses...no boat, nothing that wasn't animal ,vegetable or mineral. I was really blown away by the grounding nature of the series that she had designed. By the end of the class I was so grounded and so relaxed I was amazed. She ended of course in the traditional Shavasana, by placing us in corpse pose, which is just so incredibly relaxing, but although I've been practicing for several years now, tonight was the first time that I truly understood the deeper nature of this pose. Corpse pose is practiced by lying on the ground with your hands at your sides and your body literally falling into the deepest repose possible, through simple breathing and gravity.

Tonight though , Eleanor talked about her teacher and how he had always told her that "we practice relaxing into the corpse pose so that when the time comes we can really relax into the corpse pose". I was blown away by the simplicity of this statement. We spend our years and our lives literally running away from death and here someone was sweetly teaching me to prepare for it. I thought of the many "deaths' that we as humans experience throughout our lives and the kicking and screaming and fighting and throashing that we do when we are confronting that in our lives which has ended. I thought of my darling pony Studley, who I will be putting to sleep in several days because his body can no longer support itself and how he will just fall gently to the earth from which he came without even thinking about it. I saw him fall to the earth from his mothers womb, now I will see his life come full circle as he travels back to the mother of us all. I have suffered and agonized over this decision for a week now  and yet in a moment of experiencing that deepest knowing I have realized just how much of a fight it doesn't have to be. Spending an evening practicing movements connected to the most primal life forces brought me closer to my pony in a way that I never thought was possible. I realized in an instant that it was alright, that his death wasn't my failure, but simply the next phase of a very long friendship. When you love someone or something, you will eventually have to let go...there's no avoiding that one pure truth. For a moment I just became him and as I lay melting into my mat and subsequently the earth below I knew in that moment that letting go would be easy for him, that all beings have their place and time to be in the world, that indeed all things have their season and that the Goddess would always hold him in her arms.  My horses have always been my greatest teachers. 

I am grateful....grateful indeed.


MIlady's Pantry ~ My Favorite Old Woodstove!

Over the years many have asked me about my old woodstove. Here she is in all of her glory! She's a good old fashioned DutchWest cast iron workhorse capable of going up past 1000 degrees really quickly once you fire up the catalytic converter!  When we left our farm in Burton, I couldn't bear to leave her there, so I uninstalled her and now she lives with good friends of ours who enjoy her warmth on a regular basis. 

I've written about this stove so many times that she's begun to really have a persona of her own. I loved sharing life with her,  she was the provider of many a fine breakfast, lunch and dinner at Windesphere when the power would go out. Even when it didn't, I'd still wake up on a cold morning and cook pancakes and bacon on top of her broad hot shoulders. The best oatmeal in the world is oatmeal that you've put on the night before in a cast iron pot, set on top of the warming stand on a woodstove and allowed to simmer gently though the night. Add cinnamon, raisins and whatever spices you want and you've not only got breakfast, you've got potpourri!

 These days, although I've moved into the city, I'm all about inspiring others to create as much self sufficiency  as possible and for me a woodstove is one of the most important things that you can ever install in your home. When the power goes out and you need drinking water you can boil it, when the power goes out and you need food and warmth guess what? Just fire up the stove and you're as cozy as can be. Everyone should have the experience of cooking with fire at least once, if not for any other reason than to just know that it can be done and besides...there's no better pot of chili , vegetable soup or chicken and dumplings in the world than when they are cooked slowly on a stove just like this! 

I hadn't seen her in over 8 years but we went out into the country a while back to have dinner with our old neighbors and there she was, logs ablazing, standing stalwart in the corner heating their home as capably as she'd ever done to ours. It was so good to bask in her warmth again and furthered my resolve to have a smaller version of her in place in my home by next winter. 

If you're interested in a stove of your own grab a cup of tea and biscuit with jam and cozy up to Lehman Brothers and have a look around! You'll find all kinds of wonderful things to bring joy to your homesteading heart!

Bewitching words of Wisdom: Dr. Lawrence Wilson




"One person benefits from an herb, another from a chiropractic treatment, another from an antibiotic, another from a walk in the woods and still another from a religious experience. Many systems and methods of healing serve different levels of consciousness.No single method is superior or appropriate for everyone and if one believes in only one way of doing things one becomes a religious zealot. "