Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Moving Delayed


A mistake was made at U-Haul and our rental truck isn't going to be available until Saturday. I'm so relieved!

The packing is going well but we keep underestimating how many boxes it's going to take and I keep remembering last minute things I think I ought to take care of. Having the Thanksgiving holiday in the middle of this was making it challenging to deal with all of this. Not to mention the many emotional and physical curveballs we've been confronting of late.

Both Paul and I had had intuitive heads-up that we might not get on the road until Sunday and today I was trying to "convince" myself that if we weren't ready to go until then that we could pay an extra day's rental fee and just live with it. Health is more important.

But now we know that the rental truck isn't going to be ready and it isn't our fault and everybody's happy. The U-Haul guy didn't get yelled at when he called to tell us the mistake. I don't have to push so hard. And we all can take a break and even enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday a little bit. Yeah!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Story of Mama Love Flower Essence Aromatherapy Perfume



Ironically, I'm going through a similar "crisis" in my life again. But this time it's interesting. I'm not needing Mama Love for Troubled Times...although I did use Mama Love for Doing New things with Confidence today. Paul and I have been going through some big ups and downs with this move, as I think anyone in our position would be. But I, for one, have come to believe that we will be guided to useful experiences and opportunities. I'm actually looking forward to finding out what they're going to be.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Introduction to Flower Essences Video

Don't know why editing video seemed to be more important than packing this morning. Well, actually, I DO know why. It's a lot more fun to be doing something that feels creative. Relocation could be seen as an act of creation in itself....but the first few steps involve dismantling everything you've created in one location and letting it go.

I shot this video in the herb bed at the UCSC Farm and Garden. Pretty spot and relatively quiet although it was surprising how noisy the traffic was even there. I understand that it's silent way out in the desert at Paul's mother's house. If it's not freezing cold maybe we'll shoot some videos on her front porch.

This video describes how I went from being a flower essence skeptic to someone who uses them all the time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Don't Throw Us in the Briar Patch!






When it comes to getting out of a no-win sticky situation, sometimes the best solution is the one that appears to be the worst. Since the rabbit is a totem animal of sorts for me I thought I'd post this story as an example of what we're thinking about our current move to Arizona now. We're actually looking forward to the new opportunities this move would bring. If Paul's mother wasn't going to be out of town until Dec 1 or 2nd we'd be on our way sooner.

The following story is used with permission of S.E. Schlosser and AmericanFolklore.net. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.


Brer Rabbit meets a Tar Baby
retold by
S. E. Schlosser

Well now, that rascal Brer Fox hated Brer Rabbit on account of he was always cutting capers and bossing everyone around. So Brer Fox decided to capture and kill Brer Rabbit if it was the last thing he ever did! He thought and he thought until he came up with a plan. He would make a tar baby! Brer Fox went and got some tar and he mixed it with some turpentine and he sculpted it into the figure of a cute little baby. Then he stuck a hat on the Tar Baby and sat her in the middle of the road.

Brer Fox hid himself in the bushes near the road and he waited and waited for Brer Rabbit to come along. At long last, he heard someone whistling and chuckling to himself, and he knew that Brer Rabbit was coming up over the hill. As he reached the top, Brer Rabbit spotted the cute little Tar Baby. Brer Rabbit was surprised. He stopped and stared at this strange creature. He had never seen anything like it before!

"Good Morning," said Brer Rabbit, doffing his hat. "Nice weather we're having."

The Tar Baby said nothing. Brer Fox laid low and grinned an evil grin.

Brer Rabbit tried again. "And how are you feeling this fine day?" The Tar Baby, she said nothing. Brer Fox grinned an evil grin and lay low in the bushes.

Brer Rabbit frowned. This strange creature was not very polite. It was beginning to make him mad.

"Ahem!" said Brer Rabbit loudly, wondering if the Tar Baby were deaf. "I said 'HOW ARE YOU THIS MORNING?"

The Tar Baby said nothing. Brer Fox curled up into a ball to hide his laugher. His plan was working perfectly!

"Are you deaf or just rude?" demanded Brer Rabbit, losing his temper. "I can't stand folks that are stuck up! You take off that hat and say 'Howdy-do' or I'm going to give you such a lickin'!"

The Tar Baby just sat in the middle of the road looking as cute as a button and saying nothing at all. Brer Fox rolled over and over under the bushes, fit to bust because he didn't dare laugh out loud.

"I'll learn ya!" Brer Rabbit yelled. He took a swing at the cute little Tar Baby and his paw got stuck in the tar.

"Lemme go or I'll hit you again," shouted Brer Rabbit. The Tar Baby, she said nothing.

"Fine! Be that way," said Brer Rabbit, swinging at the Tar Baby with his free paw. Now both his paws were stuck in the tar, and Brer Fox danced with glee behind the bushes.

"I'm gonna kick the stuffin' out of you," Brer Rabbit said and pounced on the Tar Baby with both feet. They sank deep into the Tar Baby. Brer Rabbit was so furious he head-butted the cute little creature until he was completely covered with tar and unable to move.

Brer Fox leapt out of the bushes and strolled over to Brer Rabbit. "Well, well, what have we here?" he asked, grinning an evil grin.

Brer Rabbit gulped. He was stuck fast. He did some fast thinking while Brer Fox rolled about on the road, laughing himself sick over Brer Rabbit's dilemma.

"I've got you this time, Brer Rabbit," said Brer Fox, jumping up and shaking off the dust. "You've sassed me for the very last time. Now I wonder what I should do with you?"

Brer Rabbit's eyes got very large. "Oh please Brer Fox, whatever you do, please don't throw me into the briar patch."

"Maybe I should roast you over a fire and eat you," mused Brer Fox. "No, that's too much trouble. Maybe I'll hang you instead."

"Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please," said Brer Rabbit. "Only please, Brer Fox, please don't throw me into the briar patch."

"If I'm going to hang you, I'll need some string," said Brer Fox. "And I don't have any string handy. But the stream's not far away, so maybe I'll drown you instead."

"Drown me! Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please," said Brer Rabbit. "Only please, Brer Fox, please don't throw me into the briar patch."

"The briar patch, eh?" said Brer Fox. "What a wonderful idea! You'll be torn into little pieces!"

Grabbing up the tar-covered rabbit, Brer Fox swung him around and around and then flung him head over heels into the briar patch. Brer Rabbit let out such a scream as he fell that all of Brer Fox's fur stood straight up. Brer Rabbit fell into the briar bushes with a crash and a mighty thump. Then there was silence.

Brer Fox cocked one ear toward the briar patch, listening for whimpers of pain. But he heard nothing. Brer Fox cocked the other ear toward the briar patch, listening for Brer Rabbit's death rattle. He heard nothing.

Then Brer Fox heard someone calling his name. He turned around and looked up the hill. Brer Rabbit was sitting on a log combing the tar out of his fur with a wood chip and looking smug.

"I was bred and born in the briar patch, Brer Fox," he called. "Born and bred in the briar patch."

And Brer Rabbit skipped away as merry as a cricket while Brer Fox ground his teeth in rage and went home.

You can read more Georgia folktales in Spooky South by S.E. Schlosser.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Moving Update

We're packing up and getting ready to move to the Southwest. Paul's mother lives in Arizona, near the New Mexico border, so we're going there to start out with. But, unless we're very surprised by what we see out there we imagine we'll almost immediately be looking for another place to live and places to work doing our spiritual counseling and healing work, selling Mama Love perfume, etc.

My Mama Love shop on Etsy and also off-Etsy will be temporarily closed Nov. 26 or 27th so if you're hoping to get Christmas presents there, better do it now. I'll try to open up for business as soon as we get settled in. But it could be more than a week after we hit the road (on or before Dec. 1) and things get pretty tight for delivering the mail by Christmas after that.

We'll also be looking for leads as to where to go to get our services and products to people after that. We've been told that Sedona is a good place for us to check out. Maybe parts of New Mexico and Arizona as well. If anyone out there happens to see this blog and has suggestions to offer, people to contact, or -- even better -- friends they could hook us up with, be sure to get in touch.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Orange



Friday, November 14, 2008

Looking for a New Home

We're leaving Santa Cruz at the end of this month. We knew we had come to the end of the road here financially for a long time. 90% of our business comes from other places and living in the 2nd least affordable place in the country under these circumstances just breaks our hearts.

It's beautiful in Santa Cruz, sunny and warm enough to be outside in a t-shirt and bare feet almost year round. It's a strange mix of polarized politics and more artists and arts and cultural activities than you're likely to find almost anywhere in the country. There are also spiritual counselors and alternative health practitioners on every corner here -- an overabundance of riches for anyone interested in holistic healing -- and a growing market for these kinds of services elsewhere in the United States where the populace has fewer opportunities to take advantage of them.

Santa Cruzans describe their hometown as " paradise." "How can you even think of living anywhere else?" is the pretty much universal response whenever we mention leaving. People work two, sometimes three jobs to stay here -- frequently handing over 50% of their income (or more) just to paying rent.

We wish we didn't have to leave but I've never been able to stomach what it takes to get by here. I've given it a try many times and each time wound up financially better off but so unhappy, sick and frustrated I had to let it go. I'm never happier than when Paul and I are doing our work. But we can do that anywhere in the country now and paradise comes-- I think -- from living where you have a happy home.

We've put out the vision of what we want before but I never put it here on this blog so I'm going to cut and paste one of our more recent email newsletters here. You never know who's going to read what you say and where they're going to find it. If you have any leads for us in our new home search, please send us an email or give us a call.

-----------------------------------

Paul here: This month Sheryl and I are putting out a vision, our vision. We're required to move from our home and home office very soon and have been seeking a new situation with a lot of the same good stuff but more and better, too.

We do firmly believe that when one door closes another one opens. Sometimes we squeal about it, sometimes not. As Sheryl and I have discussed numerous times, we'd like more face time with clients and potential clients. Anytime we bring it up, visions of a spiritual retreat center, with a gift shop, maybe a cafe come up. Or sometimes it's simply a spiritual bookstore with a private room for counseling and healing. Sometimes Sheryl and I envision a very similar space to what we have now: more residential in appearance, and maybe we do live in the back, or off to the side, but the front structure is definitely business: it's a storefront with proper signage and in a good location for doing business.

As many of you know we are engaged in multiple business interests. In addition to our joint healing and counseling practice, Sheryl is an artist, a non-fiction author, and sole owner /proprietor of Mama Love Products which is a line of healing body care products. She manufactures and sells the whole line herself to both wholesale and retail markets. Sheryl is also primary web-designer and marketer for much of what we do.

I am an author of fiction / creative non-fiction, and an accomplished photographer. It's not hard at all for us to imagine a single venue stocked with our art and photography (cards and prints) our books, articles and stories, body products and other gift items, a treatment room and even a small photographic portrait studio. Of course, there'd be a website too. Oh, and surprise! Sheryl sees a bed and breakfast as playing a possible part in all this.

Many parts of this are already a part of our lives—it would be easy to transfer many of these skills and abilities to a creative collaboration —but we have not yet found the physical space, the partners and financial backing, at least not yet.

Our fantasy is that someone on our list knows someone who needs our help in their metaphysical bookshop / bed & breakfast / retreat center or the equivalent. And that they’d love to have a special spiritual counseling and healing team join their staff. Since housing is also one of our primary concerns various possibilities in regards to compensation might be worked out.

If anyone fits this description on our list or thinks they may know someone who could use our help, please pass this newsletter on to those people and get in touch with us. Send a reply via email or call us (831) 325-4076.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Persimmon Bounty


The tree in the front yard is literally falling over with persimmons. One more example of a bounty of fruit in our yard this year. We have had way more fruit than we can eat this season, and until recently I realized I wasn't taking full enough advantage of it.

I never was a persimmon fan. Until recently I had only eaten Hachiya persimmons which are very astringent when picked off the tree. They have to be ripened for several days in a paper bag and then they turn to a slimy honey-tasting muck. Some people absolutely love them.

Our persimmon tree, however, is the Fuyu variety. They can be eaten right off the tree and are crisp and sweet, tasting somewhat like a very mild apple or pear. We've never had more than 1-2 persimmons on the tree before. It's very young. So this year's crop is quite a surprise.

I'm very attracted to orange colored fruit right now. I have Mango Tangerine Sorbet in the freezer and Ben and Jerry's Peach Cobbler ice cream. I want to eat carrots and would actually like to eat an orange right now. Orange is the color of the second chakra and I always associate a craving for that color as indicative of a spiritual need for emotional sustenance. The second chakra is about pleasure, emotional safety and sexuality. It's also connected, along with the first chakra which is more survival oriented, to financial abundance and personal well-being.

'Nuff said about that. I decided to appreciate the orange I have in my life right now and made an absolutely wonderful Brandied Persimmon and Date Bread. It's my own recipe, altered significantly from another recipe I found on the net.

Brandied Persimmon and Date Bread

Butter for greasing the loaf pan
2 large eggs
1/2 cup cooking oil
1 cup of Fuyu persimmon puree (see instructions below)
Brandy (see instructions below)
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 Fuyu persimmon, peeled and chopped
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar (or slightly less)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves

First make persimmon puree: Peel and chop 2-4 Fuyu persimmons. Put in the microwave on high for 2 minutes and then blend in a blender with a splash or two of brandy. Don't ask me how much. I just put enough to make it easier to blend and then a touch more. :-)

Let the persimmon puree cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 5x9-inch loaf pan and set aside.

Place the eggs and oil in a medium sized bowl and mix well. Add the persimmon puree, dates, pecans, and chopped persimmon. Stir to blend.

Place the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves in a large bowl. Blend well. Add the egg, oil and fruit mixture and stir to combine. Don't overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 65-70 minutes.

Let bread cool, remove from the pan and eat it warm or at room temperature. Yum!!!

Wrapped in plastic wrap, the bread can be refrigerated for up to a week.

Monday, November 10, 2008

You're Only Down..

if you don't get back up.

Amazing video I found today. Take a look:

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Free Flower Essence Aromatherapy Consultation



Need help picking a Mama Love perfume or other products from my Mama Love shop for yourself or people you love? Send me an email and ask me to help!

Wishbone


The other day I cooked a whole chicken, something I don't think I've ever done, found the wishbone and brought it out to Paul who was sitting on the couch.

You know the wishbone ritual, don't you? Two people grab hold of either end, make a wish and whoever gets the bigger half with the center of the wishbone attached gets their wish.

So we each took a deep breath, silently wished our wishes and gave this wishbone a yank. The bone snapped in equal pieces while the middle flew off over our heads!

Then we asked each other what we wished for. It was the same wish.

Friday, November 07, 2008

In What Way Do You Keep Yourself In the Closet?



New video just up on Youtube today. I have to admit to feeling uncomfortable with the amount of emotion I express in it. While I knew these issues are things that play in the background for me a fair bit of the time, I honestly had no idea it's been in my way to the extent that I've noticed it lately.

Paul doesn't struggle with this kind of thing. He seems to think it's because he was a pretty popular kid growing up and has never identified much with being a member of an oppressed group. I was brought up Jewish; he wasn't. I heard the phrase "what will the neighbors think if..." used as the reason me or my brother and sisters should not behave in various ways on a regular basis. Paul's mom actually went to bat for him in school and defended his right to be who he was. He has an aura of confidence about himself I dream of for myself.

What would the world be like if we all felt safe enough to be who we are?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

No to Bigotry for Obama

In this same election which celebrates -- and rightfully so -- the election of the first black man to the presidency of the United States we also saw three states (California, Florida and Arkansas) attempt to eliminate the right for people to marry unless they are heterosexual. African Americans and Latinos, who came out in force to support Barack Obama, voted overwhelmingly for this initiative in California, as did a great many white people. Apparently even people who have experienced intense discrimination themselves failed to see this as a civil rights issue.

Despite the intention of the Constitution to uphold a separation of church and state, people in this country still vote based on religious belief and the dominant religion defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. But the state has an interest in marriage, too. And, in fact, a desire to support it to the extent that legal and financial protections are provided to married folks that other people don't receive. To be honest, I think all committed family units (and that doesn't just mean gay couples) should be provided with legal and financial benefits regardless of marital status under the law. Perhaps that would be an easier pill to swallow than gay rights seems to be...but in the meantime the fight is being fought on "moral" and religious grounds and that, I think, creates an excuse for fear-mongering and bigotry to run rampant.

In a strange turn of events, given my frustration with religious organizations who used their financial clout to steer this election, today I received a "celebratory" email from a spiritual-but-not-religious website comparing Obama to Jesus in a supposedly joking manner. The article included managed to be both anti-Semitic and anti-Christian, no small feat if you ask me, and reminded me once again that bigotry really is alive and well in all sorts of forms despite the gains that have been made.

People don't see bigotry the same way when they're not the target of it--I'm sure that spiritual-but-not-religious group meant no harm. I'm sure the Mormon church and other religious organizations that pulled out all the stops to promote "Yes on Proposition 8" meant well. But that's the problem. It's easy to forget what it feels like to be part of a marginalized group when your group isn't the one being targeted.

I'm glad I had a chance to savor this election with everyone last night. I really felt proud of America for voting for change. Today, I guess, it's time to get back to work.

Santa Cruz Celebrates Obama



Paul and I didn't know it was happening but apparently this was the scene in downtown Santa Cruz minutes after Obama's election was announced. Almost 80% of Santa Cruzans voted for Obama.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Obama Llama Song

Rockabelles Obama

Monday, November 03, 2008

Vote However You Like Song

Sunday, November 02, 2008

An American Prayer

Slander, Lies and Videotape

Woke up with thoughts of a “Hitler Youth” retitled video of little kids singing a song in support of Barack Obama. When searching for inspirational (and fun -- wait until election day) political music videos for this blog I came across several videos people had taken from other sites, downloaded and then re-uploaded with a different title. The Manifest Obama video I put up earlier was one of them. It was retitled “Creepy”. But the Hitler Youth videos -- and there were several of different sorts -- were a lot more insidious and upsetting.

A group of families who support Obama filmed their kids singing a song while wearing Obama campaign T-shirts and innocently offered it on the Internet to support their candidate. The fear-mongerers of the Right snatched it up and have been using it as "evidence" that the Obama campaign is some kind of Nazi-Socialist indoctrination movement. Similar to how the intention of the Manifest Obama video was treated.

Since when does coming out in force for something you believe in warrant a title related to Hitler? Hitler wasn’t about equality for all people. Hitler would not have supported a black man, never mind a mixed race -- half white, half black --person! What on earth is going on with this? And why is it SO prevalent and insidious on the Internet?

Because it works. Oddly enough.

One of my favorite comedians, Craig Ferguson, likes to joke sarcastically that he found such and such a thing on the Internet and that means “it must be true!” Same thing could be said for things found in the newspaper.

More than 20 years ago I wrote a book about the origin, history and folklore of the Christmas Tree that focused, primarily, on what the tree meant before Christianity. I’m no longer a practicing Jew -- my faith can best be described as eclectic -- but having grown up Jewish I’m very sensitive to not wanting to say or write anything that might be offensive to Christians. I worried long and hard about publishing this book, especially because I felt the chapter about pagan myths that were similar to the story of Jesus and Mary might be seen as controversial.

Interestingly enough, NOBODY has ever mentioned it. The book came out to practically no attention at all. I was interviewed for maybe 18 little 2-3 minute sound bites on obscure radio stations around the country and had two more in-depth interviews locally. I spent several depressing weekends of my life doing booksignings and talks for whopping crowds of 4-5 people at most, and gave up thinking about it. Then, about two years ago, USA Today wanted to do an article about a new fashion trend of hanging Christmas Trees upside down from the ceiling and called me up.

The reporter was very funny and congenial. He had a particular angle he wanted to do the story from and, because I supposedly wrote the “definitive book” about the origin of the Christmas Tree, he wanted me to talk about what the symbolism of the tree meant and whether hanging the tree upside down might reverse it. I thought that might be the case if people thought about it too much so when he jokingly said “So, Sheryl, would you agree then that hanging the tree upside down might be seen as ‘sinister’? “ I laughed and said that it probably could. I also talked about the tree as having had great significance to pagan people.

Next thing I knew I was “quoted” in USA Today saying “The upside down Christmas Tree is sinister because it’s pagan.” I said no such thing! But before I knew it my supposed quote was spread all over the Internet and my email box was inundated with upset Pagans who wanted to string me up for insulting their religion. And to make matters worse, I thought of Pagans and Neo-pagans as my primary market for this book.

I had to come out swinging about this, got USA Today to print a correction (which was no small feat), printed a large notice on my website to stop the barrage of criticism coming at me, and printed something on this blog as well. The controversy faded away but every year since, starting a few weeks ago this year, I still get inquiries from reporters around the country wanting to follow suit on the USA Today article and get some new quotes for upside down Christmas Tree articles of their own. I always turn them down.

The power of the press to twist an innocent comment into a big “news story” has been part and parcel of the business from the beginning. It even featured strongly in the Frank Capra film “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” in which the idealistic new senator played by Jimmy Stewart is tricked into saying something and is then misquoted in the press exactly the way it happened to me.

But done on the Internet such tactics are more powerful. Reputations can be ruined in a matter of hours and completely slanderous things can be said -- and are said-- on blogs and forums all the time.

Don’t type in “Hitler Youth and Obama” in your search engine if you want to sleep well and digest your dinner tonight. And if you’re ready for a change in Washington don’t think it’s not important to come out and vote just because Obama appears to be still leading in the polls.

There’s a seamy underbelly to American politics...and it’s alive and well on the internet.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Yes We can - Obama