Every Shoe Tells a Story


I recently spent a euphoric family sleepover weekend at home with my loved ones.

In the middle of a sleepless night, as my loved ones slept, I passed the pile of shoes near the front door and was compelled to photograph them.

Proof that although I was stressed and sleepless, love was all around me.

The image of my families’ footwear told the story, without my having to say one word.

The adult female and male shoes, baby girl shoes, and little boy shoes, helter skelter in the entrance way was the dead giveaway that a lot of my favorite people were “in the house.”

As I recently combed through my phone photos, the shoe image jumped out causing me to pause and reflect on the whole shoe thing.

Shoes can speak volumes about a person and their personality. And shoes can often times speak for themselves.

They can also serve as a symbol for family gatherings, historical events, and more.

No matter what the situation, shoes will most likely tell a story.

Where have your shoes taken you? What do your shoes say about you? If someone were to spend a day in your shoes, what would they experience?

Early in my life, I recall feeling horribly embarrassed by my shoes. Many of them had been purchased at the Salvation Army, and because my feet were so big (I still wear close to a size 9), I often wore boys shoes.

And everyone has heard the old adage: You can tell a man by his shoes.

Two starkly different perceptions are conjured up in my head when thinking about my view of shoes: The dark vs. the lighter visual.

The light side first:

My babies’ first pair of shoes. (How I wish I would have bronzed them). My daughter’s orthopedic ankle-high boot that attached to a bar brace at night, ballet slippers, tap shoes, and her first pair of heels. My son’s first pair of soccer cleats, ice skates, and wing tips. And all those uber-expensive sneakers the kids insisted they had to have because everyone else was wearing them.

My despised but admittedly comfortable saddle shoes I was forced to wear at Saint Ambrose Catholic School for eight long years, my white go-go boots, penny loafers, and Mary Jane’s.

My first pair of designer shoes; Manolo Blahnik’s bought in error. After an afternoon of champagne celebrating at the Four Seasons, I saw a gorgeous pair of black bowed heels in a store window. When I tried them on they fit like a glove. I thought the price on the box said $77.00. I charged them in my champagne stupor, and only realized on the train ride home that my receipt said $770.00. Non-refundable.  What a difference a 0 can  make.

If you are a regular reader of my blog posts, you know there will always be the darker, more sinister side of things.

The dark side now:

I insisted on burying my grandmother in her slippers because she always complained that her bunions were killing her. Except lung cancer killed her in the end.

On 9/11, as the towers burned and then crumbled, women yanked off their high-heels so they could flee the cataclysm as quickly as possible. Heels don’t make for fast running. A pink spike here, a wing tip there. Blood-stained, dusty, almost-unrecognizable shoes from that unfathomable Tuesday. One woman got her shoe and foot caught in a piece of twisted steel and thought she would die there. Someone helped to free her foot, and she recovered her shoe. He saved her life but she never found him to offer her thanks. Maybe he died. Others discarded their shoes as they trudged through stairwells flooded with water from fire sprinklers. And the entire floor of the Battery Park tunnel was strewn with shoes from people taking them off to run as fast as fast could run.

A grisly photograph sent to me by a colleague of a pile of bloody shoes belonging to victims from a site of a terrorist blast in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 23, 2016.  Some still had bodiless feet and legs attached to them.

On a visit to D.C., a lone pair of dirty old boots left at the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

And the hundreds of shoes piled high at the Washington, D.C. Holocaust Museum. In a room full of smelly, nauseatingly musty shoes. Heels, flats, sandals, loafers, wide, narrow, old, new, worn, withered, scuffed, colorful, dark, white, leather, cloth. Men’s and women’s shoes. And baby shoes. Lots and lots of baby shoes. A mountain of baby shoes. No missed bronzing opportunities for them.

On the wall of the shoe room was the following poem by Moses Schulstein:

We are the shoes. We are the last witnesses.
We are shoes from grandchildren and grandfathers
From Prague, Paris, and Amsterdam.
And because we are only made of fabric and leather
And not of blood and flesh,
Each one of us avoided the Hellfire.

 

 

 

 

 

The Common Sense Party

I think it’s time for a new political direction. And maybe even a new party.

I like the sound of the Common Sense Party because it speaks volumes about the current situation.

And a new party completely meshes with the various debates I’ve recently had with family, friends, and colleagues who are on both sides of the political spectrum.

Republicans currently control the Senate and the House, and almost two-thirds of governor’s offices. Over the past nine years, Republicans have gained about 1,000 seats in the state legislature and currently dominate at a rate not seen since the Civil War.

Republicans control both chambers in 32 states, including 17 with veto-proof majorities.

I keep asking myself how it is possible that so many U.S. citizens are okay with the
the top one-tenth of 1 percent owning more than the entire bottom 90 percent.

Can someone in the 90% please answer that question for me?

Last month Republican Congress approved one of the cruelest pieces of legislature in history.

And yet many Americans don’t seem to care that 23 million of us may soon be without health insurance while billionaires will enjoy ridiculously generous tax breaks.

And according to the Congressional Budget Office, not only would the American Health Care Act leave 23+ million of us without insurance but they also warned that premiums for older workers and lower income Americans would soar.

A month ago, while cases of celebratory beer were wheeled into the Capitol, President Trump praised the House version of the AHCA. Last week Trump called it “mean.”

Thanks for your flip-flop and take-charge input Mr. President.

Speaking of take-charge, the Republicans seem to be in charge of everything these days.

Well, maybe not everything.

Powerful corporations with selfish agendas also have significant influence over all things economic and political in our country.

So here it is folks: Republicans and big business are the now the masters of the American universe.

They are winning, bigly.

The Republicans insist that low taxes on the rich are the key to prosperity.

Prosperity for who?

Not the struggling middle class. Not the lower income Americans.

And now the American Health Care Act Part Two is in the competent hands of the Republican Senators, right?

But why is the plan top secret? And why are there no female Senators in on their cloak-and-dagger pet project?

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell created a working group of 13 male senators, including himself to work on the health care bill. He made sure to include staunch conservatives and ardent foes of the Affordable Care Act, but not one woman.

Thirteen senators in the group and Mitch couldn’t give one of those seats to a female?

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat in New York’s 12th District, said it best: “Women are half of the population but make up only 19.4 percent of Congress.”

Shouldn’t every woman in America be alarmed by that?

The Middle class keeps shrinking, women continue to get the shaft, and the poor are getting poorer, while Republicans are focused on providing the top 1% with $3 trillion in tax cuts.

Why are Americans allowing our government to coddle and reward the 1%?

What about the rest of us?

Why aren’t the 99% of Americans outraged that while we struggle to get health care, housing, education, and even clean drinking water, the Republicans along with the 1% hold our purse strings?

Here is why America is in this pickle:

The United States has one of the lowest election turnouts of any major country on earth.

Sad but true.

And think of it this way: If liberals voted at the same rate as conservatives, Hillary Clinton would be president and the Democrats would control the Senate.

Some will say that would have been terrible, which is why a new political party might be what’s needed to heal our wounds and come together as one America.

An America that works for all of us, not just the 1%.

In 2016, 43% of eligible Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 voted in the presidential election, vs. 71% of Americans over the age of 65.

Midterm elections were even worse: In 2014, 17% of Americans between 18 and 24 voted, compared to 59% of seniors. An appalling 36.7% of eligible voters cast ballots in 2014.

Think about that. Do the youth in America not realize that this land is their land?

Stop texting and listen up kids: Are you completely oblivious to what’s happening to your future? Americans over 65 had their turn. It’s your turn now. The future is up to you. Start voting already.

Otherwise the GOP keep on winning. And a YUGE tax cut for the wealthy is on its way.

I will end this blog post with a recent quote from Speaker Paul Ryan: “Transformational tax reform can be done, and we are moving forward. Full speed ahead.”

Full speed ahead.

Where’s the outrage?

And can someone organize the next massive protest march ASAP?

Father-Daughter Dance

If you know me, or my blog, I often write about being fatherless, and its cause and effect on the past 60+ years of my life.

The annual Father-Daughter Dance at St. Ambrose School in Bridgeport Connecticut during the early 60’s, was the blockbuster event of the year.

For me, it was the tragic reality that as the only one in my class without a father, I couldn’t go.

The nuns, of course, knew of my fatherlessness, and were vicious about it; whispering gossip to each other about me and my unusual family unit.

As a divorcée, my mother was excommunicated by the Catholic Church. As such, she was deemed a sinner by St. Ambrose and as her child so was I.

The nuns accused me of sinning, while the parents of my friends labeled my home broken.

So from grades 1-8, I enviably sat that dance out.

But oh how my imagination ran wild.

I conjured up in my young inventive head how magical the night would be.

Me the belle of the Father-Daughter ball, sparkling in a Cinderella gown, and my father the most handsome man in the room, dressed to kill in a fancy tuxedo.

All eyes would be on us as we made our grand entrance into the transformed cafeteria and danced and twirled the unforgettable night away.

Everyone in attendance would ooh and aah at the bedazzled and priceless diamond necklace my father had surprised me with.

And no chintzy corsage for me. My wrist was adorned with a matching dazzling diamond bracelet.

I envisioned posing for the Father–Daughter photo, a swarm of paparazzi bulbs popping all around the two of us.

NOT.

Year after lousy year I was harshly reminded of the sin, the broken home, the fatherless void.

  

The U.S. Needs a Presidential Candidate Like Macron In 2020

Thirty-nine-year-old French President Emmanuel Macron has lectured Putin and faced down Trump’s aggressive handshake.

He has been in office for less than three weeks, and has already asserted himself as a top-down operator and shown the world what “Presidential” means.

Like the United States, French politics are sharply divided along ideological lines between the left and right.

Macron has been described as a nimble politician who is able to juggle two opposing viewpoints at once.

“And at the same time,” is a catch phrase Macron uses in most of his speeches to reflect his ability to strategically balance.

His willingness to find a middle ground appealed to many French voters who didn’t see themselves as adequately represented by any of the other presidential candidates.

And that strategically balanced middle ground is the reason why Macron became the President of France.

As I fervently read as much about him as possible, and then watched him tackle Putin and Trump head on, I quickly deduced that the U.S. could use a politician like Macron.

Bigly.

If there any U.S. Macron’s out there who can save us from this political dogfight, please show yourself! Democrat, Republican, Independent, whatever.

Throughout Macron’s campaign, he emphasized his concern that France and its partner Germany were being threatened by two unpredictable behemoths: Trump’s America and Russia.

Trump’s America.

On the eve of Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris climate deal, Macron was blunt about the consequences of that decision.

In a phone call to Trump, Macron reportedly sternly told him that France would continue to work with the U.S., but not on climate change.

He also issued a joint written statement with Germany and Italy directly affirming that the Paris accords would not be renegotiated.

And then he did what no other French President has ever done:

Last night, while he started off in French, he strayed away from the cherished national tongue by speaking to his country, and the world, in English and broadsided Trump.

He chided Trump’s decision to abandon the global climate pact calling it an “error for the interests of his country, his people and a mistake for the future of our planet.

“Don’t be mistaken on climate; there is no plan B because there is no planet B,” Macron said solemnly.

And then Macron spoke directly to Americans, asking scientists, entrepreneurs, and committed citizens to “Come here with us to work together on concrete solutions for our climate.” He also reassured Americans that “The world believes in you. I know that you are a great nation.”

As he spoke those words, I felt his sincerity, and they struck me as ironic, and got me thinking about his view of America vs. Trump’s America.

That Macron believes in all Americans, not just some Americans.

And that this isn’t about  Trump. This is bigger than Trump. This is about who we are as a nation. All of us, not just some of us.

And when Macron purposefully ended his speech by asking the world to “Make our planet great again,” I couldn’t help but feel slightly vindicated, but mostly hopeful.

Today, EU officials have decided to cut out Trump’s White House and deal directly with the U.S. states and major corporations, many of whom have already pledged to live by the terms forged in Paris. A truly brilliant move.

Albus Dumbledore, the wizard who tutored Harry Potter in the ways of the world, said it best: There will be a time when we must choose between what’s easy and what’s right.

While Trump is playing checkers, the EU is playing chess.

Looks like Trump got trumped.  Checkmate.

 

 

Their Jewelry, My Armor

I honor those whom I have loved and lost, by wearing their jewelry.

Piece by treasured piece, I armor myself.

With each piece chosen, I conjure up my relatives. I visualize them wearing the jewelry, and fondly remember what they meant to me.

There is a vulnerable yet powerful aura of presence in those family jewels.  And each piece worn has a purpose and an emotional, familial implication.

I turn to my “loved” collection for inspiration, when I need a reminder of my self-worth or a quick family fix.

As I review the collection and consider what to wear, I am surrounded by my lost, much-loved and much-missed family.

The mere act of choosing makes me teary-happy and reconnects me to my almost forgotten past. I also feel empowered and protected.

My coat of armor. My security shield. My ancestral weapon. My bauble blankie.

The ritual of selecting is calculated, and my choices are deliberately sentimental. And I never seek out the most expensive, or the prettiest pieces.

I bedeck myself in the jewels of my lost ones to keep them close to my physical self. It’s as simple as that.

I also don my lucky charms to mark a significant day in their lives or mine. And depending on the occasion, I know exactly what needs to be worn.

On my cousin’s birthday, for example, I wear all things Pamela, or on Mother’s Day, my grandmother’s locket.

I consider my jewelry menagerie to be not just the ultimate in intimate accessorizing but a source of spiritual strength and confidence.

To describe the physical and emotional feeling of their jewelry against my skin is to use words like moved, respected, honored, remembered; missed.

Dearly missed.

The peace in every piece gladdens me, and yet it also saddens and reminds me that too many have died; some way too soon and way too young.

Ironically, many of the lives of those I loved didn’t overlap; the only commonality was their love for me.

Sometimes the choosing tears at my heart. That very heart they all so lovingly touched.

How I wish I could go back in time and appreciate my loved ones more. I so often took their love and their lives for granted, assuming they would be with me a lot longer than they were.

Now, they are but a ring, a pendant, a statement piece.

I am hopeful that when I am gone my “loved” collection will get divvied up among those nearest and dearest to me.

But will they want it? And will they wear it? It gives me solace to imagine that they will indeed cherish those treasured adornments that meant so much to me.

So that the love I had for my lost ones and the love they had for me would be forever memorialized through their jewelry—and mine.

The possibility that somewhere somehow, we all won’t be gone without a trace.

 

You’re Missing From Me Mom

Since signing up for a three-month subscription to Ancestry.com, I have become obsessed.

And I have endlessly researched for hours upon hours discovering family member after family member; mostly deceased.

Last week as I slogged through the census, birth, baptism and marriage documents of long-lost and largely unknown family, there was a click option which invited me to:

Find others who are researching (X person) in public Member Trees.  

When I clicked on the link, I came upon several Family Trees created by Others. It was an odd exercise because I had to assume that the “Others” were more than likely all related to me in one way or another.

And then I came upon an “Other” that raised the hair on my arms.

My estranged mother.

I clicked on my mom’s name and was informed that she had logged on one month ago.

One month ago meant that she was still alive. Sadly, I hadn’t been sure about that.

I can’t begin to fully explain all of the emotions that consumed me.

Relief. Regret. Sorrow. Anguish. Depression. Remorse. Fear. Melancholy. Fatigue.

Grief. Overwhelming, agonizing and unsolvable grief.

Hope. Pure, naked and fragile hope.

And I swore to myself that I would tell no one of my heart-rending discovery. But I have kept my grief and sorrow a secret long enough. Plus, our time is clearly running out.

In the right-hand corner near her name was a clickable link that made my heart pound:

Privately and conveniently contact others researching your family through the message center.

“Others.”

It was a pathetic and grief-stricken aha moment.

While I endlessly searched Ancestry.com for any and all deceased connections, my beloved mother was alive and well and just a message center click away.

I felt painfully conflicted.

I had all but accepted our catastrophic finality.

And yet I now had this glimmer of hope.

I still had time to act. But did I have the courage? Would I be able to handle the probability of rejection?

And what if I didn’t act? Would I regret my inaction for the rest of my motherless life?

I prayed to God for a sign as I logged off the Ancestry site.

The next day, while organizing a pile of old manuscripts, I found a handwritten bundle of my French grandmother’s recipes with a title page that read: “Tu Me Manques.”

Below are the notes to myself that were scribbled under the proposed title of my recipe book:

Tu Me Manques seems the perfect name for my book of Mammy’s recipes. The literal French translation, “You are missing from me” sums up my sentiments perfectly. Mammy is forever missing from me, but her recipes are her legacy, and now mine.   

But nowhere in this phrase is the actual word “from” so can I assume that “from” comes from “me” in tu ME manques? And is it manque or manques? I have made the assumption from my research there is an “s” at the end but really, I have no clue. This is something I will need to find out.

Ironically, the word “manquer” is similar to “manco,” which in Spanish is a person who lacks a limb.

In any case, this is how I feel. Like I am missing a limb. I choose to use the word “miss” to describe Mammy in the sense of “to lack.” As if she were a body part of mine, and now that she is gone I lack (miss) that part. That body part is missing from me.

I’m sorry if none of this makes any sense. But I’m not sorry that I found this phrase. It almost makes my grief explainable.

It almost makes my grief explainable.

I took my recipe book notes as God’s sign. Perhaps it was a stretch. I can’t really say.

I do know that my own words written many years ago by a much younger me to a now older me, provided courage, and hope. And helped to assuage my grief.

So at the end of last week, I went back onto Ancestry.com and bravely clicked the message center link.

I filled in the subject line: Tu Me Manques

Next, I wrote the following message: You’re missing from me mom.

And then I clicked “Send.”

As I watched the word “Send” morph into “Sent,” a flurry of thoughts swirled around in my head, but none of them had anything to do with regret.

My long lost mom had logged onto Ancestry.com a month ago.

That knowledge gave me unbounded comfort.

And maybe she would never log on again.

But no matter what, I had written what until recently would have been unthinkable.

You’re missing from me mom.

No more regrets. Only hope.

It is Mother’s Day tomorrow, and I am courageously managing the grief that inevitably sweeps over me every year at this time.

I just went on Ancestry.com and clicked onto Family Trees created by Others and then clicked my mother’s Family Tree.

Her name appeared. Just the pink silhouette vector marking her existence gave me peace, and a calming solace I haven’t felt since we said goodbye eighteen years ago. I didn’t know back then that I would never see or hear from her again.

And then next to her name was a notification that she had logged on five days ago.

I felt no pain, no grief. Just joy. And love. Big love.

I prayerfully clicked onto my Message Center.

My message folder was empty, but I’m full of hope.

House Republican Beer Bash After AHCA Passage

AHCA: The American Health Care Act. You may have noticed that they didn’t call it the “Affordable” Health Care Act.

And since the AHCA seems so un-American to me, I came up with my own word-morph to describe it: TryanCare.

Trump and Ryan, they keep on tryin.

Several reporters photographed and described stacks of Bud Lite being wheeled into the Capitol around 2 pm on Thursday, May 4, shortly after the vote to approve TryanCare began at 1:30.

My first thought after getting an email from a reporter friend of mine describing the beer fest was: Alcohol is allowed in the Capital Building? Is that even legal?

So let me get this straight. The Republican Party, who are vehemently “pro-life” for “persons” in the womb, are now celebrating because millions of those very same people could die without proper medical coverage?

And please don’t try to explain the moral logic to me.

I know why they were celebrating, and it had absolutely nothing to do with health care.

Let’s call TryanCare what it is:

A moral travesty, which will deny health care to tens of millions of “post-fetus persons” for the sole purpose of handing the very wealthy a near-trillion dollar tax cut. Individuals with incomes over $1 million will save an average of more than $50,000 a year. (Pittance to a multi-millionaire.)

There you have it, folks. What better time to wheel out cases of beer on government property?

They had time to plan a 2 pm on-the-job beer bash but not to read the bill or get a CBO score?

And call me parochial, but the Capitol Building seems like the wrong place to throw back a few cold brews. If our Representatives were in a celebratory mood, there are sports bars for that.

And I can’t help but wonder how many of our “Representatives” drank at the office and then got behind the wheel of a car for their drive home.

Oh and one more thing: The Center for American Progress estimates that premiums for someone seeking treatment for addiction will rise by $20,000 under TryanCare. But not for members of Congress: Republicans voted to exempt their health insurance from provisions of the health care law.

 

 

 

Whatever Happened to Steak and Champagne in Coach?

Before the Arline Deregulation Act of 1978, the government was in full control of what the airline industry charged for seats, and which routes they received.

The only way for airlines’ to compete against each other, was to offer the best customer service and flying experience they could.

As a Delta Airlines flight attendant in the early 70’s, I worked hard for the money.

Back in 1972 Delta offered a complimentary filet mignon steak dinner and all-you-can-drink champagne in coach.  Business boomed as flyers flocked to Delta for patience, empathy, a man size slab of beef, and bottomless bubbly.

I’ll share that nightmare job with you in some other blog post.

Delta’s advertising back then boasted that their flight attendants “walk over five miles on a typical flight.”

And trust me, I’m sure I did.

“She hangs your coat, offers you a pillow, comes around with magazines, briefs you on safety procedures, brings you your choice of drinks, serves your meal, pours your wine, answers your questions, helps your children, refills your coffee cup, points out landmarks, takes your tray and brings you your coat. And she takes it all in stride.”

(Not to mention, service with a smile, even when the men would pinch my butt, not once but numerous times.)

Delta hyped us as attractive, considerate, courteous, kind, orderly, personable, poised, polite, truly dedicated and goes far beyond the call of duty.

(I’d certainly call letting passengers pinch my butt going far, far beyond the call of duty.)

And as if their ads weren’t sexist enough, Delta came out with a targeted campaign for U.S. military personnel, offering them a 50% discount for “The guy who’s got a girl in every city.” The ad displayed six bathing suit clad women with names like “Your Chicago cutie,” “Your San Francisco sweetie,” or “Your New York knockout.”

I kid you not. And so you don’t think I am exaggerating, take a look at the ads for yourself:

But nothing could beat the sexist “Fly Me” advertising campaign that National Airlines rolled out with just around the same time.

National offered up their modelesque flight attendants as part of the airline travel experience. The company painted the ladies’ first names on every plane and mandated that the attendants wear “Fly Me” buttons during in-flight service.

And when their revenues increased by 23% as a result of their advertising, National upped the sexual innuendos in their ads by having their flight attendants look seductively into the camera, and softly whisper, “I’m going to fly you like you’ve never been flown before.”

We’ve certainly come a long way from the 70’s.

Fast forward to 2017.

Children with peanut allergies and their families are roughly removed from planes, a young mother who is trying to manage twin babies is hit in the head with a stroller, a 69-year-old man suffers serious injuries after being slammed and dragged off a plane to accommodate an airline employee.

Good ole deregulation.

And if you’re lucky enough to survive an airline personnel bully, you still have to be jammed into a packed plane, with no leg room and no food. And how about the dreaded reclining seats?

I wish the airlines would wake up and make the seats immovable. Why they think there is any available space for reclining is beyond me.  It just makes the ride that much more unpleasant.

And I hope that passengers continue to record the antics of airline personnel bullies and to stand up and say something if they see something.

I don’t expect to dine on steak and champagne in coach, but I’m tired of being treated like a piece of meat.

Beware of Tick-Infested Acorns

Who knew Oak trees ladened with acorns could result in Lyme disease?

In 1969, the first case of Lyme disease in the U.S. was discovered in a grouse hunter from Wisconsin.

But the disease didn’t get its name until 1975, when there was an outbreak in children from Lyme, Connecticut.  And then in 1982, the bacteria responsible for causing the disease was finally identified.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s website states that in 2009 95% of reported cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. occurred in the following 12 states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maine, and Virginia.

According to the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, a bumper crop of acorns could be putting the U.S. on the brink of an unprecedented outbreak of Lyme disease. Rick Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute, estimates that 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, but that the illness is now on track to being the worst in 2017.

Because acorns are a critical food for white-footed mice, as acorn production surges, mouse population climbs, giving rise to more disease-carrying ticks. White-tailed deer also feed on acorns.

The mice and deer both carry ticks that drop off in the winter. The following year the female ticks lay their eggs and hatch larval ticks. Those larval ticks become infected when they feed on the mice and deer, so the whole process takes about two years.

Additionally, the Lyme bacteria has also been found in Eastern chipmunks, short-tailed shrews, coyotes, raccoons, rabbits, and feral cats. Domestic animals including cats, dogs, cattle, and horses can also become infected.  The bacteria have also been found in many bird species including but not limited to the ring-necked pheasant, mallard, wild turkey, house wren, song thrush, American robin, gray catbird, song sparrow, and house sparrow.

With no Lyme disease vaccine available for humans there is not much that can be done to prevent the illness except for the standard anti-tick measures like head to toe clothing when in the woods and diligent tick-checks. There are Lyme disease vaccines available for pets.

Ticks can be as tiny as a pin prick, and easy to miss. Not everyone gets a rash, and flu-like symptoms are easily overlooked and/or misdiagnosed.

Bottom line? Stay far away from acorns.

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Hamlet, in the Shakespearean play of the same name, was despondent and feigning when he declared: “To sleep, perchance to dream–ay, there’s the rub…”

The prince contemplated suicide, although in the end he was poisoned by Laertes, and not by his own hand.

I have always preferred my own interpretation of Hamlet’s words though: That a sleep full of dreams might help to offset troubles and sufferings in life.

A pair of papers was recently published in the journal Science, offering evidence that we sleep to forget some of the things that happen to us each day.

Sleep to forget. Maybe that’s all that the heartbroken Hamlet wanted to do, and then, perchance, to dream.

I am not a good sleeper. I lay awake each and every night with a million thoughts running in and out of my brain.

And when I am lucky enough to catch a break, and fall into a deep sleep, I have some sicko, frightful, extremely detailed dream that never seems to end.

Most times I forget them by morning, although when the dreams wake me up in the middle of the night, with my body drenched in sweat, and my heart pounding out of my chest, I recall them all too vividly. And as I lay there shaking in my bed, I analyze what in my life is causing such terrifying phantasms.

People have been pondering the meaning of dreams for centuries. Sigmund Freud’s theory centered around the idea that dreaming allows for the sorting through of unresolved events, and/or repressed issues.

Sleep to forget. Dream to sort through issues.

I recently purchased a book about interpreting dreams. My interest was less about the interpretation and more about Freud’s take on things: Produce a dream based upon a particular issue or event.

There was a section in the book that provided instruction on how to provoke a dreaming state of mind.

Remarkably, I was successfully able to sleep, and then elicit, not one but five dreams using the techniques from the book.

Here’s how I did it.

The book first emphasized that unemotional focus was key, and that it may take several nights in a row to produce the dreaming state, although it took me only one.

It was also recommended to view any problems or events from a distance.

Additionally, the book suggested that if you didn’t have a specific problem or dilemma, but just wanted to look farther into the future, the same process would apply.

The most important part of the exercise was not to think too hard or worse, overly obsess about the issue at hand, because that would only thwart sleep, and result in wakefulness.

The advice was to analyze the event or problem from an objective point of view and purposefully remove yourself from the issue altogether.

The goal was not to try to solve anything, but instead to focus on the issue itself, in the hopes of working through it in your dream state.

The bottom line was to specifically focus on what it was you wanted to zero in on before you fell asleep.

And most importantly, make sure to keep a pen and paper next to your bed so you can write down all of the elements and particulars about your dream as soon as you awake.

Since dreams are mostly fleeting, they need to be written down in as much detail as possible.

So that first night, prior to falling asleep, I placed a pen and some paper on my nightstand. Then I tried to remove all thoughts from my mind and as the book instructed, forced myself to totally relax.

Next I thought about something that had been bothering me terribly, but I did it without emotion, and didn’t try to solve anything.

And I didn’t place any blame or ask myself why it was happening.

I merely pinpointed the issue, and then began to analyze some of the aspects of the situation.

I first asked myself what the dilemma was about. Then I asked myself how it made me feel, and who was involved.

As I organized my thoughts and feelings, I kept pushing and pressing my psyche to gain clarity through slumber.

And then I must have fallen asleep.

Because I need to protect my situations and events, as well as the people involved, I am going to be somewhat vague about the dreams I had.

But I will tell you that there was nothing remotely vague about my dreams that night. And my five dreams were broken up. I had one, and then wrote that one down. I was awake enough to write, and excited at the eliciting of the dream itself.

And then I had the second and third together. And once I wrote those down, I fell into a deep sleep, and then came the fourth and then the fifth dreams, which I wrote down, quickly falling asleep in between them.

When I awoke the next morning, I was well rested but at first extremely disoriented and groggy.

I had all but forgotten the dreams until I read what I had written down, and was stunned that the entire night of dreams shockingly tied in with many of the situations I so desperately needed to sort through.

Here they are:

Dream One: There were two calendar dates, one was in March, the other in July. In my dream I was very afraid I would forget them both. One seemed more important than the other, and in the dream I actually analyzed whether there was really only one date that I needed to focus on, but just in case, and to cover any possibility, I needed to remember both. I was obsessed with the dates.

[I can only tell you here that I woke up at about 2 a.m. and wrote both dates down. The date in March turned out to be freakily significant. Since the other date doesn’t happen until July, I won’t know if it is significant or not.]

Dream Two: It was a bad storm, and the rain was whipping like this: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Blinding, crazy rain. I needed to get to the beach, to be with a girl. I didn’t know who the girl was, but she was important to me. I knew I shouldn’t drive in such bad weather, but it was imperative that I be with this girl.  I kept asking myself that once I got to the girl, how would we be able to sit outside in this violent tempest? I kept asking myself that question over and over again. The wind and rain would make it extremely dangerous to travel, but I felt I had to go, that I needed to go, no matter what.

Dream Three: I was standing on a balcony, high up in a building, staring at the churning ocean. There was a path in between the water and the building. A path of sand.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

water

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

l                         l

l                         l

l                         l

l mom/child l

l                         l

l                         l

l                         l

_____________________________________________________________                                                                                                                       me
______________________________________________________________

A mother and her child were walking toward the building. I didn’t know them but I was nervous that they should get away from the water, get closer to the building. The water was rough, and I was afraid for them.

Dream four: I told a loved one (I will call the loved one “X”) that I was going on vacation. X called me on the phone to say that while I was away X was going to have a few friends over. I told X that I didn’t care about the friends coming over but that I needed to trust X and that X needed to be responsible. I told X that X never calls and the last time I saw X was over a year ago. I started to cry and told X I needed to get off the phone.

Dream five: A woman got a disease on a ship and a man was sitting next to her and consoling her. He put a blanket on her and set it up like a tent to keep her warm and then sat under it with her. He kept talking to her and reassuring her. Then some boat staff came by and said they had to remove all of the dead bodies. The woman thought she was alive, but they thought she was dead. They poured gasoline everywhere, on suitcases that were strewn all around, and on the deck, as well, and were getting ready to light everything up. As the woman watched, they pulled the man away.

[Even though my dreams were frightening, I woke up calm, and at peace and I am looking forward to trying it again tonight.]