This Thing Called Courage

Friday, April 19, 2013

Thoughts from Boston

Just posted this as a comment on a friend's wall on Facebook. These things must be articulated, and I need to have this conversation today. Last night I was overwhelmed (and I DON'T watch TV) by the media overkill, exploitation, fear-mongering, and circus atmosphere that has prevailed since Monday afternoon. I find it disrespectful to those who have lost lives in this terrible tragedy. I find it hypocritical of the media that they are silent on our own violent adventures elsewhere around the Globe, and the hatred that creates. Secondly, I find it absolutely astonishing, and a growing reminder of the militarization of our society, particularly vis a vis 'the plaza,' or public spaces of thought, physical gathering, etc, that an entire metro area would be placed under 'lockdown,' a word I abhor. This is America, people!!! The cradle of liberty! As soon as I heard that this morning, I gathered my dogs and went out into the world, into this amazingly beautiful spring day that we have been gifted with. One town over in Melrose I saw the most breathtaking cherry tree in full bloom-- I wanted to commandeer the public airwaves and announce, "Yes, Yes, there's a manhunt going on, we GET that, but people, the f#$#!!!! cherry trees are in bloom today! The cherry trees, and the bees have found them and are making merry in them!" Wouldn't you just love to see that, the bleach blonde with the dazzling, carnivorous teeth saying, "Oh, this just in-- there's this amazing cherry tree in Melrose that is JUST NOW coming into full, explosive (okay, maybe not that word...) bloom, and the bees have found it, and are making merry with it-- we go there live now..." I had Breakheart Reservation almost entirely to myself, at first; spring was unfolding by the moment and we had it all to our astonished selves. Eventually we met more people on our hike-- notably they were almost entirely senior citizens, who perhaps are not as compliant in these new ways as other demographics. Next we went to a massage/wellness studio, a dog food store, and a health food store. In the dog food store (and this is an increasing trend-- why do we need large screen tv's everywhere we go? In a dog food store? really?) Big brother was showing live video of these massive tanks and police with rifles, while the reporter was urging people-- she must have said it five times in five minutes-- to stay inside their locked houses and don't open the door for anyone, and if you MUST go out (for the cherry trees, perhaps?) "make sure you carry identification to present to authorities." Papers, please! I believe I am speaking as a true Bostonian when I say you can kiss my white Irish butt! These cautions were sandwiched in between repeated messages to 'keep it right here' for continued updates and 'all you need to know.' Then the graphics-- tasteful but lurid, especially designed for the occasion, as if it were a winter storm-- and then-- a commercial for mascara!!!!!! The only thing missing was a theme song-- a la The Poseidon Adventure, let's say--Love Theme from the Boston Marathon Bombings! It could go to the tune of Loveboat: "Lockdown....exciting and new...Lockdown...for me and for you..." Enough, I say!

Friday, January 25, 2013

STARTED MY TOMATO AND KALE PLANTS YESTERDAY (Thursday) so it is spring, or at least showing signs of spring, at my home, if nowhere else in this frozen Northern hemisphere....Thoreau said wood warms a man twice, once when he chops it, then when he burns it. i might say the same about seeds, that they feed us twice-- once when we start them indoors and they feed our yearning, winter-weary souls, and then again when we harvest during the growing season.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sound Healing at the Cambridge Center for Adult Ed

I CAN HARDLY BELIEVE it's been almost a year since I posted on this blog, but there you are. One of the new endeavors in my life has been my further involvement with music, specifically percussion, toning, the didgeridoo, and crystal sound bowls, to the point where we (Josh) formed an ensemble about a year ago, which we call SoundScapers. We perform at many different venues, from Senior Citizen Centers to Yoga Studios, and our music can be anything from wildly uplifting and joyous to entrancing and deeply meditative.

But our main focus lately has been on holding Sound Healing Sessions throughout eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. This has been an outgrowth of my involvement in the hand drumming community--that involvement beginning about ten years ago, and becoming reignited about four years ago. Like many journeys, I didn't see sound healing as a destination-- but one step led to another, which led to another, and now we hold about a half dozen of these events a month. It's been amazingly rewarding and has introduced me to many wonderful people in a variety of fields. Many say vibrational healing will be the norm by the middle of this century. While it's nice to be on the cutting edge, what's more important is the service we provide people, a service which includes deep relaxation, self-transformation, and healing. Typically the sessions last 90 minutes. Our next upcoming sessions are Sunday, April 29, from 1-3pm, at the Temple to Music at Roger Williams Park, Providence, RI; Wednesday May 9, from 7-9:00pm, at the Crystal Cave, 50 Park Street, Medfield, MA; Wednesday May 16, from 7:15-9:15 at Deborah Capunao's Massage and Healing Therapies, 61 Albion Street, Wakefield, MA. We also hold monthly sessions at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, 56 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA, and the Reading Athletic Club, 1 General Way, Reading, MA-- dates for these sessions for the month of May are to be announced shortly. Here's a flyer for an upcoming event, with more details.

Sound Healing Session at the Crystal Cave
50 Park Street, Medfield, MA  May 9, 7-9:00pm
$20 per person      

Think about this: for tens of thousands of years, our ancestors' audial diet consisted primarily of bird song, wind through trees, rain on earth, and the speech of other humans and animals, either spoken or sung. All of these sounds of nature were wrapped in intervals of deep silence-- which, as Oliver Wendell Holmes noted, "comes like a poultice to heal the blows of sound."
The assault placed upon our ears in our modern world would be unimaginable to those who came before us-- and not only our ears. We are composed of organs and tissue that vibrate at various frequencies. Sounds, for better or worse, have a profound effect on our psychological, spiritual, emotional, and physical health, as they penetrate to our very core. We can easily be set literally out of tune by the cacophony that comes at us every day-- jackhammers and planes, trucks and motorcycles, traffic, television, radio, phones-- the list goes on. A Sound Healing Session gives us the opportunity to repair this damage, as we drink in restorative, exquisite sounds that still the soul and put us back into tune. Employing primarily seven Crystal Sound Bowls, each one tuned to one of the chakras (energy centers), we also use the human voice, guided imagery, the didgeridoo, and trance Native American drumming in a safe, welcoming, relaxed atmosphere. Chairs/meditation pillows provided. Tibetan Sound Bowls, used for centuries in the East as a protocol for healing, are now being used by some cancer doctors here in the West. Bring your intentions, then let your mind, body, and soul be bathed in the healing tones of the hand drum, the didgeridoo, the human voice, and Tibetan Sound Bowls. We'll cover all the chakras, from the crown to the root, and shift and release dense energies to make way for healing, rejuvenation, and a new sense of balanced calm and vitality. You will leave feeling utterly renewed. Please join us for this unique event.
December 1, 2011

Sound Healing
Good Vibrations
When the vibrations of our physical and spiritual bodies are out of harmony it can cause disease.

Everything in the universe is in a constant state of vibration, including our bodies. Sound is vibration that can be translated by the delicate structures of our inner ear, but it moves more than just those tiny receptors. It is part of the spectrum of energy vibrations that affect us on the mental, physical, and spiritual levels. Long ago shamans recognized the power of sound when they first used chants and drumming to heal people. In ancient Egypt, Greece, and India, the use of sound and music for healing was a highly developed sacred science. Sonic vibration has been one way of experiencing the energy of the universe for much of humanity’s history.

When the vibrations of our physical and spiritual bodies are out of harmony it can cause disease. Sound healing gently massages the molecules back into the right places, clearing blockages and restoring harmony. Ancient healing systems such as Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurveda associate specific musical notes with subtle-energy systems of the body, such as in yoga where particular notes of music correspond to each of the seven chakras. In Tibet, priests have long used bells and bowls over and around the body to tune and clear the energy centers. Chimes and tuning forks are other tools that have been used to heal not only the body but the energy in a room as well.

Knowing that sound has the power to heal, we should also try to remember that sounds from modern life can have a negative effect. Choosing silence over discord may help us maintain a state of equilibrium. As we seek soothing and harmonizing sounds to surround us, we may be doing more than creating a balm for the noise of the world. We may actually be performing an act of self-healing that connects us with one of the most basic vibrations of the universe.

1. Deep relaxation; 2.Improved sleep habits;
3. Pain relief; 4.Calmed nervous system;
5. Boost in self-confidence; 6.Disease prevention;
7. Regulation of the heart beat; 8.Quieting of the mind;
9. Deepened sense of self appreciation;
10. Release of blocks;
11. Improved creativity through brain entrainment.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

From Boston Metro

we love this!

The secret life of Boston bees

01 May 2011 07:08


Urban beekeeper Mike Graney tends to his bees in Mattapan.

Beekeeping conjures up images of rolling fields on farms in Western Massachusetts, not concrete sidewalks in Mattapan.

But according to some city dwellers and state agricultural officials, there’s a population of beekeepers who raise bees, tend to hives and cultivate honey between the Hub’s brick buildings and city streets.

Mike Graney is one of those urban beekeepers.

He considers his hobby an obsession and maintains 12 hives along the Neponset River in Mattapan.

“It’s quite the urban lot. It’s tucked in between a gas station and a liquor store. It’s pretty rough and tumble, but a great spot for cultivating bees,” said Graney, a Cambridge chef.

Graney leases the spot from a gardening organization that owns the land, and last year he produced more than 100 pounds of honey. He sells the honey at local grocery stores and claims demand is high because of the belief that pollen in the honey helps to inoculate people from allergens.

“You are giving your body a small dose of what you are allergic to, and the next time you are exposed you don’t have the same reaction,” Graney said.

Graney’s hives are home to more than 50,000 bees, and he said there’s never been a complaint from a neighbor or a rogue sting reported from a passing pedestrian.

“Bees don’t go out of their way to sting people. The aggressive bee thing is hyped up,” said Graney, who himself has sustained hundreds of bee stings over the past few years.

Currently, the city lacks beekeeping regulations or permitting requirements. The state has an apiary department, but inspectors don’t enforce mandates in Boston, according to the Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources.

Up on the roof

There’s a new residence for 90,000 bees in Boston — the Seaport Hotel.

The hotel has recently made its roof home to two hives in order to produce honey for specialty dishes in its two restaurants.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Love is the Answer, Said the Broccoli

OKAY SO ABOUT A MONTH AGO, actually longer than a month ago, I was transplanting itty-bitty broccoli seedlings from very small peat pots into bigger ones. All was going well-- and then it happened! Snap! One of the broccoli snapped as I was carefully lifting it from its pot. Not so good! Instant death sentence, as a plant cannot live once it's been seperated from its root system.
Or can it?
Alas, this has occasionally happened in the past, and ordinarily I'd just toss the plant away with a sigh. But taking a cue from my friend Dan Shea, who chants to injured plants, I transplanted the wee thing anyway, even though it had no root system, and then began bathing the plant in love. I sang to it, sent it loving energy (not hard to do-- I love plants anyway, and consider them fellow beings) and then to top it all off, I colored a big red heart on its peat pot.
The plant has not only survived in the weeks since then, it has thrived. 'There is no problem to which love is not the answer...' Happy Earth Day everyone, and if you live in the Boston area, please join us next Saturday as a contingent from the Malden Drum Circle helps clean up the Malden River (and eneterains fellow cleaners with drumming!) from 11 am to 3 pm. Meeting at 195 Canal Street, Malden, MA.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Right Whales off Provincetown

PROVINCETOWN (CBS) – Dozens of endangered whales are taking up residence in Cape Cod Bay.

On Thursday, environmental officials spotted close to 30 right whales, just 500 yards off the coast of Provincetown.

Officials are planning an aerial survey in the next few days to get a more accurate number.

Right whales typically show up every spring in the waters off of Cape Cod to feed.

The state has issued a warning for boaters in the area to use extreme caution.

It’s against the law for boaters to approach within 500 yards of a right whale.

The Right Whale is the most endangered in the North Atlantic.

Only about 450 remain in the entire ocean.

Right Whales

Right Whales

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cleaning Up Lawrence

LAWRENCE — Anthony Nuñez was tired of the words he kept seeing in headlines about his hometown: drugs, arson, insurance fraud; ailing, underfunded, understaffed, unemployed.

The 24-year-old mechanical engineer knew there was little he could do on his own to fix all that. But he figured he might be able to do something else to clean up the city’s image: Get its residents to clean up its streets.

On Saturday, Nuñez expects hundreds of volunteers to help him attack the layers of rubbish that line city parks; the empty bottles that clutter playgrounds; the rusted mufflers, leaking oil cans, and jagged scrap metal that clog empty lots. He is calling on residents to step outside and clean their sidewalks and blocks.

Spiffing up an entire city would be a challenging enough task, but this Don Quixote of detritus has set an even more daunting agenda. He hopes that the sight of people tidying up their neighborhoods will inspire others to join in. He wants the idea to go viral, interrupt the drumbeat of bad news, and improve the mood of a city.

“Maybe we can change Lawrence’s negative image,’’ Nuñez said. “Maybe we can change the mind-set of the people. I hope we can boost morale, maybe change the outlook people have.’’

Nuñez is the first to acknowledge that he may be jousting at wastebins, that his idea could fail to catch on. He has no experience organizing mass cleanups — he is just a citizen who was angry when he saw a reader’s comment on a local paper’s website that suggested “they should build a wall around Lawrence and let them all kill each other off.’’

Rather than respond to the post, he said, “I figured actions speak louder than words,’’ and Clean the Trash Out of Lawrence Day was born. A Facebook site Nuñez has dedicated to the event has attracted more than 400 people, many of whom have said they will heed his call to grab some work gloves and pitch in. Nuñez said public-works officials have promised to help by providing a garbage bin in a central park for the bags of trash collected by the volunteers.

Gilda Duran, the city’s neighborhood planner, said she welcomed Nuñez’s initiative.

“Though it is a small city, there’s a lot of ground to cover,’’ she said. “Sometimes it takes someone to take the lead.’’

The city does try to maintain its streets, but its workers do not get to all of the trash. On a recent Thursday, Nuñez pointed out garbage trucks rumbling through Lawrence neighborhoods. Workers tossed bags from barrels lining residential streets, but they did not pick up litter. “Not our job,’’ said a man in a neon-yellow vest as he worked on Poplar Street. A few other workers, who said they had been hired by the city, were plucking pieces of litter from a small city park. Sweeper trucks worked the larger roads, but missed objects like crushed bottles wedged against curbs.

Lawrence is not the only dirty city, but the pervasiveness of waste is striking. Nuñez stood on a particularly blighted section of Erving Avenue along the Spicket River, amid discarded rags, vodka nips, hand purifier bottles, Planters Peanuts wrappers, Tropicana orange juice jugs, and a plastic container oozing a mysterious, milky liquid. More distressing than this riot of flotsam and jetsam was the empty trash container in the middle of the block: In tossing their refuse, no one bothered to walk the few feet to the receptacle.

“It doesn’t mean there is no point in trying,’’ Nuñez said. “But it is definitely possible that this might not work and people are going to stay the same.’’

Some posters on the Facebook site expressed their doubts more colorfully.


“You pick it up, it’s clean for five minutes, and then they trash it so why bother??????’’

The last poster has a point. City cleanups tend to be negated pretty quickly by litterbugs. And Lawrence is dirty despite the efforts of other volunteer groups. One of them, Groundwork Lawrence, is holding a spring cleaning in collaboration with Comcast on April 30.

“The more the merrier,’’ Nuñez said when he was informed of this event. “Usually when these things happen it’s like 50 or 60 people in one place. What I hope is that if people go out in their neighborhoods, other people will say ‘Oh, my neighbor is cleaning, I will, too.’ ’’

Other Lawrence residents think the idea might catch on. Ana Avellan, 36, an administrative assistant who has lived in Lawrence since 1989, said she has taught her teenage sons and baseball teams she coaches to clean up after themselves. But she has watched with dismay the accumulation of “all the trash that’s in each crevice and corner.’’

When she received an invitation on Facebook to the cleanup, she said, “I thought, ‘this is a really good idea.’ ’’

“It’s been like that so long you feel that nothing is going to change,’’ she said. “But if we all pitch in, little by little it is going to change.’’

First Homosexual Stone Age Man Found?

The male body – said to date back to between 2900-2500BC – was discovered buried in a way normally reserved only for women of the Corded Ware culture in the Copper Age.

The skeleton was found in a Prague suburb in the Czech Republic with its head pointing eastwards and surrounded by domestic jugs, rituals only previously seen in female graves.

"From history and ethnology, we know that people from this period took funeral rites very seriously so it is highly unlikely that this positioning was a mistake," said lead archaeologist Kamila Remisova Vesinova.

"Far more likely is that he was a man with a different sexual orientation, homosexual or transsexual," she added.

According to Corded Ware culture which began in the late Stone Age and culminated in the Bronze Age, men were traditionally buried lying on their right side with their heads pointing towards the west, and women on their left sides with their heads pointing towards the east. Both sexes would be put into a crouching position.

The men would be buried alongside weapons, hammers and flint knives as well as several portions of food and drink to accompany them to the other side.

Women would be buried with necklaces made from teeth, pets, and copper earrings, as well as jugs and an egg-shaped pot placed near the feet.

"What we see here doesn't add up to traditional Corded Ware cultural norms. The grave in Terronska Street in Prague 6 is interred on its left side with the head facing the West. An oval, egg-shaped container usually associated with female burials was also found at the feet of the skeleton. None of the objects that usually accompany male burials  such as weapons, stone battle axes and flint knives  were found in the grave.

"We believe this is one of the earliest cases of what could be described as a 'transsexual' or 'third gender grave' in the Czech Republic," archaeologist Katerina Semradova told a press conference on Tuesday.

She said that archeologists had uncovered an earlier case dating from the Mesolithic period where a female warrior was buried as a man.

She added that Siberian shamans, or latter-day witch doctors, were also buried in this way but with richer funeral accessories to appropriate to their elevated position in society.

"But this later discovery was neither of those, leading us to believe the man was probably homosexual or transsexual," Semeradova said.

The Corded Ware culture takes its name from the frequent use of decorative cord impressions found its pots and covered much of North, Central and Eastern Europe.

It is also known as a single-grave and battleaxe culture due to separate burials and the Mena s habit of being buried with stone axes.

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