In Maine: Coast and Nicatous

We’re back home now, and sifting through memories from the last 2 weeks in Maine...

From the Coast

Lobster boats in Mackerel Cove on Bailey Island. The point in the distance is picturesue Lands End.

View from Harpswell Island near sunset.

On the path to the Giant Steps on Bailey Island.

Periwinkles in their natural habitat (i.e., not our fridge!)...

Tall lupine flowers nestle a weathered sea dog in this display outside Big Al’s Odd Lots on Route One in Wiscasset.

The best of 3 lobster rolls — just a kiss of mayo and the lobster meat was sweet and tender— we had on this trip, from Estes Lobster House on South Harpswell.

Can’t pass up the chance to send a shout out to all the folks in Lisbon, ME as they kick-off the 26th Annual Moxie Festival this evening and running through Sunday, July 12th (wish we could have stayed for this)!! Moxie is a carbonated elixir resembling soda, but wa-a-ay better. If you’re a fan of Dr. Pepper or Campari, then you might also enjoy Moxie, which some people describe as having a medicinal flavor similar to Angostura bitters. I got hooked on Moxie when we lived in Boston, so we brought home a case! To sample Moxie for yourself, head on over to Lisbon this weekend for Moxie-flavored BBQ, ice cream and other goodies, or order a case of this unique beverage at Maine Goodies.

And a winner has been selected in the “Moose Watcher’s Handbook” giveaway at Maine Musing — congratulations, Lynne! Although I had no moose sightings on this trip, after we had moved on to Nicatous a young bull moose literally washed up in downtown Brunswick (where we had been staying while on the coast) in the middle of the Androscoggin River. As of this past Wednesday, the moose had found his way off the island and safely back to shore.

From Nicatous Lake region

This sign above the patio on T’s parents’ camp says everything...

View from the campsite.

Morning light over the quiet cove fronting the camp. My biggest take-aways from this trip are the sight and sounds of the many loon families and couples around the lake. Although I couldn’t capture them on “film,” this photo evokes for me the loons’ haunting calls sounding across the still lake especially at dawn and in the evenings.

Late summer sunset over the cove at camp.

View from the boat on a late day fishing trip...

Speaking of fishing... despite the many days of cloud and even rain, T could not get enough of fishing. Besides the boat, he also cast and caught from the dock with a rod and reel...

...and from a kayak with a fly rod. Did he have enough by the time we had to leave?! Never!! And BTW, I stand corrected: Nicatous has lots of pickerel, which are not synonymous with walleyes. T and his folks caught lots of pickerel, bass and sunfish in Nicatous (me, none), but all the trout in Middle Oxhead Pond eluded T’s flies. (You’ll get ‘em next time, Honey!)

Kio proved himself to be quite a good traveler, too. Despite some rather vocal protests at first, he soon settled in to a routine both in the kennel in the car and at each new destination he found himself in. At camp, he ran up the stairs every time someone used the hand pump in the kitchen, pausing half-way to peer around the corner to see what was making the strange noise.

T’s parents’ camp is so picturesque, even the outhouse has a great view at sunset — I tried to get a picture from the window in the outhouse looking out towards the lake, but my photos were a total blur, sorry. Although there isn’t running water or electricity at the site, there is a generator and batteries to keep a fridge cold, water heater hot, and lights in the main A-frame, outhouse, and shower room — hot showers after a day’s activities were a welcome end to each day...

Thanks, Mom & Dad, for hosting us for a whole week and sharing your wonderful slice of Heaven with us!


Portrait of a Cat as a Young (and Old) Feline

Haiku is a cat’s cat... a feline who did things on her own terms, in her own good time. But when she turned her attention to something, she did it with great gusto and clamored to be the center of attention.

Haiku was already an adult cat about 4 years old when she and Laika came to live with us from the Tierheim Kaiserslautern in 1997. They were littermates but never did get along — they simply tolerated each other and vied constantly for primary attention from their human housemates. When 2-year-old Kiowea joined the househould in 2007, shortly after Laika died, he tried for months to befriend his 14-year-old housemate. Kio soon learned to just give Haiku her space. Or else.

Haiku was clearly the Alpha Cat, getting first pick of prime viewing spots wherever she found herself, whether it was a new home, a vacation rental or hotel; helping herself to treats and her feline mates’ water and food; even hogging catnip toys to use as a pillow in the sun.

She had the soul of an adventurer and the cunning of the most accomplished secret agent — on the rare days this indoor cat was allowed outdoors, she would innocently sniff around the areas she knew she was allowed to go, nibbling on grass as she went. But as soon as she sensed the human eye was distracted, she made a bee-line for the hole in the fence or the open gate. If she got away, she wandered around until she got tired or bored then sat in one place, confident that someone was looking for her, until she was found.

Here she is “high” on fresh snipped oregano (which she liked as much as catnip) that she stole from my herb basket. She also loved the smell of new leather, freshly washed hair, and (true to her contrariness) smelly feet!

But through it all, she was fiercely protective of everyone and everything in “her domain” — until recenty, she made nightly rounds of house, checking each window and going in and out of each room with a sleeping occupant. One night during the period when my mother was recovering from brain surgery and undergoing chemo and radiation therapy while staying with us in Hawaii, I was awakened by Haiku’s loud and insistent mewling by our bedside. It was a sound we had not heard her make before. Once she saw we were awake, she strode into my mother’s room, still mewling. I ran to get her so she wouldn’t wake my mother, but instead found my mom awake and trying to reach the small rubber duck she used to call for assistance. Her voice was weakened by the surgery and treatments, and was only a whisper — so she would squeeze the duck to let us know when she needed something. That night the duck had fallen to the floor and she couldn’t reach it nor could she raise herself from the bed alone to waken anyone. As I helped her out of bed, I realized Haiku was already gone, presumably to finish the rest of her nightly rounds after accomplishing her mission...

This past Friday evening, this fiercely independent spirit again did things just her way. After a long leisurely day of napping, she woke to request (loudly! of course) her evening dinner and polished it off with relish, then went to check out her two favorite lookout spots at the front and back windows. Apparently satisfied, she then snuck into our bedroom closet — a place she knew she was not supposed to be — and took her final journey in peace and quiet.

There is a cold place at the foot of my bed now, and a sense of disbelief that a small 7lb. creature could leave such a big hole in a home and a heart. But we let her go knowing that she lived a full life in her 16-17 years — she traveled from her home in Germany to vacations in France, and to new homes in Boston and Oahu and now D.C.; she harassed, cajoled, bossed around and charmed her housemates, visiting family & friends, veterinarians, and caregivers throughout her reign; and she was always loved.

Haiku in her favorite sunspot on Oahu


Kio's First Snow Day...

After a full day of steady but light snow — most of which he watched from his perch by the large front window — yesterday Kiowea got his first taste of snow!

Born in Hawaii and spirited away to this strange and chilly place by his human pets, this island cat seemed none too pleased with his first encounter with cold, wet snow...

After being unceremoniously plopped into the snow by one of his humans, Kio’s tail tells the tale of this island cat’s opinion of the surprising white stuff...


“Will somebody let me back inside already!??”

Haiku gladly traded places with her younger housemate — it’s been 4 years since she’s had a chance to sniff out snow!

“Snow is much better from this side of the glass!....”


On the Move with Cats, Part 2

This is the second in a two-part post about travelling, especially during a permanent relocation, with cats. Part 1 covered 2 natural therapies we have used to keep the cats calm, and offered tips about non-traditional places to stay during your move. This part touches on kennel-training and insights about using U.S. carriers when your pets travel as cargo. Everything in this series is based on our personal experience with the three cats we have travelled with, and is not intended to substitute for the advice of your own veterinarian.

We have a sign that says, “Dogs have masters; Cats have staff.” It’s usually the case that cats are better at training their humans than we are at training them, but one instance when training can be really important is preparing your cat to be in a kennel or travel crate for long periods of time if she has to fly. If your cat has never been in a kennel or has only spent a short time travelling to or from the vet or groomer, then it will help your pet to practice being in a kennel for the same amount of time it will have to travel. For instance, if you’re putting your cat on a 3-hour flight and have to check her in 2 hours before departure, that’s at least a 5-hour time frame (more like 6 or 7) she will be in the kennel.

Kennel training does several things for your friend. One, it allows her to slowly get used to being in a kennel while she’s still in a familiar environment, her own home. Two, the timed training period will give her a sense that there’s a light at the end of this tunnel, and that she will see you again and maybe get a treat and a cuddle. Three, it gives her a chance to make the kennel her own — it will have her smell in it, and will become familiar and safe.

Begin kennel-training as far in advance of your travel as time will allow.
1. Use the actual kennel in which the cat will be travelling — put water and food dishes in place, too. Also use an absorbent lining for the floor of the kennel, and maybe a shirt or small towel that has your scent on it (this will also help to keep your cat calm). Most airlines will not allow any toys in the kennel, so don’t put any toys that she won’t be able to take on the trip. The point is the kennel will look and smell the same as it will on the day of travel.

2. Prepare the kennel with Feliway or Comfort Zone, if using: spray around the corners of the kennel 30 minutes before the cat goes in. (See
Part 1 for information about these natural alternatives to keep your cat calm)

3. Start with short time periods similar to a trip to the vet (10-20 minutes), and increase the time by 20-30 minute increments each day. As the time periods increase to hours, put food and water in the dishes so the cat is used to eating and drinking from them. The airlines won’t allow food in the kennels during the flight, but they will put food and water in the dishes during layovers if you provide the food. Check with your airline’s policy for pets travelling as cargo.

4. If at all possible, try to make the experience a pleasant one. Don’t chase the cat and throw her in the kennel every day because obviously she’ll be suspicious and traumatized by then. Once she’s in the crate, spend a few minutes assuring her she’s OK, but don’t stay too close the whole time — the point of the exercise is to get her used to being alone and to learn that you will come back for her. Then at the end, offer her a favorite treat — for our cats, it’s usually a cuddle and a good scratch around the ears — but catnip, treats, or whatever she considers special will work. One cat we knew loved broccoli!

Three weeks before their flight, we started kennel-training Kio. This would be his first plane trip. We figured Haiku had been through so many moves and long car trips that she didn’t need the practice, but Kio hated kennels and he would soil his kennel even in the short 7-minute trip from home to the vet!

After a couple of days, Kio had stopped soiling the kennel but was still mewing and letting everyone know he was not a happy camper. Then it occurred to T that maybe the process seemed like a punishment since Kio was singled out for this treatment, while Haiku was left roaming around. He was right — as soon as Haiku joined the routine, Kio settled down. Haiku lay down and went to sleep once she realized she wasn’t going to the vet; and by the second time they trained together, Kio actually walked into his kennel, lay down and fell asleep, too! By the end of the training period, he would remain asleep in his kennel even after the door was opened. When we dropped them off at the cargo office for their flight, Kio was noticeably anxious but he didn’t claw or cry. When Mike picked them up in D.C. 18 hours later, he called to say that Kio walked out of his clean kennel, plopped on a rug and made himself quite at home. (Mike had the
Comfort Zone diffuser plugged in at his home, too.)

(This only applies to pets that are NOT travelling in the passenger cabin with you)
Travelling with pets on a U.S. carrier presents some challenges. Going from Hawaii to D.C. was the first time we tried to do this. What we learned is that
only one U.S. airline will guarantee travel with pets as cargo (our cats are too big to travel under the seat in the passenger cabin). What this means is that the other airlines will allow you to make reservations, BUT they can still refuse to accept your pet on the travel day if any stop in their itinerary is too hot or too cold. Translation: if you’re planning to have your pets travel in cargo on the same flight with you, you might find out that the airline will NOT let your pet be checked-in on the day you have reserved for them. The airlines can even call passengers AFTER the pets have been checked in (in some cases the passengers might already be passed security and waiting at the boarding gate) and tell them it has been determined that it will be too hot or too cold for the pet to travel in cargo. What does the passenger do then? The agents we talked to on the phone at Delta and United basically said: Not our problem.

We would have liked to travel on the same flight with the cats on this trip, but unfortunately our flight was arranged and paid by T’s employer who did not have travel contracts with the only airline that will guarantee pet travel reservations. We were travelling in August and were being routed through the Southeast, so it was a good bet that the airline we were flying with would cancel the cats’ reservations at the last minute and this was a stress we did not want or need. So we opted to have them fly out earlier on a different airline — the only one that would guarantee a travel day. We were also fortunate to have a kind person on the other end who offered to pick them up and take care of them until we got to D.C.

The only U.S. carrier that guarantees reserved travel for your pet (as cargo) is Continental Airlines — they are the only airline that has temperature-controlled holding areas for animals at all their major hubs. This might mean that you will not have the same itinerary as your pet, or that you will have to pay more for your flight if you want to match your pet’s itinerary, but at least you can count on your pet leaving when promised. The folks at the Continental cargo center in Honolulu told us that they often see frantic travellers at their counter who are trying to get their pet on a cargo flight an hour before their own flight is scheduled to leave because their airline refused to accept the pets at the last minute. Of course, trying to re-book at the last minute doesn’t always work out (and if someone can’t pick up your pet at the airport, the animal shelter will be called in) or people have to pay a premium price because they don’t have a reservation.

If you are not travelling on the same flight with or same itinerary as your pet, Continental allows you to track your pet’s flight and offers updates on their arrival at each stop. It also offers an extra service for pets whose itinerary goes through their Houston hub and whose layover is more than 3 hours long. For an additional fee per pet, you can have your pet’s kennel cleaned and your pet exercised, groomed, fed and given water. The amount of the fee will depend on the type and size of the animal; for cats it was an additional $75 for the first cat, and $50 for the second. Haiku and Kio had a 5-hour flight from Honolulu, a 5-hour layover in Houston, and another 3-hour flight to D.C., so it seemed like a worthwhile investment this time. If you don’t want the extra service, Continental will still give your pet water and any food you provide (dry food in a ziploc pouch taped to the kennel) during their layover, but the pet will not be allowed out of the kennel, and food and water will only be given through the locked door.

From the moment you know you have to re-locate until a few months after everything is unpacked and in its new place, there will be some stress and tension in the pets in your life. Think about how stressed you feel — and you know what’s going on and are (mostly) in control! Your pet has no idea why or to where you are moving, or even if they will be going with you. They may become clingy, talkative (mewing a lot), combative or depressed; or they may overeat or stop eating. Take a little time to reassure and comfort, and take to heart the Girl Scout motto and help them “Be Prepared” for the journey ahead. And when your pet invites you to play, accept the invitation — it will have a calming effect on you, too!


On the Move with Cats

The American Psychiatric Association recognizes relocating, or moving, as one of the most stressful challenges we can face. It’s right behind death of a spouse or family member, and divorce and losing/changing jobs. But there are things we humans can do to prepare and to take care of ourselves throughout the moving process. We understand what’s happening — and even with children, we can talk to them and help them process what they’re feeling and what to expect in their new home.

Not so with our four-legged furry friends. What our pets see is that their people are stressing, and one day all their furniture and other stuff with their smell on it is taken away. Then it’s a series of strange places to stay, maybe a long car ride (or worse, a crate and dark plane ride for a long, long time), and finally another strange house with all their stuff in unfamiliar places. Hey, what gives?! I suspect dogs may have an easier time with this adjustment — we haven’t made any moves with dogs, so I can’t say for sure.

But cats, especially indoor-only cats, are all about The Routine: I wake up when I feel like it, but My Bowls are filled at This Time, twice a day, even if I have to walk across someone’s pillow or tickle someone with my whiskers; I sit by This Window to watch the birds, and that Other Window at exactly That Hour when the sunny spot hits me just so; my people come home at This Hour and I spend half an hour letting them brush me and pay me the Attention I deserve... So what happens when The Routine is interrupted and Things Change?... Acting out (spraying, fighting, scratching furniture), loss of appetite or overeating, clinginess, depression, just about any reaction you can expect from a human... (See Cat's-Eye View: When Our Pets Decide To Move Without Consulting Us)

In the last 11 years we’ve moved five times, twice literally across the world, with two cats. Unquestionably our toughest move in terms of pet travel was going from Germany to Hawaii because of Hawaii’s strict quarantine laws. Because Hawaii is rabies-free, they understandably want to keep it that way and so there is a long-standing 4-month quarantine on incoming animals (same is true in the U.K. and Guam, both also rabies-free). Fortunately for us, just a year or so before we moved there, the quarantine regulations were loosened to allow the pets to fulfill the quarantine period BEFORE you get to the Islands. It’s a very strict protocol, with numerous steps and expensive tests and fees. But if you’re considering bringing your pets with you when you move to Hawaii, it’s considerably better for your pet to follow this protocol than to allow them to languish in quarantine for 4 months.

What we didn’t realize when we moved to Hawaii, until it was almost too late, was that if you successfully by-pass the quarantine for your pets, there are no hotels — on Oahu, at least — that will allow you to keep pets with you! Actually when we moved in 2005, there was one hotel and one short-term apartment rental that did allow pets, but they have both changed their rules. So unless you have family or friends in Hawaii willing to house your pet, you might have to kennel your pets while you house-hunt — which defeats one of the purposes of avoiding quarantine.

One alternative we found on Oahu is to find advertised private vacation rentals that will allow you to keep your pets with you (we used
craigslist). On this latest move, we found a high-rise 1-bedroom condo in the heart of Waikiki that was less expensive per night than any hotel, even those with special local or military rates. Make sure pets are okay, and that payment is made through some kind of system with guarantees (we used Paypal) so your money doesn’t disappear before you get a set of keys. You may be asked to pay a deposit, in our case the deposit was refundable once the Lessor knew there was no damage from the pets.

In Germany we have also booked with pet-friendly private vacation rentals, called Ferienwohnungen (or FeWo, for short), when entering or leaving the country. These are usually fully furnished private apartments, many of which include breakfast or at least Brotchen delivery service in the mornings. They too are usually cheaper than hotels, and provide all the amenities of home, including cable or satellite internet connections, washer and dryer in the unit, linens, and fully equipped kitchens. In general, it is much easier to travel with pets in Europe, especially Germany, than in the U.S. but your pet is expected to be well-behaved and clean. And it helps to know what to expect: many FeWo are attached to the landlord’s home, are located outside the main city or town, and the landlord usually speaks a smattering of English (but which was always much better than our German).

In the U.S., you can find lists of “pet-friendly” hotels and motels, but call directly to the hotel you’re planning to stay in — rather than the hotel chain’s 800-number — because these policies can change very quickly (“One bad apple” can spoil the whole bunch, Girl"). If you’re planning to bring more than one animal, ask if it’s okay before you get there — some places only allow one pet per room. And get the okay about pets in writing in your confirmation email. By the same token, some places that advertise only one pet per room may let you keep more than one cat or smaller dogs if they do not disturb other guests. But consider, hotels that accept pets (not counting premium 3 and 4 star properties, of course) are generally not centrally located and often require deposits or charge extra fees.

To prepare your cat for any stressful situation (vet visit, boarding, relocation) there are 2 products we highly recommend — one can be used by humans as well as pets, but the other is specific to cats. The first is “Dr. Bach’s Rescue Remedy”, a British homeopathic formula that includes over a dozen flower essences — it is sold in dropper bottles or sprays. I discovered Dr. B’s on the recommendation of the house mother I lived with in London when I was studying at Leith’s — a few drops in your tea or under the tongue helps to calm nerves in just a few minutes. A few drops in your cat’s drinking water does the same for your pet. When we know a stressful situation is coming up, we’ll begin adding the drops to the cats’ water every day for 2 weeks before the event. In cases like a relocation, we’ll add it to their water or put one drop in soft food throughout the process. Dr. Bach’s ($10-17) is available in the U.S. at many health food stores, Whole Foods markets, and on Oahu, at Star Market.

The other product is called Feliway spray — which is available by that brand name, or as a component in “Comfort Zone” spray in the U.S. As its name implies, Feliway is designed for cats. It’s a pheromone-based spray that calms felines. It was first prescribed by our German vets when Haiku and Laika were flying from Germany to Boston. The spray is used on your cat’s kennel, bedding, toys or other objects that the cat is around — don’t spray the cat itself! A newer product is the Comfort Zone plug-in room diffuser, which uses the same technology as those plug-ins that release fragrances into a room, except these have no fragrance (at least we don’t smell anything). This was particularly helpful when Haiku and Kio spent a week at our friend Mike’s home in DC before we joined them, and then in the series of hotels we all endured over the next 3 weeks, and finally our new home. One diffuser lasted about one month. You can find both CZ spray ($20 and up) and diffuser ($35-50) at PetSmart and Feliway ($13-25) on-line from Ashley's Animal Ark. Once you have a diffuser you can buy just the refills. We’ve seen Feliway/CZ lessen stress activities such as constant mewing, clawing at kennel doors and floors, and “spraying." But it also works in other stress situations — fighting among household pets or introducing new animals (or babies) to the family.

But just like catnip (25% of cats are not affected by catnip), one or both of these products may not work on all cats. We just wanted to share our experiences in case other people are looking for non-pharmaceutical alternatives to travelling with their feline friends.
Everything in this series is based on our personal experience with the three cats we have travelled with, and is not intended to substitute for the advice of your own veterinarian.

Next post, Part Two:
The benefits of kennel-training and what we learned about flying with pets in the U.S.


A Gift for . . . You

Hawaii: The Rainbow State indeed!
I've thought about this for a couple of weeks. And I hesitated only because I can still see vividly the skeptical looks of my own friends and family the first time I tell them about this. It's that "Oka-a-a-ay, what crazy thing are you talking about now" look. (Deep breath) Okay, here goes.

I am offering to every person who comes across this post the gift of Reiki healing this New Year's Eve. On that day I will include in my daily Reiki distance healing session, every person who requests a healing by [sending an email] below. As I've mentioned elsewhere on this site, for over two years I have been a Reiki practitioner in the second-degree, which just means that I can offer healing to persons who are not physically present in front of me
you can be in the next room or on the other side of the planet, and receive healing. I practice daily self-healing with Reiki, and usually end with a distance healing session for close friends and family who have accepted Reiki to heal physical, emotional and spiritual hurt.

A quick recap: "Reiki is a form a energy healing and balancing that was developed and named by Japanese researcher and teacher, Usui Mikao, in the late 19th century. Dr. Usui studied many ancient healing arts in Asia, including India. He distilled what he learned into the practice he called, Reiki
a term coined from the Japanese words, Rei, meaning “universal” and Ki, meaning “life energy.” . . . [In] Reiki, the healer does not direct or in any way control the energy — she is only a conduit; instead, it is the patient’s responsibility to accept the energy, which flows always where it is needed most. "

Some important things to know about Reiki to assist you in your decision whether you want to accept this gift.

Reiki is not based on any religion or faith practice
there is no calling to any god, saint or other personification. Personally, I am a Roman Catholic, and when I practice Reiki I only pray that I may be empty of any bias or need to control the outcome. When done in person, the healer lays her hands above the recipient's body in different positions, moving from head to feet or directed in a place where healing is desired (a particular backache, for instance). In distance healing, the healer simply thinks on the person requesting healing at an agreed time and place.

Reiki does not require that the recipient believe in Reiki or know anything about it. Only two things are required. First, and most important, the recipient must want to be healed and must ACCEPT HELP. This may sound self-evident, but I know from my own experience that some people find it hard to accept help, any kind of help. I do. The first time I experienced healing in my first Reiki course I had all kinds of barriers that blocked the energy flow. I
thought I wanted healing, I thought I was receptive to it. But it wasn't until my teacher pointed out that I was resisting the healing and said, "it's okay to receive help, you know" that I took a deep breath, then began to feel the energy she and the other students were sending. If you're a caregiver or nurturer by nature, it's important that you give yourself permission to accept help.

The second requirement is that the recipient take responsibility for their healing. This is demonstrated by returning the energy value of the healing received. Among friends and family, exchange of energy value between the healer and the recipient is part of the give-and-take of a close relationship. But with those who are strangers to the healer, the recipient most often demonstrates the value of the healing received with a monetary payment. I'm not asking for anything like that. The value I ask for is a personal kindness to someone who is a total stranger to you. This does not have to cost money, but it does have to be personal (person to person), and it does have to cost something whether it's personal discomfort from looking a homeless person in the face and greeting her warmly, or taking time from the holiday frolicking to visit a hospice or elder care home, or finding something kind to say to the harried retail clerk at the mall. How do I get value from something you do for someone who is a total stranger to us both?? Trust me, I just do.

Reiki does not provide an instant cure. It is healing that is part of a process of correcting imbalance. Normally, Reiki practitioners will work with a client for several sessions lasting a half-hour to an hour, depending on the need. Many healthy people enjoy the warmth and deep relaxation they receive during Reiki and will seek healing as a way to keep their energy flow in check and themselves healthy (maybe that's you, too).

The most common side effect of Reiki healing is falling into deep sleep during or the evening after a session. I'm not kidding.
Even Haiku takes a moment for quiet

So you're not sick. There's nothing wrong with you. Why would you want to do this? Energy imbalance causes all kinds of mess. This knowledge is at the heart of the great traditional medicine practices in the world -- Traditional Chinese Medicine, Indian Ayurvedic, Japanese Kampo, and so many others. We're seeing this on a global scale, too, ecologically, politically, socially. Many of the aches and ills we experience daily (sleeplessness, anxiety, headaches, back aches, cramps) and even great ills (cancer, heart disease) are caused by energy imbalances to which we are completely blind. But our bodies know what is out of whack and given a chance, the body will begin to heal itself. I'm offering this healing on this particular day so we can all participate in correcting an energy imbalance in ourselves (maybe) and in the world (definitely). You will have taken a brave step and spent energy in a kindness to a stranger, and now a gift of energy healing will come back to you. See how that flow works?

How to take advantage of this offer? Simple. Please leave a comment with 1) your full name (first and last), 2) the city and country you will be in on Dec. 31st, and 3) this statement: I would like Reiki healing. That's it!

Only your first name and the city/country you are from will appear in the comments that the public sees -- I moderate and will remove any identifying information before publication. But your name and location are necessary for me to include you in the healing. If you are a blogger who writes anonymously under a "nom de web" (as I do), just leave the URL field in the comment form blank so there's no connection between your real name and your blog.

I don't need to know anything about why or for what the healing is intended. Reiki healers do not guide or direct healing in any way, the energy goes where it is needed.

The final thing is that if you would like healing for other people in your life, please have them leave a comment themselves. We need to establish a connection as healer and recipient, and they must take responsibility for and accept the healing personally.

On New Year's Eve day, I will start my normal Reiki session at 0430 Hawaii Standard Time (1430 UTC/GMT), and this normally lasts an hour. Depending on how many folks participate, this could go longer. You do not need to remember the hour or even be aware (or awake!) during the session, I mention the time only as general information. I will check comments and include all who have asked for healing up to the time I start.

I hope you will do me the honor of accepting this gift. Thank you for hearing me out and reading this far into a non-food related post! If you have any questions, any at all, about Reiki or about this gift, please don't be shy. Your interest is valued and your question is welcome.

UPDATE: Resources if you would like to explore more about Reiki

Treats for ghosts and superheroes: What's in your bowl?

We don't really gear up for Halloween at our house, but we are looking forward to the parade of costumes and giggles that will stop by tonight. This year it was great to see that more local producers are making Halloween size treats, and I picked two of my favorites: Halloween-shapes arare (rice crackers in bones, bats and pumpkin shapes) and gummy insects. Here's a peek at what you'll get if you come to our house on Halloween. What's in your bowl?