Posted by: Michelle UluOla | September 22, 2018

Autumn As “The Deceiver”

Autumn As “The Deceiver”

Last sunset of Summer 2018

Last sunset of Summer 2018

Across our country, the northern tier of states is famous for the “Fall Colors” that attract tourists from areas that don’t experience the change of seasons like we do here in Wisconsin. Yes, it is certainly beautiful, but I’ve always felt twinges of melancholy with the arrival of Fall. Of course, as a child, September brought an end of summer vacation and a return to the regimen of school. As a working adult, cooler air was a reminder to batten down the hatches and prepare the car before the arrival of winter weather. And now that I’m in the autumn of my years, I find myself with wistful memories, perhaps nostalgic for times that I only imagine were better or simpler.

And so once again, Autumnal Equinox arrives, and I can only recommend that you enjoy Fall while you can.

The Deceiver

Promising relief from oppressive heat,
With a whiff of crispness that’s bittersweet,
The Deceiver slips in on a soft breeze,
That barely rustles the late Summer’s leaves.

Oh my! It’s so beautiful folks exclaim,
As greens segue into red and gold flame.
Proclaiming ’tis their favorite season,
Folks seemingly have lost all their reason.

And beguiled by the flirtatious coquette,
Lulled into complacency, they forget.
Attention distracted a short few weeks
Until all the color suddenly peaks.

Then late one night with a violent sneeze,
She strips away the leaves from all the trees!
Deceiver Autumn laughs as we quiver,
Delivering the first Winter’s shiver.
******©UluOla 2018******

Summer 2018 waves good-bye

Summer 2018 waves good-bye

In commemoration of Autumnal Equinox, I invite you to read my poems from past blogs that I’ve included below:

Her Long Good-Bye

Not yet ready to heave her final sigh,
Summer’s lingering in her long good-bye . . .
Hummingbirds continue to zoom and zip,
Visiting feeders for sip after sip.
Despite chilly nights they don’t want to go
Off on their long flight south to Mexico.
Tree frogs and crickets still sing their song,
While annual flowers do a stretch and yawn.
Perennials sputtering with their hold out blooms,
Prepare to retreat to their winter rooms.
Then just-in-time rains made the trees think twice
’Bout dropping leaves to be covered by ice.
The waning Full Moon casts a ghostly glow,
Shadowing the changing landscape below.
Later to rise now, each morning Ol’ Sol
Shows new proof of the arrival of Fall.

Nothing can stop the heavens’ progression,
And the equator’s crossing by our Sun.
Life clings to Life not wanting to release
Or surrender itself to beckoning peace.
Then memories stored deep in the D-N-A
Remind Life there will come another day,
When after a rest on the other side,
It will circle back for a different ride.
As Above, so Below—the cycle goes,
Now the once open door begins to close.
Time to leave this matured season behind,
Yield to the change, take a break and unwind.
With Equinox we bid a fond adieu,
Knowing what’s old will once again be new,
As Energy and Matter do their dance
Across a Universe fueled by romance.
******©UluOla 2013******

Autumn Sighs Good-Bye to Summer

The greens of leaves lighten each day,
’Till they slip into party frocks.
Grackles rally from miles around
To gather in boisterous flocks.

Flowers look their showoff-best,
A last hurrah before the frost,
While tomatoes hurry to ripen red,
Begging harvest before they’re lost.

A stroll down the garden path
Finds evenings are cool and crisp.
The air is quieted of crickets’ chirp
And shimmers with a rosy mist.

Tired from summer shining,
The sun is slower to rise,
Then retires early to bed as Fall . . .
Slips in on gentle sighs.

Nostalgic feelings wash over us,
As September turns “twenty-two,”
One season gives way to another,
And we bid Summer . . . a fond adieu.
******©UluOla 2012******

Autumnal Performance

Sun appears to sink as Earth turns and tilts;
Evenings grow longer and our summer wilts.
Flowers nod and wink, their plants droop and die,
Casting seeds adrift in a darkening sky.

Boisterous flocks of grackles rally around,
While squadrons of geese are southward bound.
Crickets and robins chirp their closing songs,
And birds visit feeders in growing throngs.

The Summer embers glow a fond farewell
Hissing and cooling before the last knell.
But then there’s a sputter and a spurt of flame:
Trees burst into color, singing Autumn’s name.

The stage is ablaze with scarlet and gold,
A final act before the world turns cold.
Corn shocks and pumpkins—the scenery’s set:
Mother Nature assumes her role of coquette.

An encore performance . . . players take their bows
To a standing ovation and exclamatory “wows!”
Soon applause will fade, the audience drift away
The music will cease; She will have had her day.

Winds will banish the costumes and props,
Stripping trees down, revealing their tops.
Leaves hurrying along with no place to go,
Will await their blanket of fresh fallen snow.

Take heed of these changes; don’t hesitate long . . .
‘Cause before you know it, Fall will be gone.
So come seize this moment to dance and sing,
For too soon the Silence will Winter bring.

Celebrate the spinning of our Orb’s race
Through the stardust mists of time and space,
Comforted in knowing that while subdued,
Renewal and Life will be . . . continued . . .
******©UluOla 2011******

Shhhhh . . . The Torch Is Passed

Blades on blades, the assault was waged
Weekly . . . all summer long.
Green and growing exuberantly,
Grass questions what it did wrong?
Exhausted now, it welcomes
The rest that dormancy brings,
And silence no longer shattered
By mowers ridden by kings.

Milkweed nurseries stand abandoned,
By caterpillars’ transformation
Into Monarchs heading south,
To a warmer, winter location.
Dried elfin-ear pods launch their down,
To seed the countryside,
With their fuzzy immortality
Borne on the wind’s high tide.

Sunflower heads are nodding,
Welcoming birds to dine:
Pluck a jet-black jewel
To make a meal so fine.
A smoky haze drifts across
Meadows ripe with seeds,
Laying down preparation
For future seasons’ weeds.

The air is silent of crickets’ chirps,
Foretelling that change has come.
Balmy breeze and the buzzing of bees
Are soon to be all done.
The honking of Canadian Geese
Echoes the ground-based traffic
Of two-legged snowbirds heading south
In search of their endless picnic.

Ambivalent plants holding their growth
Suspended from fingertips—
Stems grasping their flowers and leaves
As wasps take their final sips.
Mother creates her fireworks
With maples, elms and oaks,
Flaming their leaves oranges and reds
Delighting the on-looking folks.

Shhhh . . . now if we all hold our breath,
Stand quiet, and oh so still,
Can we arrest their fated fall
That’s against their very will?
Alas! No, that’s not Nature’s way,
No matter how we might yearn,
Our bittersweet good-byes being said,
Her cycle, like ours, must turn.

Summer passes her ardent torch
And kindles Autumn’s coals;
Flamboyant flirtations give way
To maturity’s familiar roles.
Her flowered sundress lies tattered,
Changed to paisley’s multi-hue,
And just like the landscape’s colors . . .
Our hearts turn lavender-blue.

Ol’ Sol continues migrating
Across the horizon’s lines,
He’s back once again as in Spring,
Setting now just past the pines.
The Harvest Moon will sing her tune,
Then we await the one called Hunter
That will shine through trees newly bare
Haunting the Summer’s sepulcher.

Time dances to a wavering beat
At once still, and yet so fast.
Pause for Summer’s fading
But hasten while it lasts.
Hurry up; enjoy these days . . .
The Equinox is here.
Slow the clock, for soon enough,
The Solstice will draw near.

Yet hope rides on the wings of Fall
In the seeds and spores dispersed,
And in roots sheltering in the Earth—
This play’s been well rehearsed.
For just as this circle spins around
And will lead to Winter’s snow,
So too will the Springtime follow;
And new life will sprout and grow.
******©UluOla 2010******

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Posted by: Michelle UluOla | April 27, 2018

How To Enhance Your Joy By Feeding Hummingbirds

How To Enhance Your Joy By Feeding Hummingbirds

Hummingbird crossing sign over garden entrance

Hummingbird crossing sign over garden entrance

During the 24 years I lived on a ridgetop in southwest rural Wisconsin, one of my favorite hobbies was watching and feeding birds. None were more fun than the Ruby-throated aerial acrobats zipping across the yard with their high-pitched calls and twittering.

One hot summer day, my husband and I were sitting inside our garage, which we used as a “breezeway” by opening the large front garage door and the back service door. We were enjoying the shade and breeze when we noticed a lady hummingbird had flown in, attracted to the government-mandated, red emergency release handle on the cord hanging down from the electric opener in the middle of the ceiling. Once she realized it wasn’t food, she frantically tried to fly out of the garage, but she couldn’t figure out that she had to duck down to get out of the door. She kept bouncing against the ceiling while we worriedly tried to guide her out. It didn’t take long before she literally, ran out of gas, and ended up lying atop a box on the floor! Oh dear! So, I very gently slid her into my palm and quickly walked out to the back garden. I was amazed that she was so light; I could barely tell she was in my hand. I held her beak into a pink coral bell (Heuchera) and watched as her throat quivered, indicating that she was swallowing its nectar. I moved her from one blossom to the next, and finally, after 7 or 8 sips, she had enough fuel to fly up to the nearby feeder. She sat, resting and drinking, until she regained her strength. Whew! What a relief that was for all of us. As I sat on the patio watching to make sure she was okay, she suddenly flew over and hovered right in front of my nose for about 5 seconds, obviously saying thank you—what a joy and unforgettable thrill that was for me!

While I grew lots of flowers to attract hummingbirds, like their favorite, Dropmore Scarlet Trumpet Honeysuckle vine, I always had feeders hung before most flowers started blooming, so when migrants arrived around May 4, they could quench their thirst before moving north to Canada. Our regular summer residents usually arrived around May 11 and seemed to remember from one year to the next where their favorite feeders would be waiting for them.

There are many sizes and shapes of hummingbird feeders. I found one shaped like a flying saucer with a perch ring around it was a big favorite with them. I preferred it, because it didn’t leak, and I was able to see birds drinking from all the ports without a column blocking my view. I did use other types, because during peak breeding and hatching season, I always had three or four feeders hanging in different areas of the garden to cut down on territorial feuds.

Lady Ruby-throated Hummingbird hovers

Lady Ruby-throated Hummingbird hovers

Strawberry-shaped feeder hangs in the patio corner

Strawberry-shaped feeder hangs in the patio corner

Close-up of strawberry-shaped feeder next to clematis

Close-up of strawberry-shaped feeder next to clematis

Over the course of several years, I figured out a few things that made feeding hummers much easier:

Many feeders come with yellow plastic flowers on feeder ports, marketed as “bee guards,” which is nonsense: any yellow coloring on hummingbird feeders visually attracts bees/wasps that then compete with the hummers and drive them away. I always removed anything yellow or painted those parts red.

Also, a lot of feeders come with “ant guards” that look like little plastic moats you’re supposed to fill with water to keep ants from invading the syrup-filled feeders. Common sense will tell you that within a short time on a hot day, the water will evaporate! And if you put a skim of oil or petroleum jelly on top of the water, it will melt and the slightest bit of wind will spatter sticky grease all over the feeder!

Here’s the perfect solution! Use Tangle-Trap Sticky Coating to paint a small band (1/4 to 1/2″ wide) around the top of the hanger pole or around the hook your feeder hangs from. That will completely stop ants, earwigs or any other crawling insects from getting into the feeders. It’s a fantastic product with a neat applicator brush in the cap (like the Rubber Cement glue brush)—just be very careful not to get it on your hands or clothes, as it’s hard to get off. It was originally designed to trap insects in apple and other fruit trees. I found it to be much better than any other hummingbird “ant traps,” and one application lasts all season, despite rain or sun. Since you only need to use a few dabs, an 8-ounce can will last for several years, so well worth the price. Ask for it at your local hardware store or purchase it on-line by entering the name in the search bar of your browser to find an outlet.

There’s no need to buy special, expensive, “Hummingbird Nectar.” The birds get protein from the itty-bitty bugs they eat and most of their fuel from flower nectar, which can be duplicated with this easy, inexpensive recipe:
— Mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts water and bring to a boil to kill any bacteria or mold present and make sure sugar crystals are completely dissolved. (For instance: stir 1/4 cup white sugar into 1 cup of water.)
— Cool and fill feeder.
— Extra sugar water may be stored in the refrigerator.
— Red dye should NOT be added, as it damages their livers.

Change the syrup regularly, especially if you notice it turning cloudy. In hot weather, that can happen within a few days and hummers will stop drinking it. Be sure to keep feeders clean. Rinse them out with hot water, followed by white vinegar, which is a safe, non-chemical organic way to clean and disinfect them. Use a small brush dipped in vinegar, if needed, to remove any gunk. Finish with another hot water rinse before refilling with fresh syrup.

For a great resource to figure out when to hang your feeder for Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds, visit their northward migration map that’s updated every year.

Check out the Hummingbird Species link that has a menu that will load a separate page for each of the seventeen species of hummingbirds that breed in North America. Each page features photos of the adult male (left) and adult female (right), a physical description, and additional info about that species.

Read About Hummingbirds—Questions and Answers (including what to do to “save a hummingbird”).

It’s no surprise that Hummingbirds are associated with Joy, Happiness and Love. Read “Hummingbird Power Animal—Messenger Of Joy” to learn about its shamanic attributes.

Hummingbirds are only active during daylight. They’ll show up at feeders right after dawn and finish drinking as dusk descends. So, if you see what you think is a hummingbird in your garden after dark, you’re probably seeing a (large!) sphinx moth, as they’re attracted to night-blooming flowers. They also lay eggs on tomato and other plants that hatch into “hornworm” caterpillars that can defoliate prized plants quickly, so be on the lookout! Read up on Butterflies and Moths of North America, Family Sphingidae (Sphinx Moths, Hawkmoths).

Sphinx moth feeds on Nicotiana alba (flowering tobacco) next to solar light

Sphinx moth feeds on Nicotiana alba (flowering tobacco) next to solar light

******©UluOla 2018******

Posted by: Michelle UluOla | December 12, 2017

FIRST SNOWFALL

Blue Spruce dusted with snow

Blue Spruce dusted with snow

FIRST SNOWFALL

Gathering clouds hide the moon from sight,
As the waning day embraces the night.
Temperatures drop and the air turns crisp;
The wind’s so still there’s nary a wisp.
Leaves cling to branches, refusing to die,
And the world holds its breath against a silent sky.
Autumn teeters but makes not a sound,
As Winter’s first offering drifts to the ground.
Against the blackness appears a gleam,
Reflected in the glow of the streetlight’s beam.
Soundless emissaries of a coming time
Give a fashion preview of sights sublime.
Day-length grown shorter, the darkness has won;
Jack Frost’s magic is now being spun.
Crystals of ice float on the peace-filled air,
Dressing our world as a maiden fair.
Mother Nature dons a silvery gown,
Regal and elegant, topped with a crown.
Like Cinderella at the Prince’s ball,
She dazzles, and then, enchants us all.
When comes the dawn she’s caped in white —
Temperatures rise, and she takes flight!
Flecks of diamonds impossible to hold,
The first snowfall of Winter is beauty untold.
— ©2005 Michelle UluOla

Posted by: Michelle UluOla | October 29, 2017

Grandma Sparkles

Grandma Sparkles

 

Fiction-writing acquaintances have described how their stories often “write themselves” via whispered dictation from their Muses. My friend, Paul James Zack, describes his fascinating process in his blogpost, “Getting down with downloads.” While I mostly write non-fiction, I regularly experienced my own “downloads” during the ten years I wrote a weekly newspaper column and continue to reap them now that I’m blogging. I don’t get fictional story plots, but I do receive inspired phrases and ideas to guide or add to my pieces. For instance, when I began writing this post, it was with the intention of relating one particular tale about my paternal grandmother—thus the title. However, it seems all my grandparents wanted to be included, because as I put fingertips to keyboard, little stories of theirs flowed out, so I decided to use all their contributions to give context to my grandmother’s.

Thankfully, I have few regrets about my life. But, one big one is never having had the opportunity to enjoy a personal, one-on-one, alone-time conversation with either one of my grandmothers. There were differing reasons for that, but back while I was growing up, “children were meant to be seen, not heard,” so that element was the same.

My maternal grandparents lived in Cloquet, a small town in northern Minnesota just west of Duluth. In October 1918, they lost everything, including their home and livestock, when they had to flee a massive wildfire.  Four hundred and fifty-three people died and fifty-two thousand were injured or displaced while thirty-eight communities were destroyed and two hundred and fifty thousand acres burned. Piling into a boxcar for immediate evacuation, they barely escaped with their lives and their two young sons. My mother and aunt weren’t born yet. Because they went to stay with my grandfather’s brother in Iowa, my grandparents never received the notification that they had to return to their property within one year in order to qualify for federal assistance. So almost two years later, they had to start over from scratch with no help when they returned to their two burnt acres Cloquet.

During the time before freeways, it took my family almost twelve hours of driving country roads to make our once-a-year trek for our week-long summer visit with my grandparents. They had a tiny house, so when our family of five invaded, it was overly crowded with little possibility for private conversations. And of course, my grandmother and mother were always busy preparing, serving and cleaning up after meals—not an easy feat, as they had no running water and used a cast iron stove to heat rainwater and cook. But that never deterred my grandmother: her meals were always tasty and she baked heavenly pies and other delectables, many made with fresh picked, wild raspberries and blueberries. She also filled the shelves of their dirt-floor cellar with rows of canned vegetables and fruits. While I never got to talk privately with her, her indomitable spirit amazed me and I know that’s where my mother got hers. I do recall one rare conversation I had with my grandfather when I found him sitting alone next to the huge, rain barrel cistern. He was surveying his fenced garden where he grew sunflowers and rows of the vegetables and fruits that Grandma preserved. I still remember the flat of lovely pansies blooming in the shade at his feet. I think that chat ignited my life-long love of gardening. My uncle was finally able to afford to have their house wired for electricity and phone service after World War II. My grandparents’ life had not been easy—they’d barely survived a devastating fire, rebuilt with limited resources, raised four children with no running water or electricity, only had an outhouse, and my grandmother also had major health challenges along the way. But, I never heard them complain and always felt secure in their love!

A little more than a year after marrying in 1919, my paternal grandparents emigrated from Piazza Armerina, Sicily and settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A sea-crossing move like that is never easy, but it must have been especially difficult, as they’d just lost their first-born son who was less than two months old. My grandfathers had gardening in common. Even though he lived in the city, my paternal grandpa grew tomatoes, eggplants, and other vegetables and flowers in their front and side yards and had a cherry tree in the backyard. He also bought grapes by the boxcar full every fall, and by special government permit, made many gallons of wine, most of which he provided to his church for Communion. Of his thirty-some grandchildren, I was one of his favorites, as I loved drinking his wine with him. We’d go down to his aromatic cellar with its white-washed concrete walls, and he’d use a small glass pitcher to draw Chianti-type wine from one of the enormous whiskey casks used to store his prized production. My mother would instruct him that I was allowed only half of a four-ounce glass, but when she turned her back, he’d quickly refill it to the halfway mark—I smiled a lot during those visits! So, I had that bond with my grandfather.

However, my paternal grandmother only spoke broken English and was always busy feeding whoever entered her kitchen, regardless of the time of day or night. It was literally impossible to leave her home without eating something—she simply wouldn’t allow it! She’d lost two children and raised nine, and between them and all their children, there always seemed to be a house full of visitors. So, with the language barrier added to constant chaos, I had no opportunity for a private conversation with her.    

The one thing that my grandmothers had in common was that they were both raised in orphanages, though half a world apart. They never knew their parents or much of their own history. And therein lies my regret: I never had the chance to ask either one about their childhoods or personal dreams. While I had no doubt that they loved me, they were in many respects, strangers to me.

And now, with all that background, I’ve returned to the intention I started with. When my paternal grandmother made her transition in Milwaukee on February 24, 1970, I was living in Seattle, Washington. At the time, I was working a job that only paid $2.50 an hour, so I couldn’t afford the $400.00 round-trip plane ticket to attend her funeral . . . not that I wanted to. I never cared for funerals, and I wanted to remember her the way I knew her. She was seventy-two years old, only four years older than I am now, which seems a bit weird to contemplate. Beyond her delicious pasta al sugo (pasta with sauce) and biscotti (Italian cookies), my fondest memory of her was her love of “bling.” My father used to tease her, saying she looked like a Gypsy, because she would wear all kinds of costume jewelry—pearls, gold, silver, rhinestone pins—all at the same time! Just as my grandfathers inspired my passion for gardening, Grandma kindled my love of sparkles. Two extraordinary things happened shortly after she crossed over.

A couple of nights after my grandmother’s passing, I was thinking about her and suddenly felt compelled to try automatic writing. Merriam-Webster defines that as “writing produced without conscious intention as if of telepathic or spiritualistic origin.” I’ve always been tuned into the telepathy that runs through the maternal side of my family—having strong connections with my mother, aunt, sister and nieces, I’m used to “listening” to those kinds of messages. While I was familiar with the concept and basic instructions, I’d never used automatic writing (nor have I again). It seemed like a natural time to give it a go, so I cut open a large, brown paper grocery bag to provide plenty of writing surface, spread it out on my dining room table, sat with a pen gently gripped in my hand, closed my eyes and asked, “Grandma, are you here?” I felt my hand move and found I had written “yes.” Continuing, I asked, “If you’re really my grandmother, what is your first name?” Here’s where it got interesting, at least for me. The orphanage in San Cono, Sicily never taught her to read or write, nor did immigrant women have any opportunities to learn back then, especially while raising a big family. I used to watch how my grandfather would write out my grandmother’s name on a piece of paper, and then, she would ever-so-slowly, shakily copy it onto whatever document she needed to sign. It was a painstaking process that she obviously found uncomfortable and the result looked like the effort of a kindergartner. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and waited. Suddenly, I felt my hand jerking and when it stopped, I opened my eyes to see “Filippa” scribbled across the paper in the same handwriting that I’d seen my grandmother use years before. I caught my breath; tears welled. Naysayers may rant all they wish—they matter not to me—I knew my grandmother had come by to bid me farewell before she left on her next adventure. And, she lingered a bit longer.

The next day, I was at my favorite place to shop, the St. Vincent De Paul thrift store. I don’t recall what I needed on that trip, but as was my habit, I also stopped by the jewelry counter where something caught my eye. There was a hinged metal box with satin lining displaying an exquisite matching set that included a wide choker, a pair of earrings and a bracelet.

Schreiner sm

“Grandma Sparkles” — Schreiner Jewelry worn in memory of my paternal grandmother

I remember gasping in awe, as it was so beautiful; I’d never seen anything like it! I immediately felt I had to have it “to wear in memory of my grandmother.” While she had lots of shiny pieces, I never saw her wear anything that colorful, but I knew she would have loved it . . . perhaps, had even pointed me in its direction! Especially since she always wore black, which is also one of my favorite colors and the red and pink of the jewelry in its gunmetal setting would be perfect with a black outfit. I looked at the price tag: $3.25! That seems like a pittance now, but in retrospect, I recall cringing over spending so much of my meager budget for such a luxury. But I simply couldn’t walk away, and it became my favorite set of jewelry, which I’ve worn for many special occasions over the years.

10-07-17 50th class reunion

Puttin’ on the Ritz for my 50th High School Class Reunion

But wait, the sparkles got even brighter! Fast-forward to October 2017. As I chose my “grandma jewelry” to wear to my fiftieth high school class reunion, it occurred to me that it must be pretty old. Now that the Internet makes research so easy, I decided to see if I could discover anything about my thrift shop find. With the help of a magnifying glass, I managed to make out a signature on the back of the earrings and necklace: “Schreiner.” And oh what history! Henry Schreiner had been a blacksmith in Bavaria, Germany and immigrated to the U.S. in 1923. He founded the Schreiner Jewelry Company in 1939. For his stunning, unusual and distinctive jewelry, he used gun-metal, bronze or gold plating for backing, along with very expensive, custom made, specially shaped stones made in Germany by skilled Czechoslovakian craftsmen. Those stones are no longer being manufactured. Schreiner pieces of jewelry were never mass-produced—the company did only fine handwork. However, the pieces were highly fashionable and attention getters, therefore, no media advertising was needed to sell their products. His small, family-run company manufactured extraordinary costume jewelry throughout the 1940s, 50s, 60s, and into the 70s. Henry died in 1954. Some of the earlier pieces were not signed. The jewelry marked “Schreiner,” “Schreiner of New York,” and “Schreiner Jewelry” were the firm’s own originally designed pieces made for retail sales. The family closed the company in 1973. Admired and highly sought after by both collectors and fashion enthusiasts, many believe that there is no other costume jewelry designer who consistently made such fine, diverse, and original pieces. In addition to creating their own collections, the family collaborated with many of the top couturiers including Christian Dior, Norman Norell, and Pauline Trigère. At the height of their popularity, pieces by the Schreiner Jewelry Company graced the covers of Vogue, Glamour, and Harper’s Bazaar and were touted by celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, and Audrey Hepburn!

I’m guessing my set, along with the case that looked old when I bought it, was made sometime during the 1940s or 50s, which would make them possibly sixty to seventy years old! Scrolling through over three hundred photos posted on vintage jewelers’ sites, I could not find any complete matching sets of signed, Schreiner jewelry. A pair of earrings with the same colored stones but in a different design was marked for sale at $200.00. A simple choker of aurora borealis stones was priced at $1,121.00! While I would never consider selling my set, I feel that my grandmother guided my selection of what is now a real treasure—way to go, Grandma! Thank you! The set will be passed down through my family, along with its history and the story of “Grandma Sparkles,” which makes it priceless . . .

******©UluOla 2017******

Posted by: Michelle UluOla | October 23, 2017

Do This Now—Before The Alarm Goes Off!

Do This Now—Before The Alarm Goes Off!

On-going news coverage of the raging wildfires in the Western United States, the Pacific Northwest, Portugal, Australia and other places around the world has been gut wrenching to watch. It’s heart-breaking to see so many people lose everything in a matter of hours. The same has been true for hurricane, flood, earthquake and volcano victims. While many people had enough advance warning to be able to pack up some of their belongings before evacuating, others had to literally drop everything and run for their lives.

No one expects to have their life turned upside down by something that they can’t personally prevent, and there’s little to be done to prepare for that. However, a recent wake-up-call-event reminded me that there are things we can do to somewhat diminish the impact of a disaster. My circulation got a jump-start that also had my head spinning when my 3-story, 71-unit, senior citizen apartment building’s fire alarm went off early one evening. My intuition and the lack of smoke told me it was a false alarm, but just to be on the safe side, I hastily grabbed my “ditty bag,” threw in the things on my “emergency evacuation list,” took hold of my cane and headed out the door.

My second-floor apartment is just off the building’s center landing that has a railing over-looking the ground floor lobby, and many residents were assembled in both areas, some barefooted, wearing their housecoats, milling about and muttering to each other. It was obvious from the activities below that the fire alarm was mal-functioning; someone mentioned, “a repairman had been working on it all day.” One of the “self-elected, take-charge” residents was trying to silence the settings on the alarm board. Thankfully, another resident came in and strongly admonished her to stop it and let the fire department come and do their job! Geesh! Of course, he was right!

Firemen arrived shortly, asked if anyone smelled smoke or was cooking, and when the answer was no, they began searching the building, top-to-bottom, to make sure there wasn’t a smoldering fire somewhere. (We later found out that a small leak in a fire sprinkler pipe in the attic had set off the warning.)

We don’t have a manager on the premises after business hours, so it took awhile to contact her and get someone here to repair the alarm. Since I no longer own a car, I had no way to escape, and I’m unable to stand for any length of time. So, I returned to my apartment, put in earplugs to somewhat protect my ears from the painful sound, and went about my evening. As I answered an expected call from my sister, she heard the screeching in the background and thought she had mistakenly mis-dialed a fax machine! It was a very uncomfortable hour and a half before the relief of silence arrived.

It occurred to me afterward that I had been the only one carrying a ditty bag—everyone else was wandering back and forth in the hallway like deer caught in headlights. We were lucky this time that it had been a false alarm, but what if it hadn’t been? That’s what prompted me to write this blog to help alert people that they need to be pro-active.

Time is critical in an emergency, and the slower a person normally moves, the more important it is to be prepared in advance. Here are some tips that are applicable, be it for a fire, storm, flood or medical emergency:

Write out a large-print, personalized, emergency evacuation list of the things you absolutely need in order to function if you have to leave your home. When an alarm goes off, the shock and surprise of it can impair your ability to think logically or remember, so having an easily readable list can be a lifesaver when you have to hurry. Then, prepare a “ditty bag.” Use something fairly lightweight that will be easy to carry—a gym/duffle bag, canvas or heavy-duty plastic shopping bag—don’t use paper or anything so flimsy that it can rip and spill your contents and don’t over-load it. Fill the bag with any items from your list that you don’t use on a day-to-day basis and put your list in the top of the bag so you can refer to it quickly. Store the bag in a readily accessible location, like a front coat closet.

Here are some suggestions for your list:

Purse, wallet, checkbook
Cell phone with its charger
Bottles of prescription medications
House, car, storage locker and mailbox keys
Eyeglasses, contact lenses, hearing aids, dentures
Anything for special personal hygiene/sanitation needs
Flashlight
Paper and pen
Folder or large envelope containing lists of financial information like bank and credit card account numbers; phone numbers of emergency contacts, family, friends, attorney, doctors, insurance agent; computer passwords; copies of important documents like Advance Directives, Wills, birth certificates, etc. (Put this together now!)

If you’re a diabetic, it’s always a good idea to keep something like a six-pack of Boost Glucose Control shakes in your cupboard in case you start to feel unsteady due to plummeting blood sugar. Unopened, they have long expiration dates and don’t need refrigeration, so keep a bottle in your ditty bag, too.

When an alarm goes off, grab your bag, add anything from the list that’s not already in it, make sure you’re wearing shoes and get to a safe location.

Your evacuation bag can also be used in the event that you need to be transported to a hospital during a medical emergency—advise the EMTs or your family and friends where it’s located so they will have important information at hand.

If you own a car, it’s always advisable to carry a first aid kit, flares, flashlight and other safety items in your trunk, depending on your area’s type of weather. It’s also a good idea to maintain a change of clothes. In cold climates, a shovel, kitty litter (to use under tires if you get stuck), jumper cables, ice scraper, snowbrush, hat, gloves, blanket and snacks are imperative.

No one likes to think about the valleys of life, but the old scouting motto, “Be Prepared,” is an applicable one. And once your preparation is complete, you’ll have a little peace of mind. Now, don’t just nod your head, say those are really good ideas and go back to whatever you were doing before you started reading this. Write your list and fill your bag NOW! There is no time like the present, especially if you want to have a future.

******©UluOla 2017******

For Additional Information—please click on links below:

Emergency Preparedness – Make A Plan Today – ready.gov‎

Build-A-Kit

Special Preparation for Seniors

Survival Kits | Emergency Preparedness Kit | Red Cross

Emergency Preparedness Checklist for Caregivers | Family Caregiver

Emergency Supplies for Earthquake Preparedness|Earthquakes

Preparedness Checklists & Toolkits | FEMA.gov

Posted by: Michelle UluOla | October 1, 2017

Memories of Puerto Rico

Memories of Puerto Rico

 

If you’ve never been there, it’s hard to imagine what Puerto Rico once looked like and the extent of the catastrophic devastation now being suffered. Here are my memories of my taste of that paradise now lost.

First a preface to set the stage: In addition to being a union pipefitter, my (late) husband, George, was an industrial refrigeration engineer and an expert in that field. He often received panic calls from large food companies when the refrigeration system failed at one of their plants, resulting in their literally losing millions of dollars in product over just a few days. While servicing large, 8 or 16-cylinder ammonia refrigeration compressors was part of a routine day for him, when one of those emergency calls came, it meant that an entire system had malfunctioned. He would rush to the job site where he would be put in charge of the entire plant until the crisis was over. Major ammonia leaks are extremely dangerous and can be deadly, so it was imperative that they had a person in charge who knew how to watch out for everyone while dealing with hazardous chemicals. I recall times when George told me how he had to don his safety respirator mask, dash into an engine room, sling an unconscious man over his shoulder and carry him out to safety. And there were times when he’d come home with ammonia burns on his arms after the gas turned to liquid and spattered on him. Back in the 1980s, companies were just beginning to switch over to computerized equipment, but many were still plugging along with old, manually controlled machines. As people retired, there were fewer and fewer mechanics left who knew how to repair the older equipment. After 40 years, George had built up an excellent reputation in his field and was literally sometimes the only man left who knew how to repair some of the antiquated equipment still in use. (Like the 1893 paddle wheel compressors at Patrick Cudahy’s meat packing plant in Cudahy, Wisconsin. When George retired in 1989, they retired those three machines.)

In the middle of a Sunday night in July of 1987, we were awakened by a phone call from an executive at the large corporation that owned the combo ice cream/ice plant in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We were living in Illinois then. Normally, George only took jobs at plants in the U.S. where he could travel to by car so he could take along all his specialized tools and safety equipment. As someone recently made the obvious point at a press conference, “you can’t drive to Puerto Rico because it’s surrounded by a big ocean.” When George suggested they try someone else, the exec said, “No, we don’t want anyone else, we need you! We’ll fly you down first class, put you up in a good hotel, pay for all your meals, provide everything you need, and we’ll even pay for you to take your wife along!” I guess that’s what’s called “making an offer you can’t refuse”? So, we jumped out of bed, frantically packed suitcases and caught an early-morning flight.

We spent two weeks in San Juan that July, again in August, and then in October. The plant had major problems that required a big overhaul of not only equipment, but a redesign of their entire system, and it had to be done in stages.

Over the course of a total of six weeks, we got to taste the wonders of Puerto Rico, and I have many fond memories of our time there–the scenery, the weather, the food, and most especially the people. As I think back now, it occurs to me that we were there over the peak of “hurricane season,” so we were very lucky to have perfect weather.

I do remember that the taxicab ride from the airport to the hotel was a white-knuckle experience, as we careened through traffic accompanied by much horn honking! Whew! It was a major relief to disembark. But then, the bellhops and maids at the hotel took care of us like we were family, introducing themselves and even hugging us when we checked out! The waiters turned our meals into celebrations, introducing us to delicious Puerto Rican dishes accompanied by music and songs. And ohhhhh. . . a Piña Colada, made with ingredients grown fresh on the island, became my instant favorite!

The first weekend we were there, Gregory, the taxi driver who’d been taking my husband to and from work every day, offered to take us on a tour around parts of the island, visiting the sandy beaches and seeing the gorgeous El Yunque National Forest, which is the only tropical rain forest in the US Forest System. We considered a whole day with a private tour guide, traveling well over 100 miles for only $100, to be a bargain! Gregory was so proud of “his island,” he showed us a lovely time and became a friend. As we returned that evening, we invited him up to our 19th floor hotel room at the Caribe Hilton for refreshments so he could see his beautiful city from above. He was blown away, especially seeing it lit up at night. He continued to give us excellent service during our return trips, too.

We not only met the management at the ice cream plant, but also, many of the workers–all warm, wonderful people who welcomed us with open arms. On our last stay, we were there over Columbus Day, which is a national holiday there when everything is closed. Fernando, the vice president of the plant, took us to his home up in the mountains outside of the city so we could enjoy the day, the beautiful scenery, meet his family and have dinner with them. We smiled as he laughingly pointed to the sign hanging on the front of his house: “Fernando’s Hideaway,” a take-off on the old tango, Hernando’s Hideaway.” And it was!

Now, 30 years later, I wonder how all those lovely people are faring–of those who are still alive, many are quite elderly. While air conditioning normally makes the heat and high humidity bearable, I can’t imagine how they are coping now without it, let alone their lack of electricity to keep their food safe and water running. With no power, that ice cream plant is sitting idle, unable to produce food or pay their employees, and I wonder what the status is of all those dangerous chemicals. That’s only one business among all those impacted. Seeing the aerial views of the hurricane destruction and listening to interviews with the people is gut wrenching. Knowing that so much of the beauty is gone is startling, but knowing that so many of the people are left with nothing and are literally clinging to life leaves me in tears each time I see the news. It breaks my heart. Even if you’ve never been there, how can anyone watch the live news coverage and not be moved? Not feel compassion?

******©UluOla 2017******

Posted by: Michelle UluOla | August 11, 2017

Keep Looking Up!

“Keep Looking Up” was my life’s admonition;
I can do little else in my present position.

— Inscription on Foley Arthur (Jack) Horkheimer’s
tombstone that he wrote
himself.
(June 11, 1938—August 20, 2010)

“Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers!” Randolf, Wisconsinite, Jack Horkheimer, also known as the “Star Gazer,” was one of my favorite astronomers and PBS stars. I loved his quirky, fun presentations about “astronomical events.” I learned something new from every one of his 5-minute shows on stargazing. He always signed off with the directive to “Keep Looking Up,” and I’ve never been disappointed by the sky when I’ve done so. Interestingly, he made his transition right after the Perseid meteor shower, which is one of the best annual shows.

It’s also my favorite meteor shower, as it’s not only a big one, but also, at a time of year when the weather’s usually pleasant for observing. My good friend and I had what we consider a once-in-a-lifetime experience, if memory serves, back in August 2004. We were living on a ridgetop in southwest Wisconsin’s picturesque Driftless Region. Her house’s backyard was kitty-cornered to mine. We had planned to go out late during peak viewing time after moon set, because we expected the full moon would out-shine the stars, even though we were in a rural area with few artificial lights.

Around 3:00 a.m., I was sitting at my computer in my study when I suddenly heard a very loud, “Psst! Psst! Psst!” It so startled me that I almost went airborne out of my chair! My friend whispered through my open window, “You’ve gotta get out here—the Northern Lights are out!!!” Well! I hurried over to her backyard and was astonished at what I saw! The full moon was still above the southwestern horizon, but due to smoke from wildfires out West, it was colored an unexpected, magnificent, blood red and wasn’t casting any light. And there were the Northern Lights, swirling all the way up from the northern horizon to the center of the sky overhead, dancing in exquisite patterns! That was a huge surprise, since southwest Wisconsin is not at an upper latitude, nor had I received an e-mail alert from SpaceWeather.com reporting any solar flares strong enough to produce the Aurora Borealis that night. In the midst of the aurora, numerous Perseid meteors were zooming across the sky! Blood red full moon . . . multi-colored auroras . . . shooting stars . . . all at the same time?! Wow, what more could a skywatcher ask for??? (Other than an ET landing!) We did our own dance around the dark yard, oohing and aahing exclamations of wonderment. I wanted to run up and down the street, banging on doors, urging people to come out to see the breathtaking sights, but we figured they might get mad or call the police, so we restrained ourselves. Every year at this time, we reminiscence about our unparalleled experience—we were SO lucky!!

This year, the Perseid meteor shower is predicted to peak on the nights of August 11-12, or during the pre-dawn hours through the 13th. But, due to the brightness of the three-quarters full moon, it will be difficult to see the projected, 150 meteors per hour. Still, with a clear sky, it should be possible to see at least 30 to 40 of the more brilliant Perseids. And, meteor showers do continue after peak nights. These events aren’t scripted like those on TV. You never know what might show up—you may just get a surprise like my friend and I did. So, to quote the famous Star Gazer’s sign off: “Keep Looking Up!”

******©UluOla 2017******

Additional Information:

Perseid Meteor Shower 2017:  When, Where & How to See It

Jack Horkheimer’s Biography

Star Gazers show on PBS

Posted by: Michelle UluOla | August 9, 2017

My Life As Morse Code

My Life As Morse Code

— . . . — . . . —

T EEE T EEE T

I AM ON MY WAY— AGAIN!

I AM ON MY WAY— AGAIN!

It’s been almost four years since I clocked in here. That seems like a lifetime ago—perhaps it was. I last posted a blog on October 29, 2013, and quite frankly, I thought at the time that it would most probably be my final blogpost. My health was deteriorating at such an alarming rate that I literally felt I was dying. I began “putting my affairs in order,” wrote a will, started giving things away and saying good-bye through little hints. So, it was not surprising that the subject of the post was Reincarnation—that looming possibility was on my mind. [See Reincarnating Through Time“]

As it obviously turned out, I didn’t exit (yet). However, that was the start of almost four of the most traumatic years of my life, which brings me to the subject with which I’ve decided to resume blogging: reincarnating within a lifetime, or how it feels like I’ve lived many lives during my current incarnation.

There are a couple of poems centered on the idea that inscriptions on tombstones consist of a birth date, a death date, and the “dash” in-between, and how one should focus on how one lives during that dash. That got me thinking about my life and how it’s been punctuated like Morse Code—there have been ellipsis dots interrupting my dash! While the three dots of an ellipsis usually represent an omission, they can also indicate hesitation, though in that case, the punctuation is more accurately described as “suspension points.” Well! That perfectly characterizes what’s been going on during my life: the dash interrupted by dots when my life was suspended for periods of time while I mulled over whether I was going to stay or go.

I’ve long thought that a life is made up of many, “mini” lives as we transition from one phase to another: birth, childhood, education, first job, first love, single hood or marriage, having children or not, career, health or illness/accidents, retirement and episodes in-between. Everyone experiences each of those phases differently—some are happy, some are sad. For some people, all those stages blend together in an almost seamless fashion, but for others, certain periods may stand out due to trauma or elation.

A recounting (pun intended) of all the lives I’ve lived during this one would fill a book, so for now, I’ll just touch briefly on those that are relevant to tell my current story.

My “life dash” started out like everyone’s does, and although I dilly-dallied and took some detours along the way, it pretty much progressed as I expected through a happy marriage. I designed a modest, 3-bedroom ranch and we built our retirement home on a rural ridgetop in the beautiful Driftless Region of southwest Wisconsin. Bird watching, gardening and model railroading were happy pastimes. But then, my first ellipse arrived with the transition of my husband.

George had suffered with COPD for eight years, three of them on progressively higher levels of supplemental oxygen. His final four months were spent in home hospice. It had been a slow waltz with death with an occasional cha-cha-cha of go-ahead-back-up. We had mourned along the way as he became less and less able to do the things he loved. We knew when the end was near. On the night of May 19, 1998, I sat next to the hospital bed set up by hospice workers in our living room the previous January. He slept despite the 14-liters-per-minute roar of the tornado of oxygen swirling through his breathing apparatus. As I held George’s hand with my fingers wrapped across the pulse-point on his wrist, I felt the last beats of his heart. We had already said our final “I love you,” said our good-byes, had done everything we needed to do together in this life. I thought I was prepared, but the sound of silence when I turned off the no-longer-required oxygen was literally, deafening. And thus began two years of what felt like my suspended animation while I sat in “observer mode,” watching to see what “I” would decide: would I stay here or follow him? The grieving process is a completely individual one, and there can be no timeframe assigned to it. Eventually, with the help of two shamanas and three of the hospice team members who were energy workers and had become good friends, I “remembered” the path I’d been on prior to my marriage and resumed what I considered my life work of healing service. The ellipse morphed back into a dash.

The next twelve years were full of adventure and discovery of myself—a story for another blog or several chapters in a book! Suffice it to say that, for the most part, I enjoyed being on what I felt was my “path” and dashing along it.

But then, as happens to many people as they age, life took some unexpected twists and turns. There’s no need to relate the gory details here, as they’re irrelevant. Financial and health challenges brought my dash to a screeching halt and ellipse number two commenced. I lost my beloved home and ended up losing or giving away three-fourths of everything I owned (including my car) as I prepared to downsize into a small, 1-bedroom, senior apartment. I’d literally been half-blind for two years due to a cataract I couldn’t afford to have removed, because I was too young to qualify for Medicare. I was diagnosed with Diabetes. Extremely fast onset of pervasive diabetic neuropathy knocked me off my feet enough times that I could barely walk. And mysterious abdominal pain was relentless. It was only through the amazing kindness and generosity of family and friends that, on 12-13-14, I was able to relocate to the southeastern Wisconsin city where I grew up. I struggled to get settled in during the first three months. Thankfully, I was close to my supportive family, including my sister who’s a hospital dietician and helped me do my grocery shopping. My brother got me through cataract surgery the end of March 2015, which buoyed my spirits, as I could finally see again.

However, a month later, the Universe decided it still wasn’t done with me. With no forewarning, no dizziness, no tripping or slipping, I suddenly found myself on my back on my kitchen floor, unable to move, as in that not-very-funny, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercial. At least I had some great-looking EMTs who gently lifted me onto the body-board for transport to the hospital where I had a very handsome, excellent surgeon who repaired my broken hip. (I was badly injured, but I could still appreciate the scenery!) Four days in the hospital, nineteen days at the rehab facility, six weeks of home health physical and occupational therapy, and the conventional healthcare system declared they were done with me in mid-July. I could barely walk even with a walker. Over the course of the next five months, I visited numerous specialists and was subjected to all their various, expensive and uncomfortable tests. MRIs revealed my spinal column badly degenerated, but no one was able to determine the cause of the ever-present, abdominal pain. It was obvious that, except for pain medication, conventional medicine had nothing more to offer me.

As a trained Reconnective (energy) Healing® and shamanic practitioner, I searched for someone in those fields that I could turn to for help. Thirty-five years of experience with computers paid off, as I knew how to do a comprehensive on-line search. Synchronicity was at work, as I found an expert physical therapist who specializes in chronic pain and is also a Reiki Master and shamanic practitioner—how’s that for an extraordinary combination?! Little did I expect that when I set up my professional massage table in my bedroom that I’d be the one laying on it. Of course, Medicare doesn’t cover those kinds of therapy, so I had to pay out-of-pocket for weekly, 2-hour sessions. It took 85 weeks, but much to the surprise of my neurologist, my special therapist not only cured what had been declared incurable, Restless Leg Syndrome, but she also tempered the abdominal pain, and most importantly, helped me shift from the walker to a cane, and sometimes, just a limp. We are now down to having once-monthly sessions. That improvement is a move back into a semblance of independence, as it allows me to use the senior taxi service in an area where there are no buses or other forms of public transportation. Now, I don’t have to depend and impose upon my family every time I need to go somewhere.

So, after an almost four-year-long ellipse, twice as long as my previous one, I’m back at the keyboard writing this blog. I sensed it was time a few nights ago, but it was confirmed this afternoon during a session with a highly skilled music therapist/sound practitioner.

This blog ends on a high note (yes, another pun). In addition to the full-time job of running his own computer support company, my brother devotes part-time to his passion: playing keyboards and singing at local venues. I call him a “Keyboard Wizard,” as he is not only a computer expert, but also, is able to play cornet trumpet or harmonica at the same time as his music keyboard! While he usually plays solo, last Friday evening, he joined a friend who plays guitar and sings (usually as a solo artist) and the friend’s sister who also plays guitar and sings. Without benefit of any rehearsal time together, the trio performed flawlessly. Obviously, they are simpatico! All the “Golden Oldie” rock numbers they played were familiar songs from my youth. The crowd at the pub was mostly in their 50s to 70s. My sister took me to hear our brother. I remarked on the way there that it was the first time I’d been out on a Friday night since she took me to see a musical play in January 2015, just after I’d moved here. We ate a typical, Wisconsin Friday night fish fry dinner while the trio entertained us. She knew many of the other attendees, so there was also a lot of animated conversation going on. I “chair-danced” throughout the evening, hoping the somewhat rickety seat wouldn’t collapse under my enthusiasm. Ten years ago, I could still “bust some moves.” My big disappointment now was being unable to get out onto the floor and really dance the way I always used to. However, after I got home and basked in the afterglow of the outing, I felt a shift, a resumption, and I recognized that I’m on my dash again.

As we were leaving, we walked across the dance floor and I realized I could maybe fake-dance with the aid of my cane. My 50th high school class reunion is coming up. I ordered a rhinestone-studded walking cane featured on Amazon. I guess I should start practicing a routine so I can dance my version of Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ On The Ritz”? It certainly won’t be anything like Fred Astaire’s, but after all . . . the dash must go on—

******©UluOla 2017******

Click on links below for Additional Information:

Poem: “The Dash” by Linda Ellis

Poem: “The Dash Between” by Ron Tranmer

Morse Code Translator

Fred Astaire – Puttin’ On The Ritz

Posted by: Michelle UluOla | October 29, 2013

Reincarnating Through Time

Reincarnation: Rebirth of the soul in another body.
Rebirth in another form; a new embodiment. Incarnate again.

Traveling through the planes of existence...

Traveling through the planes of existence…

“We live in a storybook-world of illusions. Everyone either makes up their own stories to explain everything or decides to believe someone else’s stories. Regardless, they’re all made-up stories.
In fact, I just made up this one…”

– Michelle UluOla

Back in my early 20s, I was introduced to the concept of reincarnation. Having been raised a Catholic, that was news to me. Decades of research and experience revealed how I’d been sorely misled by the teachings of my youth in innumerable ways, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog. Reincarnation provided me with an explanation for things I’d sensed as a child but had no frame of reference for at the time. Of course when it comes to spiritual beliefs, logic has to take a back seat, but I simply could not discount the conclusions drawn by wise people across human history from all walks of life and belief systems that point to the probability of reincarnation. There are library shelves filled with books detailing proof. It’s estimated that at least a quarter of the world’s population believes in reincarnation, including the Dalai Lama, so I’m traveling in the good company of well over a billion other people. And then, there are my personal experiences…

At age 27, I met and quickly fell in love with a gentleman who was chronologically 26 years my senior. Needless-to-say that raised eyebrows, but I knew beyond any doubt that “it was meant to be.” George was one of those fun loving, ageless people and it didn’t take long before family and friends warmed to him, especially once they saw how extraordinarily compatible and happy we were together. We were aware of the future consequences and it took some convincing on my part that he should not worry about them. I always felt that we’d known each other in a previous lifetime and had been reunited once again. We enjoyed 21 wonderful, regret-free years together before George made his transition in home hospice on May 19, 1998. He’d been phasing in and out of consciousness, and perhaps the other side, when we had what would be our last exchanges of “I love you.” Then I said, “Next time, wait for me; the timing was off this time around.” George smiled, nodded and responded, “I will” and drifted away. Over the course of several years afterward, he did send me signals from the other side—a story for another time. I’m sure there are those who will say that was a sweet romantic fantasy, but it had nothing to do with reincarnation. They can believe what they want.

A little more than two years after my husband departed for the other side, I began to experience a series of bewildering encounters. Over the course of five years, I synchronistically met and became close friends with over half a dozen people with whom I came to realize I shared past lives. The circumstances that led to our (re)connecting are irrelevant here—it would take a whole book to tell those stories. However in each case it was the same: there was an inexplicable, immediate familiarity, connection and affection as if reuniting with a long-lost, dear friend not seen in years, even though we’d never actually met (here) before. In fact, each person grew up and lived in locations far removed from mine. Throughout long conversations during which eyes peered into each other’s souls, many memories surfaced that were definitely not of this incarnation. At first, it was mystifying and a bit perplexing. But as time went on in each relationship, we came to understand that we’d known each other multiple times before, even recalling or knowing when and where. Once we were able to wrap our brains around that concept, we celebrated our good fortune of having been reunited. Then we discovered that our connections were so strong, we could communicate telepathically. Not all the time, but often enough that it was obvious and very cool! I talked about my experiences with each of my “old” friends, comparing notes between them and found that they’d also made similar reconnections with other people. It was as if we were weaving a tapestry of connections across time and space and they remain some of my best and dearest friends—I know we will continue to dance through time together. If I’d only had those experiences with one person, I might be able to shrug them off as my overly vivid imagination. But to have them with several people who simultaneously shared the same things with me validates my belief in the cycle of reincarnation.

In recent years, ideas about reincarnation have changed a bit as new discoveries have been made. Some philosophers and scientists agree that time and space are not what we perceive whilst living in the separation mindset of 3D. Physics seems to be pointing to time being “all at once,” and as such, what we call “past life” is a misnomer. Time is not linear; that’s an illusion, as is everything else. We are multi-dimensional beings living multiple lives. Well! Isn’t that a mind-boggler?!

That leads me back to what I wrote in a blog a couple years ago.
The older I get, the more I know two things for sure:

1) Nothing is as it seems.

2) And, I don’t know anything for sure about anything.

Of course, there’s only one way to know if reincarnation is real, and when it’s my time to find out, I’m prepared in case it is. It’s said that before we (re)incarnate, we meet with our soul group, guides and whoever else on the other side to discuss some semblance of a plan for our next life. For instance, we might choose a location, vocation, and lessons we want to learn for soul growth, along with our parents and other companions, perhaps “old souls” we’ve traveled with across time. If that’s the case, and I’m offered another go-around on planet Earth or elsewhere, I’ve made some Notes From the Field to My Higher Self based on an analysis of this lifetime:

— Remember the Prime Directive: you have Free Will—it’s your choice. Before agreeing to a new incarnation, make sure your next contract guarantees these points:

— You will retain full memory of all your other lifetimes and the knowledge accumulated during them—no amnesia or starting over from scratch again!

— You will have the ability to easily communicate via telepathy.

— You will have the ability to physically teleportate anywhere, anytime, at will.

— You will have the ability to manifest whatever you want, when you want it, but only with conscious intent.

Now if only I can smuggle those notes across the veil with me…

Great thinkers throughout history have embraced and written about Karma and Reincarnation. Space constraints don’t allow for anything more than a smattering of examples here, but they’re good ones worth contemplating. For a more thorough treatment of the subjects, I recommend the book, Reincarnation: An East-West Anthology, compiled by Joseph Head and S. L. Cranston, and published by Aeon Publishing Company, 2000. It includes quotations from the world’s religions and over 400 Eastern and Western thinkers. Here are some thoughts on the subject by wiser people than me:

“The doctrine of transmigration has been secretly taught from ancient times to small numbers of people, as a traditional truth which was not to be divulged.” — St. Jerome (340-420)

“God generates beings, and sends them back over and over again, till they return to Him.” — The Koran

“The belief or the doctrine of the transmigration of souls is a firm and infallible doctrine accepted by the whole assemblage of our church with one accord, so that there is none to be found who would dare deny it…Indeed, there are a great number of sages in Israel who hold firm to this doctrine so that they made it a dogma, a fundamental point in our religion. We are therefore in duty bound to obey and to accept this dogma with acclamation…as the truth of it has been incontestably demonstrated by the Zohar, and all books of the Kabalists.”
— Rabbi Manasseh Ben Israel, Theologian and statesman (1604-1657)

“I believe I shall, in some shape or other, always exist; and, with all the inconveniences human life is liable to, I shall not object to a new edition of mine, hoping, however, that the errata of the last may be corrected.”
— Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar.”
— William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

“I am a soul. I know well that what I shall render up to the grave is not myself. That which is myself will go elsewhere. Earth, thou art not my abyss! The whole creation is a perpetual ascension, from brute to man, from man to God. To divest ourselves more and more of matter, to be clothed more and more with spirit, such is the law. Each time we die we gain more of life. Souls pass from one sphere to another without loss of personality, become more and more bright.”
— Victor Hugo (1802-1885), from “Victor Hugo’s Intellectual Autobiography”

“It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but only retire a little from sight and afterwards return again…Nothing is dead; men feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals and mournful obituaries, and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some new and strange disguise. Jesus is not dead; he is very well alive: nor John, nor Paul, nor Mahomet, nor Aristotle; at times we believe we have seen them all, and could easily tell the names under which they go.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) “Nominalist and Realist”

“We forget that we have been drugged by the sleepy bowl of the present. But when a lively chord in the soul is struck, when the windows for a moment are unbarred, the long and varied past is recovered. We recognize it all; we are not mere brief, ignoble creatures; we seize our immortality and bind together the related parts of our secular beings…Something there is in the spirit which changes not, neither is weary, but ever returns unto itself, and partakes of the eternity of God.”
— Charles C. Emerson [brother of Ralph Waldo Emerson]
(1808-1836) from “Notes from the Journal of a Scholar”

“It is mere idleness to say that I have not lived before – that the soul has no previous existence. You deny it – let us not argue the matter. Convinced myself, I seek not to convince. There is, however, a remembrance of aerial forms – of spiritual and meaning eyes – of sounds, musical yet sad; a remembrance which will not be excluded; a memory like a shadow – vague, variable, indefinite, unsteady; and like a shadow, too, is the impossibility of my getting rid of it while the sunlight of my reason shall exist.” — Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849) “Berenice”

“Our deeds still travel with us from afar,
And what we have been makes us what we are.”
– – George Eliot (1819-1880)

“I think immortality is the passing of a soul through many lives or experiences; and such as are truly lived, used, and learned, help on to the next, each growing richer, happier and higher, carrying with it only the real memories of what has gone before….I seem to remember former states and feel that in them I have learned some of the lessons that have never since been mine here and in my next step I hope to leave behind many of the trials I have struggled to bear here and begin to find lightened as I go on. This accounts for the genius and great virtue some show here. They have done well in many phases of this great school and bring into our class the virtue or the gifts that make them great or good. We don’t remember the lesser things. They slip away as childish trifles, and we carry on only the real experiences.”
— Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) In a letter to a friend.

“Life is eternal, and Love is immortal, and death is only a horizon, and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.”
— Rossiter Worthington Raymond, (1840-1918)

“They will come back — come back again, as long as the red Earth rolls. He never wasted a leaf or a tree. Do you think He would squander souls?”
— Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

“I adopted the theory of Reincarnation when I was twenty-six…Religion offered nothing to the point…Even work could not give me complete satisfaction. Work is futile if we cannot utilize the experience we collect in one life in the next. When I discovered Reincarnation it was as if I had found a universal plan. I realized that there was a chance to work out my ideas. Time was no longer limited. I was no longer a slave to the hands of the clock…The discovery of Reincarnation put my mind at ease…If you preserve a record of this conversation, write it so that it puts men’s minds at ease. I would like to communicate to others the calmness that the long view of life gives to us. Genius is experience. Some seem to think that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives. Some are older souls than others, and so they know more.”
— Henry Ford (1863-1947) From an interview reported on August 26, 1928 by journalist George Sylvester Viereck of the San Francisco Examiner

“We live as long as we are useful, and as long as it is good for us to live. Thereafter we die, which is another form of living, even as ice and water and rain and dew are the same thing in different aspects. When the appointed times comes, we return, as the rain returns to the earth it has left for a season…No man can escape the consequences of his own act, though it take him a million lives to redress the balance.” — Talbot Mundy, “:Om” (1879-1940)

“The idea of reincarnation contains a most comforting explanation of reality.”
— Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)

“As to me, I leave here tomorrow for an unknown destination.”
— The last line of the last letter from Ambrose Bierce, December 26, 1913

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION — please click on the red highlighted words in the text below to be transported to the site described.

If you would like to explore your own journey through time, I highly recommend the tools provided by Dick Sutphen. He’s an expert on past-life regression. I used his “Mind Travel” tapes to assist me in recalling and charting my past lives by recognizing the thread of mission that connects them. Since then, he’s produced several other, excellent audio products on the subject.

Reincarnation Facts and Resources – links to many articles on the subject

Wikipedia’s history of Reincarnation

******©UluOla 2013******

Posted by: Michelle UluOla | September 22, 2013

Her Long Good-bye

Summer's shadow in her long good-bye

Summer’s shadow in her long good-bye

Her Long Good-bye

Not yet ready to heave her final sigh,
Summer’s lingering in her long good-bye…
Hummingbirds continue to zoom and zip,
Visiting feeders for sip after sip.
Despite chilly nights they don’t want to go
Off on their long flight south to Mexico.
Tree frogs and crickets still sing their song,
While annual flowers do a stretch and yawn.
Perennials sputtering with their hold out blooms,
Prepare to retreat to their winter rooms.
Then just-in-time rains made the trees think twice
’Bout dropping leaves to be covered by ice.
The waning Full Moon casts a ghostly glow,
Shadowing the changing landscape below.
Later to rise now, each morning Ol’ Sol
Shows new proof of the arrival of Fall.

Nothing can stop the heavens’ progression,
And the equator’s crossing by our Sun.
Life clings to Life not wanting to release
Or surrender itself to beckoning peace.
Then memories stored deep in the D-N-A
Remind Life there will come another day,
When after a rest on the other side,
It will circle back for a different ride.
As Above, so Below—the cycle goes,
Now the once open door begins to close.
Time to leave this matured season behind,
Yield to the change, take a break and unwind.
With Equinox we bid a fond adieu,
Knowing what’s old will once again be new,
As Energy and Matter do their dance
Across a Universe fueled by romance.

Happy Autumnal Equinox

 ******©UluOla 2013******

 Previous Autumnal Equinox poems can be found in past blogs here:

 September 2012

 September 2011

September 2010

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