You are Invited: The Middle Men: February 19

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It’s not a film reel…it’s an online premiere! After a long wait, the zero-budget feature film debut of Jack Nicoletti and Samuel T. Castellino is screening LIVE, here on YouTube. The screening will be followed by a live Q&A hosted by Lucas Kruse, featuring actors Evan Newton and Josh Blanchett, along with producer Samuel T. Castellino and writer/director Jack Nicoletti. The Middle Men (dir. Jack Nicoletti)

You Are Invited: The Middle Men

“When cash-strapped Jake and Ben get a job at a local video store, they get more than they bargained for when they discover they are unknowingly delivering a shipment of cocaine to a local drug kingpin. Told through three intertwining segments, “The Middle Men” is an action-packed firecracker of a film from start to finish. It’s the story of a boss trying to save his dying business, a man who was pushed too far, and the two teenagers who just wanted some spare change.”

Comedy, Crime Jack Nicoletti | Evan NewtonJosh BlanchettMicah McCord

Two newly hired video store clerks are asked by their new boss to deliver a package to a theater across town. Unbeknownst to them, the package is truly a shipment of cocaine for a local drug kingpin.

“The Middle Men” is currently in the running for several film festivals. For updates regarding screenings and festival premieres, follow Instagram: @middlemenmovie”The Middle Men” is currently in the running for several film festivals. For updates regarding screenings and festival premieres, follow Instagram: @middlemenmovie

For behind the scenes pictures, videos, and notes from production, follow us on Instagram: @twocentsproductions

Lyme Disease: Homeopathy works for some

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we live in tick country

In the midst of COVID-19 I dropped my guard on the whole tick thing. And of course, there I was last Saturday night with one stuck right in my back. I had felt the slightest little prick about a day before and thought, oh I should have my husband check my back for ticks. Then I went merrily along until the next night when I finally got around to that back check. He found the tick and dove in to extract the critter. (Amazingly got all the little legs out with his bare hands.)

Luckily I was able to get an antibiotic right away to hopefully prevent this awful disease which has really been chronic for many people in upstate New York. I have a friend who told me the chronicle of his Lyme disease journey a few years ago and I thought I’d share it here for anyone stuck with this horrible problem.

This information regarding Lyme disease was gathered in 2015 to share with a friend.

  • My friend spent several years looking for a cure which involved a lot of research. He discovered that many people face this debilitating disease and that there is a lot written but sifting through it, to find what works for the individual (all different) is very time consuming. I don’t know where your friend is in her journey so I will just share what he told me and you can pass it on to her.
  • He recommends that your friend read this book: HEALING LYME by Stephen Harrod Buhner.

The first part of the book is apparently technical but helpful, the next part talks about treatments to try. Ultimately one needs to know:

  1. Which form of Lyme they have?
  2. What part of the body is being affected?
  3. What are the appropriate herbs to use to intervene? what are protocols that have been tried and worked?

Apparently, there are four to five places in the body that the Lyme disease can reside. Many people around here get joint problems, my friend had central nervous system issues. While he lives here, he did not contract the disease here and he ended up with symptoms that he called brain fog: taking two hours to get focused in the morning, for example.

In addition to the different places Lyme can reside in the body, there are other diseases that the deer tick carries that he found out can also be paired with Lyme: richottes; bels palsy. There are several organizations online about Lyme disease. When my friend began his journey six years ago (2009!), he found that the doctors did not know as much about it locally as he needed. He went down to the Hudson Valley area and found a doctor who knew more about the disease and its treatment. (He did not mention the name because this person was not who cured him.)

Antibiotics would work but only for a while, ultimately the disease kept returning. This too is common. In fact, by the time, my friend went to a homeopath he was three years into the disease. The homeopath he went to was named Cindee Gardner. She is world-renowned, charged $400, at the time, for a 1.5-hour consult. After the consult, she prescribed $500 to $1000 worth of herbs and tinctures and told my friend where he could get everything. One thing that he took did not agree with him and for that, the homeopath found a substitute. About three months into the regimen, my friend finally felt better.
He noted that up to this point he had spent about $15,000 on the problem before connecting with Cindee and the herbal regimen.

One year after the treatment, my friend went back to the homeopath for a touch-up. He is two years (2015) past this and feeling good.

Interesting notes: the antibiotic that he did say was moderately helpful was like penicillin but called, he thinks minocycline because it could go across the blood-brain barrier where most antibiotics can’t go! (note from author: there is a drug called minocycline, I did not research it myself)

The spirochete that causes Lyme is related to: syphilis.

Colostrum was something that my friend used that helped. I am not sure if this was part of the regimen prescribed by the homeopath or not, but he ordered it from New Zealand which has a very pure form of colostrum. I am not sure what animal it came from: sheep; cows?

Addendum from author: last year my husband had Lyme disease. In the middle of the winter, he had what he thought was a pimple on his arm followed by what he thought was the flu. When the symptoms went away and then returned quickly, he went straight to the doctor to get an antibiotic. He is symptom free and the medicine seemed to get into his system and knock out the migrating bugs before they invaded another part of his body.  People asked how did Radames get Lyne in February in cold upstate NY and he was daily going into our woodshed and retrieving wood.

DIANE’S PHONE & Cayuga Lake 2021

DIANE’S PHONE
Happy New Year Sun behind clouds

Refresh, Renew, Write

Another year, more stories to write

I will see you in my dreams Moby

The lights shine where Moby used to sit. I hope I see him in my dreams tonight!

Guest Blogger Liz on Gratitude, Covid Connections and Getting Rid of “Stuff”

ACT Thanksgiving Message of Gratitude
Elizabeth Einstein 2020
(ACT is Area Congregations Together in Ithaca. This was read by Liz at their recent Thanksgiving Zoom gathering.)

I’ve lived alone a long time, so I’ve come to understand the difference between lonely and aloneness. Lonely means something is missing, but how can I be lonely when the Divine lives within me? Aloneness is a treasure, a sacred time to simply be. This COVID isolation has actually been both peaceful and productive. For that, I am grateful.

This is a photograph of Liz with her butterfly wings…we will invite her back to hear about the
important symbolism butterflies hold for her.


During its early stages, projects became sorting and getting rid of. Cupboards, closets and drawers got purged as stuff became less important. But the most difficult project was re-visiting the accumulation from my professional life: speeches, unpublished manuscripts and workshop materials from my life as a national stepfamily leader. Two or three years ago, I tried to do that task but I wasn’t ready emotionally. What if I wanted to return that again? Or even consult? I’d better save that stuff, I told myself, but when COVID gave me this gift of time, I got serious. This part of letting go of stuff was hard for me as I realized my professional persona was deeply attached to my ego, to who I once was. Memories of that wonderful part of my life of travel and teaching brought sadness, even tears. But finally, with each load I carried to the dumpster, the grieving lessened. For that, I am grateful.


With this newly empty dance card, I’ve had time to deepen spiritual life. An important lesson has been to appreciate the sound of silence, emptiness as the Buddhists name it. My longtime meditation practice has definitely deepened with more time for reflection. To satisfy my need for connection, I made note cards and wrote to friends with whom I’d lost touch. I also phone, or write to elderly folks at my church who love to get snail mail and to feel less forgotten. These simple acts of kindness fill my heart and theirs.

As I continue my shift from being a human doing to a human being, I am reminded by a writing from Rev. Sarah Stewart: “Your sacredness does not rely on your doing. Holiness comes from your being. You have been holy your whole life, from when you were a helpless infant, and you will still be holy when you are elderly and infirm. Your being, not your doing, is sacred.” I am grateful for this lesson, this blessing.

Magical Papyri~ for the beavers

And so the angels with nothing to lose and everything to gain, pulled from the heavens ears and eyes. They brought those ears and eyes to the earth and gave everyone a set to add to the ears and eyes they already had.

Beaver clipped from video tape…may your spirt continue

Strap these on, said the angels, and be still. Just listen and watch and then take a little piece of your heart and give it to someone you don’t usually see or hear.

Just a little piece, and see if you do not begin to hear the cry of the lone beaver who swims and swims in the pond, hoping against hope that he will survive and thrive in a place with guns and “civilization” stacked against him.

If you hear or see the cry, said the angels, look around you one mile, and see what you can do to soothe a soul. And then like magic, PERHAPS your broken heart will heal and the tender tissues will weave a stronger love.

~This is written in honor of two beavers who we had to kill to save our property. We strive to be a no kill place. There was no where to take them…the ponds in the back where they usually live are dry. We called rehabbers, they said most likely would just euthanize. One was euthanized and the other shot. May the great spirts bless their soul and Moby’s too.

~May I suggest David Attenborough’s Netlix documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64R2MYUt394

Running…not to forget

This is how Moby and Macadew ran. My husband and I would decide that it was a nice day to take them through the back 40. We would proceed to get our shoes on and by the time we got to the drawer with the whistles, the boys started running back and forth through the house in anticipation.

The minute the back door opened, Moby and Macadew charged out like horses from the gate. They ran down to the pond sniffing left and right until we made it down there to pick them up.

With pure delight Macadew proceeded and Moby followed. Or Macadew disappeared into bushes on the right of the trail and Moby to the left. We’d hear them, rustle, rustle and sometimes they disappeared.

Usually with a few whistles they bounded back to us.Moby always touched base by knocking gently against our knees and then off he’d be following Macadew down the trail. Macadew barely stopped for a hello after he rejoined us on the path.

When Moby and Macadew disappeared near the apple tree, we knew right where they were, at the beaver pond.

Macadew was usually in the water with Moby nearby. Swimming around was their delight but they always hoped, and expected, Ram to throw them sticks.

Ram grabbed the sticks from the ground near the brushes of blackberry. Sticks flew across that pond and Macadew was always the heartier swimmer with Moby doing better with sticks not as far away.

Many times one large stick was all Ram could find and with wild abandon they each grabbed an end and came bounding up the bank to us.

It was pure joy to watch them in love with life.

The dogs loved going deep, deep into the woods. There is a trail, behind some old barbed wire that used to keep cows contained. It is dark in the summer, the light barely gets in, they ran through these woods and Ram and I held our breath sometimes listening for their jingle as they easily ran far afield from our eyes.

Many a time I sang Macadew, Macadew, Moby time to go. They always came back.

On the way home, up to the overlook and through the pines, they usually stayed insight. But it was not uncommon for Moby to fixate on a rock near the power lines, trying with his whole body and soul to retrieve it from the brush.

As we got near the lower pond near our house, we pulled out the leashes. Ram was in charge of Mac, me Moby. Invariably Moby would run to the pond, stick his head in and lap at the water while Macadew disappeared into a hollow in the wood one last time to look around.

Ram grabbed Moby, put him on the lead for me while I reignited my song: Maci dew, Macadew. There were times he, like a child in the woods, refused my call for awhile. Ram and I would look at each other like, wow, this time his wildness may out do us, he may not come back. He always did.

Leashed up at the pond, we trekked the dogs up to the house for a spray bath. Moby usually did a sit down strike near the pigeon coup. Macadew was a bit more willing to return home having had his tantrum at the pond.

When we got near the house Ram hosed their bellies and backs and around their faces. Macadew first, then Moby reluctantly. When they were done we put them in the gated yard.

Still not tired, they ran after each other, too and fro. Often the dirt from the yard clinging to their fresh clean paws.

When they were done, they climbed into the porch and I wrapped them in a clean towel to wipe down the water. Moby especially loved this, he stood perfectly still and never resisted.

Last year Macadew died, and one week ago Moby. The missing is long, the loving too short.

In memory

The long trail of grief

Grief is in the room. It sits here in this moment with me and my dear husband. What a luxury to feel and write this while millions of people wake up as refugees, doctors and nurses battle a pandemic, and our world is shifting mightily under the stress of greed and climate change. The luxury comes from having the time, the ability, the health, and the technology to write.

As the tears keep coming for our darling little buddy who passed on Monday, all my other griefs come up. Every year for the last four, I have lost a significant person or animal in my life. I cry again for them. And then I cry for all the other losses and before you know it, in the mind f — — k that is grief, I am in Grandma’s living room in 1976 and Grandpa has just died, “Please,” she cries, “don’t forget your Grandfather.” We hug her and say we won’t , but of course, he is now a distant memory.

And then I am drawn back to an unhealed wound that requires an acceptance my ego and nervous system have never reconciled. At about seven, I went into the hospital for an undiagnosed stomach problem.

First I went to the ER and then was kept for observation for four days. In the hospital I had my own room, there were no TV’s but you were given a radio. It was summer and I don’t remember much about the food or even seeing little children. There were no bright colored balloons and the paint was a dusty greenish grey.

On my second day, I woke up alone to hear on the radio that one of my father’s best friends had been murdered. In cold blood, at a restaurant, after a ball game. Chill and fear and disbelief ran through me and it was only in my adult years that my Father told me the full story.

As I sat in the hospital room, day after day, I waited my Dad to visit me. My Mother visited but without Dad and we did not discuss where he was. That is when the flowers came, a beautiful bouquet of yellows in a darling little ceramic vase. Finally something from him, a sign that he loved me and was thinking of me. I opened the card, Love from Aunt Margaret.

The disappointment was huge for my little brain and heart. I didn’t cry, I just remember being in a state of disbelief. He never did visit, it was my mother who sat with me while I waited for the nurse to take me for exploratory surgery. Fast forward, 52 years and what I see now.

When Moby died, I reactivated Facebook to place the announcement. So many friends know us and knew our doggies Moby and Macadew, I needed to tell them and I needed a marker for my little buddy. We are social creatures after all and Facebook, during covid, is the next best thing to being with my friends.

Ram and I received many heart felt messages and memories on that post, so much love, I could feel it through the screen. We also received texts and phone calls. But missing, as if in historical repetition, as if to remind me why the hurt of Facebook is so much greater than its reward, we’re condolences from people who were on that journey with me 52 years ago.

And perhaps from this I learned that there are some wounds that it takes a lifetime to heal, and may be never do. The yellow flowers of condolences are beautiful and I need to realize and learn to feel, first through awareness and then slowly through acceptance, they are enough. We must focus on celebrating those who are willing to be present with us. Maybe that is why there are so many dog lovers.

For more on Grief and how it trails back in our lives, see: The Grief Recovery Handbook, 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses including Health, Career, and Faith Paperback 

Moby
Moby October 2011 to October 2020

In remembrance of Moby

Today our hearts are heavy as we have put our beautiful Buddha dog Moby to his final rest. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, given 7 to 11 days to live, we were pleased to wake up for a full 28 days to the jingle of his collar and his enthusiasm for lettuce, dog bones, walks outside, and staring into space. We often wondered how he could just sit and stare. Maybe we will one day understand. For now, we are faced with the empty house, the ghost sounds of a dog in the bardo, and the fact that the reign of Moby and Macadew has sadly ended.

Here are some pictures of Moby throughout his life.

@claireaperez@gmail.com

Ladies: I grew up rich in the suburbs

There I was, surrounded by beautiful homes and beautiful people. I lived across the street from a golf course. My parents sent me and my siblings to the Country Club pool every day in the summer and twice a week, we were allowed to order lunch. They had great grilled cheese sandwiches.

We lived on a hill but not as high up in the hills as my richer friends. The world was pristine. The yards were manicured and people were beautiful. I was less beautiful than the one hundred percent Irish Catholics and the WASPS, but still I had a gold card. If I got into trouble, my father could get me out of it. He was a public figure and married to the daughter of a very public figure. In Ithaca, we call it a gold card. (I am no longer a gold card holder.) Just being part Irish and living and being a Westie, I was entitled and I was priviledged.

At school I ate like the other Westies in the East Cafeteria. We were a monoculture. The folks in the West Cafeteria were from the “other” side of town and the other side of life. Basically, a class system that I saw clear eyed when I went to teach for ten years at that same school. I went to college as a Republican. I did not know where any of my food came from or when apples ripened. I was devastated when my college friends told me I was wearing FAKE Calvin Klein’s!

And then I taught school in my thirties and a favorite student became pregnant out of wed lock and she was in a biracial relationship. She had nothing financially and my aunt crocheted her a blanket for her newborn. I went to tutor her and deliver the blanket. Across her door and around her hallway someone smeared human feces. And from this I began to learn about racism.

And I worked for cooperative extension as a money management educator. My clients were poor but they were smart. They had to be. One woman told me how she calculated the number of toilet paper blocks each family member could use for the month. Another told me she had the end of a tomato for a sandwich she would eat tomorrow to hold her until her social security check arrived. A well-off friend said to me, “Why, those people, they won’t be able to understand you they are so dumb.” And from this I began to learn about poverty.

And I married my husband. And from him I learned the value of a dollar. And more importantly the value of better living without name brands and chemistry. Our wedding was at home, on a bare bones budget, a gift from my Aunt, we had no band per se, no official photographer, and we ran out of beer one hour in…it was a beautiful day and we are still married. We buy each other gifts sometimes and sometimes not.

At first I thought it slow living outside the norm in exhurbia noticing the changes in nature. He is a student of science and he has taught me the cycles of life through this lens. I wanted to move near New York City, it would offer me more opportunity I told him. I missed my homeland the suburbs where the lots are all manicured nicely and at least back in the day, the Christmas lights were all white.

I can see why people want to stay in the red zone. I don’t want to leave my la la land of zoom work and my health insurance and my electronic surveillance, my life of priviledge. The things I carry with me from the suburbs. And I’d give anything to go back to those suburbs for one day not as myself but as the naieve woman I once was. To go back to the world of make believe where nature works for me and the water is clean and I can walk 2 minutes to a private pool and swim all day. The land of post World War II, where honey and American exceptionalism flowed world without end.

I keep thinking of a college friend who came to visit me. I was babysitting at the country club and he sat with me at the wadding pool overlooking the first hold tee off, shadowed by the club house of elegant dining. We were chatting. He looked around at all the beautiful people in the beautiful surroundings and he said, “these people think they are rich.” He was from Long Island and I knew enough about money to know what he meant. He laughed.

I was insulted but no more. I look at the cracked earth, I think of all the souls I have worked with in the land of poverty and degradation and affluence. I think of man’s inhumanity to man that I watched on Sat night in the movie the Promise about the Armenian genocide. And although I understand Red, I wonder, how much longer, how much longer, can we really believe any of us are rich and protected?