Blood and Soil ~ Blut Und Boden September 27, 2015 The day was cold as we drove north from Berlin about 90 km towards the Baltic Sea. Near our destination we passed a picturesque village turning into a wide lane marked on either side with what looked like poplar trees. Along the way Linden trees also appeared. As we approached my heart was pounding with thoughts of the atrocities that had taken place in the site we were about to tour. I had read Sara Helm’s book, Ravensbruck published in 2015 which was taken from survivors accounts, coupled with her methodical research that documented the existence of the only womens’ concentration/extermination camp in Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Bene our driver slowed the car as we approached the camp. Visually the approach felt like we would suddenly come upon an old estate or a hunting lodge surrounded by forest. Heinrich Himmler had personally chosen this area as he had friends in the vicinity and his mistress Hedwig (Bunny) Potthast had set up housing nearby where she lived and bore two of his children. Himmler visited the area where he could stay with her and visit the camp at the same time. It has been said that he purposefully chose spots of beauty for the concentration camp sites. Instead of a picturesque lodge befitting the area our eyes abruptly were drawn to the left of the road as we came upon an old Soviet Tank standing in front of a brick wall designating Ravensbruck, the woman’s camp. We parked inside of the area and Greta our well informed guide walked us past the large sign and into the compound or large square where the daily apelplatz was held for endless hours in bitter cold sometimes for no reason, while the barefooted prisoners stood in cotton dresses. The most excruciating scene for me was the room that held the ovens where the bodies were cremated upon death or barely alive. I had forgotten my camera and waited for Bene to collect it for me. My friend and our guide had moved on and so had a group of young students. Bene handed me my camera and left the room, I returned to the scene with the two ovens along side one another. Originally there had been a third oven, now removed. I stood in front of two two used brick ovens which unfortunately reminded me of modern pizza ovens (I have seen used in America) where the bodies were burned at Ravensbruck. Wreaths of flowers had been placed on the devices that held the bodies and from the museum pictures I could imagine how high the emaciated bodies could be stacked into the fire. I...

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Way of Seer~18 Prince Street Charlottetown, PEI

Way of Seer~18 Prince Street Charlottetown, PEI

My mother (Clara Hogan) grew up in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Her family  immigrated to Oregon when she was twelve years old. She never stopped loving or forgot her beloved island and her home near the sea. I have always wanted to see the island and despite my worldly wanderings I had never been to her birthplace. My sister Ananfaye and I decided to take a cruise and spend time in my mother’s neighborhood. We hired a driver and scoured the area for a glimpse into her life and to see her house at 18 Prince street a house built by my grandfather’s brother Rufus S. Hogan my great uncle. My great grandfather M.P. Hogan and his son Rufus were builders and merchants, but my grandfather whom I barely remember except that he called my mother Cala, not Clara and he took me for walks around the Oregon neighborhood where they lived when I was small. His name was Arthur Edward Hogan and I remember him taking my hand and telling me that he had held my mom’s hand the same way when she was little. He was a lawyer in PEI and graduated from law school at McGill University in Montreal also obtaining an LLM in law. My memory recalls him as being very gentle. My grandmother was Annie Mae Dorsey and I am sure her family lived nearby also on the island. I remember her well with long braids of grey that she let us brush when she undid her hair at night and if we were good we cuddled up with her and slept in her bed with her after grandpa died. My sister and I took turns sleeping with Grandma especially during the war when my dad was overseas and we lived with Grandma Hogan for a time. David our driver took us to 18 Prince street and and he knocked on the door of the residence explaining to the mistress of the house, (Denise) that our mother had lived in the house as a little girl and that our great uncle had built the house.  She graciously welcomed us into her house  and we viewed the property and back garden. It was barely modernized and everything seemed very old, with lots of wood and carvings above the doorways and a wide wood stairwell. It amused me because although I love old houses and furniture my mother did not care for antiques or anything old as an adult. The visit was an emotional experience that I had not expected and I felt overwhelmed and forgot to take pictures inside the house. Our driver took the picture posted above at the house. Exploring the neighborhood and seeing how close my mom lived to her cousins, aunts, uncles and...

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The Way of a Seer~Balinese Healers

The Way of a Seer~Balinese Healers

Namaste, Long before Elizabeth Gilbert wrote her popular book “Eat, Pray, Love,” I had done just that in Italy, India and Bali. Unfortunately, I didn’t write a bestselling book. Kudos to Elizabeth for writing her book and sharing her remarkable journey. However, I did eat my way through Indonesia tasting the Balinese delicacies served throughout the island, starting with the Nusa Dua Hotel restaurant and moving on to Ubud’s many restaurants. We tried the Dirty Duck, Cafe Wayan, Cafe Luna, Ary’s Warung and Shandana Veggie Cafe. We drank mango lassi’s, so cool and refreshing as good as any I have had in Malaysia or India. We prayed daily at the numerous Temples we visited across Bali. Delores at Nusa Dua Hotel My first experience in Bali was life changing. The beauty and spiritual depth of the Balinese people captures one’s heart as no other culture. Each morning we observed the woman of the house preparing a food offering fringed with frangipani or orchids and placing it at the doorway of the house for the Spirits. It is so touching to witness this devotion as a morning ritual.  In the evenings the village men were seen rushing to temple from work, a tribute to their faith. Many homes had Spirit houses placed outside the doorways. Buddies in Bali Let me share with you my healing with a renowned Balinese Healer and the unique experience of a Hindi Cremation Ceremony as I traveled with friends on my own spiritual journey throughout Bali. Flying on Garuda Airlines to Denpasar after meeting up in Los Angeles with our little group Monica, Carol and Delores, for the long flight to Bali we began our new adventure. I was a presenter for “Power Places” of California and we knew that we had an additional group of spritual seekers awaiting us in Bali. Balinese Healer, Susan and Translator The tour company had set up the conference in the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel at Kawasan Partwisata in Nusa Dua, a luxury hotel on the Indian Ocean with a fantastic spa. We spent spent several several days at the hotel meeting our traveling companions and enjoying the Metaphysical Workshops by different presenters. We arranged to meet with a Balinese Healer, called a Balian and a Psychic healer. The Balian was located in the village of Desa Singapadu Tengah near Ubud. We met individually with each healer speaking through a translator. The Physical Healer was amazing especially for me in retrospect. He told me that I had a serious condition on my right side above my stomach. I shrugged it off thinking it was some future female issue. The healer touched my right side a little above my waist and pressed his hand into the flesh below my rib cage. Unbeknownst to me I had  a rare pheochromocytoma tumor...

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The Way of a Seer~What I’ve Been Told

The Way of a Seer~What I’ve Been Told

Namaste, A gifted reader and friend once told me that I would live in a foreign country in a house on a hill overlooking the ocean. She saw the house as Mediterranean style, whitewashed by sunshine with an inner courtyard. Because I adore Mexico, for years I thought it would be Mexico as I have often traveled there. Greece is also a favorite of mine. The mainland and the islands are joyous to me and I often imagined it to be a Greek Island. My first visit to Athens in 1978 was like coming home as I walked the streets I knew where to go and identified what alleyways to take as shortcuts through the ancient city. I seemed to know the city well although I was traveling there for the first time. Returning to Greece each time I feel like I am returning home. Nafplion on the mainland about a two-hour drive from Athens, on the Peloponnese penisula resonated with me in the same way as Athens. It happened by chance that I went there with my son in 2009 as an afterthought. Like all who travel to the islands, I love the beauty of Santorini and it’s volcano.  The first time I visited we anchored in the harbor and I went uphill by donkey and walked back down to the port in the evenings to board a private yacht. Now on my last couple of visits there has been the cable car. My son and I loved Mykonos, also. What is there not to love?   Mykonos, Greece Why does this happen? I don’t live on an island or beside the sea. Most everything the same reader has told me has happened. Still, I live in the desert. The reader also told me that I return to America when I am very old. Time is flying by and pray tell. . . when is old? Am I invested in the outcome? Maybe in the beginning I was dreaming and fantasizing of a life I did not have. I do love to travel but my life in America is filled with family, friends, and happiness.   I do not speak Spanish well nor can I say but two words in Greek. I was engaged to a Greek fellow in Seattle many years ago and with true serendipity, Greek people and opportunities involving Greece come into my life and consciousness often in the form of Greek friends every where I go. However, I have no plans to sell my house and leave for Greece. I have learned to no longer invest in the outcome of my destiny; it is the process not the outcome that is the journey. Instead, I try to live in the moment. It does take some practice. We...

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The Vietnam Cookery Center

The Vietnam Cookery Center

Namaste, In 2008 I visited Vietnam with my artist friend Caroline http://www..carolineorner.com and we were interviewed by Tracey Teo a freelance travel writer. The article was later published and I want to share it with you. Tracey is currently working on a documentary about the Smoky Mountains in the US. You can follow Tracey on Twitter. Asian cruise lets foodies learn to cook Vietnamese cuisine By Tracey Teo  Special to the Herald-LeaderTracey Teo The Vietnam Cookery Center in Ho Chi Minh City HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam – Susan Stockton Koss and ­Caroline Orner are on a gastronomic odyssey, eating their way through Vietnam as the cruise ship Rhapsody of the Seas sails down the country’s coastline. But Ho Chi Minh City is what the friends have their hearts and palates set on. Orner lives in Hagerstown, Md., which has no ­Vietnamese restaurants, so to satisfy her craving for those sweet, salty and sour flavors unique to Vietnamese food, she wants to learn to cook it herself. That’s why she’s at the Vietnam Cookery Center. For her, this is the highlight of a new Asian itinerary offered by Royal Caribbean’s during a 12-day cruise that originates in Hong Kong, includes stops in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia, and ends in Singapore. Vietnamese is my favorite Asian food, Orner says. If you don’t live in a big city like New York, it’s hard to find. After today, I’ll be able to make Vietnamese food by myself and won’t have to search for it. Stockton Koss lives in Phoenix, where Vietnamese food is more readily available, but she also is determined to master the culinary arts of Vietnam. About 20 other passengers of various nationalities have chosen this shore excursion from the numerous Ho Chi Minh City tours offered. The students are seated in pairs at small bamboo tables, each with a miniature gas stove. Orner and Stockton Koss are trying to identify ingredients inside the delicate blue and white bowls. After their “field trip to the market this morning, they think they should know what’s what, but after some discussion, they can’t agree. During the visit to Ben Thanh Market, the group was introduced to foods common to Vietnamese cuisine. Vegetables like elephant ear and morning glory the vegetable, not the flower are as ordinary to a Vietnamese cooks as iceberg lettuce and spinach to an American homemaker, but quite extraordinary to most Westerners. The market has many varieties of fresh fish, sometimes really fresh: alive and swimming in the tank. If you want fish in Vietnam, simply look for the conical hats. Under those hats are fishmongers, sitting on stools so low they appear to be squatting on the ground. Point to the fish...

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The Way of a Seer~Egypt, Turkey and Greece

The Way of a Seer~Egypt, Turkey and Greece

Namaste, I returned last week from a trip to Egypt, Turkey and the Greek Isles. It did not occur to me until I was flying home that I indeed had experienced a “Kairos” event, preceded by a Kairos moment when on a whim I asked my son, Barry, what in the world he wanted to see in this lifetime and if he could go anywhere where would it be? He immediately answered, “The Pyramids.” The fact that he is single once more and I could take the time off from my practice was nothing short of a miracle. Also, our ability to pull the money together for an extraordinary trip was in itself miraculous. We did not book until quite late with only a few cabins left on the ship as my son‘s passport had been stolen and we could not book until his new one arrived. But alas, it came and we obtained a choice cabin with a wonderful view from our large window looking out to the sea. We had not taken a trip together since he was a teenager but somehow all the stars aligned to create a vacation together as mother and son. We flew to Istanbul staying a few days in town seeing the sites, the Blue Mosque, Sophia Hagia, the Grand Bazaar and recuperating from jet lag in our luxurious hotel, before boarding the Norwegian Jade for a 12 day cruise. The Biblical words, fullness of time,” came to mind as interpreted by the noted Lutheran theologian Paul Tillich who described Kairos time as “the fullness of time,” or “moments in which conditions are ripe for events to transcend in linear time and take on greater, even eternal, significance.” My son had not been to this part of the world and I had been to all but lovely Mykonos which we both truly loved. Santorini, Mykonos and Napflion on the mainland of Greece were our favorites as was Istanbul and of course Cairo with its mystical Pyramids. We left the ship in Alexandria and traveled to Cairo, staying at the Mena House close to the Giza Plateau where we could almost touch the stone. The experience was fantastic and we were blessed with a wonderful guide for our tour of Egypt. He was associated with the North Africa Tour Company and was without a doubt the best informed, charming guide I have ever had anywhere in the world. I salute you Hamy! I learned more from him in a few days than my entire previous tour of Egypt some years ago. It was indeed an “opportune” time. The trip itself was true Kairos. The Sphinx at Giza Plateau “The two meanings of the...

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