Saint Dymphna was an Irish princess born in the seventh century to a pagan king and a Christian mother. She is the Patron Saint of people who are suffering from mental illness and/or emotional stress, nervous disorders, epileptics, victims of incest, runaways, and mental health professionals.

I first learned of her from my grandmother, who suffered from depression and who gave me a pocket sized prayer booklet for Saint Dymphna from the Franciscian Mission Associates in New York which features the image below on its cover. I still have that booklet, well over twenty years after it was given to me. Saint Dymphna is very dear to me, and her feast day is coming up on May 15th.

Saint Dymphna Patron of Mental & Spiritual Afflictions

Dymphna’s Christian mother was very beautiful, and her husband, King Damon of Oriel, loved her very much. Saint Dymphna was raised Christian; she was secretly baptized by her mother and educated by their priest, Father Gerebernus. Young Dymphna loved Jesus Christ and promised herself to Him with a vow of chastity as she began to approach womanhood. Via the National Shrine of Saint Dymphna, here is what happened soon after:

It was not long, however, until an unexpected cloud overshadowed the happy childhood of the beautiful girl. She lost her good mother by death. Many were the secret tears she shed over this bereavement, but at the same time she found great comfort in the Divine Faith which, though she was still of a tender age, already had taken deep root.

Dymphna’s father, too, greatly mourned his deceased wife and for a long time continued prostrate with grief. At length he was persuaded by his counselors to seek solace in a second marriage. So he commissioned certain ones of his court to seek out for him a lady who would be like his first spouse in beauty and character. After visiting many countries in vain, the messengers returned saying that they could find none so charming and amiable as his own lovely daughter, Dymphna. Giving ear to their base suggestion, the king conceived the evil design of marrying Dymphna. With persuasive and flattering words he manifested his purpose to her. Dymphna, as may be expected, was greatly horrified at the suggestion, and asked for a period of forty days to consider the proposal. She immediately betook herself to Father Gerebran, who advised her to flee from her native country, and since the danger was imminent, he urged her to make no delay.

With all speed, therefore, she set out for the continent, accompanied by Father Gerebran, the court jester and his wife. After a favorable passage, they arrived on the coast near the present city of Antwerp. Having stopped for a short rest, they resumed their journey and came to a little village named Gheel. Here they were hospitably received and began to make plans for establishing their future abode at this place.

The king, in the meantime, having discovered Dymphna’s flight, was fearfully angry, and immediately set out with his followers in search of the fugitives. After some time, they were traced to Belgium and their place of refuge was located. At first, Dymphna’s father tried to persuade her to return with him, but Father Gerebran sternly rebuked him for his wicked intentions, whereupon he gave orders that Father Gerebran should be put to death. Without delay, his wicked retainers laid violent hands upon the priest and struck him on the neck with a sword. With one blow of the steel, the head was severed from the shoulders and another glorious martyr went to join the illustrious heroes of Christ’s kingdom.

Further attempts on the part of Dymphna’s father to induce her to return with him proved fruitless. With undaunted courage she spurned his enticing promises and scorned his cruel threats. Infuriated by her resistance, the father drew a dagger from his belt and he himself struck off the head of his child. Recommending her soul to the mercy of God, the holy virgin fell prostrate at the feet of her insanely raving father. Thus the glorious crown of martyrdom was accorded to St. Dymphna in the fifteenth year of her age, on the fifteenth day of May, between 620 and 640. The day of her death has been assigned as her feastday.

The records of Dymphna’s life and death say that the bodies of the two martyred saints lay on the ground for quite some time after their death, until the inhabitants of Gheel removed them to a cave, which was the customary manner of interment in that part of the world at the time of the martyrdoms. But after several years had elapsed, the villagers, recalling their holy deaths, decided to give the bodies a more suitable burial. When the workmen removed the heap of black earth at the cave’s entrance, great was their astonishment to find two most beautiful tombs, whiter than snow, which were carved from stone, as if by angel hands. When the coffin of St. Dymphna was opened there was found lying on her breast a red tile bearing the inscription:

“Here lies the holy virgin and martyr, Dymphna.”

The remains of the saint were placed in a small church. Later necessity obliged the erection of the magnificent “Church of St. Dymphna,” which now stands on the site where the bodies were first buried. St. Dymphna’s relics repose there in a beautiful golden reliquary.

Miracles and cures began to occur in continually increasing numbers. Gradually St. Dymphna’s fame as patroness of victims of nervous diseases and mental disorders was spread from country to country. More and more mentally afflicted persons were brought to the shrine by relatives and friends, many coming in pilgrimages from far-distant places. Novenas wer made, and St. Dymphna’s relic was applied to the patients. The remarkable cures reported caused confidence in the saint to grow daily. At first the patients were lodged in a small annex built onto the church. Then gradually it came about that the patients were place in the homes of the families living in Gheel. From this beginning Gheel developed into a town world-famed for its care of the insane and mentally afflicted. An institution, called the “Infirmary of St. Elizabeth,” which was conducted by the Sisters of St. Augustine was later built for the hospital care of the patients. Most of the latter, after some time spent in the institution, are placed in one or other of the families of Gheel, where they lead a comparatively normal life.

In the town of Geel, Belgium, where Saints Dymphna and Gerebernus were martyred, local people still continue to provide care for those who travel there seeking relief from mental illness centuries later. Via NCR Online:

In the mid-14th century, Geel erected a church in Dymphna’s honor; it was built on the spot where she was buried. Around this time, rumors spread about disturbed individuals who were cured upon visiting Geel. As these accounts circulated, people began bringing disturbed family members, hoping for their own miracle. And many embattled souls made it to Geel on their own.

A building contiguous to St. Dymphna Church was built to accommodate the troubled pilgrims. Soon enough, the capacity of this structure was exceeded. Church authorities appealed to the citizens of Geel, who responded in a way that would eventually designate Geel as “the charitable city”: They welcomed mentally ill strangers into their homes.

The Geel community showed remarkable compassion, particularly for an era when most any sort of psychological aberration was viewed as being due to demonic influence or possession. Ronald J. Comer’s Abnormal Psychology mentions the typical techniques of the time for dealing with the psychologically aberrant. Exorcisms, of course, were performed. “Holy water” or “bitter drinks” might be administered. If these remedies failed to produce results, the ensuing therapy could consist of flogging, scalding, stretching of limbs, or starvation. It was hoped that these extreme measures might expunge the iniquity.

In contrast to these measures was the Geel way, in which the mentally ill, who were called “boarders” instead of “patients,” became a valued part of the community. Many of the boarders helped with agricultural labor. They were allowed to go about the village, and some even became regulars at local taverns. Some boarders stayed in Geel for only a few months; others stayed for the rest of their lives.

The boarder population peaked in the year 1938, when the number reached 3,736. About 1,600 remained by the late 1970s. Geel now has some 500 boarders and a total population of about 35,000.

Via Medelita, here is more information about how the mentally ill are cared for in Gheel currently:

These days, boarders are considered wards of the local psychiatric hospital, and they have a treatment team that checks in on them and drops off medications when needed. However, there is no care plan or greater goal given to the families that take them in. They are only told to be as normal as possible. Families are unaware of the patient’s diagnosis, only knowing what the patient chooses to tell them, and often times, families are not trained in any way other than what they’ve learned from relatives, other townspeople, or past experiences. Despite the lack of a treatment plan, boarders are given the security and stability of being accepted by a whole community, as well as family and doctors, which some say has a healing effect. People living in Geel simply do not look at mental illness in the same way that most societies do, and mental illness is regarded with zero stigma attached.

Compassionate care for the mentally ill seems to work out well for the afflicted and the people of Geel who welcome them and help them. Divine intervention seems a plausible explanation for this.

Below is a prayer to Saint Dymphna, via Our Catholic Prayers:

Good Saint Dymphna, great wonder-worker in every affliction of mind and body, I humbly implore your powerful intercession with Jesus through Mary, the Health of the Sick, in my present need. (Mention it.) Saint Dymphna, martyr of purity, patroness of those who suffer with nervous and mental afflictions, beloved child of Jesus and Mary, pray to Them for me and obtain my request.

(Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be.)

Saint Dymphna, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us.

You can also do a Novena to her, which is a series of prayers lasting nine days. Via Pray More Novenas:

St. Dymphna Novena Prayers

Day 1 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Faith

O God, Source of our salvation, in the midst of a pagan people, Thou didst enlighten St. Dymphna by the light of the true faith, which she professed under the guidance of her holy confessor, Gerebran, with such constance that she suffered martyrdom. Through the intercession of these two saints, we beg Thee to strengthen the faith which Thou hast given us, so that by wisely subjecting our souls to Thy Supreme Authority, and by faithfully conforming our lives according to our faith, we may honor Thee with our whole heart and soul until the hour of our death. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 2 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Hope

Almighty and infinitely good God, Thou hast promised eternal salvation to those who obey Thy commandments and make zealous use of Thy graces. Through the intercession of St. Dymphna, who fled from the danger of sin by leaving the palace of her father, and who, eager to gain eternal salvation, fled to Belgium to live in poverty, we beg Thee to grant that we also, who are striving for eternal happiness, may overcome all obstacles in the way of virtue and may attain eternal salvation. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 3 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Charity

God of love, Thou art the most perfect Being, and Creator of all that is good and beautiful. Through the intercession of St. Dymphna, who in her youth loved Thee above all creatures and for Thy sake loved her neighbor as herself, as the image and likeness of Thee, as the price of the Blood of Jesus and as co-heir of heaven, be pleased to help us by Thy powerful grace, that we may faithfully fulfill the two great commandments of charity not only in word, but in action and in truth. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 4 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Piety

God, Our Creator and Supreme Master, St. Dymphna served Thee with great zeal even in her childhood, by hearing Thy word with delight, by assisting at Holy Mass with fervent reverence, and by receiving Holy Communion from the hand of St. Gerebran with tender devotion. Through her intercession we beg Thee to grant us the same virtue of piety so that, having honored Thee during this life as our Creator, we may possess Thee hereafter as our final reward. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 5 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Prudence

O God, ruler of the universe, Thou didst allow St. Dymphna to discover a helpful means of avoiding the evil intentions of her father. Through the merits of Thy holy servant, be pleased to grant that we may become, according to the words of Jesus, simple as doves and wise as serpents, so that through prudent advice and sound judgment we may recognize what we must do to achieve the great work of our salvation. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 6 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Justice

O God, source of eternal justice, Thou didst inspire St. Dymphna to flee from her country and her father in order to render to Thee that which was Thine. Through her intercession we beg Thee to make us seek after justice so that we may perform our duties toward Thee as we ought. Though Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 7 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Fortitude

O God, rewarder of those who remain firm in their good resolutions, Thou gavest St. Dymphna such a love of virtue that she had the courage to suffer privation, persecution, and even martyrdom. Through her prayers we beg Thee to grant us fortitude that we may courageously and perseveringly overcome ourselves and finally conquer the enemy of our salvation. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 8 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Temperance

O God, You made St. Dymphna resplendent in the virtue of temperance so that she mastered sensual inclinations and used temporal goods prudently. With temperance she combined the beautiful virtues of modesty, docility and humility. Let us not forget that humility is called the foundation of all virtue because it banishes from the soul pride, the obstacle to grace. Through the intercession of St. Dymphna, we beg Thee to guide and direct us, so that being preserved from evil and nervous disorders, we may obey till death the commandments and counsels Thou hast given us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 9 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Chastity

O God, lover of innocent souls, Thou gavest St. Dymphna the virtue of angelic purity which made her reserved in all her actions, modest in her dress, attentive in her conversation, upright in her character, so that she even shed her blood to preserve this precious virtue. Through the intercession of St. Dymphna, we beg thee to bestow upon us the virtue of chastity that we may enjoy peace of conscience in this life and pure eternal joys of heaven hereafter. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Please remember those suffering from mental illnesses in your prayers and try to have compassion for them in your hearts.

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

Happy Friday! Here are some oddball things I came across, submitted for your enjoyment…

It is “spring” here in New York’s Scenic Hudson Valley, but The Winter That Will Not Die rained ice chips on me while I walked the dogs yesterday and there are still mounds of unmelted snow along side driveways and parking lots in the neighborhood, but I don’t think I have much to complain about because at least we are not buried in tumbleweeds like they are in Victorville, California:

High winds have left a California desert town buried in tumbleweeds. Residents of Victorville, which is northeast of Los Angeles were shocked when hundreds of tumbleweeds blew into their town, burying everything in their wake, including 150 homes. There were so many weeds that they reached the second story of some of the houses.

Video captured and posted to YouTube showed massive piles of the weeds blowing through the town, completely covering some homes as clean-up crews worked to remove the tumbleweed.   MORE

H/T iOTWReport.com

When I saw a headline earlier this week about how some human beings have a genetic mutation that allows them to remain underwater for longer than most people, I expected I’d find out that they’d grown gills, but it turns out that they have special spleens. Via National Geographic:

If you hold your breath and plunge your face into a tub of water, your body automatically triggers what’s called the diving response. Your heart rate slows, your blood vessels constrict, and your spleen contracts, all reactions that help you save energy when you’re low on oxygen.

Most people can hold their breath underwater for a few seconds, some for a few minutes. But a group of people called the Bajau takes free diving to the extreme, staying underwater for as long as 13 minutes at depths of around 200 feet. These nomadic people live in waters winding through the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, where they dive to hunt for fish or search for natural elements that can be used in crafts.

Now, a study in the journal Cell offers the first clues that a DNA mutation for larger spleens gives the Bajau a genetic advantage for life in the deep.  READ MORE

H/T: Instapundit

Two cops were having a rough time trying to arrest a couple of miscreants who were violently resisting. One cop was knocked unconscious, when a female off duty medical assistant came to the rescue with a BODY SLAM to one of the thugs (also a female) who was attacking the cops. The bystander turned heroine then held the crook in place until the downed officer was back up and the cops could finish  the arrest. Via FoxNews:

Officer Brian Lowenhagen and Sgt. Eric Walters were attempting to arrest the suspect, later identified as 21-year-old Jacob R. Hellenbrand, outside of a convenience store on Sunday when a woman who was with him punched Loewenhagen “numerous times,” according to the police department.

As Sgt. Walters attempted to restrain the woman, identified as 21-year-old Olivia J. Boomsma, the “male was able to blade his body toward Sgt. Walters and forcefully kick Sgt. Walters on the right side of his face and head,” according to the police department.

Around that same time, an off-duty medical assistant who had stopped in the convenience store on her way home came to the rescue.

Divine Savior Hospital employee Vanessa Guerra ran toward the officers after she noticed Walters had fallen unconscious. As she was checking on him, the “female suspect was beginning to fight with Officer Loewenhagen again and was yelling about having a knife in her pocket,” police said.

That’s when Guerra “disregarded her own safety to help protect the officers,” the police department explained. She “body-slammed” Boomsma against a wall and “held her there until Sgt. Walters resumed consciousness and was able to handcuff the female,” the station added.

“I’m in the medical profession. When you get into that mode, you’re there for your patients, you’re there for the person that you see in need. And that’s what you do,” the medical assistant later told WKOW.

Portage Police Chief Manthey of the Portage Police Department thanked Guerra for her bravery, WKOW reported. RTWT

Dogs. They really do make everything better! Via SunnySkyz:

A group of Border Collies are having the time of their lives and they don’t even realize how much they are helping the planet.

Last year, wildfires in central Chile destroyed over a million acres of forest land.

Months later, a unique team was brought in to help restore the damaged ecosystem.

A border collie named Das and her two daughters,Olivia and Summer, have been fitted with special backpacks that allow them to distribute native plant seeds throughout burned forests.

Although the task is a serious one, it’s an excuse for the dogs to have fun.

“They reeeeeally love [it]!!” their owner, Francisca Torres, told Mother Nature Network. “It’s a country trip, where they can run as fast as they can and have a great time.”

Depending on the terrain, the four-legged trio can cover as many as 18 miles in a day and distribute more than 20 pounds of seeds.

Credit: Instagram / summerbordercollie via SunnySkyz

Dogs helping to reforest the forest. The longer I live, the longer I come to believe that there is little in this world that cannot be improved with dogs.

Have a nice weekend!

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

The weird egg laying mammal with a duck’s bill on its face may hold the key to the problem of our antibiotics not working well against resistant bacteria and germs. Via Sky News:

A breakthrough by Australian scientists has found that the platypus – which is already a unique creature – is also in possession of fairly unique biochemistry.

Researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Deakin University have discovered a special protein contained in platypus milk.

CSIRO scientist and lead author Dr Janet Newman said: “Platypus are such weird animals that it would make sense for them to have weird biochemistry.

“The platypus belongs to the monotreme family, a small group of mammals that lay eggs and produce milk to feed their young.

“By taking a closer look at their milk, we’ve characterised a new protein that has unique antibacterial properties with the potential to save lives.”

The study, published in Structural Biology Communications, finds that the way platypus mothers feed their young – which unusually for mammals hatch from eggs – has led to the antibacterial properties developing.

Platypus do not have teats, but instead express milk on to their belly where the young suckle it – meaning the milk becomes exposed to an environment where it could be contaminated by local bacteria.

Evolutionary processes have meant that the milk contains a special protein which protects the platypus babies against this bacteria.

Dr Julie Sharp of Deakin University said: “We were interested to examine the protein’s structure and characteristics to find out exactly what part of the protein was doing what.”

They found that the protein contained a unique 3D fold which had never been seen before in the structure of the molecule.

As Instapundit likes to say, “Faster, Please.”

Pic: Laura Romin and Larry Dalton. Via Sky News

Platypus, funny face, savior of the human race? (Apologies to The Doors)

Which will come first, the Zombie Apocalypse, or the Cure from mammals who lay eggs?

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

News of the financial problems at Toys ‘R’ Us had been in my local news long before it became big national news, because we have a store in my area that people were concerned about closing, back when the chain was simply going to shut some stores in an effort to stay in business, before deciding to go out of business altogether as it this week it was declared that it will.

Much like a certain failed U.S. Presidential candidate, Toys ‘R’ Us is blaming its catastrophic failure in every direction except where the blame squarely lies – on itself. It wasn’t killed by Amazon, it wasn’t killed by Target or Walmart, and it wasn’t killed by babies or a lack thereof. Toys ‘R’ Us killed itself, not only by failing to adapt to a changing marketplace but also, and more importantly, by failing to provide adequate customer service which would have garnered it some customer loyalty.

Shopping at a brick and mortar Toys ‘R’ Us store is a miserable and stressful experience. At my local store the place was always in disarray and there was never anyone to help. The checkout lines were always long and the employees were often very clearly unhappy to be there. Nobody wants to shop someplace aggravating if they can avoid it, and lots of people are willing to pay a little bit more someplace else to avoid a hassle. Not to mention that the prices at the Toys ‘R’ Us were really not competitive at all so, for all the frustration that shopping there entails, you weren’t even getting a good deal.

Shopping online at Toys ‘R’ Us, in my experience, was also an exercise in frustration – the search function on their site stinks, there is a long wait to get your item shipped for a fee, and you can’t opt to have your purchase shipped to the store for pickup – something almost every kind of chain store does these days. There is no “app for that” with Toys ‘R’ Us, for people who like that sort of thing, which seems weird to me since there is an app for pretty much everything you can think of so it doesn’t seem like it would have been impossible for them to do even with their money problems.

The reason why Toys ‘R’ Us failed is because they failed the people who could have saved them; they failed their customers, often failing them so egregiously that they turned off many people from ever shopping at Toys ‘R’ Us ever again. Repeat customers can be the lifeblood of a business, but Toys ‘R’ Us had little interest in customer retention over the years or they would have changed their horrid corporate culture long before it became a policy of retail suicide.

For a sampling of the real reasons why Toys ‘R’ Us is a failed business, have a look at some consumer complaints:

Beware of Toys R Us online, I ordered & paid for $105 worth of Cra-Z-Art SoundMoovs arm bands/electronics at Christmas, instead I received a $5 Thomas the train, huh?? After calling they corrected the order and sent me the armbands. Then the emails began, reminding me that I needed to return the armbands? Why would I return something I purchased?? After calling AGAIN, they said I needed to return the Toy Train, via US Post office!!? Pain in the rear, but okay, it’s done right? SURPRISE, they have now charged me AGAIN another $105.00 for the same items I already paid for. They said, so sorry but it will be 10 days before my $105 is refunded. By the way, some of us don’t have an extra $105 dollars laying around to support others mistakes. A customer for 10 years, I’ve spent thousands over that time in their store. Their apology gift to me? $10 off coupon for my next order… Sad, but there won’t be a next order. AMAZON it is…

Don’t ever buy online at Toys R Us! Ever!!! It’s been a month since I purchased 2 games for my son for Christmas and one of them was never shipped! I ordered the games on Thanksgiving. I called to track it and automated system told me it was shipped. I check the tracking number and item was never shipped. It just had a tracking number. I called again to asked for my refund and was promised it would take 48 hours to process for the credit. I called Dec 7, then again Dec 10, Then Dec 12th, then Dec 17, and then Dec 20 and Dec 27 and again today. It’s the 28th of December and I’m still dealing with their lying asses over one month later. Each customer service rep said that they would fix my issue and it doesn’t get fixed. I never received an email that the order was canceled or an email about my credit either. How many more times I would have to call to get my money back for a game that was never shipped?

What a terrible experience!! We were told by really immature store manager that they didn’t match prices when it says it in 8 foot tall letters on front window!!! REALLY immature, acting snarky, rolling eyes and shaking heads, we have grandkids that like this store. Just a shame the company cannot hire friendlier people than this especially since this is a “FAMILY STORE.”

There is MORE, and it indicates a pattern of an utter lack of concern for the customer; and you cannot survive as a retail business if your standard policies serve mainly to step on and piss off your customers. Toys ‘R’ Us died entirely of self inflicted wounds. Let the demise of Toys ‘R’ Us serve as a cautionary tale about how not to have a strong and loyal customer base.

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

Here in New York’s Scenic Hudson Valley, we are still digging out from two big Nor’easter storms that we’ve gotten in the past week. There are huge piles of snow and big broken tree branches all around my property, but my family was thankfully spared from the power outages that hit this area hard and our little house is still standing. Unfortunately, I’m on my second week with a nasty upper respiratory infection that my kids have caught as well so no sledding or snowman building for us. My dogs, however, had a grand old time jumping around their frozen play yard, so there’s that.

I recently learned that hot toddies can be made with pineapple juice and rum. Not for the kids, of course, although it would have been acceptable for previous generations, and while it did not really much help my symptoms but it did help me care a little bit less about them for a little while. You can make the toddies with any kind of juice, apparently, and whatever spirit you prefer as well – the key ingredients besides the booze and juice are honey and cinnamon. Heat the juice, add the other stuff, stir, and enjoy!

My mom used to make hot toddies with orange juice and whiskey before I developed a food allergy to oranges, but they are traditionally made with tea. Here is a link to a recipe for that: Dr. Pat’s Hot Toddy Cold Remedy

I’m going to have to cut this post short as there are coughing children who need my attention (so no toddies for me). I hope you are all safe and warm and well. I’ve got over the counter cold medicines, Vick’s Vapor Rub, and chicken soup to try to get us through our winter sicknesses but I am open to suggestions. If you’ve got a favorite home remedy or winter comfort food, please share in the comments section.

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

The Boss is at CPAC, along with Stacy McCain, so be sure to scroll around the homepage here for exciting posts and videos, and of course you will also find some great posts from the other fabulous writers here too!

It is good to be back here at Da Tech Guy Blog and it is even better that Peter got his blog back online after GoDaddy shut him down (BTW, Peter could use some help moving this site to a better server so please hit his tip jar if you can).

There has been a whole lot of shutting down of right leaning people online lately, from the Twitter shadow bans and purges to the even longer running shenanigans from Facebook, to the creepy Google antics , and now Medium’s joining the ban the right bandwagon (banned wagon?), and again this year CPAC shut out Pamela Geller at the last minute because her panel on Free Speech was to include Jim Hoft of The Gateway Pundit. To add insult to injury, CPAC then stole Pamela’s work, claimed it for their own, and ran their version of a “Free Speech” panel, after banning some of the biggest advocates for the freedom of speech that we have.

Image from The Geller Report

Robert Spencer has a lot to say about this disgusting turn of events (and the years of hostility from CPAC to people who tell the truth about islamic supremacism and the jihad threat):

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has never been much interested in hosting honest discussion of the jihad terror threat. I was on a panel there in 2003, and in 2007 debated both Dinesh d’Souza and “moderator” Suhail Khan on Islam and the jihad threat (partial video here). I was on various AFDI panels while we were still able to have them there, but I haven’t been back since Suhail Khan flew into a hysterical rage at CPAC 2012 when I challenged him to debate, except for an appearance on Breitbart’s “Uninvited” panel in 2013.

Not only has CPAC consistently dissembled about the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat, but it has also shown a disturbing tendency to dance to the tune of the Left. Saul Alinsky’s 13th Rule for Radicals is “‘Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.” The Left consistently does this; in the case of counter-jihadis (including me), it presents our statements, however correct and demonstrable, as egregious and individual to us — that’s freezing and personalizing the target. Then Leftists move to “cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy,” demanding that others on the Right disavow and condemn, or at very least shun, the target. And establishment conservatives have always willingly played along, allowing their associations and allies to be dictated by their enemies.

I’ve been the recipient of both the Alinsky treatment and the shunning from caitiffs on the Right, including CPAC, for years, but I’ve never seen a more nauseating example of CPAC’s cravenness, cowardliness and dishonesty than what has played out with my colleague Pamela Geller over the last ten days. Since last September, Geller has been trying to get a room at CPAC for an AFDI event, even offering to pay sponsorship fees, which are pricey, since sponsoring organizations are given a room in which they can hold an event. CPAC stonewalled and ran out the clock. Finally on February 14, she submitted a proposal for a panel discussion entitled “Suppression of Conservative Views on Social Media: A First Amendment Issue.” She added a list of proposed speakers, including James Damore, Google whistleblower; Harmeet K. Dhillon, renowned free speech attorney; Dan Gainor, Vice President for Business and Culture, Media Research Center; Jim Hoft, Editor-in-Chief, Gateway Pundit; James O’Keefe, Project Veritas; and Marlene Jaeckel, Tech Entrepreneur. I know this because I consulted with Pamela Geller at the time about the focus of this panel and who the speakers should be, before she submitted this proposal to CPAC.

CPAC’s Dan Schneider and Matt Schlapp approved this panel, but would not let it be an AFDI event. Schneider and Schlapp insisted that the panel be sponsored by the American Principles Project (APP), which neither Geller nor I had ever heard of. Otherwise, however, they made no changes — until shortly thereafter, when Hoft enraged the Leftist establishment by noting what has been likewise observed by many people — that the pro-gun control students speaking out in the wake of the Florida school shooting appeared coached. As condemnations rained down on Hoft from the likes of Chelsea Clinton and Paul Krugman, CPAC again rushed to do the Left’s bidding. APP top dog Terry Schilling, a board member of the American Conservative Union (ACU), which hosts CPAC, demanded that Hoft be dropped from the panel. Geller refused to play lapdog for the Left, and so Schilling and CPAC canceled the panel.

And then they stole it.

Today at CPAC there is a panel entitled “Suppression of Conservative Views on Social Media: A First Amendment Issue” and featuring Damore, Dhillon, Gainor, O’Keefe, and Jaeckel. Hmmm, where did they get the idea for such an event? CPAC claims that it was all their idea. CPAC officials issued CPAC staffers talking points on various issues, so that they would march in lockstep in the media (very conservative, that). One of these talking points stated: “CPAC sponsor APP is hosting a panel discussion on conservative voices being silenced on the internet. APP invited Pamela Geller to participate on the panel. She initially accepted but she then made her participation contingent on APP including another person who was obviously a poor choice. Pamela is actively promoting a version of events that are intentionally inaccurate designed to mislead and mischaracterize the construction of this presentation. She is no longer a participant, her claims that the panel is cancelled are false and the panel will move forward as intended.”

This is, to put it politely, a pack of lies. APP did not originate this panel. It did not invite Geller to participate. She did not make her participation contingent on anyone else being included. She is not promoting a false version of event; they are. In reality, Geller originated the panel. APP was added on by CPAC. Hoft was on the panel from the beginning, with CPAC’s agreement. When CPAC insisted that Hoft be dropped because the Left was angry with him, Geller refused, whereupon CPAC canceled the panel. I know all this because I have been involved with this imbroglio at every step of the way.  (MORE)

CPAC may still be a big opportunity for conservatives to meet with like minded people and to hear speeches from important leaders on the right, and for bloggers to snag great interviews, but it is becoming increasingly tainted by its hostility to the counterjihad movement, to Trump supporters, and its habitual folding to the whims of leftism and leftism’s enablers who claim to be on the right. Remember, even our current (and fantastic) President refused to play their game just two years ago.

It might not seem like a big deal to some people, the way Pamela Geller and others who fight for free speech and freedom from islamic totalitarianism tyranny get jerked around by CPAC, but as more organizations are shutting down access for right minded people to get their messages out to the public, we need to realize that an attack on one of us is an attack on us all. Whoever the left unjustifiably howls about next is likely to be the next to be shut out by the establishment right. It is getting harder to hear voices of those who need to be heard the most. The voices we need to hear the most are always the ones that will be silenced first, so that you will never hear the warnings they tried to give you until it is too late.

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

A lady was sitting in a traffic jam with her dog, Sherman, in the car with her. Sherman, a beautiful 230 pound English Mastiff, is not just a beloved family pet, he is also a therapy dog who visits people in senior communities, home-bound people, and people with other special needs to help to lift their spirits and brighten their days. Sherman’s people mom, Sherry McAllister, uses her vehicle to take Sherman to his jobs and has her cell phone number posted to the outsides of her car advertising their services. So there are Sherry and Sherman sitting in their ride, not going anywhere or doing anything when her phone rings, and as they say in the clickbait ads, what happened next is amazing…

SunnySkyz:

“We were stuck in a huge traffic jam for about 15 minutes, without moving, when my phone rang. Since we obviously weren’t going anywhere, I answered. On the other end of the phone was a soft-spoken man who introduced himself as, Andy.”

“He explained he was a few cars back from us, and saw Sherman stick his big ol’ head out the window, so he called the number on our decal (we have a huge decal on three sides of the suburban with a picture of Sherman’s head, his name, and our contact number). He told us he had just returned home after a 3+ month stay in a nursing home facility. He was recovering from the most recent of multiple back surgeries.”

“It’s because of this stay in the nursing home and his failing health that he had to rehome his large breed dog. He is, sadly, unable to care for him any longer. This decision clearly broke his heart, as we could hear him choking up as he spoke. He asked if we could meet up sometime, so he could just pet Sherman. Of course, we told him we would love to set a time to meet up with him. He thanked us and we said our goodbyes, with a promise to set something up in the next few days.

As we sat there in traffic, I couldn’t get Andy’s sad voice out of my head. We decided to call him back and ask if he would like to turn off into the Wal-Mart parking lot to say, ‘Hello’ to Sherman real quick. We could hear his voice cracking over the phone when he said, ‘Yes!’.”

So, they met in the nearby parking lot, where Sherry invited Andy to meet Sherman and spend some time with him, which he did, and Sherman immediately went about giving Andy exactly what he needed:

Sherman the Therapy Dog photo from SunnySkyz

MORE at SunnySkyz HERE

Sherman has a Facebook page, HERE.

People can be so miserable sitting in traffic, it is the sort of thing that can bring out some of our worst personality quirks, it’s nice to see something GOOD come out of one! As Jerry Wilson wrote right here at Da Tech Guy Blog just yesterday, sometimes God puts us exactly where we are needed at exactly the right time. I believe this truly in my heart and I think the above story is a fine example of such divine placement (as is Jerry’s story, which you should check out if you haven’t already).

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

Life is better with dogs. I should know, since I have a whole family of six of them living with me and my husband, kids, and cats! Here are a few tales of heroic dogs to brighten your weekend…

It was 4:30 am when a sleeping couple was awakened by their two dogs recently. The dogs were tugging on them and nudging them and insisting on being taken out, which was not something these dogs typically did in the wee hours. These dogs had something important to show their humans, and thank God that their humans eventually complied! Via SunnySkyz:

Meet Adam and Eva, two labradoodles who are being credited with saving the life of a lost elderly woman.

dogs save woman from freezing to death
Credit: J. Scott Park

The dogs woke their owners up at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday. They continuously tugged on their owner’s sleeve, insisting to be let outside.

“(Adam) never tugged on my clothes before, so I was a cautious about letting them out because I didn’t know if there was anything out there,” Lonnie Chester said.

Before Lonnie could open the door all the way, Adam and Eva squeezed past and bolted to his truck outside. Next to it was an elderly woman in her late 80s on the ground, freezing with nothing on but a night gown.

dogs save woman from freezing to death
Credit: J. Scott Park

“She looked up at me and said, ‘I’m so cold,'” Lonnie said. “I have no idea how long she had been out there. She must have been terrified.”

The temperature around the time was about 9 degrees in Norvell Township, Michigan.

Shortly after rescue crews arrived, the woman’s family came to the house and asked if they had found their lost loved one. The family was looking for her but did not see her as she was lying in the snow in the near total darkness.

The rest of the story and see related video HERE

Talk about courage under fire! Meet Chips the Husky/Shepard Mix who has been posthumously awarded for his extraordinary bravery in World War II:

NY Post

He was a very good boy.

A hero US Army dog who ran nose-first into a machine gun fire in World War II and took out a shooter by the throat was recognized with Britain’s highest honor for animal bravery Monday.

Westchester County pooch Chips, a German shepherd-husky cross, was awarded the Dickin Medal for his courageous actions during the appropriately titled Operation Husky.

“It has taken over seven decades, but Chips can now finally take his place in the history books as one of the most heroic dogs to serve with the US Army,” said Jan McLoughlin, director general of the the UK’s People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, which created the award in 1943.

Chips was just a regular family pet living with the Wren family in Pleasantville when the Army asked civilians to donate their dogs to the war effort. Some 40,000 patriotic pooches were signed up, but only 10,000 made the cut — including Chips.

Upon landing at the beach in Sicily in 1943, Chips’ platoon immediately came under fire — and the courageous canine broke free of his leash and ran into an enemy machine-gun nest.

“There was an awful lot of noise and the firing stopped. Then I saw one soldier come out of the door with Chips at his throat. I called him off before he could kill the man,” his handler, Pvt. John Rowell, later recalled — adding that three other Italian soldiers then emerged with their hands over their heads.

He suffered some injuries in the melee, but sniffed out another 10 enemy combatants later that day — leading to their surrender, according to the Washington Post.

Chips survived his three and a half years in the war, and was able to return home to Pleasantville to live out his days as a war hero.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart for his efforts, but they were later rescinded because they’re not actually meant for dogs. MORE HERE

I had a hero dog, her name was Maggie and she was a Golden Retriever who had been abused before animal rescuers saved her and put her up for adoption and she was brought home by my dad. Maggie was here with me seventeen years ago today when my father died. They are both on my mind today. Maggie always had a sadness about her after we lost my dad, but she was the sweetest friend you could ever hope for. A few years after my dad died, while I was very pregnant with my first child, I had somehow ended up asleep on my back and I developed a bad nosebleed (I had a lot of nosebleeds during that pregnancy, but if I was awake it wasn’t a big deal). I only became aware of it because Maggie kept nudging me and licking me until I woke up, choking on blood. I believe Maggie knew something was wrong and I think she spared my baby and I from what could have become a dangerous situation! After my daughter was born, Maggie always stood guard over her bassinet in my room, and did the same when my son was born a few years later. She was a gentle companion for my young children and one of the best friends I ever had. She died some years ago of old age, but she lives forever in the hearts of everyone who knew her.

I have had a lot of special dogs over the years, including my dog Oreo, who once got between me and a neighbor’s vicious dog who had gotten out and came after me. That other dog was twice Oreo’s size but my dog got all up in that other dog’s face barking his “big dog” bark until the other dog finally forgot about wanting to get me, backed off, and went back home. Oreo also once stared down a humongous coywolf who was in a neighbor’s yard while I was out walking him. Again, Oreo put himself in front of me and between myself and something that maybe could have hurt me. Oreo is not exactly a smart dog; he often gets into all kinds of ridiculous mischief, but my memories of his bravery will almost always get him out of trouble for whatever he has just chewed up or peed on.

Thank God for dogs! If you have a special dog story you want to share, I would love to read it below in the comments section!

Oreo, my brave dog

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

Aren’t leftists the ones always howling about how people to the right of them are “anti-science”? Then how is it that a simple statement about human DNA which is scientifically true caused a man to lose his livelihood? If you guessed that he must have said something about how humans are created as male or female due to biology (and not as a “social construct”), you win.

It all starts on stupid Facebook, where people were commenting about how a male rap celebrity declined to receive a kiss from a male who identifies as female. The rapper, Ginuwine, got himself labelled as “transphobic” for his “hatecrime” of turning down a kiss from someone he is not attracted to. No “#metoo” for him. No defense for refusing advances made by members of a preferred demographic; submit or be destroyed is the rule these days! And no defense for anyone who says otherwise, either!

Enter Will Caligan, disabled war veteran, who committed the terrible thought crime of saying that if you were born male then you are male and that you can’t change DNA. He said this on Facebook. The horror! Predictably, the OUTRAGE!!!! did not take long to erupt along with the demands that he lose his job and be driven from polite society. Of course the mob got its way:

Will Caligan is a Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran who was an Airborne Counterintelligence Agent who attained the rank of Specialist. He recently lost his job as a comic book creator because of his conservative beliefs.

Caligan decided to express his opinion about a trending news topic. Rapper Ginuwine refused to kiss a transgender person. He commented on his friend’s Facebook wall about his beliefs on the subject.

Caligan told us, “The only thing I put was that DNA was science and of God. That a person could not change their sex no matter what they did. It is a natural construct. In total the statement was only about three sentences long.” You can see above that pretty much sums up what he said.

Despite Caligan’s views being held by many others, that did not stop a witch hunt against him that ended up causing him to lose his job.

The perpetually offended began a campaign on Facebook to harass Caligan’s employer, a comic book company called Short Fuse Media. Will Caligan, alerted his boss to the issue and was initially told not to worry about it, but then the pressure must have gotten to the Short Fuse people because not long after the initial reassurance, Caligan was not only out of a job but also publicly denounced by the company and had been advised to apologize and henceforth keep his opinions out of public view – for his own good, of course!   Via PJMedia:

Caligan contacted Sean Mack, his boss at Short Fuse Media Group, who seemed to take the whole thing in stride at first, writing in a communication, “If it’s not this, it would be for something else. Don’t stress over it. I’m good and we’re dealing with it head on. I have your back!” He quickly changed his tune with no explanation — presumably after being threatened by rabid SJWs and facing too much pressure by the lynch mob — and cut ties with Caligan. “I’m going to have to put some distance between us until you can change the perception people have of you,” wrote Mack. “I think you can fix this. It’s really up to you. Apologize and keep your comments and beliefs to your inner circle instead of public forums.”

More, via BoundingIntoComics:

You read that right. Will Caligan lost his job with Short Fuse Media Group because comments were deemed offensive. But Will tells us that losing his job wasn’t the worst part.

“Sean told me he was going to cut ties but in his press release he pretty much threw me under the bus. The issue was not getting fired. I think he has a right to work with whom ever he wants but what he doesn’t have the right to do is slander my name and throw me under the bus to do it. If his press release would have just said “We are cutting ties with Alpha Dog Studios” then I probably would have just let it go but that isn’t what he did. You can read the press release. He attacks me in it.”

And that’s exactly what the press release does. It attacks Will. But what’s even more ironic is that in the same press release where they are severing ties with Will for expressing his beliefs, the Short Fuse Media Group claims to “support and respect all PEOPLE from ALL walks of life.” Apparently, they don’t really believe that.

So there you have it: if you think that biology determines gender for human beings, you had better keep it to yourself if you do not want to be publicly denounced and hounded out of your job because you are apparently just like Hitler or something, and if you are a heterosexual male and a male who identifies as female wishes to be physically affectionate with you, you had better comply or you are also just like Hitler or something. This is the lunatic age we live in, until people stop fearing the leftist thought police mob, anyway.

If you are sympathetic to Will Caligan, you can offer him some words of encouragement HERE, but be aware that doing so will likely out you as being just like Hitler or something (it’s to his post on Facebook about the situation).

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

A woman found a Monarch butterfly who was born with a torn wing and would be unable to fly and live out his little butterfly life, so she decided to try to save him with surgery! Via Sunny Skyz:

Romy McCloskey has a good reason to cherish butterflies more than most people. Before her mother passed away, she said, “Romy, don’t worry. Whenever you see butterflies, just know it’s me checking in on you to let you know I’m OK, and that I love you.”

So when Romy found a Monarch butterfly with an injured wing, she took it upon herself to save its life by turning her home office into an insect operating room.

Romy took to Facebook to share the story.

The patient: this 3-day-old little boy was born with torn upper and lower wings. Let’s see how we can help!

woman performs surgery on butterfly
Romy McCloskey

The operating room. Towel, scissors, tweezers, talc, contact cement, toothpick and my sweet girl who died earlier last week (for wings.)

woman performs surgery on butterfly
Romy McCloskey

Securing the little guy down with the bent hanger, as I cut away the damaged pieces. Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt. It’s like trimming hair or nails.

woman performs surgery on butterfly
Romy McCloskey

The damaged pieces of wings.

woman performs surgery on butterfly
Romy McCloskey

Ta-da! He’s finished! You can see that the black lines in is upper right wing don’t match up 100%.

woman performs surgery on butterfly

Click HERE to see how the story ends! 

If my daughter sees this post, I would not be surprised if she wanted to set up a bug surgery clinic somewhere in our house. That girl is always rescuing all kinds of insects, and also spiders.

You can learn more about the King of the Butterflies, the Monarch Butterfly, HERE, and you can read about why these creatures are vitally important and how you can help them at the US Fish and Wildlife Service website, HERE.

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals.