Posts

Timothy Johnson, Small Town Lawyer

As the Crow Flies

Grassland Nesting Birds Are Disappearing!

Story and illustration by Doug Pifer
Eastern meadowlarks used to be common birds in local hayfields, and their songs drifted across the fields in the early summer air. Now they’re on a growing list of field nesting birds — bobwhite quail, vesper sparrow, American kestrel, and red-winged blackbird — whose numbers have seriously dropped. Now you can drive though the countryside and never see any
of them!
In 2015 the Potomac Valley Audubon Society (PVAS) launched its Grassland Birds Initiative. The first property to enroll was Claymont Farm. As of this month, a total of nine properties in the Potomac Valley participate, according to PVAS executive director Kristin Alexander.
Last summer, I enrolled our two hayfields as designated grassland bird habitat. My wife and I have been managing our property for wildlife since we bought the place in 2016. Until recently, I believed we were encouraging grassland birds by allowing natural vegetation to grow in our fencerows and rock breaks, and mowing only once a year, late in the season. Since enrolling in the Grassland Birds Initiative, I’ve learned this isn’t enough. In fact, studies show that long fence lines of trees, shrubs and vegetation that separate and constrict open fields offer predators like feral cats and red foxes easier access to any birds living in the fields, hampering their nesting success and adding to the problem.
Better strategies include allowing certain parts of a field to go un-mowed for more than one year instead of cutting the whole field. PVAS cites a large field in the Steamboat Run area near Shepherdstown as a prime example. They cut some of their hayfields only once a year on a rotating basis, while leaving others uncut for a couple of years. Birds nesting there have increased to levels that were never seen when they mowed everything yearly.
Farmers used to allow their fencerows to grow up, and would let certain fields lay fallow for a year or two to “rest the soil” and allow nitrogen to build up. Today’s more intensive agriculture requires all the land to be used. This means maintaining “clean” fencerows and applying additional chemical fertilizer to make up for the depleted elements in the soil. This also means added expense.
A better conservation practice, and one farmers are now starting to adopt, is to sow warm season grasses in fields that would formerly be allowed to grow up or lay fallow. Native grasses like big bluestem, Indian grass, fowl manna grass, switchgrass, muhly grass, and Eastern gamma grass can be cut for hay. But, unlike annual cool season forage grasses, they develop perennial hummocks of vegetation that offer grassland birds year-round protection: hiding places in winter, summer nesting places, and autumn food in the form of seed.
Results of these programs show an increase in field nesting birds and other wildlife. Fields planted in native warm season grasses attract more beneficial insects, such as bees, butterflies, and dragonflies. Turtles, non-poisonous snakes, toads, and frogs also find more food and places to hide in such fields.
I’m encouraging my neighbors to join us in creating more grassland wildlife habitat. You can improve your own backyard, even if it’s under an acre. Maybe you’re tired of weekly mowing — or of paying somebody else to do it. Instead, you could transform it into a beautiful, more bird-friendly place. Contact the Potomac Valley Audubon Society at www.potomacaudubon.org to learn more about the Grassland Birds Initiative and about Habitat Certification for smaller properties, a new program they launched
this spring.

Seamstresses, Blacksmiths, and Good Ole Times

Clarke County Historical Association to present
3rd Annual Colonial Kids Day July 21
 
 
The Clarke County Historical Association is pleased to present the third annual Colonial Kids Day at the Burwell-Morgan Mill in Millwood on Saturday, July 21 from 10am to 4pm. Kids are invited to learn how daily life was lived in the colonial era. The day will include a wide range of hands-on activities such as scavenger hunts, craft making and more.
Kids can learn about blacksmithing, seamstressing, and watch colonial reenactors set up camp. The demonstrations will transport them back into time where cell phones, computers, laptops, tablets and many more technological advancements did not exist. They will play fun interactive games that require the finest hand-eye coordination.
Participants can watch a seamstress make the most
intricate patterns and beautiful gowns, and a blacksmith who takes pride in his work and shows it off as if every piece he makes is his best. The reenactors will show how soldiers dressed, felt, and fought  in the hardest of times.
Colonial Kids Day, sponsored by the Locke Store, is an informative day where kids get to have fun and learn a little along the way. Tickets are $5 per child and can be purchased at the door or
online at clarkehistory.org/events.  For more information, call 540-955-2600 or email
director@clarkehistory.org.
About Clarke County Historical Association: Founded in 1939, the Clarke County Historical Association (CCHA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to preserving the history of Clarke County. Their offices are located in the historic Coiner House at 32 E. Main Street in Berryville. The CCHA’s mission is to help preserve the historical resources and records of Clarke County and to foster their use, understanding, and enjoyment through stewardship and education.
Also located in the Coiner House is a museum, genealogy research library, and an extensive archive of historical material relating to Clarke County and the northern
Shenandoah Valley.
CCHA also owns the Burwell-Morgan Mill, a fully operational 18th century grist mill located in nearby Millwood.  Their volunteer millers grind a variety of grains as well as give tours of this historic site every Saturday from May through November.

Lead Toxicity Remains A Problem For Raptors 

by the Wildlife Center of Virginia
Lead is a soft, pliable, elemental metal that is found in naturally occurring deposits around the world. While it has been used for centuries for many purposes, the highly toxic properties of lead have become well-known over the last 100 years through the issues of food contamination in cans sealed with lead solder, the toxic effects of lead-based paints and glazes, the polluting effects of leaded gasoline, the presence of lead in drinking water which passes through pipes connected with lead solder, and, more recently, the toxic effects of lead ingested by wildlife.
In wildlife, lead is most toxic when consumed by an animal, as opposed to lead bullets or shot simply lodging in muscle tissue. Exposure to digestive fluids and stomach acids breaks down the lead, allowing it to be absorbed into the blood stream and distributed to internal organs, the nervous system, the respiratory system, and the renal system. Lead may also leach from lead fragments lodged in joints and in bone marrow.
In 1991, the public became very concerned that nearly four million waterfowl in North America were dying from lead poisoning each year. Ducks and geese were ingesting bits of lead they found while filter feeding on the bottoms of
wetlands, marshes, shallow estuaries, or other bodies of water. The lead fragments the birds ingested were mainly shotgun pellets that had missed their primary target and rained down over the water.
The birds would deliberately pick up this shot and swallow it, thinking it to be food or grit they need for digestion. After years of debate, the federal government finally enacted a ban on the use of lead shot for most waterfowl hunting. The use of lead and lead-based projectiles for hunting of so-called upland species of game and nuisance wildlife has remained legal, presumably on the logic that spent shot which falls upon the land is very unlikely to be found and ingested by wildlife.
However, overwhelming scientific evidence now confirms that lead fired at upland game and nuisance animals is also finding its way into non-target wildlife, but mainly from lead projectiles that actually hit their intended targets. This lead is being ingested by eagles, raptors, scavengers, and non-target species when they prey upon wounded animals that have been shot, or scavenge the remains and entrails of animals that have been shot and left in the field.
While this once unrecognized toxic threat has existed for many decades, there is a dramatically increased awareness of the problem because new technologies and increased surveillance have enabled lead poisoning cases to be more readily identified. Also, the successful recovery and rapid expansion of once-endangered populations of species like Bald Eagles, whose historic habitat is greatly diminished, are forcing the birds to move into sub-optimal habitats where preferred food sources are not readily available.
As they move farther away from major bodies of water, like tidal rivers and bays, and are no longer able to find adequate supplies of fish for their normal diet, birds like Bald Eagles resort to scavenging as a primary foraging practice. Especially during and after the hunting season, animals and animal parts that are left in the field become a main food supply. As a result, often tiny fragments of the lead-based ammunition that remain in these dead animals and animal parts are available to be consumed by Bald Eagles and other
scavengers.
Between 2011 and 2017, the Wildlife Center of Virginia admitted 275 Bald Eagles, with 55 eagles being admitted in 2017 alone. The majority of these eagles came from the eastern third of Virginia, the Tidewater and Piedmont regions. More than two-thirds of the eagles admitted were suffering from measurable lead intoxication, to varying degrees.
Of the 55 birds admitted in 2017, approximately 35 percent had clinically observable indications of lead intoxication, including a general listlessness, inability to maintain balance, refusal to eat, overall weakness, and lack of muscle coordination. In severe cases, lead intoxication can cause a head tilt, blindness, convulsions, and eventually death. In such cases, treatment options are very limited and seldom successful.
Another 35 percent of the eagles admitted in 2017 were found to have elevated but less critical levels of lead in their blood, indicating some degree of intoxication, though the noticeable effects were less obvious. With “sub-clinical” levels of lead in their bloodstream, eagles may appear normal but still suffer damaging effects of the toxicosis. The birds may be able to fly, but with less agility. They may be able to see, but with less precision. They may be able to feed themselves, but not capture live prey. Their reaction time and reflexes may be slowed. Such sub-clinical intoxication is the functional equivalent of driving drunk; the birds are more likely to suffer accidents or injuries that would otherwise be avoidable.
As in waterfowl, the source of the toxin in eagles is lead shot and bullet fragments that were ingested by the birds as they feed. Frequently, diagnostic radiographs of the eagles show actual lead shot or bullet fragments still in a bird’s digestive tract. In some cases, the lead can be surgically removed, but not always. Even if the actual projectile has passed out the digestive tract and no longer remains in the body, dangerous amounts of dissolved lead can still be circulating in the blood or stored in the bones, brain, or internal organs of the body. No level of lead in the body is considered “safe.”
Compounding the threat is that, unlike organic toxins, lead is a heavy metal; an eagle’s internal organs are not able to easily purge the lead in the bird’s bloodstream. Once the lead enters the body, it remains virtually forever, accumulating in the bones of the bird and continuing to have permanent negative impacts. If the bird is exposed to additional lead in its diet, the amount of the toxin will accumulate and increase over time, eventually affecting the bird’s ability to survive. The cumulative impacts can last for years, and can only get worse over time.
For many people who don’t like hunting, this seems like an easy answer; but the truth is, it’s not that easy.  Hunting is not as popular as it once was in the United States, as a greater percentage of our population has gravitated to urban and suburban locations, but it is still an extremely popular pastime in the United States.  In some states, like Virginia, hunting and fishing are rights guaranteed in the state constitution.  And, to some extent, a hunting ban would be like banning driving as a way to reduce traffic accidents—not a proportional response.  In truth, many of the leaders of the movement to eliminate lead from hunting ammunition are themselves, hunters.  They are often the most effective messengers for information about lead toxicity.  Conversely, someone who openly opposes all hunting is NOT the right person to try and educate or inform the hunting public about this issue.  It may make you feel good to rant about hunters and declare, “Just shoot the hunters!” but that is actually extremely counterproductive.  The issue is about the availability of lead to scavengers, not about whether or not hunting is a good thing.
The challenge is not to find a way to ban the use of all lead — it is to find a way to reduce the amount of toxic lead fragments available to non-target wildlife and to do it without unreasonably affecting those whose activities are otherwise legal and acceptable to the public. Most lead-based firearms ammunition is used for national defense and public safety — by the military and police agencies. Target and competitive shooters, and those who own firearms for self-defense, consume the majority of munitions purchased by the private sector. Hunters use only a small percentage of all ammunition sold in the United States each year. A ban on all lead-based ammo would deal a serious blow to national security and public safety, and would hurt a lot of law-abiding firearms users, who are not contributing to the problem of lead-poisoned wildlife!
Thanks to the Wildlife Center of Virginia for this dispatch. The Wildlife Center of Virginia was formed in 1982 to provide quality health care, often on an emergency basis, to native wildlife. For more information, visit www.wildlifecenter.org 

Winter Birds Need Food But Also Good Habitat

As the Crow Flies

Story and artwork by Doug Pifer


An abundance of good bird habitat is a benefit of life in an old farmhouse. While still in bed, we sometimes look out at a couple of house finches or bluebirds drinking runoff melted from the frosted metal roof.  Or we catch the flicker of wings as a yellow-rumped warbler or a Carolina wren perch momentarily, scanning the window frame for dormant spiders or other insects.
This winter morning when I let the dogs out, they scared up a mixed flock of songbirds from the driveway: dark-eyed juncos, white-throated and song sparrows, and house finches. I heard a Carolina wren, a cardinal, and a tufted titmouse singing from one of our mature shade trees.  While walking out to pick up the morning paper, I also noticed chickadees and nuthatches clambering among the lichen-covered limbs of the aging Kentucky coffee tree in the front yard.
Yesterday I saw a downy woodpecker testing various limbs to see which was best for a drum-roll. Sometimes he is joined by a pair of red-bellied woodpeckers. If I’m lucky, I might see a yellow-bellied sapsucker returning to one of the neat rows of sap wells he drilled in the trunk of our big tulip tree.
Last evening I heard the loud “check” call of the mockingbird that roosts in our big forsythia bush and saw him perched on top of it. Down by the creek, we sometimes hear the rattle of a kingfisher, or see the shadow of a great blue heron as it glides over the pasture on the way to one of his favorite fishing holes in the stream adjacent to our place.
Many folks are surprised when I tell them we never put out suet, seed or any type of supplemental food for the birds. My wife and I don’t own any kind of bird feeder other than those we use for our domestic poultry.
We don’t oppose bird feeding. Maintaining a regular source of supplemental food in appropriate feeders is a great way for people to bring birds close enough to observe and enjoy. And if you have kids, I think the educational value far outweighs any downside to artificially feeding wildlife. We don’t feed birds because we don’t have to. Wherever we’ve lived, we’ve encouraged year-round habitat for birds. This includes leaving the stems and seeds of last year’s flower gardens standing, planting trees that have fruits or seeds attractive to birds, and encouraging natural vegetation to flourish along our fence lines.
No place we’ve ever lived would appear in a stylish house and garden magazine or website. But we’ve offered birds, mammals, insects and other wildlife places to feed and hide. Overgrown fences give wildlife a place to evade predators, and they provide nesting, loafing, and denning sites for birds and mammals. We’ve planted native trees and shrubs along our stream as a natural buffer between our fenced pasture and the wetland. This offers wildlife a clean source of water, prevents erosion, and maintains a clean water flow from the nearby spring to our own stream, which flows into Rocky Marsh Run and, after a mile or so, into the Potomac River.
If, like us, you’re lucky enough to live on an old farmstead, wildlife is already there. Your encouragement and care will allow it to flourish.

The Bitter Liberals at Bright Box Theatre in Old Town Winchester

Out + About in Winchester
By Keith Patterson

The excitement in the sold-out room was palpable. The “palp” in the air on this night was about the Bitter Liberals, who, after several successful years performing and recording as a four-piece with two guitars, a fiddle and a percussionist, played their first live show as a five-piece, including a bass player and a drummer on a full kit.
The Bitter Liberals have played at Bright Box Theatre multiple times, and have always drawn a crowd, so it was no real surprise that it was a packed house again. Clearly, for many in the crowd it was their first “Bitter” experience. These new fans quickly caught the buzz — they gobbled up advance tickets and left many Bitter Liberals groupies turned away at the door.
The opening act was a young Japanese solo guitarist, Hiroya Tsukamoto. His music incorporated classic Japanese melodies and textures with strong, Western rhythms and verse/chorus arrangements. He expertly utilized loop stations on both his guitar and vocals to create lush, evocative soundscapes worthy of an ensemble. The full-house was very appreciative and warmed-up for the headliners.
The Bitter Liberals are still co-fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarists Allen Kitselman and Clark Hansbarger. And Gary McGraw remains the ace-in the-hole sideman fiddler. These three players have developed a deep chemistry, and their playing together is a real joy. The new rhythm section, Michael Rohrer on bass and Nick Shrenk on drums, enhanced the nuanced sound of the band and played without a hitch. In fact, the more pronounced rhythms laid out a structure that really showcased the harmonies, melodies and solos of the featured players.
Allen Kitselman is a tone-hound, and when he plays guitar he produces some sweet sounds rooted in rock ‘n roll. Clark Hansbarger has more of a blues sensibility in his playing. And Gary McGraw, the classically trained hillbilly/Mozart fiddle player, generally just tears it up.
The Bitter Liberals mixed some outstanding new material into their strong set of mostly original songs. It is deep, evocative, emotional music. People in the audience laugh and cry as the lyrics and shared experiences hit home through the shimmer and jangle of well-played and inspired rock n’ roll.
This band is always on my radar for a live show and the Bright Box Theatre is a great venue to see them play. You can also get a meal and drinks and the wait staff is helpful and friendly. Never mind the cold, pouring rain outside. It was warm and rocking inside. Stay bitter, my friends!
For more information, visit thebitterliberals.com Join the bitter liberals email list by emailing: gem@garymcgraw.com.

Around Clarke February/March 2018

February

22 Soul-Full Community Meal

Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church, 210 E. Main St. Berryville. All are welcome to partake in the meal provided by St. Luke’s Baptist Church and Zion Baptist Church. Free. 5:15pm. 703-477-8940.

24 Cash Party

Blue Ridge Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company. 131 Retreat Road. Bluemont. Buffet dinner, snacks, beverages, cash prizes from $20 to $1000 and silent auction. $25 per person, all proceeds benefit the company. 6pm. 540-323-0551.

24 CCEF Cornhole  Tournament

291 Grand View Lane. Berryville. First annual event will raise funds for Clarke County Educational Foundation. Teams must pre-register and the rules will be reviewed at the beginning of the tournament. $100 for teams of two. Email
ccefinc.berryville@gmail.com for additional information and registration form, or
call 540-955-6103.

24 Soup and Sandwich Lunch

Boyce Fire Hall. 9 S. Greenway Ave. Boyce. Hosted by the Stepping Stones Community Action Team. Freewill donation at the door for community outreach. 11am. 540-327-2384.

25 Long Branch Speaker Series

Long Branch Historic House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Millwood. Jonathan Noyalas, director of Shenandoah University’s McCormick Civil War Institute, discusses healing the war’s wounds in the Valley. $25 for one event, $80 for four part series. Reserve tickets ahead. 6pm. 540-837-1856.

25 Homeopathy and the Flu

The Sanctuary Wellness Center. 208 N. Buckmarsh St. Berryville. Kathy Miller, RN, CCH, will explore safe and simple methods of managing health and wellness. 2pm. 540-227-0564. www.sanctuaryberryville.com.

March

2 Bluegrass and Barbecue

Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Award-winning original and traditional bluegrass. Barbecue from Jordan Springs Market on sale at 7pm, concert at 8pm. $15 in advance, $20 at door, 12 and younger free. Visit www.barnsofrosehill.org or call 540-955-2004 (12–3 pm Tuesday to Saturday).

3 Ham and Turkey Dinner

Boyce Fire Hall. 9 S. Greenway Ave. Boyce. All you can eat, carryout available. Country and gospel music provided by Heavenly Notes. Benefits White Post United Methodist Church. Freewill donation. 540-327-2384.

3 Conifer Identification: Tips and Tricks

Blandy Experimental Farm. 400 Blandy Farm Lane. Boyce. Mary Olien of Fairfax County Park Authority guides hands-on activities and a walk through the conifer collection. FOSA members $10, nonmembers $15. 540-837-1758.

4 Long Branch Speaker Series

Long Branch Historic House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Millwood. Chuck Downs, Deputy Director of the Pentagon’s East Asia office, will focus on what to expect from Kim Jong Un after the Olympics. $25 for one event, $80 for four part series. Reserve tickets ahead. 6pm. 540-837-1856.

5 Fertility Support Group

The Sanctuary Wellness Center. 208 N. Buckmarsh St. Berryville. Five weeks of Monday classes offer holistic methods of intervention to support fertility. Registration recommended. 5:15–6:45pm. 540-227-0564www.sanctuaryberryville.com.

7 Dervish Concert

Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. World-renowned Irish music paired with storytelling. 8pm. $25 in advance, $35 at door. Visit www.barnsofrosehill.org or call 540-955-2004 (12–3 pmTuesday to Saturday).

11 Sunday Wellness Series: Allergy Season

The Sanctuary Wellness Center. 208 N. Buckmarsh St. Berryville. Registered medical herbalist Geo Giordano teaches simple strategies for improving allergies. 2–4pm. 540-227-0564. www.sanctuaryberryville.com.

17 Crazy Cash Party

John H. Enders Fire Company. 9 S. Buckmarsh St. Berryville. Doors open at 5:30pm, barbecue chicken and beef dinner at 6:30pm, first number drawn at 8pm. $1500 grand prize and only 275 tickets sold at $25 each. To purchase tickets call 540-955-1110 or email travis.sumption@gmail.com.

11 Long Branch Speaker Series

Long Branch Historic House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Millwood. Clarke County’s John Lewis focuses on some of his renowned world photography. $25 for one event, $80 for four part series. Reserve tickets ahead. 6pm. 540-837-1856.

18 Long Branch Speaker Series

Long Branch Historic House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Millwood. Sarah Cohen, creator of Route 11 Potato Chips, presents “So, You Want to Start a Business.” $25 for one event, $80 for four part series. Reserve tickets ahead. 6pm. 540-837-1856.

20 Plants That Eat  Animals Educational Event

Blandy Experimental Farm. 400 Blandy Farm Lane. Boyce. Steve Carroll teaches which plants “eat” animals, how they manage, and the costs and benefits. FOSA members $10, nonmembers $15; member family $20, nonmember family $25. 540-837-1758.

Ongoing

Al-Anon

Tuesdays, 8:15–9:15pm. Grace Episcopal Church. N. Church St. Berryville. For friends and families of alcoholics.  If someone else’s drinking bothers you, please join us. 540-955-1610.

FISH Clothing Bank

Saturdays, 9am–12pm. Old Chapel Road and Route 340 south of Berryville. Also new location at 36 E. Main Street. Berryville. 540-955-1823.

Finding Balance Through Age-old Tradition

The ancient practice of Ayurvedic medicine comes to Berryville
By Geo Giordano, MSc, registered medical herbalist

Ayurveda is the traditional medical practice of India, estimated to be more than 5,000 years old. It teaches that the universe and everything in it is made up of the five elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth.
According to Ayurveda tradition, as humans, we are governed by the laws of nature. When we harmonize with the natural daily and seasonal rhythms, then we maintain balance and health. All illness is seen as living our life “out of balance” with the laws
of nature.
Often called “the sister-science of Yoga,” Ayurveda seeks to bring about and maintain wellness using three pillars of health: diet, lifestyle, and energy management.  Using relevant physical and energetic traits known as the Doshas in the Ayurvedic paradigm, we can offer a balancing regimen to promote our vitality and good health in mind, body and spirit.  Now this ancient wisdom practice is being offered right here in Berryville.
Kimber Hyatt began her interest in Ayurveda in 2012 while completing her yoga teacher training in Austin, Texas. This approach to personalized health fascinated and spoke to her like nothing else had, so, in 2015 she enrolled in the Foundations of Ayurveda program at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts. In 2017 she completed Kripalu’s Ayurvedic Health Counseling program. By June of that year that year she began sharing this wisdom practice in Shepherdstown, W.Va.
Practicing an Ayurvedic lifestyle changed her life in amazing ways. It gave her an understanding of who she is, what makes her this way, and how to live in a way that puts her health in her own hands. One factor of Ayurveda, the one she discusses here, is a daily ritual
of self-care.

Self-care, Self-love

“In our culture, productivity is often valued above all else. How much can we get done in a day, and how efficiently can it be done?” asks Kimber. “The term ‘multi-tasking’ has become the norm, as we see people eating meals while working or texting and putting on makeup while driving a car. Whether we are professionals or caregivers, there is no shortage of things we need to do in a day. In the name of productivity, practices of self-care and activities that bring pleasure often get skipped. But is that really making us more productive? When you skip the tasks that make you feel like your best self, can you put your best foot forward efficiently and effectively as you go about your day?”
A question she asks each of her clients is, “What do you do in your day to take care of yourself?” A seemingly harmless question that often inspires silence, followed by tears. It’s nobody’s fault, really. The repercussions can be barely noticeable at first. Then as the days become weeks, months, and years, we might find ourselves with more health problems than we can handle anymore, wondering from where it all started.
While there are many practices that  bring us back to health, Ayurveda truly shines in preventative medicine. This medicine comes in the form of what you are eating, when you are resting, and the care you give to yourself in order be and to stay healthy. This medicine isn’t taken as a pill. This medicine is about understanding your body’s unique needs, how you feel at your most balanced, and recognizing when something is off center.
“Upon waking, give yourself some time in the early hours. Use that time to nourish your sense organs. Give your eyes something pleasant to look at, before reaching for the screens of our computers, TVs, and phones. Give your ears some quiet time, or listen to the peaceful morning sounds. Sip warm lemon water or herbal tea. Take yourself for a light walk to prepare your body and mind for the day ahead.  Find a routine that works for you and make it your personal ritual. Commit to your ritual every day and watch it transform your life.  Patterns beget patterns, and repetition offers lasting changes,” explains Hyatt.
Join her on March 25, 2018, the first Sunday of spring, from 2–4pm pm to talk more about self-care strategies.  You will learn some traditional Ayurvedic techniques meant to keep your sense organs in healthy working order.  Each guest will receive a sample of a Banyan Botanicals massage oil matched to your Dosha, as you learn Abhyanga, a self-massage with warming oils. The massage will be done on your feet, so wear loose pants and bring warm socks to wear home. Bring a bath towel that you don’t mind getting a little oily.
An Introduction to Ayurveda and AyurYoga workshop takes place Sunday, February 25, 10am until noon.
Both classes will be offered at The Sanctuary Wellness Center, 208 N. Buckmarsh St,
Berryville, VA 22611.
Registration to both or a request for a personalized wellness consultation can be made online at www.Sanctuaryberryville.com  or by calling540-227-0564 or by contacting Kimber Hyatt directly at kimber.barefoothealth@gmail.com.

Medicare And How It Could Be Affected By The New Tax Bill Just in case you were wondering . . .

By Karen Cifala
On a bipartisan view, and no matter what side of the aisle you vote, 65 is still 65 years old, and everyone that is currently on Medicare or who will be registering for Medicare in the next few years (me) should be paying attention to what’s going on with the tax overhaul currently being hotly debated in Washington, D.C.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, (my mom said “what’s the CBO?” — she is so darn cute for 85) the tax bill currently being debated by our congressional leaders would result in a measured increase of the federal deficit over the next decade. Largely unknown, but first enacted by President George H.W. Bush, a law passed in 2010 called PAYGO (pay-as-you-go law), was designed to keep the deficit in check by requiring the administration to reduce spending in many mandatory programs if the law doesn’t also provide offsetting revenue. Among the programs included, but not limited to, in this mandatory group are Medicare, federal student loans, operations of the US Custom and Border Protection, and agricultural subsidies.
Exempt from these reductions are programs like Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, and other safety
net programs.
The enforcement of PAYGO would cap the trimming of Medicare at 4 percent, (which is estimated at $25 billion dollars in cuts for 2018), and, depending on the size of the budget, the amount could be higher over the years. While Medicare experts don’t expect the Medicare fund to run short until 2029, this “anti-deficit” law (PAYGO) could trigger automatic cuts immediately in the New Year.
Individual Medicare benefits would not be affected. However, PAYGO would affect payments to doctors, hospitals, and other providers treating Medicare patients. Consequently, these cuts would likely decrease the number of participating providers in Medicare, even prompting some healthcare providers to stop taking Medicare patients. That would result in reduced access across the board for seniors. Compensation for cuts to Medicare Part D drug plans could force passing those cuts onto beneficiaries by charging higher premiums.
So, not only would this tax overhaul, in its current form, trim the Medicare budget, it also undermines the Affordable Care Act’s insurance markets by repealing the individual mandate requiring everyone to be covered. Many good providers have already left our area, leaving few choices this year in Virginia. By losing the healthiest people in the pool of those covered — because the mandate to have health insurance would go away — economic evidence concludes that premiums will go up even higher, leaving millions without coverage at all.
The proposed tax overhaul also toys with limiting or greatly reducing the high-medical-expense federal tax deduction that is taken on the income tax Schedule A. This would affect millions of people, many of them seniors. As we know, large medical bills are still one of the largest contributors to bankruptcy in our country.
In the past, Congress has found ways to work around the PAYGO rule by including provisions in legislation to exclude the PAYGO cuts. Republican leaders say that this law has never been enforced since its passage in 2010, and have no reason to believe that Congress would not act again to forestall the PAYGO cuts. However (if you are not confused enough as it is), the special budget process Republicans are using for tax overhaul this year does not include this exception. The measure could pass by the end of the year, but would need 60 votes in the Senate, and they don’t have the support of
the Democrats.
In short, I believe the Senate tax bill really is also a healthcare bill in disguise. And it will have sweeping consequences for our American healthcare system that could affect the vulnerable and the
elderly most.
I really pray this holiday season that our congressional leaders will be given the knowledge and the sense they need to figure this all out.
Karen Cifala is a Realtor for Remax Roots in Berryville, VA and can be contacted by either email, kcifala@gmail.com or on her cell 303-817-9374.