What if?

Posted by & filed under poetry.

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life everlasting

What if…

What if death is actually the beginning
of an incredible life?

What if those who have gone ahead of us would,
if they could,
let us know that it’s all more than okay?

What if they could tell us that they are happy and at peace
and that everything they thought mattered when they were here on earth
just melts away to nothingness?

What if we knew that,
given the choice,
they would choose not to return to their former life?

What if we are already there with them,
only we don’t know it yet?

What then?

______________

Image source

Death is a part of life, and yet it is so very hard. It seems like so many people I know have lost precious loved ones lately. I wrote this poem thinking of them, and I wrote it for me. Because death seems so final to those of us still on earth, and is so full of sorrow. And yet we are told by our spiritual teachings – and by people who have had near-death experiences – that death is not final. It is a transition to another life. Imagine becoming a butterfly after being a caterpillar. Would we want to return to our caterpillar form once we became this beautiful being capable of flight?

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

Posted by & filed under the puppy diaries.

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I don’t feed my animals until 5 o’clock pm. This is not because I am a stickler for routine. This is because my animals can tell time. They know when it’s dinner time. And they come around asking for it. So, if I move the time earlier, ever, they’re gonna come around earlier to beg. And I don’t want that.

We do have a little challenge those times of year when we have to change the clocks. Nutty tradition. I wonder what animals would say to humans changing time.

So, today they came around at 4:45. And started begging. I told them it wasn’t 5 o’clock yet, and immediately Jimmy Buffet’s song came into my head. Almost like they were telling me it’s 5 o’clock somewhere telepathically.

And then they gave me that it’s-5-o’clock-somewhere look….

PleaseMom (2)

Please, mom!

PleaseMom (1)

Please mom!

And when I stuck to my guns…

PleaseMom

Paaaaleeeeaaaaasssssseeeee Mom!

Because of my hard-heartedness I am now the recipient of dog slobber on my shirt, my skirt, my legs.

But by the time I decided I’d write a blog post about this they were happily munching away at their kibble.

I would end with, “and now it’s time for me to have a beer.” But I don’t drink beer. Kind of wrecks the perfect ending.

Put down your rock

Posted by & filed under poetry.

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rock with handprint

Put down your rock.
You don’t need to throw it.
I am just like you.
I love and am loved.
I have a family, friends, and passions.
I get up every morning and get ready for the day.
I crawl into bed when the day has ended.
Just like you.
I am just like you.
I have blood flowing through my veins,
A heart that beats,
A mind that thinks,
A mouth that speaks,
Eyes that sparkle,
And sometimes shed a tear.
You see? We are not so different,
You and I.
Put down your rock.
Here, place it next to mine.
We can begin to build a bridge.

Picture credit

Bergamot Honey

Posted by & filed under herbaculture.

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bergamot honey

What is this, you ask?

Oh, you didn’t ask?

Okay, never mind then.

Just kidding, just kidding….

So, this is chopped up Bergamot flowers and leaves added to raw honey.

Say what?

Bergamot. As in, Bee Balm. Such a great flower.

Had another wild crafting class today and Emily told us about this.

Bee balm, like many plants, is good for a lot of things. Two of the things I wrote down were mental clarity and digestion. Good medicine for me.

So, the important thing, how does it taste?

I actually like it. It’s got a spicy bite to it mixed in with the sweetness of the honey. A minty-type bite.

Andy didn’t like it, but that’s not much of a surprise.

Today, I also learned what sheep sorrel and lambs quarters are. Two weeds I pull up from my garden. No more. Lambs quarters can be used like spinach and tastes mild and of course, because it is wild, is WAY more nutritious than spinach.

Now, if only Quickweed was edible….

 

Ancient Wisdom

Posted by & filed under faith, tao.

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I'm reading The Tao Te Ching. It's an ancient book written by an old Chinese wise man. I think it was written 500 years before Jesus was born. Something like that. As I read it, I wonder if Jesus read it. Because he lived it. Or if there just are these universal laws of the universe / God that every wise man knows. That we all can know.

I am not hurrying through it. I am reading and journaling. Sometimes I read a verse, pondering but unsure of its full meaning, start writing, and then revelation comes. This is what writing does for me.

There is so much wisdom in this world beyond The Bible. And connected back to its truths. I am enjoying this journey. I just had to open up my soul and mind to it and leave fear behind. I've lived a life in fear. Circling round and round in my religion. Afraid to go outside of it for truth. Afraid of what other people would think of me. This fear has been holding me back.

But really, it was my religion that finally released me. I no longer wanted to be a part of something that was full of people arguing their version of the truth, pointing fingers at their brothers and sisters and calling them out as sinners or heathens, denying people ministries because they were the wrong sex or orientation or believed wrong. Spreading untruths from the pulpit (I know this because I would go home and do my own research when something didn't sound right). My religion was full of fear and condemnation and stifling me. Yes, there is so much beauty and love in it too. The way it is supposed to be. The other stuff was just shouting louder.

Love is a quiet thing.

So now I am free to follow Jesus without religion. To learn from him and other spiritual leaders. To not have to fit into a bucket of belief. I've been saying for years that God is so much bigger than the boxes we put him in. And he is showing me just how big. Jesus said that we could do all that he did and more. That's a pretty powerful statement. I kept looking around and saying, well? Why aren't we seeing anything like it? Yet I think we are. It's just that people living like Jesus lived aren't looking for attention. They are just loving and producing miracles by that love.

May we all learn to love this way.

 

 

Wisdom calling

Posted by & filed under faith.

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I am on a spiritual journey.

Always have been, really.

As I’ve remained in my religion of origin trying to function within it but always feeling connected to people of all faiths and always feeling like there was something “out there” just beyond my grasp that I wasn’t understanding, I finally said to God that I was leaving the teachings of man behind and letting Him show me who He is.

And, like the Bible is full of paradoxes, I’ve run up against this paradox. God is everywhere. He’s in no religion and in every religion. He just is. He’s love and light and positive energy and all that is good and right and wonderful. We are taught in every religion to plug into him but then we are taught that our religion is the only way.

I don’t believe that anymore.

We are also taught to fear God. But I think the word fear has been misunderstood and the more accurate translation is reverence and awe. The word fear holds us back. The word awe moves us forward.

I believe every religion is here to lead us to God. Religions are our methods of communicating with God, and just as we have multiple languages to communicate among ourselves, there are multiple languages to communicate with God. There are even languages to communicate with God outside of religion. Nature, for example.

If you don’t believe that, that’s okay. And it’s okay for me to believe it. We are all fellow sojourners in this world and we all have different thoughts and opinions and beliefs. We can let that divide us, or we can let that enrich us with greater understanding. Not just in religion, but in all things.

I don’t think the same as I did yesterday, and I don’t expect to think the same tomorrow as I do today. It’s a wild ride, if we remain open to learning and growing.

Peace and blessings to you all.

Chris

 

The Great Poison Ivy Experiment

Posted by & filed under herbaculture.

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So, most of you reading this post know that it’s my dream to become a…..well, it’s hard to put into words, but I think Andy came up with one the other day. An Herbaculturist. That’s a combination of permaculturist and herbalist. Basically, I want to grow my own food and medicine. And teach others to do the same.

No small dreams for this gal.

So, in the process of building my food forest (that’s a permaculture term), we’ve had the front part of our land cleared and have been working furiously to get it planted before nature does. As in, getting some fruit and nut trees in this year, but most of the work has been in prepping the soil and putting down nitrogen fixing seed to help build it up more – rye grass and clover.

We have this drainage pond that I want to line at some point, too. It fills up when it rains and then slowly drains out. In that capacity, it had become a very attractive place for poison ivy to grow. And I want different plants around that some day full-time pond. People-friendly plants so you can sit on one of the large rocks at its edge and dangle your feet in the water as fish tickle your toes.

So, it became my mission to get rid of the poison ivy. Since I don’t believe in chemical pesticide poison, I decided to pull it up. Yeah, scary, but so far I seemed to have an immunity.

6 trash bags full of the stuff later, after throwing all my clothes and crocs in the washing machine, washing my gardening tools in the utility sink, and washing myself in the bathtub, I waited.

And hoped for the best.

Although it wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for, it could have been worse. I wound up with a small patch of it on my wrist.

poisonivy

Oh my itchiness, am I glad I have a somewhat immunity to it. I’m still going to claim that, because I worked for close to 2 hours pulling up those weeds, so this really isn’t that bad, considering, besides how tormenting it is for a person’s skin.

This is all part of the plan, though, because as an herbalist you are supposed to have first-hand experience with the medicine you are recommending to people. And I haven’t found any other guinea pigs – *cough, Andy, cough* – to volunteer to be treated by a newbie herbalist.

I knew plantain (the kind that grows in the grass, not the banana-ish fruit) and jewel weed were candidates for helping to heal poison ivy. So I found this recipe online and decided to try it. I had harvested some jewel weed on my walk that morning (a friend recommended picking it before noon) and I had plantain in my yard. I also have an aloe vera plant. If you want to try this yourself, jewel weed grows pretty prolifically along the side of roads (you often find it near poison ivy) and you can find plantain in your yard (if you don’t put poison on your lawn). You’ll have to buy the aloe plant (or you can get a leaf of it in some grocery stores), unless you live someplace warm where it grows.

This is what I wound up with (I made it in the blender). It’ll keep a couple of weeks in the fridge. If anybody local is dealing with poison ivy and wants some, I’d be happy to pass it along.

poisonivycure

So, I applied it to my wrist. And this is what it looked like afterwards.

poisonivy2

That looks much better, don’t you think? The green goo dried things up a bit.

Small disclaimer, however.

As it was on my wrist, it did not relieve the itching AT ALL. As a matter-of-fact, I found it to be a tad tormenting. When I took it off (maybe I had it on for about 20 minutes or so) it had caused a surface rash on my skin (not a bubbly one like the poison ivy). I thought that maybe the jewel weed I had pulled up had come in contact with the poison ivy it had been near and I had just done myself in. It looked sort-of like this, but worse (this is after I applied it a second time, but a little less liberally):

poisonivy3

See that red blotch on the left of my wrist? The whole wrist looked like that.

Here’s my theory. The paste is great at drying up the poison ivy rash. However, it’s drying action can be irritating to normal skin. It’s intense therapy.

My right-hand herbal remedy through all of this, the one that’s allowed me to relieve the itching that has kept me up at night, is witch hazel. Good ol’ witch hazel. It’s perfect for poison ivy and bug bites. And it’s dirt cheap at the stores. It worked better than some calamine lotion spray Andy had bought (which had God-knows-what chemicals listed on the label, but I was desperate). I did find a recipe online for homemade calamine which I might try some day.

So, this has been my first-hand, poison ivy, herbalist education. I still haven’t turned in my first lesson homework for my herbalism class; that’s been sitting, just waiting for me to organize it and send it off. I’ve been doing too much experiential learning. This time of year is ripe for it!

And the pond? I didn’t take a before picture, but here’s how it looks now. All the bare edges you can see were covered in it, and it was growing across the middle. There are still vines that broke off under some of the rocks. If it grows back, I’m going to try some homemade pesticide treatments. First hand permaculture learning next time!

poisonivyfreepond

 

No news is good news

Posted by & filed under my life.

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Last night my parents stayed over on the way to their summer cabin. Immediately, my dad settled into a chair and turned on the TV. To cable news.

Ugh.

There’s bad stuff going on in Iran. More of man’s inhumanity to man. And we get involved because…?

Something about oil. Well, if we’d invest in solar and wind and start building local economies and were more ecologically aware of our impact on the planet, we wouldn’t need as much oil. Just sayin.’

Then we could stay out of other peoples’ business. We could be neutral. We could help by giving people a safe place to flee rather than spending all our money fighting wars.

See? This is why I don’t watch the news.

I asked my dad about that. All the negativity. He said, “yeah, I’m depressed.”

“Why don’t you turn the news off?”

“What would I watch, then?”

“I dunno, something uplifting?”

He’d really like TV Land, I know he would. Watching Saturday morning cartoons  with my dad used to be so much fun because he would laugh these big, huge, belly laughs. Especially watching The Road Runner.

That’s what you should be watching, dad!

Me, I say turn the durn TV off, but some people are too far gone for that.

So Andy put on a Netflix movie we had sitting there for awhile, called Little Manhatten. It was a cute movie about a boy’s first love. Very innocent. My dad laughed quite a few times.

We’ve done our part to show another way.

Now I need to just get those images and words from last night’s news out of my consciousness.

argggghhhh

 

photo credit: x-ray delta one via photopin cc

A perfect evening

Posted by & filed under my life.

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violets

My yard is full of violets.

Really.

violet field

See?

And I happen to know Andy is going to mow the lawn soon. And that violets are edible. How could I let all these lovely flowers go to waste?

I couldn’t.

So I decided to pick a bunch. To dry for later. And use in maybe a floral green tea blend that I make up in the future.

While I was out there picking, Koda kept doing her “dropping the ball near me” thing. I tried to shoo her out of the flowers. Then Columbus decided he wanted to roll in them. Luckily the field of flowers was big enough to work around both these issues.

As I was picking the flowers I felt like a little girl again. Without a care, out in the spring air, picking flowers.

Later I sat down to journal and started reflecting on that little girl. Little did she know life would be full of so many responsibilities when she grew up that she’d forget about picking flowers. Until she was 53. And as I started to get a little sad, my oldest daughter – due with her first baby (and our first grandchild) – called. And we had a nice talk about how things are going. It’s the home stretch now. I remember telling her when she first got pregnant that what I remember about the last trimester was dropping things all the time. And how hard it was to get back up after squatting down to pick them up. And guess what’s happening to her now?

She’s dropping things all the time.

Ah, the circle of life.

All those years of forgetting to pick the flowers were spent being a mom. I didn’t spend as much time in nature, but I spent time nurturing. And now I am rediscovering all the things that took a back seat during that time. My job now, I think, is to remind my children – and to teach my grandchildren – to remember to always go outside and pick flowers. Or throw a ball. Or twirl around. And, always, to breath in nature and let it nourish them to the bone.

And I need to keep reminding myself.

After the phone call, I went out on the porch, closed the door to shut out the sounds of the TV, and sat there snipping off the stems of the rinsed flowers to prep them for drying. The peepers were peeping. And you could hear the silence behind. The weather was the perfect temperature with an ever-so-slight breeze, if you could even call it that.

The feeling of peace that washed over me was like a huge, warm, hug. My heart felt like it was inflating with joy. I realized that I was out there on that porch, alone, smiling. Both on the outside and the inside.

A perfect evening.

 

Fun with nettle

Posted by & filed under health, the accidental gardener.

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fresh nettle

Today I harvested nettle for the first time. And made nettle pesto with it. And documented the whole thing with my camera.

With no CF card. So all those pictures? They didn’t happen. (Too bad, there were some good ones.)

But my adventure with nettle did, so I’ll write about it.

First of all, there is a reason nettle is called stinging nettle.

I thought if I was very careful, I could harvest it without being stung.

I was wrong. Can you say R-E-S-P-E-C-T? Can you say G-L-O-V-E-S?

I have such a big patch of nettles next to what used to be one of our goat pastures. And it continues to expand. Half of what I picked was from the nettle that was growing into the grass that Andy will just be mowing down in a few weeks.

Once I got the nettle inside, I switched from garden gloves to kitchen gloves. The respect continued as I snipped off all the leaves into a big bowl, rinsed them, and then measured 3 packed cups of the leaves into the food processor along with 2 cloves garlic, a bunch of wood sorrel (growing in my indoor containers along with other plants), some of the hickory nuts I gathered last year that I coaxed Andy to crack open, only he gave up after about 8 or 10 nuts. It took so long to dig the nut meat out of even those few and I was way short the half cup I wanted for the recipe, so I added walnuts, too, instead of cracking more myself. Some salt, 1/2 cup olive oil, and 3/4 cup nutritional yeast for that cheesy flavor finished up the ingredient list.

I cooked up some of Trader Joe’s Lemon Papardelle noodles and put a generous dollup of the pesto on top.

The verdict? It wasn’t half bad. I had my doubts. It certainly didn’t have that wonderful smell basil pesto has. But it was good in its own way, and it’s free from my yard and full of vitamins. And I don’t have basil growing yet.

The rest of the leaves went into my largest size mason jar to make an infusion to drink over the next couple of days.

Oh, and Andy’s verdict?

He says he’s going to wait to see if I survive the night. He thinks I have just enough knowledge to be dangerous right now.