Acorns From The Healing Tree


"I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content." ~ St. Paul

And black bears!

Black bears are cute, smart and hungry, and we have them in our area. We actually have a sign on our street on the other side of our block warning residents to beware of them. Personally, I have never seen a bear, apart from at the zoo or the circus, and even after last night. I've heard many stories of people in our area who have seen them, though. My own brave ex-boyscout husband, while checking on a friend's house who was out-of-town, encountered a bear that had been loitering in the friends yard. The bear was huge and very black and as soon as my husband drove up the driveway and encountered it, meaning was so close he saw the whites of its eyes, he turned right around and drove away. When he returned the next day, the bear was gone. Once some friends were walking to a neighborhood party carrying a casserole and spotted a bear up in a tree looking down upon them (and the casserole). They made it safely to the party but had a friend drive them back home.

Last night we had our first visitation from a bear! It was the middle of the night when we heard a lot of commotion and crashing around outside - it sounded so loud and close that at first I thought it was something on our roof. Our upstairs window was open so whatever it was must have heard our exclamations!

"What in heaven is THAT?"

"It sounds like someone's taking out their garbage!"

"Look out and check, dear?"

My husband looked outside. Of course it was very dark, but he said he was sure there was something up in one of our pine trees. We could hear branches snapping, as whatever it was climbed. It was obviously not a small animal like an owl or a cat. He said it looked like something big and dark. Yikes!

The next day I went out to see if there was any signs of mischief. Sure enough, our bird-feeder that contained expensive big black seeds, purported to attract "song-birds", had been ripped from its chain beneath our bedroom window. The bird feeder lay on the ground, tipped open with a pile of the seeds laying nearby. (There was nothing to be seen up in the tree except the magpie nest which, I am glad to say, was untouched!) I noticed that even the metal ring from which the feeder hung from a metal link chain had been bent open and ripped from the wall. This must have been a) a very tall animal, since the feeder was up higher than a man could reach without a ladder, and b) a very strong animal unless it had pliers or a wire-cutter.

People thought it might have been a cat, or an animal that had climbed down from the roof. I don't know of many cats that will go to all that trouble for seeds do you? Mountain lions (which are also around our area) are most definitely carnivorous. That leaves one animal who is strong and tall and loves nice, juicy seeds: a bear.

Now we have learned that a neighbor recently saw a bear in our area - and has pictures to prove it. I guess one could advertise that the big black seeds are guaranteed to attract song birds as well as black bears! The birds will have to fend for themselves from now on...

At the lake

Yesterday was a beautiful day - warm and sunny - but not too hot. I decided that I needed more photos for my 365-day photo project so I went off to the lake. This is the biggest lake we have in our town. The water is, of course, fareeeezing!!!! This water was ice solid just a month ago, but it has fish, which I think might be trout.

I didn't have a fishing pole (as if)or a boat (as if), but I just hung around watching everything. I've discovered that photographers have to do this a lot. So, with camera in hand, I didn't feel so self-conscious about watching everything! I even felt bold. Look what I just drove through, after all...the drive down to the lake was terrifying ...and nothing can build one's confidence than surviving something like this...(photo from google)...

The potholes were so deep they went to China. Now I'm not usually afraid of potholes but I lead a very over-protected life, and when I am alone and driving, well, I'm afraid of everything, including driving in China! First I tried to back up. If you've ever seen me back out of my driveway, you'd know that didn't work. I mean my mail-box is bigger than a pothole and I can't seem to avoid that most of the time. Going forward again, I managed to hit each of those darn potholes for the third time. I realized then that there was no going back, just like Columbus. Or some other explorer who never returned. I spurred my old, yet intrepid, station wagon ahead and loyally it went, where any smart horse would fear to tread. A couple hours later (which was probably more like ten minutes) I got there - to the lake shore. Whew.

The pictures make everything look perfect don't they? Well, down at the lake it is sort of different, for there is no beach, no benches, even. Just gravel and small rocks, which no one could possibly sit on. I drove ever forward to get to the very end "lands end" which was another bumpy 1/8 of a mile away, and ended in a DANGER sign for the DAM RUN OFF. Gulp. I edged the car alttle farther, while noticing that the other fearless modes of transpertation were of the suv, jeep, four wheel drive variety. Smugly, I stopped beside a shiny new suv, got out, and started snapping. There was a group of rowday young men flirting with the danger area, and a busload of retired veterans lined up in wheel chairs at the shore each with a fishing pole (and no fish that I could see.)

A young man up to his knees in the water, fly fishing, like he really knew what he was doing, got out of the water and came towards me. Oh. Somehow I'd managed to park my car right next to this expert fisherman's. I was just minding my own business...but...he asked me if I was a photographer "from the newspaper". I can't imagine why! Maybe he was hoping to get his flyfishing technique on the cover of our local paper, or maybe I just looked like I knew what I was doing, frowning at my new digital camera, and squinting at the landscape in an quasi intelligent way. But perhaps this chap was as new to fishing as I was to exploring and photography? He held a bunch of fish that were dangling in a professional way from a line. Wow. I was impressed. They looked like this kind of fish:

Actually, they were a bit smaller, like these:

But who am I to criticize? I've never caught a fish in my entire life! And this bunch would make a great meal for four, and due to the current economic crunch catching fish could lower our grocery budget!

The expert fisherman departed, but not before I told him I was not from the newspaper and I hoped he didn't mind if I snapped his fish. He smiled proudly and didn't seem to mind at all. So...where does all this lead? To my new resolution:

I WANT TO CATCH SOME TROUT! Is that too much to ask? How hard can it be, after all? It could teach me patience, too. This young man made it look so easy and graceful. I'm sure I could do it - as long as someone else handled the hooks and the bloody parts of the operation.

So, I learned something about exploring: It's fun if one can manage the fear element. It will also expose one to new interests, while also getting more pictures for the 365 project
. So, you never know!

Flax seed oil as a favorite restorative!

Flax - a common "weed."

I've been reading too many touchy-feeley pseudo-medical books, that I'm even speaking in their vernacular now. As in, the word "restorative"! Does anyone use that word anymore except for weird alternative medicine freaks such as myself? Maybe not. But what do you call an oil that is listed as an essential oil, meaning that it is not produced by the body, and has to be augmented by food and/or supplements. What if humans never get the required amounts of a substance due to our poor eating habits of ingesting junk food, and processed fats and oils?

Did you know that a brains dry weight is comprised of 60% FATTY ACIDS and that brain tissue is made of 85% water? I hate to think how that is all discovered, but...nevertheless. I'd think that it points to the need to obtain at least some fatty acids in the diet, and also a lot of water! Fatty acids are deplete to an alarming degree in the American diet. There are three main kinds of fatty acids: Omega 3; omega 6; and omega 9. We are deficient in mostly Omega 3's which come from the fats of seeds such as Flax seeds. Yes, olive oil is healthy too, but it does not contain omega 3. This is one reason why fish oil is also good for you, as it is high in omegas also, but I often forget if it's 3 or 6. Whatever you do don't take supplements labeled as omega 9 because the American diet is too high with those already! I think it is what you get from stuff like margarine and vegetable oils.

The diet is such a balancing act, like everything in life, isn't it? Sometimes I just get so sick and tired of it, that I say oh hell, just give me some chocolate ice-cream!

I must say that I tried a recipe in the "Yoga body diet" that my daughter gave me. It was for Italian ices, or "Granita". It was delicious! What you do is just peel some fruit (my recipe called for various spices to be added, like black pepper!) and blend the fruit up in a blender till pureed and then pour the mixture in a freezer container, or a big plastic zip-lock bag, and then every hour mush it up before it gets frozen hard, and then after 3 hours it is ready to eat. I made strawberries and banana. I'm thinking of some other fruits to try next time, with interesting spices. Maybe kiwi and mango? It's such a cooling, low cal, and good for you dessert - I don't know why I didn't think of it before! Of course it's rather time intensive because of the hourly mashing, but fun to do for a weekend! BTW fruits have no essential fatty acids in them. But of course vitamin c is important too and so are the fruit flavanoids, but don't get me started.

Photos from the "country".

For want of anything very interesting to say, I thought I'd share some pictures I took on Sunday. I suggested my husband and step-dad go on a drive with me while I looked for some fun shots to take with my digital camera. I still don't quite have the hang of digital - like changing to the manual setting, etc. but I really like the editing part of the software. It's pretty basic really, but fun to experiment with. On the 365 photo project I've done 88 pictures already and it's getting addictive. The drive was designed to spark some new creative ideas, since after 88 pictures everything gets to look the same. I imagine by 200 it might get very repetitive. They say that during any day a human thinks mostly thoughts they have thought before, and it may be the same with one's surroundings, seeing the same thing day in and day out. This online project at least has me looking at things in a new way.

This first shot is a humorous one. It's a metal sculpture of a coal-miner that is in front of a bank. I think it's funny because it's symbolic of the way inflation felt, such as having to bring cash in a big cart because it doesn't go far enough anymore. I don't think that is the message the bank was trying to make with the sculpture, but every time I go to the bank it makes me smile - and how often does one do that at a bank anymore? It's nice to have a bank with a sense of humor...

I love this picture because it is so peaceful, green and cool. In the distance is the flat top of a mesa, which are common in our area. They are fun to climb to the top of, or so my son has told me, but never in a thunder storm since lightning likes to hit flat mesas and anything on top of them.

This next photo was taken nearby, but tweaked a bit with my editing software, making everything look darkly mysterious. I kept yelling to my husband to 'stop the car' every few minutes if I saw something good that warranted a further look...for some reason hubby and dad didn't seem to have much fun on this road trip - I can't imagine why...

As we followed our country road down to a small valley, we found a pretty creek and cows getting cool under the bushes. This is one cow that wasn't afraid of me and my camera. He looks darkly mysterious too, doesn't he? No editing needed here. I was glad there was a fence between us.

This next snap is an old barn - check out those creative, cloistery windows! This barn is on land that used to be a bison farm. It looks like they couldn't make it work, as barn and paddocks looked abandoned.Perhaps the dark cow above is really a bison that escaped, or maybe the bison farm hasn't closed down, but all the animals decided to spend a beautiful Sunday down at the watering hole?

Nearing the end of our drive we approached a hamlet tucked into the hills. Quaint and peaceful, this is one town that wants to stay in the past!

Coming full circle, we see that miner is still trying to make his deposit at the bank. Better come back later when interest rates go up!

That was our Sunday drive.

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. This is the day to honor those men and women who fell in battle fighting for our country. We noticed very few flags in the neighborhood as we were driving around today. You'd think at least some American's had a relative who served in the armed forces.

We must not take our liberties for granted, since so many fought and died to uphold them. Though I didn't have any relatives who perished in any conflicts, I did have relatives who served the country during times of war. I hate war, and don't mean to show my support of it, just my support of the people who have done their duty to help us maintain our democracy when it was threatened. It is no small thing. A life. A child who came of age at the wrong time. A father or mother A spouse.

I've had relatives who served as physicians during WWII, and soldiers in the civil war and the revolutionary wars. My uncle was a surgeon stationed on a tropical island during WWII. After that horrible experience he was never the same, mentally and emotionally, and could no longer practice once he returned home. Fortunately my father was stationed at a hospital in the states, so his experience wasn't as horrific as my uncle's. But war effects everyone in some way. My great, great, great uncle served in the civil war and his wife kept the sleeve of his uniform that had the bullet holes were he was shot. Think of all the young lives cut short in Vietnam. We must always remember how terrible war really is, so we can try to prevent it in the future.

My father in law was in the Korean war and a parachutist. He caught malaria and still has effects from it to this day.

As a mother of a young man, believe me, I felt great relief when my son reached the age of 28, which is too old for the draft. I'm sure every mother of a son must suffer from this anguish. It's incredible to think what it must have been like to have a son fighting in a war. There are still people dying in the mideast. Yes, lets not ever take our lives and our hard-won peace for granted.

Today, my husband and I went to a local cemetery and read some grave-stones. The graves of people who had been in the service all had flags beside them, and many people were there paying their respects. It was a sad, and silent place, but good to know that there are some who haven't forgotten.

Bless our fallen and serving soldiers where ever they may be, and let there never be another conflict again.

Thank-you for the sacrifice of your lives.

Hot weather and ms

You know summer has arrived when your hubby is out all morning mowing the lawn! Despite all the long grass, dandelions and other weeds, we've had very little warm weather to show for it. But that's okay by me! Warm weather, the overheating of the body, tends to make anyone with ms feel worse. It is something about the nervous system being impeded by the heat. Of course most animals and humans feel lethargic and weak in hot weather. Just take that feeling and multiply it by 100, and it's ms.

Actually that used to be a medical test to see if someone had ms in the olden days, before MRI, which is now considered a definitive test for ms. They would put a patient in a hot bath to see if their symptoms became more pronounced and if they did, voila, the dx of ms was confirmed. Doesn't sound exactly scientific but hey, if it works...

I wish someone had told me this when I first got ms! Soon after my dx, I did what no one should ever do with ms. We went to the hot Napa Valley in the summer-time for a mini healing-break holiday. We went to a spa for 1)mudbath soaks, 2) saunas, 3) hot herbal wraps 4) hot jacuzzi soaks. Hell, by the time that was all over, I literally could not speak. I mean, I could think of the words, but I just couldn't say them! I believe this is medically called aphasia. Anyway, what was to make me better by driving out all the bad toxins in my system, made me worse.

Usually after an intense warming experience, one slowly regains function. I did, after a few days, but never, ever, fully. I was never again to speak in the self-assured, verbose, way I used to be able to. Now I am better, yet I still have trouble finding words, like it's on the tip of my tongue, but I just can't find them. This is hard for someone who likes to write. Sometimes thinking is just so hard to do, that I just get sort of mute. On other days, for some unknown reason, I feel like all those lost words have suddenly returned. It's a challenge to say the least.

But, I was talking about the weather, one of those really fascinating subjects. Well, yesterday, at least until the weather changed, I was out-of-it due to the warm temperatures. What helps is taking a cool shower or bath, drinking cold things, and wrapping a cool kerchief around your neck, so it cools the blood going to the brain. An air-conditioner helps too, which we got, just for one window in the bedroom. I'll resort to that if nothing else helps.

This reminds me of one of the treatments they did for my stepdad in the hospital after his last heart-attack. They wrapped him in cold towels. The doctor said that this cooling, was thought to allow his nervous system to function better. It was a new discovery, the doctor told me proudly, this cooling of the body. It tended to prevent neurological complications.

Jeeze, I thought, well, I knew that over 30 years ago. If someone had just asked me! Of course, who knew it would help post-heart attack patients recover?

But what I was really going to talk about, other than the hot weather, was our lilacs. I try to find something good in anything awful. Lilacs are my favorite harbinger of summer. We have two lilac bushes with two flowering sprays (there used to be more). I like the way they are almost trying to come in through the window, see above picture. We had a huge purple lilac tree in Wisconsin when I was a child. It was in the backyard, so every time I went out to play I would smell their scent, heavy in the air. It was mixed with the scent of peonies that grew beside our house, and violets. I never quite knew, or cared to know, how these plants got there, for my mother was not one to waste time gardening. I guess my Dad planted them, but I don't remember. Anyway, when I smell them now, they bring my childhood flooding back in all its joys and sorrows. They tend to almost bring back the memory of my dad, whose been gone now, over 40 years.

Summer and lilacs will do that, so it's not all bad.

I did it!

I have just completed something that in no way should have taken so long! I finished work on my degree in Natural Health from Clayton College. It's an online college and degree, but still, I'm happy that I did it. I do have a major tendency towards undermining myself. At first I worked regularly on the classes, finishing about one a month, then I began to slack off, then I began to give up just when I was starting the last class! What a weirdo, huh? My husband says that I am afraid of success. That may be true.

Yesterday I decided that 1) I was distracting myself with my internet projects 2) I had used other responsibilities and demands as excuses why I could not continue. 3) If all else failed to provide the needed escape from completion and success, there was always my health as a great excuse. "Oh, poor me!"

Then I gave myself a good talking to. I realized this was a pattern in my life: giving up before ever finishing anything. I asked myself how I'd feel after five years if I gave up, and just knew I'd hate myself for it. Like I do for all the other degrees and jobs I've given up on (and there is a huge list!) I asked myself, what I was really afraid of. When there was no answer forthcoming, I prayed to be allowed to release my fear of whatever it was, and just be able to start again with the class, and I guess that worked! Really it is not difficult to do the work, it is actually easy, interesting and kindof fun. The last class was on Homeopathy and at first I was skeptical of what I had to learn. Now I find the subject fascinating, actually, even though it goes against everything I've believed or thought to be true about health.

I think the irony involved - me, a person with a chronic condition learning about natural health - seemed too crazy and stupid. But I realized that was my ego talking: my way too healthy saboteur. Then I reminded myself why I signed up for this study in the first place - to learn something I didn't know. To find out how to cure myself of MS. That sounds so presumptuous. But still, maybe I can discover something that has been overlooked. I have a lot of Homeopathic remedies to try now, since finishing my last class. This will be interesting.

There is more to do to complete everything I signed up for. The degree is now complete, but I have to finish a "concentration" in Herbology (SIX classes) and some electives (three classes) And then I will get a diploma. Yesterday I worked all day to complete my last class. Now I just have to wait for the final grade and to be approved for the other classes. These other classes must be finished in a year and a half, but I know, if I just don't give up, I can do it. Praying more, and being grateful will also help.

Roses, roses, food and drink of the Gods!

Roses are the best beauty secret there is! Roses can be in a beverage as Rose Petal Tea; eaten as Rose Petal Jam; and used in skin care as rose lotion or oil. Roses are the most magical of all the earths plants since they have the highest energetic frequency, or Hertz. Ayervedic professionals say roses are cooling to the body, soothing, and also prevent signs of age and redness.

Roses have the highest frequency, or Hertz, of any plant.

"For centuries the rose has been associated with feminine beauty and skin care. Bulgarian pure rose oil is a top note essential oil. Its frequency is extremely high and rapid. Rose oil has the highest frequency (320 Hertz) of all the essential oils on the planet. This in itself is an important factor. It means that the fragrant molecules of the rose oil, on inhalation or application, are able to quickly penetrate and travel the infinitesimal pathways of the body, rapidly energising every cell, bringing balance, harmony and beauty to the body. Rose essential oil has a long history in folk remedies, especially in the area of skin care. It is suitable for all skin types, but it is especially valuable for dry, sensitive or aging skins. It has a tonic and astringent effect on the capillaries just below the skin surface, which makes it useful in diminishing the redness caused by enlarged capillaries. It is important to ensure that the product you use contains the genuine rose essential oil. Many manufacturers label their products containing rose essence but it could be synthetic. Synthetic rose ingredients have no therapeutic value at all! Remember, with authentic rose otto, a little goes a long way."

Here are some old-time recipes for using roses in food. First, confirm that the roses are free of pesticides before use, and do not use cut roses sold at grocery stores! Use fresh from the garden or sold as "food grade" for making the following recipes.

Recipe for Crystallized Roses
Choose a dry day for gathering the roses and wait until the dew evaporates, so that the petals are dry. Before gathering the roses, dissolve 2 OZ. of gum-arabic in 1/2 pint of water. Separate the petals and spread them on dishes. Sprinkle them with the gumarabic solution, using as many petals as the solution will cover. Spread them on sheets of white paper and sprinkle with castor sugar, then let them dry for 24 hours. Put 1 lb. of sugar (loaf) and 1/2 pint of cold water into a pan, stir until the sugar has melted, then boil fast to 250 degrees F., or to the thread degree. This is ascertained by dipping a stick into cold water, then into the syrup and back into the water. Pinch the syrup adhering to the stick between the thumb and finger and draw them apart, when a thread should be formed. Keep the syrup well skimmed. Put the rosepetals into shallow dishes and pour the syrup over. Leave them to soak for 24 hours, then spread them on wire trays and dry in a cool oven with the door ajar. The syrup should be coloured with cochineal or carmine, in order to give more colour to the rose-petals.

Rose-petals have also been employed to flavour butter, for which the following recipe may be of interest:

Rose-Petal Sandwiches
Put a layer of Red Rose-petals in the bottom of a jar or covered dish, put in 4 OZ. of fresh butter wrapped in waxed paper. Cover with a thick layer of rose-petals. Cover closely and leave in a cool place overnight. The more fragrant the roses, the finer the flavour imparted. Cut bread in thin strips or circles, spread each with the perfumed butter and place several petals from fresh Red Roses between the slices, allowing edges to show. Violets or Clover blossoms may be used in place of Roses.
Make your own rose-petal jam: for a recipe go to this site:
You can purchase rose ingredients and plants from Make sure anything used is from real roses, not imitation, or rose-scented products.

Rose tea - a delicious indulgence -Please do not confuse "rose hips" with "rose petals". They taste completely different! Rose hips are the fruit of the rose bush, containing vitamin C and other beneficial nutrients, but they have a sour taste that is decidedly unlike the sweet flavor and scent of rose petals. One can easily obtain rose hip tea at your health food store, but rose-petal tea is harder to come by. (I first tasted rose tea from a tin purchased years ago at London's Harrods department store.) Now "The Republic of Tea" makes this variety, and it is occasionally available:
If you're at a health store that sells "bulk" ingredients you can often obtain bags of food-grade dried rose-petals, as well as black teas. Now just combine them in equal measure in a storage jar, mix, and you've made your own version of rose-petal tea. For the best cup of tea make it as they do in England with cream and sugar added after the boiling water to the cup. Also a tea strainer is needed since the rose petals make the tea very leafy. The tea has a wonderful effect on the emotions and the digestion. It is wonderfully calming to both.

Rose jam or preserves to purchase:

Once again do not confuse this with rose-hip jam! Rose jam is an Ayervedic favorite and often made with fragrant petals direct from roses grown in certain areas of India. It is delicious and very soothing, here is the link for obtaining rose jam:

Rose Water:

This is a fragrant water that one can use to sprinkle on cut fruits that will give them a wonderful taste and scent. (The nose is just as important as the tongue in tasting food.) At a local Moroccan restaurant I've often enjoyed oranges, peeled, sliced in circles, and eaten with the hands ofter the hands are sprinkled with rose-water. Maybe they used some of the rose water on the oranges too.. It is heavenly!

Some rose-waters come in a spray bottle and can be enjoyed as a refreshing mist on the skin and hair. It is slightly astringent and especially useful for the complexion in warm weather, as it calms redness, makes the pores look smaller, and is cooling. It also imparts a nice glow to the complexion if used regularly.
Rose water, oil, and essential oil can all be obtained from the cosmetic department in a health food store. Just be sure to dilute essential oil with another carrier oil, such as almond oil, also from health-food stores. Essential oils are very strong so do not use full strength.
Hope you have found this peek into rose beauty secrets I've discovered, interesting and helpful.


Lovage (Levisticum officinale).

This Lovage plant is the first herb to appear in my garden after the snow has melted. Now is the time that I am convinced my other herbs have died off after the harsh winter. But that is the beauty of perennials - even when you think they're dead - there is still a hint of life somewhere. This reminds me of my favorite childhood story, The Secret Garden! I loved the character Dicken. He could look inside of a plants stem and tell if it was still alive; he called this hint of life "wick". I was always so sorry that Mary Lenox didn't marry Dicken, but chose the rich, spoiled child, instead, who admittedly made the biggest transformation in the story, apart from Mary. Even the spoiled child was full of "wick" when placed in the right ground, metaphorically speaking.

But, back to my lovage plants, which make speedy transformations in their own right. I mean, look at those dead stalks, the plants limbs from last year. Wouldn't you be convinced the plant was a goner, seeing those? Life is amazing! Lovage, is a very hardy perennial and will multiply and crowd out everything in your garden if given its freedom. Don't worry, I'll be trimming away the dead parts from last year very soon.

Lovage is similar to Angelica in its uses, whatever those are? In summer the plant will grow tall stalks up to 3 feet high with flowers containing the seeds that can be dried and used as a spice. It takes no care once established, apart from thinning out. Thinning is something for which I have no talent. I somehow managed to kill off, for ever, our Iris patch when I tried thinning them. Consequently, the lovage plant is let to expand and thrive on its own terms, and it loves it.

Lovage is an "aromatic stimulant and a digestive tonic". Lovage cordial is an old- fashioned drink used to settle the stomach. The plant is also a diuretic (makes you pee) and diminishes a build up of fluid in the body. Meaning, it is probably good for a Kapha dosha, like mine. Its fresh leaves have the aroma and taste of celery and are good in soups, salads, stews, and on fish. Warning: lovage should not to be used during pregnancy or in the case of kidney disease.

This is a plant that I never see at landscape stores. It was already here when we moved into the house, a sort of welcoming gift from our homes past owners. I'm determined to show my gratitude for this amazing gift by actually using it more. That's the way to do it, by action instead of just words. This would mean gathering old recipes that might have Lovage as an ingredient, and finding out all I can about this plant. If it is so strong in "wick", perhaps eating it will spread the "wick" into me!

Quick and Easy Recipe for Lovage Herb & Potato Soup
A hand-held blender makes pureed soup preparation and clean-up even faster.


•1 medium onion, chopped
•2 Cups potatoes, peeled and chopped
•4 oz. spinach, washed, drained and chopped
•2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
•2 oz. fresh lovage leaves
•4 Cups chicken stock
•salt and freshly ground pepper
•a few fresh lovage leaves as garnish

1.Saute the onion in butter over a moderate heat in a large saucepan
2.Add the potatoes and cook a few minutes longer
3.Add spinach and lovage leaves and saute a few minutes more
4.Add chicken stock
5.Simmer, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes
6.Puree soup in a food processor or with a hand-held blender
7.Add salt and pepper to taste and float a fresh lovage leaf on top
A splash of light cream or dollop of plain yogurt can be added to each bowl for a richer soup.

Our budding aspens

This is a photo I snapped early this morning of our aspens - three trees that we planted about 10 years ago. We are so proud of them. They have been through so much! Gale-force winds. Crazy blizzards. 20-degrees below zero temperatures. Moth and ant infestations. Yet, look how strong and healthy they look. They are about the ONLY plants we have that have been brave enough to set out some tender leaves. So far, the scrub-oak (which is also called Gamble Oak)plants remain bare, a few buds in sight, but none open - this is SO late for them that I'm sure another snow is coming our way. It's hard to believe on warm spring days like this.

The leaves on the aspens look golden simply because of the bright morning sun. How they shimmer and twinkle even in the spring. They also make welcome shade in the fall when the leaves are mature.

It is a common misperception that aspirin actually comes from the aspen tree, but that's a fallacy. Aspirin derives from the bark of the White Willow tree. Its botanical name is Salix Alba which contains Salicylic glycosides. It's healing use dates back thousands of years, and was discovered by the Native Americans. Just imagine how many other healing plants have yet to be discovered.

All over the neighborhood is the sound of lawn-mowers and the pungent smell of fresh-cut grass. Maybe we'll be cutting the grass soon, although our yard is determined to revert back to the meadow from which it came. We are thinking of allowing this to happen. Oh, I forgot about the dandelions. They, of course, have the temerity to be blooming with lush abandon. When they are the ONLY flowers you've got, you learn acceptance. Anyway, I've always liked the color yellow.

Open the windows!

Be like the flower, turn your faces to the sun.
- Kahlil Gibran

A perfect, sunny morning to you! I have these pictures on my blog today, not because they are pictures of my home, but because they are pictures of homes with many windows. How many windows do you have in your home? Do you keep them open or closed, with drapes open or drawn? You would be surprised how many people live in nice homes and NEVER open their windows, blinds or curtains! Even if a home is not in the most beautiful, perfectly tidy condition, it will look better in sun than in a fog. Closed-up homes bother me, both living in one, or visiting. It makes me wonder what people are hiding from. I don't know much about Feng Shui, but that must be a #1 rule: let the sun and air in, for heavens sake! Its like walking around with eyes closed all the time - you never know what might be missed, and besides, you'll bump into things. The air gets close, thick and fetid, like bad breath. It is said that there is more air pollution inside of the average American home, than in the air outdoors. Our homes need an airing from all the fumes produced by cleaning chemicals, aerosols, fragrances and cooking odors. Spring seems like a great time to open up while the earth is going green.

If the eyes are the window to the soul then the windows are the soul of a home! My family was lucky enough a few years ago to move into our own home. My first rule of thumb was that there be lots of windows. Yesterday, I counted them. I know, obviously too much time on my hands. We have 35 windows and that is counting the frames around the glass, not how many glass panels there are. One skylight and then one window to the sky; this is called a "cloistery" window. Presumably it was the kind of window used in cloisters or convents, designed so that light and sun could get in, but people could not look in, or nuns disturb their reveries by looking out upon the world. We have some pine trees too, but our home is not hidden in a forest, which we had considered, but the darkness would have prayed on my psyche. It's just depressing not to have enough light, both physiologically and psychologically. Think of all the depressed people out there who are heavily medicated. They might even be my neighbors, who live in nice homes, but always have their drapes drawn or at half mast. It's not very friendly.

Of course it is a bit of work to open up curtains each morning, as they just have to be shut again at night, a chore like making a bed. But night is the only time when windows really need to be covered. The pictures of undraped windows (above) would only be possible during the daylight hours and, at night, only if the homes are isolated and very private. Open curtains at night must also be bad Feng Shui, as the darkness, once again, is so depressing, unless of course there is a sparkling few of city lights in the distance.

While on the subject of light, it is much nicer to have accent lamps around a room, than just one overhead lightbulb shining down, don't you think? Those overheads make noses look so big! Oh, and don't get me started on fluorescent lighting - they "suck out all the juice from your eyeballs" as Joe said in the movie, Joe versus the Volcano. I believe it, for that is the next thing I did after moving into our home (though it took me a few years to save for it.) We replaced the nasty fluorescents in our kitchen. They made the food, and people, look green and unwholesome. Now there are spotlights shining down on food and chef - so much nicer - though they are more expensive and I am eating and cooking more - which arguably is not a good thing.

If you read my post yesterday about the eating habits of my 101 old grandmother, there was an important element to her habits that I overlooked: every morning as soon as she awakened, at least by 7:00 am, grandmother would go through her apartment and open all the draperies. The windows too, if it was warm enough. This can take a bit of muscle but it can become a morning calisthenic!

Do you fight with your mate, as I do, about sleeping with bedroom windows open or closed? Mine likes to be warm and cozy at night, i.e. windows tightly sealed. I like to have more air, and will actually enjoy hearing a dog, coyote, fox or even owl punctuate my slumbers. There is too much to miss if everything is shut up.

I think it is amusing that people will go to great pains to "get out in nature" by going camping each summer, while living most of their days behind closed windows and curtains. Another thing my grandmother always did, without fail, was, make her bed. That used to be the rule rather than the exception in the olden days, or at least with grandmother's crowd. She was adamant about doing so. If my bed was not made I was "slovenly". It seems like the only people who make their beds now are, folks who were in the military or went to boarding school, or grandmothers! Am I showing my age? Honestly, I try to make mine, but have not mastered the daily habit yet. But really, it only takes a few minutes, and I've noticed that having a freshly made bed to greet one enables one to relax and breath deeply at the end of the day. It looks better too. Your mate will appreciate it, too.

Well, I hope you get some light and fresh air today. I'm going to make my bed and open a few more windows now. Next on my "to do list" is getting all 35 windows washed, inside and out. They really need it, and no more procrastination! I'm going to do the interior windows and hire someone for the exterior.

One final thought about these holes in our houses. Did you ever think what an interesting word "WINDOW" is? I mean it's wind with an ow after it. I thought it might be French, like perhaps originally, windeaux, but no, it is an Anglosaxon word, direct and to the point, nothing romantic about it. It says what it means: an ow to let the wind (sun and light)through. Everyone needs some of those to be fully alive!

Live to be 101

Have you ever noticed that when you are feeling stressed, everything from computers to major appliances and automobiles start to break down? My computer is acting strange - cpu at 100%, and all I asked it to do was to go to my blogger dashboard! Now my turning lights aren't working on my car, we need a new water-heater ("You mean they're not good for 50 years?") and to top it all off, I forgot yesterday was wishcasting Wednesday and forgot to post my wish! I wonder if there is a penalty? Does an evil fairy come out of my computer to sprinkle me with evil fairy dust?

To give you an idea of what my life is like now, I went to the wishcasting Wednesday blog site (thinking today was Wednesday) and just then my step-dad comes marching out to have his "brunch". He looks at what I am doing on my computer, and says "Humph, that looks interesting..." I tell him I just went to somebody's blog site, and then, after studying the picture, says, "actually it looks kind of pornographic." So who needs an evil fairy?

Please look over at wishcasting wednesday and tell me I'm not engaged in looking at pornography. Yes, the fairy is wearing something that might be a bit skimpy for a fairy, but that is not the idea! It is difficult explaining to a 90 year old that it is perfectly wholesome, if he sees it as something more. All in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

Sigh. Yesterday was a special occasion and I needed to do cake baking and shopping as well as make a special dinner. That takes time! Especially when you have put things off.
We have a bit of a problem around here, concerning following an Ayurveda diet: my husband is a Pitta; I am a Kapha; my step-dad is a Vata. Finding a happy medium is challenging.

This morning was so nice in that I was finally able to get outside into some sun and vitamin D. At this altitude it doesn't take much. The birds were making lots of noise and I heard my favorite bird. I don't know what it is yet - it has a plaintive song that just consists of usually three or four notes either the same, or descending in pitch. It's not a mourning dove or an owl, but I can never locate the bird. It must be a ventriloquist.

Sun is so important to we humans. Actually there is a theory that sun deprivation in childhood might be linked to MS. I can see that, as I grew up in a northern latitude and my dad was a retired intellectual and my mom a musician - not pursuits that would take a child out of doors very much. But, I really can't believe that is the cause. Frankly, I believe it is related to the use of aspartame. You know that fake sugar that is put in diet sodas (which I used to have for dinner every night - not with dinner, but FOR dinner!)Now it is in so much more! Anyway, a few months of that and there I was, with MS. I just bring it up as a warning. The stuff is not made for human consumption. It should be off the market, not now added to baby-food!!

Speaking of food, it might be useful to tell the world what my grandmother ate - she lived to be 101. Though, I think her longevity was mostly due to her spirit and faith, her diet was one in which she ate and drank the things she liked most. First on the list for beverages, was grape juice and whole milk. She never touched coffee, tea, soda, or alcohol, or water, except to drink daily "hot water, with lemon, please" when ever she went out. Next, she loved Rice Krispies for breakfast and hot chocolate, which she made by hand, not from a mix. For lunch, I don't recall her ever eating anything, but dinner was a can of tamales or a fried piece of beef fillet and homemade french fries or macaroni and cheese. She always had a box of Stouffer's cremes (soft chocolates) on her desk and M&M's. Also with dinner she would often make herself a can of spinach on which she put vinegar. She never "excercised" a day but walked alot and never drove, to my knowledge. Furthermore, she never seemed to get stressed, and things never broke down around her. So, presumably if one eats and lives like this, and prays unceasingly, one will live to be 101! Oh, and her #1 rule was this: never go to a doctor!

I got a blogger award!

I received this blogger award. It is so encouraging for a beginner blogger such as myself, not sure if I deserve it. But I am proud of getting the hang of posting photos so I am making some progress. Thank-you, Athena!! Sometimes it's good to be reminded that life is good!

Missing: some red planetary rings.

My husband informed me just the other day that one of the planet's, he thinks it was Jupiter, has just done something unheard of: it has lost a band in one of it's rings! Not just any old band, but a band that has "always" been red! So...what can this mean? Why hasn't this been explored on the daily news, or if it was, why didn't I hear about it?

Since the world seems to be unconcerned that a planet has just, somehow, lost a piece of itself, or had a major part of itself "disappear", I would like to talk about planetary rings. Really, why not?

You may be thinking I'm a moron because everybody knows that Saturn is the only planet with rings, right? Well not so fast. Every large planet has them. We know more about Saturn's because they are seen more easily with a telescope. It's the largest planets that have them, because the sheer hugeness of their mass traps particles in thier orbit, from moons, to gasses, and other stuff. Probably Jupiter's rings are as big or bigger than Saturn's but they just seem smaller and somehow insignificant compared to the massiveness of Jupiter's size. Also Saturn's rings are made of ice and so, look brighter. Anyway this is the current scientific theory.I like to think there is more to it - an explanation of rings touched on the subject of "dark matter" being somehow involved in forming rings. Now this is interesting! If dark matter is involved in rings formation, it might be involved in their disappearance! That is exciting. But what exactly is "dark matter"? I think no one exactly knows...

Beginning of astrology lecture: I had heard that Saturn has the most rings because of Saturn's nature, the rings symbolising limits and containment and structure. So now that Jupiter's lost some, what can this mean, on a symbolic and global scale? And, a red ring, at that! Who knows?

The astrological world must certainly be abuzz with this news - sort of like they were when Pluto was voted against it's planetary "status". Overall this past blow to the astro community was dealt with in 1. disbelief and then 2. denial. It didn't change a thing! They all decided to take a vote. That didn't quite work. So basically it was determined that astrologers should act "as if" nothing had changed, and just press on, which we have been doing, like good little sheep. But it seems to me that by not coming to a clear verdict, a verdict was made none-the-less. Once again astrologers veer away from astronomers observations.

It is funny that Jupiter should lose a ring just as we start to leave the happy era of Sagittarius, ruled by Jupiter, and start to enter Capricorn's realm. Now what would be really amazing would be if Saturn suddenly gained another ring, and a red one at that!
Sort of losing the energy of the collective unconsciousness to be placed on the ring of another planet's. An idea to ponder.

Okay. Tiring of not really knowing what I'm talking about, I checked the news releases from the website pertaining to the Hubble telescope. There is nothing on there about it! I may have started my own elephant story here, and this is how gossip gets started. If anyone knows about missing planetary rings, please let me know! And please see this site:

The world's astro forecast

My ephemeris in light and shadow. It's like a ribcage, or a scaffold, perhaps indicative of holding everything together in a symbolic way.

I'm reluctant to give astrological forecasts for friends and family, but I've been thinking about something my mother taught me about astrology: the location of the planet Pluto is the indicator of world events and eras. My mother was an astrologer in addition to being a musician, and astrology paid our bills when we moved to CA, before she built her musical career in our new hometown.

When she was teaching me the astrological arts, and told me about Pluto's influence on the world's collective psyche, I tuned out, only interested in how the planets were going to influence ME. I was about 16 at the time. I suppose my selfish focus, was natural for my age. But now that I'm older, I realize that the world's problems are my own. All of humanity is influenced, whether you want it or not.

Checking my ephemeris (the table of the planets daily sign positions)I see that Pluto is now in Capricorn. Interesting on a personal level, since I'm a Capricorn with Capricorn rising. This sort of brings Pluto closer into focus, you could say. A force to be reckoned with. Now the world will be facing Capricorn issues too. I am not alone.

Capricorn issues often read like a list of an evil fairy-godmother's hexes, or at least, traits that don't get one voted as most likely to succeed. Contraction, pessimism, conservatism, withdrawal, taskmaster, discipline, work, loss, melancholy. Yuck. It seems as if the world has dove deep into Capricorn already. People are fond of saying, "when the economy recovers..." Bad news: astrologically speaking, I do not believe the economy will ever go back to the way it was! (But this is a Capricorn speaking...)At least not in our lifetimes. Pluto is a distant planet so it stays a long time in each sign. This influences, and creates an "era".

A year ago we saw the end of the era of Pluto in Sagittarius. This may have been unusual for Sagittarians as life must have seemed "fated" or that "destiny" had intervened into their lives, never to be the same. Where Pluto's influence was most felt would be the house ruled by Sagittarius in your natal chart, or its opposing house, Gemini, respectively.

For the world, it went true to form for Sagittarius. All the upbeat Jupiter (ruling Sagittarius) buzzwords would apply: unparalleled growth, optimism, speculation, bigness, brightness, luck, expansion. Good stuff. They are the opposite of Capricorn's (ruled by Saturn) traits. The world had it good for a while. We may go down in history as the most runaway optimistic, richest, generation since the golden age of Egypt.

Now the world needs to get its bearings. It will probably take a while, and it certainly feels uncomfortable. Collectively the world needs to act like a Capricorn. Be cautious, patient, parsimonious, see if you can thrive on less, scale down, be disciplined, tighten our belts, downsize. Feels so different than our last era. What one could remember is that, Yogananda was a Capricorn, Howard Hughs, Elvis, maybe Jesus too. So its not all bad. Only if you want to live irresponsibly and like there is no tomorrow. Get it? Find what works and invest yourself heart and soul into seeing it through in a disciplined yogic way. Shopping sprees should go the way of the model-T or Thunderbird.

What is next for the world from Pluto's perspective? Aquarius: Revolution and overturning of the powers that be. To be followed by the Pisces era: universal love or the end of it all. Hopefully, as the world turns, the cycle will all start over when Pluto enters Aries: the pioneer and new beginnings.

Consider the past: before our big Saggitarian era, was the Scorpio era - the sexual revolution! No one has been the same since. These are not just bumps in the road but new turning points, a new direction. Exciting but scary. Change always is.

These are just thoughts to ponder...yet it sort of makes sense. Mom always is right.

Questions and a gift

Wow. I think I just won a blogger award! It is from my generous daughter. I am so new at this that I'm not sure I deserve it, but it's nice to have. Thank-you, Athena!
She also sent some questions I am supposed to answer - uh oh - I will try to do my best. Here they are, I love questions, and my daughter is so good at thinking them up.

1. What is your favorite book of all time?
"Gone With The Wind" I have fond memories of getting completely obsessed with reading it when I was around 14 and traveling on a concert tour with my mother. At the time we were in Amsterdam. We had a beautiful, spacious hotel room (with a crystal chandelier!) and I stayed there, like a hermit, reading my book the whole time. I think I missed the concerts too. The crocuses were in bloom and also had good food at the hotel, but I never saw anything of the city. Oh wait, I remembere Mom dragged me to the Rjyksmuseam to look at some wonderful old paintings, Rembrant and others, but all I could think of was Rhett Butler!

2. Where in the world do you most want to visit? Why?
Right now, I'd really like to visit Paris. This was another place I went with my mom, and loved. Now I'd like to see it as an adult and with my husband.

3.Craziest thing you've ever done?
Oh, you would have to ask this! I don't do that many crazy things, but probably pulling up roots and moving to Colorado, sight unseen, would take the cake.

4.One celebrity you absolutely cannot stand?
Dennis Quaid - sorry. I don't know why, he just looks too smarmy and his movies aren't very good and I think he's a bad actor.

5. What do you most like about yourself?
That I am a compassionate person.

6. What do you wish you could change about yourself?
I'd rather be a pear shape than an apple shape - thanks Dad!

7. What job would you love to have for a day?
I'd like to be a buyer for a ladies upscale clothing store.

8. What superhero power would you like to possess?
Gosh, I really don't know my super-heroes very well. I guess it would be Catwoman, because she was cool. But really I'd like to have the ability to fly and become invisable if I could, oh also to read really really fast and do incrdible math problems in my head. I don't think Catwoman did any of those things, so...who did?

9. What person (living or dead) would you most like to meet?
I'd like to meet Jesus, you know, just to ask him about God and how he did his healing work.

10. What was one of the best moments of your life?
When I gave birth to you, Athena!

Wishcasting Wednesday

WISHCASTING WEDNESDAY: THE QUESTION: What do you wish to experience?

MY WISH: I WISH TO EXPERIENCE THE REST OF MY LIFE FREE OF FEAR. Specifically, I would like to heal myself of all my phobias!

My mother's day

A huge bouquet of tulips and iris for Mother's day from my son!

Mother's day was very special this year. First, was a trip to my daughter's area for a high tea. She knows that I love teas. This was at a quaint old house/teashop that served delicious food all in a Victorian atmosphere of antique treasures. We feasted on sweet treats and rich egg salad sandwiches, that were divine, while catching up with our girl-talk.

The eyes are the "window to the soul" daughter, Athena's eyes, that speak 1000 words.

Then we drove up higher to her house. We reviewed some yoga poses from the book she gave me. This funny road sign illustrates the crazy drive, as well as some of the seemingly impossible yoga poses.

Before we knew it, we were hungry for dinner, and she made the best vegetarian dinner imaginable! It was stuffed zucchini and a spicy Moroccan style carrot salad. I could not believe how filling and satisfying it was and all without hardly any calories. It's also best for my "dosha" which I have found out, thanks to the yoga book, is called "kapha" and I am not supposed to eat meat and wheat.

Then we watched at least two episodes of the TV show "lost" which is her favorite show and one I've never seen. I liked it. It was very exciting, a bit scary, but not too bad.I'm sorry the show isn't going to be on anymore, but there will probably be reruns.
Then it was time to get me back to my quarters for the night. This was a fantastic small lodge in the area. My room was built in fragrant knotty-pine, had a down quilt, and was the cleanest place I've ever stayed at. I drank so much tea during the day that I almost didn't sleep a wink. I also suspect it was because my hubby wasn't there. Old couples get like that. It also snowed during the night. This is a picture of one of the many stained glass lamps in the beautiful room:

Then next morning we had a fantastic breakfast at a favorite place of my daughter's. Being a vegetarian, she knows all the coolest places to eat. I was able to get foods to satisfy my "dosha" and they had great health drinks too. Green ones, and many other fruit combinations (just like types of yoga poses) it took forever just to decide on one.

Then it was time to make the drive to take me back home.

Next day my husband surprised me with some long stemmed roses for mother's day and he made dinner! After all of this, I felt like a queen!

Then the surprise delivery of the tulips from my son!

All in all, it was a fantastic mother's day! I feel so blessed to have such wonderful children!

The matriarchal tree of life

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, so to observe this day, here is a photo display of pictures of the special women in my own maternal tree of life:

My beautiful daughter, Athena-Marie. So far, the last in a line of very strong women!
5-7-10 At our mother's day high tea, Colorado.

Me, Laurel, circa 1967. Pastel painted in New York City on tour with my mother.

My mother, Phyllis, a famous concert harpist. Portrait painted in oil, circa 1970. California.

My grandmother, Kate. Painting from a playbill for the play, "The Volunteer Organist" circa 1920. She was a stage actress and a Christian Science Practitioner who lived to be 100.

My great, great, great grandmother, Maria-Louise. Painted in oil, circa 1850. Illinois. She was a housewife and mother of four sons.

" a time lacking in truth and certainty and filled with anguish and despair, no woman should be shamefaced in attempting to give back to the world, through her work, a portion of its lost heart." (Louise Bogan)

Love to you all, Athena-Marie, Laurel, Phyllis, Kate, Maria-Louise, and any grandmothers from the past that I may have omitted. You all had huge hearts and their loving effects beat on, still. A very Happy Mother's Day.