Tuesday, June 30, 2009

food and medicine.

For someone incredibly lazy and out of shape, I sure did a lot of physical activity this weekend. Friday ended early, and I got to go out to Proud Lake with Wes, who had already been all over Ortonville Rec and was hot, sweaty, smelly, and scratched to hell. It's funny how it ends up with us, he's looking for mushrooms, I'm looking for plants, so one of us is always waiting (slightly impatiently) for the other one. We went in the back way, parked by some rocks, and not ten feet from where we parked was a giant clump of exactly what I'd been looking for - monotropa uniflora. A strong sedative, nervine, antispasmodic, as well as for "sore eyes". (Funny how so many of the tinctures on hand are sedative and nervine...) I've also heard (read) it is a strong pain reliever, and have seen anecdotal accounts of it used for shingles, severe muscular pain, and other extremely painful conditions.

I had Wes take a picture of me lovingly cradling this beautiful and amazing plant as I carefully dug it out of the ground (it bruises badly very easily, much like mushrooms), but the only thing he got a shot of was my cleavage. *grumble* actually, several shots.

Speaking of bruising like mushrooms, indian pipe is epiparasitic to the family russulacae, so...lactarius and russulas, from what i understand. that's so wicked.

We walked around after I quickly tinctured it, found some chantrelle pins, a couple of chantrelles, and what we believe to be a blewit. Also, an old hericium?? How could that have survived the winter?! It's not the right season for hericiums. There was also pink wolf's milk slime, which was fun to play with, and some stinkhorn corpses. I harvested about 2 ounces of fresh hepatica triloba, which is mildly astringent and mucilaginous. Wait a minute... *looks around* where'd my big ol bag of liverwort go? I'll hurt someone if they threw it out.

After that, it was out to cass benton for some ill fated disc golfing, because my buddy (whose AMAZING psychology for dummies blog can be found here) lost his disc, and then we had to pick up my roommate and take him to work. we drove by a fire department training session on the way home, only I didn't know that's what it was, all I saw was this huge conflagration, thought it was someones home, and nearly burst into tears. Haha.

Saturday it was off to class, and jesus lord. When my teacher says up hill and down dale, he's not kidding. It felt like 100 degrees out, brightly sunny, and he's trucking along up and down big ol hills. I felt my out-of-shape-ness then, very much, and was quite embarrassed.

Something interesting happened though. A classmate was talking about something one of her family members is afflicted with called dufresne's disease. And I had a little mental spasm, mimicked a contracture with my hand, and then totally interrupted my teacher (like the ass that I am). Wait, that produces contractures, doesn't it? Du-fray-ns. Yeah. So my teacher goes, OHHH, trigger finger! And then starts explaining to her what happens in the disease and the best course of action. I just thought that was really flippin weird, on my part. I've never had Dufresne's, nor known anyone who did. I have a vague recollection of learning about it in massage school (good god I loved pathology, was my favorite class and still is), and it was neat how my body accessed that memory, like my hand involuntarily was like, hey, contracture. Makes sense though - kinesthetic learner accesses memories kinesthetically. go figure.

Sunday was strawberry picking day with my sister, so we rounded Andrew up, threw him in the car, and headed to Ann Arbor for pickins. It was hot, it was tiring, we were hardly finding any strawberries. End of the season, everything's picked over. And this was just the first twenty minutes. My sister and I moved to greener pastures, ie snap peas, which were easy, and we could sit in the dirt and gossip while harvesting. Wes utilized his best wildman talents, moving down rows with the speed and ease of someone who often forages and finds delicious mushrooms and interesting things. I was shocked when he wound up pulling about 8 pounds of strawberries out of said plants. Took me a couple of hours to wash and hull them last night, with help.

in the vein of reading politically charged books on food, i started on animal, vegetable, miracle by barbara kingsolver. it's pretty good, i'm perhaps a third in and i started yesterday. i went up to the vitamin shoppe on lunch to grab some elecampane tincture, of which they were out, but one of my favorite parts about going there are these delcious fruit and nut abominations of granola bars. they're gluten free and delicious, my favorite being almond and coconut. as i was driving home, i happened to glance at the label...it was from australia. i munched guiltily the rest of the way home. here i am reading about a woman who makes her family eat only things which can be had from their county for a year, and i'm eating something flown in from australia. *cringe*

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

in which i am inspired.

re: the garden. mary, mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? certainly not with silverbells, but with lots of stuff popping up. (and yes, i'm certainly quite contrary).

i don't understand why i can't seem to do right by my spinach. this is the second year in a row we have had some sad ass spinach. but! the beet greens are coming along splendidly, and i do so love them. we've been harvesting lettuce and beet greens, and of course my arugula bolted. everything is growing nicely, and i can say i have yet again failed as a gardener, because jesus, those squash plants are crowding everything else in the bed. i mean, i knew they would, but still... our kale & chard is looking good, but the broccoli is looking sad, and we lost another watermelon plant. we had some good rains last weekend, and two of my large evening primrose plants decided to collapse. weird. never seen it before. so we staked 'em. ugh, the weeding. my in ground bed has been taken over something fierce with grass. i could weed all week and still have some left. i need to go get a hoe and see if i can somehow manage to hoe some of the weeds and not have to pull them by hand.

other good things this week: bought a pair of keen targee II hiking boots at the REI garage sale. original price? $125. paid? $10. the seam ripped on one side, nothing some shoe goo won't fix. hopefully quickly, as i have a hike coming on saturday and we're supposed to have some nasty weather. haven't decided if i'll go or not if we do happen to have nasty weather. survey says, if we're at a high chance of nasty thunderstorms, i'll be passing that one up, which is really disappointing; not only do i really want to be on that hike, but i've paid a good amount of money for the ongoing intensive. stupid thunderstorms. stupid anxiety.

stopped eating wheat...when? not last week. the week before. so, i'm in week three of no wheat, i think as of today. i've eaten plenty of gluten free bread, though (couple of slices in the morning, and sometimes a mid afternoon sandwich). :/ and some brown rice pasta. it's not terrible. i feel pretty good, actually. now, in another week and a half, i'm going to add it back in and see how i feel. i'm thinking my first wheat containing meal will be four cheese agnolotti with freshly snipped basil from the garden, some nice fruity olive oil, and cracked black pepper. holy crap, that sounds incredible.

sinus infection is officially old news. in the end, i did opt for stronger antibiotics on top of facial steams, nasal irrigation with a variety of tinctures, positional drainage, etc. i had been taking some astragalus, but stopped taking everything when i began a round of omnicef. it has worked well in the past with little to no side effects, and kicked the shit out of the severe sinus infection i had last fall that would. not. die. now that i'm done with those, i'm taking a bromelain sinus ease nutraceutical (which i normally detest, but i'm terrified of it coming back), the usual gaba glutamate balancer, and astragalus, over the short term. i have not been taking my vitamins. i heartily dislike the vitamins i have, and think i'm going to re-order the deva vegan ones. the ones i have now make my stomach hurt, and they make me feel weird.

last night was a rare night indeed. roommate didn't have to work (and thus didn't need a ride), and went out with friends, so wes and i had the house to ourselves, and had a quiet evening, the likes of which we haven't seen since...january? february? we sat out on the porch, he with a glass of home brew, me with a glass of delicious red wine he picked up for me, and talked about what we want out of life, what we'd like to try our hand at, what our goals are. it's really neat to see how far we've come from where we were two years ago, when everything was falling apart. we're headed for the country. i don't know if that's upper middle class suburban conceit that makes us want to be back-to-the-landers, or if it's something deeper than that. in any case, we're working on a plan.

ordered the rest of the crap i need to do some water bath canning, finally. i'll be making mulberry jam and strawberry jam next week/weekend, so if you know me, don't be surprised if i push some off on you. i can't believe i waited so long. we'll be picking strawberries with my sister on sunday. my kiddo's coming, too. :)

wes will be getting his turkey hunting permit next month. he's talking about deer hunting again too, and there's something strange and wild in his eyes when he talks about it. it's not blood lust, per se, but there is something so organic and earthy about doing it yourself, and wanting to take part in the cycle of life, death, and rebirth (as a delicious meal). as a former vegetarian, i'm a little appalled at myself that i'm encouraging this sort of behavior, but something has changed in me, and i'm not quite sure what it is.

finally finished the omnivore's dilemma. holy crap, how did i ever put that book down? i had gotten about 60 pages in, and abandoned it (don't ask me why). finished reading the last 200-300 odd pages over 3 days, it was so good. highly recommended.

and in inspirational news, hobby farms is about to put out a magazine aimed at the urban (and suburban) crowd looking to do some urban homesteading. it's called (how appropriate) urban farming. i'm excited. now if i could just get a couple of chickens into the back yard without getting busted by the city....(it's illegal unless there's 175 feet between your birds and your neighbors house, and our WHOLE LOT is 120 x 60)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

it's not funny. okay, it totally is.

so, a couple of years ago, i bit the bullet and bought a prius. it was a good idea at the time, because both my husband and i drive all over hell's half acre for work, and we used to love road trips. i've been working at home since last september, and going into the office maybe twice a month. we get great gas mileage, and the car did well in the snow until the tires went bald. it's been almost two full years, and i have few complaints, until now.

wes lost my car keys. both of them. gone. we ended up having to pay $400 to get one replaced. AND my car had to be towed in. AND it had to be dragged down the driveway and up onto the truck, because there is no way to override the car and put it in neutral without the key. AND i had to sign a damage waiver for that. and in a bitter twist (which i knew was coming) he found the car key this morning. a week later. that earned an " i hate you" from me. (i don't, really, but it's not like we had $400 to throw away.)


what have i learned this week?

my vegetables are growing....slowly. one of my kale plants bit the dust. ditto on one of my watermelon plants. saw what a garden is SUPPOSED to look like, instead of our hap hazard collection of disaster. in a month, those beds are going to be overgrown and probably overcrowded. went out to my friend's parents property, spent awhile in their back 40. harvested wild geranium and solomon's seal. ah! that's what i learned... solomon's seal root can look very, very different. i emailed my teacher (mentor??) about it, and he was like, i've seen them thin as a cocktail straw and thick as my fingers, don't know why they're different. anyway, i was under the impression that solomon's seal wasn't widespread. boy, was i wrong. i really need to get more familiar with jewelweed. i'm pretty sure i saw quite a bit, and that would've been useful to harvest, since my father in law has poison ivy. wes also found the first of this year's oyster mushrooms.

and we walked several miles. which is good, because i'm lazy.

i'm really, truly starting to suspect a wheat allergy in myself. lots of beer=return of the sinus infection. which, you know, could also be lots of sugar=kills the immune system, which was running at a low clip anyway. but it seems suspect i have such bad sinus problems, get infections easily, and have some other issues which could possibly be related. i'm rampantly addicted to bread and pasta though. :( i made it about a week without and wanted to kill myself. or someone else. maybe, over the short term, using "substitute" products like gluten free bread and brown rice pasta, and then switching more to a protein based diet...

also pressed out violet leaf tincture and nettle seed tincture this weekend. put up lemon balm & sage tinctures, and i'm wondering how in the hell anyone manages to tincture ANYTHING fresh, 1:2 (same goes for dried, 1:5). 1 ounce of wet plant material fills a pretty good volume as compared to 2 ounces of liquid. i mean, i've shoved it into smaller jars, like jelly jars, and i cannot seem to figure out how to tincture such an amount in a 1:2 manner. i feel like an idiot, and like i'm missing some important point, so i guess for now, until i feel less embarassed about asking such dumb questions, i'll just continue with simpler's, but this doesn't satisfy the scientist in me.

i was poking around on our insurance provider's website today, because i'm about to get a quote on new health insurance, and holy jesus, they have a HUGE section on CAM. i didn't realize i get discounts on vitamins, massages, acupuncture, nutritional counseling, etc. like, big discounts. *rubs hands together* i wonder how to get onto their provider list for massage. would probably help to be licensed, i guess, but i don't want to be until i have to be, and i'm not paying $300 to get papers through NCTMB or MBLEX until michigan decides which one is mandatory. plus, i think that also requires having an office. i'm not licensed to do business through my city, and they won't license me out of my house, i don't think. and i'm pretty sure if you're linking up with an insurance company to offer discounts to their clients in order to drum up more business for yourself, you need to not fly under the radar. just a thought, though.

re: vitamins. i was looking at the women's multivits that i get discounts on, and pass. i do not want vitex in my vitamins. nor do i want green tea leaf extract in it. a - if it's caffeinated, that'd be very bad, as i don't respond well to caffeine, typically. i try to keep my caffeinated beverage consumption to 1 cup or less a day, or else i start freaking out. b - even if it's decaffeinated, i already take a gaba/glutamate balancer with decaffeinated green tea in it, and how much is too much? i'm not hip to taking bilberry every day, either. i'm going to continue to poke around, but... eh. i was also surprised to see that they've linked up with a nutritional treatment for health issues site. not to mention, some of the "anxiety" recipes sound FANTASTIC.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Well! A goodly long time has passed, the seasons have changed a couple of times over, and we find ourselves on the cusp of spring and summer. What's old? I still have a sinus infection. (No, I kid you not.) It's not the same one, although I have had a couple between now and then. I had just kicked one over the last couple of weeks, and after this weekend it came roaring back. Why? Well, if I weren't so lazy, I'd walk over and get my Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine and start citing studies about how sugar impacts the immune system. Suffice to say, spending the weekend overindulging in tasty adult beverages was apparently not what my body had in mind, so it gave me the big middle finger, and I'm sick again.

Current protocol: nasal irrigation 1-2x daily with a saline/xylitol blend, with 15 drops of goldenseal tincture in 2 cups of water. 1 ml of an alcohol free extract of astragalus twice a day. rest, rest, rest, and lots of fluids. mullein/garlic oil in the ear. (lots of popping and squeaking when i blow my nose, doctor has affirmed that there is fluid in my ears). a vegan multivitamin/mineral supplement. and as always, a gaba/glutamate balancer to ensure i don't totally lose my mind. :) I will probably be switching astringents though, as goldenseal no longer appears to be indicated, my snot has changed from thick green and yellow to thick white. i keep meaning to run up to the local shop here and get an elecampane tincture, i hear it's fantastic for pulling out old infection, as well as catarrhal conditions that irritate the stomach/lungs, although I fear that won't come in handy this time, as it's used for yellow/green catarrh. I'd have to check with someone more experienced than me, but I think for the time being, it's a consideration best put off.

I wish I could say I've been eating well lately, but I certainly haven't. I know that doesn't boost the immune system.

So what's new, and what's good? Well, got lots of culinary/medicinal herbs planted (meaning, ones that have dual purpose as medicinal and culinary). Wes constructed two 9' x 4' raised beds for me, since our plants last year got all diseased and from what I understand, a lot of it came from the soil. Last weekend we went on a planting extravaganza, and between the culinary herb bed (which also contains beans, garlic, leeks, shallots, and onions), the small hole in our patio (which now contains evening primrose and a blueberry busy), and the boxes (which contain a laaaarge variety of vegetables), we should be all set once we get the watermelons planted. We're going to try a method culled from Mother Earth News, and plant them in 40 pound bags of organic compost with drainage holes cut in the bottom. We tried another of their no-dig planting methods when we realized that we had overbought for the beds - laid newspaper down, soaked it, covered it with topsoil, covered that with compost, and planted the remainder of the plants in there. It currently houses 4 broccoli plants and 2 kale plants. My greens are all looking a little sad right now, I've got red leaf lettuce, kale, spinach, head lettuce....and something else, I can't remember. My arugula's been planted for weeks, and is taking off quite nicely. The pepper plants look awesome, but my strawberry plants keep getting pillaged by the squirrels. Damn squirrels.

You learn something new every day. I was looking at seeds at the local hardware store, trying to find some parsnips for a fall crop, and came across cat grass. I happened to glance at the latin name for cat grass. AVENA SATIVA. ....are you kidding me? How did I not know that milky oats and cat grass are one and the same?! Delicious, indeed, and nutritive as all get out. I have dried oat straw, but I had no idea where to get fresh tops for a milky oats tincture. Guess I know where I'll be getting some now. From my garden, if I can keep the cats out of it. (Alex has taken to peeing in my raised bed...I wonder how many times I'll have to chase him out with the hose...)