Sunday, July 12, 2009

so much to do, so little time, so much enjoyment.

holy criminy.

last weekend, in addition to the mulberry jam, i put up strawberry rhubarb jam, blanched and froze beans, snap peas, and kale, and then all was quiet for the rest of the week. (aside from my roommate passing his driving test, but that's not really in the scope of this blog.)

had an appointment with the surgeon re: the abscess. she looked at my leg, looked at me with some derision, and was like, why are you here? I hadn't had the chance to check it out that day, we were running late. I had noticed some shrinking, and the draining was done. The thing shrank from the size of a nickel and all puffed up to the size of a pea at that point. She prescribed me antibiotics for the staph infection (which I didn't fill for a number of reasons - one, there was no sign of infection left, and two, my regular MD didn't think I needed antibiotics, and I heartily agree) and told me to come back in six weeks. Now it is the size of a b b and still shrinking. It's almost gone.

I accredit this to elecampane. Wholly. This thing has been around for months and has never shrunk beneath the size of a pea. No amount of poulticing, draining, whatever, has ever made it shrink smaller. I've been taking small doses of elecampane 3-5 times a day for something unrelated. I had read that some historic uses (think the bible and hippocrates) were for abscesses and skin issues. I was hoping maybe to clear up the main problem (chronic sinus funk) and possibly see something miraculous with the abscess. Well, the sinus funk is still at work, but the abscess is almost gone. It's a freaking christmas miracle. Score one for herbs.

This weekend was insanely crazily busy, with class on Saturday and another amazing workshop today - earth plasters. There is nothing quite as satisfying as mixing your own building materials from home made wheat paste, straw, water, and dirt! Three of my favorite activities rolled into one - learning, spending time with wes, and working with my hands. I wish I had pictures, I'm covered in mud from stem to stern. Deanne Bednar is incredible, and I'm glad I decided to take the workshop, even on top of class, a wedding reception, and a going away party this weekend. Her home is incredible too - check it out at strawbale studios.

Speaking of busyness this weekend - the great basil harvest of 2009. We harvested a ton from 8 plants. Wes made a giant batch of pesto that's currently in the chill chest. His uncle offered us a stand up freezer for free! We just need to find a spot for it. Our garage will be filled to the brim with kitchen appliances. We have one beer fridge, we're about to get another, and a stand up freezer? I'm in heaven.

Book wise, I finished In Defense of Food today, another gem by Michael Pollan. Quick and easy to read. (I'm not sure if I mentioned finishing Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, but I did. Also fantastic.) Being done with school for now is heartily awesome, I'm catching up on so much reading. Botany of Desire is on tap, but I just dug into Four Season Gardening, as I need to get a jump on the fall crop planting. I'm blown away at what the authors are growing and harvesting all winter long just by using cold frames. They're also Zone 5. Thinking about fresh salad greens from my back yard with the low technology of wood and windows and harnessing the energy of the sun and the earth during our low point of the year has me pretty excited. Also pretty exciting - an upcoming permaculture talk on July 22nd.

So, all in all, lots of things are kicking. Makin medicine, takin medicine, growin food, puttin it up, learning, loving, laughing. Life is good. The only failure this week was something that was neither happy nor foolish, nor anything I have any control over. My big sweet baby Morrison has been diagnosed with feline aids. I'm heart broken, and I know that we've got a long road ahead of us that will be difficult, but it's my goal to keep him as happy and healthy as possible, and make him as comfortable as possible. He's such an amazing creature, and he really helped show me what patience and kindness can achieve. He was a feral kitten that showed up in my yard one day a couple of years ago, and through patience, ended up befriending me. Now he sleeps in my lap, lets me hold him, and in general, is one of the sweetest cats I know. He's a big baby. My mother took it harder than I did, and was sobbing on the phone with me for an hour. :/

On to happier things - Oooooh, managed to somehow finangle Wes into letting me buy 2 books this weekend - Nourishing Traditions and Well Preserved. Drooled over recipes in both...I love my kitchen. My garden. Food. Health. Life. I'm a tactile person, and tactile things are the things that comfort me and make my heart sing. A good meal. A soft blanket. A warm hug. So, while paging through these wonderful books, I laid in bed, nibbled on some Godiva chocolates (hush, I know), and even shared a couple with Wes.

Next up on my stuff to make list - I am thinking about making a plantain and ragweed salve for andrew's mosquito bite problem. Oh, and cherry almond conserve. And some other wonderful foods. And a motherwort tincture. THIS WEEK. Because the motherwort is almost completely done for. And I need to get out and look for Monarda. And possibly St. John's Wort, although that's possibly done for the season as well. Crap. I was hoping to make a st. j's wort oil this year...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

and now for something completely different.

squick warning, if you're grossed out easily, you may want to pass over the next paragraph.

completely different and sucky. so, i've had a boil (or abscess, whatever you want to call it) on my right leg for some time now. I get them from time to time, they're usually not a big deal, although very painful. I got one about 3-4 months ago that refused to fully drain and go away (I know, squick, right?) It'd get big, get small, get big, whatever. Well, I had spent a day taking echinacea to head off what I felt could possibly be an oncoming bout of nastiness, as I felt feverish and yucky. The next day, the boil proceeded to become very, very large. and very painful. (echinacea, I feel, definitely contributed to it's growth. My immune system was like, okay, screw this nonsense, we're just gonna push this mess right outta here.) I couldn't wear pants, couldn't sit, couldn't walk, it was ridiculous. So, I went to my friendly MD and had her cut it open. (Squick again.) Because of the location, it's extremely hard to find a good way to tape it. Plus, the skin is incredibly sensitive, and hey, I can never get it taped without pulling out some short n curlies. This was Thursday. By now, the skin where the paper tape has been applied and reapplied is red, raw, angry, and very, very painful. (The abscess looks fine, though, so it's not some kind of spreading infection.) With limited options for taping, I hobbled to the pharmacy, got GIGANTIC surgical pads in hopes of covering the entire raw area in addition to the abscess, and some of that "it sticks to itself not to your skin" style of tape. Kind of like an ace bandage. Proceeded to wrap the entirety of the top of my thigh in it. I feel totally ridiculous, but at least my skin doesn't sting as bad. I would probably call the on-call doc and ask about when i can stop covering it up, but it's the 4th of July and I'm not dying of any complications, so that feels a little frivolous.

Anyway... in the garden. Wes and I finally waged war on the back yard today. I hoed the long bed that was overrun with weeds, yanked weeds out of the boxes, Wes cut back the weed mayhem and grapevine disaster along the side of the house, and I gave some plants a haircut, pulled out the arugula that was way past edible, and in general, cleaned everything up. I now have grape leaves to brine, I need to get the kale & chard at least partially harvested and blanched and put up, same goes for the green & yellow beans.

One disaster has befallen us so far - we had one beautiful delicious looking purple pepper that we were anxiously awaiting. It was just about done. Today I found it over by the fence, all clawed up and gnawed on. Some woodland creature BASTARD stole my pepper. I know that the animals have to eat, too, and our garden is a sitting duck, but cmon. First all the strawberries and then my pepper? :/

Another thing I don't love is the bugs. Holy bejesus if I were a landscaper I'd have already died of DEET poisoning. Being bitten by mosquitoes can send me into endless fits of "omg what if I contracted equine encephalitis..." I know I let my imagination run away with me, but I've had so many health issues over the last year, dying of some weird disease due to a bug or spider bite is a scary thought.

In good news, I put up my first batch of jam. Mulberry jam, to be exact. It's deeeelicious. And I did it all by myself. :D We harvested the mulberries out of the back yard. I was going to do the strawberry rhubarb jam tonight, but it's looking like that's not going to happen. My first priority is dinner (a delicious squash blossom frittata, which I should probably already have started on), and then dessert (gluten free brownies with gluten free frosting), because being around so many delicious home made treats that I couldn't have last night at my dad's party pissed me off. So, when we went to the store to pick some stuff up for dinner and some stuff for jam making (CRAP I FORGOT THE SUGAR), I saw some gluten free treat mixes and was like, BINGO! I get back to the cart and Wes is all, what's this crap? After he had just offered me a donut he and Andrew were sharing. If looks could kill...he looks at me shooting daggers at him with my eyes, and goes "what?" and then it dawns on him that I can't have any and he's all, oh, sorry.

The treats aren't even the worst. The worst is the beer. I miss it. I miss Huma Lupa Licious, which is currently on sale. I miss being able to sample Wes's home brew. I get to smell them, sure, but it's not the same. A glass of wine does not satisfy, and a mixed drink does not sound appealing. It's the harsh, bitter beer that I crave. Oh well.

Time to make that frittata. And brine those grape leaves. And make the brownies. And think about all the stuff I have to do tomorrow (make jam, harvest veggies & put up, do some homework, harvest and tincture some motherwort in the back yard). Oh! Later, I'l post pictures from our recent garden & field & woods adventures. Scout's honor.