Flowers · Garden · Herbal Medicine · Magic · Nature · Photos · Uncategorized

Trip into Town

I am truly an introvert, these windy, sunshiney scattered shower days are so deeply quiet, so deeply fulfilling.  The neighbor, who is only here for two weeks, checks in periodically, to charge something electric, to shower with his wife and children, to ask if there is anything I need, or stops along the road to ask me if I have picked any wild blueberries yet.  Other than that my only human interaction is a phone call from my mom, to my daughter, the pirate in his way only answers his phone, he is incapable of calling.  The counselor told me, before I left to plan outings into public, but I hardly need it, I am feeling astonishingly strong and deeply moved, and touched by mother earth.  Herons abound.
But each time I venture into one of the towns nearby, I am rewarded with just the right things.  Today I am absolutely dizzy with congestion in my sinus, I found eucalyptus rub, and a book by Rosemary Gladstar, outlining several of her herbal remedies that are in the correspondence course on loan from my friend.  Oh yes and wasabi, ginger chocolate truffles.

Colstfoot leaves ( I believe)
Calendula Flower
Barkeaters Chocolates and Funny River Trading, both local businesses.


I have loved the quiet, and the long walks with the dogs, and the breeze keeping the bugs at bay.  Especially the breeze keeping the bugs at bay.

Today I raided my friend’s cupboards, pulling out skullcap and lobelia, and vodka to make tinctures with fresh herbs from her garden, some to dry on her screen, though she has plenty of all jarred in the basement.  Tomorrow I have to go and get more vodka, I used up the last drops, not much more than four shots worth, but I hate to leave her empty.  These tinctures designed to help me sleep.  Plus I stole a little of her mullein oil and put some fresh mullein flowers in it, to make ear drops for my daughter, who suffered terribly with ear infections as a baby, and still has to have the wax removed from her ears, and has frequent ear aches.

Herbal Tinctures
Herbal Tinctures

Off to deliver some cucumbers and squash to the neighbor, they will go bad before the family returns, and are more than I can possibly eat.

Dreams · Flowers · Garden · Herbal Medicine

Creek Water Lullaby

I fall asleep to the sound of water, napping on the sunporch in the afternoon, in the dark cool bedroom at night, waking to the sound as the sun shines in the window by my head at dawn.  There is something soothing about this constant sound, something quite unlike the constant hum of traffic, and electricity and sirens and the exclamation of the occasional gunshot that is city living.  Creek water lullaby, better than the hum of my own mind, the noise it makes inside my head.


And there is something else here, in this vacation designed as a way to make art, but instead I see the light of other things entering into my consciousness.  Things I am afraid to speak of, for fear of the corruption of corporate education latching on to my intellectual rebellion, and finding salvo in my words.  I am quietly absorbing words like Waldorf School, Coyote Education, Unschooling, Homeschooling, Earth Arts, Creative Pursuits, and a distinct absence of dependence on the trappings of modern culture, things like commercials, television, DEET, Twinkies, Common Core and Facebook sound foreign coming from my mouth, and my mind is tonguing the taste of something of my youthful idealism; how exactly did I move away from food cooperatives, medicinal herbs, naturalism, and environmentalism?  Where did I turn wrong, and now that I see it like an anti billboard how can I look away from it.  This hellacious year did its number on my psyche, and I am rebelling in the only way I know how, trying to find a five year plan that gets me out of it, because I suspect it will otherwise eject me from it, vomiting me out or tossing me in the trash with my archaic notion of learning for the joy rather than the pedagogy, of making art for the pleasure instead of some measurable objective tethered mercilessly to the common core.  Teaching children to think for themselves is an expense that cannot be afforded in the era of consumer capitalism, people who think for themselves will not buy into eat this and you will be thin, buy this and you will be rich, wear this and you will be beautiful, play this and you will be popular, the sponsors of our cultural solicitude cannot bear the outsider.

borageflower2 borageflower

My friend grows herbs and makes medicinal salves and ointments, and today, I gathered blue starred borage flowers, lemon yellow mullein flowers and fragrant lavender flowers for her, and laid them on a screen in the upstairs bedroom to dry.  We took the mullein flowers and put them in a double boiler with olive oil to make an ear ache medicine.  Then we put pre-prepared calendula oil, sitting on the shelf for 2 months and shaved beeswax stirring frequently until the beeswax melted and then added a few drops of lavender essential oil and poured it into small jars.  I took notes and enjoyed the exploration of the garden and learning about various uses of these specific herbs.

calendulaleaf calendulalavendersalve

We apply the finished salve, A. to her post surgical foot, me to bug bites and an odd abrasion on my ankle that is not healing particularly well, specifically because it seems to be a magnet for the toe of my other shoe to kick, regularly, and quite unexpectedly, for no apparent reason.  I have removed band aids which only seem to keep the wound open further, salve on.  Tomorrow morning I shall report the results!

Fishing · Flowers · Nature · Photos · Small Joys

Visiting Pirate

What a day it was yesterday, my whole body is feeling well used, my muscles are sore, but a good sore, literally every single one.  The pirate joined me up here, late Wednesday evening, I had been watching W. while her parents went out for dinner with friends.  It had rained nearly all day, but I squeezed in a short walk to gather yarrow for medicinal purposes and a good weed in the garden before the sprinkles and drizzle led to a full rain.  I sat in the sun room and taught W. some embroidery stitches; she is a quick study and I love that about her.

embroidery wscolors


Yesterday was a picture perfect day, not too warm, some light clouds in the sky and sunny.  Maybe the first day with no rain at all in weeks.  The pirate and I went out to the lake and paddled and fished for three hours.  Nibbles on every cast, perch, pumpkin seeds, sunfish, and he caught a big pike, it is a temptation to fish there, throwing back every fish, but knowing you catch one frequently, it is like an exercise in desire, in wanting, the next one will be the big one, and you are there not noticing that two hours have passed.   I noticed my legs were getting burned and even though he wanted to stay out a little longer, I turned my boat and headed back to the car, good thing too because he has a vicious sunburn.  We went into town for a sandwich and to stop at the roadside stand for a dozen eggs and then drove around trying hard to get lost in the woods with a different route home, eventually we made it back, and after a short rest headed up the hill for a walk.  The sun was still up but under the shaded road it was cool and we were protected.  He spent much of the walk moaning and complaining about the rubbing of his wool socks on the burn.





The light of the afternoon sun on the side of the mountain was beautiful, the dogs scared up turkeys and chased them up the side of big hill and then they splashed across the creek to rejoin us.  We continued up to the base of the hiking trail, up the side of the mountain, where the cave is, a spot where the creek cuts through rocks going under on one side and spilling out the other.




Flowers · Musings · Nature

Aborted Paintball and Morning Constitutional

I have discovered that I despise paintball.  It took about five minutes.  First I did not like the mask over my eyeglasses, it was uncomfortable but it made them feel stretched out, or something, and I since they are on my face while I am awake, stretched out glasses, no.  I also was poorly dressed, I knew it the minute we got there and the only people in shorts and a tshirt were three teenaged boys, and I.  I am pretty sure I hit people right off, but then, I got hit, in the neck, the bare neck and it was so painful that I literally could not catch my breath, in the next second another hit to my left knuckles, that was when I started crying and swearing.  We gathered in the safe zone, I put down my paintball gun and mask and walked to the cooler of beer and sat in an Adirondack chair for the remainder.  No thanks.

This morning I was achy and spent about a half hour talking myself out of a walk, but then once I got up, I decided, I should, I had to.  It is this thing where I want to use this time, to walk, which is a mindful practice for me, but it is so many other things.  It is good for my mental health, for my overall fitness, and I suspect in there someone will say calories in, calories out, you are walking everyday, though I suspect the scale will not budge.  It never does.  I am eating healthier, since my friend here is a whole foods, low carb, fresh foods, fresh fruits and veggies, and herbal medicine kind of person.  A thing I am envious of, because I started out wanting this life, and lost it somewhere around the time my daughter was born.

I think about how my morning yesterday was all about doing it my way and the satisfying feeling of competence, and how it ended with a stinging smack that reminded me that I am weak and wimpy.  So much for that confidence, so much for my belief that I can do it.  Yay.  No.  Fail.  I am embarrassed.  More for crying.  More for not expecting the sharp breath sucking sting of that ball on my tender neck.

I sleep fitfully, awake alot, thinking about how this comes around again and again, how just when I think I am doing it right, I get a good solid smack.  I am not doing anything right.

At least the morning is beautiful, and my walk, despite the very itchy quality of my legs and feet, is peaceful and mentally, very healthy, probably physically too, although, it is marvelous to not weigh myself, and to not give a damn what my naked body looks like.  Why are men such judgmental assholes about women’s bodies?

rose swallowtailbest grasshopper alldogs wildflower

Flowers · Nature · Photos

Day 3 and a Morning Paddle

It is a challenge, getting a canoe on top of my car which does not have a roof rack, but after several tries, I am golden.  It isn’t a long drive to the place where I am going to flat water canoe, and I drive there slowly, but I have done it well.  I almost fall in the water getting into the canoe, almost but not.  And then from there on, I am blissful.  The day is overcast, so I am concerned it will rain, but thankfully it doesn’t.

The water is calm and after I paddle away from the camps, and into the little coves, it is deeply quiet.  Loons call to each other, but far from where I am, the lilies float as peacefully as I.


waterlily betterrock


I worry, when I am with others that I am not confident, and I become concerned that I am doing it wrong.  I know where this comes from, the critical voices of so many, including myself.  The odd thing is when I am out here alone, I know I am not perfect, but I am okay with it.  What I mean is, that I have a less critical view of myself, when others are not nearby.  I don’t care if I dribble water on myself, and my shorts are wet in the seat.  I don’t care if my paddling is uneven, I don’t care if I get there quickly, and ironically the boat almost steers itself, and I am deeply at peace.  And also, I take the time to play with turning the boat, stopping the boat, all to take pictures, but it helps me to learn to try it, and not to hear judgment.  And yet somehow in this life, I find judgment from so many, but it is in the absence of this negativity that I do my best.


An hour, perhaps two, my shoulders ache as I pull into the shore, and loading up the canoe is so much easier, on the way home, I think I must have a goofy grin on my face.  This. Now. This. I. Can. REALLY. Dig.

Flowers · Fungus · Healthy Eating · Nature · Photos

Adirondack Summer






I watch the rain forecast and the flood warnings carefully and in the end decide it is safe to drive my usual route past the dam and along the creek.  The water is high below the damn, and the reservoir does not in any way resemble its December dry creek bed.  It is a lake now, and close the the road where once there was sand.  The creek is high and fast, but not unlike I have ever seen it.  It is good to be in the quiet place, where I help my friend who is recovering from surgery.  I want to be useful.  I do not want to be the irresponsible and lazy 22 year old that once lived with her.  We eat whole grain pasta with garlic scape pesto and beet greens and chard sauteed with garlic scapes with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon.  I give her daughter a drop spindle and bag of roving she sets to work learning.  I drink less than I usually do when I am here, she on pain medication, me determined to not spend the next 45 days of my life hungover.



In the morning the skies are grey, and I grab a rain coat and the dog and we begin the trek up the long hill.  The song of the stream serenaded me in my sleep and I am well rested, windows wide and cool oxygen rich air deepened my slumber.  As I walk fast up the steep hill, I immediately regret not bringing my hat, the black flies and mosquitoes are nearly nothing, it is the deer flies that pester us both, up and back.  Soon I pick a piece of cedar and swing it over my head and along the back of the dog, keeping the flies at bay.  He is slow on the way there and often looks back towards home, but I keep on until we get to the barn.  I think, erroneously that the way down is easy and burns nothing, but my legs and lower back tell me otherwise, I can feel it in my muscles.  This is good.  I stop to take pictures of bladder campion and find a wild strawberry that I promptly eat.  Delicious.


There is literally no deep and meaningful thought in this, only hope, potential, and wanting this summer to be special, and productive.



Dreams · Flowers · Musings · Nature · Photos · Small Joys · Strong Woman · Treasure

being in the right place

My Mom has made her annual visit this week, and we decided to take a trip to the place she was born, her father was born, where relatives once lived in house after house, where I lived as a child and where my sister spent the months and years after my father passed away.  I dream of that place, at night,  my visual memory a powerful gift that reminds me in the often broken and disturbed sleep, of places I have seen long ago, but do not remember with my verbal brain.  I could not tell you of these places, I only see them in my sleep.

The hill we once sledded down, flattened for a new house.  The area where we once lived, nearly unrecognizable, but between my mom, my sister and then me, the memory of passages and ways returns.  My Mom tells me to turn around, but I remember this other way.  We argue over trout streams I fished with my grandfather, and confused about the turns in the road that were forgotten.

There it is, I tell her, nope, its not its up ahead, but I am right and we turn around and park on the sandy bank.  We walk up a rocky, grassy driveway that is trickling with water.  She finds a wild strawberry, I am jealous, remember the taste like it was from my breakfast.

photo by my sister AGR the old homestead
photo by my sister AGR the old homestead

And there is the home my grandfather was born in, just a half mile or so from the now renovated old school house he, and then my uncles attended.  My mom born in a lumber camp back in the woods behind this house, whose owners clearly use it, love it.

Indian Paint Brush, orange wildflower
Indian Paint Brush, orange wildflower



The dogs romp in the damp grass and roll in the watery lawn.  Indian Paintbrush simple, beautiful dots the tall grass with daisies, and foxglove which could be a hundred years old or more.  We do not stay long but take many photos.


We drive on and after passing a house which was once my great Aunt Lucy’s house we drive up the hill to an old house above the small town and stop.  My Mom goes to the door and an old man steps out I hear him from the car.  I know you.  You are Vel.  He kisses her and hugs her pleased as punch to see her.  I get out and as I walk up he points at me and says, You are a C. (my mother’s maiden name).  I see in this man’s face, son of my Aunt Lucy, her eyes, my grandfather’s chin, all of our noses match and above his eyes, the double lines that have marked my forehead for most of my life, a perfect match, how I have cursed those lines as a scowl, but in his smiling face I see they are just a part of my family lineage, just lines on a forehead.

We had not planned it, had planned against, but later as we drive up the hill, I see the house of a woman my mom has known for most of her life, childhood to now.  A falling out split them apart.  My sister and I want to stop and she says okay.  We chat for only a few minutes but then her husband comes home, he hobbles, old, up the hill to say hello.  And a few minutes later, her grandson, and grand nephew drive up in a tractor.  The minute the grandson starts to walk up the bank to us, my mom gets tears in her eyes, and I am astounded, he is the picture of his father, even in the way he walks, and for a moment I am 12 again, we played together, hours and hours, and lived like cousins, had Thanksgiving and Easter together, our dad’s hunted together, my brother and the boys hunted together, sleep overs and farting contests, and days picking berries in the hot summer sun, and swimming in the rocky reservoir that now hides the house my other cousin once lived in, as a boy, and riding bikes on the same roads we traveled today, hiding in old houses in the pouring rain, while this now old woman beside me, drove out looking for us.

As we get ready to leave, we are saying our goodbyes.  I shake hands with the boys, and am pleased that this 14 year old’s shake is that of a man’s strong, firm, calloused hands, and his blue eyes straight into mine.  And then the husband, my dad’s best friend of many many years hugs me.  Sometime last year he told my sister that he missed my dad, and she started to cry, and there in his yard, he kisses my cheek and says quietly “love you” and I feel teary eyed and for a moment as though my own father has said this to me.

This day has been good for me, there is something about this place, it is home, still.  There is something about family, you can see yourself in their faces, though you have not seen them in decades, there is something in the old friendships that makes you know you are loved even from a place where the ghosts walk.  And suddenly in this day, I realize that I was always loved here, the place I wasn’t loved, was in my own heart, and in the place I settled in because of whom I was with.  I tell my sister, I thought they did not care for me, but now I see that they did.  They always wondered why you never visited, she says.  And the sparkle in my cousin’s eye, as he looked at my mom, made me see she too was loved in this place this place where all feels right.


All things melancholy · Flowers · Nature · Small Joys · Strong Woman · Treasure


He has his moments, this man I call pirate, some good, lots of annoying, some bad.  Sometimes  I see how he is and imagine in my animal brain, this must have been how X saw me sometimes, when he called me common.   But when I come in from the heat he asks me, did you see the flowers I brought you?  I go back out and under the window by the air conditioner there is a bag of trillium bulbs, ready to be planted.  And I find myself asking, is there anything less common than bringing such a treasure, like a fairy king, to my fairy queen feet?  My grandmother told me once in the smoke scented kitchen with the chrome and vinyl kitchen set I see in the movies all the time, that a boy who brings flowers to his mother, or grandmother will make a good husband.  My man brings me, not flowers from a shop, but flowers from the deep of the forest, the kind of flowers that linger for years in his own back yard.  His bright eyes are like deep pools, when I kiss his forehead.  I LOVE trillium.  I tell him.

He tells me he is going out, and I do not ask questions, phone calls,and text messages in the planning and all evening no word from him.  And I am not jealous, not really ever, just annoyed at how young his last love interest is, compared to him, although she starkly rejected him, and they still remain friends.  Is there any more honorable man than one who you never question, whom you do not feel jealous of?  Whom you know, would never shower and skip dinner, only to come home masking his woman scent with some other chemical, what is more common than a cheater who lies?

I am still so damn angry.


I step outside to plant my trillium, still stupid and lazy from an hour long massage.  The smell of the neighbors lilacs in full bloom stops me in my tracks and I go and reach over the fence and pull down the overhanging branch.  Three blossoms in my hand, and now filling my private room with their heavenly scent.  I let the dog smell them and he wags his tail at me. I tell him, I found lilies of the valley out back, and you love the smell of those!


Is there anything less common than the luxury of monthly massages?  I say not.  I am royalty.  And my body is grateful to me for losing the weight of a big empty house, I never really could afford.   My gifted therapist works my sore back, and I feel healed, not all the way but soon I hope I will return to the woods.  The president of Clark Reservation writes to me, begging me to return, telling me she misses me.

Is there anything less common than this, knowing this is your place, though his woman still seeks to insert herself, like a can of tuna in a peanut butter sandwich, out of place like a honking goose in the middle of a busy intersection.  My mind is as broken as my heart, but I do not go out of my way to emotionally injure others for the pleasure of it pretending I have no idea how much I am hurting that person,  that is the most common of all.

I still cannot return, whether my body is healed or not.

My eyes are rain on the ocean.

Changing Seasons · Festivals · Flowers · Magic · Musings · Nature · Pirates · Small Joys · Strong Woman · Treasure · Trees

Turkey Hunting Day

It is now turkey hunting season, I celebrate such a marvelous thing.  The pirate rose well before dawn, nearly still the middle of the night and left, I heard him rustling around, and then I fell back to sleep.  I woke at 6am from dead asleep to wide awake, strange dreams of college friends involved in strange events.  The coffee was still warm in the insulated carafe left with my mug on the counter.  And I made breakfast and wasted time watching TED talks for a couple hours.  Then I cleaned the bathrooms, and the kitchen, and did laundry and cat boxes, and organized my bedroom opening the curtains and windows wide.  The magnolia tree outside my bedroom window cast a stunning pink light over my whole room, to go with the rainbows dancing from the crystal in my east facing window.

Work done, I took my embroidery out to the patio, but the sun was hot and I was concerned for burning my nearly burnt skin from a long day at the Crawfish Festival on Saturday.  Only careful monitoring of my sun-screened skin, and making my sun loving pirate sit in patches of sun near the shade kept me from burning so early in the season.  And my awesome fishing hat.  I took my books and boxes, and needles and threads up the hill to where my freshly repainted metal table sits in the shade under a spruce tree.  I trucked up and down the hill for water, for lunch, for water for the dog, for laundry switching, for forgotten items or dropped things, taking time in between to clean the dog mess off the lawn on one trip, carrying a very angry cat up, only to have her realize that this was a lovely place to lay contentedly in the shade and get scratched regularly.

The pirate returned sometime in the middle of the afternoon.  I don’t even know when.  I just know that I embroidered for about 5 hours, happily content in my zone.  Finally he came up and lay in the sun on a blanket for about an hour as I drank a beer, and worked on my project.  The sun was setting into the evening, all day long the pink and white petals floated down on me like snow, but as the sun was setting it was magical, like a scene from one of my favorite movies by Akira Kurasawa, where the peach blossoms rain, tinkling like bells on a crying boy.

Love days like this.

Love, love.

Changing Seasons · Flowers · Musings · Nature · Treasure

Treasure Hunt

It is 4am and I am awake, thinking even 15 more minutes of sleep is worth the next two hours. I think about happiness, what does it mean to be happy?  I think my dad spent the better part of his life being clinically depressed, and I think sometimes, maybe all the time, that it might have a genetic component.  I know I should be happy.  I have a good job, with good benefits, I have a beautiful albeit at times struggling adult child, I have a decent place to sleep, plenty of spending money and few expenses, food to eat, hobbies to occupy my mind and soul, good friends, family that loves me, a great yard, pets that love me, dote on me, students who love me so why in this deep dark part of morning do I sigh as I turn over and place my clasped hands against my cheek and pull the covers over my head, am I NOT happy?  What is missing?  And I know it is not an external thing, it is something on my insides.  I know I need to return to meditation, and spend more of my time on art.

I think of this event horizon.  When I first met the ex, I had this intense feeling that he would have a profound effect on my life.  I had always thought it was a positive effect, but I now know it was totally not that, it was this other thing.  It was like being sucked into a black hole, you are one thing on one side, and you are stretched to an unrecognizably thin, tattered, atom infinite blobby particulate version of your self, where every cell is a separate entity.  Nothing in my life has ever been the same, every new thing that enters my life, must pass through that black hole before I can even begin to process it.  When I was struggling he texted me (his stalker girlfriend?) I am not sure I lose track of what happened, its course and its places, “I have moved out of our house, I am not coming back.”  As if I wanted him back, because as of the first part of October, I never ever did.  I could see that I was already unalterably torn apart.  As though I had been dismembered and sewn back together and he was saying, your body will never be the same again. *S*  Really?  I didn’t know.  *S*

Ironically my day unfolds beautifully, it is a picture perfect teaching day.  I go to help a teacher with a Literacy project which requires a poster as one component of its final product.  Two boys sit on either side of me, best friends, talking talkity chatty heads in my class.  I show the one how to draw a zebra, and he struggles immensely.  At first, but slowly this incredible beautiful graphic/design image appears and grows, I make him go back and draw lines he draws half-assed, I make articulate the decision-making process of an artist, should I do this, or that, what should I put here, is it too empty over here, what kind of tree would  be near a zebra in the wild.  And at the end his pride is evident.  I point out to him that we have been sitting side by side for an hour and a half, and he hasn’t even budged one inch from his chair.  His buddy on my other side draws a snake, and he admits he is jealous of his friend’s zebra, but also that he loves the picture.  And also there is a question from him.  Ms.  I haven’t talked in a long time, we never sit this close together and not talk but there is a question in the sound of his voice, and I explain to him about silencing the mind, that art and talking come from different places.  They confuse your mind, he states simply.  Yes. Exactly.

Later my second worst class is there and they are wonderful, so good for once it surprises me.  And after a student from another school comes in as a transfer to the special education class.  I greet her warmly, take her hands in mine and tell her she has a friend already at this school.  Her mom is visibly relieved.  I needed a day like this.  Maybe she did too.

I pull in the driveway and the magnolia tree is pink in its full bloom, and the flamingo in the front yard is a stunning accent to it.  I change and put get my tools from the shed,  I kneel to pull weeds and discover so many plants hiding under years of neglect, forget-me-not, primrose, scented thyme, cinquefoil, Salvia, oregano, rosemary, parsley, dragons tail, the dog is leashed to the iron bench on the porch, he lies in the shade panting from the heat.  There is a pleasure in this, I think, and I realize that I need these kinds of comforts of routine, of the outdoors to rejuvenate.  And for a moment I feel intense hatred for the stalker for taking away my park time.  But I let it pass, knowing that this summer I will be in the woods for weeks without the fear of ever seeing her.  I will return to it, as I must.

Now as the pirate mows the back yard, the dog, yards from me is sniffing every nook and cranny, free to wander at his leisure, the buffalo skull like God, looks empty and omniscient over us, ignoring my prayers.  The pirate grins as he passes by me, and I watch him thinking of how nice it is to not have to boss him into the mowing.  He curses as he steps in poop, and I laugh.  The wind chimes, an ever-present music, rattle softly in the light breeze.  He whistles to point out more poop for me to scoop and the dog runs to him and then past him and further on in the yard, and he tosses a ball that Sancho, even in his arthritic old man state, runs after.

I breath, a sigh of relief.  Would that more days were like this one than not.

Not sure how to make it happen.