Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Around Here

Around Here

This little flower/weed reminds me of an elaborate fountain.
Butters and I just returned from a long slow walk around a few city blocks where
She sniffed and scratched at the earth while I admired the over sized clover and abundance of dandelions.
The patio door and windows are open and in the distance 
The sky is still blue with gigantic clouds of white framed in a warm tawny back glow from the sun.
My hip and leg are still aching but my heart feels full and happy because
I left work on time (Which feels early to me) and the evening feels stolen and special.
The house is quiet and empty as Alan is working late but in that anticipatory way that is a good empty.
On the horizon there are visions of
Painting colorful circles longways against a canvas,
Ideas to make lotion bars, and
A plot forming to spread flower and vegetable seed all over a semi vacant lot that we frequent.

I hope your spring evening feels just as special.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spring Fever

plants, trees, flowers
UNCC Botanical Gardens & Greenhouses
These pictures were taken a few weeks ago on an outing to the botanical gardens and greenhouses of one of the local universities.  The sites, smell and weather were amazing that day and made me long for my own land to dig in again.  Even without my very own land there is much to be thankful for and in awe of as the city comes alive this spring.  

Here flowering buds are bursting on the red bud, cherry and flowering pear trees and shoots of green are breaking through the dark earth and on many of the limbs of bushes and trees.  The clover has returned in full force causing me to pause in search of a lucky clover when I am out and about or on a walk with Miss Butters.  It is amazing to just watch the world around me change day by day.  

This year is moving quickly and I can hardly believe it was 4 months ago when I last posted, and what a ominous post that was since I have spent much of the time since then healing.  Ocular migraines occurred around the first polar vortex and kept me in their grips for 11 straight days.  I finally went to the doctor and thankfully after multiple trips to the eye doctor, medical doctor and several blood tests and an MRI later found out that there was nothing wrong.  The only thing I can determine is that maybe these were caused by the barometric changes in the atmosphere.  In the wake of of all of this was worry, frustration and severe eye and body fatigue.  

Just as I thought things were back on track an unexplained pain in my left hip has occurred that is just as mysterious.  I am on week 5 now of this issue and no amount of stretching, icing, hot baths, turmeric tea, or ibuprofen has provided sustained relief.  Last weekend I sobbed and could only see loss and fear. Loss in the knowledge that I was not going to be able to run my upcoming half marathon I had been training for (my first 13.1 trail run) and fear that I may never be able to run again or go on the many hikes that Alan and I have talked of for this spring and summer.  This weekend I see more possibility and despite the pain feel stronger and am trying to see this as an opportunity to concentrate more on art and writing while I heal. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year & a Recipe

Homemade Elderberry Syrup
It is the first day of 2014 and I feel hopeful anticipation for the year ahead. I don't know why but I like the clear line of a new year and a fresh start. Each day we have this opportunity, the chance to begin again, to breathe in the possibility, to bear witness to life unfolding around us and the life unfolding within us but on New Years day it feels even more significant to me.

Today I began my day at my work table in our shared office/guest bedroom with a cup of coffee and my journal.  I wrote about purpose, what I think mine is and how to live it in this coming year.  Part of that purpose is healing, myself and others, and part of that purpose is sharing.  The sharing part is often hard for me as I second guess myself and concern myself that others will say "on what authority is she saying this". The truth is most of what I share is universal knowledge though, shared as seen through my own experience. In alignment with my desire to live my purpose, and to heal and to share, today I am sharing a recipe for Elderberry Syrup.

I learned about Elderberries last year when I attended one of several local herb classes.  The owner of the farm and teacher of the class mentioned making homemade elderberry syrup for the cold and flu season. The elderberry comes from a small tree/bush and is well known in the herbal community for its ability to boost the immune system preventing and shortening the length of the flue and colds. They are a rich source of bioflavonoids and antioxidants as well as the nutrients potassium, beta carotene, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin C.  

It is so funny how once you hear about something of interest, all of a sudden you see and hear about it all around you. I soon found dried elderberries in my favorite local health/grocery store when looking in their bulk section and even purchased a syrup from this store as well when I was sick and looking for homeopathic solutions.

As Alan has been fighting a cold for 2+ weeks and I felt the symptoms beginning myself,  I decided to try making the syrup myself using a recipe from Mountain Rose Herbs. I cut the recipe in half as I purchased the elderberries locally and the store I shop at was running low. After seeing a display of organic elderberry syrup for $21, buying the small amount of dried berries and cutting the recipe in half was a no-brainer.  I was low on honey and bought a huge jar for $16 but the organic dried elderberries, cloves, and cinnamon sticks were less than $2.00 total. Even if you don't already have honey on hand this is still a very economical recipe as it produces a lot of syrup (3.5 cups).  Some people really love the flavor of the syrup and add it to everything from pancakes to oatmeal but I find it a bit medicinal and am still getting used to it. I think next time I may omit the cloves.  Although the cloves and cinnamon may be used as a natural preservative so I need to do a bit more research first.

Ginger, Raw Honey, Elderberries, Cinnamon, and Cloves

Here is the recipe as found on Mountain Rose Herbs site.  As I mentioned, I cut the recipe in half and it still produced approximately 1.5 cups of syrup.

Please note that elderberry is not safe for pregnant or nursing women, that you should do your own research before taking any types of herbs to ensure that they do not interact with any conditions you have or medications you may take and that honey is not appropriate for children under the age of 2 years old.

Elderberry Syrup Recipe

- 1 cup fresh or 1/2 cup dried organic Elderberries (harvest blue or black, avoid poisonous reds)
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup raw local honey
- 1 organic Cinnamon stick, 3 organic Cloves, and organic Ginger (optional)
Place berries, water, and spices in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Smash the berries to release remaining juice and strain the mixture. (discard cooked berries/cloves/ginger/cinnamon) Allow liquid to cool and stir in honey. Will last for 2-3 months stored in the fridge.

Hope you have a Happy and Healthy 2014!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Swarm of Dragonflies

On Thanksgiving day Alan and I spent time simply relaxing.  There was a leisurely breakfast, a walk on the beach, and a little floating in the water while exploring the reef area with snorkel, mask and fin.  Aside from that we lounged in the dappled sunlight under palm trees with each others company, a book (for me) the sound of the ocean and the presence of many curious bobbing dragonflies.  I say bobbing because they appeared to bob in the air rather than dart or zoom.  I was mesmerized by their beauty and the sheer number of them.  There were hundreds if not thousands of dragonflies!  I have never seen anything like this before and had to research this phenomenon. Come to find out this is one of those ephemeral events that few are lucky to experience in their lifetime and I was also able to submit my data for collection as part of The Dragonfly Swarm Project.  
This is a small video I made while watching them by the pool late in the afternoon.  There were swarms all over the beach as well.  One of the waitresses came by after watching me take pictures and the video and let me know the Spanish word for dragonfly is libĂ©lula (LEE-BEH-LOO-LA).

Monday, December 16, 2013

Souvenirs from Playa Del Carmen

My favorite souvenirs when I travel?  Rocks, shells, sea glass, found objects, photographs, local currency...

We simply had a wonderful vacation in Mexico.  Days filled with snorkeling, diving, happy silence, laughter, cappuccino, warm humid days filled with cool breezes, skies filled with dragonflies (yes everywhere-video to come), relaxation mixed with adventure, wonderful food (beans, rice, chicken, guacamole-a few of my favorites), and reconnecting to each other and our natural rhythms.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Green & White: Calm


Every day is all there is

This week in my Creative Spark class we have been studying color.  I tend to be drawn to blues and greens but the mixture of green and white stood out to me this week as a calming mixture.  For me, the life and vivacity of green coupled with the blank possibility of white create a balance of peace and calm. This painting was inspired by contemplation through our color exercises designed by Tara, a bar of soap, the lovely script text of a package at Trader Joe's, and the quote by writer Joan Didion included in the painting.
Below is the original painting before I cropped it to correct the wonky composition.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Then and Now

From a recent morning run, I stopped and gently lifted this snail to the grass in the direction it was headed.  It reminds me of myself these days...slow and steady and a lover of shells.
It has been a long time since I have visited these pages.  Coming back felt hard, and I felt deterred many times from entering this space again.  What would I say, where would I start? I even thought of starting all over, at a new address but decided that this space was not done, that there had simply been a pause.  And so I begin again (again) starting with a  summary of then and of now, a glimpse of the months in-between.

A new job after an 804 day sabbatical. 
The ebb and flow and tides of this new season of life.
Running the dark city streets, alone,  before the sun began to rise until I lost my nerve. 
Closing on the sale of our old home.
Joining a gym to take the place of the lost nerve.
Tears of doubt.
Lost days that I did not own.
Longing for a garden.
Joining an herb guild.
Taking classes about herbs and fermentation and cheese making.
Finding joy in juicing fresh concoctions of vegetables, herbs, roots, and fruits.
Volunteering at a music festival with my sister.
Planting pots of lemon balm, thyme, dill, basil, scented geranium, heirloom tomatoes, and pink vinca's to fill my need to nurture and for green and for life.
Joyous moments of gratitude.
Two half-marathons ran with my brother.
Long hikes through the mountains on warm and humid weekends.
A long labor day weekend at the beach spent reading, sketching, and relaxing.
Learning to play golf (and actually enjoying it).
A birthday celebrated with loved ones and cake.
Trying to recognize the person in the mirror with new lines and droopy eyes and to make peace that the person staring back is really me.
Running the dark city streets, alone, finding new nerves and resolve.
Giving myself a birthday gift, Creative Spark, taught by the inspiring Tara Leaver.
Unearthing something that was misplaced and learning new methods for play.
Always searching for the light.