"...the branch of biology that studies the relationship of organisms and environments"

This past Father's Day my family and I camped along the Shenandoah River
 and I took some pictures of the marvels to be found:

 “The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls. ” - John Muir

All leaves above: young Sycamore

"Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the Earth are never alone 
or weary of life.” - Rachel Carson

Two photos above:  Horse Nettle, Solanum carolinense - a poisonous relative of the tomato

 “Experience the beauties of nature, 
and in doing so, learn about yourself.”
- Japanese proverb

Magical Datura
"Would you like to save the world from the degradation and destruction it seems destined for? 
Then step away from shallow mass movements and quietly go to work on your own self-awareness. 
If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. 
If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. 
Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation." - Lao Tzu

Tiny Toad

Mullein Verbascum thapsus

"Wonderful how completely everything in wild nature fits into us, as if truly part and parent of us. The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and; tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love." - John Muir

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta

Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things,
 it will come and sit softly on your shoulder… - Thoreau

Zebra Swallowtail  Protographium marcellus

I think I could turn and live with the animals, they are so placid and self contained;
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition;
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins;
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God;
Not one is dissatisfied-not one is demented with the mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor his kind that lived thousands of years ago;
Not one is responsible or industrious over the whole earth.
'Animals' - a poem by Walt Whitman

Sleeping in the Forest
I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better. Mary Oliver

                                                    "His labor is a chant,
His idleness a tune;
Oh, for a bee's experience
Of clovers and of noon!"
 from 'The Bee' by Emily Dickinson

Walnut  Juglans nigra

“The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need, if only we had the eyes to see.” - Abbey 'Desert Solitaire 

Hops  Humulus lupulus

Prickly Lettuce  Lactuca serriola
" If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive."
 - Eleonora Duse

Redtop Grass  Agrostis gigantea

"This is a test to see if your mission on Earth is over:
If you are still alive, it's not."

- Sir Francis Bacon

Squash?  seeds must've washed in

Magical Datura Bud
“Progress has not followed a straight ascending line, but a spiral with rhythms of progress and retrogression, of evolution and dissolution.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"I, the fiery life of divine wisdom, 
I ignite the beauty of the plains, 
I sparkle the waters, I burn in the sun, 
and the moon, and the stars." 
- St. Hildegard Von Bingen

"I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, 
and that you will work them, 
water them with your blood and tears 
and your laughter 'til they bloom, 
'til you yourself burst into bloom." 
- Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Virginia Creeper  Parthenocissus quinquefolia


Tengri & Eje

"Divinity is everywhere all the time.  
You can't take Divinity out of nature 
and put it in a book or between four walls."
 - from Paulo Coehlo 'The Zahir.'

And you cannot take it out of us either, those deemed good and bad.  Underneath this duality is One
and we are all connected.  All humans.  All beings.  The plants and the mountains, the waters and
those who ride the wind...

Eternal Blue Sky

"We share the air we breathe with all other living creatures and every breath we take is a confirmation of the essential unity and interconnectedness of life.  Air is a universal for which we neither have to forage nor to till.  By a miracle of plant alchemy, solar energy is taken in by green leaves, acts to convert water and carbon dioxide into carbohydrate, releasing oxygen into the air." 
- Richard Mabey 'The New Age Herbalist'

Plants eat sunlight giving us food to eat and oxygen to breathe.  Have you thanked a plant today?

Axis mundi

 "Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The soul that rises with us,
our life's star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar."
- Wordsworth

The Mountains and Waters Sutra .... Dogen turns this traditional reading on its head by insisting that mountains and rivers are the sutra. They are the teachers and the teaching." - Mike Hoolboom

"Nature streaming into us, wooingly teaching her wonderful glowing lessons...every wild lesson a love lesson..." - John Muir

"May your rivers flow without end...where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you..."  - Edward Abbey


Lyme Journey

I've been wanting to update my Lyme journey for some time now.

Since my last post on Lyme, 9 months ago, I slowed down with the protocol I listed there.  I just needed a break from months and months of drinking bitter tea all day and taking handfuls of supplements!  Also, I wanted a new baseline:  what I felt like if I did nothing.  I had good and bad days, none too severe, but none 100% (which is the goal right?).  I'm definitely doing better, but am not as good as I was before the Lyme.

At that time I was having insomnia (and had been for months).  I think it may have been a result of the herbs I was taking for the Lyme being drying and creating Yin and Blood Deficiency giving my Shen no place to reside at night.  I made a formula that was specific to my body (see a qualified Herbalist to help you with this if you are having this problem).  I no longer have insomnia and haven't for some time.  Thank goodness.  I think sleep is extremely important for healing Lyme.  I get 8 or more hours a night.

In June I began taking two homeopathic remedies (Spirochetes Detox and Homeopathic Lymes Formula) recommended by a fellow Herbalist I know through my school.  He got these remedies for me as you can only get these remedies through a licensed practitioner.  I took these for about 10 days and went into a severe herxheimer reaction.  I think this is a good thing because it is the result of die-off.  I think the homeopathics bring the Lyme out of dormancy so your immune system can fight it?  Good thing aside though, the herxing is horrible.  I had joint and muscle pain and stiffness, swollen lymph glands, minor rash ina few places, severe neck and shoulder tension, mild headache, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, irritability, facial acne, and just overall felt bad.  Ugh.  At times, like the end of the day, the pain would get excruciating.

 Here are the blends I used in decoction:
for Herxing/Detox:
Red Clover
Dandelion Root
Red Root
I would have added Cleavers if it was growing fresh in my yard
                          as it does some times of the year.

for Tight Neck, Shoulders, and Upper Back (Tension):
Dong Quai
White Peony Root
Licorice Root
I may also have added Kudzu Root, Notopterygium, and Clematis if I had them in my apothecary.

I would stop the homeopathics and replace them with the above decoctions and feel better in a few days.  Then I would see what happened.  I kept not feeling 100% so I would return to the homeopathics thinking that they were helping with getting rid of the Lyme for good, and the cycle would repeat.

In July I posted this on my school forum where I am sharing with my fellow Herbalists:
"Now, I feel practically 100%.  I hope it's for good.  Only time will tell.  I keep realizing that I am not in pain, am not horribly fatigued, and every thing is not a trial - simple things like carrying my pocketbook.  I had been doing my best to deal with the symptoms and otherwise trying to ignore it, but it was taxing.  I was finding myself having to not be in my body to deal with the pain and discomfort, so I would just get in touch with it sporadically to see how I was doing (and it was not good).  Sometimes it screamed at me.  Anyway, that is ALL gone.  I've been Landscaping like mad and took 4 hours of (aerobic level) Bellydance on a day off and I still feel GOOD and energetic after it all.

Whew, like I said, I hope this is it.  I have learned a lot about what so many people have to deal with living with pain and/or discomfort.  I had never had anything as serious as this before.  I am thankful for this.  Also, the TCM relevant learning has been spectacular.  My symptom picture has run the gamut.

I had a feeling in my joints like they were burnt.  Not burning, but burnt, for lack of a better descriptive.  I thought it was the damage done to my joints, but now I feel like it was probably the Lyme itself.  I don't feel that now.  I've felt it almost constantly for the last 11 months, except for the one point when I had been hardcore about decoctions and supplements and felt 95% better.  But now I am thinking the Lyme was just dormant during that better phase."

Now in October, I mostly have hip joint pain and facial acne (I think this is the detoxing), but also other joint and muscle pain, and the upper back tension (the latter is something I had before the Lyme - Liver Qi Stagnation/Wind).  I did have severe shoulder joint issues before the homeopathics but have not had them since the first course.  That burnt feeling is still gone and has not come back.

Lately I have just been making decoctions specific to whatever is going on with me at the time.  I'm back to feeling 95% and planning to start up the homeopathics again.  At this point my goal is to be able to take them for a month without herxing; once I can do that, I will stop them - hopefully for good.  Otherwise, I will make decoctions specific to my particular symptom picture - easy enough to do when you have over 200 herbs in your apothecary.  Right now I am making a modified Si Wu Tang.

I've come across and read two more books.  The first highly recommends the local Teasel Root and has lots of other good info.  I have used the TCM Teasel Root:  Xu Duan, but not the local one - Dipsacus sylvetris.  I plan to harvest some and make a tincture soon.  Many feel this does a similar thing to the homeopathics and is the answer to beating Lyme...will keep you posted.  The second book is more of a biography/novel format and may be helpful to some of you to feel you are not alone in this ordeal.

Also, I continue with weekly deep tissue massage, epsom salt baths, and regular visits to the Korean saunas.

I have yet to mention diet in dealing with Lyme and must add the importance of eating organic, whole foods so your body has the nutrients it needs to heal and is not dealing with detoxing from toxins in junk food.

I also leave you with this wonderful poem:

from 'To Bless the Space Between Us, A Book of Blessings'
by John O'Donahue

For a Friend on the Arrival of Illness

Now is the time of dark invitation
Beyond a frontier you did not expect;
Abruptly, your old life seems distant.

You barely noticed how each day opened
A path through fields never questioned,
Yet expected, deep down, to hold treasure.
Now your time on earth becomes full of threat;
Before your eyes your future shrinks.

You lived absorbed in the day-to-day,
So continuous with everything around you,
That you could forget you were separate;

Now this dark companion has come between you.
Distances have opened in your eyes.
You feel that against your will
A stranger has married your heart.

Nothing before has made you
Feel so isolated and lost.

When the reverberations of shock subside in you,
May grace come to restore you to balance.
May it shape a new space in your heart
To embrace this illness as a teacher
Who has come to open your life to new worlds.

May you find in yourself
A courageous hospitality
Toward what is difficult,
Painful, and unknown.

May you learn to use this illness
As a lantern to illuminate
The new qualities that will emerge in you.

May the fragile harvesting of this slow light
Help to release whatever has become false in you.
May you trust this light to clear a path
Through all the fog of old unease and anxiety
Until you feel arising within you a tranquility
Profound enough to call the storm to stillness

May you find the wisdom to listen to your illness:
Ask it why it came. Why it chose your friendship.
Where it wants to take you. What it wants you to know.
What quality of space it wants to create in you.
What you need to learn to become more fully yourself
That your presence may shine in the world.

May you keep faith with your body,
Learning to see it as a holy sanctuary
Which can bring this night-wound gradually
Toward the healing and freedom of dawn.

May you be granted the courage and vision
To work through passivity and self-pity,
To see the beauty you can harvest
From the riches of this dark invitation.

May you learn to receive it graciously,
And promise to learn swiftly
That it may leave you newborn,
Willing to dedicate your time to birth.


Vanilla Sesame Butter Cookies

These cookies are chewy and crispy at the same time.  A delight for the mouth!
Your tastebuds will dance a jig!

Ingredients and Directions:
Preheat 325 degrees
1c. quinoa flour
1c. sprouted wheat flour
(you can sub other flours, but I like these because sprouted grains are better for you
and quinoa is a complete protein)
mix above in separate bowl with 1 tspn. baking powder

In another bowl mix:
2c. brown sugar
1c. butter or ghee, melted/soft (can sub an oil such as sesame or coconut if vegan)
1-2tspn. vanilla extract (amt. depends on how strong you want the vanilla)
1c. sesame tahini, well mixed first
2 eggs (can use egg substitute if vegan)

Mix the these two bowls together.  Bake about 14 min., less time for chewier, more time for crispier.

Kitchen Alchemy

These are wonderful just as they are, though you could also add other berries, nuts, seeds,
or chocolate chips to these if you wished.

From one Cookie Monster to another:  a shout out to Sesame Street that they keep their funding.