"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, 
but in having new eyes."
 - Marcel Proust

'Cataclysm Radiance' 2015

"Until the lion learns to write, every story will glorify the hunter."
  - African proverb

'Passages of Listening' 2015

"Semen is Latin for a dormant, fertilized plant ovum-a seed. Mens ejaculate is chemically more akin to plant pollen.

See, it is really more accurate to call it mammal pollen. To call it semen is to thrust an insanity deep inside our culture: that men plow women and plant their seed when in fact, what they are doing a pollinating flowers. 

Now, doesn't that change everything between us?"

 -Stephan Harrod Buhner 'Secret Teachings of Plants'

'Prolific' 2015

"Though men possess the power to dominate and exploit every corner of the natural world, nothing in that fact implies that they have the right or the need to do so."

 - Edward Abbey 'A Voice Crying in the Wilderness' 


Milkweed for (Monarch)Butterflies

  Here is a Monarch Butterfly laying eggs on Common Milkweed.  Milkweed is a host plant for their Caterpillars.

It's that time of year when one can find Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, seed pods.
Tiny baby Monarch caterpillar.
Lots of seeds in each pod, arranged like a cone!
Up- CLOSE.  Note the hairs on the Milkweed leaf.
What a lovely flower!

All the seed tufts are lined up ready to fluff up and fly away on the wind.
As you can see, the bees like it too. 

A little fairy who will become a plant.  :)
It has a divine fragrance, particularly at night.  It fills the air.  Bliss.

Here's a big patch in my garden.  It spreads, so give it space to grow...

There are many other types of Milkweeds.  Here is another:  Asclepias tuberosa.

As you can see, other Butterflies like Milkweeds too.  Here is a Great Spangled Fritillary, Speyeria cybele.

Both of these two Milkweeds, Asclepias syriaca and tuberosa, are native to Eastern North America.
Tuberosa is much smaller and less aggressive growing than syriaca - and what a show!

There are other plants the Monarchs like to get nectar from, such as this Oak Leaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia, but the Milkweed is important for their caterpillars.
If you have space in your yard or garden and some some sunlight, grow a patch for the Monarchs; they need our help.
Nom nom.

A delight for the yard and garden.  An ally of mine from childhood on...

...and helps the bees too!

To top all this goodness off, the tufts are also used by birds to line their nests, the fibrous stems are used in rope-making, and the Milkweed shoots, flower buds, and pods are edible!  (Be sure to only harvest flower buds and pods in areas where they are very plentiful as this is how the plant reproduces; you are eating hundreds of seeds with each flower head or pod).

Every yard should have a patch - then we would not have to be concerned with the Monarch going extinct.  They are making a comeback; support them today!  and enjoy the bounty that comes along....

For more information and to get seeds see this link and this link and this link and this link.  Enjoy!


Digging Medicinal Roots - Yellow Dock

These roots can be decocted fresh, or cut and dried for later decocting.

Here in the mountains of Virginia we've had unusually warm weather and are beyond two months past our usual killing frost date without having had one.  This has given us a long season in which to harvest roots, whether for medicine or food, because not only is the ground far from freezing, but it's actually been warm enough that the top growth of many plants is still happening (this helps for identification and locating).

Note the paper sheath that surrounds the petiole, or leaf stem, and how each individual leaf arises from the ground.

One plant whose roots I've harvested this fall, is Yellow Dock, Rumex spp.; if you have a garden, or a plot of un-manicured land with some sunlight and moisture, it's likely you have Yellow Dock.  It's a tenacious weed whose roots are medicinal (what we'll mainly be discussing today) and it's leaves and seeds are edible.  Harvesting this root was actually a case of "killing two birds with one stone" as it needed to be weeded out of some of the garden area anyway.  I totally dig this efficiency.  :)

The leaves are best eaten when fresh and young in early Spring, but with a warm, late fall like the one we've had,        there is often a second flush of fresh, young leaves.  These pictured here are getting to be mature, but still edible.

    Note that the leaves contain Oxalic acid, like many of our store-bought vegetables, so cooking in water and then pouring it off is ideal.

Here it is with the prior seasons seed stalk - a great identifying feature.
Seed stalk up close.

Just run your hands up the stalks to collect the edible seeds

Yellow Dock root is an alterative; it's cooling, astringent, and bitter (leaves sour) so it's good for Damp Heat conditions and as such has traditionally been used for stimulating digestion, blood cleansing, constipation, food stagnation, wet/red eczema, nervous dyspepsia, liver detoxification, lymph congestion, jaundice, sore throat, fatigue, ovarian cysts, gout, tumors, and chronic skin conditions.  It is also good for anemia as it helps the body to better utilize Iron (combine with Iron rich foods or herbs).

Roots scrubbed and ready to slice.  I "slice" them with pruners though one could use a knife.

After a couple days of drying by the wood stove, still a few more to go before jarring.


'Of a Feather'

"To be recognized and accepted by a peregrine you must wear the same clothes, travel by the same way, perform actions in the same order. Like all birds, it fears the unpredictable. Enter and leave the same fields at the same time each day, soothe the hawk from its wildness by a ritual of behavior as invariable as its own. Hood the glare of the eyes, hide the white tremor of the hands, shade the stark reflecting face, assume the stillness of a tree. A peregrine fears nothing he can see clearly and far off. Approach him across open ground with a steady unfaltering movement. Let your shape grow in size but do not alter its outline. Never hide yourself unless concealment is complete. Be alone. Shun the furtive oddity of man, cringe from the hostile eyes of farms. Learn to fear. To share fear is the greatest bond of all. The hunter must become the thing he hunts. What is, is now, and must have the quivering intensity of an arrow thudding into a tree. Yesterday is dim and monochrome. A week ago you were not born. Persist, endure, follow, watch."
- J.A. Baker 'The Peregrine'

'Of a Feather' 2015

"A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.  " - Chinese proverb

You may wonder why there is a hole in the collage?  Well I wanted to cover up this white plastic mini-split, so...

"I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself."​​ - ​D. H. Lawrence

I created a collage to fit and put holes where the digital parts needed to be seen.

"I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Much better!

"There is an art, or rather a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss." - Douglas Adams 'Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy'


How to: Herbal Infusion for Eye Strain, Injury, or Infection - for humans and cats!

So this kittie came in with a weeping, half-closed eye the other day (not in this picture)... since it was in one eye and not both, I assumed it to be an injury versus an infection, but I address both similarly, being more adamant about repeat application with an infection, which will usually end up affecting both eyes, so in that case, I put this infusion in both, but since this was injury, I only put it in the injured eye.

This is a blend I have made many times to great effect for both humans, and especially, my cats.  I have had a multiple cat household of indoor/outdoor cats for over 20 years, and having been an Herbalist for all that time too, I often use herbs to help my cats and eye issues are one of the most common with them.

(Btw, I am not suggesting you do this without a qualified practitioner's recommendation.  You need to make the decision for yourself, or with the help of someone qualified, as to whether or not this is the right thing for you or your cat; I am not saying it is.  Eye problems can lead to serious consequences, so they aren't something to mess around with.  That said, this is what I do).

This time I used Calendula and Eyebright.  I also sometimes use Chamomile.  I used about a tablespoon of each dried.

Pour boiling water over, just enough to cover the herbs.

Cover and let steep for 10 minutes or longer.  If fighting an infection you can add about a teaspoon of colloidal silver later, after straining, if you want.  The herbs alone though do fight infection.  Colloidal silver was used in the days before antibiotics and is a powerful ally against infections of all sorts.

Strain, pressing the liquid out of the herbs.  Make sure that your hands and any utensils are very clean as we must be particularly careful with anything we put into the eye.
This will likely leave bits.  

With anything put in the eye, it must be well strained, I also use a coffee filter.

After straining and cooling, you may saturate cotton balls with the liquid if using for a cat.  For humans, use an eye cup or dropper.  For cats, I hold them and pet them getting them relaxed and then I put the saturated cotton ball over their closed eye with their head up and squeeze out some of the liquid so that when they open their eye the liquid goes in.  Another option is to use a dropper and drop several drops into the eye(s).  Do not re-use the cotton ball, wash any applicators between applications.  Remember to keep things very clean that are going in or touching the eyes.   I apply this 1-3 times a day.  If dealing with an infection that has lots of ooze or crust, you need to remove this first with a warm wash cloth.  If it is dried, use the warmth and wet of the cloth to slowly and gently dissolve and remove it.  .  Then apply your herbal infusion.  Or another option would be to make a lot of the infusion and soak your wash cloth in it and use it for cleaning the eyes.  If your cat does not cooperate; I find the easiest way to control them is to wrap them tightly in a towel so only their head sticks out.  This takes two people.  I've never had this not work for my cats and I have dealt with some serious infections with them.  It's so much easier to use this with humans though!

May the force be with you.


Solace and Growth

 “When despair for the world grows in me, and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be — I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought or grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” – Wendell Berry

Sunshine through Muhlenbergia grass - in the Fall Garden.

"No greater thing is created suddenly, 
any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. 
If you tell me that you desire a fig, 
I answer you that there must be time. 
Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen."
 - Epictetus

What I made at last month's Monthly CraftNight.


"Create like a god, command like a king, work like a slave."

 - Constantin Brancusi

Birth of an Oak Tree.

"That which does not destroy us makes us stronger."
 - Friedrich Nietzsche