a drawing from the archives. .  . I’m hoping to turn a few into cards soon:


“Antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties in echinacea make it useful in many acute and chronic conditions. It is helpful for those dealing with colds, flu, respiratory distresses, sinus infections, sore throats, swollen glands, arthritis, fever, infected wounds, vaginal infections, candida overgrowth, prostatis, and urinary tract infections.” – Gail Faith Edwards Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs   This is not a tonic herb – this is an herb to keep nearby when you need it but not to take everyday.


As it is now officially fall (happy fall), it’s a good time to dig echinacea root and clean it and put it in some 80 proof (or higher) alcohol and make it into tincture for the wintertime (shake on occasion and wait 6 weeks or more). Or a good time to plant it in your garden if you don’t have it yet.


fall herbalism

We made it through the flood of tomatoes and peaches and nectarines. Now we have pears and apples left asking for attention. And some grapes. But as the food clears out of my kitchen, I realized that I hadn’t been paying as much attention to the herbs in my garden.

So this week has been focused on herbalism. It seems that the plants calling right now are the ones good for the winter illnesses.

I started with the horehound and mixed up some horehound honey for winter coughs.

Next was pulling some mullein leaves to dry for tea and the lungs.

Also this week, I gathered a small crew (thank you!) and we dug echinasea and washed the roots and cut them and put them in organic vodka to tincture.

Next week it will time to dig valarian for tincturing for the winter blues.

Also right now, the dandelions have been glorious. With all the rain we’ve been getting here, they are lush and glorious. I’ve been liking them fresh (chopped small) in a salad dressed with oil, vinegar, lemon juice, a touch of honey and carrots or sesame seeds. I’ve also been making a stir-fry with greens (including dandelion), and dressed right at the end of cooking with vinegar, lemon juice, a touch of honey and a touch of nama shoyu or wheat free tamari. Yum. It’s always amazing to me how generous our weeds can be when we stop fighting with them.

Here are a few of the reasons to eat dandelion:

#1 – High in Calcium: Dandelion greens are loaded with calcium. Just one cup of chopped dandelion greens has 103 milligrams (10% of the recommended daily value) of calcium! That’s slightly more than kale! Add two to three cups of dandelion to a smoothie with calcium-rich fruits like orange, kiwi, fig or papaya and you’ll have a green smoothie that has more calcium than any dairy product!

#2 – Rich in Iron: Next to fresh parsley, dandelion greens have a high iron content. One cup contains 1.7 milligrams of iron.

#3 – Improves Digestion: Bitter foods, like dandelion, tone and stimulate the entire digestive tract. (Susan Weed)

#4 – Loaded With Antioxidants: Dandelion greens are high in vitamin A in the form of antioxidant carotenoid (beta-carotene) and vitamin C. Vitamin C also helps facilitate iron absorption.

#5 – The Ultimate Detox & Cleansing Green: If your goal is detoxification and cleansing, dandelion greens should be the ones you use in green smoothies! They are said to help cleanse the liver and many detox recipes call for them.

#6 – Lots Of Minerals: Dandelion greens are rich in minerals. Besides calcium and iron, they are a good source of copper (10% RDA), manganese (8% RDA), phosphorus (5% RDA), potassium (5% RDA) and magnesium (5% RDA).

#7 – 14% Protein: Dandelion greens have more protein per serving than spinach. The greens themselves are 14% protein and contain all essential amino acids so it’s a complete protein. One chopped cup contains 1.5 grams of protein.

#8 – Multivitamin Green: Besides vitamin A as beta-carotene (186% RDA) and vitamin C (21% RDA), each cup of chopped dandelion greens are also good sources of vitamins B1 (9% RDA), B2 (11% RDA) and B6 (11% RDA), vitamin E (13% RDA) and especially abundant in vitamin K (357% RDA).

#10 – Health Benefits of Dandelion Greens: The nutrients in dandelion greens may help reduce the risk of cancer, multiple sclerosis, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and stroke. Dandelion contains anti-inflammatory properties which may provide benefit to those with asthma and other inflammatory diseases.



update from my world

hello there.

Well, the pickling went well. They are now ready and tasty. It’s time to get the pickles out of the crock and put in some kimchi.

-daikon radish
-hot peppers
-salt and pressure + time = kimchi (or, since it’s not fully traditional, I’ve heard it called kimchi-kraut). If you’re feeling more traditional:


This weekend we went out for a quick visit to the woods:

DSCN1029 nourishing!

Today, I’m feeling thankful for the rain. It means that instead of rushing around this morning before work to water everything by hand, I dug a bit, prepping a lettuce bed that I’ll plant for fall lettuce tonight or tomorrow. And then I had tea.


And now for more food preserving. Tomato sauce this evening and maybe another round in the dehydrator (it heats the house and preserves our food at the same time, what fun : )


This morning I harvested mullein flowers for mullein oil. I gathered culinary sage, lemon balm, red clover blossoms, and a bit of chamomile all for tea – or rather for infusions (more plant material, soaked longer). The garden is so abundant; it’s almost overwhelming. It feels like such a dance – this freedom that is created by growing and making my own medicine and the dedication and consistency that is required to plant, water, tend, harvest, preserve and use the medicine.

We were thinking about going backpacking this weekend, but I panicked. Too much calling me here. I’m in the market for day-long hikes where I still get to come home and water the garden. I love the woods, but it feels like my work is here this season.

Lately, and more than usual, I feel fragments of my personality/being asking for different things. There are parts that want to stay on silent retreat in my home for weeks, parts that want to go out clubbing in the city, parts that want to stay in the woods for as long as possible, parts that want to host house parties and play music. I’m not sure how to sit in the center of all these parts and navigate what is most true for the wholeness of my being. How to give myself the nourishment being asked for without sacrificing other aspects?

Yesterday in our writing circle I wrote this:
Open the window; the howling begins. Howling and keening and dancing. I want bonfires and I want the end of self-consciousness. I want to wander in the mountains and live on berries and bark. I want to set down my pink polyester backpack and my pink polyester raincoat and strip down to my birthday suit and “c” words all about: caterwaul, careen, carbone, caper, cartwheel, chitter, crawl, and cachinnate. But there are mosquitoes and I don’t like to be hungry and I don’t know how to take down the boundaries of this technological age and let myself be taken into the woods for vision. I’m not sure what true freedom would look like or how to get there from here.

I also wrote this poemish:
Outside I say yes, sure, find.
Inside I hunker down to find a soft warm hole to slip into and sing myself lullabies.
Outside I look, or try to look, confidant, composed, alert, on top of it, present.
Inside I am dreaming of magic, of self-cleaning kitchens, Thai food ordered in, and a bed so comfortable I never have to leave.
Outside I’m getting it done, crossing if off the list.
Inside I’ve set it all aside and will spend the next ten years diving inside the sound of the willow leaves rustling against themselves.
Outside willow nubs are dropping into my lap.
Inside I am dropping up into the willow, swimming in layers of leaves. Dancing and tiptoeing my fairy feet on the branches. Catching a ride on the cottonwood fluffs and allowing myself to be taken by the wind over to the next horizion.
Outside I wake, I eat, I bathe, I sleep.
Inside mostly I breathe. The heart beats. And this is enough to fill my whole universe for eternity.
Breath. Pulse. Here.


Reflected in my computer monitor is my face, behind that the blue and white of the sky and the green of the apple trees. The scene is nearly distracting in its realness and clarity. Human, sky, clouds, trees. She makes faces at me. Smiles. Sighs. Focuses beyond the image to the words.

In my reports on gardening and being an aspiring herbalist I have this exercise – take an herb in your mouth – start with plants you know to be edible – and eat it. Name three words that come time mind. Basil for example brings to mind: cooling, clarifying and present.

Yesterday I sat with Jeannie Zandi in satsang. I highly recommend it; you can find out more here:

As with most spiritual teachers, she recommends bringing our attention into the present moment. All of it. Here. Letting it be simple like the ocean beating against the shore. She quoted Mahatma Gandhi, “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” I find myself longing for and avoiding slowing down enough to actually bring my full presence to each experience. Listening even more fully.

This morning, this nothingness that I am (alas my mind is the last to know), sat in the garden and listened to the birds, felt the wind, watched the grass and leaves moving. Then, tried to figure out if I’m going backpacking next weekend or not. Found lots of conflicting feelings. Cried. Ate breakfast.

A habitual belief passes through: I am afraid I’m not doing enough with my life. In this moment, I can also see the other side where that is impossible, a habit of the mind to keep me from feeling this: tiredness, warmth, peace, and a touch of constriction in my belly. Nothing to do? Is it possible to trust the moment enough to stay here and see where it leads? There are those who would say, “yes.” Without ambition I will simply tend the garden and play and rest. My whole being has been calling for less doing, more sitting. I want to be cool and inspiring, but why? So I can feel good about being American? So I can justify my existence? To make me more significant than the movement of a wave on the shore? To save the world? Bless us, and bless us, we are all so afraid of being nothing.

Last night there was a thunderstorm. I lay in our tent listening to the crash of the thunder, watching the flashes of light, being thankful for dryness, feeling the bit of fear that rain brings (childhood panic of always leaving toys out because it never rains here) and snuggling against my sleeping husband. It was a very alive moment, in and out of sleep. Very sweet.

website up!

I’m very excited to announce that the website is up and running.

Many thanks to my big brother Aaron who tirelessly worked to get it up! You can visit him here:


In the garden the St. John’s Wort is flowering, the mullein is flowering, the Nan King Cherries are ripe, the mulberries are being eaten by the birds faster than I can snack on them, we got to eat zucchini fresh from the garden (yay for the wonders of cold-frames) for breakfast, and our black cat is shedding like mad. Life is good.DSCN6701DSCN6675

what am I doing? and why would you care?

It was the question that led me to grab my computer and bring it across the street to my parent’s house to link up to the wonderful world of the internet. Email and Facebook are easy solutions to the question until it is cool enough to go back outside and plant the blackberries that really need to get into the ground.

I just started to read “Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet” by Alisa Smith, J.B. Mackinnon. I sense a theme in my reading choices though not in all my eating choices. The non-local joy of the month is coconut! The local joy of the month is lettuce and arugula and eggs and last year’s frozen peaches.

What am I doing? And why would you care? I’m not sure about the caring part. It’s a question that keeps coming up around this compulsion to blog and I have no good answers. When I teach creative writing, I tell the students that no one else lives their life or thinks their thoughts and so capturing them is a good and useful past-time. Maybe that’s enough. I like to hear other people’s versions of reality, so might as well share my own. . .

As for the what am I doing – today, I watered the garden and weeded the lettuce and thinned the arugula and ate a lovely local breakfast (eggs, kale, bread baked locally – though not grown here). I’ve sketched and washed a lot of dishes. I put a batch of Téj (Ethiopian honey-wine) in to ferment and have a batch of kombucha cooling on the stove. I napped – always a worthy past-time if you ask me and now internetting.

And still the question, what am I doing? The answer is presented by my mother, go and see the new born chicken. Freshly hatched today. Yes. Cute. Very cute and wobbly. Black on top and yellow underneath.

At the cranio-sacral session I had last week, her recommendation was to rest into beingness as often as possible for as long as possible. Easier to check my email. My father recommends:  but I haven’t made the time to check it out.

Right now in the garden it is time for harvesting red clover blossoms and alfalfa. Both have lots of good vitamins and minerals to offer. Pick and dry on a screen in a dark dry place and then infuse with boiling water for 8 hours for full minerals.

communication with nature

Communication implies an exchange of information, thoughts, ideas, feelings. It is not just me informing the kale I am going to harvest, it is waiting until I get a sense that it’s okay before I begin.Sometimes I take the time, sometimes not. I like the experience and myself better when I do.

Do I believe communication is possible, yes. Do I get clear, long treatise from my peach tree, no. But some people have reports of doing so, such as Machelle Small Wright in “Behaving as if the God in All Life Mattered”.

In “The Deva Handbook,” author Nathaniel Altman says this, “Developing our five acknowledged senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch – is essential if we yearn to commune with nature’s subtle forces. It is not unlike needing to have a sensitive antenna and other electrical equipment if we want to receive television transmissions. If the station emits a given frequency, our antenna needs to resonate with this frequency or our television set will be blank. By the same token, sensitivity is necessary for us to resonate with the energies transmitted by the members of the subtle realms.”

If you’d like to try communicating with nature you can start with a tree or place you love or a dandelion. Alicia, my herbal studies teacher, recommends dandelions because they are friendly and will be happy to introduce you to their friends.  If you happen to be in the woods in the fall, I just heard a recommendation to begin the conversations with the amanitas (don’t eat them unless you know what you’re doing). They can help point you towards the tasty edible mushrooms.

I just finished reading “Talking with Nature” by Michael J. Roads. A story about the author’s journey into communication with the larger world around him.

At first he expresses his confusion and doubt about the conversation he is having with the natural world. Then, as he opens to the experience, he expresses this, “If this is an illusion I am experiencing with Nature, if it is all imagination – then it’s okay. I like it. Who can make me a better offer? Polluted food and air? Is that better? To maintain a belief in death, fear, greed? Are they better? A dogmatic religion with a judgmental God? Is that better? My experience is uplifting, expanding, loving, creative, intelligent. Who can offer me a better reality or illusion? If I feel a great love toward Nature, and I feel love radiating to me from Nature, who has a better illusion to offer? If I feel compassion and love for humanity, if I am happy doing exactly what I want to do, who can offer me more than this?”


This weekend at Mill Lake in Fossil Ridge Wilderness, I asked for wisdom/messages from Nature. The reply was – “What you seek cannot be given in words – receive THIS offering (indicating the wholeness of the moment).” Peace. Stillness. Choicelessness.


We here in the northern hemisphere are in the midst of the great yearly transplant. Plants go from seeding rows to little containers to our homes.

Other than this, it used to be that plants stayed where you put them in my world. Options were limited –

you don’t like that mint growing where it is? Deal with it or pull it out. But these last few years I’ve been learning the art of transplanting – some plants take to it more readily than others and there is a certain point when trees just won’t tolerate it (though I’ve seen fairly large trees traveling on semi-trucks). Asparsagus doesn’t like to be messed with, so move it in the winter. Jerusulm artichokes will leave some behind as will horseradish and mint. It’s good to pull some of the bigger leaves and flowers of your plans before moving them or sometimes the plant will sacrifice itself to make seeds.

At my house, I’m leaving the big trees alone, and even the big bushes. But watch out little bushes and planties, the garden is changing.

When my brother first started transplanting fever I thought he was mad. I thought, “You can’t do that. Plants don’t like it, and it’s just not nice.” Now, I’d say that it’s true that generally plants don’t like to be transplanted, but if the choices are die or move, generally we all pick the movement option. And sometimes, even if it’s hard, there is a better home to be had after the move.

Yesterday my culinary sage moved from being on the edge of a desert zone, that has been overtaken by bellflower, to a prime spot in the center of the garden. I’ve already visited it more in the past day than I did in it’s old location and was inspired to look it up in the herb books and tincture some for a mouthwash I’ve been intending to make for awhile now. This morning its leaves are perked up and it looks like it’s going to take to its new home.

What I know is this: everything is a bit more mobile than I used to think it to be. I still have a sense of houses being stable and solid and mostly immoveable, though there are others with different views (take this wall out, and raise up the roof and paint this trim and install a solar tube). But for me these days I get a sense of the mobility of dirt and how to gently and gracefully put a plant into a new home.

My sweet husband keeps reminding me, they want to live even more than you want them to.

And yes, somehow this is a metaphor for life though I think I’ll let you make your synapses dance with it and not tell you exactly where to put it.



Salvia officinalis – from Susun Weed

“The easiest way to use sage as medicine is to make a tea of it. The addition of honey is traditional and wise, as honey is a powerful antibacterial in its own right and magnifies sage’s ability to ward off colds, flus, and breathing problems. If you have dried sage, a teaspoonful brewed in a cup of boiling water for no more than 2-3 minutes, with an added teaspoonful of honey, ought to produce a pleasant, aromatic tea. If it is bitter, the tea was brewed too long, or the sage was old or too-finely powdered, or you have the wrong sage. If you have fresh sage, use a handful of the leaves and stalks, brew for about five minutes, and add a spoonful of honey. Fresh sage tea is rarely bitter.”

Sage is accredited with antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, hypoglycemic, and estrogenic effects (Georgetown University). When taken as a tea, sage has a calming effect on sweat glands and reduces perspiration (Dweck 1987) this makes it good for menopausal women and fevers.

however – Sage should not be consumed in large, chronic doses because it contains thujone and is neurotoxic (Dweck 1987). One case report describes poisoning in an individual following ingestion of sage oil for acne (Centini 1987). Sage can stimulate the muscles of the uterus and should be avoided during pregnancy (Georgetown University). The essential oil of sage may causes seizures (Georgetown University). And it affects breast milk (though I’ve read conflicting reports on how it affects it).