Tuesday, August 30, 2011

it's the berries

The other day as I was watching the girls, I heard a loud chewing sound directly above. I looked up and there were a couple of squirrels feasting on juniper berries. This is an annual event. I don't know why they eat them but I'm sure they have a reason -- it may correct something in their urinary system, or be a fall tonic food, or maybe they just like the taste.

I harvested four cups of gooseberries this morning. I've never made anything with gooseberries and need to find a recipe to use these. Any tried-and-true recipes out there? I know I can look online but that's what I did with some frozen elderberries a few months ago -- randomly found and made an elderberry crisp. It was crisp all right with a little hard seed inside every single elderberry. I was hoping the seeds would soften in the oven. But no.

Don't tell my husband I made a mini-jar of raspberry vinegar. Because he loves fresh raspberries so much. This amount would've made him a nice little dessert tonight with whipping cream on top. But there's this chicken recipe that calls for raspberry vinegar so I had to.

Raspberry Vinegar

Fill any size jar (this is only a half cup) to the shoulder with fresh unwashed raspberries. Then fill again with champagne or white wine vinegar. Close tightly with a plastic lid and store in a dark cupboard for 2-3 weeks. Strain and store in a cool place.

If you don't have a plastic lid, place a sheet of plastic wrap or waxed paper over the top before putting a metal lid on -- vinegar corrodes. Learn from my mistakes.

Monday, August 29, 2011

crescent moonday

Pieces for flying dreams. The crescent moon is appliqued onto a moon I discharged with bleach soap, the other is a little nine-patch. Nine-patches truly are addicting. I'm wondering how everything will come together for this project. When it happens, I hope it feels like puzzle pieces connecting at last, such a good feeling.

This moonday we have an hours-old New Moon in Virgo. Since a New Moon occurs directly between the Earth and the Sun, we aren't able to see it for a few days -- at which point it can be seen in the west right after sunset and only for a little while before it, too, sets. If you look closely, the entire Moon may appear to glow, in addition to the bright crescent. This effect is called Earthshine -- it's sunlight reflecting off the Earth onto the Moon and then reflected back to Earth again. Moonshine, Earthshine. That's nice.

Virgo influences our digestion, absorption, and assimilation of both life and food. The next few weeks will be a good time to focus on the well-being of our digestive system because we will feel a Virgo influence during this entire moon cycle. Befittingly, now is when to begin thinking about fall digestive tonics to prepare for a change in diet along with the change of season. Hard-working Virgo also enhances outdoor work, and we can draw on that energy as we gather and preserve the garden's abundance.

The New Moon is when to begin something new. In a play, it's the inciting moment in the first act where the rest of the story is set into motion. Make wishes, lists, and resolutions; make fresh dye-baths and herbal tinctures; sketch ideas -- whatever, just take the first step. And that reminds me of this chant by Starhawk:

Let it begin with each step we take,
And let it begin with each change we make,
And let it begin with each chain we break,
And let it begin every time we awake.

Now I'm off to take some first steps.

Friday, August 26, 2011

pepperoni appetizers

Needed a quick appetizer that didn't require a trip to the grocery store. Basil and tomato from the garden, all-natural pepperoni (3" diameter), seasoned cream cheese.

Of course, you need to make them faster than you eat them. Happy weekending! xo

Also posted over at Food Renegade.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

mulberry leaves

With time and patience, the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown, goes the Chinese proverb. Now I'm wondering if the cycle can go 'round another time -- with time and patience, can the mulberry leaf dye that same silk gown?

There's lots to learn about mulberry in addition to its dye potential. It's also a medicinal herbal tree, Morus alba, that I happen to have had growing in my garden for the last 15 years, and well -- I am an herbalist after all -- I see a mulberry leaf infusion in my future. Actually, to come upon M. alba as an herbal medicine is almost like one of those dreams where you discover a new room in your house, only in this case it's my front yard. Where have I been?

A concern for me about sericulture, the realm of silk worms and silk production, was that life as a silk worm wouldn't be so great. But after seeing this video, I think it may be just fine.

If you're squeamish, just keep watching, by the end you'll be okay.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

into the dye-pot: reconstructed deconstructed avocado

Experimenting with compost dyeing here. An avocado reassembled with soaked and vinegared silk organza as its flesh. Placed into a shallow clay pot, then into the garden cauldron of transformation, a/k/a compost bin. For one season. That means until about the end of November. I think I can hold out that long . . .

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

corn silk

Sweet corn, Zea mays, is a seasonal pleasure for us and these days we buy it at the farmers' market. I don't want to spend my time (life) outsmarting, as if that's possible, wildlife for corn. Whenever I prepare it, the corn silk is set aside to dry for a nice diuretic tea. Or sometimes I snack on its sweetness while I make the rest of our dinner.

On a corn plant, the male tassel is the bloom and the female corn silk is the stigma and style. Potential kernels, each with their own strand of silk, are the ovaries and a developed kernel is an embryo. Corn silk is the part used most often medicinally; it makes a nice-tasting diuretic and also a soothing treatment for urinary problems.  Feeling sort of bloated, I made myself a cup of hot corn silk tea this morning and refrigerated a little bit of it to have later on -- it's one of those that's so mild, it's good hot or cold.

Was reading recently about corn in flower essence form and learned some practical applications for an esoteric remedy . . . a corn flower essence helps us to establish and maintain a connection with the earth, especially when living in crowded conditions like an urban area, high density housing, prisons, and refugee camps. It's good for animals, too, who've been confined and need to adjust to a more open space. Sounds perfect for newly-adopted pets.

Corn silk tea: Pour a cup of boiling water over 1 tablespoon dried corn silk. Cover and steep 10-15 minutes. Strain or lift out strands and drink hot or cold.

Also posted at Food Renegade.

Monday, August 22, 2011

hand-moon mudra

Some handwork I've been stitching. The green hand has come up all over the place lately -- in meditation, in several pieces of artwork (not mine), and even in some nice white wine. I forgot the name but if you see a label with a green hand, that's it. The moon is made from silk shantung dyed in bindweed, the background is thrifted linen, the hand is cotton from stash. Needle chanting with kantha stitch has begun, my favorite part.

A mudra is a symbolic hand gesture used to convey various energies. The closest thing I could find for my green hand is the Sanskrit Abhaya mudra -- it is a gesture of reassurance, blessing, and protection. Do not fear is its message and its color just happens to be green. Next hand I sew, I'll choose the mudra first, not last.

Today is a moonday under the sign of airy Gemini. Curiosity creates the branching effect. One thing leads to another and before you know it, you're in a completely different state of mind doing something completely different from how or even where you started. I do love days like this though because everything seems so interesting and nothing goes unnoticed. I always notice that Gemini days are chatty days, too. Conversation is lively and fun, maybe not the best time for a business meeting but great for coffee or wine dates.

Gemini rules the shoulders, arms and hands so these parts should be treated carefully now. That means problems may be more easily healed while at the same time they may be more susceptible to worsening. And this would be a lovely day to learn some hand mudras. I've even seen some that can be done secretly with your hand in a pocket.

My green hand up there was not planned for a Gemini day, it's pure synchonicity.

She has hands now.

Friday, August 19, 2011

pet a bumblebee?

The bee population has surged in my garden this year. In addition to the honeybees moving in, I think there may be a bumblebee hive nearby, too. There are a lot of bumblebees around. Especially in the Buddha garden where most of the vegetables are grown.

So I've begun to research and learn that bumblebees are actually the main pollinators of tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, red clover, alfalfa and beans among other plants. In Europe, nearly all the hothouse tomatoes are pollinated by bumblebees. They perform an action called sonication or buzz pollination that vibrates the flower and anthers to make them release their pollen. In tomatoes, this vibration to release pollen is crucial and evidently honeybees are not that attracted to tomato flowers.

Bumblebees will fly at lower temperatures, they will pollinate flowers that don't produce nectar, and they have furry bodies to collect pollen and pollinate as they travel around the garden.

Plus bumblebees are gentle creatures -- have you ever petted a bumblebee? I hope to do this, if I can spot a sleepy one!

Happy weekending! xo 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

do laundry or cast on

Cloth all over the coffee table. I sat to study it up close. I knelt to move and re-pin pieces here and there. I stood to take in the big picture. I got nowhere.

full moon at apogee and perigee

Then I realized that the Moon is at the point in its monthly orbit farthest from Earth, called apogee, the one on the left. Perigee, on the right, defines the closest point. It doesn't look like much difference, but who knows -- maybe it's not just me today, possibly it's the Moon's doing. That's almost too convenient an excuse!

When focus and direction are lacking, I say do laundry or cast on. I'm doing both.

More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson and organic Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

fruit milk

The famous and delicious Colorado Rocky Ford cantaloupes grown just 162.90 miles away are in season now. Sometimes I make cantaloupe milk. It is heaven, if you like cantaloupe. All the fiber stays in and the air whipped up in there makes it sort of thick and frothy.

 cantaloupe milk

Scoop out the cantaloupe directly into the blender or into a tall cup if using an immersion blender, like I do. Blend it up. The same treatment can be used on other melons, as well. Blend and drink in basically one motion because it will separate and begin to break down pretty fast.

Lots of orange in my life lately.

Also posted at Food Renegade.

Monday, August 15, 2011

grounding dreams moonday

A feather dream can be grounded by stitching it onto cloth. However, a flicker feather cannot be stitched without black thread. It's either search more or restock. Or possibly both.

Today is a waning moonday in the sign of Pisces. Pisces makes us sensitive, creative and dreamy. So much so that we may just need to ground ourselves or we'll float right off the earth. I've read about ritualizing nighttime dreams and recently about grounding daydreams. An example would be knitting up a swatch of orange yarn after a nighttime dream of knitting orange yarn. A daydream could be grounded by writing it down, sketching an image, or taking the first stitches on cloth. I think I love this. How many ideas drift by because they're never grounded, I wonder.

Pisces rules the health of the feet. It is a good day to walk barefoot on grass or sand. And to take a foot bath and go big on lotion afterward. To draw a foot. To knit a pair of slippers. To buy a pair of shoes. There's lots we can do for our hard-used feet.

An easy grounding to do for Piscean symptoms of spaciness, feeling over-sensitive to light and noise, clumsiness, forgetfulness: Imagine roots growing out of your feet sinking deep into the earth. Visualize your torso a tree trunk and your arms and head its branches. Imagine your creative ideas are the sun, wind and rain and feel them being absorbed by your branches, into your trunk, and sinking down to the earth through your roots. Know that they are being held in a safe place until you are ready to work and play with them.

I have some of the symptoms mentioned above so I'm going outside now to be a tree.

Friday, August 12, 2011

cloth as blue as the sky

I was thinking about what kind of feather to stitch as I walked with the dogs. I thought maybe a raven feather, being Raven is one of my names. But right at that moment, this Northern Flicker feather revealed itself. A few steps away was the strip of cloth. I'm sure it's from one of my prayer flags even though the park is a ways from my house. Then the chunk of copper, coincidentally the metal associated with today, Friday. Things come in threes.

The feather needs to be placed on blue cloth the same color as the sky here in Colorado. After holding all my blue cloth up to the sky, I found this denim to be a perfect match.

Happy weekend! xo

Thursday, August 11, 2011

a yellow furry caterpillar

Large Image Acronicta americana

The front porch area must be a good egg-laying place for Mama American Dagger Moth, that's her picture up above. We've come across her caterpillars at least ten times over the years. Always on the wall right outside or just inside the front door and always a singleton. I imagine the event occurs every summer, that sometimes we just miss it.  Some years the kids tried to save the caterpillar by finding it a better place to be. Last year after a porch redo, I, too, was certain it was confused and needed saving so I carried it to some vegetation, but it inched right back to climb the wall by the front door again. Twice. So this year, I simply ran for the camera and followed along. Alert: At one point Baby falls five feet onto hard flagstone.

Looking both ways.

I kept telling her to be careful, the glass is slippery.

 Here's where I screamed.

Didn't miss a beat.

One last time up the wall?

Change of plan.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

into the dye-pot: red amaranth

A dye bundle in a red amaranth solar dye. I don't know that I can wait a whole month, as India suggests in Eco Colour.

These amaranth plants are self-seeded from way, way back in time. Some are 6+ feet tall so they might be Giant Red, but I can't remember. I don't think they're Hopi. That's the thing about re-seeded gardens, unless you keep meticulous records, you lose track of things.

I love the way the leaves receive the sunlight while the blooms bow to the earth.

Do tell, has anyone solar-dyed with red amaranth and what was your result?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

a knitted neckerchief

Just a  few tips on how to have a surprise outcome on a knitting project:

Don't follow directions; use the wrong yarn and then run out; buy discontinued labels; buy different color lots; don't make gauge swatches; oh, and your knitting teacher could pass away before you finish the design-as-you-go sweater that only she knew what to do next. Also, don't measure, and make stuff too big -- or -- be too afraid to measure, and make stuff too small.

I bought and knitted up about half as much yarn as the shawl needed, I realized after reading the directions better. The result is a funky neckerchief that needs a single button. I love the yellow but it's too big to go through the other side . . . so yellow, it'll probably be, by hook or by crook . . . grrrrr.

I really do love a good surprise!

Monday, August 8, 2011

going forward moonday

I'm attempting to keep an open mind as I go forward.

Cutting squares, sewing squares together, cutting more squares. I don't know how large these will grow but if I'm going forward with an open mind, that's not something I need to know at this time, right?

Today is a waxing moonday in the sign of fiery Sagittarius. Some people feel restless during this time because both focus and control can be evasive. I'm liking it very much because it gives me permission to not focus and not control all the minutiae in my life right now! To simply go forward, however and wherever.

Sagittarius rules the health of the thighs, the part of our legs where three strong muscle sets carry us forward, help us to run, to crouch and jump, and to balance. I love the sensation of having strong legs. Many young women have issues with the appearance of their thighs -- I remember the derogatory labels used when I was young -- thunder thighs, saddlebags, and tree trunks for starters. And young men probably suffered the reverse. As I write this, I now wonder if some of the health problems we have later in life are partially the result of a lifetime of carrying burdensome unconscious thoughts about ourselves.

We can replace them. I have strong, powerful thighs to carry me forward. Yes!

Friday, August 5, 2011

redonculous redo

I realize it looks like I haven't changed flying dreams one little bit. Nobody knows the trouble I've seen with this little quartered circle on the also-quartered background. It's been cut out, sewn, ripped, restitched, embroidered, ripped out again, black & white fabric resewn and circles cut out twice, and the whole shebang resewn one or two more times, I forget. And ironed countless times. My sewing tools were laid out like surgical instruments. The underlying problem was a lop-sided circle on a lop-sided square (velvet does that) and it took all this for me to realize that if I stitched some of the quarters together by hand, it would indeed work.

Originally the circle was a moon but then it became an earth. Then back to moon. Now I don't know. It's complicated. And just redonculous. I love that word.

Happy weekend! xo

Thursday, August 4, 2011

on an invitation basis

Calming and healing chamomile, Matricaria recutita, is not just for people. In the garden, chamomile helps improve the health of plants surrounding it. I love this quote from all the way back to 1914, and would assume a chamomile flower essence could achieve the same result.

"It is remarkable that each chamomile is a plant physician, since nothing contributes so much to the health of a garden as a number of chamomile herbs dispersed about it. Singularly enough, if another plant is drooping and apparently dying, in nine cases out of ten it will recover if you place a herb of chamomile near it." --W.T. Fernie. From The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants by Matthew Wood.

A lunaria heartleaf makes a sweet little seed-holder with a deep center. I'm inviting more chamomile by sprinkling its seed around the garden whenever I think of it.

Also a healing and useful plant is Belladonna, Atropa belladonna, but unfortunately its foliage and berries are poisonous. Belladonna or deadly nightshade is used in homeopathic form and quite a few pharmaceuticals. Uninvited, it appears here every few years only to be pulled out (wearing gloves) upon discovery. Too bad -- it's such a beautiful plant-- but Talula, our younger pup, still eats anything and everything.