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20 November 2009

Winter Maladies

A bad cold wouldn't be so annoying if it weren't for the advice of our friends. ~Kin Hubbard

Winter's in Oregon are long and drawn out, damp, and cold. That's why I'm almost positive that we have the most alcoholics, the most bars with home brews per capita, the most overweight people, and the most home remedies for winter maladies that strike our sun-deprived souls. Depression strikes a lot. I mean who isn't depressed when you can't remember the last time you saw the sun. So we try to remedy our seasonal sadness by drinking with eachother in smokey bars. The velvety rich specials brews along with the greasy appetizers make the waist-lines expand. Often times we find ourselves rundown and laden with colds we'd worked so hard to avoid. 'Tis time to prepare for a battle. An herbal assault is waged against these winter micro-organisms.

Every person owns the patent for the secret to winter health. No two tonics are alike and probably differ widely outside of this lush green state of Oregon. However, there are two categories they all fall into: Prevent sickness and treat sickness. Basically we want to put off getting sick for as long as we can so we boost our immunity ahead of time, usually right after summer has left us and fall has just barely begun. We are northwesterners and we believe in our natives, thus we commence with tinctures of elderberry for strengthening our respiratory systems, western red cedar for increasing our white blood cells, oregon grape to purify our liver, and st johns wort to increase our happiness. Of course we include other non-natives like echinacea to increase resistance to viral invasion, goldenseal to ward off bacteria, and astragalus for deep and long immunity. We take in large amounts of vitamin C, eat extra kale and swiss chard, and exercise plenty. However, when we do succumb, we cannot wait to share our long lost family secrets to wellness or the latest trend which aids in decreasing the time we are convalescing.

If you are sick, I can supply you with not just the aforementioned therapies but I can let you in on some ancient secrets that will help ease your misery. If you're nose is plugged up, I know steam treatments and homeopathics that work well in draining cavities. If you have a cough I can ease it with coltsfoot and herbal cough remedies. If you crave a tincture that will make you sweat, sleep and feel good, if only temporarily, I will make you a whiskey-cayene hot toddy. I know two good ways to jump start your immune system - alternating hot and cold in the shower on your chest and going to bed with wet wool socks under dry cotton ones. Most of these are tried and true, by yours truly. However, there are a few that I have not had the opportunity to assess yet.

I always get a taste of my own medicine. If I am sick, all I want to do is lay under the covers and moan. The last thing I want to do is adhere to a wellness routine. Drink water? Forget it. I need a hamburger and salty fries because I can't taste anything with my plugged up nose. Sure I'll take my herbs and steam in the shower, that is, after I moan a while longer and try to sleep through my misery. But someone well-meaning soul will always ask me if I am following my own advice to get better. After which I will drag my sorry ass into the kitchen on a more regular basis to down my tinctures, swallow my hot toddies, then into the bathroom to submerge myself in hot steam.

This week I was completely laid out with an early winter cold. My husband being on the mend from the week before, probably thanks to my healthful advice, asked me if I was going to do the wet sock thing. The wet sock thing - oh you mean the thing that you wouldn't try when you were sick? Ah yes, but you did take my spoonfuls of cough syrup and chew the vitamin c and take shots of my herbal juice drinks. Ok, yes, I will take my own damn advice. I will wear the wet socks to bed. It seriously wasn't that bad. It was actually very soothing, relaxing and refreshing at the same time. And it was true, I woke up to completely dry socks. And I did feel a lot better.

I am back among the living now and I've just cracked open a winter ale to wash down my pizza as the weekend begins. It's forecasted to be cold and rainy for another 4 or 5 months. I'll be sure that tomorrow I remember to pick up that chinese herb my chiropractor told me about. He hasn't been sick in 3 years since taking it. And yes, I need to get a six-pack of that 100 proof holiday ale that is sold at only this time of year. Ah, I can see the crusade to achieve optimum winter health physically and mentally has begun, again.

10 November 2009

A Loaded Holiday

~Thanksgiving toast, from the Movie Sweet November

I have serious trouble with the American Thanksgiving holiday. I think that over the hundreds of years, the real reasons for this holiday have become blurred and eventually forgotten.

Now don't get me wrong. I see nothing wrong with celebrating the fact that we are thankful for eachother and that we cook a wonderful meal and celebrate in thanks with family and friends. In fact, I relish in the family time the holiday offers and believe we should always be thankful to the spirits. But everytime I see a little thanksgiving nativity scene of pilgrims and indians feasting peacefully together, I want to throw up my pumpkin pie.

All I'm saying is that in a couple of weeks, when we sit down to bless our food, that we say a prayer of thanks that the circle of life continues and send a blessing of love to the original inhabitants of this land. And when a glass is raised in toast, our libations are about teaching the truth and making peace with the past.

09 November 2009

A Day of Sentiments

Go the extra mile. It's never crowded. ~Author Unknown

For someone who makes sure her schedule has plenty of downtime, Saturday was a rare exception. Not only was my day packed, but I traveled plenty of emotional miles. I awoke quite luxoriously (in otherwords, without my alarm clock) only to remember too soon that I needed to get going. After a long walk with the dogs in what appeared was going to be a gorgeous day, a quick pick up of the house and a couple of cups of coffee, it all began. They clouds turned dark and the sky opened up in a monsoon of torrent winds and pounding rain. An omen?

Not long after, my sister arrived with her husand and my 2 month old neice who were here from out of town for just a couple of hours. The purpose of their trip - to place their dog into the hearts and hands of a new family. As the rains flooded the streets and the storm flew in, they made the exchange quickly and arrived back at our house, soaked in tears. When their sorrow subsided a bit, we celebrated a long waited reunion with eachother as I held and pampered my plump little neice. They couldn't stay long but as I watched them drive away, it seemed like this moment in time had been a gift for my soul.

Before we knew it we were on the go again, this time headed for my other sister's house to celebrate my nephew's 15th birthday. As we drove onto the free way, the sun boldly pushed it's way through the gray creating the most beautifully intense double rainbow. The rainbow followed us for a while until I saw what it was telling me. There could be beauty even amongst storms.

At my sister's house, were my parents and my other sister. We celebrated this birthday with homemade chili, garlic bread and chocolate cake. I danced in a tiara with my neice, chased my nephews around the house, and coaxed the 15-year old into some camera shots with smiles. The house was crowded and the noise level was high. But every inch was filled with love and laughter. I relished in it.

When we arrived home, we had just begun to wind down when our evening company arrived, cousin Rae and her Peruvian love. We sat in the garage together around our new bar table amongst bottles of wine and beer, cigarettes, candles and music. We commiserated about life, laughed about our day, and ate lots of Tims jalepeno chips - all the while our dogs were chewing our couch pillows to shreds. Another celebration was in order, for Rae and Juan Carlos had announced their plans to marry eachother. Our fiesta turned to cheers of declared love.

As the evening wound down and our company departed, I sat relaxing in Warren's arms as we listened to a Bob CD as the storm outside continued. The rains would not cease today and I had no expectation anymore that they would. Today's weather was not an omen. Today's weather was a reflection of the day. As busy and as chaotic as it had been, the day was ultimately fulfilling. Every event today was a colorful mix of mournings, celebrations, miracles, and sacrifices. I easily gave every part of myself today, experienced a flood of emotions and I felt strangely at peace. I immersed my being into the lives of others and in doing so, my packed calendar was not so overbearing anymore. Yes, my downtime was at an all time low today, but the extra mile was worth everything.

06 November 2009

The Land of Tears

Let your tears come. Let them water your soul. ~Eileen Mayhew

I must have been tense. No, I know I was tense and irritable. I could have blamed it on PMS but really it was much more than that. Warren offered to give me backrub. In fact, he offers backrubs to me every night and I would be a fool to turn him down. But tonight when he offered, I resisted. I didn't want to feel better. Only because I knew I was a volcanoe ready to blow, I finally gave in. As his strong hands massaged my rock hard shoulders, I slowly resigned myself to feeling better. But with each kneading, I could feel overwhelming emotion building up and filling every inch of my cellular makeup. I swallowed hard, choking it back and in the process tensed up again. Dang it, I was going to have to let the monster loose. Instead of tensing, I exhaled and along with each movement of pressure, a tear was released. Over and over until tears were silently streaming down my face. Each tear that escaped me was leaving my heart a little bit lighter. When Warren saw my tears he gathered me into his arms and told me it was all ok. Even though my circumstances had not changed at all and I cried until the tears had decided they were done, I was well again and I could smile. Every now and then I visit the land of tears where the salty water flows freely and emotions are entrusted to another. I should not delay my trip so long next time!

05 November 2009

Granddoggies Never Forget

Elephants and grandchildren never forget. ~Andy Rooney

When grandma Pat met her first grand-puppy, Huckleberry, there was an immediate bond. Grandma wanted to spoil and Hucky wanted to be spoiled. She wrapped grandma pat just perfectly around her little paw. Hucky was just a puppy back then and was in what they call the 'chewing phase'. A phase in fact, that she has never grown out of 4 years later. She kept sneaking into the guest bedroom and stealing items from grandma's luggage but we'd catch her in the act everytime for she wasn't a very sophisticated thief at her young age. But she did put one up on us finally. Somebody left the guest room door open and when we realized what had happened it was too late. Grandma's slippers had been chewed to itsy bitsy pieces and were scattered all over the floor. Lucky for Hucky, grandma wasn't mad and she laughed and forgave her instantly.
The next time grandma visited, she actually brought an old pair of slippers for her to chew with permission even. However, Hucky was a bit older this time and had taken to ingesting the items she chewed now so we had to supervise the destruction of the slippers then take them away when she started swallowing the pieces. Over the next couple of years, it has remained a steady joke each and every time grandma comes to stay, Hucky makes a bee-line for her suitcase, perfecting her thief-like stealthiness each time. Last summer grandma unknowingly left her slippers behind. We had no idea because we cleaned the guest room and didn't see anything left anywhere. However, not long after grandma left, we walked in to find Hucky happily taste testing grandma's forgottten slippers.

This year, grandma arrived as usual and as we absentmindedly stood around hugging and swapping gifts and giving welcome hugs, suddenly Hucky came flying out of the guest room with one of grandma's pink slippers in her mouth. Her eyes were wide, her tail was wagging and she pranced around the room as she gave the slippers the death shake. Then she looked right at grandma all proud of her find. Hucky never forgets. Never, ever. She sees her grandma and she immediately thinks that grandma has brought her slipper treats again. Makes sense you know? Us girls never forgot the specials we got to partake of at our grandparents houses for they always had their kitchens stocked with our favorite indulgences we rarely got at home - candy bars, sugar cereal, root beer floats, ice cream, white bread and real butter.

I'm happy that grandma and hucky get along well. They are both tough mamas and you wouldn't want to mess with either one of them. However, they have hearts of gold and will love you, support you and stand by you loyally until the end of time, oh and they both love slippers!

01 November 2009

Bank of the Cosmos

My poverty is not complete: it lacks me. ~Antonio Porchia 1943

Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
~ Lao Tzu

Like I've said before, I was born and raised to spot a good deal. It never mattered if you could afford the item full price. More importantly, the question was - could you get that item cheaper elsewhere? Always, that is how I have lived my life. In fact I have never really thought twice about it. The whole money thing has always been really wierd to me. When I was a self-employed gardener, I bartered a lot. I'd weed your yard and you'd give me a massage. I'd weed your parking strip and I'd get a free chiropractic adjustment. It's not really about keeping tabs though. It's about accepting payment enough to satisfy a category of need, but not beyond it.

I've always lived paycheck to paycheck squeezing in splurges for a night out with my friends, a gourmet dinner for a birthday, or a bbq at my house for a summer fiesta. Oh ok, and a trip to Value Village now and then.

We've furnished our house with items found on sidewalks on trash day, discounted at the local second-hand store or willed to us by family. I love the outdoors so much that when we decorate our house, I try to bring the outdoors in, adorning the table tops with plants rather than nicknacks. I found my own style of clothing and find the best deals in my sisters' closets, friends giveaways or at value village. I'm proud anytime I find a good deal and can bring it home.

Every now and then we go through a rough moment in time. A delayed paycheck, an unexpected bill, a car breaks down, temporary unemployment... All of which puts a small damper on our fun. Obviously we aren't frivolous spenders, but when a lack of money means I can't get my bottle of wine or cheese to go on my burrito, things appear to get tough. But only momentarily. All I have to do is look around me and I'm in total awe of what I have, not only physically, but spiritually. I'm in tune with nature, in connection with my spirit helpers, in love with my husband, my family knows I adore them and that is all that matters. Let me say that again, in the end, that is all that matters. I'm not going to stress about tomorrow. I've never needed much in the way of material things. But I have always found it vital to have a full spiritual connection with the web of life. I am not poor by any standards. I have eliminated the parts I do not need. I am cultivating a healthy abundance of spritual fortune in my bank of the cosmos. And I will always be on the lookout for a good deal.