Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bring In The Whistling Wind, The Drumming Rain

...or the indian summer days of September. I care not. My favorite month (sorry Heather!) is about to begin.

Transitioning from summer to fall, longer nights to spend indoors with books and ukes and canning. The glorious month of tucking away summer's harvest.
On Saturday I ventured into my garden to gather my herbs for teas and powders and tinctures. I have roses, crimson clover, lemon balm, fall nettles (my pet nettle from last year decided to go forth and multiply), comfrey, raspberry leaves, mint, oregano...

A tea and herb garden can be just as satisfying as a veggie one. I look forward to expanding into growing more and more of my favorite herbs.
When C.'s pops and his wife visited this summer they brought me the kinds of family heirlooms they had inferred I might enjoy the most, including this shamrock from a plant of C's great grandmother. It just began to bloom and the delicate blossoms make smile every time I sort plants on the porch.
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I also came across some gifts from the woods on my morning walk, one of our favorite mushrooms, chicken of the woods in abundance.
My rule of thumb with mushrooms is  to take no more than a third or a half, to ensure a harvest for next year and for someone else too should they come along. I know the mushroom itself is just the fruit of the mycelium underground, but I really believe that one should never be greedy with wild offerings. It's impolite to refuse them when offered, but even more impolite to take more than your fair share.
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C's little cousins came to visit with their grandparents last week. It was fun to see how at home these little Manhattanites were in deep dark woods.
They fended courageously through yellow-jacket stings, falling on bikes and stalking deer down the cliffs and seemed to have a blast.
Learning about smores probably helped too.
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It's birthday season here, with more parties in horizon for each week. On Sunday we had pizza and sauna time with many of our dearest friends to celebrate a triple birthday.
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And then on Monday cake for another late August friend.
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It's been fun to be out and about, to feel pretty strong and capable and excited to do things and see folks.
Here's to canning season! The writing season! The bounty season!


I can hardly wait. How about you?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Tender Place

In many disciplines of medicine,  it is thought that each of us has a weakness, an Achille's heel, a place where our problems accumulate and manifest. For some people it's their stomach, for others their skin, for other's still it's their back, or shoulders, some bone, or muscle, an organ somewhere in our bodies.

For me that place has always been my lungs and my chest, my breathing.


I don't just mean colds, though any innocuous, little cough I get is apt to quickly become a respiratory infection. In high school I had six respiratory infections in ten months and was prescribed as many courses of antibiotics. Over the years, I've suffered from panic attacks who's main symptom (other than the overwhelming sense of dread) was shortness of breath. Had random, intermittent asthma attacks that don't seem to have an actual physical origin. Allergies that manifest in the respiratory system. When our house was moldy, my most persistent symptom was a continuous cough that wouldn't quit for almost a year and culminated in pneumonia.
But it isn't just physical. It's not just scar tissue in my lungs, it's not just a weak immune system, it's not just a kink or a peculiarity, I've actually come to believe that it's where I store my negative emotions. My, for the lack of a better wording, fucked up shit.
When I started meditating seven years ago, one of the things that quickly became an obstacle was my breathing. Instead of relaxing me, deep, focused breathing actually added physical tension to my body. I'd had the same experiences for years, during gym class, dance and yoga since grade school; a sudden tightness in the chest whenever I payed attention to my breathing.
I even use to smoke as a coping mechanism, transferring emotional problems directly into my lungs.
Usually, after I get stressed out and worn down enough, I get sick. I don't do well with stress, so this happens quite frequently and in the last three years my immune system has been under a lot of external duress, though it's definitely on the mend.

For the last week, I've been more or less suffering from all the classic symptoms of my usual respiratory troubles.  It feels like my annual fall cold come early, capping a tiresome summer perfectly and dismantling all of my best laid plans.
It's hard to admit that your body as a fragile thing. In a health conscious environment, it's easy to take its short-comings as weaknesses. I've even had people say as much to me. That somehow being physically frail implies that you're not a dynamic enough a person. I try to take that in at a stride. As frustrating as physical issues can be, I don't measure my weight, or that of others, in how healthy they are.
A friend who's a massage therapist once pointed out that emotionally sensitive people are also often physically sensitive as well. So instead of lamenting over my plans undone, my inability to shake doldrums and aches and blocked sinuses, I spent the week trying to listen to my body, telling myself "No. We simply can't go to the garden, stay up working on stuff, go do fun things we had planned. We can't. It takes however long it takes. Lay low."

It took long enough; today is the first day I feel like my usual self, inspired, with energy and joyful plans. A few of which involve working on my lungs, my upper body, my sinuses, with herbs and energy-work and exercises.

Weakling or not, the older I get, the more attention I pay my Tender Place.

Do you have one?

Important notes, comments and questions:

1. "The Tender Place" is a rather sentimental poem by Ted Hughes in The Birthday Letters. In it, Hughes describes how SP's temples were hooked with electrodes during her bout of ECT at McLean Hospital. Ask me like anything about SP. Actually SP had both sinus trouble and stomach issues, and some biographers believe, rather convincingly that the illness that killed her was an extreme case of PMS, or rather PMD- Pre-Menstrual Dysphoria. Any other SP buffs out there?

2. Speaking of sentimentality is anyone else absolutely crazy about the new album by The Civil Wars?!? Eavesdrop? The Smashing Pumpkins cover? The absolutely perfect brake-up song The One That Got Away?

3. I'm wearing a dress that got way too little wear this summer, from the lovely and sadly not-often-posting Waves, via the most inspiring little vintage store in the world Frida Marina. If you're ever in Helsinki look up Waves' sister Maria. Girl's got the magic! I lopped off most of the sleeves to make it more practical and for once I think that was the perfect thing to do, they rest like little wings.

4. Orange cha glad blogger fixed that commenting problem? Me too.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

...and a baby on the way!

The beginning of that sentence is, of course, "Running a handmade business, building a homestead, style beautiful and practical..."

That about sums up our friend Lissa, the creator of Barnacle Bags, homesteader, the driving force behind making Larkspur first happen, an all-around swell gal and a soon to be mama, first of her peers. I'm so happy to know her and hope to spend a little more time with her this winter, due to certain, as of yet undisclosed announcements. And hey, you guys know I'll never disagree with a girl in polkadots.

This shot is more than a month old, but in spite her due date drawing closer, she still manages to rock her own unique brand of understated, practical yet lovely attire. 
Fair-isle sweaters, sensible shoes and hues of blue seem to be the cornerstones of Lissa's preppy/ nautical/hippy/county girl style. As only someone with a finely honed aesthetic she makes such a unlikely sounding melee look totally effortless and stylin'.

And I have to say that I've never met anyone who can keep a flow-y white dress as clean as her ;)

I can scarcely wait to meet her little one, all bundled up in the fall, in what I can only imagine the most practical and stylish baby attire. So excited!

Oh and yes. I totally intentionally was trying to trick you guys into thinking we were having a baby. Don't hold your breath. You migh suffocate.

More "Dirt Road Style" coming up. Happy Wednesday!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Don't Carry It All

Sometimes, your life is just perfect. Not necessarily because of the the big events, the supposedly fun thing, the scenic moment. Just as often it's the evening sun streaming through your dirty windows, your husband watching Game of Thrones in the other room, foghorns waking up the cat and you looking up from a good book, realizing that for a moment, right now, everything in the world is as it should be.

That's all it takes, let entropy run its course thereafter.

I feel like I owe you guys an apology. This summer, like every summer, I've spent a little too much time bitching about my lack of summer love.
Like everybody else's hard times, mine too are mostly between my ears. That is, they only exist in my fictional version of the Universe. Sure, there's overlap sometimes, but mostly, my life itself is as good as golden and I'm just epicly failing to acknowledge it.
Right now, for us, it's big dreams, uncertain futures, making money, squirreling away our resources for the months to come. My introvert self wants things to slow down, but right now I'm better off just letting myself get swept up.
I keep my head down and my cards close to my chest and just try to take it all in.

In the meantime, beers are drunk, bloomer's are worn, whole outfits even. Our little community prepares to receive its newest member, turns out that Vilina is quite the seamstress, I hang Lissa's picture in our family altar in anticipation of the birth.


C. picks flowers to decorate all the food I make for our friend's wedding celebration. We get to speak to everyone we know and love. We see what can only be interpreted as signs for a bright future everywhere.
We goof around, exchange handmade jewelry, Amelia learns to hula-hoop. I wear my current favorite Gunne, a recent gift from Missa and my new earrings from Amelia's latest batch of jewels. Who, by the way, wears an outfit that not only reminds her of grandmas, but was gifted by me. Leopard print and flamingo earrings scream "Florida", in a decidedly Pacific Northwest way.
Friends ebb and flow, come around with new sorrows and jokes and ideas and experiences.
These are not just good things, I remind myself, these are the things that are happening right now.

It's business as usual, only that it's constantly changing and we keep bobbing along, waiting for the next calm pool, from which to look up and see the stars.

Two more weeks.

ps. I would also apologize for my lack of posts and comments, my crypticness, my inability to string together a decent sentence lately, but I think you understand. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Moon Dance

New moon, full moon, waning moon, no matter, one thing stays the same from summer to summer and never fails to lift my spirits; The Barn Dance.

Come rain or shine (and this year it looks like rain and thunder!) it's hands down one of the best slices of our country life. It's been thrown by the same local family  since the 70s, with strings of lights and ice cream cones and do-si-does and the young and the old, the city and the country swirling around together.

Here's some shots from last year's pre-hoedown, the walk through the pastures, and the reveling itself.

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I'd recommend you put your hoe down and try them squares and contras the next change you get. It's pretty much the best brake you can take from your summer chores. I'm off to swing my own!