Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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“Lesson Four”

In the online class I am taking on herbalism, lesson 4 is about the actual process of growing herbs.   The assignment was to write two hundred words about the benefits of growing herbs, and cite an example of how I plant herbs from seeds.  I don’t think my response is what the instructor has in mind, but it’s the truth and I’m sticking to it.

Lesson Four:  Benefits of Herb Gardening

All one needs to do is google “benefits of growing herbs” to see a list.   The benefits are all fairly ordinary:    economy, taste, health benefits.

I am all for saving money, eating tasty food, and achieving good health.   For example, rather than paying two dollars for a bunch of rosemary that will most likely be thrown out after I chop off my two tablespoons, I can just go out and snip off a couple of sprigs.  Even though dried herbs are stronger tasting, there is a “brightness” that fresh-cut herbs, like basil or parsley, can add to a dish.   And nothing is more soothing to me than cup of lemon balm tea after a stress-filled day.

For me, there is another, more intangible reason for growing my own garden – and not just herbs, but flowers and vegetables too.   The reason is that I am an urbanite without much access to nature.  Watching my mint and yerba buena overflow their pots to reach towards the sun helps me feel the power and dynamism that all living things share.  To use a cliche’, my garden helps me to get in touch with nature.

I have to admit that I have not had much success in growing herbs from seeds. Also, I am fairly impatient and growing herbs from seeds is a process that does not move at a rapid pace.  My current garden is mostly comprised of plants from the local garden center, but by watching my plants thrive, I am encouraged to try again.   Dill is a favorite herb of mine and I just realized that I don’t have that plant in my collection.  So sometime soon I will get some dill seeds and sow.   Again, I will be enjoying the intangible benefit of watching life germinate from lifelessness.

How awesome is that?

 

ljgloyd

 

 

 

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A Big Bubble of Unstructured Time

I found myself in the fortunate situation of having six whole hours, a big bubble of time in my world, to do absolutely anything I wanted to do. When you have as many interests as I have, six hours is hardly enough, but I was delighted to have it nonetheless.

The Garden Comes Indoors
The gardening bug has really bitten me, (no pun intended) and I could not stop myself from going to the garden center and buying a planter, some potting soil, and three small plants from the mint family.   This is entirely an experiment since plants have typically not thrived inside my place.  It is simply too dark. However, I noticed that my feral mint in the backyard  seems to be thriving in a shady, enclosed area, so maybe it would do well in my dining room. I selected three plants: another lemon balm, a Yerba Buena,  and an ordinary, garden-variety peppermint. (I am rife with puns today).  Here comes the strange thing:  when I brought them in, the place I situated them seemed to lighten, and I don’t mean from the sunlight coming through their window.  I mean that the energy in the room felt lighter.  Living things do that to a place.

Apothecary Work
Yesterday, I harvested some lemon balm from the outside garden for the purpose of making a tincture.  A what?  A tincture is any type of herb soaked in alcohol for a length of time.  A lemon balm tincture can be used as a stress reducer or sleep aid.   My tincture here is made with vodka (you would NEVER use rubbing alcohol).   I’ll let it sit in my refrigerator for a few weeks in order for the essential oils In the herbs to extract.

I also made a batch of cleaning solution:  purified water, white distilled vinegar, and a few drops of peppermint essential oil.  Armed with this solution, I washed down my counters, table tops, even my chairs.  I find this much more pleasant than washing everything down with a chemical-laden cleaner.  From an aromatherapy perspective, the peppermint oil is a mood-lifter.  This too added to the energetic brightening of my home.

Since I seemed to have fallen into cleaning mode, I threw together a spray to scent my pillows and bed linens.   Vodka and purified water again, this time in a spray bottle with a few drops of lavender, sweet orange, and vetiver oils, all to lull me into a wonderful sleep tonight.

In the Kitchen
I cook for the entire week on Sundays since I have so little time to do so in the evenings during the week.  I usually roast a bunch of vegetables as part of the menu.  I was inspired by a cooking show I saw yesterday, and followed suit by roasting chopped sweet potatoes and golden beets in a sweet and spicy rub.  Oh, oh, oh!  Cumin, coriander, ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, honey, olive oil, and salt.  If I could sell the aroma wafting out of my kitchen, I would be a rich woman.  I think tomorrow for supper, I will just have this.

Body, Mind, and Spirit
After lunch, I took a few minutes to review my planner and then write a bit in my “Raven Journal”.   This journal is the serious one, filled with all sorts of angst, a place to dump the emotional toxins. I felt so much lighter when I was done.

As the afternoon progressed, I felt the need to get outside into the sun.  I walked down to the town center, bought a cup of coffee and then meandered back home.  When I returned, I rolled out my yoga mat onto the living room floor and went through an Ayurvedic routine designed to drain lymph and detox the body.  Of course, like any yoga routine, I ended with a few minutes of savasana, a time of still, motionless meditation.   To continue the detox, I took a long, hot, soothing Epsom salt and lavender oil bath. I emerged, calm and clear-headed.  (No picture of that, you will be relieved to hear.)

And Finally
I would have liked to have had a couple of more hours. If so, I would have worked in my sketchbook or maybe drum a bit. However, knowing that I only had a few more minutes left of my afternoon before I had to leave to meet some friends, I did what I am compelled to do on a daily basis. I put my feet up and began to write.

Ljgloyd 2018


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The Best Mentors I Ever Had

When I think of a mentor, I think of Yoda. You know, he’s the shriveled gnome-like creature who tried to teach Luke Skywalker the ways of the Force. More realistically, mentors are often teachers, relatives, or friends who see something teachable in a person and reach out to lead that person on a path of excellence in a specific skill, talent or knowledge.

I wish I could say that there was such a person in my life: that one special person who took me under wing to teach me that one…thing.  The fact is that there were many:  Those teachers who taught me to read and write and then later to critically think and learn the tools of research.    There were those spiritual teachers who taught me to walk in a just and upright way.  There are the people who are concerned with my physical and emotional health.  Thank God for them. There were those practical teachers who taught me how to use a computer, cook a meal, and take command of an office.   Then there are the men and women with whom I drum.

My mentors are not limited to those I know.  There are all those teachers and mentors from history’s pages.  I never understood why I had to study the Greek philosophers while a college student.   Now I do.  I love to read biographies.  Learning how a notable person navigated life has given me insight in to how I conduct my own.  Hundreds of writers, artists, and musicians, both alive and not, have influenced my creative expressions.

For a polymath, one mentor  would never have been enough.

 

ljg 2018


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A Little Diversion

Every once in a while, as it diversion, I like to engage in a self-education project.  This time I am doing a study on herbs and herbalism. I am engaging in this study through universalclass.com which I access for free through my local library (otherwise one must pay). My first assignment was to write at least 250 words where I define “herbs” and provide a brief history of herbalism. Not to brag– oh, who am I kidding? I’m bragging– the instructor gave me 100% on the assignment.  Here is the essay:

A Brief History of Herb Usage

An herb, in culinary usage, is comprised of the green leaves of any non-woody plant. Other parts of the plant would be classified as spices. For example, the leaves of a coriander (cilantro) plant would be is an herb while the seed of the coriander plant would be a spice. However, the definition of an herb for medical uses is much broader, with an herb being any part of any type of plant used as a medical application.

The use of herbs for both cooking and medicinal applications goes as far back as the Upper-Paleolithic period. Though the lesson article states that the use of herbs for healing was derived through much trial and error, my personal opinion is that humans were far more intuitive in prehistoric times and probably “knew” — perhaps through observing animals’ interaction with herbs– what plants were safe and how they might be effective.

A large body of information on herbal healing was gathered and transmitted by the ancient cultures of the middle-east, Mediterranean, and north Africa regions. The Greeks created a large body of knowledge which they passed on to the Arabs in the middle ages. Europeans developed their own herb-knowledge which was kept primarily by the clergy, but also by the wise women of the land. European herbs and healing traditions were brought to North and South America where they took hold and mingled with indigenous traditions.

Herb-craft fell by the wayside after the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods. And today there is much criticism from the Western medical establishment of the use of herbal remedies. Though the stated intention of such criticism and the regulation by governments of herbal supplements and remedies is to protect the consumer, it also serves to withhold other viable solutions to various health conditions.

I, myself, take herbal supplements prescribed by a Traditional Chinese medical practitioner. These supplements are based on centuries-old, tried-and-true formulae which I can attest have helped me. TCM has become mainstream along with its Indian counterpart, the Ayurvedic tradition. Given that access to quality standard health care is not affordable by many people, returning to the ancient tradition of herbal healing may be the answer.

Ljgloyd 2018

Postscript: Today’s Daily Post prompt, Tantrum, has absolutely nothing to do with this article. Sometimes I’m inspired on my own.


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Knowledge of the Ancients

I remember that once, when I was very young, I had an earache and a family member blew cigarette smoke in my ear to alleviate the pain. I don’t remember if it worked or not. In retrospect, this act seems bizarre,  and I am somewhat skeptical of its effectiveness. I also remember that whenever someone in the family had severe body aches, a liberal quantity of foul-smelling “liniment” was applied to that person. Since I don’t recollect ever seeing a television ad for this product, I did a little research and found out that “liniment” is the name of any herbal infusion or tincture used as a topical remedy for pain.

No, we did not live in some remote cabin in the woods. We lived in the suburbs. And we did take regular medicines, and, as needed, we did go to medical doctors. Nevertheless, these quirky folk remedies occasionally were employed.

More recently, an older family member mentioned that a great-grandfather of mine did “water-witching”. This is the act of finding water using dowsing rods. Another family member said that was nonsense, that my great-grandfather was not a dowser, but had in fact only hired a dowser to find a place to sink a well — which I guess was not nonsense.

Anyway, my point in mentioning all this is that there was a time when such folk ways were the norm. No one thought they were “paranormal,” “New Age,” “magickal,” “earth-based,” “of the devil” or “alternative.” Folk-ways were a part of a world view that for the people of the time were normal and effective.  It was just the way things were.

As a city girl, born and raised, I have been for the most part cut off from this heritage. I’m never going to need to dowse for water (I’ll call a plumber) or have someone blow smoke in my ear (I’ll take an antibiotic). But I can see the benefit of returning to the use herbs, healthy food, exercise and fresh air to maintain good health. I can see the wisdom of joining the ancient folk medicines of Europe and Indigenous America with that of traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic health practices.  They are cheaper and gentler on the body in many cases–though I will still go to the hospital if I feel like I am having a heart-attack.

These ancient ways were typically handed down from mothers to daughters, or from sages to their students. Typically the teachers would find the most teachable student in the family and bestow this knowledge to the next generation.

Maybe my vague recollections of these ancient practices and my current study and application of these practices is a way in which this knowledge is being bestowed upon me.

Postscript:  After I wrote this, I found this Ted Talk.  The scholar echoes what I am trying to say here:.

 

ljgloyd (c) 2018