Comfrey!

Jun. 17th, 2010 10:23 am
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Turns out I have a MASSIVE comfrey plant growing in my back garden! Those of you in the know, how should I care for it? What can I use it for? I seem to remember that comfrey poulstices are helpful for post-partum recovery... If so, how do I prepare it?


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Poor B. Mon and Tues he was running a fever but seemed otherwise fine. After the fever broke on Tues evening he's been a pill. The cold is in full force and he's miserable in attitude. The littlest thing sets him off. I've never seen so many tantrums and out of the blue tears. It's rough. And I'm wrecked.

But for a little while this afternoon we sat out in the back garden nursing and reading and just happy in the grass. I listened to the birds chirping, watched a huge buzzard swirling in the sky, looked at the green green hills. I got hit with the thought that this land desperately wants to tell its stories and secrets. In fact, this land will offer it all up to the first ear that will sit and listen. This is not a shy nor even picky land. Whereas when I was in Australia I really felt like the land would not easily reveal itself at all. Australia is beautiful, but it is cautious. I know none of that makes sense. But there it is.

Last thing before I go zone out in front of some telly. Adam just spent an hour getting a cute little brown mouse out of his office. I'm pretty sure the cats brought it in. We didn't want to kill it and finally Adam was able to scoop it up (in gloved hands) and take it outside.
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*Too tired to post coherently.
*Up a 6am every morning. By 11 am it feels like it's 2 o'clock.
*Really good meals this week. Tonight is amatriciana and red wine.
*Bennett is going through something: clingy, won't listen well, tired a lot.
*We ordered him his own bed. I will be grateful to move him out of my bed, and I'll miss his wee hour snuggles.
*Lots of change and energy. Some evenings I feel I lose my focus.
*Got some sunburn today - sunkissed. From a two hour walk. Delicious. The green looks almost unnatural here.
*So many 'at home' books to read: Larsson's The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Nigel Slater's book/cookbook Tender, and The Night Watch by some Russian guy.
*I 'cleaned up' my friend's list today. I'm cleaning up security on a bunch of sites (like Facebook) and I'm contemplating my intentions around them.
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Today's weather, let me list it for you:
Sheets of horizontal sleet, at least twice
Hail, small, twice
Hail, medium sized, once
Hail, enormous, twice (including right now)
A snow white-out, once for 10 minutes
Rain, off and on
Sunny and blue skies, at least twice
Biting cold wind, constant

It's crazy town here, folks.

Spring

Mar. 22nd, 2010 04:30 pm
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Spring is here in full force! This past weekend was the equinox. Most of the ideas I had for its observance fell by the wayside in the face of my continued queasiness. However, Sunday was better and the beautiful sunny morning drew me out. I picked up the litter from our hedge (people walk past and litter ALL THE TIME, despite us keeping our trash can open out front in hope that they'll deposit litter there. SIGH) and then walked to the 'fairy tree' in the big open field just past the housing estate. As I approached, a red kite took flight from the tree. I really need to take a picture of this tree. It is magnificent - half dead, half alive, huge, beautiful. I picked up trash around the tree, mostly old broken beer bottles, and sat on one of the limbs in the sun listening to the wind and the birds.

Today the day started wet, windy and cold, but by 3pm the sun came out, warm and inviting. Walking through the cemetery today I noticed that almost all of the graves have fresh flowers. Clearly it was the weekend for remembering loved ones. The daffodils are popping up and the trees and bushes are budding. I am filled with joy at these small things.

In delicious food news, Adam is squeeing with glee at his new found cooking abilities. When I met him he could make pasta and jarred sauce. These days he cooks breakfast for everyone, he makes the most amazing turkey melts, the most amazing burgers, and now.... he makes french fries/chips. They're delicious. He's so proud of himself, as well he should be!

Tonight for dinner we're having 'nachos' with the left over burger meat. The butcher here raises his own beef. So many things about this place leave me happily shaking my head. There are so many things I prefer about this place to the US.
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I think spring is on its way. There have been three spider sightings in our house. Two have been whisper thin daddy-long-legs type of spiders. But this morning there was a nice black spider on the front door. In spite of the cold temperatures I think spring is making an effort. I certainly notice the lengthening days. I feel the surge of energy from the sun, the spring in my step, it's easier to get up in the mornings - all welcome signs of spring for me.

I made my own refried beans! They aren't excellent yet, but they're good. And my recipe made TONS all for the low low price of a fiver. Massive win. Will post the recipe later, if any one is interested.

This afternoon I'm going to Bristol to hear Ronald Hutton, author of the book on modern paganism. I'm looking forward to getting out of the region, seeing something new, and hearing this man speak. Will report back tomorrow!
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I was going to take the day off the internet but I've only been out of bed for not quite two hours and I already feel defeated. It was a hard night. Very very cold (remember our house has no insulation). B nursed all night long, and squirmed. The water main in the neighborhood froze yesterday so we have to ration the water. Maybe I can take a shower? I only shower every other day, less when it's dry and cold like this, so this morning I really need a shower. If I attempt I know it won't be a warm shower. Ugh. The dishes are piled high in the kitchen. And of course, because of the snow and ice the washing machine repairman hasn't been able to make it out so we have piles of laundry too. Adam received a pay check this morning, which would be great and a huge relief, except he forgot to tell the clients to make the check out to him and not his business. So frustrating. I'm feeling the tickle of a sore throat. And..... Bennett is hitting full on toddler mode. He's discovered 'No' and whinging. Ay yi yi.

In good news (because I really need to perk myself up), B also said Mama last night for the first time. I just about melted. It's also stunningly beautiful here. We have plenty of heat. I made delicious veggie lasagne last night. Tomorrow we are having some new friends over for Adam's amazing cheeseburgers.

No. That didn't help. Still feeling exhausted. It just might be one of those days.

But this picture is incredibly beautiful.
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Tonight walking home through the cemetery I saw an unidentified mammal. Yes, it was dark. But there was just enough light from the house next door to show me that it was bigger than a cat, it had a large tail about as long as its body, and it was dark with a thick white stripe from the tip of the head to the end of the tail. I though maybe I'd seen a skunk.... but after googling images of a skunk, clearly that's not what I saw. Nor is it any of the other mammals in Wales. What the hell did I see? It made me stop in my tracks. And when a dog came out of the neighboring house it scampered off.
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Things here are smaller than in the United States.

Not just the cars or the compact nature of the towns or even the distances between places. But most everything seems smaller. Food portions. Quantities. The number of choices in grocery stores (and thank god for that, I mean who needs an entire isle of shampoo choices?). The size of homes. The beds - the king, and largest size, bed is the US equivalent of a queen. We have a double which is 6 feet long. Adam is 6 feet 1 inch tall. Ovens. The size of door frames in buildings built more than 100 years ago (I have been told, by a Welshman, that the Welsh used to be a small people). These doorframes are maybe 5 feet 10 inches high, but once inside the ceilings are about 12 feet high!

Most of these things are good. I don't need 400 choices of everything. Smaller cars are better. I will mock your Ford Explorers (and such like). SUVs like that would dwarf everything here save semis and maybe the garbage truck. I like smaller portions.

The big challenge? Smaller washing machines and the fact that very few people have in-home dryers. Even in winter everyone line dries their clothes. The washing machines are energy and water effecient - yay! But a large load takes 2+ hours to do. I have discovered that cloth diapering has become far more difficult. I cannot do a whole bag of diapers in one wash. They will take forever to dry. I certainly have enough diapers to manage this, but the reality that we will be doing laundry everyday and everyday we will have diapers (and reagular clothes) hanging about our house, inside and out, is more than a little daunting. I'm too committed to cloth diapering to give up now. We can always haul our wet laundry down the hill to dry at the laundromat.... once we get a car.

I don't want to quit cloth diapering, because I think disposables are so gross and I can't bear to put those things into a landfill where they won't breakdown for a hundred or more years. YUCK. But ask me in the middle of January whether I'm still cloth diapering. Yikes.
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I am grateful for podcasts. When I am at home with B all day long, the classical music starts to get old. I put on a podcast and - voila! Adult conversation. Very helpful while folding the laundry.

After this weekend I have decided two things:
*I want to find out more about my maternal grandmother, who is my namesake. She died when my mother was 9 and I realize I know nothing about her, not a story, not a preference, nothing. Other than her first names and her nickname - which is my given name.

*I could stand to be more fabulous. I love my jeans and tshirts, but I long for brighter colors, louder patterns and some beautiful jewelry. Being a nursing mother has necessitated certain wardrobe choices, and I do find my new shape and sizing to be a challenge [I am the size I was at 2 months pregnant, but my boobs are larger, even though I'm of a small frame, large boobie fitting clothes just hang poorly, sigh]. Still, it's time to choose to be a bit more flash, a bit more fabulous.

It has been pouring for days here. California needs the water so badly. So does my psyche and these grey wet days feel good.
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Yesterday's headline in the San Fransisco Chronicle was something like "East Bay faces water rations." Right on the heels of my "I might be very happy here for a long time" musing, the reality of living in a place not equipped for millions of inhabitants sets in. I live car free, recycle, try not topurchase too much, etc., but I'm still one more person, bringing another person into the world, living in a place that can't healthfully sustain the millions of people that live here. I have year round "allergies" to the air pollution and water comes from the mountains quite a ways away. It's not LA or San Diego, but it's not sustainable either.

Of course, Juneau isn't perfectly sustainable. All the food, save seafood, gets shipped in from Outside. And recently Juneau's been facing a massive energy crisis (check out the New York Times article). But this glitch will get fixed and they'll go back to clean, sustainable hydro-electric power. All that rain and water is good for something!

Still. Now I wonder if I can justify living in a major urban area. It seems a bit selfish and not that wise. I want my boy to be able to play outside! To have a relationship with nature beyond zoos, the Discovery Channel, and field trips. I don't want him developing asthma or other allergies.

Here I go, waffling about place again. As if I am even in a position to move.
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Spring is on in full force here in the Bay Area. I barely seem to leave my couch these days. Sadly, walking is starting to make me ache in areas seemingly unrelated to my legs. I'm just so damn tired all the damn time. I really really want to indulge myself in the energy that I feel when I wake up to birds chirping and fresh, bright sunshine in the morning. I think I'm starting to get a (very small) surge of new energy thanks to spring. I have an itch to read the books piled up on the coffee table, to get out of the house, to finish some house hold projects. Still not feeling quite as motivated to sing or study, but I know that will come. (I actually dreamed last night of performing in an opera - which was really more like a musical - one I hadn't rehearsed for. But my improv worked and I sounded great. A decided subconscious shift from trying to sing only to find enormous wads of gum clogging up my mouth.)

I think part of me might also be entering the Nesting Phase of pregnancy. Some women seem to get this from the start. I'm not surprised it's taken me 2/3 of my pregnancy to get here. All of a sudden I realize that I have 11 weeks left - 11 weeks to prepare. Now's the time to read all the books I want to read, finish moving into our apartment (hang the stinkin' art!), wash the floors, get those side tables we've talked about, purchase the baby needs, etc. Now should also be the time to get cracking on the dissertation outline. But I've just given up for the time being. I'll do it. But I know if I hound myself I'll have an anxiety fueled crying jag. Ah, hormones.

The arrival of spring and the looking ahead to July also makes me a bit sad. Summer is coming and I won't be making my yearly pilgrimage back to SE Alaska. This year, around the 3rd and 4th of July I will not only be wondering if the Pea is immanent, but I'll also be sad that I'm not in Juneau. No long 18 hour days, no hikes in the rain forest, no whale watching off mum and dad's deck, no fishing, no foraging beach lettuce, no communing with the mountains or the sea, no seeing the friends I see for maybe one or two days a year. I'm sure once the babe is here I won't be thinking of this. July will be a blur of bonding and boobs and poop and baby.

Home

Oct. 4th, 2007 10:15 am
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Returned home yesterday, full blown sick. I have devolved into a mouth breather. The cold meds at home just aren't cutting it. The journey from Edinburgh was a long one - two train rides, a tube ride and a flight. I found the flight close to unbearable, mainly due to my cold. The one saving grace was that I got to see Iceland, Greenland, and Baffin Island from the air. Iceland was mostly covered in clouds, but I got to see what must have been lichen and moss covered land. Then came Greenland - glaciers, one BIG glacier really, covering everything the eyes could see! Mountains rising and leveling off, fjords, ice, snow.... it was spectacular. Then there was the sea ice and the flat icy expanse of Baffin Island. Truly incredible.

Adam greeted me at the airport with a huge bouquet of flowers. We had to entertain me so I wouldn't fall asleep in the afternoon and exacerbate the jet lag. So we went to a bar and played boggle. Even jet lagged and hopped up on cold meds I still managed to beat him! Then we got supah tasty Mexican food for dinner. If/when we move to Wales I will miss the food around here. Flying into the Bay Area is always a depressing experience for me, without fail. But I so looked forward to the food!

Today, I'm doing laundry, getting caught up on email and snuggling the cats. Later today we are driving down to Paso Robles for [livejournal.com profile] goddessofmercy's wedding. Yay! Hopefully I will feel better soon so I can celebrate each and every night with the crazy couple.

Monday. Monday is when life gets back to normal and the school work starts.
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Yesterday I went to Mountainview Cemetery for the afternoon. It's huge, gorgeous park/cemetery near where I live and where I go to get peace and trees and refreshed. It's seriously beautiful, designed by the same guy who designed Central Park in New York. There are so man different kinds of trees: pine, redwood, oak, eucalyptus, palm and many others I don't recognize. There are flowers, not just on the graves, but little tiny purple ones growing as a floor covering between stands of trees or growing wild in the bushes or cultivated in sitting areas. On the edge of the cemetery, up high on the hill, in the dry beige scrub there were bright pink trumpet/lily shaped flowers growing with abandon! It took me by surprise as I rounded the bend - like stumbling upon a prom in the middle of a forgotten industrial complex. It made me smile. And the birds and the butterflies and dragonflies..... so much life.

I realized this week that I consider cemeteries to be about life, not death. A friend of mine told me that cemeteries make her think of ghosts and make her nervous. I'm not afraid of death, not that I want to die anytime soon, and I don't know anything about ghosts. But cemeteries, like cathedrals and other sacred sites, give me a peaceful, supported feeling. When I was living in Ireland I attended Christ Church Cathedral, the base of which had been laid in the 900s. I find it powerful and humbling and comforting to think about all the people over the centuries who had sat there worshiping as I was, or doubting, or repentent, or hopeful, or bored - just like me. My doubts and desires are not so monumental when I think that way. And like sacred spaces, cemeteries (also sacred spaces in their own way) remind me that I'm not alone. All of those people had lives and loves. It's hard to imagine what 2075 will be like (I'll be 100) and I'm sure that the people whose graves were erected in 1816 had no idea about what the future held either. I feel very much in the embrace of humanity when I'm in a graveyard. Comforted. Curious. More alive in the here and now.

During my walking I was reminded of some thoughts I had when I was camping in the Santa Cruz mountains last weekend. While wandering around a field and sitting amongst the redwoods I realized that California, it's land and nature, is welcoming, friendly, down right inviting. The open forest floors and fields, the colorful plants and flowers, the climate, all of these things are inviting. The land welcomes new friends and asks to be known. It's no wonder that people flock here. California is beautiful and easy to love. Unlike south east Alaska, which though grand and beautiful, is quite imposing and not easy to know or maybe even love. Aloof, foreboding, dark, dense, wet - the forests and fjords and mountains and climate make it hard to know. Unlike California, which is inviting (that word keeps coming to m mind), SE Alaska is a reluctant, demanding, difficult lover. It is an interesting comparison.
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I am indeed from the ends of the earth. Alaska and Australia.
My uncle (my mother's sister's husband) has joined the blogosphere with his own site, focusing on the work that he is doing to reclaim habitat in the farmlands of New South Wales. He was a farmer (sheep, wheat, canola, alfalfa, etc.) for his entire life, until health reasons caused him to stop. My parents live on the back 12 acres of what was once his 1200 acre farm. Check out his site and see beautiful pictures of a beautiful landscape by a man who deeply loves where he lives.
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My heart hurts for two reasons:

I miss Alaska. It's entirely the fault of the Redhead Who was Lost, but Now is Found. She is on her way to Anchorage and Juneau and Tenakee. My chest aches at the thought of dark, cold, grey, wet, vast expanses of "nothing," and a cabin in Tenakee - a village that is two blocks long with no cars, perched along the shore of Chichagof Island, population 104, 45 miles from Juneau. I haven't let myself wander back to Alaska in quite a while.

My heart also hurts because I am pathetically out of shape. I rode a bike this morning for the first time....since high school? I seriously cannot remember the last time I rode a bike. I had forgotten how fun it is, but I'd also forgotten how my knees feel about it. The merest hint of a hill highlighted just how desperately I need some cardiovascular help. All right already! I'll get a bike!

Yeah yeah

Aug. 11th, 2004 12:11 am
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I just posted, I should be in bed. Should. Yeah, I said it. But I just read [livejournal.com profile] donkeyfly's latest post. It's her and [livejournal.com profile] automata that remember for me just how beautiful my home is. They write about it in such a way that I capture the smells, whether it's the mingled scent of rain and drunken men staggering from the bars or the smell of low tide mixed with rain. I feel the rhythms of a southeast alaskan summer. I remember the weight of trees, the gravity of water, the inertia of place whose inhabitants are constantly in flux. I remember the shape of the aurora over the mountains this time last year.

When I get exhausted my heart retreats to that place of absolute knowing. I ache for the certainty of comfort, of knowing not just where I fit, but how I fit and why.

I could go on about soil and water and sounds and history, but I'll spare you. It's late. Instead I am going to curl up in bed, finally, and dream of that boat ride I never got in June.

Addendum

Jul. 16th, 2004 03:25 pm
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Maybe I need to quit thinking that everywhere I live is where I have to live. If that makes any sense. I need to think of all of my moving like dating, or something. Although, I certainly wouldn't date Berkeley for two years. Hmmm.... In the past I've often thought of Juneau as a lover and all these other places I've been living are infidelities. More than once I have been flying home feeling like the adulturous lover. Maybe I need to break up with Juneau. Have a little ceremony, write it a letter, get a divorce, something symbollic. This must just seem absurd to everyone but me. I realize I am carrying this metaphor a bit too far. But I have met few people who feel about their home the way I do about mine. Other people from Juneau get it and the only other person I've met who's really gotten it has been from Nebraska. I guess I feel like landscape and geography are as individual as people. The way we treat our land, home, community in this culture is very similar to the way we possess people. We carve it up and possess chunks, put up fences, romanticize nature but kill it off in a hundred mile radius.

I am a nutjob and I say maybe way too much.

LA is ....

Jul. 13th, 2004 01:01 pm
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Before leaving on my trip a friend suggested that Los Angeles was like being anally fisted without lube. I would like to state for the record that it is not even remotely like being anally fisted without lube. Perhaps it is more like being vaginally fisted with a lot of lube: something one can with time acquire a taste for, even eventually find pleasurable, but why would one want to? In any case, I will elaborate on my experience below.

Heart of Darkness )

This is not as articulate as I would like it to be, but alas, there is so much in my head and in my spirit. Thank you to our hosts. Thank you for listening.
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I love making guacamole. I love the flesh of the avocado. Varying shades of green, soft but firm, tough but delicate - they bruise so easily despite their thick looking skin. Smooshing it under a fork, with garlic lemon juice salt. Making fajitas last night was just an excuse to buy avocados, and to cook at Adam's quiet house. To feel civilised in the kitchen, adult and domestic in contrast to my transient institutional living space. Drinking negro modelo (?) highlighting the cumin and onions. Who knew I could develop a taste for beer? Slowly, but I am. I have one avocado left.

Not avocado related.

I have been meaning to put this up for a while. At least, so I can toss the piece of paper it's written on, but retain the words. I found this in a Douglas Coupland book, Souvenir of Canada. I love Canada. This section is in Y for Yukon, I love the Yukon, talking about his first trip with his father. This reminds me of how I feel about Alaska.

"The Klondike fulfills many expectations. The next day we headed off into Kluane National Park - a place I never even knew existed, but to fly over it was to apprehend God or the next world or something altogether richer than the suburbs of home. Glaciers drape like mink over feldspar ridges like broken backs, and the 24 hour midnight sun somehow burns paler and whiter than the sun in the south - and the horizon seems to come from a bigger planet. To see a wild landscape like this is to crack open your soul and see larger landscapes inside yourself. Or so I believe."

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