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Below are the 17 most recent journal entries recorded in Ruis' LiveJournal:

Monday, March 22nd, 2004
4:50 pm
Prospects arise
Beginning to be excited by the advent of Spring and the prospect of the garden.
In the last week, Jamie, Lee and I got together our order for Pinetree Garden Seeds, our favorite catalog.
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Beginning to be excited by the advent of Spring and the prospect of the garden.
In the last week, Jamie, Lee and I got together our order for Pinetree Garden Seeds, our favorite catalog. <www.superseeds.com> They are in Maine, so we know that everything they grow will be hardy for Michigan. They have a huge variety of interesting veggie and flower seeds, plus many, many books, tools, gadgets, fall bulbs, fruit, herb, perennial plants and craft items (like soap-making and candle-making supplies). Their descriptions are great, with lots of personal info and growing info. Plus it’s a LOT of information, but not overwhelming.

Current Mood: excited
Monday, December 22nd, 2003
11:30 am
Intentional Community on Yuletide
Last night, we had our Solstice tree decorating and lighting. I planned to have carol singing too, but Ayron and Shar didn’t come and I didn’t feel extroverted enough to sing without them. Poor Ayron is down with a bad flu and we haven’t heard from Shar since tree buying. I think she’s struggling with painful emotions due to the divorce. We totally fucked up her birthday on Dec 2, canceling our regular Monday dinner together at the last moment without realizing it was her birthday – ugh! (We had an emergency rehearsal for Beauté that Jeanne put together that night – I had to attend as the lead singer.) Anyway, I missed having Shar and Ayron.

However, Siân and Jesse, old neighbors Lee and John, and new neighbors Jamie and Kif came, with their kids Darby, Syd, Espen, and Sadie. We all jammed into our living room, drank wine, laughed and chatted, and listened to Stacey play Christmas carols on the flute. The kids had rather a contentious time as it got late – Stacey and Darby ganged up on Espen and humiliated him about his bathroom behavior. Turns out, there’s already some simmering tension between the two littlest. I suspect that it’s a combination of Espen’s competitiveness and Syd's refusal to be dominated.

We lit the tree with the candles and turned out all the lights, to lots of ooohs and ahhhhs. We really have the sweetest tree this year. It’s a short-needled spruce with a beautiful shape. With all our red and green glass ornaments, white pressed-paper snowflakes, garlands of icicles and the teardrop-shaped glass icicles, it looks magickal indeed. We finally broke down and bought some new white tree lights, too, making the tree look very snowy and handsome.
Friday, October 31st, 2003
7:33 pm
The Ties that Bind - Ritual Thoughts
Some thoughts about ties, bonds, and cutting them:

1. takes time to construct them
2. they snag on things, tickle, are tight, are painful
3. they are embarrassing, want to hide them, don’t want to explain, want to lie about them. They get revealed by accident, when you don’t mean to do so.
4. it’s hard to cut them off – need tools, they must be in good condition, might have to ask for help to sharpen them
5. you have to “maintain” the ties -- tuck them, adjust them, pull them up, they can expose themselves repeatedly, you have to be committed to keeping them because they often WANT to fall off
6. they shape your choices – what to wear, what to reveal, etc.
7. they can warm up and feel good after you’ve had em on for awhile
8. the tighter they are the better they feel
9. they can be eroticized
10. might have to move them, shift them around, can forget about them, can’t forget about them. They occupy space and time.
11. might want to leave them lying on your altar for a long time, and look at them, before you burn them.

Current Mood: thoughtful
Saturday, October 25th, 2003
1:08 pm
Diarists R Us
Couple weekends ago, I helped plan a reading of gay journals, blogs and online journals and also participated in the reading. Tim Retzloff, an old acquaintance and fellow diarist, invited me to help plan the event. He works with LILA, the Lavender Library Association at UM. He’s an undergrad, although my age, and created a wonderful history website and exhibit about Michigan queers using the Labadie collection materials. I never got to see the exhibit when it was mounted at the Graduate Library, but I’ve been to the website many times… www.lgbtheritage.org.

Several times we’ve had conversations about doing a journal reading – I was thinking just a circle of diarists would read to one another, not such a public event. But it turned out wonderfully. I read about 5-6 entries from my journals: the entry at age 12 when I first suspected I might be a “homo.” Disgust and terror. Then a reading from Sept 1981 when I knew I was pregnant and was seeking to get Bryn into the country. My feelings for men were SOOOO transparent! Then I read one from when Siân was in the hospital for her burn (and I saw a mouse, and I made fun of Kelsey’s name). I read one from when Siân was in fifth grade and experiencing teasing about having lesbians for moms. (She triumphantly called the teasers “Dickheads!!!”) And then I read one from the 1998 local nondiscrimination ordinance campaign in Ypsilanti and we feared a bomb had been left on the porch.

(Beth is about to begin a statewide campaign, in response to extreme rightwing agitating for a state constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage and gutting partner benefits. The coalition group, with more than 40 organizations participating, is called Coalition for a Fair Michigan.)

The reading went fabulously well – much better than I could have expected. I was fearful that such a (mostly) young crowd would not be interested in what a secretary/mother/gardener/activist would have to say. However, they laughed, they cried – they were with me 100%. Tim told Gayle Rubin I was the best reader at the event.

But I didn't find out WHAT drives people to write online journals.
Monday, October 13th, 2003
12:02 pm
Bits and bites of wonderous worts
I got baskets and baskets of green tomatoes when I broke down the garden about two weeks ago. I LOVE my heirlooms. I grew Brandywines, Rainbows, Wondra Yellow paste tomatoes, and Prudens Purples. I brought in all the green ones and set the basket on the counter. I collected numerous green tomato recipes off the internet.

Life intervened.

I did nothing with the green tomatoes, but instead of rotting, the just quietly ripened in their basket. Since then I've used them in stew, in vegetable soup, in lasagne, in salads. Sometimes things that you've tended and harvested come back to nurture you when you least expect it.

On another note … I also harvested my potatoes at last!!! They were wonderfully productive. I had a jungle of top growth above the cages. I think I wrote that the puppies had dug up the middle potato cage and decimated it. Later on, ridiculously, I found one of the unearthed potatoes reburied in the yard. I gently transplanted it into the cage. I only got 5 potatoes out of that cage, not surprisingly. But out of the other two cages, I got probably 20 lbs, all told, maybe 25 lbs of Russian Fingerlings. I took the tiniest ones and made them into Greek Stew -- a dish very much more than the sum of its parts: potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, feta, lemon juice and parsley.

Haven’t seen ShuNahSii in how long… more than a year. It’s strange to compare my experience leaving the circle with those of Jeanne, Holly, Jessica, and Jaye. Perhaps it is this very process of needing, requiring validation from others for me to claim my own experience that prevents me from letting go. I get the distinct impression that I’ve had this realization before! I hate that!

Feel that I should have concentrated harder on cutting ties in my letting go work – maybe I’ll do that everyday from now til Samhain, ending with a big burning ritual on the holiday. As we’re in a waning moon, that’s good magickal timing. I will write more on what I learn. I could use all different kinds of ties, cords, bindings: stretchy bands, twine, cravats, cotton string, yarn, duct tape, velvet, light ones, strong ones, beautiful ones, pukey looking ones. I’d need 17 bindings to do one per day from now til Samhain. I could string them all over my altar, wear one all day.

Current Mood: hopeful
Monday, September 15th, 2003
9:15 am
Reassessments; resources; reaping; regrets
OK, things are slightly better. My panic is abating for one. Rent will be paid in just a day or two. I've won a bonus at work -- hope it shows up soon. Beth is painting for $$$ and the offers for painting work keep rolling in. Not just from our neighbor, but one of the road contractors, and some other friends, and then some more friends. Now, if her knees and wrists hold out til her unemployment comes in, it'll all be OK.

Thanks to St. Johnswort, not to mention stress-B Vitamin water. And, about that Boneset. Heh. I think it's alive. First the dogs trampled it; it struggled back to life. Then the dogs ate it; it sprouted elsewhere. Then I accidentally beheaded the plant while weeding; I tucked the severed stem under the soil, hoping that it would root. Well, that segment is still green, if terribly limp. It's been about 2 weeks and it's *still* green.

I have dug up an escaped comfrey for Hallie's mom, Marietta.

I have decided that the quince must go. A supposed ornamental, it blooms just once for a short time in April. After that, enormous growth ensues, thorny ebullient growth of an unattractive kind. Which entails getting mightily scratched up to inhibit with pruning shears. So of course, I want to replace it with another rampant grower: (what else?) elderberry. Another word for elderberry is Ruis. Naturally, I should have one as She is my guardian plant and witch name. She is a native plant, will provide mucho wildlife shelter and food in my yard, and I can make elderflower water and elderberry wine!

The funny thing is that, this year, in a last gasp attempt to show its usefulness, my quince has put forth about two dozen quinces -- completely unprecedented. In the past, it's never borne more than 5 or 6. Must research some recipes.

Sweet grass is bending down low and starting to turn yellow. Truly an indication that Mabon is near...

One thing I really regret is that the bank not only absconded with my separate account (our "emergency fund") but a large chunk of Sian's too, since Beth was a signer on that account. Ouch. What lame parents we are. I've started to replace the money. Poor girl, I *hate* to add fuel to her worries.

Also, more bad news: our Chestnut jumped off the porch and bit a passer-by yesterday. What a shock. I cried for two hours afterwards, fearing that the police would be arriving. Thankfully, she didn't seem to really hurt the man -- altho he was understandably angry -- and no police came. Chessy now has an appointment with a dog trainer who specializes in aggressive dogs and it doesn't sound like it'll be too terribly expensive. I liked the woman's attitude, not at all blaming.

Sheesh, when it rains, it pours. I can't help wondering if our high level of tension and worry are affecting her.

Current Mood: melancholy
Thursday, August 21st, 2003
3:13 pm
Dust Bowl Days
$$$$ - there is none. Beth is unemployed. It's as bad as it ever has been. Our bank actually confiscated a separate account that was only in my name, when our joint checking account began bouncing d/t lack of funds. I didn't think they could do that. So, there went our "emergency fund," pitiable though it was. And Beth's unemployment insurance has not come through. The state must "investigate" and make sure we do not intend to defraud. So we are trying to live on my tiny secretarial salary from UM. [But the benefits are great. Should I suddenly become disabled, we'll be all set.]

How I am coping, why do I continue to call this situation to myself? I try to comfort myself to say, at least we have no debt, apart from our house payment and car payment. However, they have not been paid for this month. Everything else (nearly) that we owe is paid, sort of. By which I mean deals have begun to be struck, partial payments made, letters of apology sent, grovelling commenced, budgets adjusted, services cancelled, renewals filed, needs put off. I cried today on the phone speaking to my food co-op, as I apologized for bouncing a check to them.

Shame is what arises. Shame at our situation. Shame that others know. Shame that our choices have been poor. Life choices -- to sing, to plant, to quilt, to agitate, to build community, to give, to work for social justice. Just not very remunerative choices. The things I love ....don't pay.

Astrologically, apparently, everything is about to change for the better when Jupiter, the planet that rules my sign (Saggitarius) moves into Virgo.

We are swimming in veggies: green beans, tomatoes, squash, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, many herbs. And thank goodness! I also have a veritable forest of potato foliage. Never having grown them before, I am not sure how to proceed. Must look up how to

I lost the boneset, sad to say. Puppies trampled it, in one of their last forays into the now-fenced herb bed. This winter I will have to rely on sage, hyssop and goldenrod teas for my colds.

On the other hand, the sweet grass is lush and revived, having been moved out of the puppy traffic zone. I begin to wonder when I should harvest it.

Divorces -- two families I love deeply, just within the past couple weeks, have announced that they are divorcing. I am sad.

Current Mood: nauseated
Thursday, July 17th, 2003
9:15 am
A few Lammastide recipes that I love...
I can't remember the name of this, but I think it's called...


1 cup thyme, chopped
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
good olive oil to taste
salt to taste

Buzz this up as you would a pesto in a blender. Outstanding on bruschetta or lavash. Think you could probably make this with any herb that you enjoy. Could also add some kalamatas I bet and it would be like a cross between tapanade and pesto.

(ooooooooooo, just did a google search and I was right about the name! here's a second version...)

~~ Zatar -- ~~
1 1/2 Teaspoons Dried Thyme
1 Tablespoon Sesame Seeds
3/4 Teaspoon Dried Marjoram
1/4 Teaspoon Allspice
1 1/2 Tablespoons Almonds -- ground
1 1/2 Tablespoons Lemon Zest -- grated
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Denise's Farm Bruschetta (credit to "The Beltane Papers" journal of women's mysteries)

6 ripe garden tomatoes
½ Cup chopped fresh basil
½ Cup chopped onion
3-4 pressed or chopped garlic cloves
1/3 Cup extra virgin olive oil
1 loaf baguette
salt & white pepper (lemon pepper works good too!)

Put chopped ingredients in bowl, salt and pepper lightly. Stir in olive oil. Set aside.

Cut bread at an angle, brush oil on bread and grill or toast in the oven until lightly browned around edges. Remove and rub with a cut garlic clove. Arrange bread on plate and add tomato mix and a sprig of fresh basil as garnish.

I've made this from fresh tomatoes, basil, onion and garlic from the garden with great results.

Many feasts involve a sharing of bread. Lammas especially focuses on the bounty of the growing season and first fruits.

Properties - medicinal and magickal

Tomatoes have long been held as the fruit associated with love. Basil is an antispasmodic, antiseptic, carminative, and aromatic herb and brings compassion to those sharing a meal. Basil is also associated with rites of initiation. Onion is an antiseptic in the gastro-intestinal tract and lowers blood pressure and symbolizes virility. Garlic stimulates digestive organs, greatly benefits blood circulation, and is a diuretic while
symbolizing health and protection.

Green bean salad

1.5 pounds of green beans
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 tsp chopped dill
1/2 to 1 cup chopped parsley
small bunch green onions, chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan or Asiago cheese
2 TBS cider vinegar
2 TBS olive oil
1/4 cup plain yogurt

This is great for using up your abundant July herbs and earliest string beans. Chop everything and combine. Let sit in fridge at least 2 hours before serving to allow flavors to combine.

Lisa's lunch

2 large lavash (whole wheat, tomato or spinach)
handful of kalamata or spanish olives
handful of mixed lettuces from garden, Boxelder Acres organic farm, or farmer's market
handful of herbs cut on the way out the door to work
(or Zatar if you have it)
Plain yogurt
Sprinkle of Asiago grated.

Spread yogurt on lavash. Add greens, herbs, olives & cheese. Consume sitting outside in a patch of sunshine.

Current Mood: rejuvenated
Tuesday, July 8th, 2003
4:18 pm
Ah, Yes... July...
I remember this month. This is the frantic month. All that was happily seeded, planted, dreamed, envisioned in May becomes a distorted, horrible reality now. Little is as I imagined. The sweet grass I rejoiced to find had survived the winter was dug out and shredded by my young puppies. One of three potato cages also was unearthed and nearly destroyed. I performed triage on both these catastrophes: I took the sweet grass roots that I could find and transplanted them into a zinc tub in the front yard (outside the puppy run) where, after a month, they seem to be recovering well. I also happened to find one of the potatoes, serendipidously reburied in the middle of the yard and sprouting. I lovingly replaced it in its cage and it has continued to valiantly grow, despite the rough treatment. Similarly, three of five raspberrry transplants were dug out and shredded.

The ornamental peppers, meant to be a hedge along the front walk, have "failure to thrive" syndrome. Three of 10 have succumbed to competition from reseeded love-in-a-mist and violets, or being stepped on, or dogs. The remaining 7 are runty little things, victims of the cold and rainy spring. I keep hoping that they'll begin to take off soon, but perhaps they are permanently stunted.

The wild lettuce flourishes, as do multiple other weeds: creeping charlie, devil's pitchfork, motherwort, and of course, violets, lamb's quarters, lady's thumb and avens. I know many of these plants have their medicinal uses. Actually, as non-native "invaders," all of them were brought to this country for their useful properties, probably. And I *do* use them. I tincture the motherwort, use the creeping charlie fresh, eat the violets and lady's thumb, make salve of the plantain. If only there weren't so MANY of them.

The hazelnut (one of two), which seemed to die last fall, miraculously sprang anew from its roots this spring. That is, it did until Chessie nipped the 24" sprout off with her teeth as I watched. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrgh.

My herb garden has been a victim of all this year's popular depredations: dogs, neglect, dispair and weeds. After the debacle of the potatoes, raspberries and sweetgrass, after a lot of tears, after a mighty struggle to let go of the backyard beds while the dogs still are puppies, I settled on denial as a mental health preservative. Therefore, when the puppies snuck under the fence surrounding the herb bed and dug a large hole near the lemon thyme, I barely batted an eye. I just snivelingly replaced the fence and went back into denial. When they snuck in again and trampled the chives, I did the same. I just looked up the other day and the lady's thumb and lamb's quarters were waist high. Hmmmm. That's what denial will get ya. But it's OK. I've been crawling around in there and have begun to get the weeds under control and the borage beaten into submission. It reseeds so exuberantly, I had to pull out more than I allowed to stay. AND the wild strawberries I thought were volunteers turned out to be cinquefoil ...AGAIN!

Thankfully, this year, for the first time, I have a strong ally in the garden. My partner Beth is an activist looking for work and thus is home with time on her hands. She has been weeding and mulching, even putting in a path of stepping stones around the herb garden. This has been a blessing. In the areas that she's reached, weed domination has been severly checked. She hasn't been too involved in the garden before this year, but now she's absolutely motivated. I am so grateful. The path looks great!!!!

My layering and air-layering experiments have yielded zero success. We had quite a wind storm on July 4, with 70 mile per hour gusts. The smoke tree spike that I had girdled, sprinkled with rooting hormone and encased in moss and foil snapped off. It *had* begun to root, however. I tried to layer the long single current cane I put in two years ago. I bent down the cane and mounded some dirt around the top of it, then secured it with a couple pieces of bamboo stake. Unfortunately, in her zealous mulching and weeding, Beth unearthed it. It had not begun rooting. I think I may have to make some slits and resort to more rooting hormone.

The garden is NOTHING if not a metaphor for how we handle our spiritual challenges. So my attempt to control puppyhood, and my inability to let go in the backyard and allow the wheel to turn, are symptomatic of my difficulties I have allowing myself to be in the flow of my life. Having faith that death is only the center part of the life/death/life cycle, that loss is about making room for rebirth, is hard for me. I struggle and struggle: WHY did they have to trample the white bleeding heart and not the violets? Why the loss of the jack-in-the-pulpits and hostas but not the avens? WHY do they chew the sweetgrass and not the crabgrass that's strangling the hyacinth bean vine? Likewise, thinning the borage volunteers... Do I have the right to end their lives? What about the saying "A witch that cannot curse, cannot cure" -- do I believe that one must be a death-giver to be a life-giver?

Current Mood: lethargic
Wednesday, June 11th, 2003
4:46 pm
Cerridwen, wildlife, and sedges
Yesterday, I saw Cerridwen about her vital work on the UM campus where I work. She took the form of a large black crow, recycling the remains of a young robin that must have died when it fell out of its nest.

It made me remember something that I saw once during a medicine walk. I saw three crows consuming a dead pigeon and I immediately realized the role that crows have in consuming pain. (My walk was for guidance in diminishing the pain of sexual violence.) I lay down on a huge boulder in the park and pointed my chest to the sky, then I prayed for the crows to consume the pain I felt. It’s been enormously helpful to visualize the crows at their work when I’ve re-encountered that pain as I travel around the spiral path.

Today, I came across a rabbit, merrily munching away, right next to Angell Hall – the main classroom building, which is pictured on every publication about the University of Michigan. S/he was between a small ornamental tree and the foundation plantings. I was amazed. I've seem many squirrels and recently, many chipmunks. Now rabbits. Pretty soon we'll be overrun.

Siani identified a new bird loudly singing in our neighborhood in the last few month: the tufted titmouse. Apparently, it has only recently expanded its territory north into Michigan. It's definitely nesting in the neighborhood. My friend, Ayron, swears she hears catbirds around here, too, but I've yet to match her experience.

Some of the text of a lecture by A.A. Reznicek, April 2003, for Wild Ones, Ann Arbor, entitled "Native Michigan Sedges of Ornamental Value."

Plants are listed in alphabetical order by botanical name within broad categories of cultural preferences and size. Each species has a brief commentary, which notes significant features and also comments on the flowering/fruiting season and approximate area in Michigan where the species is native. Species so rare as to be endangered or extirpated in Michigan are not mentioned. The list is by no means exhaustive, but merely tries to guide selection of the best, most useful, and adaptable species.

“*” marks species I have seen offered for sale by nurseries (but my search was not comprehensive)

SUNNY, DRY SITES (sandy soils especially)
Small species (less than about 18 inches tall)
-- *Carex eburnea -- Wonderful clumper with delicate, hair-like leaves and inconspicuous spikes with black 'fruits,' heat and drought resistant, June; throughout
-- Carex meadii (= C. tetanica var. meadii) -- blue-green mat former from long-creeping rhizomes, May-June; southern Lower Peninsula. Can be aggressive.
-- *Carex pensylvanica -- turf forming from long-creeping rhizomes, delicate, early species of prairies and open forests especially in sandy sites, April-May; throughout. A good lawn substitute. Somewhat shade tolerant.
-- Carex tonsa (=C. rugosperma) – dwarf tufted species, very early, tight rosettes, May, throughout
-- Trichophorum (Scirpus) clintonii -- dense clumps of fine, arching, hair-like foliage, very early, April-May; throughout, but rare. Larger species (more than about 18 inches tall)
-- Carex argyrantha -- tall, sedge with pendulous, silvery inflorescences, can tolerate some shade, but may be short-lived, June; Lower Peninsula
-- *Carex bicknellii -- Bicknell's sedge; showy clump-forming prairie species of dry, sandy soils, with arching coppery spikes, June; southern Lower Peninsula. An excellent species.
-- Carex foenea (=aenea) -- medium species of dry, sandy, acid soils with pendulous, rusty-brown spikes, may be short-lived, June; northern Michigan

SUNNY, WET SITES (wet meadows, pond shores, etc.) Small species
-- *Carex aurea -- golden sedge; delightful, small spreader with golden, fleshy 'fruits,' quite showy, June; throughout
-- *Carex bebbii -- dense clumper with compact heads of bronze spikes, July; throughout
-- Carex capillaris -- clump former with delicate, nodding spikes and narrow, basal foliage, June; northern Michigan
-- Carex flava -- yellow sedge; dense clumps with small, yellowish-green balls on thin stalks, June; throughout
-- Carex granularis -- nice blue-green foliage, but rather floppy, spreading spikes, June; throughout
-- *Carex hystericina -- a somewhat larger clumping species with large, nodding, bristly spikes, July; throughout
-- *Carex nigra -- black sedge; compact, but mat forming, fairly striking in bloom, an excellent low, dense ground cover, easily available commercially, June; northern Michigan, very rare.
-- Eriophorum spissum -- bog cotton; golf ball sized white tufts solitary on thin stems, a dense clumper, but needing acid, peaty soil, May; throughout. Probably difficult.
-- Rhynchospora alba -- white beaked-rush; delicate white-headed colonial species of moist soils, probably not easy to establish, July; throughout
-- *Trichophorum alpinum (=Scirpus hudsonianus) -- dwarf cottongrass; a very delicate species slowly forming loose clumps from short-creeping rhizomes, not easy to establish, June; northern Michigan Larger species
-- *Carex comosa - a big clumper of very wet sites, often floating mats, with striking, nodding, thick spikes of bristly 'fruits,' July; throughout
-- *Carex crinita - a very robust clumper with pendulous spikes, July; throughout
-- *Carex lupulina - hop sedge; a tall species with very large spikes and bladdery 'fruits,' August; widespread
-- *Carex squarrosa - a clumper growing in a vase shape in wet meadows and open wet woods, quite striking, July; southeastern Lower Peninsula
-- Cyperus strigosus - a clump forming, and non-weedy
-- Cyperus, quite handsome with yellow heads, August; Lower Peninsula
-- Eriophorum virginicum -- tawny cotton-grass; a species of acid soils with creeping rhizomes, tawny, dense heads in July-August; throughout
-- Eriophorum viridi-carinatum -- cotton-grass; white, cottony, pendulous spikes in a small head, a loose clumper, probably the best cotton-grass for gardens, prefers limy soils, June; throughout
-- *Rhynchospora macrostachya -- the largest beaked-rush native to Michigan, a striking plant with yellow-brown heads, requires acid soil and full, hot sun, August; southwestern Lower Peninsula
-- *Scirpus atrovirens -- bulrush; a common tall wetland and pond shore clump former, July; throughout
-- *Scirpus cyperinus -- woolgrass; a very large clump former of acid, sandy or peaty soils, very striking, July-August; throughout
-- *Scirpus pendulus -- a more delicate clumping bulrush with graceful, nodding spikes, tolerate of a bit of drying, June-July; Lower Peninsula

SHADY, DRY SITES Small species
-- Carex jamesii -- a delicate narrow-leaved clumper of rich woods, both dry and moist, May; southern Lower Peninsula
-- *Carex pensylvanica -- turf forming, delicate, early species of prairies and open forests especially in sandy sites, May; throughout
-- Carex radiata (= C. rosea) -- a dense clumper with fine, almost hair-like, spreading foliage and small, stiff, bristly spikes, May-June; throughout Larger species
-- *Carex sprengelii -- a beautiful, loose clumping sedge, with nodding spikes narrow leaves, quite drought tolerant, June; throughout

SHADY, MOIST SITES Small species
-- Carex albicans var. emmonsii (= C. emmonsii) -- a very small sedge growing in dense spreading, bright green tufts, needs acid, sandy soil and somewhat sun and drought tolerant, April-May; southern Lower Peninsula
-- Carex albursina -- very broad-leaved (to 5 cm wide), clump forming sedge of rich woods, quite an attention getter, loved by slugs, May-June; Lower Peninsula
-- Carex bromoides -- wide spreading dense clumps of fine, almost hair-like foliage, very conspicuous in many wet woods, June; Lower Peninsula
-- Carex jamesii -- a delicate narrow-leaved clumper of rich woods, both dry and moist, May; southern Lower Peninsula
-- Carex pedunculata -- one of the very earliest woodland sedges to bloom, even in late March in southern Michigan, a dense clump former with narrow, fairly blunt, short leaves, April-May; throughout
-- *Carex plantaginea -- one of the finest woodland sedges, a tight clumper with very broad bright green leaves with a puckered, seersucker texture and red bases, April-May; throughout Larger species
-- *Carex crinita - a very robust clumper with pendulous spikes, likes rich soil, July; throughout
-- *Carex davisii -- a graceful clumper with nodding spikes of largish 'fruits' that turn burnt- orange when ripe, June-July; southern Lower Peninsula, rare.
-- *Carex gracillima -- a graceful clumper with slender, nodding spikes, June; throughout
-- *Carex grayi - a striking species with large, globular, spiky heads like a medieval mace, June-August; Lower Peninsula
-- *Carex retrorsa - a robust clump former with large spikes. Can tolerate a lot of sun.
-- Carex tuckermanii - bladder sedge; a medium sized, arching species with large spikes and bladdery 'fruits,' August; widespread.
-- *Carex muskingumensis -- a fine species forming large clumps by slow-creeping rhizomes, leaves strongly three-ranked and spikes oval, pointed at both ends, and quite conspicuous, July-September; southern Lower Peninsula
-- Carex prasina – A graceful clumper with arching inflorescences, likes stream banks and seeps, June; Lower Peninsula
-- *Carex squarrosa - a clumper growing in a vase shape in wet meadows and open wet woods, quite striking, July; southern Lower Peninsula

Just a few sources of plants and seeds:

PRAIRIE MOON NURSERY Route 3, Box 1633 Winona, MN 55987-9515

W I L D T Y P E Design, Native Plants & Seed 900 N. Every Road Mason, MI 48854

SENECA HILL PERENNIALS 3712 Co. Rte. 57 Oswego, NY 13126
Tuesday, May 27th, 2003
3:29 pm
Some cool recipes & notes
When working with herbs, plants, flowers, it is very important to focus your attention and energy on your intention with gratitude, respect & honor. Your energy is as much a part of the preparation as the oil, leaves and petals.

Red Rose & Cedar Leaf Scrub
- This helps facilitate the thought patterns of spiritual wisdom of your body and the earth.
- This preparation of the infused oil will be part one of two. Sea Salt is added later.

Recipe for Red Rose & Cedar Leaf Infused Oil
4 cups of olive oil
11/4 cups dried rose petals (no greens)
3/4 cup cedar leaf
Add sea salt to make scrub

1. Separate the rose petals and cedar leaves.
2. Use a double boiler or a pot of water and a stainless steel mixing bowl set on top of pot.
3. Add rose petals and cedar leaves.
4. Think about your intention. Sing songs throughout the process. Take turns stirring the oil.
5. Heat for 2-3 hours. Do not let the oil get too hot where it starts to boil.

Uses of Red Roses
- Red color is important
- Ointment reduces inflammation because of her cooling properties
- Honey of roses (roses infused in honey) is used for mucus membranes (sore mouth, etc.)
- Oil for infantile diarrhea, sore gums, sore eyes (use strained and very diluted), fever
- Astringent & antiseptic (can cleanse or stanch bleeding)

Story about Rosita.
Summary: The way Rosita first learned about the
healing properties of roses happened when Rosita was
called to help the oldest woman in the village deliver
another village woman’s baby. After the delivery, the
mother was losing a lot of blood and the crone was
concerned. She had Rosita go pick some roses to make a
wash. The bleeding stopped after a short time. Rosita
wanted to know how it worked. This became one of her
first steps on the journey of becoming a healer.

Uses of Cedar (Thuga Occidentalis)
Ojibwa: Nikomis Gesig (Grandmother Tree)

According to the Niishnaabe, you were stuck in a forest with nothing, cedar (Grandmother tree) and birch (Grandfather tree) can provide you everything you need to survive.

- Poultice of powdered leaves (external use) can be applied for antirheumatic effect
- Foot bath for sore feet
- Branches used in steam bath water for fevers and to aid in women’s healing after childbirth
- Infusion for cramps and irregularity
- Steam inhaled for colds

- Burn to cleanse hands
- Facilitates purification and protection that brings us back into alignment
- Exorcises evil spirits and/or negative energy
Thursday, May 15th, 2003
3:03 pm
Blustery weather & high tea
A long, cool spring and very windy for the last week. Rainy for weeks prior to the last couple days. I adore, worship, revere and venerate these gusty days, when the dark grey clouds scud across the sky, and the trees toss their limbs, and I feel like the entire earth is respiring. The wind is truly an ally of mine – I feel so filled up by it, so replete and contented. We’ve had numerous thunderstorms, morning, noon and night. Yesterday, for a brief respite, it was warmer and sunny. But we're back to cold & rainy today.

I’ve been walking back and forth to West Hall three and four times per day, to assist in the move of Anthropology from the Literature, Science and the Arts building to there. (Awk.) Sometimes I read while I walk, sometimes I just enjoy the beauty of the campus in the spring: redbuds and dogwoods are in their glory now, the buckeyes are just starting, and the fragrant viburnums are already finished.

My boxes from Shar are moved into the driveway, trellis attached, filled up with dirt, and already I have planted carrots and leeks. I’m looking forward to tomorrow night: I plan to plant my tomatoes and hot peppers, beans, zucchini, beets, etc. I set up the cages for growing the potatoes in mulch. I’m excited about that experiment. The raspberries from Pine Tree Garden Seeds arrived and they are in the ground alongside the fence that Beth put in with John, our neighbor. The blueberry also arrived, but it has yet to make it into the ground.

I discovered that my cutting celery has in fact germinated outdoors – very surprising. I thought those seed were not viable. I had such poor germination in the basement due to using old seed and compost that was full of moss spores. As a result, I have purple & globe basil, tomatoes, hot peppers, ornamental peppers, a few English daisies and NOT much else!
Instead I bought some herb plants from Whole Foods and I put them in last weekend. My wild strawberries are bursting into growth – I’m so eager to see what they produce, if anything. The “lawn” surrounding the herb garden is churned into mere mud from puppy feet. Beth and I are contemplating putting in cement pavers in a sunburst pattern and putting in creeping thyme between the pavers.

The thyme in between the stones in the path out front looks simply fantastic. It has filled in so nicely. I’m planning to put much of the moss that’s growing in my containers in the basement into the front walk, too. Might as well put it to some use.

Recent studies in Boston have been replete with findings of the immunological benefits of tea. Thank Goddess I'm a tea pig. Just last Sunday, some neighbors and I held a high tea for the benefit of the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace. Well, "high tea" is probably a slight exaggeration -- it was more like a medium tea. I created a lovely tea menu and coordinated the tea service -- we had about 20 pots, 9 tables and 5 hot brews: Darjeeling, Genmaicha, Mango Ceylon, "Fabulous flowers" (Hibiscus, chamomile, calendula and rose buds) and "Mint Medley" (Spearmint, Peppermint, lemongrass and rosehips). The latter two were created by another volunteer who is a certified herbalist and who did her own blends. She also made a simply orgasmic lavender lemonade.

Current Mood: satisfied
Friday, May 9th, 2003
11:58 am
What I wanna grow under my black walnut tree
Under our walnut trees here I currently grow hosta, black cohosh, cinnamon ferns, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, a small native hydrangea, and that's about it. Sweet woodruff has struggled and finally succumbed to the depredations of dog feet, dog shit, and the environment created by the walnut. I would like to have some of the following (said to be able to withstand the toxicity of the black walnut): jewelweed, American germander, wild white bergamot, downy wood mint, stinging nettle (immediately counteracted by jewelweed but probably not a great yard idea), yellow wingstem, Canada rye, honewort, wild geranium, woodland sunflower, some of the spring ephemeral woodland wildflowers. Perhaps also wild ginger and ferns (possibly woodsia sp) with a few flowers would be lovely. Jacob's Ladder is very nice. A field of violets would also be nice (mix some white and yellows with the more common purples). Some have suggested red bud or hemlocks are very happy beneath walnuts, as is the Black Hills spruce. Further thoughts for the ground layer include: wild geranium, mountain mint, white snakeroot, blue stem goldenrod, zig-zag goldenrod, false Solomon's seal and Virginia creeper.

I was pleased to discover that the black cohosh -- good medicine for us 'pausing women -- has not only seemed to limp through the above-stated conditions, but thrived. Since it looked so unhappy, wilted and spotty when I transplanted it last fall, I thought it was a goner. Likewise for the Jacks -- while they have never increased greatly (as I have seen them do in others' gardens), they do seem to steadily reproduce themselves year after year, mostly, it seems, from the fresh seed that I drop after they bloom, despite the presence of the walnut. I noticed a few Jacks unfurling when I was on shit patrol last night. Wheeeeee!

In keeping with my expectation that someday we may need all the foraging skills we can foster for survival, I've been trying to learn to use the black walnut in place of English walnuts. However, it is uphill work. They are so oily, it's like a double dose of Crisco when you put them in cookies. And they are notoriously difficult to loosen from their rinds. But I'm grateful my tree is prolific... someday I may become a BIG fan of black walnuts.

With that fear/expectation in mind, I've been trying to learn as much about sustaining gathered wild foods as I can. More on that, and what's good in "Gather Ye Wild Things" next time.
Wednesday, April 30th, 2003
2:43 pm
boneset again
Oh, I'm so excited! My boneset is up -- in other words, it made it through a very tough winter. Also, my black cohosh made it through the winter. That poor plant is in a difficult situation: under a black walnut in a bit of the yard which is alternately flooded and dry as a bone. Not to mention, the three dogs have chosen this area above all others as the favorite place to shit! Poor black cohosh!

So what I wanted to say about dandelions is that I have a lot. They're apparently full of minerals. But ugh, they taste yucky. They were actually intentionally brought to this country because they were early greens which were highly nutritious and had medicinal properties. Susun Weed claims they are excellent for the kidneys, but frankly, who is to know when the kidneys need strengthening.

Hey, somehow I think we've come round to another attractive feature of middle age: incontinence. Another thing nobody warned me about. I guess that's why I have so many dandelions in my yard. OK, off to make a nice dinner salad: Monterey organic baby greens and dandelions...

Current Mood: grateful
Tuesday, April 29th, 2003
3:25 pm
strawberries, dandelions and stuff
Kind of a loverly day here in southeast Michigan, following a lovely weekend. Beth and I journeyed to eastern Indiana to visit Siani at Earlham. It was a gorgeous hot spring day on the drive back. We took "the long way" home, courtesy of the GPS system in our Prius. We saw a great swathe of redbuds throughout the area -- a good two weeks ahead of us here. Our redbuds are just beginning to peek out. At Grand Lake in western Ohio, we saw a low-flying bald eagle.

I'm pasting in the article I wrote last September for the Ypsilanti Food Cooperative on native herbs (so that I can find it)! Please make note of the timeframe (mid-fall):

NATIVE PLANTS provide a beautiful, hardy, drought resistant, low maintenance garden landscape while benefiting the environment. Native plants and wild flowers, once established, save time and money by eliminating the need for watering, fertilizers, pesticides, and lawn maintenance equipment. Consider these facts:

* Native plants help reduce air pollution.
Forty million lawnmowers consume 200 million gallons of gasoline every year. One gas-powered lawnmower emits 11 times the air pollution of a new car for each hour of operation.

* Native plants and wild flowers provide shelter and food for wildlife.
Native plants attract a variety of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife by providing diverse habitats and food sources. Mowed lawns are of little use to most wildlife. In my garden, we frequently disturb goldfinches feeding on the native prairie coneflowers, right in the middle of town.

* Native plants promote biodiversity and stewardship of our natural heritage.
In the U.S., approximately 20 million acres of lawn are cultivated, covering more land than any single crop. Native plants and wild flowers are a part of our natural heritage. Natural landscaping is an opportunity to invite the birds and butterflies back home.

Many natives are medicinal in addition to ornamental. Here are four familiar native plants and wildflowers that you could grow.

Dogwood (Cornus florida) is a native tree that is widely used ornamentally in yards. Locally, it grows wild throughout the Waterloo Nature Area, where its springtime display is glorious. It’s finished flowering by July, but in May and June it is covered with its distinctive large white flowers, each of the four petals looking as though notched at the tip with a paper punch. When an oval leaf is broken and gently pulled apart, the “latex” in each of the deep veins will stretch between the halves. Like that of willow and poplar, the inner bark or root bark of dogwood has pain-reducing qualities. Twigs of dogwood, when chewed, fray into a hairy “toothbrush” which can be used in a pinch to clean the teeth. The bitter scarlet berries, when soaked in brandy, make an effective digestive tonic to settle a sour stomach (they are otherwise dry and inedible).

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is still flowering along creek banks in our area. It’s delicate, oval, medium green, slightly toothed leaves resemble the darker ones of the familiar garden-center Impatiens plant, also known as “Bizzy Lizzy.” It grows about 3-4 feet high, with showy, red-spotted cornucopia-shaped orange or yellow flowers, which hang from a slender stem. Jewelweed is also known as “Touch-Me-Not,” because the seedpods in the fall burst when touched, scattering the seeds and cork-screwing the opened pods. The stems and leaves of jewelweed can be crushed and applied to stings and bites, as well as poison ivy and other rashes, to relieve the pain and itch very effectively. Some people believe that a tea of the leaves will prevent poison ivy. Folk wisdom is that, wherever there is a poisonous plant (like poison ivy), the remedy (like Jewelweed) naturally grows alongside it.

Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) is a beautiful 3-4’ tall plant with foamy white flowers that is just past full bloom right now. Characteristic are the pairs of long, quilted, pointed green leaves that are joined around the stem. Its popular name "boneset" is derived from its well-known property of relieving the deep-seated pains in the limbs that accompany colds, fever and rheumatism. Boneset is one the best remedies for the relief of the symptoms that accompany influenza. It will speedily relieve the aches and pains as well as aid the body in dealing with any fever that is present. Boneset helps to clear the upper respiratory tract of mucous congestion. It may safely be used in any fever and also as a general cleansing agent. Another common use for its mild medicinal properties is to ease constipation. The cough of measles, common colds, of asthma, and hoarseness are also relieved by boneset. During fevers or the flu it should be drunk every half hour as a tea.

Another wild flower still in bloom is Goldenrod (Solidago family). The tall, branching yellow tops and toothy long leaves of goldenrod cover our roadsides and fields throughout the fall. Dry the leaves, preferably from plants not yet blooming, for medicinal use. Goldenrod is perhaps the first plant to think of for upper respiratory problems such as repeated colds, bronchial inflammation and catarrh. It is another useful plant in combination with other herbs in the treatment of influenza. For upper respiratory conditions, it may be used with Eyebright, Elder, Echinacea, and Boneset. The carminative properties reveal a role in the treatment of flatulence, tasty in combination with peppermint! As an anti-inflammatory urinary antiseptic, goldenrod may be used for bladder infections, cystitis, urethritis and the like. If you can find the Sweet Goldenrod (the only one of the family without toothed leaves), it makes a very tasty fall tea.

These familiar plants may be taken as a tea (pour a cup of boiling water onto l-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and leaves to infuse for l0-l5 minutes) or as a tincture (take 2-4 ml of the tincture three times a day).

When gathering plants from the wild, never take more than 25% of any group of plants. It is wise to ask permission and thank the plants -- it is said, only when permission is obtained will the medicinal properties be gathered along with the plant matter. Also be sure that you are in a pesticide-free area (more than 100 feet from busy roads) and not disturbing someone’s private property. Many loose herbs also are available for sale at the Ypsilanti Food Cooperative. They can be relied on to be fresh and ethically grown or gathered.
Wednesday, April 23rd, 2003
2:21 pm
Oh, OH, oh no!
I scored
on the classic 400 Point Purity Test!
Take the test here!
8:47 am
I have worts?

Nope. Wort just means, technically, "A plant; an herb; now used chiefly or wholly in compound words; as in mugwort, liverwort, spleenwort, lungwort." Some of which, indeed, grow in my garden.

Some of what I'll be doing here is making a central spot for observations about herbs, medicinal plants, my garden work, also the ways in which my work in nature and in the garden intersect with my spirituality. To quote from the Charge of the Goddess: "I am the beauty of the green earth and the white moon among the stars..."

With that in mind -- drat the squirrels! I planted two rows of peas and another small square of long vined peas, about 90% of which the squirrels immediately dug up and ate. As I thought it through, however, I realized it was truly a hard winter here in Michigan, so I think they're just hungry. To their credit, they haven't touched the spinach, which are up with a vengence. Germination has been terrible indoors, as well. I have up heirloom tomatoes, hot peppers, basil, ornamental peppers and that's about it. The most of the rest of my pots are growing moss.

It is beautiful moss.

Every year, one of the miracles of gardening is not only what survives, but what is a gift to my garden from the surrounding natural world, despite being in the middle of my small town. One year, it was a wild grapevine. Now I have a lovely grapevine wreath on my front door and grape leaves in my freezer for stuffing. I have sternly pruned it back the past two years and I think we are coming to an understanding.

Last year, it was boneset. It showed up in my herb garden, along with wild strawberry. These are both medicinal, beautiful, and in the latter case, tasty. I have had an ongoing battle with an invasive weed known as "creeping charlie" for a number of years, and wild strawberry was one native plant suggested to replace it and fill the niche that creeping charlie has so tenaciously guarded. I worried that the tiny wild strawberry wouldn't even make it through the winter, especially since it was trampled for four months by the wandering paws of our two new puppies. But it is up and thriving. So I feel a renewed determination to root out and/or use up that creeping charlie.

Yes, even creeping charlie has its uses. I had read that it could be substituted for parsley in recipes. The first time I tried it, I was cutting up the nodular vining stems thinking, ".....really???" But last time I used it, I realized that of course, only the leaves are suitable. So I chopped em up, put them in a quiche, and voila, they were fine and tasty and hardly more difficult to use than fresh parsley, which also has to be de-stemmed. Creeping charlie can also be used in brewing beer, but I have to research how to do that.

More on Boneset next time.
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