Sunday, June 6, 2010

Soothing Teething for a Toddler

"I need to be more careful mommy, my mouth hurt!"

Poor baby! She has her back teeth coming and she is in pain. And what's worse is she think it is something she did to make it feel that way. But its just nature taking it's course.

It must shoot out in bursts because she will be playing fine in one moment, and in the next she is crying out for relief. Nobody likes to see their child in pain. So I decided to see what I could do about it.

For a more immediate effect, I made her a cup of Chamomile Bed Time Tea. It seemed to do enough, as she didn't have any outburst between that time and the time she went to bed. I froze the tea bag for her to chew on in the morning if it is bothering her.

After making her tea, I made some Chamomile ice cubes to crush and have her chew on to sooth the pain in her mouth.

I also decided to make an infused oil of Chamomile and Cloves to apply on the gum area and hopefully help with the pain as well.

Everything I read said Clove oil (essential oil), and I had none on hand, so I just infused some cloves into an almond oil and hope that is enough to do the trick. I wanted to add some willow bark to the oil, but I had to make due with what I had on hand.

Infusing the crushed herbs in oil over low heat.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ohio Trip 5/23-5/28

Ohio Trip

So the journey to Ohio was very eventful, that’s for sure. Between stopping for car troubles and having Effie get pulled over for speeding only to realize she had forgotten her license at home, I wasn’t so sure we’d make it…but we did. We arrived to Rutland Ohio.

We get there and lugged our tons of luggage and bags to where we would be staying—in an open field. Then we met our host, Paul Strauss. He was a cool guy-I knew that immediately, as he introduced himself by giving hugs to everyone. He gave his orientation, which went something like this (and I paraphrase):

<--Outhouse . Sink-->

“There is poison ivy everywhere if you get it, run to the pond and smooth some mud over the area. The outhouse is a composting toilet—add some limestone and sawdust ½ a scoop each time you poop (or pee too). If you have incense you may want to burn it in there as it is gonna smell foul as time goes on with so many people using it. If you want, you can bathe in the pond. It is full of a variety of fish and yes snakes too. They wont bother you if you don’t bother them. Feel free to go swimming in the pond with or without your suit-choice is yours. We have mosquitoes, ticks (but not Lyme’s disease carrying ones), snakes, lizards, womp, womp, womp, copperheads, etc, etc… I‘m glad to have them as they are a part of the ecosystem and we ought to be thankful for the job that they do (ie snakes eating rodents etc). Don’t walk barefoot under the Chesnut tree because the spikes are very painful if you get one stuck in your foot.

We have a huge variety of medicinal herbs—many are endangered species. We have more variety here than North Carolina, Kentucky, etc-and that is why you are here. You’ll learn more about that tomorrow…”

Paul charged us with passing on all that we learn about herbs and natural medicines. He says he is just a voice for the earth, and the message needs to get to more people. It was a beautiful opening, and despite all the creepy crawly things surrounding me, I felt somewhat at ease—somewhat.

Dinner was great. (I didn't take photos this night-don't remember what we had either)

We have two chefs preparing our meals…Gabby and the other girls name slips my mind. All the food we have is either locally grown, or was locally grown in MD and brought over from there. We have well water to drink. I made the decision to dehydrate myself while I am here as I wish to see that outhouse the least amount of times as I have to.

After dinner, Effie and I went to put up our tent. Mind you-neither of us have ever been camping before, so you can imagine how that would have went were it not for Ayo and Cheryl helping us out. After we got it up, we realized that the “fits 6 people” claim on the box was assuming you are packing sardines and not humans. We both had queen size air mattresses and it just fit in the tent with about 12 inches or so left in the front to step in and out. There was little room for anything else, so I piled what I could in the corner and we left everything else outside the tent.

Cheryl the Diva brought end tables, an umbrella, lawn chairs, a burner, teapot, and the works. I called her area “Cherylville”. Most everyone stayed up to hang out, but I was not in that number. I decided to retire early…it was about 9pm. It was dark and I was still getting accustomed to the whole living outdoors thing-so I took it in. I spent like 20 minutes trying to find my allergy med I brought because my chest had tightened and I was wheezing and I wanted to take my med in the morning because we were hiking to a cave and I knew I would need it to be effective. Then after about an hour of tossing and turning in the tent, and hearing the laughter and talking outside Cherylville that I was tempted to join in on, but didn’t, I finally drifted off into a sleep that was mostly filled with more tossing and turning.


It is now 7:24am. I’ve been up since about 5am, the birds and other critters out there are making a lot of noise. Then there is the light. Then there is the fact that I’ve been holding my bladder all night and still am. Breakfast is at 8, class starts at 9:30. I am about to get myself up and dressed and relieve my bladder…I’ve got to pee so bad. I didn’t bring anything for lunch as was instructed so I want to get my fair share at breakfast…

~~~~Later in the day~~~~

Breakfast was ok. There was pork bacon-though local and naturally fed-I still shied away. Also scrambled eggs with spinach. I chose to eat strawberries, mixed berry scones and a little yogurt with granola. We went down to the well. Paul talked about anger and how anger from his personal life led him to build this stream/well of water. He uses valves to control it and purifies it through a filter. He explained how he uses gravity instead of pumps in ways that went above my head. He is a very smart and environmentally conscious herbalist. He speaks from his heart and I just love listening to his stories. I try to get as much info from him as I can, as we are only here for a week. Paul talked about how he won’t work with people who are not willing to make lifestyle changes (ie. quit smoking etc)

A few notes random from his talk:

-All healing starts in the brain.

-As an herbalist, water intake is the first thing to look at. Most people don’t drink enough water. While tinctures are great, teas are vastly underused as they not only give you the medicine you need, but also gives the body fluid that it is usually in need of. USE more TEAS!

- Have positive energy-it’s muy importante for building a practice.

Then we climbed down a steep hill with a rope for support to get to the cave:

Its called Cave of the Fallen Cow and Paul relays the miraculous story of how it got its name. I was so intrigued hanging onto his every word. I’d retell that story now only I think he tells it so much better, so I’m gonna let well enough alone. He also tells us his bio and I am amazed. The whole time I am sitting there thinking I’d love to do a documentary on him. His life and his work is very inspiring to me, and I’m sure it would be to others as well. Listening to him made me want to embrace this trip even more. To conquer this unknown (to me) world of camping and make the most of it, and have fun. To take it as a learning experience and grow from it. While in the cave, Paul showed us some Native American tools he found on the property and them explained to us how they were used.

A few random notes from his talks at the cave:

-Have great respect for the trees and the medicine that comes from it. IF there were no trees there would be no understory… no fungus, and if no fungus, no trees. Everything is interconnected.

-Spoke about basswood: As with maples, you can eat and survive off the young leaves in the spring time. Native Americans used it to stitch wounds, cover houses (outer bark)…

-Random fact: If you cut down a Black locus, the tree will sprout back up.

Native American tools:

Axe Head- used for weapon and to cut down trees (started a fire at the base and cut away at it where it was ash).

 Nutter stone: to crack/crush nuts

 Lantern sphere: not for throwing on a stick

 Fleshing Stone

After lunch we went wild crafting. Out assignment was teas and above ground harvesting. For myself I picked red clover, nettles, and apple mint. Then we took them to the drying room and laid them out on screens to dry. The drying process is very important in medicine making. Improperly dried plants will not make good medicine. It is important that there is quality airflow from both above and below the herbs. Also its important that there is not extreme humidity or else the herbs will reabsorb moisture and just mold.

Quick story: to harvest the red clover, we had to walk thru this bamboo patch. The walk up this hill combined with my allergies was beginning to get the best of me, and I was wheezing heavily. There was lots of pollen in the air. I picked some red clover, but not a lot. I instead had to head back down the hill and sit and rest to catch my breath. I was talking to James. Paul had some Nettles tincture in the apothecary. He gave me two tinctures. The other was a Respiratory Extract containing Elecampane root, Pleurisy root, Comfrey root, Ginger root, and Lobelia. I took them both. Within minutes I could breathe deeply again. The tightness in my chest had relaxed. It was wonderful! I was able to get back to harvesting.

This was also an important moment for me because I had my own personal story to tell. Not just something I read in a book, but an experience. Not that I wasn't a believer before...but this definitely built my confidence in the power of herbs.

Red Clover

Stinging Nettles

Apple mint

We came back up the hill and had some free time. Some people went skinny dipping in the pond, others bathing, others continued harvesting. I just sat under the shade and rested until dinner time.

Dinner was great (again). We had buckwheat soba noodles with nettles pesto-Nettles that had been picked earlier that day.

<--Gabby Grilling the Veggies

Then we sat around talking a bit. I took a last trip to the outhouse for the night then headed back to the tents. I sat outside of Cherylville for a while and chatted with my classmates. Originally I was gonna follow my routine from the night before and be Princess Fiona-that means when the sun went down I was to retire too, but I allowed Effie to talk me out of it (remember she is good-she talked her way out a speeding ticket with no license). Then I was off to bed and then to sleep-though I tossed and turned considerably more than I did the night before.


We got up and had breakfast. Then we went off for a hike through the woods. We saw all kinds of things. There were many endangered plants such as wild yam, ginseng, blue cohosh, black cohosh, goldenseal, etc.

Wild Yam:

Anti-spasmodic, good for spastic cramping of the lower G.I.

Can use as a tea and add Chamomile and Ginger tincture.


Root bark is medicine. Reddish color. Lemony smell. Aromatic. Same family as cinnamon.

Dandelion, yellow dock, burdock, and sassafras- makes good cleansing tea.

Used in gumbo to thicken.

Don't use essential oil unless a trained aromatherapist. More toxic compounds.

Safrole- originally in root beer.

Good circulatory tea. Warming. Demulcent.

Sourwood tastes really good. The leaves have a sour flavor-very much like a crybaby or something, just not the sweetness to follow. I would love it on salads or something. Yum.


Roots and rhizomes used for venous congestion. Eclectics used aerial parts also.

Congested dysmenorrhea.

Sore throats due to overuse (good for teachers, singers, etc.)

Square stems. Alternate leaves.



Respiratory relaxant. Use in low doses-can be emetic in high doses.

Gets paler closer to stalk.

SE: Burning in back of throat and tightening. Nausea.

<--Baneberry. Often mistaken for black cohosh. Looks very similar. Highly toxic.

Paul showing how invasive grapevines were used for fire starting (as they are very dry) and were crushed into dust to start fire. These vines destroy trees and will knocked down any trees in its path.

Then we broke for lunch and met back down at the Apothecary for a tincture making demo (refresher) course. We made a class Motherwort tincture:

Strip leaves from stem

Chop finely

Measure out

Add alcohol

Then it was off to harvest our own herbs and make our own tinctures.

I harvested Feverfew and Nettles. If you can’t tell, I love nettles!

Harvesting and processing is a long tedious process that I respect so much more now having done it. It takes time, care, love, and attention. Now I can understand why it cost what is costs, AND how much goes into that 1lb bag of what I buy or that 1 oz tincture.

I went to check and see how my dried herbs were doing. Not quite done yet.

Red Clover

Stinging Nettles

Apple mint

Nobody wanted to walk back up the hill for dinner, so a gang of us waited for Paul to drive the truck up and we hitched a ride in the back of the truck. It was time to eat…one of my favorite parts of the trip.

For dinner we had:

The Kale greens were running out by the time I got to them. I had to scrape what was left off the plate. Some people didn’t get any, that was a little disappointing being how everyone paid the same price for meals so I wasn’t thrilled about that, but otherwise, all was well. I attribute it to the fact that there was no portion control going on. But it’s a minor complaint. Other items were plentiful. I sucked it up.

After dinner, we played a game of Apples to Apples. It was myself, Effie, Cheryl, Olivia, Caroline, Bryan, Joan, Pearl, Jessica, and Joe. It was a fun game. I’m glad I stayed up to play, as with it getting dark, I really wanted to be under that tent, but I was getting used to getting devoured by the bugs and we had some moonlight to help up find out way back to the tent.


Today was the day long hike. We had breakfast then trekked down the long steep hill to the vehicles and carpooled to the United Plant Savers (UpS) Sanctuary. During the hike, I learned many new plants and learned to identify some familiar ones. I also learned a bunch of stories about how these plants were used, as well as some trees. In Paul’s view, some of the best herbs are the ones that double as food and medicine.

First we tasted some Valerian root as James talked about its uses.


Nervous system herb. Rhizome, (roots ok). Fall of 2nd year, 1st year acceptable. Warming. For cerebral anemia (Eclectics).

For morning despondency: Valerian, Rosemary, and Siberian Ginseng tea.

Smells worse when dried--described as smelling like stinky socks. Aromatic.

Dry for sedative. Fresh for moving qualities.

We visited Hydrastis Heaven, which is [possibly] the biggest patch of Goldenseal (an endangered plant) that one will ever see. We also saw lots of Ginseng and this guy whose name slips my remembrance gave a talk on the history and economics surrounding the herb. -->

<--Black Haw: this plant had a very interesting history. The inner bark is a uterine sedative. It was used to prevent abortions. Some slave masters would force enslaved females to eat this every morning because of the common practice of them taking cotton root bark to abort their children (or their slave masters children). They had easy access too (right out there while they were on the field picking the cotton). I found that connection interesting at the very least.

The herb is good for pregnant women who have experienced trauma and/or is threatening to miscarry.

Jewelweed: used to treat poison ivy or stinging nettle stings. Usually found near water/moist areas. Interestingly enough, a classmate got poison ivy on the trip and went out and found and used this and she said it worked very well. -->

<--Slippery Elm is also an endangered plant. Disease is wiping these trees away. Slippery Elm is as nutritious as oatmeal. During war it was used to keep soldiers alive. The seeds may be used. Medicine is the inner bark.

We sat on some logs and had lunch, then we continued on to the reclaim area and saw lots more herbs. About 45 minutes past lunch I was ready to go. I was becoming slightly irritated by now mainly because I wanted a shower! I had been sweating and all week only washing with baby wipes cause I wasn’t quite down with the idea of pond bathing.

After we left UpS, we made a run to the Rutland Dept. Store. It was a small space that seemed to double as a hardware, and grocery store—nothing like what we would consider a department store. It was so nostalgic though. The rural-ness of the area reminded me much of my childhood summers that I spent in North Carolina. Inside the store, I had to take a picture when I saw they had candy cigarettes and Big League bubble gum-both of which I rarely see anymore, but I remembered growing up.

The air conditioning in the car spoiled me a bit. When I stepped back out into the blazing heat, then walked back up the hill, I was all of irritated again. I decided I would take up the offer of using the shower behind one of the buildings down the hill. Up until that time, I spent my free time writing parts of this up and moseying in the shade- hot and bothered.

~~~Later in the day~~~

So the shower was absolutely amazing I felt like an entirely different person and God Bless the person who invented showers. I showered behind the shed and I think only the donkeys and mules were watching. It was somewhat liberating, because at first I was nervous about doing it, but I went ahead and realized it wasn’t as bad as I was making it out to be in my head. In fact it was wonderful. I felt so clean! I was all smiles from then on out.


We caught a ride on the back of the truck to go up the hill for dinner. We had:

The other chef whose name I remember not.




It was good. Next we went over to the firewood area and sat around and listened as Joe sang and play his guitar. He sung a Madonna Medley, some Prince songs, and a few others I wasn’t familiar with.

Next was off to Cherylville. We sat and talked and laughed over wine and herbal tea. It was actually a very deep bonding time we had there I think. We shared info about life, exchanged stories, and ended up having a deep conversation about race. It started when I shared a story about an incident that had happened earlier in the day. (We were walking up the road to head back up the hill to the tent area. It was myself, Effie, and Yiwande. We passed by Bryan and Effie wanted to go over to see what he was doing. Yiwande and I were on the side of the road waiting for her return and talking when a vehicle pulled up and stopped beside us. It was a white guy in the drivers seat and he leaned over and asked (paraphrase) “Yall on the wrong side of town aren’t ya?” We just looked at each other I was thinking “is he serious?” We didn’t say anything and then he followed up saying ‘I was just joking’ then proceeded to tell us about some skate park on the other side of town. I slightly engaged him in conversation, Yiwande kept silent. Of course his comment was received as racial to us. What proved it was (joke or not) was the fact that he said he was just joking, and maybe he was, but it was still inappropriate in my eyes. Effie interpreted it slightly different: more as a way of saying why aren’t you guys on the other side of town at the skate park. I’m not convinced that is what he was trying to say, or there would have been no need for him to say he was only joking. But that is neither here nor there). The conversation we had that night explored both possibilities and then we went off on other topics regarding race relations. It was nice. Deep, but not draining. Its tone was hopeful one…that things can change as we get more and more comfortable talking with one another and keeping dialogue open, but also being part of the solution. It was a beautiful evening. Then we got some “shushes” from other camp members trying to sleep, and it was pretty late, so it was off to bed.


Last night my phone died and I also got almost no sleep. Some cricket decided he wanted to propagate (sounded like a loud rattle snake) right by my ear, but it was coming from both sides of the tent. Effie was already sleep. The sound was so horrendous it kept me up for quite some time, however eventually I was able to drift off to sleep. When I woke up, I hadn’t a clue as to the time (my phone was dead). I layed there for a while. I heard Jillian coughing so I knew it wasn’t past breakfast time. I had heard Effie when she got up and left, that was about 20 minutes or so prior, so I knew it was nearing that time. I got up and dressed and headed over for breakfast. I had a turkey egg, toast, strawberries, and apple, and chocolate cake left over from the night before. We were told that the turkey eggs were fertilized and so we needed to make sure we cut it open before biting into it to make sure there wasn’t a baby chick inside. Yuck! I don’t eat boiled egg yolks anyway, so I just ate the white of the egg.

Today was basically a free day, but not quite. There were several activities scheduled to take place, and we had the freedom to choose which we wanted to do. I chose to spend the morning wildcrafting and making medicine. I gathered my dried herbs, but they still weren’t quite dry enough. I left the apple mint in the drying room and took the nettles and red clover over to the greenhouse to dry quicker.


Jillian and I wanted to transplant some plants home so she dug up some Comfrey root, lemon balm, and spearmint. Then we potted and soiled them. I personally decided to dig up some dandelion roots to take home, careful not to bruise its roots and therefore ruin its medicinal properties. I know it sounds silly being that dandelions are plentiful everywhere, but I don’t trust the ones in my own yard b/c my father sometimes allows these green lawn companies to come spray the grass, so I rarely eat grasses and weeds from my yard. I am gonna keep my dandelion in the pot and grow it that way…lol. It should be fun, but since roots are to be harvested in the fall, I want to grow some and use the roots for teas in the fall/winter.

We sat and chatted a bit then I decided to be productive, so I harvested some plantain to make a fresh plant tincture from. In my laziness, I didn’t chop it as fine as I should, so it may be a somewhat weak tincture, but probably great for kids. We shall see. I had to do a 1:2 @ 50%. I think I prefer making dry tinctures as you can powder the herb rather than chopping it, but its good to have the experience making them fresh, as some herbs are best made fresh.

Next I went to Athens with Cheryl, James, and Yiwande. I just wanted to see the town some. We split up-James went off record hunting, and we went looking for lunch. We are trying to find a good spot and the “locals” or people that we asked were of no help. We were right in the middle of a college town, not far from Ohio State. We stumbled upon an Indian restaurant but they were closing up for lunch and wouldn’t reopen until 5pm. The lady recommended a Mexican spot called Casa Nueva, so we went there to eat. It was a local food spot and all their produce was locally and organically grown and in season.

 We stopped at an antique store. On the way back to the car I saw a sign advertising smoothies, and I wanted one. It was so hot outside; it was just what the doctor ordered. Upon entering the store though, I saw a sign that read strawberry shortcake custard. It was a wrap. That is exactly what I walked out with. Up until today, I had been doing good-as my herbalist have put me on a dairy free diet for 2 weeks. I made it 4 days. I only went ahead with the ice cream because I had already kinda messed up at lunch.

The waitress had brought out a wrong plate and couldn’t take it back to another customer so I ate a piece of the enchilada which was full of cheese, and that was when my slip up began. I had actually did good by ordering a salad with blueberry-vinaigrette dressing. Anyway, that ice cream was yummy. No regrets. I should be ashamed but I’m not, cause each bite was worth it. I was mad though, cause that meant at lunch I could have ordered what I really wanted.

When we got back to Rutland, after many twists and turns, Andrew had already begun his botany class that was optional, but I knew I needed to be in. I slid in, but was so lost. Lol. I realized how much terminology I had forgotten. I hadn’t really looked at it much since 7song had taught it to us two trimesters ago. I was plenty rusty. Afterwards I sat around chit-chatting and wasting a bunch of time, and filling in this journal. I was gonna wait for the truck to go up, but since I hadn’t done much walking and didn’t do a hike that day, I decided I would walk up.

I washed my hands and readied for dinner. It was written on the board today but we had some black rice, tortillas, beans, beef, cheese, salad, greens, and tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole. There was also some grilled tempeh, which was delicious.




After dinner, myself, Ayo, Yiwande, Effie, Kat, and Caroline played a game called Imagine Iff. It was a fun game, somewhat similar to apples and apples. Then we headed off to Cherylville,where she held court every night. I first tried to get some night shots of the moon, because it was hanging there neatly between two bunched of trees, and I hadn’t really played creatively with my camera the entire trip aside from snapshots. Horrible job I did at this capture, but I don't really have the lens for that kinda shot, so whatever.

We sat and conversed. Spot was outdoor chillin’ with us and must have heard or sensed something. She began barking and growling then ran over to us and turned her back to us and barked into the darkness at something that we will never really know for sure what it was, if anything. But I suspect it was something, as Spotty isn’t the type of dog to just bark for no reason. Her stance was as if she was protecting up from something. It was so cool, I felt safe with her being there and knowing she had our backs. She kept it up for like 10 minutes or so, then calmed down and laid in the middle of our circle. We chatted for a bit longer, then it was off to bed.


<-- Ayo carved us into the tables. Herbies '09

I had to get up at 5am to urinate. Effie was awake as well so we chatted a but and then got up and ready to leave. We begin packing up our things and breaking down the tent. The trip was almost over. It was a bittersweet energy around me because I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, but at the same time, I was so ready to get back to my home. I mean those insects tore me up. I’m obviously deficient in my B vitamins. We packed up then headed over for breakfast.

After breakfast we walked one last trek down the hill and begin packing our things away to the car. Paul was driving the luggage from the top to the bottom, as we would have never made it if we had to carry that stuff back and forth up and down.

In the car me and Effie discussed our joy about how well the trip had gone and how we would love to do it again. We were hungry and stopped at this spot in West Virginia that we found via a highway sign and went there. It ended up being a very beautiful Italian restaurant, and the food was delicious.

My camera was in the car otherwise I would have taken pictures. Instead I snapped a few shots with my iPhone. Later we stopped for gas. About another third of the way Effie was getting tired so we stopped for coffee. We ended up in a cafĂ© that sold coffee and also had an ice cream parlor. Guiltily enough, I got another strawberry shortcake ice cream. Lol. Don’t judge me. It was long before we arrived at my home. It was great to be there. I showered and then it was off to work for me.


Overall the trip was a wonderful experience. I was there with a great group of people and I think that helped put me at ease a lot. Paul was a wonderful host and he opened his doors for us to return in the future if we ever wanted to. I hope to be able to take him up on that offer.

From the trip what I gained was a deeper connection with nature and the medicines that she provides. Also a great appreciation for the stewards of the earth, and for the people who harvest and make the medicines and sell them in these cute little bottles so conveniently for us. It is so much work that goes into it!

It was an experience I will forever cherish.

-Herbies '09