Monday, January 19, 2015

Obsession hopping

I have been a bit of a sewing fiend in the past few months. Friends roll their eyes when we have conversations and anyone says "So what have you been doing?" My favorite project of the uber-patched jeans? There are now 11 patches. Heh.

At times, however, sewing and herbalism go together, just ask my Christmas gift recipients. Five or six or seven of them received custom-made dream pillows. Now there's nothing difficult about making a dream pillow, but some folks have not heard of them.

If *you* have not heard of them, they are like sachets (well, they are sachets, yeah?), filled with herbs. You can put herbs you like, herbs you need, any combination you like ... just so it's not explosive. Then you put it inside your regular pillow, lay your head on/near it, and the heat from your body releases the essential oils of the herbs inside. That's it. The aroma and the essential oils in your personal space are therapeutic and work in various ways.

This here herbal thing is something I did in ... October? It's called Fire Cider. Look it up. Especially the stuff by Rosemary Gladstar.

Have yaself a big jar, quality apple cider vinegar, onion, fresh horseradish, garlic, ginger.

There's a thing about digging horseradish that I didn't know. The thing is that you do not know where the roots are. There's the plant, and it comes up in the same place every year, and yes, the roots are underground, but that's all. Be carefulcarefulcareful when you dig it, it's easy to assume where those things are. They literally head off in all kinds of wacky directions. And being careful is a pain in the buns. Arduous. But the result is awesome.

 You can add herbs you think will be useful to ward off flu, in case you did/did not look up fire cider. Here is some thyme.
We had garden onions, despite not having taken care of the garden. Sometimes gardens do that for you. They are generous that way.
I added lemon balm. (The recipe calls for lemons or lemon zest, I can't remember which.) This is the last of the stuff aboveground. I also added yarrow, since it is persistent and beautiful and stunningly useful.

And I had three sinus events, and each time I had a few spoons full of this stuff. It's great-smelling and awful tasting. OMG. But I am telling you that it WORKS.

It works. My sinuses have a friend. Wow. I went from impending several-day events of drippy and runny nose, to breathing *through my nose* and clear. I'm not kidding. In hours. I was better in hours and went to work. And I was fine.

Herbalism obsessions can be useful!


So anyway, back to my sewing obsession. I have a '56 Singer sewing machine, the carrying case kind. I love Etta. I've sewed and sewed with her for ... ahhhhmmm ... a lotta years. But there are some things she can't do.

Zig zag stitches. ... She says no.

Going through thick material. ... She says no.

Sewing stretch material. Well. ... I can trick her into it, but it's a pain in the buns.

Sewing in small places. Well, it depends, but it's limited. And it kinda depends on how many hands you have.

So I got a new sewing machine, a Janome 2012. Very basic. And armed with all kinds of hope and a zigzag stitch and some serious torque on Ethel, I can do harder work in more difficult places.


So on this thick Carhartt coat, I was able to put a jeans patch on a twill coat, sewing through the whole coat on the important places. Then I had to hand sew across the top of the patch so that ... you know ... I didn't sew it shut. I also sewed around the hole in the actual coat to allow the guy to use the coat and not make the hole bigger from the inside.

So while it does not look good, it is SOLID and functional. And you can see the rest of the jacket, it's not pretty. Its pretty days are long gone. It's one of those jackets you lie on the mud driveway to take a drive shaft out with.

And it will probably last another several years. I love this shit!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Corn, jeans, bleaching, bugs, and the very entertaining Opiliones

I didn't plant corn this year. I have a ton of seed corn from last year and never used it. Even though it was a successful planting and it was fascinating and beautiful, it was a lot of work even doing everything the laziest way possible.

Say, if you need seed corn, just let me know!

This past winter, I finally got some heat installed in the front porch. Another thing that happened is that I found out that to patch the knees of jeans, one must open the leg at the non-flat-felled seam.

(By the way, this is a cicada killer wasp. I'd sing you their praises, but you can look them up. They are big and scary-looking, but they seem to only be a threat to cicadas! Woohoo! Seriously, they are wicked-looking but they remain a wonderful addition to your yard.)

WELL! The heat and the information opened up a whole new world and I started patching every pair of jeans in sight, with varying degrees of success. I started with using jeans fabric, but the fact is that most jeans fabric, by the time you're wearing a hole in it, is thin and soft and not at all like even worn jeans material.

So the jeans patches I made just created stress on the surrounding fabric and poof, more holes. I'm gradually changing how I deal with knees and other worn spots, depending on the fabric remaining and the wearer. This pair? This tropical tree is the 8th patch on these jeans. The addition of so many patches seems to make these winter-weight jeans, but ... well ... it's August and I can't really tell at this point.

This Baptisia australis, the wild blue indigo, is being used for clothes drying. Or clothes bleaching. I needed to put this garment in the sun, but also somewhere that the cat and the dog would not lay on them. Everything of mine gets flooped, flopped, rolled and laid upon by EQ and Zi.
I'm trying to get rust stains out with lemon, salt and sunshine.
This very plush and fuzzy beetle was hanging around the Chinese lantern/Physalis. I think it is VERY good-looking. When it flies, it flies smooth like a wasp. But it doesn't look like either a moth or a beetle. I never did find out what it was, besides attractive.

It has been a stellar year for Opiliones, or harvesters, or daddy longlegs. One morning, the backsplash in my kitchen sported EIGHTEEN of them! Last year the high number was twelve. Several have died in the sink. Several roam other parts of the house, but mostly, there seems to be ideal Opie conditions in the kitchen. OR! Maybe that's where the portal is. You know, kinda like the Stargate.

I try to leave water on the counter, since they sometimes drown getting to water. Yesterday I saw one carrying a flake of meatloaf. I busted out laughing and he/she dropped it. Hm. And when I work at the sink, there's just one. Like a scout. (I call it Opie Terminator; for a daddy long-legs, he's very forward!) He or she charges me! I don't want to hurt him or her, so I drum my fingers on the counter. (If I hit one with spray or food or oil or batter, who knows? I might drown them.) And it's funny. They will go away at the drumming, but there's a delayed response. Hmmm.

Life is interesting. Pay attention! Woohoo!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Anatomy of whatever kind of sinus cold this is

I caught a cold, which started with night-time mouth breathing and passages so dry you could ... well, they were very dry.

On the third day, I had a very low voice in the morning, but sneezed four times and otherwise felt fine. On the fourth, I sniffed some a few times. Each of these nights,  I was mouth-breathing and getting nasty dry all night. I took some echinacea and elderberry tinctures in water, but I was distracted by something else going on that day. On the fifth day, my nose turned into a faucet. I continued with the tinctures and the occasional Vitamin C tablets and used a lot of facial tissue. I made hot honey-lemon tea. Later I had just honey in water.

And then I did a thyme steam bath for my head.

I took about a cup or more of water, heated it in a small saucepan, and when it was simmering, I added about 2 teaspoons of thyme. Then I used a beach towel to make a tent so I got all the thyme steam from that pan. For about 10 minutes. I was bored. But it did feel good! Later in the day I took the thyme out of the water, heated the water again, and added that herb back in. Later in the day I did it again, but added another couple teaspoons of thyme. The sneezing has gone away. The phlegm is looser. The headache is milder. The nose-faucet has been GREATLY REDUCED.

That thyme is great stuff. Look it up. It could help you!

Monday, January 13, 2014

"and time passes ..."

That's what my mom would say when the leading lady and man would embrace very very closely and the screen faded to black.

Well, I have no excuse for  not talking to y'all. I hung my corn after I harvested it onto my tailgate, and for lo these many weeks it has dried in my front porch. Last week I took 30 or more cobs of corn off the cob. I carefully segregated deep, steely blue corn and deep winey-red corn, and got about a quart of each. The rest I just call "calico." They're all in big bulky wonderful quart canning jars to keep the mice from harvesting them. Damned mice.

I never thought that you could sort corn by color and be useful about it, since the mammal phenotypes [physical characteristics] can't be sorted that way. But when people I trusted said they "just threw out the yellow kernels," of their Indian corn, I had to know more.

Corn ain't mammals. If you do some research on how corn is pollinated, it makes sense. The short way to tell it is that pollen grains from the tassel of the corn fall onto individual corn silks. Each piece of silk leads to a place on the cob where a kernel can develop. One grain of pollen + one corn silk = one individual kernel. And when you think about all the successful pollination that has to take place to make ONE cob of corn, well that's just pretty cool. All the time I was shelling my corn, I kept thinking of that.

Of course there are drawbacks. One half block away is a field of what we used to call "field corn," and I now call "GMO corn." All the yellow kernels in my corn can be directly attributed the the pollen from that field getting to my corn's silk.

Where I live there are hundreds of thousands of acres of fields of corn. Where there isn't corn, they grow soybeans, and in the small percentage of fields where there isn't either, there may be alfalfa, wheat, or cattle grazing. So where do you plant your corn? It's a question. For anyone trying to raise a particular strain of corn, it's a BIG question.

Am I replanting my "blue" and "red" corn? Yessiree. I'm learning a lot.

Did I eat any of it this year? Well. The season for processing it got away from me and it dried on the stalk. This means I could use it for corn, but it won't be as good as cooked and dried corn will be. I haven't had the guts to try it in food or try to make cornmeal from it. Besides, I had helped a friend pick HER corn and SHE processed it and shared with me. So. Like. I kinda don't need to! Ha!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

When corn is treasure



Hanging indoors to dry.

Corn smut.
Possibly the best-looking ear, based on what I sorted the seed by.

No idea where this color came from, LOL

Moth Day Oct. 2

This is an Alfalfa looper, Autographica californica.

It is most common from southern British Columbia to southern Saskatchewan and south to the border with Mexico. This species is a generalist feeding on a wide variety of herbaceous plants, but appears to prefer legumes (Fabaceae) (alfalfa).
Adults frequently visit flowers for nectar in open meadow habitats during the day. They are most commonly collected during the night and come readily to lights. They have been collected at almost all times of the year, beginning in February and extending to the end of November.
It is mostly found in May, late July and late September.


This is a Lophocampa maculata, the Mottled tussock moth.

It ranges across southern Canada, western US, south in Appalachians to South Carolina, Kentucky. It likes deciduous forests. Adults (usually) fly from May to July and the tufted caterpillars are from July to September. They prefer leaves of poplar and willow, but also feed on alder, basswood, birch, maple, oak.

Beautiful mosaic on the lower border of its wings.

This one has a hammerhead pattern on it. Hard to know if that's a shape or a coloration. Very good-looking.
There were some I haven't identified!
... another bark-colored moth
This one was flitting around quite vigorously. So fast that I was simply lucky to get this good of a photo of it, about center.

Return of Moth Day, Oct.3

 Lined Sphinx Moth
 From the side, the Lined Sphinx Moth is also darned impressive. I don't know if those are markings or eyes.

 Lined Sphinx Moth from the back
 Virgin Tiger Moth. Doesn't really look like a virgin OR a tiger.

Assorted moths; it's a bad photo, only used to show the moth plethora.