Breaking the Ennui of Summer

When I was a child, in August I would grab the salt shaker and head outside to visit the cherry tomato patch on a hot day. I’ve been thinking about eating those warm fruits a lot this month. I think it has less to do with that wonderful memory of salty tasting tomatoes popping in my mouth than about yearning for the simplicity that is a child’s life. I feel like I can issue the next sentence and just about everyone will nod their heads and I can hit the publish button. I feel like the world is imploding.

But I won’t end this post. I will say that it’s been a hard summer to put myself out in the world for monetary gains when there are so many suffering; Ennui–

a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement.
synonyms: boredomtedium, listlessness, lethargylassitudelanguorwearinessenervation

is a word I’ve seen used by several and it is exactly how I’ve been feeling. I will say I have several times wanted to post my thoughts here, but what can a middle class, white woman add to the conversation that doesn’t sound trite?  I will say I long for simple days when I was a child (I think many do). However, the problems of today were definitely at the forefront of the sixties when I was a little one. I was just a blissfully unaware child. I feel that a lot of  the problem right now is that this nation has been making a choice to be blissfully unaware of continuing strife and a build up of hatred for quite some time.

Longing for a simpler time when you were that unaware child is fine. Acting like there is any sort of possibility to go back to that time once your eyes are open is becoming a huge problem. Meeting those people that want to do just that, talking to people of color about their experiences, hearing the media give voice to the hatred of these situations makes me long for simpler, tomato eating days. It doesn’t mean I am ignoring what is happening in the world. But this summer I couldn’t smile and put face lotions up for sale on my site. I’ve been making lots of nourishing products. I’ve just been selling and giving them away locally. I’ve actually seen a few old friends I hadn’t seen in years show up at my door on recommendation to buy healing salves. That is exactly what I want the Chicken Coop to be. Chicken Coop Botanicals (the Etsy store) is definitely open, but new items have not been added for a while. In fact this summer seemed like a good opportunity to move forward with some revamping, rebranding and a new website (all coming soon). I’ve been spending a lot of time in the garden (my solace when I just need to think the hard thoughts), a lot of time learning about and with new plants, taking classes and planning for some that I will be teaching.

I hate to keep up on the Election, it’s so ugly this time around. But it is tied to the growing anger in communities so all of us must listen to at least a little of it. Be aware! Even if you live in a place that doesn’t experience riots, killings and hate crimes you need to open your eyes and look around…none of us live in that community anymore. In (extremely white) Portland, Or. a Latino man gets pulled over when he is driving with his two young children for a made up reason (a non-working turn signal, which did work). If he hadn’t known the law exactly and how to speak to that police officer exactly he would have been dead. When he told me about that and asked what I thought I could only say I agree that there is a major problem with profiling, with police making decisions about people based on their own racism. I couldn’t possibly know what it was he felt when he asked that officer to take his hand off his gun in front of his 5 and 7 year olds. But it made him much more comfortable talking to me knowing I wanted to hear what was happening out there, to him and others. Here on this sleepy mountain I have heard people spew their hateful thoughts on just about anything; like telling someone, they don’t know, how fat they look in a pair of pants (I have heard that particular story happen to two different friends in different places). Donald Trump gives permission to this kind of word dump. I don’t know if it will go away after the election. It hurts my heart to hear all of it, large and small situations. But I am listening. I am having conversations with people. Our country is not in need of dumping money into a problem (that’s part of the problem). We are in need of listening to each other. Being willing to be open not attack or judge what we can’t understand. There may come a day when you do need to stand with a large group at a rally or a riot. Which side will you be on? What if our listening could prevent those events from happening?

I’ve been taking Rose in a lot of different variations this summer:) Whether an Eylixr, lip balm, face cream or stopping to smell the roses they are calming, cooling, uplifting. I can feel the changes coming as the season begins to shift (the wheel is ever turning) and have a craving for elderberries, asian pears and the spicy parts that make up a Fire Cider. On a recent camping trip I realized just how much I miss the comfort of sitting next to a warm fire. Staring into the coals gives me such a feeling of security (Fire sign here). I’ve also been reading the words of others, many like me that are trying to find our role in what is happening in this country and much of the world. I was heartened by this, this and this article.

I finally realized that it isn’t necessary for me to come to this blog to give some sort of solution (cause I have none) to a huge problem that has always been here and is now being made worse, but not say how I felt was just as bad as pretending nothing was going on. I have been heart broken over the lack of uprising by events happening in this country; in the world. We have bigger problems in the world with the effects of global changes happening in an ever quickening manner. We should be coming together not tearing each other apart. The only way that I can get unstuck from my shock and pain over what is happening is to go outside, take a deep breath and look up at Hunchback mountain and give gratitude for every small thing in life I can think of. Just writing about how I feel is helping me to move forward. You may actually here more from me than a few pictures on Instagram from here on out. There are so many plants I have been working with lately I’d like to tell you about. But I do need to use this space as a way to get more people into a conversation. What is needed in your own community? Get off the computer and go find out.

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Roses and Resin

IMG_5148 Two healing agents that are so needed right now. Rose is a calming and cooling plant. Just by smelling it I feel relaxation wash over me. An Elixir aids in healing grief, a Flower Essence helps us move with compassion in the world. Much of the Middle East uses Rose Water in their cooking for those cooling elements. Rose is a heart opening plant. An open heart can leave one vulnerable, but also help us live a more expansive life. Can open us to a wide world of opportunities, alliances and  friendships. I am creating a collection of products that showcase this beautiful healer. There are so many ways to use Rose, both the wild and domestic. It’s actually beenhard to narrow it down.

And the resin-the dried sap of evergreen trees is such a wonderful healing substance. It is the medicine the trees have used to heal themselves. As they are finished they drop these hardened nodules to the ground where we can then find them and use them for our own healing. I have a jar of Ponderosa Pine resin that I just love to smell. I use pine resin in salves as it is wonderfully healing to the skin. I am creating a collection of products right now that use every part of the pine tree. The young needles are full of Vitamin C and all parts of the tree have anti-bacterial qualities.

On this Summer Solstice day I celebrate with these beautiful plants. It’s the first day of summer and a full moon to boot! Lots of magic in the air. Get outside! Make a plan for your summer wanderings. What plants will you make friends with, seek out, learn from, research? I have several new offerings that will slowly be added into the Etsy Shop. Spring was a time where I needed to put my head down and work, both in the restaurant and here at the house. Where Spring is about growth, Summer is about blooming and adventuring. There will be several collections added to the shop this summer that celebrate a single plant. As I am still working in town there will not be any classes in the new Chicken Coop this season. I am hoping for a big Autumn open house (the time of harvest). This summer will be about slowly adding as I have time to take photos and list new items. The shelves are stocked however. If there is something you are looking for just drop me a line.

What wonderful adventures fill your head and heart as we enter the warm season?

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And just like that…I woke to the sun coming up over Hunchback mountain, a clear blue sky awaiting. Yesterday I could only speak of dreary cold rain. Today, it is chilly, but oh the sun on my head brings such a large smile to my face. I did a lot of moving of my yarns and spinning fiber to the studio. The Chicken Coop is almost open for visitors. Still a few things to add…like windows. All the wool is perfectly protected in clear plastic bins and now I can see what is where (I’ve been looking for that baby Llama fleece forever!). It felt good to move the first phase into the studio.

I worked and nibbled in the garden today as well. It felt great to get Chickweed and Miner’s Clover inside my belly to clean up my stagnant winter blood, giving me energy for all the weeding and garden chores in my future. The Sweet Violets are still blooming and the flowering Cherry is going to pop if this beautiful weather continues.

IMG_4940The March Collection is now available in the Etsy shop. This one is designed to nourish and cleanse the organs as they move into this new season. We tend to be a bit quieter in the winter. As spring approaches with more outdoor activity plants begin to bloom that are our allies for cleansing the blood, nourishing our livers (time to let go of heavier diets), and put a pep in our step (as well as our tongues). This collection contains a drinking vinegar full of spring greens and a bit of raw honey (just a touch to make this a refreshing tonic over sparkling water), a tincture to nourish and awake sluggish organs, a beautiful green tea blended with herbs and Rose petals (I know the winter doldrums have not gone far), finally an infused oil to invigorate healthy breast tissue.

There are descriptions at the listing, but within the next couple of days I’ll also be sharing longer descriptions of the health benefits of these spring herbs. Plus a recipe or two. Are you signed up?

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Comforting Rose

While the Spring Equinox is only a few days away it is still winter. And boy is it wet and dreary where I am. I have so much to say about spring plants, activities, foods we should be eating! I’ll be sharing the March (and spring) collection on the Etsy shop tomorrow. However, today I have Rose on my mind. I’ve been writing about her everyday this week. I am immersing myself in her scent with lotions, oils, soap, the flavor in tea and elixir. But I as I write I have not been able to pinpoint why I have been so drawn to the flower of late spring and summer when I am eating and creating with spring herbs. Until this morning!

Rose is a cooling and astringent plant. Her qualities are perfect for the heat of summer. However, Rose is also calming and comforting. I feel enveloped in love and comfort when I adorn mysIMG_3740elf with her scent. I was in a minor (is there such a thing) car accident at the beginning of February. I’ve been dealing with back and neck pain. Pairing that with the dark rainy days that the end of an Oregon winter bring I need the calming, floral love of the Rose. I sit with a cup of Rose Oolong tea by a cozy fire and I can feel grateful for the rain that we so dearly need after the long, dry summer of last year. I go out in the morning with Spiced Rose lotion on my arms and can lift them in deep reverence to the mist covered mountains; knowing that spring is just around the corner and after that summer. The wheel turns and though I like to live in the moment of each season this week I look forward with a smile to the wild Rose petals I’ll pick, the garden Roses that will surround me for months. I am inspired this morning to look out the window at the unfurling of the leaves on our many Rose plants. Seeing how healthy and vibrant they look I know that this wonderful (see Rose is working on me) rainy day is nourishing all the plants and the earth. Even if we do have another very long, dry summer the land will have a deep reserve of nourishment from this moment right now.

I’ll be back tomorrow with green things. But right now I’m going to close my eyes and think of those wild Roses that I’ll be picking in May.

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Birth of a Podcast

Many of you dear readers remember the five year run of my podcast At the Kitchen Table. You’ll notice no link as I am terrible about deleting projects that I have finished. Well today I offer you another podcast–

Chicken Coop Botanicals Podcast continues the conversation I have with you here. In this first episode I share a bit about where I live, what my background is (for those that find me through iTunes) and quite a bit about a new project for the Etsy shop–monthly herbal offerings. Between the podcast and a newsletter (signups will appear here shortly) I’ll be sharing each month about seasonal medicines, foods and how to be in touch with seasonal living. This month is about going “Deep” into winter. IMG_4756 double extracted wild mushroom Deep Immune Boost tincture

An album I’ve been listening to–The Sea, That Gambler by Gregory Alan Isakov

Reading poetry at bedtime to calm my active brain–American Primitive by Mary Oliver

I began knitting for spring outdoor work–Huxley by Jared Flood

The January Deep collection will be listed in the Chicken Coop Botanical shop (link will work as soon as listings are added)

Posted in Chicken Coop Botanicals, Herbal, Podcast Episode | 2 Comments

This Moment

I love reading all the year end reviews of blogs and email newsletters. And I do have to say that 2015 had some wonderful, even epic events, for me. But as I walk about in the glistening snow, listening to the wind rustling in the Cedars I am very much in the moment. I took this photo of my husband earlier today IMG_4748 and that shot pretty much sums up how I’m feeling right now. Calm, thoughtful, grateful for all that we have and all that this last year has brought us. Tonight we will work hard, but happily so, with our wonderful staff and customers to ring in this next year.

There were some terrible parts in 2015 that make my heart break. I can only be hopeful for the world moving forward. And I’m excited to see what’s in store for 2016. In 2015 the word of the year was “Build“. And boy was that appropriate for a year that included education, travel, beautiful and sad times with family and a wedding. I’ve learned so much from Herbal teachers and friends, we renewed friendships and made more this year and of course my favorite moment was adding a daughter-in-law to our family. Seeing those two kids (no matter the age they will always be kids to me) stand in the exact spot that my husband and I stood 26 years before to exchange vows was so beautiful! for 2016 I see the word will be “Flow” as in flowing through whatever might appear next. I’ll be adding new lines to the Etsy shop, beginning a new podcast, we’ll be adding brunch to Gino’s beginning next weekend, in February the restaurant turns 20!, by summer the Chicken Coop Botanicals studio will be finished. That is a lot. And I know from experience that each of these activities and events will take on a life of its own. Who knows what else the year will bring. It’s so much more fun to be in the moment and let things flow.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year! Enjoy this evening, stay in the moment with gratitude and thoughtfulness for that is what this world and each of our communities need as we flow through to this next year.


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Season Shift

Last night (which began at 4:36p) my husband and I quietly celebrated Solstice. We toasted, we ate beautiful food IMG_4729 including using the last of the porcini broth with our goose broth for a lovely mushroom risotto IMG_4730 I love having a wide variety of broths on hand at all times. There were tiny little birds involved as well:)

We lit candles IMG_4716 We paused

The whole day had a different feel to it. As I walked around to check on animals, both in the morning and evening, I felt I was walking the wheel of the year. There is never a stop to begin anew. After a pause the season, life, time continues to creep forward.

We have now entered the deep season of Winter and while I feel comfort in the quiet chill of this season I also face forward ready to welcome the coming light. Each day now will be a little lighter…a bit more daylight to lead us towards the next season. Most don’t live the ideals of an Agrarian system any longer, but I find that living within the seasonal flow takes you out of the mayhem and stress that can define this time of year. I awoke early this morning realizing I have been doing a lot of crafting, but not a lot of wrapping or deciding who gets what. And then I paused. I laid in bed and listened to the wind, to the roosters, to the trees. When I got up I had lost the stress of what needs to be done this morning before I leave for work. I read lovely messages I’d received over night through email, Instagram, my Etsy store. I began my list of matching people to gifts. Again I paused, looked outside and breathed deeply with a smile at my lips.

And that is what I want to share with you…pause, look around, breathe, smile. We each celebrate a reason for the season. Whether yours is religious, family or community based, seasonally based… stop and give gratitude for where you are, what beauty you have in your life. Smile:)

Solstice Blessings to you and yours.

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