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Overcoming “Stupid”

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalms 118:24)

I read somewhere, can’t remember where exactly, but I remember reading somewhere that when you’re under a lot of stress, you get “stupid”. I.e. You make a lot of choices that you wouldn’t be making if you weren’t under so much stress. If your standard of living wasn’t stuck on survive…or even just going through the motions to make it look like you were surviving.

I’ve always hated the word “stupid”. My stepfather called all of us “stupid” on a routine basis. Such is the results of alcoholism and the subsequent abuse that usually accompanies it. But that’s neither here nor there.

“Stupid” works in this situation.

In the last couple of weeks since I’ve gotten my promotion at work, it’s like there’s this part of my brain waking up. “Wow. I haven’t thought of doing that in a long time,” says my brain as I cash my first paycheck in this new position and start labeling envelopes for everything I need to catch up on, or save up for. I’m on top of my billing schedule all of a sudden (maybe because I know I can make the payments?). Household chores are being taken up again. The apathy, depression, and anxiety are being put to sleep again. Problem solving, budgeting, and careful planning are jockeying into position.

Who knew.

Having been in therapy for decades from a childhood of abuse and degradation, my mind automatically starts analyzing everything. I feel like the “stupid” was really a self-defense mechanism kicking in. I lost a full-time job due to an injury (i.e. not my fault as I was laid up for several months) and fell behind on mortgage payments. I have new(er) neighbors challenging zoning…and threatening my goats, chickens, and ducks’ right to be here. My home needs a tremendous amount of work done. I have student loans coming down the pike and an out-of-control electric bill from a flooded basement last fall (well-pump not shutting off due to enormous hole blown in hot water tank…). We’re buying in water to drink due to my water softener dying on me. I feel like that self-defense mechanism kicked in and shut down logic and reason and common sense because maybe it was too much to handle. My mind could only focus on one thing: finding work to sustain me. And that was becoming a near thing.

Now, not only is logic and good reason, common sense and the ability to solve problems, budget, and plan returning, so is hope for a future.

Hence, my post from earlier this week about podcasts and YouTube channels and websites. Yes, I want to run with the wind. But, the perpetual fog I’ve been living under these last few years (yes, years), has tempered some of that run. I’m learning to walk again. Slow and steady wins this race.

And, of course, His grace, which has led me through this. It’s all in his hands. Faith has returned, too. It just took letting go of the reins. Not “stupid” at all.

May God bless you & keep you!

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An Upgrade?

“I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise on my lips. My soul will boast in the lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together” (Psalm 34:1-3)

And an update: the mortgage company is NOT happy that I have suddenly tripled my income and may be able to begin payments again. They are fighting tooth and nail to go straight to foreclosure. Contrary to what they often tell you, no, they wouldn’t rather keep you in your home. Especially if you’ve been in the home for as long as I have, and even with recent financial difficulties, was moving from just paying interest to finally touching principle before my injury and subsequent job loss. If they take it over, the owner (in this case, me) loses the equity and, whoever buys it going forward will supply the bank with a whole new round of interest payments. Greedy b@$t@rd$…

However, my attorney is on to them and there is a plan in place. Either I will keep the home, or I will sell it and, hopefully, receive some of my equity.

On another note, I am looking to upgrade my blog. My plan is to grow it into an actual website i.e. a paid subscription to WordPress (after taking some tutorials; I’m abysmally ignorant of how this all works) with a hosting platform. Whether I stay in my current home, or sell it and move, The Herbal Hare Tomestead will be growing. I’m still in the planning stages but, stay tuned.

A sneak peek?

Links to a future YouTube channel; podcast; a bulletin board for workshops and other events; how you may contact me for freelance projects, including possible voiceover work (although that may be a year or more into the future; I need to secure my home before I can look into building out a voiceover studio in it), as well as an online retail space as I get back into fiber arts. Again, this last may be farther into the future but, it starts with creating a website that can be added onto as I grow my homestead and business.

Again, stay tuned…and a big shout out of “Thanks!” to everyone who has continued to follow me through such spotty and uncertain times. I really appreciate your support, encouragement, prayers, and friendship.

May God bless you & keep you!

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Looking Up

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

It’s been a long time since I’ve had some positive news: I am now the Director of the Brooklyn Town Library. Granted, the title is currently “Interim Director” as there is a three month probationary period. This is standard practice for the library. I had a three month probationary period when I was hired as a clerk; the previous director also had a three month probationary period. I’m not too worried. Sure, there’s a risk that I might not prove to be exactly what they’re looking for. But, playing it “safe” will keep me in a part-time position…and cost me my home. Now I have a fighting chance in keeping it.

Or the means to save for a potential move (even a local one?).

I’m leaving it in His hands. The willingness to accept either outcome, and praising Him every step of the way–regardless of outcome–has set me free.

Finally.

It is a gentle reminder of Who is ultimately in control. Praise Him, even in the storm. God really does give second chances…and third…and fourth…

May God bless you & keep you!

Christianity, Faith, Healing, Heavy Metal Music, Herbs, Holistic Health, Homesteading, Organic, Plants

Another Wednesday’s Weed Walk Revisited

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. You will find me when you seek me, if you for me in earnest.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

I wrote the following weed walk several years ago. And, as I’m looking into voice over work as a possible supplemental income, having a tea blend that will soothe tired throats and keep the voice healthy is a blessing. Of course, any work, or hobby, that requires the use of one’s vocal chords can benefit from this tea: DJ, actor/actress, podcaster, TV host, newscaster, reporter, politician…the list could go on.

Singer’s Tea…no, that’s not actually a legitimate product, that I know of, but that’s what I call one of my favorite herbal tea blends.

I don’t sing professionally anymore. Or even semi-pro. While the vocal chords may get a bit of a workout on the weekends when I’m enclosed in my home office and working on the mural that is currently consuming me, rare do I get on a stage–or even in the choir loft at church–to sing. Some of it is time constraint. As a full-time (online) student, minister, herbalist, homesteader, writer, artist, holistic healthcare practitioner and part-time photographer/receptionist most evenings, I have a pretty full plate. But many years ago I fronted metal bands, both lead guitar and lead vocals. I didn’t know about this tea then; I learned about it years’ later. It might have helped in the metal years; however, no matter what genre you sing in–even if it’s only the shower–taking care of one’s vocal chords is important.

In 2007 I took Apollo Herbs’ “Herbal Apprentice” course with Michael Ford and Joanne Pacheco. It was during one of our weekend workshops that Mike mentioned this combination, primarily for sore throats, but he also mentioned that a student from one of his previous classes used this combination religiously. She was a singer, like me, and fronting a local band. I was singing regularly with the Folk Group at Our Lady of LaSalette Catholic Church in Brooklyn, CT at the time so I gave it a whirl.

The blend is equal parts of Echinacea purpurea (Echinacea, Purple Coneflower are common names) and Ulmus fulva, or Slippery Elm. “Equal parts” is just what it suggests. If you measure a teaspoon of Echinacea, you also measure 1 teaspoon of Slippery Elm; a tablespoon of Slippery Elm, a tablespoon of Echinacea, and so on. The combination has a pleasant flavor so it is also palatable rather than tasting “medicinal”. I typically use the dried herbs, purchased from a local and reliable herb shop (organic; responsibly harvested) but you may also use fresh herbs if you have them in your garden or from another reliable source (i.e. one without pesticides). As we are brewing roots and bark here, a standard infusion doesn’t quite cut it. You will need a decoction of the herbs. And how we do that is preferably through the use of a double boiler but a makeshift of setting a slightly smaller sauce pan inside a larger one that has at least an inch or so of water in it will do in a pinch. No non-stick pans for this. The coating may leach into your herbal tea; I don’t recommend non-stick pans for any purpose. Cast-iron will also leach into the herbs and affect the outcome. Stainless steel, or enamel, is preferable. Place the herbs in the smaller pan, cover them with water (about an inch higher than the herbs) and place a lid on the pan with the herbs in it. The idea is to simmer them, not boil them. And you will want to watch that the water is not evaporating too much as you don’t want the herbs to scorch. If you see the water level lowering too rapidly, you may add a little warm water and lower the heat a bit. This takes approximately 45 minutes on low heat. I always add honey to mine, which also acts as a mucilage to the throat but it is optional.

So how does it work?

Slippery Elm** (Ulmus fulva) is the inner bark of the slippery elm tree. This dried bark is rather stringy and may range from a light tan to a light beige in color. It has a sweet, spicy scent and it is a well-known demulcent. “Demulcent” means that it soothes and moistens, usually via mucilage. This particular demulcent is specific for sore throats, cough, bronchitis and for relieving the inflammation of the respiratory tract, including the mouth and throat (L. Tierra, 121). It is also good for soothing the intestinal tract, and relieving the pain and irritation from indigestion and colitis, but it is the respiratory tract that we are most concerned with here, for obvious reasons.

Echinacea** (Echinacea purpurea) is also good for relieving sore throats; all infections and inflammations, and swollen glands. A known sialagogue, it increases the flow of saliva in the mouth. It is also an immune enhancer, helping to prevent and cure colds and flus (Tierra 78-79),; for singers, it makes it a wonderful combination with Slippery Elm. Back in the metal years, it seemed I always came down with a cold and/or upper respiratory complaint whenever there was something important coming up in music. It is a singer’s nightmare. It could be because I tend to be a perfectionist and so pushed myself harder, practicing longer, and depriving myself of much-needed sleep in preparation for whatever I was doing but, regardless, whatever “bug” was lurking around always found its way to me. Again, I wish I’d had this tea in my arsenal then.

One last thought, as both of these herbs are now on the endangered list, please use only the cultivated herbs from a reliable and responsibly-harvested source. For more information about sustainable harvesting, please visit http://www.unitedplantsavers.org.

May God bless you & keep you!

**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This article has been presented for educational purposes only; it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.”

Works Cited

Tierra, Lesley. Healing with the Herbs of Life. Ten Speed Press, California: 2003.

Animals, Books, Christianity, Creativity, Faith, Fiber Arts, gardening, Gratitude, Greenhouse, Healing, Herbs, Homesteading, Memories, Plants, Poverty, Prayer, Spices, Spinning, Straw Braiding, Weaving, Wool, Writing, YouTube

Where He Leads

“Your road led by a pathway through the sea–a pathway no one knew was there!” (Psalms 77:19)

I received a phone call from a realtor a couple of weeks’ ago. It’s not the first offer that I’ve received for my property but, up until this point, they’ve been offers simply to list it and, knowing it’s fixer-upper state, I’ve pretty much ignored the letters and calls.

Until now.

Granted, selling would solve a lot of my financial burdens. Previous realtors talked about “staging” and, in short, wanting to “showcase” it for potential buyers. In its current state, I doubt it would pass an inspection for anyone other than a house flipper. If I had the financial means to make some of the repairs, or the plumbing, carpentry, or construction skills to do it myself, it wouldn’t be where it is in the first place and I probably would’ve sold years’ ago.

This guy was different. After total transparency on my part: it needs a new roof, new gutters, a new hot water tank (we haven’t had running hot water since last November), a new water softener (buying in water every couple of days for humans, goats, chickens and ducks to drink is breaking the proverbial bank), some electrical work, the foundation repaired, and the back door doesn’t close properly due to too much settling, this realtor tells me his interest is in its commercial value. He would like to see the property, of course, but his plan is to remove the house and rebuild for commercial use.

This looks hopeful. There’s even a chance of recouping some of the equity in the home to start over again.

It is also bittersweet. On the one hand, I’m feeling a sense of hope that maybe I have a future after all…beyond pitching a tent in the woods somewhere. There’s an impending sense of relief to be free of the roller coaster emotional ride that foreclosure mediation inevitably brings. On the other hand, I’ve lived here for over 20 years. There are a lot of memories, both happy and sad, and the dreams I had for this place that have never been realized due to the financial burdens that started with the Great Recession and appear to be ending with the current recession. I have many beloved pets buried here, too. I hate the thought of them being paved over or dug up.

However, I’m also seeing how limited I would be to make those dreams a reality even if I stayed. There’s still the zoning issue to resolve…and no guarantee it will go in my favor. The property isn’t big enough to accomplish what I have in mind. There’s no parking for that second-hand book store. No room to grow things like flax or rye straw, or cash crops like elderberries. No pasture for the number of fiber-producing animals that I’d need to raise to truly become “The Herbal Hare Tomestead and Animal Sanctuary: Home of Misfit Animals and Books, and Makers of Herbal, Apian, and Natural Fiber Products”.

“Leaf It To the Goats” isn’t even on the radar here.

I could go much smaller, of course. I could be content with turning much of this almost-acre into an extensive herb garden, maybe add a small greenhouse for warmth-loving spices, like cardamom and turmeric. I could still grow microgreens, maybe get into growing mushrooms. There’s a planned YouTube channel, regardless of where we land, and I could still produce it here as its main focus will be herbs. I could be content with rabbits, maybe a couple of Angora goats (if I won the zoning case), for spinning. And honeybees don’t take much room. However, the latter haven’t done well here. I think it’s in part because I’m so close to a major interstate; they don’t have much of a “fly zone”. But I’ve also heard from more seasoned beekeepers that it can take years to get an apiary up and running…and there’s always Colony Collapse to contend with today. It’s not a bad plan and would leave more room for writing (always a plus).

In short, I’m leaving it all in His hands. I will be calling the realtor later today to schedule a visit. I’m also waiting to hear if I’ve gotten the director’s position I applied for at the library where I work. I had the interview on Friday. I’m hoping I hear something before my foreclosure hearing on Monday. This could be the definitive moment. As the salary of a director is considerably higher than a part-time librarian’s it might be enough to modify.

Again, it’s in His hands. I know what I’d like to do. And I have contingency plans. But, in the end, it’s His plan that truly matters. Talk about one’s faith being challenged.

May God bless you & keep you!

PS Please keep the prayers & positive thoughts/energy coming. And I would be eternally grateful if you would share the Go Fund Me link below. Praise the Lord!

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-this-animal-sanctuary-grow-and-thrive

Christianity, Frugality, gardening, Healing, Herbs, Holistic Health, Homesteading, illness, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Nature, Plants, Prepping

Rebooting – A Wednesday Weed Walk

“And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel and might; the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2)

I wrote the following post in 2010. I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching lately and I’ve realized that, especially with a possible economic depression looming, my posts about natural remedies and wild edibles, and frugal tips, may be needed more than ever. As I get back into blogging, I’ve started reading through older posts. While I encourage everyone to go back and read some of these earlier posts, I know that many will not have time to do so. So, to those who may have followed me in earlier times, my apologies for any redundancies but, they bear repeating. There will be more going forward.

May God bless you & yours as we traverse these uncertain times!

Enjoy:

It is the scourge of every landscaper, of every grumpy old man hoping to obtain that perfectly manicured lawn without the broken contrast of colorful, yellow blossoms. “This notable “weed” is often needed most by those who love to pull it–fiery, excitable and, often, angry folks–because it clears what in Traditional Chinese Medicine is regarded as Liver Heat, a congestion that causes this energy” (M. Tierra, The Way of Herbs, 1998).

I am talking about Taraxacum officinale…The Dandelion.  In Chinese medicine it is called Pu Gong Ying. In Ayurveda–or East Indian medicine–the Sanskrit word for dandelion is Atirasa. Other common names for this little “weed” have been Blow Ball, Cankerwort, Lion’s Tooth and Wild Endive so, perhaps, instead of lamenting the “dandelions” in your lawn, you can rejoice in your abundant crop of Lion’s Tooth?

The dandelion comes from the family: Compositae.

All parts of this plant are used medicinally and also, nutritionally.  Both the leaves and the roots have a cooling energy.  The leaves have a bitter flavor, the roots both sweet and bitter.

As a medicine, the healing properties of this little plant are as an alterative–or blood purifier, and as a chologogue, which means it aids digestion by discharging bile into the small intestine to relieve excess stomach acids.  It is a diuretic, an aperient–or laxative, a galactogogue, which means it promotes the flow of breast milk for lactating mothers, and it can be used as a tonic to promote the functioning of all systems in the body.

The main benefits of this plant are exerted upon the function of the liver.  It has the capacity to clear obstructions, to stimulate and aid the liver in eliminating toxins in the blood.  In this way, it is used as a blood purifier.  This is also due to its high mineral content.

The root can be used to also clear obstructions of the spleen, pancreas, gallbladder and kidneys.  It is of tremendous benefit to both the stomach and intestines. For stomach aches, dandelion root tea can be safely taken in doses of 1/2 cup every 1/2 hour until the stomachache is relieved.

For hepatitis, dandelion root tea may be taken in cupful doses 4-6 times daily with a light, easily-digested diet of vegetable soup broth, and rice and mung bean porridge.  Even the most serious cases of hepatitis have been rapidly cured using this treatment, sometimes within a week (Tierra, 1998).

Renowned herbalist and author of several books on herbal medicine–including “The Way of Herbs”, Michael Tierra, considers the root specific for hypoglycemia when it is combined with other tonic herbs such as ginseng and ginger.  And he states it can also be used to remedy the recent onset of diabetes when combined with huckleberry leaf in a tea.

Dandelion has been known to decrease high blood pressure, aid in the healing or curing of anemia; dropsy; PMS; urinary complaints; inward ulcers of the urinary passage; atonic dyspepcia; rheumatism; red, swollen and painful eyes; firm, hard abscesses; sores; breast abscesses; tumors; cysts; mastitis; gout; arthritis, and skin conditions such as rashes caused by measles, chicken pox, eczema, poison ivy and poison oak.  It relieves painful urination, promotes lactation, aids indigestion, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, jaundice, cirrhosis, constipation, urinary, bladder and kidney infections, in the treatment of both gall and kidney stones, scurvy and scrofula.

In Chinese medicine, its cooling properties are used to treat painful swellings, infections, inflammations, boils, abscesses, dental cavities, swollen eyes and throats, sore throats, fever and mumps.  It has a special affect on the breasts and is used as a breast cancer preventative.  Chinese medicine uses it to reduce tumors and cysts, mastitis and swollen lymph nodes.

Traditionally, Native Americans used the dandelion to treat snake bites.

Ayurveda–East Indian–practitioners use it for dysentary, fevers, vomiting and as an anti-poison.

Dandelion leaf tea is one of the finest diuretics known, equal to any known drug remedy.  It can be taken for fluid retention–i.e. edema, cystitis, nephritis and even as an aid in weight loss.

However, a word of caution here, the FDA has not evaluated these statements and, though I have a lot of faith in herbal medicine–more so than in most allopathic practices, the contents of this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any diseases and should not replace any treatment with your primary care physician.

That being said, nutritionally, dandelion root can be cut and dried, and combined with roasted acorns and roasted rye to make a fine alternative to coffee–without the harmful caffeine!

You harvest the leaves in spring before the flower heads bloom.  They can be eaten raw as a salad or steamed with other beneficial greens such as chicory and endive to help combat the onset of spring colds and flu.  Albeit, another word of caution, both dandelion and chicory can be quite bitter to some palates and might be better tolerated mixed with something like spinach or Swiss chard.

Dandelions are rich in natural protein, iron, calcium, phosphorus, inulin, potassium, vitamins C, G, all the B vitamins–especially B12 and contains more beta carotene than carrots.  They are also high in vitamin A, having 7000 units as opposed to the 1275 units contained in carrots.

I feed dandelion greens on an almost daily basis to my rabbits.  They are beloved by my ducks and chickens, guinea pigs, birds, dogs and, to a lesser degree, even my cats will sometimes nibble on a leaf or two.  They provide many of the same benefits to the liver and kidneys in animals as they do for humans.  In the documentary, “Juliette of the Herbs”, an autobiography of the life of revered herbalist, Juliette de Bairacli Levy, there is an interview with a breeder of Newfoundlands who tells of how feeding one of her prized Newfoundlands dandelion greens saved her dog’s life.  This was an animal who had been given only a short time to live due to kidney failure.  The owner had read one of Juliette’s books where it recommended a fast and then a diet of dandelion greens.  She didn’t think the dog would even try them; instead, she “licked the bowl clean” (Streeten, 1998).

Of course, the Christian witch in me had to look up the magickal properties of this little wonder.  I found, in my research, that dandelions were used by Early Americans to counteract impotence Hutchins, 1992).  Interestingly, the high vitamin A content in the dandelion is essential in the production of both male and female sex hormones so, perhaps, there’s something to this old wives’ tale…

Blow on a dried dandelion’s head (hence, the folk name “Blow Ball”…) and your wish will come true if you blow all of the seeds off in one breath.  This is said to be particularly effective as a love letter as dandelions provide a sort of magickal messenger service.  Allegedly, the seeds will carry loving messages and wishes to the one you love.  Focus hard on your hearts’ desire and blow…

Dandelion is, if you combine “white” witchcraft with astrology, a Jupiter plant.  Jupiter rules prosperity and money, health and good luck.  When picking dandelions on a Thursday–said to be a Jupiter day–in the moonlight, you will attract wealth and prosperity into your life.

Lastly, dandelions are said to be effective in summoning spirits.  I do not necessarily advocate this practice for myself but, for educational purposes, I am including the directions I found in a book I have on the subject:

1.  Place a cup of hot, steaming dandelion tea beside your bed just before you go to sleep.

2.  Watch the steam waft upwards as you call upon your desired spirits.

3.  When it cools, have a sip, turn off the lights and go to sleep.

4.  Take another sip of cold tea when you awaken and you may stimulate enhanced dream recall…(Dugan, 2003)

With all of this said, I believe every garden should have at least a small patch of Taraxacum officinale

Works Cited

Dugan, Ellen. Garden Witchery: Magick from the Ground Up. Llewellyn Publications, 2003.

Hutchins, Alma R. A Handbook of Native American Herbs: A Guide to 125 Medicinal Plants and their Uses. Shambhala, 1992.

Streeten, Tish. Juliette of the Herbs. Mobinogian Films, 1998.

Tierra, Michael. The Way of Herbs. Pocket Books, 1998.

If you can, please consider a donation to the link below. If you cannot, if you could share the link, I would greatly appreciate it:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-this-animal-sanctuary-grow-and-thrive

Animals, Appreciation, Brothers & Sisters, Christianity, Emergency Preparedness, Exhaustion, Faith, God/Jesus, Healing, Herbs, illness, Prayer

Another Manic Monday?

“Great is the Lord and highly praised in the city of our God: the holy mountain, fairest of heights, the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, the heights of Zaphon, the city of the great king.” (Psalm 48:2-3)

I’ve started approaching Mondays with trepidation. And yesterday was no exception.

Our new director at the library is leaving. A registered nurse, she is returning to the medical field. I respect her decision but, it leaves me sad, too. She’s done an amazing job, bringing patronage up, implementing children’s programs, and creating a community gathering space that is friendly to all. It has been a pleasure to work with her.

Last Monday I tested positive for Covid-19, the new RA5 variant. A lot sleepy, a cough, some aches and chills the first couple of days and a splitting headache; I’ve had worse. The herbalist eschewed the Paxlovid prescribed and relied instead on the upper-respiratory tincture I use to control my asthma. If it can heal me of pneumonia and bronchitis, as it has in the past, I trust it far better than anything Big Pharma has to offer. And the doc says my lungs sound good so it hasn’t failed me with ‘Rona either.

The week before, I had my final mediation meeting with the attorneys as regards the foreclosure on my home. Though I recently received a significant raise and an increase in hours and will be submitting another application for modification, it’s likely only a matter of time before the mortgage company implements a short sale of the property. We’re measuring a place to lay our heads in months, not years. It’s frightening. And yet, a part of me is also anticipating a sense of relief to get the proverbial monkey off of my back. If I can get the modification, I still have zoning to battle. If I can sway zoning back in my favor, I have a roof that needs replacing, new gutters to consider, a water softener and hot water tank to replace, as well as some electrical and plumbing issues to address. The back door doesn’t close properly due to too much settling. The barn needs the doors re-hung. It’s one thing after another. And, even with zoning in my favor again, I’m limited in what I can do here. The Herbal Hare Tomestead and Animal Rescue may never be realized in this space. So, while I have no clue where He’s leading me, or how we’re going to get there with the menagerie of animals in our care now, I have nothing left but to surrender to His will.

And hope that next Monday won’t be another harbinger of bad news.

May God bless you & keep you!

PS I’d be delighted if you could share this link. The wider the net, the better chance we have of finding a new home. And, please, pray for us without ceasing.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-this-animal-sanctuary-grow-and-thrive

Compassion

I. Am. Appalled.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you. ‘Ah, Lord God!’ I said, ‘I know not how to speak; I am too young.’ But the Lord answered me, say not, ‘I am too young.’ To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 1:5-8)

Nope. Not another blog post, article, or commentary, either for or against, the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade. Doubtless, you’ve already read enough of them to last you three lifetimes. Nor do I intend to argue when does life start. Doubtless, you’ve already made up your mind about that one, too.

It’s neither the headlines nor the emotional responses to them that appall me. This is a hot button topic. I expect emotional responses…as do our politicians. But that’s neither here nor there.

What appalls me is the direction of those emotional responses.

Babies are hated in today’s society. Truly hated.

I *get* having a medical condition that might necessitate having a pregnancy terminated. I *get* a rape victim not wanting to carry a child that she conceived in the most traumatic way. I *get* failed birth control. I *get* economic hardship. I *get* not wanting a living tie to a partnership that may have ended badly, or even a one night stand. And I *get* how that spark, that lump of cells, or however else society may refer to the start of human pregnancy, may have come at an inconvenient time. I also *get* that, for many, the decision is not an easy one and may lead to a lifetime of regret later on.

What I don’t *get*, what I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around completely, is how so many others seem to sneer with the attitude that that “spark” got what was coming to it. How dare you invade my body with the expectation of life? As if, with the exception of rape, or incest, it’s inconceivable (no pun intended) that they had anything to do with how that spark got there in the first place.

Are we not teaching sex education in our schools anymore? Are we misrepresenting the possible fallacies of birth control as our schools dispense it to both children and young adults indiscriminately? (Yeah, I *get* that, too…)

Misguided blame. Somehow, the unborn is to blame for the predicament of pregnancy rather than the intimacy that came before.

Again, not arguing for or against the recent SCOTUS ruling.

I. Am. Appalled…by the venom being lobbed at the unborn, regardless of where one stands on this issue. Again, I *get* the heightened emotions. But, if that spark is not yet a human being worthy of any rights based upon his or her inability to survive on their own outside of a womb, how are they capable of blame in the first place? Their moment of conception might have felt magical to the participants at the time but, that spark, that lump of cells, that we can probably agree has no voice one way or the other, didn’t magically come into being by waving a magic wand in unformed hands, and crying, “Abracadabra!”. That spark of being isn’t growing in your womb to spite you.

Nor is it a malignant tumor, a cancer, as I have heard and read as an analogy all week long.

That’s what’s appalling.

Regardless of where we stand on this issue, where is the compassion? Has it been eclipsed by society’s campaign to equate that spark as a *thing* rather than, perhaps, a seed that, if not cut down by either miscarriage or abortion, *will* grow into a tiny human? Where also is the compassion for the young woman unable to conceive, even via in-vitro, or the young man who knows he’s sterile and will never father a child, who hears these comparisons and would give anything to be so “maligned”? On the other side of the debate, where is the compassion for the woman who makes the ultimate decision to terminate a pregnancy, is grieving the loss, and hears her sacrifice dismissed so nonchalantly, as though it was no sacrifice at all?

I blame technology for this lack of compassion. We can’t see the hurt in someone’s eyes, the crumpled face, the tears they shed. All we see is a screen, blank and expressionless.

I blame the erosion of family and a society that believes every child *deserves* to make the team…instead of teaching them how to deal with rejection, disappointment, and most importantly, how to take responsibility for their actions. I blame society, too, for the sense of entitlement everyone feels that says they get to do what they want without consequence, and not only heap vitriol onto those who disagree with us, but also seek to end another’s livelihood for not doing things *my* way or the highway.

And, yes, I blame the erosion of a belief in something, a faith in *Someone* greater than ourselves. Whether you call that *Someone* Allah, Ganesh, Buddha, Krishna, Goddess, Kokopelli, or Jesus Christ, or the doubtless many omissions I’ve made here, is irrelevant. That *Someone* calls us to that compassion for others; there’s not a single holy text, or religion, that speaks otherwise…even when we disagree with each other.

And, even if religion, or faith, is not your *thing*, please stop pointing the finger of blame at the lump of cells for the inconvenience on your life. I think it’s called adulting today…

May God (or whatever name you place upon that *Someone*) bless you & keep you!

Brothers & Sisters, Christianity, Compassion, Culture, Diversity, Faith, Family, God/Jesus, Lent, Open-mindedness, Prayer, Religion, Understanding

Ramadan Mubarak

To all who celebrate Ramadan, bright blessings to you!

To all who do not and are unfamiliar with Muslim traditions, today marks the start of Ramadan. According to Wikipedia, Ramadan is when the “beginnings of what would later become the Qur’an” were revealed to the prophet, Muhammad, by the angel, Jibril (or Gabriel in English).

Muslims everywhere arose today before dawn to eat suhur (predawn meal) and will fast from food or drink until after sunset when they will break their fast with iftar. They will also abstain from tobacco products, sinful behavior, and, again, according to Wikipedia (not always the most reliable source but usually a good starting point), remain celibate during this time. They will do this every day for the next month. In addition to fasting, Ramadan is commemorated with prayer, reflection, the reciting and reading of the Qur’an, and almsgiving. Ramadan begins with the sighting of the crescent moon and ends with the sighting of the next crescent moon.

I am always amazed at the level of devotion and commitment Muslims show in their celebration of Ramadan. As a Catholic, I celebrate Lent, which also requires prayer, fasting–albeit only on Fridays when we abstain from meat, and Ash Wednesday and Good Friday when we can only eat one full meal throughout the day–and reflection. However, I often fail miserably. Is it a lack of discipline in myself? Or is it a lack of community support? Maybe it’s a little of both. But, whatever it is, I can’t imagine the dedication needed to fast from sunrise until sunset.

That being said, I offer up my prayers to those celebrating Ramadan that Allah’s blessings be many this year.

And, for all of my brothers and sisters of every religion and walk of life, may God bless you & keep you!

Works Cited

“Ramadan”. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramadan

Animals, Faith, gardening, Gratitude, Healing, Herbs, Holidays, Homesteading, Nature, Plants, Self-improvement

Work for Thy Hands

“The good man’s earnings advance the cause of righteousness. The evil man squanders his on sin.” (Proverbs 10:16)

First of all, Happy Presidents’ Day to any U.S. citizen reading this blog; I hope, like me, you were gifted with the day off, preferably with pay. Either way, I’m sending you positive vibes. For me, it’s the first time in a long time that I have had the blessing of paid holidays. I am filled with gratitude for this change in circumstance.

I spent my morning outside, a rarity for this time of the year. The temperatures were mild and the sun was warm. I decided it was the perfect time for pruning apple and crabapple trees. In a couple of weeks, they will be budding out and then it will be too late. I did all four fruit trees. One of them was being taken over by bittersweet. That one took me the longest amount of time to prune, but it was worth it. When I finally went indoors, it was with a feeling of accomplishment.

Those hours spent outdoors were also the first in a very long time that I felt a sense of peace. So many of my posts over this last year or so have dealt with too many financial difficulties, zoning issues, and, of course, the stress of our political and social climates. For the first time in a very long time, I was completely absorbed in what I was doing and I felt a healing in my heart. While a part of me looked at all of the myriad repairs and updates, landscaping projects, etc. still to be done, and felt overwhelmed, another part of me looked at how it could be. I remembered my dreams when I first moved here, wanting to raise animals and herbs here, grow my own food, use the garage for a used bookstore. Of course, this property doesn’t have room for anyone to park; there’s just a driveway and enough room behind my car for one other vehicle so an actual business would be out. And, unless I can find an attorney to handle the zoning issues, that animal dream is lost, too. But it was nice to remember those dreams.

I don’t do a lot of that anymore. I don’t allow myself the luxury of daydreaming anymore. While lamenting such a thing may seem strange when my title talks about “the work of thy hands”, daydreaming is also a sign of hope…as is pruning apple and crabapple trees on a property that may not be my own anymore in the not-so-distant future, if things don’t turn around. I remember thinking, if I have to sell, if I lose this place, if I win the modification but lose the zoning case, I want to leave this place as neat and tidy as I can. There may be signs of neglect from lack of funds but, with a little luck, and a lot of elbow grease, at least the next owners will know I did the best I could with what I had.

Now as I sit here, shoulders sore from this morning’s labors, I’m still feeling blessed. All in all, it’s been a good day. Perhaps it’s a lesson in how idleness truly is the devil’s workshop. Instead of worrying and stressing, these hands went to work and peace filled my soul. It’s good therapy.

May God bless you & keep you!

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-this-animal-sanctuary-grow-and-thrive