The Follow-Up Visit

“Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” (Luke 5:31-32)

I am an Herbalist, Reflexologist, Reiki Master Teacher and Touch for Health practitioner. While I believe very strongly in the effectiveness–and safety–of holistic health, there are times when I am grateful we also have allopathic medicine (what most would term “traditional” medicine, though herbs and some of these other modalities have a much longer tradition of use…). These last couple of weeks have been some of those times.

This morning was the follow-up visit with the doc after my trip to the ER two weeks’ ago. No real surprises. I had severe heat exhaustion. She reiterated the ER doctor’s recommendations of resting more, drinking lots of fluids–including some Pedialyte, or Gatorade, while working–and added that I might benefit from some sort of broth that contains a little sodium to reduce the occasional dizziness I’m still having if I stand/sit, or move about, too fast. She also reiterated that it may take some time for my body to recuperate.

She knows me well.

I have blogged before about being a terrible patient. In short, I don’t have the patience to be a good patient. My mind is always running a mile a minute, thinking of the next item on my “To Do” list…the list I make and re-create regularly but seldom ever look at. (Chuckle) It’s simply a tool for creating a false sense of law and order in an otherwise chaotic life. And serves, on a darker side of things, as a tool for berating and mentally, emotionally beating up on myself for all of the things on that list I haven’t accomplished, or completed, yet.

Fortunately, I’m learning to make shorter lists; they’re easier to complete.

And I’m following both the doc’s, and my therapist’s, advice to be good to myself. Blogging/writing is one of those ways I am accomplishing that. This is life’s breath for me, being able to share thoughts and feelings; promote environmental awareness and alternative health approaches; give advice on frugal and/or simple living; campaign for animal and human rights, and, most importantly, write those stories weaving in and out of the clutter of that chaotic mile-a-minute mind. I haven’t quite mastered getting to bed at a reasonable hour yet but I am working on it; I tend to be a night owl…while also thriving on very early morning risings. Not a good combo when you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Not a good combo under any circumstances.

Amazingly, on those nights when I do get proper rest, and on those days when I allow myself to chill out and not be so hard on myself, I tend to get more done. I’m more focused. I have more energy. Amazing, how much energy gets wasted on stress…and almost always on the little things in life. We all know this. How many times do we hear/read something about the importance of sleep? Ditto for reducing our stress. We know it. But we seem to need a constant reminder of it, even as the constant repetition becomes stressful in itself…like that fly buzzing about your head when you’re indulging in a cat nap…

Of course, there was another reason I went to see the doc.

The new health insurance policy at work does not cover doctors in Connecticut, only Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It’s good on one level–I get to visit my therapist in Providence regularly again (another means of taking better care of myself). But I had to find a doctor in their plan.

And I’m not sure how I feel about him.

My one visit with him, he ordered an EKG. I’ve been having severe anxiety attacks. He got the results back while I was still in his office and told me everything looked fine but he would like me to have a stress test. The doc I visited this morning did a stress test on me two summers ago; it came back fine. But I’m okay with walking the treadmill again; a lot can happen in two years’ time. However, though my EKG looked fine, the new doc prescribed nitroglycerin. Why? If everything looks ‘fine’, why do I need this prescription? Needless to say, he did the opposite of what he probably intended and stressed me out more: what isn’t he telling me??? So I went back to my long-time physician and asked her about the stress test she gave me. Her jaw dropping when I told her he prescribed nitro for me gave me the answer I was seeking. According to her, I should be the poster child for what a 50-something-year-old’s numbers should be. She also gave me a copy of the stress test results. This doesn’t mean that I won’t still take that stress test the new doc wants, but I will certainly be getting that second opinion afterwards; that’s another thing we hear about that we should do, over and again.

May God bless you & keep you!

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A Sustainable Life

“Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interest, but also everyone for those of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

I’m searching for that one thing to take root and hold. That side hustle, as some may call it, that will help to supplement what I earn at my “day” job. Perhaps it is many things: writing, blogging, art, crafts. Perhaps it is even a return to doing some Reflexology, Reiki and/or Touch for Health on the side. If I had a safe place to practice, I might be tempted. And it is certainly a goal to eventually have a room set aside here at home for a holistic health practice in the future. But, for now, it isn’t possible.

One step at a time…

That is my dream: a sustainable homestead. Not just sustainable in being as environmentally-friendly as possible (although that is one definition and certainly part of the dream), but sustainable on a financial scale, too. I am working towards that day when I can earn a living for and from myself, rather than someone else. A day when this homestead provides an income (or many), along with writing and artwork. But it will take a while to get there, I’m thinking.

And it will never happen as long as I keep focusing on Self.

What can I do as a writer to help others? To fulfill a need or a longing? What can I do as an artist? Or a homesteader for the same? How may I use my talents to serve Him better, His children better? Those are the questions I should be asking. And it shouldn’t matter the outcome. I.e. whether or not it sustains me because my faith tells me to trust Him; He is already providing for my needs. Can He use me to provide for others? To teach? To listen? To share? For too long now I have been operating from a place of want. It’s time to change the way I look at things. I used to say the line from Jewel’s “Deep Water” about my “standard of living somehow got stuck on survive” reflected my way of life. I’m taking a leaf out of Casting Crown’s book now, “It’s time for us to more than just survive; we were made to thrive!”

You can’t get more sustainable than that.

May God bless you & keep you!

Hall, J. M. (2014). “Thrive.” Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC.
Kilcher, J. (1998). “Deep Water.” EMI Music Publishing.

https://www.patreon.com/theherbalhare

Manifesting my Dreams

“And we have this confidence in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14)

I struggle to know His will for me versus my own hopes, dreams and aspirations. Did He put these dreams on my heart because this is where He wants me to go? Or am I hoping to super-impose my will over His simply because He provided the grace, the talent, the desire…whether we’re talking writing, art or homesteading? I guess, in some ways, I’m trying to read God’s mind. It’s almost as if I’m looking for permission to be a writer, artist and/or homesteader. And, in the long run, I don’t think He minds what avenue we choose to spread His word, to do His will. His will is that we love Him with our hearts, our minds, our souls–in short, every ounce of our being, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Last Sunday this awful cold–which is turning into bronchitis, I suspect–kept me from church. Mom and I sat and watched some daily devotional videos with Mark Hall from Casting Crowns. I am going to paraphrase him but we’re not writers. Or artists. Or bankers. Or whatever our profession. We’re Christians who write, draw/paint, or work in a bank. In other words, being Christian, serving Christ, should be first. That should be our identity. I like that because it puts us all on the same playing field. We’re all the same in God’s eyes.

So today I am a Christian who writes. And I finally finished the mural I blogged about many months’ ago. I’m also a Christian who paints:

The ultimate symbol of Christ’s sacrifice for us shining down on all of my dreams. I’ve spent a lot of time in holistic health, which tends to have a crossover with New Age beliefs. There’s a lot of talk about manifesting your dreams. In short, in many ways, it is a feeble attempt to superimpose our own wills over God’s. But His plans are greater than any that you or I may have. And, if it is His will, His means of getting there are much more effective. Still, it was rather nice to pour all of my longing into this folk-art rendering of where I hope to be one day.

May God bless you & keep you!

REFERENCES

Hall, M. (n.d.). “Casting Crowns’ Mark Hall Daily Devotional”. YouTube. Retrieved January 5, 2018 from: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9E60B7BC20898E21

As 2018 Greets Me with Frostbitten Wattles…

“The One who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ Then He said, ‘Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.’ He said to me, ‘They are accomplished. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water.” (Revelation 21:5-6)

This has been one of the coldest New Year’s in my memory. Welcome to 2018! The wood stove is cranking and, though I cringe a bit with their use, ditto for the heat lamps in the barn. Like it or not, the chickens, ducks and goats are spending their day in the relative warmth today, out of the wind.

Here in New England, the temps have scarcely risen into double digits this week (unless we count minus doubles). Single digits–including some minus single digits–have been the norm. So much so, that we hit 16 degrees on Saturday and it felt like a heat wave! The animals here at The Herbal Hare Homestead felt so, too. And, as they had spent all but a few hours of the afternoons in the barn all week, they were waiting at the door for me Saturday morning, eager to get out and about. Yesterday was a little cooler but still warmer than it has been. The animals raced out again to greet it.

We lost power yesterday for a few hours. We have a well for our water, which includes the need for a well-pump. No water flowing from the faucets; no flushing ability. Not knowing how long we would be without it, Mom & I took a trip up to the local grocery store to purchase extra bottled water and a few extra bundles of wood as our furnace has an electric start. The animals were outside, enjoying the deceptively-bright late-morning sun. We stopped for a bite to eat and then came home. All total, we were gone less than two hours.

Thankfully, the power was back on when we came home. Without even removing my coat and gloves, I traipsed out to the barn to check and replenish water buckets, knowing that without the heat lamps, they were likely frozen–or quickly on their way to being so. The goats and ducks were huddled inside the barn, as were a few of the chickens, but most of the chickens had decided to huddle under the bathroom window where that deceptively-bright sun was being absorbed by the black painted walls there (this is a small corner space where they are protected on two sides (north and east) from the wind and a hill that acts as a buffer on a 3rd side; usually a pretty protected area).

It was on that first return trip from the barn that I found Sargent Feathers, head bloodied and, to be honest, my initial thought was I had lost him. He looked bad. I have a couple of new cockerels from Taffy’s latest brood-fest. Had they ganged up on him? Nope. He’d likely be a bloody pulp in that instance. So far, they’re more afraid of him than anything else; he’s not the boss of the barnyard for nothing (though I am well aware as he ages, that could change…especially with these new boys; fortunately, there are enough females, a large enough barn and plenty of free-ranging to mitigate most reasons for aggression…). Anyway, the blood appeared to be isolated to just the bald spot on the back of that Polish-crested pompadour. The flesh had chapped and cracked in the cold. I picked him up to carry him indoors to treat it and found something much, much worse: seriously swollen wattles…i.e. frostbite.

This is my very first case of frostbite here. Oh, sure, we see a few little black dots on a comb here or there–quickly treated with Vasoline, or some of my Bunny Salve (recipe below)–but never anything of this magnitude. And, of course, it is a Sunday so his vet, Dr. Japp, is closed. I quickly cleaned up the bloodied bald spot and applied some Bunny Salve to both it and the swollen wattle (salve has herbs for healing skin), very gently dabbing rather than rubbing and risking damaging the flesh even more. But I knew he would need more for the frostbitten wattles.

Though I spend at least 40 hours per week in the 19th century, it is times like these that I am ever thankful for some 21st century technology. I started perusing the Internet–some of the chicken raising community sites that I have visited and received good advice from before. I am also an herbalist with several books on both raising small livestock, and herbal remedies for pets and livestock. I grabbed a leaf from the Aloe plant in my kitchen and cut it open; again, gently dabbing it onto his wattles. You could almost see the little sigh of relief as it cooled the burn to his flesh. I set up a small cage in the kitchen for him with a big bowl of warm water to drink and some food; he drank copiously and, I am happy to say, he still has a good appetite. He has also been receiving regular treatments of warm water, soaking the wattles in the warm water to slowly warm up and, hopefully, restore the blood flow to them. There is some gray-black along the bottom edge so I am bracing myself for the possibility that he may lose part of them but, despite the seriousness of the situation, he seems to be doing quite well so far.

Of course, he is aided by the companionship of Miss Taffy, my spunky, Silkie problem child.

As soon as Sargent Feathers was settled in his cage in the house, I went back out to put the rest of the chickens in the barn. Many of them I carried in; some had to be herded (I seriously need a Border Collie…). Sunset decided to be contrary and kept ducking under the deck (Grrr…) but, eventually, I got them all settled back in with a fresh bed of hay in their nests to keep warm, fresh water and fresh food.

Or so I thought…

Taffy spends most of her time underneath what used to be a rabbit hutch in the barn. It is low to the ground and, as I use a deep litter method* here to help insulate during the winter months, Taffy has built herself a cozy little nest here. More intent on just getting everyone into the barn so I could go back to Sargent Feathers, I did not look under the hutch to ascertain that she was in her usual spot. On the next trip to the barn, I did a more thorough headcount and discovered her missing!

One can imagine the panic and the usual berating I gave myself. Fortunately, she had crawled under the barn (There is a low spot right near the barn door (barn is really a shed re-purposed as a barn) where she often nests in warmer weather). It is a shallow area, she was easy to reach and, more fortunate, she was hale and hearty, chirping away to me as I picked her up and carried her into the house. Though she did not have any frostbite, I don’t know how long she was under there and her Silkie feathers were damp.

She and Sargent Feathers are now shacking up in the kitchen just below Smoky Bones the Cockatiel’s cage. Smoky isn’t too sure about his new roommates. Master of Mimicry, Smoky has been known to “cluck” and “cackle” like the chickens pecking around in the yard in summer, searching for worms and bugs; let’s hope he doesn’t learn how to mimic Sargent Feathers’ lusty “Cock-a-Doodle-Doo” that greeted us “in stereo” the moment I turned on the kitchen light before dawn…

I’m taking heart from it though; perhaps I found Sargent Feathers just in the nick of time. It sure sounds like it.

A very Happy New Year 2018 to Everyone…may God bless you & keep you!

*Deep litter method is spreading a layer of pine shavings on the floor of the barn/coop and just adding layers over their waste and discarded hay and allowing it to slowly compost. Sounds gross; compost is warm and insulating and, if done correctly, there is no build-up of any harmful bacteria or moisture. There is also a ridge vent all along the roof of the barn for any moisture to escape if necessary. In spring, it makes a nice addition to the garden.

Bunny Salve

Equal parts organic Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) and Plantain (Plantago major or Plantago lanceolata) (This is the grass-like plantain found in most lawns, not the banana-like fruit found in grocery stores, which is Musa x paradisiaca…).

Using a double boiler (or a small stainless steel sauce pan (Please do NOT use non-stick cookware, or cast iron, when making herbal decoctions…) in about 1/2 – 1 inch of water in a larger sauce pan), on low heat, cover the herbs with olive oil (if using beeswax) or, you may melt a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil then add the herbs (again, very low heat; avoid scorching or boiling herbs…if they scorch, dispose of scorched herbs in the compost bin and start again on a lower heat setting). Allow them to slowly simmer for 45 minutes, covered. Strain when done, saving the liquid. If using coconut oil, simply add a couple of drops of Vitamin E oil to preserve and pour into a glass jar (short and squat is best size/style). The coconut oil will solidify as it cools. If using beeswax, pour the oil back into the pan and, on lowest heat setting, add about 1 inch squared piece of beeswax to 8 ounces of oil and slowly melt it; stir; pour into glass jar and add a couple of drops of Vitamin E oil; stir again.
(Word of caution: Do NOT pour any unused beeswax…or any unused salve made with beeswax…down the drain, or attempt to wash the pan with the beeswax and oil in a sink; you will never unclog the drain again without the very costly assistance of a plumber having to replace said piping. It is biodegradable and non-toxic; use a kettle of hot water to rinse the pan outside. Also, it is highly flammable; never leave it unattended when heating on the stove.)

This salve has worked wonders for urine scalding, chapped combs and wattles, chapped hands, lips, and even diaper rash (although, for the latter, I often add equal parts of calendula (Calendula officinalis) and St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum); these last two are not recommended for animal use but work well on human skin).

“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.”

A-a-a-Achoo!

“Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you. In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh He rested. That is why the Lord has blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20: 8-11)

Inevitable, I guess, that I should catch the same head cold as is floating around the museum. Also inevitable that it should be slowly evolving into laryngitis. “Inevitable” because laryngitis seems to be the plague of all singers.

You sing.

You get sick.

You lose your voice.

Granted, I’m not singing “pro” anymore. Or even semi-pro. So this doesn’t really affect me on any professional level. But the vox always takes the hit. Regardless. You’d think, given my voice doesn’t get the same routine workout it received when I sang in bands, that I might avoid the laryngitis once in a while. But, apparently, it doesn’t work that way.

And all of this nonsensical gibberish has nothing to do with the fact that I’m sitting here on the Sabbath using my “other” voice, the voice of a writer…and, technically, WORKING.

It doesn’t feel like work. It feels like fun.

Does that count?

Probably not…

However, I am rejoicing to be back at the keyboard. Blessed be the Name of the Lord. And, while I lament this illness that keeps me away from serving Communion this morning (I am scheduled), I also appreciate that His plan is greater than mine. He knows I have a cold. He knows some part of me is rundown and has been ignoring that “rundown”, stressed out state for quite some time now. He also knows that my heart is rejoicing to be back serving Communion–and Lectoring–again but, I believe in my heart, He is reminding me what happens when we neglect our health–mental, emotional, physical and, yes, spiritual. We get hit with dis-EASE. (You can take the girl out of the holistic health sector but you can’t take the holistic health out of the girl…) Just as each of us is a part of the body of Christ, so, too, does our own physical body have many parts…parts that need care, rest, and respect. When we neglect any part of ourselves, it causes a breakdown on all of these levels. Time constraints, and the current compromises of some core values, have caused this breakdown. It is time to put it right. And come up fighting.

But He says rest for right now. We’ll fight this together…whatever “this” is..in His time.

Not mine.

I think He’s trying to tell me to stop chasing my own tail. Give it all to Him: the financial burdens; the looming debts; the dreams and desires that always seem to get further away instead of closer; the feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, and unworthiness; the perpetual square-peg-in-a-round-hole existence. Give it all to Him. Because, without Him, none of it matters. Those dreams just keep getting further away. And it is more important that He not be pushed further and further away by the pressures of the world.

Because I’ve neglected to put Him first in my day.

Letting go, giving control to anyone–even God–has always been my biggest struggle in life. I grew up in an abusive home–not beaten physically but verbally, mentally, emotionally and sexually abused. Staying tight-fisted, and playing it “safe”, has given me a very false sense of security. Every time I decide to step into the waters of life, take a step out of line, I expect fire and brimstone to rain down upon my head. Such stinking thinking is probably my biggest burden of all. And yet, I let the Adversary lure me with it. I stop just before making that final leap of faith, not trusting that Jesus is there to catch me. Each and every time.

I’m tired of that “standard of living” that “somehow got stuck on survive” (Kilcher, 1998). “We were made to thrive” (Casting Crowns, 2014). And, the only way to do that, is to let go…and trust in Him. All of my own efforts just keep burying me deeper.

These last two months, besides being somewhat of a tedious task in re-reading and editing past posts, have also been a time of reflection. I can almost trace the path of how I got into this human survival mode…instead of a spiritual thriving. I also see where I’ve often shared mostly the positive, the upbeat, the hopes and dreams, but seldom the failures. And He uses the failures, the imperfections. It is the down-trodden that He uses; He lifts them up, performs small (and some not so small) miracles through them. And in them.

To further His kingdom.

I keep chasing my tail, doing the same thing over and again…and expecting a different outcome. They say that’s a definition of insanity. I invite God to take control. Then, when everything is going smoothly, I push away from Him and try to take hold of the reins again. “I’ve got this now.” As if I can do a better job this time than He can. When has that ever proved true?

Definitely a definition of insanity.

He really does work in mysterious ways. I set out on what I thought would be a tedious task, intent only on removing any and all specific mentions of my current employer, so that their brand may not be compromised by anything written in this blog. I’ll confess even to some rebellion in the act: a refusal to give free advertising to that brand as well. More stinking thinking, of course, but He uses even that…and brings it around to more right thinking. No one person, or entity, is right or wrong…or perfect. It is our imperfections that make us whole…and beautiful. That doesn’t mean we quit trying to do right, to make right, or perfect; to alleviate suffering; feed the hungry, etc. But if we take that right or wrong, that imperfection, that suffering and hunger, and place it in His hands, the fight is already won. Sort of appropriate that I should finally complete this “tedious” task, this unexpected reflection and awakening, on New Year’s Eve day. I may have laryngitis but my fingers are singing across this keyboard. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

What a great way to start a new year.

May God bless you & keep you!

REFERENCES

Casting Crowns (2014). “Thrive.” Thrive. Beach Street/Reunion.

Kilcher, J. (1998). “Deep Water.” Spirit. EMI Music Publishing.

My Apologies for the Delay…

Good morning (or whatever time of day it is in your part of the world…)

In the middle of some major “renovations” here on this blog. As soon as they are completed, I will certainly include more information about them. For the time being, I thank everyone for their patience. New content will be added soon.

In the meantime, keep working towards that faith-filled, sustainable and compassionate future. We CAN be the change we wish to see in the world.

May God bless you & keep you!

19th Century Reality

“O my people, listen to my teaching. Open your ears to what I am saying. For I will show you lessons from our history, stories handed down to us from former generations.” (Psalms 78:1-4)

I tend to over-romanticize earlier times in history. Sure, there’s a lot to be said for a quiet, peaceful walk where no motorcars pollute the air, assault our ears with their constant rumble, and the threat of being struck down by one is non-existent. There’s something to be said for growing your own food, knowing where it came from, knowing what’s in it, and knowing how to preserve it for the winter months when nothing grows. There’s an art to cooking. Sadly, many in our society no longer take the time to learn that art. They’re too busy to slow cook anything; nuke for 3 minutes instead…and watch most, if not all, of the nutrition evaporate. And, as mentioned in yesterday’s post, the craftsmanship that went into everything! Today’s styles, whether we’re talking clothing, or furnishings, or even architecture, are–in my not-so-humble opinion–bland. There’s no attempt at individuality. Everything is churned out in a factory so that every house, every sofa, every pair of jeans is often identical to the next. The only difference may be that this house is blue and its neighbor is yellow. So, I lament the loss of such craftsmanship.

However, yesterday afternoon, I spent some time reading some of the literature in the herb garden “office”. “Office” because it’s really the basement to another exhibit, but it has been converted into a part-garden shed, part-gardening library and, yes, part-office. Some of what I read, I already knew but it was kind of sobering all the same:

Every family could expect to lose at least one child in infancy…mostly due to bacterial infections and viruses, of which infants have not developed immunity against and, of course, there’s no real hospital with today’s pre- and post-natal care.

Every family could also expect to lose at least one child before the age of 21 because one out of every five children never got the chance to grow up due to childhood diseases. I often criticize certain vaccinations–usually the flu vaccine and, in this case, I will continue to do so–but, while some of the vaccinations we received as children may cause some unpleasant conditions and/or side effects, they also save lives. I, for one, would not want to contract tuberculosis–what was called “consumption” in the 1800’s. Consumption was one of the biggest killers in the 19th century.

Diseases like malaria and cholera took the lives of hundreds of people each summer. When was the last time we heard of anyone contracting cholera? There’s something to be said for public sanitation, too.

Women between 20 and 45, their childbearing years, were always at risk of losing their lives in the birthing process.

Menstrual pain, PMS and menopause were treated with patent medicines. These were primarily alcohol-based “remedies” prescribed by doctors to suppress certain symptoms. And, as anyone knows who has had alcoholism in their family, sometimes the effect is not calming but the basis for more irrational behavior.

One could practice medicine without a license, without even a formal education. The herbalist in me says this one isn’t so bad. No, I don’t want a surgeon cutting me open without ever having received formal training to do so but I don’t mind being able to tincture a few herbs together and being allowed to call it “medicine” instead of “remedy” or “supplement”. However, doctors of the 19th century were of two extremes. Some were merely learned herbalists who, rather than just the more benign plants like chamomile, mint and fennel that nearly everyone knew and trusted, employed harsher herbs. One such fellow, Samuel Thomson, believed the body must first be purged of all ill humors and then heated up because he believed that cold was the enemy. So he prescribed, almost exclusively, first, Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) to induce violent and copious vomiting and diarrhea (Lobelia inflata has since been proven to be quite toxic) and then followed it up with a heavy dose of Cayenne Pepper (Capsicum annuum). He was incarcerated for murder when one of his patients died but then acquitted when nobody on the jury panel could readily identify Indian tobacco. The other side of medicine in the 1800’s used mineral-based remedies like calomel (Mercurous chloride), which had pretty much the same effect on the patient as Lobelia inflata. Bloodletting, purging and blistering were other orthodox methods of “healing”, methods that often sped a patient on their way by further weakening the victim. Lastly, though surgeons were often quite skillful, even in the 1800’s, the risk of infection was great and I, for one, would not like to endure such surgeries without the use of anesthetics.

Lastly, as a woman, the 1830’s hold less appeal, not enough to taint my joy in learning the skills and donning the beautiful outfits of the time, but because I’m simply far too independent to leave myself at the mercy–or lack thereof–of my closest male relative for my care. There were strict boundaries between women’s work and men’s. There was little to no industry for women at all (though the rapidly-growing textile industry was changing this). A widow living alone, even if she could figure out how to manage a plow on her own, hired out for the job instead; that just wasn’t woman’s work and one might appear “unseemly”. I face some of this same discrimination today as there are certain “stations” within the museum that women are strictly prohibited from learning: tin smithing, pottery, coopering and blacksmithing are a few of them. These were men’s tasks and so, in an effort to stay true to the time period, modern women are pretty much denied these skills. (Funny how we bend that period correctness when women are needed to “clerk” at the store and for a Christmas program during a time period when Christmas would not have been commonly celebrated in New England…but that’s another post for another day…) What’s that old expression? “We’ve come a long way, baby!”

May God bless you & keep you!