Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October 10, 2010

I'm sure numerologists found 10/10/10 a remarkable day. Thinking of 'tens' reminds me of a couple different times in my life -

1. Units and tens in grammar school math classes. I recall workbooks with die cut single blocks (units) and stacks of ten blocks (tens) and a ten by ten grid of blocks (hundreds). The private school I worked at a few years ago had blond wooden blocks for the same use. That's the difference between a public school in Rahway and a private school in Princeton area.

2. A short-lived basement-only band named Tens Unit that I sang for circa mid 1990s. Unfairly or maybe fairly, the band was named for the Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation unit that a bandmate's unpopular boss used to control pain.

3. An odd, very odd co-worker at a Phillipsburg bookstore asking my birthday, and replying, "You were born ten days and ten years after me. We must be connected in some way." My brows furrowed, and I excused myself. A 29 year old guy saying this to a young woman 10 years his junior - well, I interpreted that as "I'm going to stalk you." I never spoke to him again, and he was fired for throwing hardcover books at another female co-worker just a week later.

4. Here's a photographic tour of 10/10/10:


Laundry. Lots of similar-looking socks.


A long shot of "the other side of the house." Most of the clutter is cropped out of this image.

Photographs to be framed for an upcoming exhibit Jared and I are in.

Horrendous graphic design.

Framing hardware and one of our to do lists.

The framing process takes up yet another room.

Mullein seeds collected before I knew they were fish poison and had no medicinal value.

More herbal homework - primrose seeds, still not processed as of today.

Lavendar wands and amaranth seedheads - partially processed as of today.


Jared's seed collection.

Beets form the garden. Top left, okra seeds, still awaiting processing for seed or craft.

Hot pepper harvest - finally processed into paste and pickles after tasting a friend's homemade hot sauce.

Burdock root tea. Supposed to be good for you. Started as tan, but turned green while we were in the garden. "Not bad tasting. Good for you. Yeeeach."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A flat, easy walk

At the shallow end of the reservoir lies East Area at Round Valley Recreation Area. A developed picnic area just a short distance from the beach. Mid-morning on a Monday in October.

We arrive in the first parking lot that looks like an accessible picnic spot with a view of the water. Crows reel around a solitary red tailed hawk. Canada geese paddle far off. We open our tubs of cheese and crackers and pasta; we switch after a few forkfuls. A Cooper's hawk perches in a tree just off the reservoir.

An osprey whirls by, low and lands in another tree facing the reservoir. We bite into an Asian pear and apple each. We alternate between eating and watching with our binoculars.

From a nearby tree, the Cooper's hawk leaves her perch and scatters a murder of crows from the parking lot. She lands in a maple, perches, and flies on. I scan the sky for ducks and hawks.

"Osprey! Osprey! Osprey!" Jared exclaims. I drop my binoculars into my lap.

I see the osprey about 20 feet above the water's surface, and then splash into the reservoir. Only the birds talons and legs break the surface. Away the osprey flies with a fish glinting in his grip. The crows ignore the osprey, we wonder why and we wonder why the osprey flies away to eat.

Water Trail--the reservoir becomes deeper and we observed no water birds, but fishermen and kayakers paddled by as the clouds gathered.

We take the flat and easy Water Trail which follows the water's edge. In a cheerful mood, the mixed coniferous plantation reminds us of Maine, with many invasive plants and without the bog plants and the long drive. Some of the Chinese bushclover has been parasitized -- dozens of stems show grotesque swelling. Could be great news.

Black locusts, sycamores, and red cedars grow along the shore.

A robust patch of mountain mint. Virgina mountain mint also grows at Round Valley. We noticed the aroma of Virginia mountain mint is not minty.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Signs of our selves

On my fourth trip into the basement today, I stopped at the base of the steps and asked myself, "Now, why am I down here?"

Pause. "May be I'll go back upst... oh, now I remember."

I looked around for the fire tending set - broom, shovel, coal rake, poker, and stand. I grabbed the hand bellows, but left the heavy, red kettle. I thought about how Jared rarely hangs up the tools on the stand after using them. And, last winter how I asked him to "try to remember to" hang up the tools when he was finished.

"Try to remember to" is the way we, married people, succinctly say, "This, this little gesture means something to me, not sure why, though it doesn't mean that much to you, and I am fairly certain that you will forget this request and I will ask again..." or kindly say, "Just once could you...?"

As I bumble up the steps, fireplace tools clattering, I also remember how we instated the household policy "Follow Through" in 2009. "Follow Through" is an extension of the desperate "Stewardship of the Home" initiative.

One weekend day, as we ate in the dining room which is entry to the house, I glanced around at piles of shoes and work-related backpacks, tools and papers. "You know, I really don't like seeing all this work stuff on the weekend. Maybe we should put away our work items as soon as we come home." We agreed. Away went the clippers, GPS, reminders to email so-and-so, nitrile gloves.

We also agreed to eliminate or minimize work talk between ourselves and with friends. (My brother has a no work talk policy with his friends. He claims to not know what some of his friends do for a living. Jared's sister says that work talk is considered rude and/or unimportant among friends in Germany.) Avoiding work talk is sometimes difficult and sometimes essential because our work is so similar, often involving the same ecosystems, if not the same nature preserves, the same colleagues, and the same problems. We also give each other sometimes helpful, sometimes unsolicited (read: unhelpful) advice.

Out of our efforts to limit work-related stimulation on time off, we established Follow Through - routine household maintenance. For example, shoes are kicked off next to the shoe rack, and follow through is needed as that shoes are put away. Unless the situation is escalating, one of us can gently and humorously remind the other by simply saying, "Follow through, kid, follow through." I will honestly say that it is mostly me that says this. Jared is not at all a messy person, but I am overly neat and overly willing to apply my standards to others.

Stewardship of the Home is reserved for serious cases of household disarray, as in "The carpet needs a controlled burn." or "Prescribed fire required to limit the thatch of papers on the desk." or "The toilet needs to be basal barked." Typically, the house has become so disorganized that we both agree to "steward the home."


In July, I made a chicory flower essence for my herbal apprenticeship. It is powerful. It gave me strength, flexibility and perseverance akin to the plant itself. I used it on days I knew I would need those characteristics. I also found it gave me physical strength to do a particular martial exercise that I formerly had only been able to partially complete.

Chicory is one of the 38 Bach Flower Remedies, and so its uses and personality are defined. Without researching its defined uses, I established what I thought chicory essence was to be used for, as was required for our homework.

I described my experience to my teacher and classmates. "Did you ever read what chicory essence is used for?" "No," I replied. She read about chicory from one of her books. As I best I can remember chicory is for those who mother from a judgmental and corrective angle, and could learn to let those around them be as they are, and love them regardless.

Flower essences are generally used regularly to be most effective. Since preparing the mixture, I have added chicory essence to my water, once to a few times a week.


While he prepared to leave for an evening meeting an hour ago, Jared asked me to fill a water bottle and to add chicory essence. I added a couple drops to my glass of water and sipped. Before he left he said, "Oh, the fire caught nicely. You can damp down the vent."

As he drove away, I waved from the front door, considered making a phone call, but instead shuffled to the computer, intending to research alteratives and tonics. I sat down at the computer and noticed the poker laying on the hearth, next to the stand. I thought of my husband and smiled.