Monthly Archives: March 2011

April Fool’s!

Okay, I’m a day early. So sue me. (On second thought, don’t. I’m not worth the effort.)

Now that the last of the tax sh** is off to the CPA, I’m starting my celebrating today. You see, I realized my lifelong dream of working for myself from home and started my accounting/bookkeeping business on April 1, twenty years ago. My former boss didn’t think I’d last a year. What he didn’t (and still doesn’t) know is that I had an ace in the hole – magic!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – magic is only a tool. You have to do all the mundane things first to accomplish any aim. And I did. I already had two clients that I was working on in the evenings and I asked them to spread the word.  I had a lot of CPA-type contacts that I bugged incessantly for business in the early days. I donned a suit & smile and passed out business cards at innumerable, boring, business meet-and-greet cocktail functions.  I did everything every ‘start-your-own-business’ book tells you to do.

Once that was underway, I retreated to my lair. A bunch of grapes (did you read last week’s post?), a little basil and a green candle took center stage. I don’t remember exactly what I did (I don’t keep a magical journal), but I do remember rubbing a basil leaf on a photocopy of my first check & putting it in the file folder with all my business documentation. (I was too poor to afford essential oil but fresh basil was available at the grocery store.)

I wish I were still in contact with Mr. M. I’d love to chuckle in his face & say “fooled you”! I continue to count those first two people as clients among the rest. Although I’ve busted my rear end over the years, I have to think part of my success was due to a little thing called magic.

 

In Memoriam – Again

36 hours shy of three months later, Nick’s brother, Ivan, passed on.

Both my boys are gone but I know they’re back together and Nick is giving Ivan a good bath … something they both enjoyed when they were on this plane.

In Vino Veritas

In wine [there is the] truth. Given that wine was the alcohol of choice in the early days (distilled spirits didn’t come to the forefront of drunkenness until probably around the 12th century CE), it makes sense that this adage was coined rather than in booze there is the truth. Most folks lose some or all of their inhibition(s) while imbibing spirits. Tacitus (56-117 CE) tells us the Germanic peoples always drank wine during councils, as it was thought no one could effectively lie when drunk. I don’t know about you but my decision-making capabilities deteriorate if I drink so one wonders just how much was accomplished!

Anyways, most people think of grapes when they think of wine and that’s what I want to talk about today. You see, grapes Vitis vinifera are more than just their juice, fermented or unfermented! Recent research has found that grapes, especially the red & purple ones, contain all sorts of good chemical compounds, including antioxidants. They’re thought to help with a variety of health conditions ranging from chronic vein insufficiency to several types of cancer. These chemicals are found in the fruit and seeds with a smaller amount in the fruit skin.

I hope everyone knows that grapes are good food. This knowledge goes back to the Egyptians around 6,000 years ago.  The Greeks praised grape’s healing powers (but they mostly talked about wine – the sots). Grapes have been used since antiquity for nutrition, skin & eye diseases, hemorrhoids, sore throats, cholera, smallpox … you get the idea.

If you live in a climate that will support them, growing your own is a great way to take advantage of all that grapes have to offer. I can nearly always find grapes at the grocery store but the leaves? That’s another matter. You’ll have to look at specialty stores for those – they’re used in Mediterranean cooking. Grape leaves are quite astringent and an infusion of them will help dry up diarrhea and heavy menstrual periods.

The fruits are great for coughs – especially if they’re dried (you know, raisins). They contain some of the astringency of the leaves but more importantly are an expectorant. (Today is Chocolate Covered Raisin Day. If you’ve got a cold or the flu, celebrate!)

Before distilled spirits, wine was used to make tinctures – and still is. If you don’t want to use a distilled alcohol (like vodka), using white or red wine will yield a moderately-strong tincture. Red wine will be more health-beneficial than white but white is sometimes tastier for lighter herbs like Lemon Balm.

Many scientists are now touting the benefits of grapeseed extract. Since the seeds can be quite bitter (and rather hard to chew in certain varieties), this could be a good route to go. A large proportion of the beneficial compounds are concentrated in the seeds and taking this extract can increase the levels of antioxidants in your blood. It’s available in capsules, tablets & liquid extract form – just be sure you get a good quality product. (Don’t give children grapeseed extract but do feed them lots of fresh grapes.)

Although I love eating grapes and drinking wine just for the taste, I find grapes in any form quite useful in spells. Thinking about just how many fruits are in a bunch gives us the idea that they’re good for fertility spells.  Place a bunch on your altar, eat them as part of your ritual, or just put a picture of them in your bedroom. Since I’m past that point in my life, I prefer to use them as non-fertility ‘multipliers’ – either in money spells or for increasing my memory & concentration when I’m studying or working. Eating fresh grapes or raisins; or drinking juice while studying is nutritious as well as helpful. Fermentation probably won’t help your concentration so stick to the straight juice!

Grab that bunch of grapes or bottle of wine and get to work on your body & your mind!

 

Ahhh, Maui!

Nope, you didn’t miss something last week. I was on vacation on Maui, thanks to a trip my husband won through work. Although it was really the wrong time of the year for an accountant to take off, who could pass up an almost free trip to the Hawai’ian Islands?

With a couple of exceptions, we had a blast. 11 hours flying time plus 2.5 hours travel to/from the Atlanta airport is no fun. But once we finally arrived, it was everything the travel brochures tell you, and more.

We spent the first day admiring the sun (my husband irritated a few trumpet fish with his rod & reel) and doing some shopping for me. I had grossly miscalculated what clothing to bring. Yes, I’d looked at the air temperatures online but neglected to take into account the intensity of the sun. It was hot! That evening the company threw a reception/dinner at the hotel. For once it wasn’t in some dull ballroom with the stereotypical rubber chicken. Outdoors on a lawn, serenaded by a trio (including the ubiquitous ukulele) & hula dancers, good food and fruity drinks. No umbrellas, though. They garnish everything with orchids.

One thing that kind of threw me was … the moon was wrong! Having never been that far south, I was unprepared for the waxing crescent not on the right but on the bottom! I tried to take a picture but neither camera would get a good shot. Orion’s belt and the other constellations were pointing the wrong way, too.

Day two took us from beachfront to mountain. We went horseback riding through a pineapple plantation. The views were stupendous! I was really surprised at how quickly the air cooled the higher you got. I was quite comfortable leaving the hotel in a tank top and rather chilled in the shade during the ride.  That evening we went into Lahaina and had dinner at a restaurant frequented by the locals instead of one of the uber-expensive, high-class ones catering to tourists. Frankly, native cuisine is rather bland – at least the plate I had was. Interesting, though. (Yes, the plate included poi. I’d had it in my youth but sampled it again. It still tasted like sour, purple glue.)

That evening is when the sh** hit the fan. We found out about the earthquake and impending tsunami on the bus on the way back. Our driver told us to turn on the news when we got back to our rooms. Emergency sirens started going off about 10pm, the hotel evacuated the bottom four floors & locked down. We were on the 18th floor so we weren’t affected but with the emergency sirens going off hourly and hotel-wide announcements every couple of hours, we didn’t get a lot of sleep. We got up with the 2:45am announcement & sat on the balcony watching for the huge wall of water. It never happened in our location. Although I’m glad it didn’t and the damage elsewhere wasn’t as bad as it could have been, it would have been rather neat to see – we even had the camera ready.

Friday everything finally returned to normal about noon and we went into Lahaina again for a couple of hours of sightseeing. In case you didn’t know, Lahaina is an old whaling port with all sorts of historical places. About the coolest thing I’ve ever seen is the Banyan Tree in its own park.

No one photo can do this tree justice. An excerpt from the plaque:

Shading almost an acre of the park and reaching upward to a height of 60 feet, this banyan tree is the largest in the United States. The tree has spread over the area by way of its aerial roots, which grow into thick trunks when they reach the ground, supporting the tree’s large canopy. There are 16 major trunks in addition to the original trunk in the center.

Friday night we went to a luau. I had heard about them and seen clips on television but nothing can match seeing one in person. This particular company has been doing it for about 20 years and they really know how to put on a show.

Saturday we bid a fond aloha to Maui and headed back to reality. It was a long trip, arriving at the Atlanta airport at 6am Sunday and driving home. I’m still finding sand in things! We do want to go back at some point and rent a car to do more sightseeing.  I’d also like enough time to talk with the local herbalists.  If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend spending the time and money (things are expensive there!).

One last note … I saw this in one of the tourist-trap places. I’m not usually one for bumper stickers but I couldn’t resist. For those of you who don’t speak Hawai’ian, wahine means woman. Rather appropriate, don’t you think? 😉

World Book Day

It’s amazing what pops into the forefront of your brain when wasting time on Twitter. I just happened to notice the trend #worldbookday and a lightbulb went off – great idea for a blog post!

If you haven’t yet noticed, I’ll tell you – I’m an avid reader, as is my husband. Between the two of us, there are in the neighborhood of 500 books scattered around the house – some still in boxes from our move 7 years ago because we don’t have enough shelf space. There are currently 6 books in the stack next to my easy chair, another 15 or so on my Kindle, and probably about 30 downloaded pdf’s on my computer, waiting to be read.  I have a habit of picking up books I think may be interesting anywhere & everywhere, knowing that I’ll get to them at some point. (There is a flea market about a half hour from here whose bookseller could bankrupt me.)

I know some of you read the last paragraph and said to yourself, “DJ got a Kindle? I thought she liked books!” You’re right, I’m old-fashioned and do prefer the feel of a paper-made book but as we’re leaving on vacation next week (with a 10 hour one-way plane ride), I thought a Kindle would be better than taking another suitcase just for books and paying the airline for the privilege. I plan on taking trips in the next few months to see the grandkids as well, so I justified the cost to myself.

What’s in my reading queue? I’m at the tail end of The Templar Revelation by Lynn Pickett & Clive Prince. This is a fascinating look at the Templars, the Cathars, and the Christian faith as a whole, incorporating some of the most recent biblical scholar theories. (Recent being 1997. Devout Christians will hate this book.) Also started is The Magus by Francis Barrett, which is considered to be ‘the’ book on ceremonial (high) magic. Some lighter reading is Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett and for pure munchability, the Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep and a couple of books by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I’ve downloaded the complete works of Aleister Crowley but those will wait until we get back – I don’t think I want to delve into his mind in the bright Hawai’ian sunshine.

Yet to be re-read, absorbed a little more and then entered into my personal herb database is Native American Ethnobotany by Daniel Moerman.  What a huge tome &  fantastic piece of research! It will take me days to do the data entry but will certainly be worth the effort.  I’m also trying to slog my way through Manly Hall’s The Secret Teachings of All Ages but his writing is so ponderous I read a couple of paragraphs and put it down with the thought, “not right now”. I have a feeling that will be a years-long project.

So, are you celebrating World Book Day? What’s in your reading stack?