Monthly Archives: September 2014

Straining Herb-Infused Liquids

I was straining the latest batch of my hair rinse yesterday and had a “duh” moment.

I usually strain any herb-infused liquid by balancing a mesh strainer over a measuring cup (or jar) and lining the strainer with a coffee filter. (Yes, I know those aren’t reusable but they do degrade nicely in my compost bin. They have the added benefit of catching all but the tiniest particles of ground herb – something even an old nylon stocking doesn’t do.)

I wanted to strain directly into the jug I was going to store it in but I can’t do that with the strainer (too large a permeable area) and lining a funnel is a real PITA. Since I was in the kitchen and not down in the shop, the “duh” moment came rather quickly – an old, single-cup coffee doohickey I haven’t used in years sitting, with a box of its filters, on one of the top shelves of my cupboards. One of these (image from Amazon):Single CupThis has the added benefit of sitting squarely on top of whatever you put it on – my mesh strainer has a tendency to slew to one side or another because it’s rounded.

I wouldn’t recommend using this for straining oils. The hole at the bottom is tiny and it would take forever to get oil through first the filter then that small opening. But for infused vinegars, like my hair rinse, or tinctures, it works great. It only took about 10 minutes to cleanly strain a half-gallon of vinegar.

Rearranging Social Media

My personal friends know but I thought I’d make it very public: I’m leaving Facebook.

For quite some time, I’ve been first frustrated, then disgusted with Facebook thinking they’re god (or at the very least, my parents). They decide what I can see when and that includes not showing posts from pages I’ve liked. If I’ve “liked” a page, don’t you think I want to see updates from them? I shouldn’t have to “get notifications” (and that doesn’t always work, either). Over the last several weeks I’ve also noticed that I don’t get to see all my friends’ status updates, or they’ll show up in my news feed 12-24 hours after the actual post. Some of them even appear in my “pages” feed.

The last straw was this bit of news that Facebook was going to deactivate personal accounts that didn’t sport a “real name”. As the article points out, there are tons of reasons to use a pseudonym on the Internet. Although I use my real name, I understand why a lot of people don’t. Some witches aren’t out of the broom closet, nor are LGBTQs out of their closet – for good reason. The Internet has become a place to track down, stalk, harass & threaten. Sure, you can report someone to Facebook but by that time, the damage is already done.

And as for Facebook’s “get a page” to the drag queens? As of this morning, I had 734 likes on my Facebook page. Of the few posts I made in the last week, 10% or less of those likes saw those posts. One page I do get to see some updates from complained that of her over 14,000 likes, less than 100 saw her posts. So, those queens will lose the interaction with their friends/fans by 90% or more unless they pay to promote their posts. It’s about the almighty dollar – something I certainly don’t have. (And if you pay, you still don’t make it into the newsfeed of all your likes. Just a percentage of them – and that’s not a firm guarantee.)

I”ll keep my Facebook page for another month or so and then that will disappear, as well. I’d originally thought to keep it active but I chewed on it overnight & changed my mind. If only 10% of the folks that like my page are seeing my posts, it’s a lot of effort for not a lot of return. I’ve reactivated my Google+ account and I’ll be more active there than Facebook. I’m not going to have a business page on G+ … just separate out what I want the public to see versus my family and friends.

I’m still on Twitter. But, if Twitter decides to curate my timeline based on some algorithm they’ve chosen, I”ll leave there. too.

There is a new social networking site being talked about amongst my friends. It’s called “Ello”. I took a look around what you can see without actually being on there (you need an invite to join) and I can’t find where they plan on making their money. Ads? Selling data? Someone has to pay for at least the domain name & server usage. Until I know how it will operate, I’m not willing to test it. At least I know how the other sites are using my data. (Well, perhaps not but better the beast you know…)

If Facebook is the only way I have to interact with you, I will miss you. But I don’t like the way that site is being run and my only option is to vote with my feet. It’ll also save my sanity a bit – I won’t get frustrated with not seeing things I really wanted to see.

A Cautionary Tale

Necessary disclaimer: This post is my experience and should not be construed as medical advice. Also, I know my own body. Some of my symptoms can be indicative of more serious issues. Please consult your healthcare professional for any health difficulties.

Three weeks ago, I got a urinary tract infection. It happens on occasion, sometimes frequently, as a woman gets older and her natural secretions dry up and even change pH. A real pain, to be sure.

This one didn’t respond quickly to my preferred herbal therapy (massive doses of cranberry extract and gallons of water) and I didn’t want to take any more time trying something else so I called my doctor to get an antibiotic prescription. (UTIs can be dangerous. The bacteria can travel up your urinary tract, into your kidneys and from there to your bloodstream. If you get one and it doesn’t go away within 24 hours on an herbal protocol, call your doctor.) I requested a particular antibiotic that I know works on me and is fairly mild as far as those go.

My doctor is wont to automatically prescribe an anti-fungal when she prescribes antibiotics for women because 9 times of 10, women will get a yeast infection when on an antibiotic regimen. The drugs kill not only the bacteria causing the infection but also upset the rest of the balance in your system. I know from experience that if I eliminate refined sugar from my diet during the 7 days on the drugs plus 2 days afterward, I don’t have to take yet another Rx. (Yeast feeds on sugar.) I did that, complaining about missing my sweets for the whole nine days.

What I forgot, though, is to add a probiotic into my diet to counteract the rest of the imbalance.

Two days into the Rx, I started belching a lot more than normal. I didn’t think much of it until a week ago, a few days after finishing the antibiotic prescription, I was awakened out of a sound sleep at 3am with a bonfire in my chest. I’ve never had heartburn before but damn! Now I feel really sorry for those people who get it frequently. At that hour, in the middle of my sleep cycle, I couldn’t remember my own name, much less what herbs I had in stock that might be good for heartburn. Thankfully, I dug grandma’s solution out of the depths of my brain: a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and a half hour of pacing around the house (to let gravity help get the acid back down where it belongs) and I could finally go back to sleep.

Next night, the same thing. Only this time it was two doses of baking soda and an hour of pacing. I don’t think well without a good night’s sleep so it took those two days for the dime to drop that I’d forgotten the probiotic. You see, for the first time in my life, those antibiotic pills had also disrupted my normal stomach function – something the probiotic would’ve handled if I’d remembered to take it. So, an emergency trip to the store was in order!

Even though the stomach acid problem was brought on relatively quickly, bringing the body and all its integrated systems back into balance doesn’t happen overnight. All that excess acid (and my – sigh – smoking) has irritated my lower esophageal sphincter, bringing on dysphagia. That’s where either something is stuck in your gullet or it feels like something is stuck. I know there’s no blockage because I’m not having any difficulty swallowing food. But it’s really uncomfortable; that irritation has to be calmed while the probiotics do their thing.

So, another trip to the store for some slippery elm powder for its demulcent (soothing) effects. It’s tough to find just a jar of powder locally but I got some in capsules that I can open. One a day into a glass of water. I don’t want to just swallow the capsule & let it get digested – I want that powder sliding past & hitting the irritation. I’ll do this until I feel the irritation is completely gone – probably another couple of days.

Six days into the probiotics and three into the slippery elm and I’m finally feeling something closer to normal. At least I’m able to sleep through the night again. And so are the cats! They definitely were upset that they had to get out of their cozy places to supervise my pacing around a dark house in the middle of the night.

So, if you have to be on an antibiotic for something, be aware that it will not only kill the unwanted bacteria but also the good bacteria normally found in your body.

 

On Cronehood

The Sunday Stew is looking for a crone to contribute to their weekly blog. (If you’re interested, contact Kallan or Jennifer through that site.) Not that I think I have anything interesting to say on a weekly basis but the call got me to thinking…

 

witchonabroom

Google’s definition of crone is, “an old woman who is thin and ugly”. Merriam-Webster? “A withered old woman.” Dictionary.com? “A withered, witchlike old woman.”  Ummm… Definition #2 on Wiktionary.com: “An archetypal figure, a Wise Woman.” Not unflattering, but…

PaganWiccan.about.com discusses crone as the third stage of the triune goddess of Maiden/Mother/Crone. They say the Crone is, ” […] the final stage. She is the hag and the wise woman, the darkness of night, and eventually death. She is the waning moon, the chill of winter, the dying of the earth.”

When I was growing up, crone was (and to a certain extent still is) a derogatory term. I can remember Mom referring to her mother-in-law as “an old crone”. (They didn’t get along.) Sometime later, I understood a crone to be a woman who had passed menopause. Stepdad’s mother qualified in that regard…

Let’s see: I’m thin; I don’t think I’m pretty but I don’t think I’m ugly, either; I’m not withered; outwardly not very witchlike; still learning, so maybe not so wise; but I am past menopause!

Yes, I’m approaching “old” but I’m not there, yet! Body parts may not work the way they used to and I may not be able to stay up all night partying anymore (without paying a heavy price), but my enthusiasm for life certainly hasn’t waned. If anything, it’s waxed.

Two of seven? Not sure I qualify…

No one is ever free from the responsibilities of daily life. My 100-year-old mother-in-law still pays attention to her finances and has a full daily schedule, even though she lives in a nursing home. Okay, perhaps some are. My mother is free from those responsibilities but not in a good way. However, being semi-retired and an empty-nester gives me more freedom to pursue interests I wouldn’t have been able to shoehorn into my schedule twenty years ago and still get a good night’s sleep. I was able to go back to school at age 49 and yet relax in my recliner to read or watch a ball game in the evenings.

(There is a caveat to the above: there are people who are free from the pain-in-the-ass of bill paying, meal-cooking, house maintenance and even child-rearing. They’re called rich and hire others to do such things. I’m not one of them and I suspect you aren’t, either.)

Wise? If you count learning from life’s experiences and making an effort not to repeat mistakes or faux pas as wiser, then yes, I suppose I am. That’s not to say I still don’t put my foot in my mouth far enough to chew my ankle on occasion. But everyone gets wiser in that regard on a daily basis. That’s just part of living. Or should be.

I think the one thing I’ve noticed the most as time has gone by is: issues that used to really bother me are no longer worth the expenditure of energy, either mundanely or magically. As a result, my heart rate stays calmer and major spellwork is rare. I don’t mind little stuff, like reinforcing work I’ve already done but if it comes to something big, I’ll think about it long and hard before I put forth that sort of effort. It’s not being lazy, it’s reserving energy for something truly important. (And maybe just a little lazy on occasion. 😉 )

So, that’s my 2¢ on being a crone. Am I? Are you?