Monday, July 26, 2010

NW Herbfest 2010

This is the Kitchen Lecture "Hall"
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...mostly the best. I made a decision to stay in a hotel instead of camping. I also declined to purchase the meals, not because they aren't good, (they are!), but because at more than $20 per meal it was simply too expensive. I brown bagged it! Plus I was able to bring my own snacks and that turned out to be a good thing too.

It also meant I could spend more money at the vendors tables! I got some stuff to take home to mom since she had to withdraw due to back surgery. This included a booklet of the Symposium notes provided by each speaker. Some are very complete, others not so much. But it is valuable tool to reference during the lectures.

On Saturday I took:

Wound Care by Kelly Marie Fitzpatrick BSN, MPS, ND
Class Description: We will discuss the physiology of wound care and the rationale for botanicals as well as nutritional supplements that are important in wound care.

I liked that she referred to inflammation (both outer and inner) as a type of wound and how an acute case can turn into a chronic case with conventional treatment. She was very emphatic that we should help our patients with life style changes NOW before things deteriorate to an "end care" type situation in the hospital. However I thought she was much too exclusionary in her vocabulary. She could have spoken much more plainly instead of using medical jargon.

Herbs & Improving Tissues Of The Body by Heather Nic an Fhleisdeir
Class Description: This lecture focuses on the main types of tissues in the body and the herbs that best improve their function and structural stability.

I thought this was one of the best lectures. I have read so many conflicting and confusing diagnostic methods. Her's was the best and easiest I've come across. She has a biochemist mother and a science researcher sister. Also she is the Head of Faculty at the Academy of Scottish Herbalism and has her own shop in Eugene.

Ayurvedic Basics for the Gastrointestinal Tract by Cascade Anderson Geller
Class Description: Digestive stimulants and much more, this class will feature the medicinal wonders hiding in the kitchen and the details to help you get the most medicinal effect from them.

I got some good information from this class, but kind of felt it was a gabfest. At a later class she stated she was kind of unhappy about how she did in this one. Overall she did give some excellent advice but obviously 1.5 hours is really not long enough for this particular instructor. I mean that in the best way. She likes to thoroughly explain an aspect of the subject before moving on. Ayurveda is an ancient Hindu system based on the 3 Basic Nature types or Doshas - Vata (Air), Kapha (Water) and Pitta (Fire). Actually she described it as a life style rather than "medicine" as often it really involved the kind of food one ate.

Lemon Balm

As a side note, I'm kind of ambivalent about Asian herbal systems overall. Not because I don't think they have value but because I wonder about the need or effectiveness when I can't grow the herbs myself. I tend to want to know more about can be grown here, and how things that DO grow here naturally were really used. That said, I have more of an interest for Ayurveda than Chinese Herbal tradition.

Tea Blending for Health and Pleasure by Jane Bothwell
Class Description: Learn to make teas that taste good and have fabulous medicinal effects. From the experience of blending teas for many years I will share with you my insights into formula making for effectiveness and pleasure.

This was a nice class and she has a quick and easy formula for tea blending. She also had examples of fresh and dried teas. I liked she suggested making popsicles and ice cubes too! What is delightful ise she freely gives away her recipes for specific teas, over 18 of them! She runs the The Dandelion Herbal Center in Arcata CA.

On Sunday I took:

Biphasic Formulas, How to Build Them, How to Use Them by Robin DiPasquale N.D., RH (AHG)
Class Description: This class will cover the principles of building biphasic formulas, discussing the various categories of herbs to use in developing a biphasic formula - steroidal saponins, phytoestrogenic herbs, liver herbs, circulatory stimulants, adaptogenic herbs, nervines.

I liked this class alot as well. Biphasic formulas are (as I understand it) are complementary formulas for the Follicular (Dark moon to Full moom-Estrogenic) and Luteal (Full moon to Dark moon-Progesteronic). This was a totally new concept for me and I found it very interesting. She is on the staff at Bastyr University near Seattle (although she lives in Wisconsin!) and has her own website here.

The Pharmacy in the Pantry by Cascade Anderson Geller
Class Description: This class will feature the medicinal wonders hiding in the kitchen and the details to help you get the most medicinal effect from them.

I liked this class alot better. It was another very interesting history lesson. This time it was about spices and it's violent and sad history. (Hint-the Dutch are not nice). She gave some very good and specific advice about grinders for spices and how to cook with them. I also learned that insects and most animals do not like spices. They seem to used by and for specifically humans and how to help us eat and live well!

Sensing The Chemistry In Herbs By Heather Nic an Fhleisdeir
Class Descriptions: The same colors, tastes, aromas and textures that stimulate our senses give us clues about the chemistry of an herb. We’ll cover the primary herbal chemical constituents, what they are known to do, how to best extract them and give examples of which herbs contain them.

I thought this class was good, but did not really go too much into the color, tastes or smells of the herbs. It was more about the chemical family trees and whether they were best soluble in water or alcohol (depends on what you want to get out of them of course!). The best thing I took away was to start just doing it. Empirical practice is the best way to judge if something is effective or not. Unfortunately my phone rang twice near the end of the class! I was so mortified.


I had to leave early to go to work at home so could not take the very last class. Frustratingly, there was traffic, a wreck (not us!) and technical problems which prevented me from working at all! There was a bit of a freak out that we will try not to repeat. However overall this was a much better experience than last time. Evidently Ms. Tilger is going to skip next year so this is the last NW Herbfest until further notice...

Later I will post reviews of some audio CD's I order for classes I couldn't take:
1. Golden Boughs - Medicinal Trees by Cascade Anderson Geller
2. GynEcology by McQuade Crawford
3. First Aid in the Field by Wren Davidson

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Midsummer, Father's Day and Graduation!

Wow, things are happening so fast here I thought I should update this darn page before the craziness of July kicks in! For a fun way to celebrate Midsummer, look no further than a transplanted Latvian who writes about it here. Be sure to watch the fun beer commercial at the bottom of her post!

Today we took a family trip to the Mary Hill Museum just up the Gorge. It was so nice because it was SUNNY! There was a strong wind blowing, but it was pleasantly warm. The peacocks were out wandering around the grounds and it was nice to view the exhibits again.

One that is very interesting is the Theatre de la Mode, which is a 1945/1946 Fashion collection by the Haut Coutureirs of the day. They didn't have enough money, materials or models to put on a full fashion show right after WWII but wanted to make sure France retained it's title as "Fashion Capital of the World"!

Everything is really authentic - the shoes are leather as well as the purses. The dresses and hats are made with exquisite detail. They made sets for them, (now mostly lost) some of them by quite famous people like Jean Cocteau. The collection was rediscovered by some bigwig from New York or Paris. They redid the sets from old photos and put them on tour in the 90's.

In addition to all that, there are always rotating visiting exhibits, Rodins, Native American Basketry, various items from the turn-of-the-century Queen Marie of Romania (which includes a Russian Revolution vandalized portrait of her relative, Czar/Tsar Nicholas II-they slice up his face!) and other little odds and ends of things rich eccentric people might collect.

We enjoyed the Sculpture Gardenon the Museum grounds by giving our Father's Day gifts to our favorite Dad and Grampa (my dad). The Beaniac spent alot of time complaining, as teenager are wont to do, but a mostly good time was had by all. We stopped at Hood River for a bite to eat, then in Cascade Locks for some ice cream cones. Then finally a long drive home back to RAIN!

Last but not least, here is a graduation picture of the Beaniac. There were nearly 600 kids and 4 LONG speeches but it is now done! I can't believe she will be leaving in a couple months for her great college career! I know she's excited about it, and I am too. She has a white cord for the Health Careers path she completed. They went to an all night grad party right after. They had lots of fun, very little food and many happy memories.

*"Lupines?! We don't want any bloody lupines. We want food and money!"
( If you get this reference, you win 5 points...of something...may some stinky cheese or a dead parrot!)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Astoria 'n' More!

My wonderful husband and I finally took some time out to be together and just rest. We chose Astoria as our 'do-nothing' vacation get-away and had a fine time pretty much doing that! We ate at some old favorite places: lunch on the way down at in Clatskanie (that's klats-KAN-eye for you non-Oregonians) at Humps and breakfast at Andrew & Steve's near the Waterfront. We also found some new great places we plan to re-visit again, perhaps in the summer. I was able to do some shopping at a cool place called Gypsy's Whimsy

Gypsy's Whimsy Astoria 2010

The proprietor was a very helpful lady who had very good herbal supplies. I was able to buy several herbs (Mullein, Nettles, Oregon Grape Root and Red Clover) in small quantities to try at home for different remedies. She has a very interesting store with all kinds of things that a pagan like me would be interested in: Day of the Dead figurines, Tibetan Singing bowls, Moroccan spice chests, handwoven textiles and natural body products. Just a door down was another store I loved as well, Terra Tones , where I purchased a lovely blue Peacock cut velvet scarf for OCF this year. I also got a neat Oak Man plaque and a bracelet for our daughter.

Pink Sweater

Window shopping in Astoria is fun too and I was able to grab a couple pictures of some interesting items: The pink sweater has a really beautiful pin on it and the picture doesn't do it justice. It has a long feathery loft and looks like it is made from Angora or a similar yarn. Down the street was a neat thrift store in an old pharmacy space with some very pretty shoes I would have liked to buy...but they were a very impractical color!

White Shoes

Although nothing was playing the ONE weekend we were there, they have some great shows at the Liberty Theatre, which was recently renovated in 2002. It is just down the street from the Hotel Elliott (itself restored in the late '90's). You can also see next door the sign for the "Rusty Cup" coffee shop, a nice comfortable place to hang out and read all the books or magazines you never buy at home!

Liberty Theatre 2010

Finally as an sewing enthusiast, I found a fascinating thing about the paintings in our room...they were embroidered as well! Here is a picture of the largest one (they were all done by "Ronnie"), which has punch needle trees, and straight stitch outlines of the houses and fencing. The artist used silver metallic thread at the water line on the farside near the mountains. The effect is very 3-D but soft and unassuming. It took me a whole day to realize there was something different about them....I can't wait to go back to discover more things!

Room Painting/Embroidery 2010

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween & The Day of the Dead

We had a wonderful Halloween Party, lots of fun and got to reconnect with friends and family. So here are all the pictures....

I won my work costume contest with this picture...I put on lots of make up so maybe I didn't frighten them! I have a Raven on my at and the wall plaque is a miniature reproduction of the Leaky Cauldron sign from Harry Potter. My prize was a copy of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas!

This was one of several lanterns I had out in the yard. I think the words kind of set the theme for the event...which lent itself to the short ritual we had.

This is a close up of Snabby's costume, as a "Ditch Witch" (a kind of digger tool company we have around here). I wanted him to go as a "Witch Gynacologist", but he decided to go with a less provocative outfit!

All three of these pumpkins we grew in our backyard, so the didn't cost us anything. Beaniac made the spiral-eyed one, her boyfriend made Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Snabby made a girl from the Fruity Oaty Bar commercial (in the film Serenity). They were a hit!

Here's our friends Becca (The Big Cheese) and Bob (Le Chef). He's reading my Day of the Dead pamphlet to get an idea of how to decorate his sugar skull. Isn't he studious? You can see a glimpse of the festive "papel" with Danse Macabre themes at the top of the picture.

This is a cute picture of the Beanic (as a mouse) and her boyfriend (as...surprise! a high school Marching Band member!). They had to go to a competition that day, but were able to get off early, enjoy the party and even go trick-or-treating!

Finally, here is a picture of our Day of the Dead altar. This is after our guests brought out the lighted votive candles and placed them beside the picture of their choice. Little colored corn, the aroma of Ginger Pumpkin wax melts and burning herbs (Calendula for Healing, Rosemary for Remembrance, Wheat for the Harvest time, and Rose Petals for End of Summer/Remembrance)were offerings for our Sacred Dead.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Autumn has arrived....

Field in the main campground area

Well the colder, darkening days are truly upon us, and a post about my experiences at the Northwest Fall Equinox Festival (NWFEF) is long overdue! To set the mood, here are a couple blog posts I've really enjoyed: a wonderful ode to the season, with some beautiful pictures and a second one which is a decidedly more Pagan take on the harvest.

I genuinely appreciated my time at the old YMCA Youth Camp site at Silver Falls State Park (where the Festival was held), with one exception - the field in which tenters must camp was also the site of the Drum Circle! If I had known this, I would have been more aggressive about asking someone to share a cabin, instead of waiting until the last night to do so.

Outside of that, I had an amazing time! I met several interesting and remarkable ladies from many walks of life. All had stories to share, and were very non-judgemental about how one might decide to handle life's ebbs and flows; "We're all on a journey, and we're all trying to get through life's challenges the best way we can" was the wisdom I gleaned from all those the stimulating conversations.

Although I hadn't had a real interest in the Hindu pantheon, I deeply enjoyed all the rituals & workshops for the Goddesses that had been prepared. The five Goddesses which had shrines (one in each cabin "neighborhood") were Kali, Deva (a triple personified goddess), Durga, Parvati and in the main area, the Goddess of Prosperity, Laxmi.

One of the most moving and deeply spiritual workshops was the "Family" one on Friday. At check-in at the gate, attendees were given a handmade token necklace with a randomly assigned number on the back. This number became a "Family" number (approximately 10 people per number); and at the designated time and place for that number, all the "Family" members met with a facilitator/leader and did some preparation for the days ahead. One part of the workshop involved each participant moving into the center of a circle while all the other people gently placed their hands on the center person while repeating 3 times:

"We will hold you until you soften."
"We will love you until you begin to melt."
"We will sing to you until you remember peace."

It was a totally incredible experience and really put me in the mindscape of the Festival. Did I mention this took place in the Tantric Temple? Yes, my "Family" place to meet was the MOST BEAUTIFULLY DECORATED temple of the whole campground IMHO. Later I participated in a group ritual at that same temple before the main Saturday night ritual, (again, as sort of a mental preparation for the evening). The Priestess presiding over it was amazing and she really loved my dress, which happened to be my wedding dress (an Afghani Nomad design from Folkwear).

Another great part of the Festival was the food! There were many vegetarian and vegan options I tried which I surprisingly enjoyed. I liked it all so much I bought their recipe book, "May You Never Hunger", Harvest Grove Family Favorites. The nice thing about this book is it has "Helpful Hints" and "Cooking Tips" for food preparation throughout the book, often the kinds of things you can find only in old cookbooks.

There was so much more: full moon illuminated nights, a hilarious wedding "ritual"/celebration for a long-time attendee who had just gotten married, the main group rituals each evening, time to rest, perusing the vendors for the perfect Witch's Hat....

I've already decided I want to attend next year, and look forward to celebrating the Autumn Equinox/Mabon with like-minded folks. I also want to have my husband share the experience as well, as participation in the rituals is totally voluntary and the restful natural setting helps refocus the heart and mind in healing ways.

Now onto Halloween!