Life in the house

Quiet Morning Thoughts

It's still dark outside and very quiet (well except for a couple wakeful roosters). The snow fell all day yesterday, ending with freezing rain and wind that brought the white right up to each door. It was funny watching the cats this morning trying to figure out how to walk the edges when there were none. Cleopatra finally climbed into a flower pot just outside the door and sat there for a while. Once she had stayed out for her allotted time she was ready to return to the house and a warm fire. We heat our house solely by wood stoves (one at the back of the house and one in the living room). Both have been blazing this week in our little non-insulated cottage. This time of year more than summer I feel the bliss of living a rural life. We stack wood, we replace frozen water for the chickens and ducks, I look for the last of the apples to help out this year's deer "pets". We live in a mountain village that is just an hour above Portland, Or. As the cost of living rises below many have moved up here making it easy to forget our rural life style. On a quiet morning like this I am fully aware of the forest surrounding me, the snow covered meadow and gardens that I will walk in when the sun rises. I love this magical time of winter day. And hey, it's not even winter yet! Many years the snow doesn't stick very long at our level. This is a fairly temperate spot. Farmer's Almanac is promising a long winter this year however. We are ready with wood, candles, broths for warming soups, herbs for warming teas and put up for healthful needs. I have a stack of books and yarn for projects when the electricity goes out (we had a sweet day this week with no internet and therefore no phone service). It's funny that each season I say this is my favorite season; right now this is. These quieter times force me to slow down. I hate that I even need to use the word "force". But I like many get caught up in life's crazy pace. Trying to pack too much work and friends and family and to do into a daily schedule. This week I let the weather lead me...I canceled everything. As that included house work I'll be taking care of that today;)

Last weekend I took Chicken Coop Botanicals out in public to a holiday market. I hadn't done this before and I loved it! I was happy with sales, but even happier to talk to old friends and new about plants. A friend commented on how happy I look. I said it was because of the lovely chai I was drinking. But really, I am happy and very content. I am doing something I have wanted to do since my early twenties. It wasn't a viable career at the time and I turned that plant energy to my garden; to a career in the kitchen with good food. And then to foraging. And later to plant dyeing yarn and fibers. And now back full circle to working with the plants for medicine. I never really stopped. I have been quietly doing that all these years for family, employees, my animals. I have been drawn to the plants my whole life. And I am full of gratitude that I can take the time to fully realize that dream of sharing plants and their healing with others now. To be able to seek out new teachers and ways of seeing the world and working with plants. I see so many being drawn to working with herbs or drawn back to them as I have been right now. I think it is the times. Things are shifting in the world (they have been for a very long time). As there are some that are shifting to aggression and corporatization there are many that choose to resist, each in their own way. The hope of course is that there will be many more on the Earth side of this shift; that we will see a brighter future when all is said and done. In what way will you make this shift in your life? How can you be happier? live a more content life?

The sky is shedding light on the snowy ground, the rooster beckons a bit louder. Time for me to move on to the projects of the day. I began recording a podcast yesterday. Since last I did that Garage band has updated and I now have a learning curve I was not expecting (yuck). But I will have one flying through the iTunes channels today. With their holiday schedule we'll see how long that takes for you to receive it. I have been filling the shop with items daily this month. I have begun with all those wellness products that would be helpful during times of strife, stress and for celebration:) The next newsletter will be heading out soon. Make sure you subscribe! There are coupons, items and news that only arrive through that outlet. I've also been considering a little popup shop the next two Sundays at Gino's. The dining room is closed between 2-4. Would you stop by? This will only happen if I receive feedback that you all might be interested.

A Seasonal Transition

Personally I love these transition points of the year. As a child not so much. A Leo, I looked forward only to summer. I was a sun loving baby spending most of every year at the beach, hating the end of the season. By my twenties I learned to embrace the joys to be had in every season. And now in my 50's I thrive at these pivots! I look forward to what is possible with each coming season whether it is the planning of a new garden or embracing the activities that come with the darker times of the year. Like waking up to a fire in the wood stove in Autumnimg_5649 This year there was a snap and summer was done. We have been so busy over the last couple weeks harvesting and processing plants of all sorts from the garden and from foraging. I increased my medicinal herbs 5 fold this year and there are just so many places I have to dry herbs in this moist climate. We also increased our vegetable growing space and I have found it is time to invest in a new freezer. We will be eating wonderful bean soups this year! img_5639 As I age I actually find myself feeling stretched at the end of a season, especially the end of summer. I know the activities will change with the cooling weather of Autumn and I just want to get there, embrace it, fully immerse myself in wool and reading and hot mugs of tea. Now that it has arrived I am almost giddy with putting the garden to bed (I still haven't quite finished that chore).

In the Chicken Coop all kinds of new things are brewing...img_5635 Quite literally. A little over a year ago I began exploring Alchemy and the teachings of Paracelsus. I'm not planning to create a Philosopher's Stone, but I do embrace the medical teachings and philosophies of this visionary thinker. I'm in the last group of students to go through the basic Spagyrics class in the school I've been attending here in Oregon. It will be another year before you see these new tinctures in the shop, but I'll be talking about the process a bit more this year. I find it fascinating! And there is another great school here in Oregon that is currently enrolling if you feel called to this type of creating. Each teacher approaches this work slightly differently, but all embrace the teachings and philosophy of this lineage.

I had hoped to enter the Autumn season with a festival of health, wellness and magic. But as I looked for a Portland venue that was reasonably priced I found it impossible for a small group of vendors to make a decent profit. I'm still looking for a space that can host seasonal events. If you know of one or have a space you'd like to offer up get in touch. In the meantime I offer you an open house in the Chicken Coop. Not a full on party, but an individual invitation. I had planned on a summer fest with classes on the mountain, but once I had my little Chicken Coop filled there wasn't a lot of room for many guests. We have plans for an outdoor space in the future. But in the meantime I want you to come visit! Let me make you some helpful remedies. Sit with the plants (they are out there even in the rain). Spend a few hours sipping tea and talking about how you can live a fuller life. These 3-4 hour visits begin at $50 and you go home with at least four custom items. Anything from potions/tea/essences/a plant/a stone/a chicken (just kidding)/a lotion/bath salts/whatever is right for you at this time. Can't make it to the mountain? Let's do this virtually. I just sent out a custom package for someone that gave me a mission and a budget. I do these all the time for several people in my life and I'd love to create for you too. If we haven't talked about what you want to work on I have a questionnaire I send out to help me get to know you a bit better. We begin a file that is added to over time. I personally love receiving a surprise package in the mail. And I find that we each need to have products tweeted just for us.

Coming up soon! The Podcast returns...for reals. Also, hoping to have the new online shop up early next month. I have officially handed over management of my kitchen so I have much more mental space for all the projects. I am still working at the restaurant every weekend during brunch. Come have breakfast with me (a great place to pick up products so you don't have to pay shipping). I started baking again and I'm not quite ready to give that up (bagels, brioche, biscuits, jammers, ginger cakes). It was the mental space I needed to fully immerse in the business of building the Chicken Coop Botanical brand. The making of products is the easy part;)

Here now! This most precious fairy child img_5643 Our first grandchild was born at the end of August. Her actual due date has not yet arrived so it has been an interesting limbo time for all of us. You'll see miss Fae Adele from time to time. She is lucky to have a village of love surrounding her now and always.

Honoring the Death of the Land

I haven't written much here of late. I am taking three different classes that I have doing a lot of writing for and each has the attention of my pen right now. However, I have been drawn to create a few themed self-care boxes/kits for my little Etsy shop along the lines of the Eight large and small celebrations of the Pagan calendar and they also are drawing my written attention. The current one for sale (shop closes tonight after midnight) has dealt with Mugwort. A traditional dream herb used to celebrate Samhain/Haloween/Dia de las Muertos. I wanted to share a bit of what I included in the newsletter and more thoughts on this blustery Samhain.

Historically, Mugwort was considered the 'universal herb for protection and prophecy' throughout the ancient world. Dedicated to Artemis and Diana, Mugwort was used for pain and healing, psychic powers and lucid dreaming. I find this so interesting as these are also goddesses associated with the moon and Mugwort is a moon plant. When you look to each culture you often find that they correspond and have synchronicity. In ancient China and Japan, Mugwort was hung in open doorways to exorcise the spirits of disease. The ancient Europeans did the same to ward off evil spirits. Listening to an Italian American herbalist speak this last August, she visits her ancestral village each year and finds that these traditions still live on-they have just incorporated them into the catholic tradition.

This was a great ally to the Roman soldiers who placed Mugwort inside their sandals for endurance on long marches. One Roman general recorded that his men marched 10 miles further, as well as faster, when on Mugwort; it is known as the "traveler's herb". To me those parts of the essential oil that create dreaminess also relax and sooth the nervous system, as well as being a stimulant. I included a Mugwort infused oil in the box which I think I should start using as a foot rub when I know I'll be working long hours in my kitchen. IMG_4569

Magically, Mugwort tea was drank before divination rituals and also burnt as a ‘transporting’ incense. I personally like to use a Flower Essence as I am wanting to connect with the plant herself.  Native Americans also burned Mugwort as a ‘smudge’ to purify the spiritual and physical environment. This may seem that I am throwing out information that is all over the place. I want to convey how this (as well as so many other useful plants) have been used over the centuries is many different ways. Ways we often forget in this modern society.

One of the classes I'm taking is a Shamanic Apprenticeship with Darcey Blue. Mugwort is the plant I've chosen for long term study as a plant ally. I now see Mugwort when I journey  to the crossroads as the crone wearing a beautiful cloak dyed with the deep green of the plant with overlaying cloth serrated leaves. Oh yes, she is also a dye plant💖 💖 And someday I am going to have to figure out how to create that cloak. I talked just a little bit about the healing aspects of this member of the Artemisia family. I encourage you to sit with the plant or a product made from the plant and see what she has to teach you.

With this information in mind I went on creating products that celebrate the beauty and long usage of this “Cronewort”, a name I learned from Susan Weed many years ago for those helpful qualities this Artemisia offers women in the Menopausal years. Samhain is  the time of year when we honor the coming death of the land on the wheel of the year. Not that life after Menopause is that time in a woman's life. Far from it! However, the Crone (as archetype) is our escort through this thinning of the veil when we can visit our ancestors for a short time, then move onto a time of quietude through the winter months before the Maiden again springs forth. On this day I can truly feel this dying. As I said it is rainy and blustery outside. We were lucky (it feels like that now that I know the rain has returned) to enjoy a long dry October where we could appreciate the beauty of the leaves turning color. Now the winds have returned and quickly the summer plants are melting into the ground, the beautiful yellow, orange and red leaves are drifting (or flying) by the windows and I can just feel at a visceral level that the season is changing--death is coming to the land. And I'm ready. I felt stretched thin by the long, dry summer (as I said in the last post). This seems right. It is not a scary time of year, It's the natural creaking of the wheel as it turns yet again on its natural path to the next season. So on this dark eve I'll be celebrating with friends for a while, but coming home to sit quietly with some Mugwort based incense, mug of tea and a drop on essence on my tongue as I remember and dream of my grandmothers and those that came before me. This is a time for quiet and memories and thoughts of gratitude for what this last season has taught us before we look to the next. A moment suspended...

At the beginning of this missive I mentioned that the shop will close again as the clock ticks past midnight. Actually I'll be sound asleep so it will probably be tomorrow morning. We have been staying in town off and on quite a bit this fall and head back in again. I've already made the beginnings of the next box-The sweet scents of Solstice. They will be steeping away until the shop reopens the second week of December. I won't be in town that long, but I have lots of makings for specific people right now as well. I hope to be talking to you all before we get that far along, but you can find me daily on IG.  IMG_3740 Just a few things that are working here in the Chicken Coop-Rose petals and Cranberries soaked in red wine are a basis for a Solstice incense. I've had an Antioxidant berry elyxir steeping for a couple of months. There will be Rose soap, a lovely bit of light and a beautiful lotion to take you through the holiday season.