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Find it-MUGWORT-ID it

Mugwort-Artemisia vulgaris

Know it

http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mugwor61.html

I have to tell you Mugwort and Wormwood are very close. They are related and they are both good herbs to wildcraft. So here is a pic and description of Wormwood. Two for the price of one.

Find it-WORMWOOD-ID it

Wormwood-Artemisia absinthium

Know it

http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/w/wormwo37.html

The leaves on the wormwood are more deeply lobed and more of a silvery color than the mugwort. Wormwood is a great find and has quite a history. It is one of those biblical herbs as is fennel and yarrow.

Here’s the bible references

http://www.herbsociety-stu.org/bible_herbs.htm

Find it-Yarrow-ID it

Yarrow-Achillea millefolium

Know it

http://www.altnature.com/gallery/yarrow.htm

Yarrow comes in pink, white and yellow.  A reader was nice enough to point out that the white yarrow and not the yellow as I had originally posted, is the native.  Good to be able to set the record straight.  Thanks Judith.

Native yarrow is very prolific and reseeds itself almost desperately which is good because there is so much you can do with it. I just learned you can take one leaf, chop it up and put it on your compost pile to speed up decomposition. Works so well with other herbs too.

Find it-Red Clover-ID it

Red Clover-Trifolium pratense

Know it

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-red-clover.html

You can find red clover everywhere. Red is really pink and there is a white clover but the medicinal properties are different. It also reseeds itself and is, as is with all clovers, great for the soil. All the herbs I have mentioned here that are so beneficial and part of the wildcrafting art are regarded as weeds by the makers and producers of lawns. Ortho and Scotts have weed killers to protect the precious over pampered, waste of space we call lawns from the likes of Mother Nature.

How to use:

Dose may vary from person to person, but general guidelines are as follows:

  • Dried herb (used for tea): 1 – 2 tsp dried flowers or flowering tops steeped in 8 oz. hot water for 1/2 hour; drink 2 – 3 cups daily
  • Powdered herb (available in capsules): 40 – 160 mg per day, or 28 – 85 mg of red clover isoflavones
  • Tincture (1:5, 30% alcohol): 60 – 100 drops (3 – 5 mL) three times per day; may add to hot water as a tea
  • Fluid Extract (1:1): 1 mL three times per day; may add to hot water as a tea
  • Standardized red clover isoflavone extracts: directions on product labels should be carefully followed
  • Topical treatment (such as for psoriasis or eczema): an infusion, liquid extract, or ointment containing 10 – 15% flowerheads; apply as needed unless irritation develops. Do not apply to an open wound without a doctor’s supervision.

 

As you might guess I am not a fan of lawns. I am sorry. They are nice to look at when they are all green and manicured. As a kid I hand mowed about a quarter of an acre of lawn every week which I actually enjoyed doing.  I don’t like lawns because I think today they are a colossal waste of time, money, water and effort.  Josh, #2 son, sent this to me about a year ago knowing how I feel about lawns. This is right on and what we call garden humor. Enjoy.

GOD AND ST. FRANCIS DISCUSSING LAWNS

GOD: Francis, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.

ST. FRANCIS: It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers “weeds” and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD: Grass? But it’s so boring. It’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It’s temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it-sometimes twice a week.

GOD: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS: No Sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

GOD: Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS: Yes, Sir.

GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS: You aren’t going to believe this Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It’s a natural circle of life.

ST. FRANCIS: You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD: No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD: And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD: Enough. I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have they scheduled for us tonight?”

ST. CATHERINE: “Dumb and Dumber”, Lord. It’s a really stupid movie about…..

GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

See you next week. Will be doing dandelions and two others.

Happy Crafting.

Wildcrafting part 1   Starter Guide

Wildcrafting part 2 Mugwort (bonus plant Wormwood) Yarrow, chickweed, and red clover

Wildcrafting part 3 dandelions and making flower essences

Wildcrafting part 4 The Cat’s Meow-A Real Lifesaver

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Wildcrafting #1: Starter guide

Introduction

Wildcrafting is the ancient art of taking care of yourself by taking care of Mother Nature.  A tried and true method of not only survival and sustainability, but also a way of promoting abundance, diversity and showing gratitude to dear old MOM who is always looking to shower us with blessings. It is a way of collecting  seeds, nuts, plants, roots, flowers from the wild. Before there was processed food and drive thru, before refrigerators or farms or agri business, before the neanderthal or the missing link there was wildcrafting.   Birds do it. Bees do it. Even educated fleas do it ( Cole Porter lyrics ) Let’s do it… Let’s wildcraft.

For starters understand the principal. Mother Nature provides us with everything we need to survive. There is quite an etiquette that goes with wildcrafting.  A whole bunch of rules that are spelled out for people who have lost all touch and connection with their roots. What once was obvious natural behavior practiced by indigenous people whose life depended on knowing the rules has become a lost art.  Here are the rules. http://home.klis.com/~chebogue/p.conWild.html Read them and understand them before you head out into the wild blue yonder.

For now just apply good common sense.

  • Positive ID of the plant a must.
  • Stay away from roadside plants that are contaminated with pollutants, polluted water and industrial areas.
  • Leave a place better than you found it best if there is no trace of your ever being there.
  • Always leave something so the next generation can produce and multiply.
  • Always thank Mother Nature and the plant for their gift.
  • Only take what you need.

When you have graduated to the next step you will need to check with local authorities and see what plants require a picking permit. Some herbs like the fiddle fern and Echinacea are protected. Some areas are protected. Check to make sure. You don’t want to be picking protected plants in restricted areas.   In the mean time, Trust me. Mom has a lot of goodies up her sleeve and there usually is an abundance of what you need and can use within arms reach.  So let’s get started in our own backyard and neighborhood.

Clean pickings is important. No pesticides, herbicides, snail, or rat poison, or roundup around. If you don’t know, leave it alone.  Getting a positive ID is critical. Know your plants. Mother Nature has a wonderful way of mimicking herself.  This is especially true in the mushroom department. So we are not going to do mushrooms here. You need an expert in this area. One mushroom with an ever so slight variation hardly visible to the human eye can be the deadly mimic to the edible variety.

An entire group of Maidu Indians died from collecting mushrooms from their usual foraging spot. The mushrooms had been contaminated with a wild spore that they had no way of knowing had settled on the mushrooms.  This put me off of  hunting mushrooms on my own.

Wild carrots, fennel and  poisonous hemlock have exactly the same flower arrangement the only difference is hemlock has a spotted hollow stem. We are going to start you off wildcrafting in familiar surroundings. This will teach you how to look for plants, see plants, and learn about their secret life.

Here is a picture of my front yard.

5’x10′ garden

It is 5‘x10’ and has over 100 wild herbs. spices, domestic and foreign. Can you find the yarrow, spearmint, ginger, horseradish, mustard, burdock, motherwort, vervain, ephedrine, fennel, wild radish, red clover, wooly mullein, scarlet pimpernel, dandelion, mugwort, violets, sage, comfrey, jasamine, rose hips, lavender, rosemary, honeysuckle, aloe, millet, onions, nasturtiums, plantain, borage, thyme, yellow sulfur plant, knot weed, curly dock, geraniums, apple, lemon, apricots, guava, cherry, bamboo, cattail and I still have not found a good use for crab grass but it’s there. I can promise you this wildcrafting can become an obsession.

I will do three plants per blog. Lets start with the common scarlet pimpernel. This is a little darling. So many uses. Find it.

ID it.

Know it.

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/p/pimper33.html

Next. Salsify.

When I first saw this in the wild I thought I had found a new source of gold. This huge over sized dandelion looking seed pod shimmered like spun gold in the sunlight.  The wildflower book describes the color as brown but I am telling you it is gold. It grows wild. Brought some seeds home and it grew. The root looks like a carrot and taste like  an oyster.  Leaves are eatable. Taste best if harvested before it flowers.  Find it.

ID it.

Know it

Here is how you pronounce it and more. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlUVTPokwh4

http://www.foodreference.com/html/artsalsify.html

And lastly

Plantain (not the banana) Another one of those hidden treasures with secret powers.  There is broad leaf and English plantain. Picture is English variety. The parallel venation is a dead give away. The Indians chewed a leaf (saliva is the secret ingredient) mixed it with sap from the pine tree applied to splinters, etc. foreign objects needing to be removed, and within 24 hours the object was drawn out. Find it.

ID it

Know it

http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/p/placom43.html

(Note: I endorse these links because I like them. They are not advertisements, and I get no kickbacks. That’s nice huh?)

More next week

Part 2 Wildcrafting: Mugwort, Wormwood, Yarrow, and Red Clover

Part 3 Wildcrafting Dandelions, Curly dock, Jewelweed & Making flower essences

Part 4: Wildcrafting: The CAT’S MEOW A LIFESAVING PLANT

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Picture by Cassie

Busy as a bee

Samson was scheduled to do this week’s blog but he is up to his eyeballs in moving and getting settled.  So, this is kind of an intermission.   The intermission is a trailer for the award winning documentary Food, Inc.  This comes with a warning.  If you can’t stand the truth or you are not ready for the truth then do not watch this. “You will never look at your dinner in the same way again.”

I wondered about the old adage, “The truth hurts” and asked myself what does that mean?  How can the truth be a bad thing? I pretty much decided that facts are about as close to the truth as you are going to get. Or perhaps the certainty of numbers are very close to an indisputable truth.  I mean 1+1 for all intent and purposes is always going to = 2.  So, who is hurt by the truth?  I think honest persons can not be hurt by the truth.

Tell an honest person the truth and they will appreciate knowing it. However, tell a  person who knows the truth and covers it up with an intent to deceive and you have someone who would be exposed for lying about the truth and that would hurt.

What is the truth?  The truth is. What is a lie?   A lie is a cover-up of the truth.  The truth be told would expose a lie.  So, only a liar could be hurt by the truth.  And if that is the case then the old adage should really say, “The truth only hurts liars and that’s a good thing.”

I don’t have any idea of where all that came from. All I know is, that is what you get when someone says, We need something up and we need it up quick.  So there’s quick.

Watch the trailer and tell me who you think is telling the truth and who you think is lying?  And why.

http://www.foodincmovie.com/

Also if you want the latest GMO news this is it.

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_20188.cfm

The Good News

http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/en/press/releases/us-court-ruling-on-gmo-rice-af

Even better news. How to Fight the Good Fight and win.

http://www.celdf.org/

http://www.celdf.org/Default.aspx?tabid=61

http://www.soyinfo.com/haz/gehaz.shtml great resource page for groups, blogs, organizations, political action groups

P.S. Added Feb. 10,2010:  Huffington Post publishes the 12 most unethical companies in the WORLD.  The worst of the worst.  Too delicious.  I am not an I told you so type person but I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!!

http://tinyurl.com/yhy36hc

P.S.S. Studies link GMOs with toxins, allergies, infertility, infant mortality, immune dysfunction, stunted growth, accelerated aging, and death. Whistleblowers were fired, threatened, and gagged. Warnings by FDA scientists were ignored. Expert Jeffrey M. Smith, author of the #1 GMO bestseller Seeds of Deception, and Genetic Roulette, presents SHOCKING evidence why these gene-spliced crops may lead to health and environmental catastrophes. Learn how to protect yourself and discover the Campaign for Healthier Eating in America—a brilliant plan to quickly end the genetic engineering of our food supply.

Gotta see it.

http://vimeo.com/6575475

We will continue our regularly scheduled blog next week.  Ciao for now.

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A plant cell is different from an animal cell. Different because the genes in  a plant cell are programmed to make roots, stems and leaves

not bones, tissues, organs.  KISs.

Keeping it Simple simon.  Simply,  plant cells will separate just like the animal cells. That’s the organism part, but with very different results because of the genetic makeup.

What is the difference and Who cares?

The plant cells are coded differently than animal cells.

Plant cells have a cell wall for support and protection, and an animal cell does not.  Plants make their own food by turning sunlight into energy.  Don’t we wish we could do that?  As it is animals, birds, people, lizards, snakes and fish consume food made by plants then break it down into usable parts in the body.  Without plants we can’t make energy.  Without energy we die.

There is not one single gene in a plant cell that would or could produce a nose, a molar or pinkie toe.  There was genius in this creation. Mom, The Master Scientist, had a very good reason for keeping these two living organisms separate and distinct.

Can animals have sex with plants?

Co-mingling of kingdoms would be catastrophic of atomic proportions.

Remember how all this got started in the first place.  Lots of atoms flying all over the place until they found their soul mates and stayed put.

Plants and animals have two separate and distinct operating systems that produce 2 separate and distinct kingdoms here on earth. Mom gave each kingdom their own room on Planet Earth.  The Plant Kingdom in one room and the Animal Kingdom in another room. There are several serfdoms within the 2 kingdoms. They are mosses, bacteria, protista and mushrooms. They are living so they are organisms. Their reproduction is a little more complicated so we are not going to get into that here. GMO’s are all about the sex lives of plants and animals so we are sticking with these two for now.

The 2 kingdoms lived in harmony with each under the same roof and never once in a hundred, never in a million, never in a billion years did those little bundles of plant and animal genes ever sleep together.

I mean they never ever had sex where the genes from the plant family mated with the genes from the animal family. Because of their genetic makeup  mating would be impossible anyway.  That was the whole idea. They were never even attracted to each other. No chemistry going on here between the plant and animals genes.

Ever notice how close the words organism and orgasm are?

This is what plants genes do when they start carrying on with one another. They pollinate. Reproduce.  Plant genes make trees, bushes, flowers, pine trees, and grasses.

This is what animal cells do when they procreate. They make jellyfish, starfish, sharks, whales, snakes, birds,  cats, dogs and people.

So, in Her wonderfully whimsical fashion Mom patented these genes right at the atomic level where the cell difference between the 2 kingdoms occurred. This allowed each kingdom to evolve into many diverse and different families, genus, and species.

When we eat broccoli we are not eating broccoli genes.  We are eating the sum and substance of the finished product after all the genes have finished the job.

When we eat pork chops we are not eating pork genes.  We are eating the muscles and tissue of the pig after the genes have turned it into pig parts.  A gene is an embryo.

The whole purpose plants turn into plants and animals turn into animals is to get to a point where reproduction can take place. Growing roots, leaves and stems is all about getting to the reproduction parts that is the seed  to insure survival of the species. Monsanto has created a terminator seed. The plant makes a seed that can’t reproduce. What is the point here?  This is not what nature intended.

The same holds true in the animal kingdom.  We are all about making seeds for procreation. Then when you get to my age it is all about going to seed. But lets not go there just yet.

I don’t have room here to talk about all the sex and pollinating that goes on in plant kingdom. Just know this they self-pollinate, cross-pollinate, hybridize,lure and tease insects and animals like the bees, butterflies, and birds into transporting their sperm and depositing it within the clutches of some horny little females plants.  Plants clump and run to stay alive as in bamboo and crabgrass. They go underground and come with potatoes, yams, daffodils and onions. Coconuts, dates and rose hips are all seeds.  Plants are dead set on surviving.  We are now at a very critical point in this story.  It is key to understanding the difference between a man made  GMO/GE/GM and Mom’s hybridizing and cross-breeding.

hybridizing – (genetics) the act of mixing different plant species or different animals species thus to produce hybrids.  A grapefruit is a hybrid. It is a cross between a Jamaican sweet orange (Citrus sinensis);and the Indonesian pomelo (Citrus maxima).  A cockapoo is a hybrid. It is a cross between a cocker spaniel and a poodle. Where the heck did a poodle come from?  All dogs belong to the Canine Family. Chart upper left explains the order of things.  Pay attention there will be a test.

Hybridizing is a matter of breeding.  Dogs breed, horses breed, but not with each other.   Hybridizing is a survival thing and Mother Nature has been doing it for eons. This is a very important fact to remember.  Breeding and hybridizing are a natural thing. Breeding and hybridizing is not the same as modifing. Modifing genes is a man-made thing.  Not natural.

The animal kingdom is the largest kingdom on earth. I think it is the largest because of those damn ants.

Animals adapted and evolved for exactly the same reasons the plants did, survival. This relationship between Mom and her kids has worked very well for the last 100 billion years or so.

Enter Man. Not just any man a Fictitious man.  Fictitious man means;  like a person but not really a person.  Are Fictitious persons alive?   Oh, these F-Men are something all together different and they changed Mom’s Master plan.

The F-Men created an F’en Kingdom

Mom is pissed.  And we know when Mom ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy.

part 4 of the GMO story Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

Part 1 of the GMO Story: Do trees Sneeze?

https://holeinthefence.net/2009/12/18/what-is-a-gmo-do-trees-sneeze-1-of-6/

Part 2 of the GMO Story: The Big Bang.

https://holeinthefence.net/2010/01/01/gmo-part-2-of-6-the-big-bang/

Part 3 of the  GMO Story- They Kingdom Come Thy will be Done

https://holeinthefence.net/2010/01/16/gmo-story-continued-thy-kingdom-come-thy-will-be-done-on-earth-part-3-of-6/

Part 4 of the GMO Story: Attack of the Killer Tomato

https://holeinthefence.net/2010/02/02/gmo-story-part-4-attack-of-the-killer-tomatoes/

Part 5 of the GMO Story: End of the Line for GMO’s

https://holeinthefence.net/2010/03/07/gmos-end-of-the-line-part-5-of-5/


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Bless you

Bless you

Trees don’t sneeze.  People sneeze.

Bless you

Dogs sneeze                             Lioness sneeze

gesundheit

AAACHOOOOO

But trees don’t sneeze ‘cause they don’t have any noses, or nasal passages or lungs like people and animals.

So what does sneezing trees have to do with GMO’s? Surprisingly just about everything and I do mean everything. Why trees don’t sneeze and people do all happened about 100 billion years ago when Mother Nature got bored and decided to have some fun. Her fun and games is the reason we have noses and trees don’t.

GMO=Genetically Modified Organism

GMO=Genetically Modified Organism. Sometimes it is called GM (not General Motors) =Genetically Modified or GE (not General Electric)=Genetically Engineered. They all mean the same thing, Genetically Modified Organisms.  When we talk about genes and organisms we are talking about something that is living and able to reproduce itself. We are talking about sex here and the difference between non-living things like rocks that do not have sex with each other to make more rocks, and living things like plants and animals that do have sex but not with each other  well, not until now which is the Modified part and M in GMO.  You have to understand the gene thing before you can understand modified.  This is rocket science but…

Keeping It Simple simon.  KISs

I am no scientist so I will keep it simple. And because I am a mom we are going to be looking at this sex thing from a mom’s point of view.

First: Lets break down GMO. G stands for genetic. Genetics has to do with genes. Genes come from a combination of elements. Elements are made up of Atoms.  And that takes us to…. In the Beginning….. In the Beginning there was Mother Nature. Mom to me and you.  Mom just finished cooking up some universes and galaxies far far away and wanted something to take her mind off of work. She took a handful of Atoms that were just laying around from her last job and a little pinch of starlight, rolled it up into a big ball and said, “Go for it.”

www.dpchallenge.com/image.php?IMAGE_ID=613117

In the Beginning

What do you get when you put all this stuff together? You get great balls of swirling atoms falling all over themselves trying to get organized.

Falling all over themselves.

There was a lot of jockeying for positions during this start up stage. Atoms with negative charges fighting with the positive charges hooking up with each other making new stuff.   Great balls of cosmic energy. They put on quite a show.

Great

Mom was amused but warned them to stop all the bickering and start working together. Next thing She knew all those little atoms came back to her so proud of themselves and said, “Look what we did Mom.”

Yup, that’s the periodic table with all the elements, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Sodium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Sulfur, gold and sliver and so on.  This is the game plan the atoms came up with when they all started to play nice with each other.  The simplified version in lay terms is Fire, Water, Air and Earth. “This is good,” Mom said.  “What else can you do?”  I’ll be back in an hour to check on you. Mom came back in about an hour Her time, a billion years our time , and was delighted to see everyone getting along.  One group was just laying around doing nothing. They were done playing a long time ago. We are going to call this group the inorganic  non-living, couch potato group. Non-living as in rocks, diamonds, gold, stuff just lying around waiting for someone to discovery them. Eureka.  They have nothing to do with our GMO story.

Blip.  Blip, Blip. We interrupt this blog to bring you a news flash.  Orders from headquarters, that would be Samson the blog master is, I have to hold these blogs down to 500 words.   I’m at 654 and we know who is counting.  Because Samson is such a stickler about the numbers and we are just getting started this is going to be a 6 part series.  Keeping it Simple is very complicated. Not really. Well, just a little. Next time we are going to talk  astrophysics and what happened that started a chain reaction of living organisms that are hell bent on taking over the world. Really.

In the meantime Samson will be here next Friday talking about something really cool no doubt.

Part 2 of the GMO Story: The Big Bang.

https://holeinthefence.net/2010/01/01/gmo-part-2-of-6-the-big-bang/

Part 3 of the  GMO Story- They Kingdom Come Thy will be Done

https://holeinthefence.net/2010/01/16/gmo-story-continued-thy-kingdom-come-thy-will-be-done-on-earth-part-3-of-6/

Part 4 of the GMO Story: Attack of the Killer Tomato

https://holeinthefence.net/2010/02/02/gmo-story-part-4-attack-of-the-killer-tomatoes/

Part 5 of the GMO Story: End of the Line for GMO’s

https://holeinthefence.net/2010/03/07/gmos-end-of-the-line-part-5-of-5/

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Meet Charlotte Photo by Cassie

Meet Charlotte Photo by Cassie

As near as I can tell this is a Eriophora transmarina from Australia. It was sitting in a covered glass on the counter top when I came home from work last night.  A note on the top read.

Beware

Beware

“Jessica saved your life. Beward! Spider! Real One!” I picked up the glass and shook it to get a better look at what was inside. It stayed still and curled up. I thought that saving my life meant the spider got dead. I looked at its markings. I was not keen on having poisonous spiders laying about and this one did come with a warning.

Just a couple of days earlier I had noticed all kinds of spider webs popping up in the garden with beautiful big webs. I looked up orb spider because I remember Samson talking about orb spiders in the garden one day. Well, sure enough it was an orb weaver. And it is holding true that spiders that make pretty webs are pretty harmless. This orb weaver is harmless but will bite  if provoked. This is just saying she is not looking for a fight but will defend herself if she has to. The bite is not terrible but you might want to avoid provoking her.

I stopped shaking the glass now so as not to piss her off.  Here is a great site with some very interesting facts about this spider that looks like Charlotte  from Charlotte’s web.  She has the cute little bangs in the front and eyes all a glow.  Amazing web making ability. How about alternating sticky line with non-sticky line. Silk web strong enough to net some birds.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orb-weaver_spider.

Once I got a little movement out of her I turned her loose in the honeysuckle vine right outside the front door.  She didn’t go very far either. Next morning there she was right above the front door, tucked under the eaves.

Setting up housekeeping

Setting up housekeeping

Not that the web isn’t  interesting enough but I will be reading between the lines and looking for a message from my dear Charlotte. Is that a ‘p’ I see just on the left there?

Here are some more great pictures and info on Orb weaver spiders.  http://tinyurl.com/4m3w26

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Tom Ogren is a genius. Last week we did a frenetic cross-town exposition on plants, allergies, and health with him. As he showed us around SLO, pointing out the allergy-inducing plants that abound in public places, it sunk in to me that we’ve been pretty careless about how we’ve landscaped our homes and our city. (I’ve created an interactive map of our journey so you can follow along and see which plants Tom identified).

Tom explaing the finer points of oak pollination to me.

Enter Tom Ogren. His findings mark the next step in creating a sustainable, livable environment. In a nutshell what Tom has discovered over 25 years of investigation and analysis is that allergies are getting worse—and we are responsible.

Why? Because we apparently don’t like cleaning up a mess.

Now, during our walk, Tom threw out a few latinate terms that I certainly can’t remember (you’ll have to read his book to get the full story), but the gist is that many female plants produce seeds or berries.

Which fall off.

Which we then have to pick, sweep, or scoop up.

So, to avoid the trouble, we just plant male trees instead. And this is where we shoot ourselves in the foot—or up the nose. Because male trees usually produce pollen.

Tons of it.

And since it doesn’t have anywhere else to go, it goes right up the schnoz.

Bottlebrush: it might look gorgeous, but you'll want to enjoy from a distance

Not that any of this was intentional: for many years landscapers and homeowners simply chose plants based on their aesthetic appeal. The most obvious example of this type of philosophy can be seen in the water-intensive lawns and plants that still dominant our cityscape. Now, however, given the burgeoning awareness of our limited resources, there has been a concerted move toward sustainable landscapes. Beautiful new front yards are beginning to appear based on this new, sustainable approach.

We need the same awareness to burgeon (I love that word) about creating allergy-free landscapes. It is a means of creating a sustainable environment for our eyes, lungs, and immune system. Seriously. Given the amount of money we invest in anti-allergy medications, this is a very expensive problem that could significantly reduced simply by changing our landscaping practices.

And some cities are already doing it. With Tom’s advice and guidance, several cities in the southwest and, believe it or not, in New Zealand, have adopted landscaping policies that forbid certain plants and that require the planting of female versions of others. They’re very progressive. Even feminist.

Lastly, Tom recommended a few things you can do to at least limit the effect of seasonal allergies. A list:

  • DON’T rub your eyes. Some pollens look like miniature ninja stars or balls of spikes, so rubbing your eyes when they itch will only result in itchier eyes that are now bloodshot
  • If you’ve been outside for a while (especially if it’s been windy), take a shower and put on fresh clothes once you’re inside
  • If your allergies are really bothering you, stay in the shower, close all the windows and the door, and make it hot—the steam will help clear your sinuses
  • If it’s a bad allergy day and you can make it to the beach, do it—the fresh air from the ocean will clear you up
  • Lastly, and most importantly, buy and eat local honey

I had no idea the last bastion of male dominance would be in the plant world. Go figure. Now that I do know, feminists unite! Let’s get female plants their rightful place in our yards and streets!

How about you? Do you have allergies? Have they gotten worse? How do you deal with them?

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