Over the last 4 days, I have been trying to recover from some nasty spider bites. ‘Tis the season, I suppose, but I sure am annoyed. I can’t just stop my life like this! I have too much to do!
I was at my studio the other day, and did some deep cleaning and furniture rearranging. During the course of moving an antique rug, I managed to dislodge a nest of spiders that promptly bit me on the arm and ankle. It was not fun. I have been ill ever since, needing much more sleep than I am comfortable with, craving lemon water and feeling feverish, achy and nauseated. Had the malady not resolved itself by today, I had planned to go to the doctor….but I am feeling better this morning. Since I am not the only person suffering from spider bites, I thought I’d write a post about ways in which to treat their bites naturally.
This advice is for non-dangerous spider bites only. If you determine that you have been bitten by a dangerous spider, please seek help from a physician immediately!
First and foremost, one should identify the spider, if possible. I was not able to identify the ones that bit me, because they were tiny and scattered everywhere, very quickly, when I dislodged their nest. However, I banked on the fact that while they can make one sick, most spider bites are not from dangerous spiders – in fact, many supposed spider bites are actually insect bites that are easily treated.
- Try to save the specimen, even if it’s squashed. Rubbing alcohol can be used to preserve a spider.
- If you cannot find the spider, move on to cleaning and examining the bite area.
The first thing you should do is wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water. This will help prevent infection. Use cool, soapy water. Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint soap is a good one to use, because it is castile (made from olive oil) and peppermint has natural antibiotic properties.
Next, apply a cold compress. This is a good way to help the pain and make the swelling go down.
If the bites are on your arms or legs, it is a good idea to try to elevate the bitten area as much as possible. This is another way to reduce the inflammation and swelling.
Take Willow Bark tablets. This is the natural substance from which aspirin is derived. Children or teenagers recovering from chickenpox or who have flu-like symptoms should not take it.
Monitor the situation over the next 24 hours. In some cases, a bite from a normally non-dangerous spider can cause an allergic reaction. This is what happened to me. (I had 6 of the following 7 symptoms.)
Call emergency medical services immediately if the person with the spider bite has the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle spasms
- Tightening in the throat that makes it hard to swallow
- Sweating profusely
- Feeling faint
One of the coolest products to come down the pike in a long time, is the Mushroom Mini Farm. I found out about these remarkable little mushroom gardens-in-a-box from my pal, Ana Voog, and ordered mine from Amazon.com.
When the box arrived, I followed the instructions that told me to remove a perforated section on the back of the box to expose a plastic bag full of fertile “soil”. I was then instructed to cut an “X” through the plastic and to soak the contents in a bucket of water for 8 hours.
The only thing I’ve had to do since, was add a couple of tablespoons of water each day. Today is Day Four, and look at all the wonderful mushrooms I have! I am thrilled! I love mushrooms. Don’t you?
My husband is a real fan of the shoom and loves my mushroom tarts….so here, I shall share my recipe with you. Enjoy! 🙂
Stacy’s Mushroom Tart
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 tablespoons (about) ice water
- 1 cup water
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 10 ounces crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs
- 2/3 cup grated Gruyère cheese
- 3/4 cup whipping cream
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
Blend flour and salt in processor. Cut in butter using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add enough water to blend dough. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic, chill 45 minutes.
Roll out dough on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Trim edges, leaving 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang in to form double-thick sides. Press tart edges to raise dough 1/8 inch above pan. Chill 30 minutes.
Bring 1 cup water to boil in saucepan. Add porcini; remove from heat and let stand 30 minutes. Spoon porcini from liquid; reserve liquid. Coarsely chop porcini.
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add porcini and crimini mushrooms. Season with salt; sauté until deep golden, about 10 minutes. Add shallots; sauté 2 minutes. Add Cognac and reserved porcini liquid, leaving any sand behind in saucepan. Boil until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Mix in 1 tablespoon herbs. Cool.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line crust with foil. Fill with dried beans; bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.
Sprinkle 1/3 cup cheese in crust. Cover with mushrooms. Whisk cream, yolks, egg and 1 tablespoon herbs in bowl. Pour custard over mushrooms. Top with remaining cheese. Bake until filling is set and top is golden, about 30 minutes. Cool on rack 15 minutes.
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I was in Texas a couple of weeks ago, visiting a musician friend and taking care of some legal business. While there, I was treated to two nights of (musical) bliss, listened to some great bands and had a wonderful, laughter-filled time. However, even the good vibes from that experience, (and being again exposed to some great musicians from my past), did not compare to the Chris Isaac concert last night at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland. I bought tickets for myself, my friend SB, and John. The occasion was the first of many surprises for John’s upcoming birthday.
Now, THIS is a musician!
Chris is the perfect example of an established, professional musician that knows what his audience wants, and knows how to give it to them. I have seen him many times through the years, and he has always been a great showman. Last night, I think I figured out why he is so successful when other talented musicians are not and never will be.
First of all, this man is not an ego-driven individual. A good example….He can play guitar very well. He has had the same Gibson for decades and regularly asked to appear at Gibson-sponsored events. However, to this day, he still studies guitar with a professional teacher, as do his other band members. Chris Isaak is smart enough to know that there is always something new he can learn.
Less intelligent musicians are ego-driven and assume they know everything. They boast about how great they are. They won’t listen to anyone else, and this is why they fail. Chris Isaak listens to others. That is what master musicians do. He has great instincts and gives his audience what they want. He works for it. He doesn’t just assume that everyone is going to fall all over him. He is confident, but modest.
Chris also clearly recognizes that his lead player, Herschel Yatovitz, is a better guitarist than he is, and he doesn’t compete with him on stage. In fact, he allows Herschel to do what he does and he supports him, rather than tries to drown him out with his own playing. This is a key element in what sets Chris Isaac apart from other musicians… and an important element in what makes him so great. He isn’t boastful, and he knows his own limitations. Chris can concentrate on his own strengths and let others do what they do best without feeling threatened. His band is great. They are tight, funny, and experts at their craft They know how to put on an excellent show and the audience never senses any kind of discord or tension between band members. Even though Chris Isaac is the star, he makes sure that everyone in the audience knows that his band is worthy of respect. He treats the other band members with reverence and doesn’t act like HE is the big star….although he is.
In person, Chris is a striking figure with the handsome face of a ’50s matinee idol. He fashions his brown hair into a signature pompadour and dresses like Porter Waggoner, in sequins and glitter. One of his suits last night looked like it was made entirely of mirrors. The guy is a showman and goes that extra mile to look good for his audience. He has great posture and a healthy sense of his own body, which he uses as a prop to woo his audience. There is nothing sloppy about him.
While sexy, Chris is not overtly sexual. He moves, but not provocatively. His dancing is graceful and practiced. He is polite and again, modest. His movements have an air of elegance rather than crudeness. He is funny, dancing in unison with his bass player and lead guitarist, using their guitars to mimic gangsters firing machine guns. He is comfortable in his own skin. There is a wholesome quality about this musician He is romantic, witty and intelligent. He has skills…but he remains unassuming and professional. He never takes his other band members or the audience for granted. His demeanor while on stage is humble and kind.
Each time I have seen him, Chris Isaac has looked healthy and much younger than his actual age (now nearing 60). The man clearly has self discipline and knows the importance of maintaining his health and appearance. He works out. He eats healthful foods and espouses this. You can say of Isaak what rockabilly great Carl Perkins, (a man I worked with once) who wrote “Blue Suede Shoes,” said about Elvis: “The boy has everything. He has the looks, the moves and the talent… He really is different.”
Chris is shown here with an Epiphone guitar, but he usually plays a Gibson that he has owned for decades.
Chris regularly practices vocal exercises to keep his vocal instrument strong and in tune. Where other musicians throw their money away, Chris has invested in a good vocal coach. Twice last night, he sustained a single note for a LONG time…longer than many younger musicians can hold a note. His voice is strong and amazing because he takes care of it.
There is no bending down to adjust knobs or guitar tuning for Chris while on stage. Everything is rehearsed, tight, professional and in place to give the audience a good show. Things are so well orchestrated that he makes everything look effortless. It is clear, however, that he has rehearsed and rehearsed. It is also clear that he gets along well with his other band members. They have been together for years and years.
Last night, he asked that the house lights be turned up so he could honor the audience. He even ran upstairs and sang a song from the balcony so that those with the “bad” seats could enjoy him up close and personal. He showed real appreciation for his audience. Everything wasn’t about HIM….it was about the audience…the people that love and support him. When he spoke, he wasn’t full of himself. He talked about THE AUDIENCE. He told one or two small jokes, but didn’t run these into the ground. They weren’t crude, racist, sexist or stupid. They were intelligent, and to me, nothing is sexier.
Chris Isaak is high, loving energy. He turns that energy OUT and lets it move through his body. He keeps his body language loose, feels the music and is utterly comfortable.
Chris Isaak, ladies and gents. Everything a REAL professional musician should be.
Chris will be playing downtown tomorrow night. I managed to score some great seats, so John, SB and I will be attending as “Part I.” of John’s upcoming birthday celebration. Really looking forward to it…and doesn’t Chris look great? The man is almost 60! Still looks 25!
I love to awaken in the early morning while the rest of the household is still asleep. I didn’t even wake the puppy this morning, as I slipped out of bed and went into the kitchen. I whipped up a batch of Streuseled Apple-Oatmeal-Cinnamon Chip Muffins (recipe below), put them in the oven to bake, and made a nice pot of fresh coffee.
For the Streusel Topping:
- 4 Tablespoons butter, softenedn (I use Earth Balance spread(
- 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup steel cut oats
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the muffins:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup turbinado sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs or egg substitute
- 1 cup whole milk or non-dairy milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, grated with a box grater and squeezed until most liquid is gone
- lemon juice
- 1 cup cinnamon chips
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- For the streusel topping, add all ingredients to a medium bowl. Use a pastry blender or your hands to mash ingredients together into crumb-like pieces. Set aside.
- In a large bowl combine flour,sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a another bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and oil. Combine with dry mixture until fully incorporated.
- Sprinkle some lemon juice over the shredded and squeezed apple to keep it from turning brown. Add apple, cinnamon chips and oatmeal to the flour mixture and stir.
- Add batter to a paper-lined muffin tin, about 2/3 full for each. Divide streusel evenly over the batter. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from the pan after a couple minutes. They taste amazing at room temp but warm they are crazy yummy too.
I went out for a walk as the muffins baked, up to Laurelhurst Park, one of Portland’s most beautiful parks. The morning was cool and brisk. I was greeted by a local ‘resident’ who chattered above my head as I passed.
We used to live a couple of blocks from Laurelhurst. However, now, getting there by foot takes time, so I wasn’t able to stick around for long, since I had muffins in the oven. However, I was taken by this park’s beauty this morning. The colors. The huge trees. The happy people out for their morning strolls. It was all a magnificent treat!
As I walked, I thought about everything that I have to be thankful for in my life. I whispered a prayer and sent it on the wind, to someone I love who isn’t feeling well. I thought of our Maya in Seattle, of Ingrid, probably still asleep, of Kelley and Alex and of little Arlo in Texas. I also smiled to think of my little puppy at home, who was just waking up when I walked back into the house. Here she is with her favorite toy, “Baby”. She sleeps with it every night and carries it around the house with her just like my 2 year old used to carry her blankie everywhere.
The aroma of cinnamon and coffee greeted me when I got back. The house felt welcoming, and I felt gratitude. I certainly have much to be thankful for on this glorious Portland morning!
So now, I shall begin my day….with a statistics lesson, a songwriting class, a guitar class, a music theory class…a trip to the studio…a nice visit with John and with Sarah Beth, who is staying with us for awhile. But I won’t do any of it until I’ve had a cuppa hot coffee and a muffin!
Life sometimes seems like a turbulent river threatening to drown us and destroy the world. Why, then, shouldn’t we cling to the certainty of the shore….to our familiar patterns and habits?
As I contemplate the question of risk-taking today, I realize that I have suffered no major losses in my life for at least several years. I still have the same home, the same possessions. My children are all well. Although my husband could be better, he is still vital and happy. My parents are still living. I have not lost a single friend since I can remember…yet if I thought about how much all this means to me, I could live in terror at the very thought of losing any part of it. I simply refuse to live in fear.
Even though all of these familiar patterns, people and possessions that have rocked my world for so long remain steadfast in my life, I have to ask myself, “Am I in danger if anything happens to overturn what iI have?”…and the answer is: No.
Fear-based clinging prevents us from the satisfying experience of being fully alive. Therefore, I am prepared to let go of anything about my life that I have no control over…and if whomever or whatever it is decides to stick around, well…good. I’m happy.
Being willing to let go of things that are not in my control prepares me for their loss. Of course, I would be upset if I lost a family member…if I lost a friend….but I will not live my life in fear of this happening. I refuse to live that way. I am a much happier person because of it.
Being fully present in my own life, and not being dictated by fear, is what keeps me fully awake and alive. Living in the moment and being grateful for every person that I love, every possession that I own and every moment that I have, allows me to appreciate these people, places and things while I have them, rather than clinging to the fear that I will lose them. In other words, allowing fear to overtake one’s life is the same as allowing fear to be in control.
Gratitude. That is the key.
John Milton once wrote, ” Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever, how we experience life and the world.”
When I rise each morning, I vow to cherish what I do have and enjoy them all while I have them. I meditate and awaken the gratitude within me, and I cherish what I have in that moment, rather than waste my energy fearing that I will lose whatever or whomever applies.
Gratitude for what we have in the here and now, opens the door to personal power. It opens the door to wisdom and to the creativity of the universe. If you find yourself hitting your head against a brick wall over some issue that you want or feel you need to control, try simply letting go.
The door can easily be opened with gratitude.
I am even grateful for those obstacles that have presented themselves along the way, as these things have made me even stronger and more resolute to continue my life’s journey. I view the world through grateful eyes. Since I have enlisted in this practice, the whole world has changed before me and I see things a completely different way…so if things do change, I will embrace the change and move ever forward, being grateful still.
Yesterday was supposed to be the last of the heat for this Portland summer. We decided to take our house guest up to Mt. Hood, where it is nice and cool, to spend the afternoon. The sky was clear and blue giving us a most stunning view from our table.
After a nice, light lunch of fruit, bread, salad and wine, John delighted his favorite dance partner with a graceful spin to the 1940’s music that was playing. Ingrid loves to dance and so does John.
Even in the heat of summer, there was a little smattering of snow on the peak of the mountain. Ingrid made it her goal (and life’s passion) to touch the snow.
So, of course, I could not let her down. Touch the snow she did!
I never get tired of the views around Timberline Lodge. I’ve been there dozens of times, yet each time I go, the snow has formed a new pattern. There are different combinations of colors. The atmospheric conditions cause the sky to look some way that is different from the way it looked the last time. There is simply no getting tired of this place. It is far more beautiful than photos can convey.
No matter which direction one turns, while there, he or she can witness awesome beauty.
Even the reflection behind the hand-forged wrought iron window detail was beautiful.
Land of the Free – Home of the Grateful (me!) 🙂 I am so thankful to live here!
Ingrid was full of joy….happy, carefree….and so was I.
It was a beautiful day.
In the early dawn of happiness
you gave me three kisses
so that I would wake up
to this moment of love
I tried to remember in my heart
what I’d dreamt about
during the night
before I became aware
of this moving
I found my dreams
but the moon took me away
It lifted me up to the firmament
and suspended me there
I saw how my heart had fallen
on your path
singing a song
Between my love and my heart
things were happening which
made me recall everything
You amuse me with your touch
although I can’t see your hands.
You have kissed me with tenderness
although I cannot see your lips
You are hidden from me.
But it is you who keeps me alive
Perhaps the time will come
when you will tire of kisses
I shall be happy
even for insults from you
I only ask that you
keep some attention on me.
The illustration above exemplifies the need for peace on a global level…but with all things global, change begins with the individual.
Where does one begin to affect reconciliation, peace and understanding on a personal level?
When I feel violated I can usually just blow it off. After all, I have a good life and much for which I am thankful. I’m pretty easy going and definitely forgiving. It can be difficult to simply let go…but I’m pretty good at doing that.
Peace begins in one’s own heart, right? Who wants or needs trouble? Who wants or needs drama?
Well, it seems that some people thrive on it.
Before I start sounding as though I think I am morally superior to anyone else, I must say that just like everyone else, I have buttons that can be pushed, and when they are pushed, I can come out swinging. I make a pretty good sparring partner when I set my mind to it….but why waste the energy getting dragged into some trashy lower-life situation?
Under certain circumstances revenge sounds sweet, but it never is…Not really….not on a personal level and not on a global one. It is a vexation to the spirit.
However, what does one do when the other person does not stop?
Simply let it go.
I find this decision the universal solution.
The best thing to do when someone is in your face is to simply move forward. Try to affect good in the world. Reach out in peace and in the spirit of love and try to understand the other person’s perspective. Be better than anyone that is trying to hurt or anger you. Reach out in love.
This applies to every person on every level. Be good. Be kind. BE BETTER. Send love.
Take pity on those that malign you, for they do so from issues that have nothing to do with you. Try to view the world from their perspectives in order to better understand what they might be experiencing. Be better. Add no fuel to the smoke and simply let the negative feelings fall away.
After all…they are only smoke.
“Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney.”
My daughter, Sarah, has managed to injure her shoulder and has been in pain lately. Her daughter, Ingrid, age 4, wanted to do something to help, so she and I opened a little lemonade stand yesterday. This is how she greeted her customers:
The agreement was that she would do the work that it took to open the stand and that she would save 1/3 of the money earned, give 1/3 of it away and keep 1/3 of it to buy something for herself.
So many parents forget to teach their children the value of money when they are young. I observed Ingrid thinking about this yesterday, planning which piggy bank she would put her funds into, making plans to buy herself something special, but most importantly, how she could help her mother. She was most sincere about her intentions, and did not hesitate to discuss this with her customers. I just sat on the porch and watched her in amazement as she dealt with customer after customer.
I was so impressed by her maturity and the selfless nature of her endeavors. She wanted to give her mother ALL of her money for chiropractic treatment, but we insisted that she do the 1/3’rds thing.
Ingrid worked so hard throughout the process! She squeezed the lemons herself while I made the lavender-infused simple syrup to add to the juice. I did not hear a single complaint from this child!
It was unusually hot for a Portland day, but Ings patiently sat at her little station can called out to people as they passed. I had to make sure she had plenty of water on hand so she wouldn’t get dehydrated. I could only let her stay out for about half an hour because I didn’t want her to get overheated.
This is a picture of her with her first earned dollar! I’m going to frame it for her.
There are simply no words to describe how proud I am of this little child. She knows the meaning of the word, “benevolence” and asked me, “Gams, is it really, really benevolent to do this for my mama?”
“Yes, Ingrid,” I replied. “It certainly is!”
Proctor & Gamble has issued a press release regarding a voluntary recall they are performing on select Iams and Eukanuba dry dog & cat foods, due to a possibility of Salmonella contamination. Fortunately, according to P&G, there have not yet been any reports of illness due this contamination.
List of Affected Foods
Please protect your pets! These are both very good dog food brands, but sometimes things happen. Right?