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Pink Brutus Knits Blog

Call me Perchta

I've found it to be increasingly difficult - managing the line of personal real life and the shared life of a knitter.  It's far easier for me to wax knitting here and elsewhere online because that's what I do and even if I can't always share the details of my projects while they're in progress, it does take up the majority of my days, mind space, and energy.  However, I'm not just a knitter as no one person is any one thing.

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Do you know Perchta? I think she must be a Scorpio because she is a goddess that resonates in me.  She, a birch goddess, is the patron of spinning and weaving wool.  She is a contradiction to herself, appearing as both beautiful and young, and haggard and elderly.  Many of the known patterns she presented in folk lore are strikingly parallel to old saint nick - a giver that enters the home through the chimney at the end of the year who sweeps and leaves a trinket or coin or a vicious punisher that slices open the guts of the lazy and badly behaved, stuffing them with straw.  She was one of those deities that was either greatly loved or feared.  I can really get down with that.  The giver and the taker, the sweet and the scornful, the lovely and old.  I'm growing tired of the roles and rules I've assigned myself to, feeling like there are parts of me that rarely see sun or water and maybe because of that, she's been on my mind.

I feel like a broken record here at times, repeating the need for maintaining balance of life and work, self and care, giving and reserving, growing and slowing.  My days are quiet but busy and the uninterrupted moments for thinking, working, calculating, are often frighteningly few with constant calls, texts, emails, and alarms alerting me of my own coming and going patterns.  The kids have off schedules so my fall break is a mere two day period.  One kid is off and the other isn't and my mornings and afternoons are stacked up. Not that I'm complaining by a mile; it is just that fact of my days.

Today, though, is my last day of fall break and I spent it for me, in my way, as I haven't done in maybe years.  I spent an hour on the mat after half a cup of coffee.  With every cat to cow, the puppy would jump up and put his paws on my shoulders and look right into my face.  He's crazy.  When I would move into forward bends, he would do his very best downward dog on the mat in front of me.  Vinyasa flow makes all three dogs go nuts, running around me, barking at each other, and my sweet shavasana is synonymous with three dog tongues all slapping at my face for five minutes.  It was sunny and cool so I made my way out to the garden to gather some of the fresh basil growth that I noticed the other day.  The entire bed had gone to seed and died back weeks ago, but out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a lush green bush.  It was totally random, but I gathered and froze it this afternoon.  The remainder of the day was spent preparing the medicine cabinet. 

You know those "there are two types of people" things that circulate the internet?  Like, cat vs dog people or people who eat pizza with utensils vs hands... I think there are people who go to the doctor for everything and people who go to their garden.  Now, I've historically been a mix of both with a bit of weight stacked to the garden side.  When I was first diagnosed with Lupus about 8 or 9 years ago, I didn't get on medication or even complete all of the testing because my doctor warned that once I did so, it would be in my medical records and I wouldn't qualify for health insurance ever again, ever.  SO, I used a whole lot of over the counter pain killers.  I suffered horrible flare-ups lasting up to three months. There were long spans of time where I couldn't walk or use my hands. The pain that engulfed me was unbearable and I spent days on end in bed with a bottle of whiskey to ease my suffering.

A few years back, when the healthcare system changed, I went back to the rheumatologist and got on plaquenil along with high dosage vitamins that I was severely deficient in.  Things began moving in the right direction and I hadn't had a flare in nearly a year - then the side effects began.  The first was a rash that looked like giant ring worm circles that covered most of my body... in the middle of the summer.  Each side effect stepped in behind the next and I got off the plaquenil.  After a lot of research, dead ends, and frustration, I started the search for anti-inflammatory herbs and oils.  Lupus is an auto-immune disorder, but my symptoms range so wildly that to focus on the hair loss or the tingling or the brain fog didn't seem logical.  What I needed to focus on was the root.

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The newest addition to my arsenal against inflammation is Emu Oil.  All you folks out there who would collapse at the thought of using Emu fat as a topical treatment might want to scroll down right about now.  Emu oil is not cheap, you must be extremely careful that you're buying pure oil from certified, reputable, and humane sources, but from the limited time I've been using it, I think it's worth the effort.  My dad suffers from the most extreme case of shingles that I've ever seen.  The flesh from his palms cracks, peels off in thick slabs, and bleeds.  He's actually using Emu products from this company after I shared the info with my mom and they're sharing his results on the Emu Joy website.  I ordered it because there is evidence that it helps relieve Lupus pain.  That's basically unheard of.

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This is my second year growing calendula and my harvest increased ten-fold this year from last.  I allow about 10% of my blooms to go to seed for a volunteer crop and it seems to be working out great.  Even though my habit is to buy a pack of seeds each year just to be safe, the seeds grown the previous year always produce great results no matter what I'm growing.  It's mid-October and I'm still harvesting blooms daily with a whole new plant just now producing buds!

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The dried blooms are getting the olive oil treatment for 6 weeks.  Once the oil is ready, I'll be mixing half it with coconut oil, emu oil, and lavender oil, then preparing a beeswax base for my basic pain salve - the other half will be mixed with coconut oil, emu oil, white camphor oil, and macerated catnip with a beeswax base for a sore muscle salve.  I began growing catnip about 7 years ago as a small indoor plant for the cats.  I grew tired of it and plopped it in the garden.  To my surprise it grew wildly into a 4 ft bush, then began to spread... those fabulous mint-varieties, right?  I transferred a small portion of it to the new house when we moved in two years ago and it has spread like wild fire.  It has all but taken over the front garden, and finds its way into the cracks of the brick patio, raised beds, and potted plants.  It's good stuff to have on hand though - and it's actually sort of wasted on cats.  I use it for headaches, inflammation, and stress reliever.

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I also threw together another jar of reishi mushroom - this is an alcohol tincture that honestly takes almost a year to process from start to finish.  I have one batch that I just finished and decided I had better just keep the ball rolling.  With calendula, I use that salve so frequently that at this point I'm down to the last little bits from last year and I know I'll have to wait until I can harvest and dry the following years blooms to process more so, it's like oily gold around here.  The reishi I have a giant bag of, gifted to me from a friend.  As long as I have it, I can keep the process in rotation.  Reishi, when processed with alcohol extraction, is another powerful anti-inflammatory.  You may be catching on to a theme here.  The last thing on my list was to finally get the garlic in the ground.  I gathered the best looking heads of hard-neck that I harvested in the summer and processed it for seeding today.  I only put about 18 in the ground and now I'm feeling like that isn't nearly enough.

I also grew a small amount of chamomile this year and I haven't decided what I want to do with it yet. Suggestions welcome.

I'm feeling good about this year's stock-pile.  Now, back to working on that second book ;)

courtney spainhowerComment