Thursday, January 31, 2008

testimonal week?

I have another product that I have not been without since I discovered it. Since I am slightly allergic to all the family of topical antiseptecs (bacitracin Neosporin, Polysporin, etc.) I use different and in my experience more effective natural products.
By far the best is a blend of herbs and plants in an aloe base that is made in North Carolina. Going by the name "Wounded Warrier" (supposed to have some of the plants that the Cherokee used) you can find it in health food stores or order it from
I find it to be a remarkable healing ointment for any kind of skin thing you have going on...from insect bites, scratches, abrasions, itchy rashes etc. I realized how great this stuff was when I recommend it to John for a scaly, red place on his nose that the doctor has treated several times and that John has treated with other ointments. I recommended he use 'Wounded Warrier" and within a week the skin on his nose looked better than I have seen in years, no long pink or scaly but smooth and a healthy skin tone.
There are lots of testimonials on the web site, however I take "testimonials with more than a grain of salt, however, even if the following is made up, I still like it.
Testimonal: I live in Venezuela at the moment and used a great deal of the Wounded Warrior, sharing it with others, while in the Amazon jungle in Ecuador this summer. The mosquitoes at that time were absolutely vicious there and all of us had scores of very itchy, painful bites. Wounded Warrior saved the day, as we applied it several times a day to help with itching and speed healing. Everyone loved it! I carried it everywhere with me, but unfortunately my backpack was stolen a couple of weeks later in a market town in Ecuador and I lost it. Cindy Renkas

Saturday, January 26, 2008

miracle preventation or placebo (Does it matter?)

Used at the very onset of a cold, even before the symptoms manifest themselves, I have found this product to be amazingly effective.
When I experience that slight, almost subliminal tingling at the back of my throat, I start aggressively using this spray. I will even keep it beside my bed so that when I wake up in the night I can spray in my mouth.
It seems to somehow stop the process of the cold progressing any further.
I also use this product as a preventative when I am in a setting where there are lots of infective agents (for example any classroom where I am substituting) or even if I have been out in public and someone has sneezed on or near me (hey, I'm not paranoid, really..)
other things I take regularly are turmeric (curcumin) and lots of vitamin C. there is also a lot of research on cumin that is very promising for a host of other ailments. (google it for yourself!)
In my experience these things DO NOT work for me:
Echinacea, Ginseng

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

strange connections

I picked up a hitch hiker today. I have never done this before. I was passing by and saw a nicely dressed Caucasian lady standing by the side of the road with her thumb out. There was something about her that compelled me to stop. She got in my car, I asked her where she was going and she named a destination about 20 miles away. I was on my way to visit with my former Spanish teacher who is now also my friend and could not take her the whole trip, but could certainly get her closer to her destination. I happened to mention that I travel to Mexico and compared the easy public travel there to how terrible the public mass transit is in this country. She immediately responded that she knew that well, because her husband was Mexican, living in Hidalgo state, and that she was returning there to stay in a few months. We switched to Spanish, and talked about how in Mexico several buses, many collectivos, and taxis that one could afford would have passed by the corner she was standing on, here there would pass exactly zero options for public transportation. We talked about what is offered as Mexican food here and commiserated that it was not even a pale reflection of real Mexican food. By that time, I had to let her out because I had arrived at my destination. When I finished my visit and exited onto the highway I looked for my hitch hiker, but she was gone. I wish her well.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

making small changes

cloth napkins instead of paper towels/napkins.
I have no illusions (delusions?) that anything I do will change the tipping point of death of so many creatures and the destruction of natural cycles that our behavior has caused. My actions are so insignificant compared to the plastic gyre the size of Texas in the Pacific, or for that matter the economic forces that focus on the bottom line and short term profits for a comparative few and the lack of concern by the overwhelming majority of anything beyond what they can buy (most Americans) or how can I get enough food and clean water to survive today(millions of people around the world)
Having said all the above, it is still amazing how much less paper products (paper towels and napkins) we have been using since I decided to use my quite colorful, beautiful, and washable cloth napkins. (from Patzcuaro). They take up no significant space in any load of clothes we wash and are completely colorfast.

Adios y que le vaya bien, Andee (Good Bye and go well, Andee)

PHOTO Credits from Andee's blog: Mylife in Chacala
I just found out that one of the people who I have met in my Mexican travels and who I consider a friend has died. I was fortunate enough to meet and spend some time with her in Mexico in 2005. She lived in a small town on the Pacific in Nayarit state. People think I am brave to travel to Mexico by myself (No I am not brave, Americans just do not know the country) but Andee truly was brave. She made the decision to move to Mexico, knowing little or nothing about the place she decided to live and came knowing little or no Spanish. She knew that with the retirement resources she had the quality of life she could have in the states would not be good and so decided to try living in Mexico. She had few possessions and was happier with having less. I remember one winter, she could not find a house sitting or place she could afford to rent and so decided to live in a tent on the beach for the winter months. She loved it! She had so many friends there and was well-loved by the locals who lived there. When I was there her social calendar was full of invitations to all kinds of events every day. The children were especially fond of her and the feeling was mutual. We had some conversations about death and dying,and I felt that she had no fear, was content to be where she was and planned to end her days there. She was a caring person with observations that pulled no punches, and who often had uncomplimentary things to say about insensitive gringos behaving badly. However, she was also a truly happy and content person and felt herself very lucky to be where she was. I only wish I had a chance to see her again, I know she wanted to return to Oaxaca one day, perhaps she can "travel" now to anywhere she wishes to go!
If you want to read her blog and see her photos, you can see it here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Last visit to Wilmington

These Canada geese are year round natives and are now breeding here in larger numbers. The mute swans are introduced and are now a breeding population, pretty birds but very destructive of marsh.

Since my friends are moving to another city my visit last week was most likely my last. I enjoy visiting there, but not enough to go just go there. And like so much of any of the area in coastal NC, the past 20 years with the out of control development has made it much less pleasant a place to be. Even the neighborhood walk that we take from my friend’s house has changed in the past year. Lots more people seem to feel that a huge concrete paved driveway is something they must have. Does not sound too alarming, but multiply that by thousands and the fact that the run off from a paved driveway is much worse for the surrounding waters than woodland or marsh and people should not be surprised that the water quality suffers. A sand, brick, pebble or oyster shell driveway, almost anything except asphalt or concrete allows the rainwater to be absorbed. Even an oyster shell driveway like ours is endangered, water quality is too dirty for oysters anymore and the few that are harvested in NC do not generate oyster shells because the state is encouraging and in some cases requiring the shells to be put back in the water so that the spats will have something to anchor too. A good idea even if the water quality is not good enough to harvest oysters for human consumption. Wilmington has a tremendous amount of traffic compared to when I first began visiting there and the planning and construction for the traffic has not kept pace. Of course, this is also a very wealthy demographic, so the usual pattern is one person per SUV, just like the place where I live.
These pictures are from Arlie Gardens which I have walked or driven by many times but never entered. This is an old estate that was bought by the local government, and represents the only undeveloped shoreline on Bradley Creek. It was much smaller than I imagined but had some beautiful old oaks and an impressive collection of camellias, some of which I am told are unique hybrids to this park.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

oriental persimmon tree

there are several oriental persimmon trees around town. This one near the old mill and unfortunately in a private yard is always prolific. I have been doing some research and think I will order one for my yard. I think this company offers the best prices and I think that the variety Tanenashi persimmon is the one best suited for my zone.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

we be southern

Saw this sign on the way to the grocery store, thought it interesting that it listed all the local down home foods on one sign.

We were invited to a evening worship service because a friend of ours has a daughter who is a deacon in the church. (our friend also happens to come every other week to clean our house, John has employed her for over 20 years now)
I am reminded how great cultural differences are in how church services are conducted, not only a racial, but also regional cultural difference. First, one rarely sits during the service, shouting out, dancing, waving of arms and moving around is the norm. On stage with the deacons (all women) was a band with an electric piano, drums, and two guitars, the music was gospel blues to accompany the sung and shouted praise. We were the only white folks there and tried to participate by standing, clapping, and swaying but only enough not to stand out more than we already did.

got shrooms?

the stump in my backyard had a nice fruiting yesterday. I think one of the reasons that I love mushrooms (besides the taste) is that they are so mysterious. Much of their life as mycelium is hidden from our view, the part that we see springs forth triggered by signals that we don't completely understand. The spores must be in the atmosphere all the time waiting (for years?) to find the suitable hardwood host to settle down and start the process of consuming the wood.
One of these days, I am going to fungi perfect and start growing mushrooms. But for now, I will look for and enjoy the serendipity of seeing the unexpected gifts.
From the fungi perfect catalog "These mushrooms are delicious when cut like steaks, basted with teriyaki and barbecued on a grill. "

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

my new year's resolution...use less plastic

I recycle my plastic, but the huge flaw in that reasoning is that the best case scenario is that it just makes more plastic. I am not saying that I will get down to zero plastic, but I can certainly do much better.

below is an excerpt from this article here.

More than 120 billion pounds of plastic resin are created in the U.S. alone - but only three to five percent of that is recycled in any way. Indeed, unlike glass, it is not possible to fully recycle plastic.

This news is depressing enough to make a person reach for the bottle. Glass, at least, is easily recyclable. You can take one tequila bottle, melt it down, and make another tequila bottle. With plastic, recycling is more complicated. Unfortunately, that promising-looking triangle of arrows that appears on products doesn’t always signify endless reuse; it merely identifies which type of plastic the item is made from. And of the seven different plastics in common use, only two of them — PET (labeled with #1 inside the triangle and used in soda bottles) and HDPE (labeled with #2 inside the triangle and used in milk jugs) — have much of an aftermarket. So no matter how virtuously you toss your chip bags and shampoo bottles into your blue bin, few of them will escape the landfill — only 3 to 5 percent of plastics are recycled in any way.

“There’s no legal way to recycle a milk container into another milk container without adding a new virgin layer of plastic,” Moore says, pointing out that, because plastic melts at low temperatures, it retains pollutants and the tainted residue of its former contents. Turn up the heat to sear these off, and some plastics release deadly vapors. So the reclaimed stuff is mostly used to make entirely different products, things that don’t go anywhere near our mouths, such as fleece jackets and carpeting. Therefore, unlike recycling glass, metal, or paper, recycling plastic doesn’t always result in less use of virgin material.