Did I mention I’ve been busy? I’m so busy I didn’t even have time to take pictures for this post!
I’m about to start a bunch of new herbal concoctions, and have started a couple. Already brewing are a burdock glycerite and dandelion tincture (I go through that stuff so fast). I wasn’t able to get the brand of pisco I have used previously in my tinctures, as apparently the store where I bought it is no longer receiving any from their supplier. Sad face. So I went to a fancy-pants liquor store and bought some for three times the price. It is also 2% more alcholic and damn…that 2% packs a heck of a punch. To be honest, even though this new brand is fancier, I don’t like it quite as much. Whereas the previous brand I used was floral and reminded me of rose and grapes, this one tastes more like vanilla and citrus. Not bad by any means, I’m just disappointed my old favorite isn’t available.
So that I won’t have to charge three times as much for my next round of tinctures, I am probably going to dilute these new ones a bit. Since the alcohol is so much stronger I don’t think that will harm the quality. In the meantime I’ll try to find something more realistic…because I can’t afford this spendy booze long term!
I am about to start another batch of Balm of Gilead infused oil for making salve, and some more agrimony tincture (another one I go through very quickly). I really want to get some more melissa (lemon balm) going, but the grasshoppers completely devoured my plants. I’ve been on the fence about whether to purchase some dried herb, or wait until I move* and try growing it again in a place which will hopefully be less grasshopper-friendly.
*Yep, that’s another thing I’m doing–planning to move. It will be within the same city due to my mother’s health issues–she’s not strong enough to travel very far–and probably won’t happen for at least another 5-6 months.
Someone asked me through my Etsy shop if I would make some motherwort tincture, and I thought that was a great idea! Whether or not that person ultimately wants any, it’s a wonderful remedy and one I can use at home. I think that I may make it as a glycerite so that if anyone does want to use it while breastfeeding they won’t need to be worried about the alcohol (even though tincture is usually taken very diluted). It will take 4-6 weeks to prepare but then some will be available in my shop.
Meanwhile I have some calendula infused oil that I want to make into a salve. I just haven’t decided yet what all I want to go into the salve. Should it be just calendula, or should I add some other ingredients like perhaps chamomile, or comfrey, or something that doesn’t even start with C like Balm of Gilead? (Opinons are welcome in comments, by the way.) I also have some plantain oil. This was a terrible year for dandelions, unfortunately, but a good year for plantain. In fact, it’s the first year I’ve ever seen plantain around here. I don’t know what changed to make the environment friendly for plantain but I’m not complaining, it is a welcome neighbor.
I am also planning on making some jam. I’m a little late with that this summer. Last time I made blood orange marmalade with I think is pretty good, but my mom is not a fan and she’s the big jam-eater in this household. So I have too much of it. When I made that batch, I used Tattler reusable lids, and they didn’t seal right, so I can’t just keep jam jars in the cupboard until I can foist them off on some orange-loving friend. The next batch is going to be plum-grape, and I’m thinking of adding some elderberry or Siberian ginseng for extra medicinal punch. Making jam is a huge ordeal in this absurdly tiny kitchen. I like to have the canning equipment all sterilized, ready and waiting for use, but there’s no room to lay it all out. I am not joking when I say I have about 2 square feet of counter space. And a lot of that is covered with jars of tinctures or infusing oils of course.
I saved the saddest news for last because I don’t like thinking about it. Yesterday I found out my dog Shermie has a mast cell tumor. I had no suspicion of cancer; I took him to the vet for what I thought might be a hernia. I had asked his previous vet about the bump that would appear and disappear on his belly, what I thought might be a hernia, and they just shrugged their shoulders (there is a reason they are no longer my vet). Shermie is scheduled to have the tumor removed next week, and hopefully it will turn out to be one of the less-seriously malignant MCTs and they’ll be able to get it all. But it could turn out to be seriously malignant or metastasized and he may need chemo. They won’t know until they’ve removed it and had a look. If he needs chemo, I’ll find some way to get it for him, but I have no idea where that money will come from.
I often joke that I should have named this dog Prozac, because he is a happy pill in dog form. Dogs are wonderful creatures in general and every one I have lived with has made my life immeasurably better. I’ve lived with dogs my whole life, except for a couple of grief-pauses in between dogs. One of my earliest memories is being eye-to-eye with the pack of Australian shepherds my parents got before I was born. (Sidebar: They were better at supervising me than my dad was. I remain an enthusiastic proponent of herd-dog childcare.) But Shermie and I have a special bond that started even before I found him, when I started having dreams where I adopted a little mutt whose name was Shermie. I don’t think it would be possible for me to handle the stress of caring for my mother without him. I’ve had to move so much in the past few years, and as you may have deduced from previous posts, I am not enthusiastic about the city and region where I now live. A weird side-effect of spending your youth in grad school is that (unless you are independently wealthy) the opportunity cost includes all of our society’s traditional hallmarks of adulthood. My college friends who became doctors finished school years before I did, they make lots of money, own late model spendy cars and houses, are married and have kids. I gave all that up for a Ph.D. which, as fate would have it, is unlikely to factor into any future job prospects or earning potential. I didn’t know when I started the process that these things would have to be sacrificed, or that I would accrue quite such a staggering student loan debt, but even if I had known I might have made the same decision. My point with all this is that my life has been interesting but now that I’m in young-middle-age I am aware of how rootless it is. But wherever Shermie and I are together, that’s home. He’s my buddy, my partner in crime, my kid, my best friend. If something happens to him, I will finally be truly homeless whether I have a roof over me or not.
I’m really happy that I finally found a vet who uses holistic methods, including acupuncture and herbs as well as conventional medical treatment, but the other thing keeping me busy is researching herbs and fungi I can use to help Shermie’s condition. Please wish us luck. I’ll report back with anything I find out so others in this situation can hopefully benefit.