Sunday, May 31, 2009

Um, OK....

Snowing on May 31st. I guess it's a good thing that I haven't planted the seeds yet!



Plant a Row/Grow a Row

Plant a Row/Grow a Row is a Canada-wide campaign to encourage people to grow a bit of vegetables in their own gardens for their community food banks and soup kitchens.

There are organizations in the Near North Ontario region who have already put a call out for donated food from people's gardens, such as The Gathering Place in North Bay. If you are unsure if your local food bank or soup kitchen would like food, just approach them, and if possible, find out what type of vegetables they can really use.

Many folks are feeling the pinch right now with the economy the way it is, so by simply planting and growing one row of veggies in your garden can really make a difference!



Thursday, May 28, 2009

Peter Dolls

No doubt I had an impish grin when I first read about 'Peter Dolls' being in my Great Grandmother's practice. I have been quite zealous in trying to track down their origin, but I have been left to guess.

A little while back, I had turned to a Traditional Witchcraft forum to see if anyone else had an idea, and one of the suggestions posted was that it could be Hoodoo. The search continues.

So what exactly are these elusive Peter Dolls? Well, I am not certain if I have seen one myself (there may have been a glimpse caught in my Grandmother's sewing room, but whatever doll it was, my Grandmother has insisted that it was not for the eyes of children!), but from what I gather, they are poppets made from fabric or wool and stuffed with wool and herbs. Their unique feature is a large phallus.

There is no mention of what types of herbs are stuffed into the doll, but colour plays an important role: red to bring virility, white to bring fidelity, and black to bring impotence. My assumption is that as the midwife of the area, that she made these for the wives of the settlement.

If anyone has heard of any similar poppets, or if you have an idea of the origin of the Peter Dolls, I certainly would love to hear your input. :)



Monday, May 25, 2009

Another Maple Syrup & Veggies Recipe

This is just something that I kind of threw together. All the ingredients are regional (either local or from Ontario). I thought it was pretty tasty, but others might find it a tad weird!

To see the other maple syrup/veggies concoction I posted, click here.

Stir Fried Veggies w/ Maple Syrup & Cilantro

8 large white mushrooms (I wish I could find where the local morels are!)
1/8 red cabbage, chopped
1 large sweet potato, cubed
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 leek, chopped
6 asparagus, chopped
1 teaspoon of better, room temperature
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 handful of cilantro, roughly chopped (mine was frozen from last summer, it is so much better fresh!)

Melt butter in a pot, and throw in leek and sweet potato. Add a bit of water and let simmer for about 4 minutes on medium to low heat. Add carrot and more water if necessary, and let simmer for about 2 minutes. Add red cabbage, simmer for 1 minute. Finally, add mushrooms, asparagus and cilantro and simmer for about 3 minutes.

Turn off element, but keep pot on it and add maple syrup and stir well.

You could eat this with rice or maybe even amaranth seeds!



Sunday, May 24, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Final Seed List

A little preview of some of our seeds!

In January I had originally posted a list of what we had so far, and what we wished to have. The final is not as long a list as I had hoped, but I'd say it's pretty good for a project that has not received any funding so far. We've been working with the kind donations of community members, and out of pocket donations from Locavore members.

Below is the list of what we are going to be growing this year for the community garden project (we might get some heirloom tomato plants donated to us as well!):


Laxton's Progress Peas
Norli Peas
Uchiki Kuri Squash
Buttercup Squash
Scarlet Runner Pole Beans
Tender Green Pole Beans
Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans
Contender Bush Beans
Provider Bush Beans
Coreless Nantes Carrots
Denvers Half-Long Carrots
Early Wonder Beets
French Breakfast Radishes
Cherry Belle Radishes
German Giant Radishes
Bright Lights (Rainbow) Swiss Chard
Bloomsdale Long-standing Spinach
Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce
Red Oak Leaf Lettuce
Bunching Evergreen Onions


Sweet Woodruff
Tall Climbing Nasturtiums
Dwarf Jewel Nasturtiums
Garden Sage
Lemon Balm


Sweet Cream Marigolds
Woodland/Woodside Gold Columbine
White Columbine
Rose Queen Salvia
Bijou Sweetpeas
Daydream Cosmos
Pizzicato Poppies

So we finally have our seeds together, some plants already growing, now it's just time to get them all in the ground.



Another Great Article from Animá

I found this article today over at the Animá blog, and thought others might find it interesting.

It is in the same vein of a post that I have had on the backburner for sometime about my stance on cultural (mis)appropriation within Pagan practice and worship. I might get around to finishing it one day.

The article Reindigenation: Matters of Respect & Belonging by Jesse Wold Hardin.

You can see another nifty article that I posted of his called Why Not? here.



Friday, May 22, 2009

Wortcunning: Common Comfrey {Symphytum officinale}

Nodding gaily as Fine Folks nest
Just a leaf or two please
To bring my poor bones rest
Take over my fields
To nourish my fold
I harbour my Blackwort
More than I do gold.
~ Blackwort
, dated around the late 1800's.

{The above is a rhyme I had found in my Great Grandmother's writings; I am not sure if she had wrote it or if it was passed down to her.}

Other Names: Knitbone, Ass Ear, Blackwort, Yalluc, Church Bells, Bruisewort, Consound

Description: Common Comfrey is a prolific perennial that is a member of the borage family. It is native to Europe and can now be found growing wild in many parts of North America.

It grows to about 4 feet in height and has large black roots that can go quite deep and spread, which has helped earned its reputation as a 'weed'. The leaves are oval to lance shaped that get large and hairy as it matures. The flowers are quite lovely and come in the colours purple, pink or white.

Photo from Nova

Warnings: As with all herbs, one should make sure to be thoroughly informed before ingesting them, and is best to do so under the guidance of a qualified healer.

Comfrey has apparently been found to cause liver damage when ingested in large enough amounts, and can possibly be linked to cancer when ingested as well. Several governments have banned products with Comfrey in it.

The highest amount of the problematic alkaloid in Comfrey is in the roots, and the leaves have more as they mature. If you choose to ingest it, it might be a good idea to only consume the young leaves, as they have almost none of this alkaloid.

When the plant is mature enough its leaves can be quite prickly, so wearing gloves to handle it might be necessary, especially on broken skin.

Cultivating: The natural habitat for Comfrey are river banks, hedgerows, meadows, woodland edges, ditches, and other moist areas. It can also make itself at home with very little help in cultivated beds and yards. It does well in hardiness zones 3b to to 9 and is frost resistant.

Other types of Comfrey (such as Bocking 14) are propagated by root cuttings, but Common Comfrey can be grown from seed or plants that can be easily found online or at nurseries.

Plant in full sun to part shade, once the soil is easy enough to work, in an area that holds enough moisture. Once its taproots develop, it can be quite drought resistant. It can grow in just about any soil type (it is great to grow in clay if you want to break it up!), but for best results, plant in rich and well-drained soil.

One important thing to keep in mind is that Comfrey spreads and grows quickly, so if you want to avoid it taking over your garden then plant in a well contained area! Depending on location, Comfrey flowers anytime between May to September.

Photo from Nova

Medicinal/Remedial Properties and Lore: Anodyne, astringent, demulcent, emollient, expectorant, haemostatic, homeopathic, nutrient, pectoral, pulmonary, refrigerant, tonic, vulnerary.

Comfrey is one of those herbs that has been used for so many different ailments throughout history, and still today.

Brother Aloysius recommended a cup of Comfrey tea a day for those who were prone to obesity. He also suggested its use for coughs, acne, diarrhea, cancer (funnily enough!), cholera, excessive menstrual bleeding, and dysentery (Comfort to the Sick).

Nicholas Culpeper held it in pretty high esteem; he said of Comfrey, 'This is a very common but a very neglected plant. It contains very great virtues.' He thought it was good for gout, hemorrhoids, gangrene, fevers, and (Complete Herbal).

One of its most popular uses earned it the nick 'knitbone' as an aid for broken bones. Pliny noted that when he boiled the roots in with meat, a gluey substance held two pieces of meat together.

The allantoin in Comfrey may be at the root of this healing property. It is also a pain reliever and can be placed over a sore area when prepared as a poultice. These two properties also make Comfrey suitable to help treat sprains, bruises, sores, and cuts.

Another historical and modern use of Comfrey is to help combat internal bleeding. Old Saxon texts recommended it for this use, as well as John Gerard who said it was good for 'those who spit blood and have inward wounds and burstings'. Today it is sometimes taken internally for ulcers.

Wisewoman Susun Weed sings the praises of Comfrey to help keep memory, and nourish the body. Below is a video of her showing how to make a Comfrey infusion:

Magical Properties and Lore: From the Blackroot rhyme at the top of this post, I gather that at least some folks believe that Comfrey is connected with Faeries.

I have heard that it is both associated with the elements of water and earth, as well as the planet Saturn. I have also seen several mentions that it is a beloved herb of the Goddess Hecate, and is an appropriate offering planted in a garden for Her, or a bouquet placed at on an altar for Her.

A few cultures thought that Comfrey would protect travellers, including Saxons. In England, sprigs were sometimes given to bards as well as pilgrims travelling to sacred sites; in other parts of Europe, travellers would place leaves in their shoes, wear it as a charm around the neck, or weave it into the manes of horses to protect them and their charge.

Another potential use for Comfrey is for prosperity and protection magic for the home and for land. It can be used in a ritual, or hung about the home, or planted on the land for this purpose.

I especially like honing its 'binding' properties in my workings whether for protection, to help me to 'stick' to the right path, or to heal old 'wounds'. If you are going this route, make sure you mean it, as Comfrey is quite effective!

Photo from Anneli Salo

Other Uses: Comfrey is an excellent fertilizer for the garden! You can make a liquid fertilizer out of it (it is stinky but so worth it!), mulch your garden beds with it, and use it as a compost activator. To see the fertilizer recipe, as well as get more info on its uses in the garden, click here.

Comfrey is also a great fodder for livestock, especially backyard chickens. ;)



Thursday, May 21, 2009

Celtfest & Etsy Shop Update

Celtfest is coming to North Bay again this year, on Saturday June 6th. It will be held this time at the beautiful Champlain Park, and will be going from 9 am to 5pm.

Their will be Irish and Scottish music, traditional dancing, heavy competitions, sheep herding and dog agility competitions, and the 'Cheers' (or what I call Slàinte! ;) ) tent and lots of neat vendors. It is $10.00 at the door.

At 7:30 there will be Celtic Ceilidh at Cecil's Bar and Eatery on Main Street. The Strange Potatoes will be there, and it is $8.00 at the door.

If you are in the area, stop on by!

Also, our Etsy shop will be closed until May 31st.



Corporate Marketing High-Jacks Local Food

I just caught wind of this yesterday, and while I am snarly over the whole idea, I can't really say that I am surprised.

Frito-Lay Co-opts Local Food Movement, and More on the Way

You can easily tell when a social movement has begun to take hold and actually make real change: when it’s co-opted by corporations. And today marks that moment when the local food movement is officially legitimized in the scariest sense. And that means the real fight has begun.

You can read the rest of it here.

Here is an article about the campaign:

When ‘Local’ Makes It Big

When Jessica Prentice, a food writer in the San Francisco Bay area, invented the term “locavore,” she didn’t have Lay’s potato chips in mind.

But never mind. On Tuesday, five potato farmers rang the bell of the New York Stock Exchange, kicking off a marketing campaign that is trying to position the nation’s best-selling brand of potato chips as local food.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Apparently one of the reasons for this marketing stunt was to 'create community', to show farmers. So when you open a bag of their chips, you will get that wonderful feeling when you shop at the farmers' market. To me that is dishonest.

These 'tatters come from huge industrialized farms. As a locavore and an advocate for sustainable food production, to me that is not the same thing as getting 'tatters from the Amish family farm at the market.

In the spirit of flushing out B.S. I dedicate this video to Frito-Lay. ;)

Ænema by Tool



Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My New Seasonal 'Roommates'

My balcony has become quite the hub for critters! The Cedar Waxwings have set up their nest in one of the cedar hedges in front of my balcony, and it looks like a pair of Robins will set up shop in another one.

Also for the last two days now a Little Brown Bat has been lodging here. He is more than welcome to stay as long as he likes, and he will certainly 'earn his keep' by keeping away the mosquitoes!

I snapped a few photos of him this morning:

And here are a couple of better photos of to show what they look like:

Photo from dashananda

Photo from randomtruth

Aymi has sadly left back to Toronto to prepare for her move out west, which she will update you all on more once she gets herself settled in.

I spent the weekend reminding myself how soft I have grown over the Winter while shovelling loads of free compost for the garden project. Lol.



Monday, May 18, 2009

Sightings in the Bay & Small Blog Update

First, I have added links to the sidebar menu for our 'Recommended Reading'. So you just click on the photo of each subject and it will take you to the list. Now the sidebar is a little less lengthy!

On to the photos!

These are just a few shots that I've taken in the last week or so while out and about North Bay and area.

These first ones were taken from my friend Marlo's woodland garden (*sigh*) with her camera:

These were taken while I was with Aymi:

{Contents found in Aymi's hotel room bedside drawer}

{Owl candle from Mary Ink}

{It's always Christmas to some folks up here!}

{This is certainly one of the cutest buildings in North Bay}

{Some of my Crow friends hanging out}

{Atlantic & Squeeky portraits...they're such hams!}