Sunday, April 26, 2009

While I'm Away...

Here are some lovely pictures to look at while I'm spending time with my mother this week. My daughter took them yesterday; they're of a small Japanese magnolia we have out back. It was small and scrawny when we first moved in 7 1/2 years ago. I almost got rid of it, and every summer while trying to mow around it, I would secretly harbor thoughts of running the thing over.

I'm glad I didn't because it's finally come into its own. This is the first year that I have been absolutely delighted with its springtime offering.

Patience is all that was needed.

Click on this one to get the full effect:
Only someone cruel and heartless would mow such a thing over : )

Friday, April 24, 2009


I'll most likely have fewer posts next week due to my mom's visit. Here are some things that we will potentially be doing:

Visit Amish country.

Walk around the quaint downtown part of our nice little town.

Take a ferry out to Kelley's Island on Lake Erie.

Walk a few trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Visit the quaint town of Peninsula right next door.

Go look at local university where hubby works and kids attend classes.

Tour Stan Hywett Hall (a local mansion).

Tour Hale Farm and Village (one of those places which has been preserved like it was long ago and you can see life re-enacted as it was in the 17- and 1800's).

Eat at some nice restaurants.

Walk dog : )

It'll be lots of fun to see my mom. She lives pretty far away and we don't get to see each other very often.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


My mother is coming for a visit next week. She was waiting for the weather to warm up here before she came (she lives in Phoenix). I'm not sure if I should tell her that we had snow flurries this morning...

Here's hoping the weather behaves and puts on a nice show for her visit =^.''.^=

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Where Am I Going?

And why am I in this handbasket?

Okay, maybe I'm not going there. Apparently I'm going to bad gardener's heaven, where these come up in your vegetable garden bed:

And these beauties come back, even after you've rototilled them away:

And the weeds in your lawn look like this:

And this:

And you have trees, the names of which you can't remember (edit - Japanese magnolia, or tulip tree), but they look like this just before they burst into bloom:

And these little things pop up here and there to surprise you:

And where even the softest of colors are glorious:

Friday, April 17, 2009


Within the past week, one cat and one computer have been fixed.

My very own computer seems to have been fixed (cross fingers, knock on wood), so no more sneaking into other people's rooms while they're sleeping and trying to type very quietly.

And the stray cat who came for Christmas, went to a new home, and then rebounded back here recently, has been fixed. I think I am single handedly financing the local veterinary industry =^..^=

A Beautiful Day

Wow, what a nice day we've had today. Sunny, warm.

I've been doodling around with a couple of story ideas. Yesterday a new and promising idea came and I started outlining and writing. In the middle of the night the 'twist' I was searching for popped into my head and so today I rewrote the smattering I already had. I've got a good start.

I get excited about ideas sometimes and start the writing and really think things are going wonderfully for a few days. Then I'll actually think about what I'm writing and say, "Ugh, what in the world was I thinking?"

I'm still at the excited stage with this one, but I think I may be able to take this one all the way to the end. Why? Because I can actually envision the end, and that's a big stumbling block with most of my other ideas. I can't see the end, not even a whisper of it. For me that makes it hard to write what leads up to it. The end doesn't have to be fully realized, but I have to know enough for it to act as a guide for what lies between it and the beginning.

And since today has been so nice, I was able to do a lot of my writing outside with pen and notebook. I was so involved with my writing that the poor dog's little wimpers and woofs, reminding me that there was a ball that needed to be thrown, went mostly unheeded.

He must think I'm crazy, to be outside and NOT want to throw a ball!

Monday, April 13, 2009


Last Saturday we set our little garden seedlings outside to enjoy a bright, sunny day. We've been doing that when the days are warm and sunny enough. We bring them in again before nightfall and set them under a grow light, which we switch off before turning in for the night.

On Saturday, however, after returning home late in the evening from a wedding reception and then mixing egg dye and coloring eggs until almost midnight, we completely forgot about our little seedlings.


Easter morning greeted us with bright sunshine, a hard frost, and a tray full of dead seedlings. All gone, except for some evening primrose and one hyssop plant.

So I spent some time today re-seeding the little pop-up pots. At least they'll have a few short weeks head start. We won't be able to plant outdoors here for a little while yet.

So much for planning ahead. At least we gave organized thinking a try : )

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

Bunny? What bunny?

24 eggs were hidden, but only 23 were found. Why?

Me: Place mug of water in microwave. Turn Microwave on.

Husband, dashing into kitchen: "Nooo! Not the Microvwave!!"

Microwave: POP!

Egg count 23

Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Told you

Okay, so we did get our late snowstorm. Bad news - we got a few inches. Good news - it couldn't stand up to the return of the sun today.

We had tons of robins in our backyard yesterday hunting for worms where the dog had trampled the snow away. But today it looks like spring might just be thinking of sticking around and the robins are now more widely dispersed.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen

I just finished (re)reading the three books in Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy.

I still like them. In fact, I think that they are some of my favorite books. I will even say that the third, Abhorsen, is one of my top favorite books and it has my favorite ending of any book I've ever read.

I like the feel of the worlds that Nix places us into with these books, and I am in awe of the things that his imagination conjured up for these stories. Things like Charter magic; two different worlds with very different realities separated only by a wall; the seven bells that are used as tools by the Abhorsen; the nine gates of Death; and creatures like Mogget the cat and The Disreputable Dog.

The first book, Sabriel, introduces us to the Old Kingdom, land of Charter magic; and the country of Ancelstierre, reminiscent of an early 1900's England. If the last book contains my favorite ending, this first book contains my favorite beginnning. I listened to this book as an audio book read by Tim Curry the first time I became acquainted with it, and the beginning drew me in immediately. And I was in awe the whole time with the bells and drawing magic down from the ever-flowing Charter. The Abhorsen must use the bells and the Charter to keep the Dead in their place - and the necromancers who would use the dead to wreak havoc and gain power.

Sabriel, daughter of the Abhorsen and raised in a bording school in Ancelstierre, is thrust into being Abhorsen when her father disappears and a terrible and powerful entity is loose in the Old Kingdom. She barely knows the Old Kingdom but must go there to face her duties, find her father, and keep the Dead at bay.

The second book, Lirael, is excellent. It's about Lirael, a daughter of the Clayr - Seers who live in a glacier (another amazing part of the intricate world that Nix creates). In Lirael we are introduced to the title character who doesn't quite fit in, and the friend she creates with powerful Charter magic - the Disreputable Dog. We also come to know Prince Sameth, son of Sabriel, and his struggles to live up to being the Aborsen in waiting.

Lirael and Sameth's paths cross right when things are going downhill fast in the Old Kingdom. A couple of extremely powerful necromancers are on the loose, but something even more dangerous, more powerful, is behind a very carefully laid plan which has loosed all kinds of Dead.

The third book, Abhorsen, picks up where Lirael ends. It's a masterfully drawn conclusion, full of revelations, emotions, tied-up ends, and a few left for us to tie ourselves. Hats off to Garth Nix, this really is one of my favorite books of all time. And that's all I will say because I don't want to give things away.

If you enjoy young adult fantasy, you might give these books a try. And even though there are a lot of dead things in them, it doesn't have a zombie feel. The places in the books feel real with problems which must be overcome, or at the very least, kept under control, and the walking Dead are part of that. Luckily, there is an Abhorsen who can draw upon the well-ordered Charter magic to counter the effects of free magic, which powers the Dead. How it all works is fascinating and not zombified at all.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Comfrey: A Cautionary Tale

I'll get right to the point. Comfrey is like some kind of miracle herb, able to help broken bones mend quickly and heal wounds and alleviate troubling skin conditions in a trice. The only problem is it's toxic to your liver. I will never, ever, use comfrey in any of my herbal preparations.

Comfrey contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, or PA's, which can be toxic to the liver and can cause liver damage. The FDA prohibits injested forms of comfrey from being sold in the U.S.

Comfrey root contains the highest concentrations of PA's, the next highest concentration is found in new leaves, and the lowest concentration in older leaves.

Comfrey is readily absorbed through the skin, hence the ability of topical preparations to aid in the healing of broken bones, and in the healing of wounds.

Using topical preparations containing comfrey should be done with caution, and only preparations made with comfrey leaves should be used - avoid the roots. And never put topical preparations containing comfrey on broken skin. Children should NEVER use any form of comfrey preparation under any circumstances.

I continue to be amazed at the amount of creams, salves, lotions, sitz bath "teas", etc., that are available which contain comfrey. I have even seen diaper rash creams which contain comfrey root extratives, and skin care salves with comfrey which proclaim to be "safe for the whole family."

I research the herbs I use to make sure they're safe. A lot of people think that because herbs are 'natural' that they are inherently safe. This is wrong. Medicinal herbs work because they contain chemical compounds that react with your body in the same - or a similar - way that manufactured chemical compounds (medicines) react with your body.

There are lots of natural things that are harmful, rattle snakes, hemlock, many types of mushrooms, many types of berries - you wouldn't eat any red berry you came across in the wild, would you? No. Why? Because many of them are poisonous. Even though they're natural.

So what I'm trying to say is, if you use herbal remedies, do your homework. Not everything you can lay your hands on is safe.

Below you can read what the University of Maryland Medical Center says about comfrey, or you can visit their alternative medicines page about comfrey here.

What UMMC has to say:

What's It Made Of?:

Comfrey contains substances that help skin regenerate, including allantoin, rosmarinic acid, and tannins. It also contains poisonous compounds called pyrrolizidine alkaloids.

Available Forms:

Oral comfrey products have been banned in the U.S. and many European countries, but topical preparations are still available.

Comfrey ointments (containing 5 - 20% comfrey), creams, poultices, and liniments are made from the fresh or dried herb, leaf, or root of comfrey species. Use only products made from leaves of common comfrey.

Be sure to buy comfrey preparations from established companies with good reputations, and who distribute their products through trustworthy and knowledgeable establishments. Follow dosage recommendations below.

How to Take It:


Never give a child comfrey by mouth, and do not apply creams or ointments containing comfrey to a child's skin.


Never take comfrey by mouth. Severe liver poisoning and even death may occur.
Use herb and leaf ointments, creams, and other topical preparations. Toxic alkaloids can be absorbed through the skin so it's important to follow these safety recommendations:

Never apply comfrey to broken skin.

Use only small amounts of comfrey-containing creams for no longer than 10 days at a time.
Do not use any comfrey product for more than 4 - 6 total weeks in a year.


Comfrey contains toxic substances that can cause severe liver damage and possibly even death. For this reason, comfrey and comfrey-containing products should never be taken orally.

Comfrey contains toxic substances that can be absorbed by the skin, so even topical preparations should be used for only a short time under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care provider.

Comfrey should never be applied to open wounds or broken skin.

Do not use comfrey if you have liver disease, alcoholism, or cancer.

Children, the elderly, and pregnant or breastfeeding women should not use comfrey products -- either orally or topically -- under any circumstances.

Possible Interactions:

There are no known scientific reports of interactions between comfrey and conventional medications. Some herbs that have also been known to cause liver problems, such as kava, scullcap, and valerian, should not be used while using comfrey ointment or cream because of the increased potential for liver damage