Miracle Max: “You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.”


The Princess Bride

Buttercup: We’ll never survive.

Westley: Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.

****

Buttercup: You mock my pain.

Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

****

Vizzini: HE DIDN’T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE.

Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

****

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Westley: I told you I would always come for you. Why didn’t you wait for me?

Buttercup: Well… you were dead.

Westley: Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.

Buttercup: I will never doubt again.

Westley: There will never be a need.

****

Westley: Why won’t my arms move?

Fezzik: You’ve been mostly-dead all day.

****

Man in Black: Look, are you just fiddling around with me or what?

Fezzik: I just want you to feel you’re doing well.

****

Prince Humperdinck: [draws sword] For the last time, surrender!

Westley: DEATH FIRST!

westley

****

Grandpa: Westley didn’t reach his destination. His ship was attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who never left captives alive. When Buttercup got the news that Westley was murdered…

The Grandson: Murdered by pirates is good…

****

Inigo Montoya: That Vizzini, he can *fuss*.

Fezzik: Fuss, fuss… I think he like to scream at *us*.

Inigo Montoya: Probably he means no *harm*.

Fezzik: He’s really very short on *charm*.

Inigo Montoya: You have a great gift for rhyme.

Fezzik: Yes, yes, some of the time.

Vizzini: Enough of that.

Inigo Montoya: Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?

Fezzik: If there are, we all be dead.

Vizzini: No more rhymes now, I mean it.

Fezzik: Anybody want a peanut?

Vizzini: DYEEAAHHHHHH!

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Happy Boots, Happy Self


happy-garden-farm-bootsI’ve been thinking about my garden/farm boots a lot lately, partly because I haven’t ordered a new pair in two years, and daughter Alison is also debating this question. We’re fans of the colorful spirit-lifting kind. She’s torn about which pair to get. Initially, you can get away with one pair of oh, say yellow polka dot boots for everyday and town wear, if you hose them off after feeding the goats, chickens, etc. But it doesn’t take long before the gloss is gone.  Mud and manure take their toll, which leaves you really needing two pairs. I’ve actually accumulated three of the same happy print over the years. They’ve held up well, but one pair has formed a small hole in the sole–easily detected when wearing them in the wet–and all have lost their shine. No zip left. Question is, do I get another identical pair because they’re so swell, or risk a new pattern?

My son-in-law asked why not just wear plain black, which better endure and are what most men favor. My farmer husband and son do. Alison said her soul would be just as dark while wearing them. Where’s the fun in that?

What it gets down to is having the money to purchase alternate pairs of the same puddle splashing, mud slogging, critter feeding (and other stuff) boots. It can seem rather frivolous when watching your budget. However, when my last new pair were still fresh enough for town, I wore them to get allergy shots to the delight of nurses and patients, and cheered passersby at the grocery store. I brought joy and light with me wherever I went/skipped. There’s far more to boots than you may realize. Children know this.

Ask a kid if they want yellow/pink polka dots, bright flowers, happy animals, or back boots and see.

“Everyone chases happiness, not noticing that happiness is at their heels” – Bertolt Brecht (Literally, if you’re wearing the boots.)

One of my current glossless pairs pictured above. For those eager to know, these are called Sloggers and sold at Amazon. Isn’t everything?

The Wisdom of Pooh


“If possible, try to find a way to come downstairs that doesn’t involve going bump, bump, bump, on the back of your head.” ~Winnie the Pooh

“It is very hard to be brave, when you’re only a Very Small Animal.” ~Piglet

“Go ahead, eat all you want. But just try squeezing out the doorway.” ~Eeyore

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“When speaking to a Bear of Very Little Brain, remember that long words may Bother him.” ~Winnie the Pooh

“When late morning rolls around and you’re feeling a bit out of sorts, don’t worry; you’re probably just a little eleven o’ clockish.” ~Pooh

“Owl flew past a day or two ago and noticed me. He didn’t actually say anything mind you, but he knew it was me. Very friendly of him, I thought. Encouraging.” ~Eeyore

“Sometimes, when people have quite finished taking a person’s house, there are one or two bits which they don’t want and are rather glad for a person to take back.” ~Eeyore

“When carrying a jar of honey to give to a friend for his birthday, don’t stop and eat it along the way.” ~ Winnie the Pooh

“When trying to ignore a knock at your door, don’t yell out, “No!” when someone asks, “Is anybody at home?” ~Rabbit

“When someone you love is wedged in a doorway and must wait to get thin enough to get out, read him a Sustaining Book, such as would help and comfort him.” ~Pooh

“Use caution when standing by the river bank minding your own business. You might get bounced into the water.”~Eeyore

“When stuck in the river, it is best to dive and swim to the bank yourself before someone drops a large stone on your chest in an attempt to hoosh you there.”~Eeyore

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.” ~Winnie the Pooh

“When setting off on an Exposition, be sure to bring Provisions. Or, at the very least, things to eat.” ~ Pooh

“No Give and Take. No Exchange of Thought. It gets you nowhere, particularly if the other person’s tail is only just in sight for the second half of the conversation.”~Eeyore

“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it is a good morning,” he said. “Which I doubt,” said he.

“It’s always useful to know where a friend-and-relation is, whether you want him or whether you don’t.” ~Rabbit

“Do join in the search for a lost friend-or-relation. But don’t be surprised when nobody bothers to tell you he’s been found and you search on alone for two days.” ~ Eeyore

Eeyore,” said Owl, “Christopher Robin is giving a party.”

“Very interesting,” said Eeyore. “I suppose they will be sending me down the odd bits which got trodden on. Kind and Thoughtful. Not at all, don’t mention it.”~

“I might have known,” said Eeyore. “After all, one can’t complain. I have my friends. Somebody spoke to me only yesterday. And was it last week or the week before that Rabbit bumped into me and said ‘Bother!’ The Social Round. Always something going on.”~

“Just because an animal is large, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo.” ~Pooh

“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.

“So it is.”

And freezing.”

“Is it?”

“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”~

Eeyore walked all round Tigger one way, and then turned and walked round him the other way. “What did you say it was?” he asked.

“Tigger.”

“Ah!” said Eeyore.

“He’s just come,” explained Piglet.

“Ah!” said Eeyore again. He thought for a long time and then said: “When is he going?”~

Could you ask your friend to do his exercises somewhere else? I shall be having lunch directly, and don’t want it bounced on just before I begin. A trifling matter, and fussy of me, but we all have our little ways.” ~Eeyore

“Always be aware of how many pots of honey you have in the cupboard; it’s nice to be able to say, “I’ve got fourteen pots of honey left.” Or fifteen, as the case might be.” ~Pooh

“When you go after honey with a balloon, the great thing is not to let the bees know you’re coming.” ~Pooh

I like the puffy white clouds. Aren’t they… that is… oh, my goodness. They’ve turned grey.” ~Winnie the Pooh

Never trust a cloud, I always say.”~Eeyore

“It’s so much more friendly with two.” ~Piglet

“When you’re visiting a friend and you find that it is time for a little smackerel of something, try looking wistfully in the direction of the cupboard.” ~Pooh

“We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.” ~Eeyore

“Remember, nobody minds, nobody cares.” ~Eeyore

“When climbing up a tree on the back of a Tigger, be sure to find out before you start if the Tigger knows how to climb down.” ~Pooh

“When in doubt, keep in mind that “O gallant Piglet” is always a very thoughtful way of beginning a piece of poetry.” ~Piglet

The Curative Powers of Elderberry


elderflowerIt’s also known as American Elder, Black Elder, and Tree of Music to give a few of its many names. There are different varieties, some that grow no larger than bushy shrubs while others obtain the height of huge trees. Native Americans used the long, straight, hollowed stems that became woody with age for arrows.

Huge Bull Elk in a Scenic BackdropThey pushed all the soft and poisonous pith out of the stems with hot sticks. Indians also bored holes in them to make flutes which gave Elder its name ‘tree of music.’ Hunters lured elk closer with elderberry whistles. I referred to this use of elder in my American historical romance novel Red Birds Song.

elderberriesThe fruit was believed to have a cooling, gentle, laxative and urine increasing effect. Elderberry wine was thought to be a tonic. The berries are said to aid arthritis. The juice simmered until thick was used as a cough syrup and for colds. The rest of the medicinal was used with great caution and some parts avoided entirely. The inner bark of elder stems and the roots were generally regarded as too dangerous to experiment with, however women drank very small amounts of elderberry bark tea for bad menstrual cramps, to ease the pain of labor and help the child along. I used a potent dose of elderberry bark tea in my historical Native American romance novel, Through the Fire.

Indians and settlers believed that small amounts of potentially poisonous plants could be beneficial under certain circumstances to stimulate the body to heal or maybe because it was fighting off the poison. Native Americans shared their storehouse of knowledge regarding herbal treatments with colonists who used these remedies in combination with those lauded cures they brought with them. Elderberry was also a vital plant in the Old World.

From Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs:

Elderberry Syrup“One of the human race’s earliest plant companions (found in Stone Age sites) the elderberry has developed reputations for great powers of good…as well as great powers of evil. In some parts of the world, no prudent carpenter would make a cradle of elderberry wood for fear of bringing harm to the baby. The elderflower has been involved in human history for centuries, and one story suggests that it takes its name from a unique medicinal dimension. The generic name Sambucus may come from the Greek Sambuke, a musical instrument made from elderberry wood. For centuries the plant has had the reputation of healing the body, but in elderberry’s golden age, it made music to heal the spirit.

During its long association with humanity, the elderberry’s traditions have become an incredible jumble of conflicting currents. It provided the wood for Christ’s cross; it was the home of the goddess Freya. If seen in a dream, it meant illness was on the way; it was such a healthful plant that seventeenth century herbalist John Evelyn called it a remedy ‘against all infirmities whatever.’  It would ward off witches if gathered on the last day of April and put up on the windows and doors of houses; it was very attractive to witches and thus should be avoided after dark.
bird eating elderberriesElderberries worked their way into every aspect of living from dyeing hair black to showing berries just at the right time to signal the beginning of wheat sowing. Shakespeare had something to say about it. One of his characters called it ‘the stinking elder.’ The Shakers used it as a medicinal. The wood of the old stems, hard and fine grained, was prized by the makers of mathematical instruments. The list could go on and on for pages; elderberries stand in our gardens as old friends.”

From: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/elderberry

“Elderberry, or elder, has been used for centuries to treat wounds, when applied to the skin. It is also taken by mouth to treat respiratory illnesses such as cold and flu. In many countries, including Germany, elder flower is used to treat colds and flu. Some evidence suggests that chemicals in elder flower and berries may help reduce swelling in mucous membranes, such as the sinuses, and help relieve nasal congestion. Elder may have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties.”

*Image of elderberry syrup, also below

477900653Plant Description

“European elder is a large shrub or small tree that grows up to 30 feet tall in wet or dry soil in a sunny location. Elder is native to Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia, but it has become widespread in the United States. Deciduous leaves grow in opposite pairs and have five to seven leaflets. Flowers are white and flat-topped with five primary rays. Berries are green, turning red, then black when ripe.”

Parts Used: “The berries and flowers are used as medicine. Berries must be cooked before they are taken. Raw berries contain a chemical similar to cyanide.”

Available Forms: “Elderberry is available as a liquid, syrup, and tincture, as well as in capsule and lozenge forms. Dried elder flower is usually standardized to at least 0.8% flavonoids. Sambucol is standardized to 38% elderberry extract for adults and 19% for children. Sinupret contains 18 mg of elder flower.”

How to Take It: “Do not give elderberry or any product containing elder to a child without first talking to your pediatrician.”

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To Make Your Own Elderberry Syrup:

http://wellnessmama.com/1888/how-to-make-elderberry-syrup-for-flu-prevention/

Or order the Original Sambucus: http://www.naturesway.com/Products/Winter-Season/6970-Sambucus-Original-Syrup.aspx

Old English Roses


Excerpt from my herbal, Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles:

rosebud

(Old fashioned rosebud)

The English Tudor Rose is the heraldic floral emblem of England. The red rose was the badge of the House of Lancaster during the English War of the Roses. The badge for the House of York was the white rose. When Henry V11 took the crown of England from Richard 111 in battle, 1485, he ended that particular war. He introduced the Tudor rose, combining a red rose, representing the House of Lancaster, and a white rose, representing the House of York, as a symbol of unity after the English civil wars of the 15th century which later came to be called the Wars of the Roses.

The exact species of the Lancaster’s Red Rose is uncertain, but it’s thought to be Rosa gallica officinalis, also known as the Apothecary’s Rose, possibly the first cultivated rose. We used to have this ancient variety, but it finally succumbed to a hard winter and needs to be replaced.

Galica Rose

Rosa gallica officinalis

“My wild Irish Rose,

The sweetest flow’r that grows.” ~Chauncey Olcott

I have an old-time rosebud salve that I love made by the American based Rosebud Perfume Company, founded in 1895 by George F. Smith. They still carry the original salve but have expanded their product line; all are gluten-free, a plus for those of us who are severely intolerant.

Roses have an ancient history. The first cultivated rose likely originated in Persia and spread out from there. The part used is the flower, although the hips are also employed in tea, jam, jellies, syrups… The hips are high in vitamin C and antioxidants. Some varieties of roses produce better hips for this use than others. Rosa canina, commonly known as the dog rose, is one that does.

Back to the flowers. The most favored rose for medicinal use is the above mentioned dark red rose, R. gallica, also known as the Provins Rose and the Apothecary’s Rose. Only flower-buds just about to open are collected, and the lighter colored lower portion is cut off from the deep red upper part. For making a confection, they are used in the fresh state. For an infusion, the flowers are thoroughly dried first and stored out of humidity.

Abraham Darby Rose by David Austen

(Abraham Darby Rose from our garden)

The old pink cabbage rose is used for making rose water by distilling the fresh petals. A soothing ointment of rose water (cold cream) is also made by blending melted wax and almond oil with rose-water and rose oil.

Culpepper gives many uses for red, white, and damask rose cordials and conserves in the treatment of internal maladies including fever, jaundice, joint aches, weakness of the heart and stomach, fainting, an aid to digestion and fighting infection, comforting the heart and strengthening the spirit. Rose ointment is recommended for most any skin condition.

In his 18th century Family Herbal, John Hill gives a recipe for Honey of Roses that sounds delightful. He specifies using red roses. And I doubt he means modern cultivars, but old.

Honey of Roses Recipe: “Cut the white heels from some red rose buds, and lay them to dry in a place where there is a draught of air; when they are dried, put half a pound of them into a stone jar, and pour on them three pints of boiling water; stir them well, and let them stand twelve hours; then press off the liquor (liquid) and when it has settled, add to it five pounds of honey; boil it well, and when it is of the consistence of thick syrup, put it by for use. It is good against mouth sores, and on many other occasions.” (Which means it has many other uses.)

Nonfiction Herbal

Nonfiction Herbal

Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles available in kindle and print at Amazon.

An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them.

Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.~

“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.” ― Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy and Tib

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For the Love of Pansies, Violas, and Violets


“I pray, what flowers are these? The pansy this, O, that’s for lover’s thoughts.” ~George Chapman

vintage violas from seed

It is at the edge of a petal that love waits.”William Carlos Williams

“Heart’s ease! One could look for half a day Upon this flower, and shape in fancy out Full twenty different tales of love and sorrow, That gave this gentle name.” ~Mary Howitt

“Who are the violets now

That strew the lap of the new-come spring?”  ~Shakespeare: Richard II

violas

“Look at us, said the violets blooming at her feet, all last winter we slept in the seeming death but at the right time God awakened us, and here we are to comfort you. “  ~Edward Payson Rod

The modern day pansies are descendants of the wild viola tricolor also called heartsease. There are many nicknames for this plant that include: love-in-idleness, call-me-to-you, three-faces-under-a-hood, godfathers and godmothers, flower o’luce, banwort, jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me. We have always called the smaller violas johnny-jump-ups.

Violas, violets, and pansies are my absolute all-time favorite flowers. Though admittedly, I have many favorites. I often start violas and pansies from seed because I can get more varieties this way, but I also purchase the plants.  I prefer the miniature violas to the larger pansies but love both. To my delight many of the smaller varieties self-seed freely. I’m not surprised they have been used in love potions. An old belief is that if the flowers were placed on the closed eyelids of a sleeping person they would fall in love with the first person they saw upon awakening.

Viola_odorata

From The Scots Herbal by Tess Darwin:

“On the Isle of Skye, whey in which violets had been boiled was given to feverish patients as a cooling drink. Heartsease, also known in Scotland as love-idleness, was used to treat epilepsy, asthma, heart disease and eczema.”

Bog violet was said to be a sacred plant on Skye.

Ancient Gaelic advice: “Anoint thy face with goat’s milk in which violets have been infused, and there is not a young prince on earth who would not be charmed with thy beauty.”

VIOLAS or HEARTSEASE

From A Modern Herbal:

“The flowers (1/4 to 1 1/4 inch across) vary a great deal in colour and size, but are either purple, yellow or white, and most commonly there is a combination of all these colours in each blossom. The upper petals are generally most showy in colour and purple in tint, while the lowest and broadest petal is usually a more or less deep tint of yellow. The base of the lowest petal is elongated into a spur, as in the Violet.

The flower protects itself from rain and dew by drooping its head both at night and in wet weather, and thus the back of the flower and not its face receives the moisture. The Pansy is one of the oldest favourites in the English garden and the affection for it is shown in the many names that were given it. The Anglo-Saxon name was Banwort or Bonewor

Its common name of Pansy (older form ‘Pawnce,’ as in Spenser) is derived from the French pensées, the name which is still used in France. ‘Love in Idleness’ is still in use in Warwickshire. In ancient days the plant was much used for its potency in love charms, hence perhaps its name of Heartsease. It is this flower that plays such an important part as a love-charm in the Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Medicinal Action and Uses: The Pansy has very similar properties to the Violet. It was formerly in much repute as a remedy for epilepsy, asthma and numerous other complaints, and the flowers were considered cordial and good in diseases of the heart, from which may have arisen its popular name of Heartsease as much as from belief in it as a love potion.

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From Meanings and Legends of Flowers:

“The monks of the Middle Ages called ~Viola tricolor~ common in Europe, the ~Herb of the Trinity (herba trinitatis) because they saw the symbol of the trinity in their three colors. The name ~Heartsease~ stemmed from its old use as a medicine to treat heart disease. People believed God gave the plant heart-shaped leaves for that use. The name may also come from its ancient use as an aphrodisiac and a love potion. The deep purple ~Viola odorata~ native of the Mediterranean region, is so sweet that an oil from it is used in the perfume industry.”

“Violets are also considered to be funeral flowers. It was thrown in graves for remembrance in rural England. The mourners also carried violets to protect themselves against poisonous exhalations while in the cemetery.”

arrangement of violets in an old lavender bottleInteresting regarding Napoleon Bonaparte and violets: 

Napoleon Bonaparte loved violets. When he married Josephine, she wore violets and on each anniversary Napolean sent her a violet bouquet. Josephine maintained an extensive garden of violets which became the rage in France. In 1814, Napoleon asked to visit Josephine’s tomb, before being exiled to the Island of St. Helena. There he picked the violets that were found in a locket around his neck after he died. The French thus chose the violet as their emblem, and Napoleon was nicknamed Corporal Violet or Le Pere Violet meaning the little flower that returns with spring.

“Heart’s ease of pansy, pleasure or thought, Which would the picture give us of these? Surely the heart that conceived it sought Heart’s ease.” ~ Algernon Charles Swinburne

“The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.” ~Gertrude S. Wister

Images from our garden.

The Hunter’s Moon is up for Voting at P&E


The Hunter’s Moon is up for voting in the Preditors & Editors Annual Reader’s Poll under Young Adult. Click the link below, scroll down to find the title, check that and they need your name and contact info. A confirmation email will be sent and you have to click that link too, but no site registry is required. And thanks to those who vote! http://critters.org/predpoll/novelyoungadult.shtml

Story Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Morgan Daniel has been in the witness protection program most of her life. But The Panteras have caught up with her and her younger brother. Her car is totaled, she’s hurt, and the street gang is closing in when wolves with glowing eyes appear out of nowhere and chase away the killers.

Then a very cute guy who handles a bow like Robin Hood emerges from the woods and takes them to safety at his fortress-like home.

And that’s just the first sign that Morgan and her brother have entered a hidden world filled with secrets…