Whew! This was, of course, my first week back to work after the New Year's holiday (a holiday which was spent pretty much in a self-imposed catatonic state, horizontal on the living room floor with good friends and about a dozen videos). I so rarely slow down like that, and now I know why- it's a total shock to the system to get up and rolling again. First of all, I had reverted within two days to my natural Night Owl state, so getting to bed early enough to get enough sleep for the work week was pretty much impossible. To top it off, the whole world seemed to have thrown their Christmas decorations and all of their lazy merriment in the dustbin, and commerce was chugging full steam ahead with a persistently ringing phone and an endless stream of people coming to pick up supplements at my work. DON'T THEY KNOW IT'S STILL CHRISTMAS? My friends! Countrymen! I am craping thee negative... Christmas was not over until the morning of Wednesday, January 7th.
Does this look familiar? It's the Three Wise men, the Three Kings, or the Magi. Those magical dudes, the wizards of their time, had to ride camels for twelve days through the desert to reach the newborn baby Jesus Christ. There was no Jet Blue, peoples! Traveling to welcome the Messiah takes time, and Christmas takes time... or at least it used to. We all know the song, "on the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...", well, in most of Europe and Latin America, Christmas is celebrated for twelve days. It starts with a little, quiet, meditative celebration on December 25th, and ends with a massive blowout on the Twelfth Night (yes, like Shakespeare's play!), which marks the occasion of the Magi's arrival in Jerusalem.
The roots of this celebration go back much further, of course, to a time waaaay pre-baby Jesus... a time when my pagan ancestors celebrated the return of the sun at the Winter Solstice. Lucky for me, I am a Born Again Pagan, and I'm not alone! In my Advanced Herbal class with local herbalist Kathi Keville, we had our own Twelfth Night (aka Epiphany) (aka Little Christmas) celebration. Kathi shared with us some of her knowledge of the ancient myths and folklore connected with Christmas customs, which are largely associated with plants. Modern Christmas is big on Holly, Mistletoe, Rosemary, and of course the fabulous Evergreen tree... all sacred symbols long before Christianity came around! (The Druids used to gather the Mistletoe in white sheet so that it never touched the ground, and it wasn't used for romantic kissing at all, but rather to exchange the "kiss of brotherhood" with anyone who you had had strife with in the preceding year!) We all exchanged handmade herbal gifts (including frankincense, that traditional tree resin used for purification) and then we lit the Christmas tree WITH REAL CANDLES (!) and spontaneously sung "O Tannenbaum". It was so incredibly sweet. I really want to thank Kathi for giving us the gift of this celebration... we always acknowledged Little Christmas in my house growing up, since my mother hails from County Kerry, Ireland, but no one else ever knows what I am talking about when I say "you can't take the decorations down til the 6th of January!" Honestly my feelings are hurt every year by the way people are so eager to "move on" after Christmas. If it's supposed to be the Happiest Day of the Year, then why the heck does it have to be only ONE DAY??? Total American rush-around NONSENSE!!! Grrrrr.
Okay, tirade over... now, doesn't that look good right there? It was so pretty I had to take a picture, and prove to those of you who read my New Year's Resolutions that I am indeed back in the kitchen again! These are purple potatoes and garnet yams with nutritional yeast and coconut oil, with a side of kale sauteed with onions and Nettle Vinegar. I've been having so much fun throwing herbal tinctures in my cooking-- in this one I put Lemon Balm, for calming the nerves and aligning with the growing full moon!
And that right there is Milk Thistle, which I have been taking (in capsule form) all week at a fairly high dosage. I felt like my liver was getting congested before the Holidays, but after New Years and the requisite Partying, the symptoms were really starting to come above the radar-- I had weirdly broken out skin, and a really PISSY feeling towards people at work and on the road. So no more beer for a few weeks, lots of water, anti-oxidants, and Milk Thistle, the supreme liver herb. Milk Thistle is so effective for this, arguably our most important organ (think Waste Sorting and Disposal, and if you've ever seen a big city in the middle of a garbage strike, you'll understand why I argue so strongly in favor of the liver), that it can even help regenerate damaged tissue. Well, hopefully I didn't damage anything, but it WAS a pretty memorable New Years...
And when Christmas was fully over, yes, even Sasha got down to work. Here I am in the wee hours of Friday morning, working on getting the lighting and framing right for doing indoor photo shoots. Of course the cats Mucha and Zazou were batting each other through the curtain and stepping on the laptop keyboard while I was uploading photos... and, early in the morning, when I stumbled downstairs with eyes half-shut, there they were with a special gift for me!:
Sorry, maybe I should have given you a Queasy Alert? I am equally disgusted and fascinated by this. It's a quail, one of the most beautiful birds in our neighborhood, and I was always afraid that our cats, who are amazing hunters, would nab one. I mean, they're just so cute bobbing along in a single file line in their big family, all with those little black feathers sticking out the top of their heads... sigh... but they move kind of slow, and the neighbors put a bird feeder out in the winter (though I love birds, I don't, for obvious reasons!). At least our cats stick to birds and vermin. I have heard some of the craziest stories about what people's cats catch out here in the country... the most memorable one involved an Abyssinian cat, who would deposit the heads of the huge hares he had killed on the bed while his people were sleeping-- and this happened on a nearly nightly basis!
Speaking of good catches... (I couldn't think of a better segue-way! sorry!) I caught something valuable this week-- a pair of tickets to see one of my very favorite bands, The Raveonettes! I always seem to miss them when they are in the States, but this time I'm going. I deserve a big awesome concert, especially after the Amanda Palmer debacle (I mixed up the date of the show and missed it entirely...I was heartbroken!) (Thanks again to my friend Nicole who sent me all kinds of Amanda Palmer and Dresden Dolls Cds and DVDs so I could pretend I was watching them live... you are a doll!) The Raveonettes show is at Bimbos 500 Club in Sam Clam's Disco, one of my very favorite clubs for many reasons, but especially because the interior is so 1940s swanky, you simply can NOT be overdressed. Now the problem is, what will I wear?!?!? Because I haven't got a stitch, you know... (;
Lastly, I would like to thank Etsy for filling my coffers to the point where I could finally, after many years of crushing penury, buy a plane ticket to go and visit my dear friend Automne in Portland! The weekend I'm going up there, her band, Fever, are playing. (Some of you Portlanders may also know her for her main musical project, Cat Fancy!.) I am so excited to see her and to see the people in the soggy and mysterious City of Roses. In another, less countrified life, I would live there... but at least I can go visit.
Automne on keyboards at Fever's latest show
Hope you all made it back into the swing of things. I am over-tired but happy, looking forward to watching Zoolander later tonight (it's my first time! I know!) and Taking It Down a Peg. See you all on the other side of Sunday!