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My Blog

October 2014

Gifts of the Earth

Good morning to everyone. Another beautiful October day is expected here in the Niles Illinois area.  This is absolutely my favorite time of the year and yet I have so little time to enjoy it due to the nature of what I do for a living.  The best that I can say is that I really enjoy what I do. 
Well, as for today's picture of the day...I am sharing some clouds.  I took this picture because of the colors.  They are not intense, but soft.  It gives me a soft feeling.  A wispy effect.  When you think of clouds...often times you might think of them in white.  This photo shows me very little white.  More of creams and touches of very light yellows and shades of pinks. There are very faint hints of lavender as well as the blues.  It is really amazing to me how much there really is to things.  It really speaks volumes if you take the time to look.  Each day there is something new out there that one can appreciate if they only take the time. 
Well, on to today's blog. I thought that I would share a walk that I recently took to the Biblical Gardens.  What an amazing place.  It is in Warsaw Indiana.  The gardens can be found behind there tall stoned walls.  In this garden are only the plants and the trees that are found in the Bible. In the Bible it states: Genesis 1:29-30
Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food"; and it was so.
I walked in the garden amongst Quince to Olive trees, I walked in pure delight of my surroundings.  I found sweet gum spread out on the grounds and was told that I could take them if I wished.  I of course was thrilled.  Another project for my work table.  There was a gorgeous grape vine gazebo that appeared more like a bridge.  There were ponds filled with goldfish and a dry pond with just rocks.  Each with its own appeal.  When speaking with the grounds keeper...I discovered that they use goldfish instead of koi because people steal the koi!  Can you imagine?  And in a biblical garden yet? 
As I continued to walk the gardens I found it interesting at home many of the plants that I could identify. I had studied the herbs many years ago.  I found it so interesting that in the beginning, the native Americans chose plants to use medicinally by the shape of their leaves.  For instance...the heart shaped leaves of the Digitalis (Foxglove) was determined as a good plant for the heart. It seems that today...we know so little of what is out there.  From the beginning of time...we were gifted with amazing trees and plants and yet so many pay attention to them. 
Today we use chemicals to scent our homes. We use chemicals to care for our bodies.  We breathe in chemicals and eat them as well.  Something has definitely gone wrong with this world when we were given everything we need to survive and no longer trust it. 
If you have the chance to walk through such a garden...in fact any garden...stop and look closely at it.  Pay attention to each and every detail.  Perhaps you would like to take a picture or sketch it...then go home and read up on it.  I once read a book that states plants grow in your garden because you need them.  It also stated that you are drawn to the plants that you need.  Go home and look it up...see what meaning is there for you.  
Every time I look at the Sage plant...I cannot help but think of the SAGE....the wise man.  Is it any wonder that Sage is shown to improve cognitive function in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's Disease.  Sage was also used in a tincture to make after shave splashes in the Victorian times to keep men awake at work. 
So wake up and smell the herbs!!  It might very well be what you need! 
As a precaution....read about things before you touch...especially if you are pregnant...for instance:  The Pennyroyal...in the family of mints....if touch by a woman who is pregnant might cause a miscarriage.  Just by touching you may ask...YES...the oil from the plant penetrate through your skin!  Pennyroyal is a wonder plant to use to deter fleas.  I used to wrap it around my dog's collar....put under a carpet will deter mice from crossing over it...but it also has it's flip sides...so a word of warning.  Be careful...be smart....be safe! 

A Bald Head and the Owl

Good morning.  I can't tell what type of day it is going to be yet...the sun is just starting to peak it's head up from the horizon.  I have plenty on the agenda for today.  Getting ready for the Grove show in Glenview.  Painting and then some more painting is in my future. My photo for the day is of a display in a nearby resale shop.  I thought their use of gloves was amazing.  How creative.   
Today's blog is about a ghost story.  One of my favorite stories to tell is about the bird woman....the LeChuza.  It is a great story of a black bridge and the fear connected to the spot...all because of the LeChuza.  With the proper voice and just right timing....a great scary tale.  As I told the story on Saturday, it made me remember an actual tale of my very own...the OWL.  You see, as a child, I would sit on the front porch of my grandparents home after dinner every night.  We would like in there Dove Grey Rocking chairs and usually stitch or crochet.  My grandfather was rocking one evening when I asked the question.  The question that no man wants to ever hear.  I proceeded to ask him why he didn't have any hair.  Well, my grandfather....bless his heart...couldn't explain that it was part of the aging progress and that some men might be more prone to others when it came to losing hair.  No, my grandfather proceeded to tell me a STORY of how he lost his hair...and to make matters worse...at the time...I BELIEVED him and his story. 
With a tense voice he began to explain how one summer...it was so hot out and the heat continued through the night.  With our homes so close to one another...there was no way for air to filter through the gangways and into the windows of our bedrooms.  He said that no matter how many times he washed himself down with water from the sink, he couldn't seem to cool down.  He finally gave up and took his pillow and a lounge chair and set himself up a makeshift bed on the front porch.  Now outside of our home sat this great big Catalpa Tree.  It seemed that an owl decided to perch itself in the branches and called it home.  Grandpa proceeded to explain that the owl in the tree was a female and that she was on the lookout for nesting materials.  Since she was a nocturnal animal....what better time that in the middle of the night to search.  Grandpa was a sitting duck, so to speak.  He said that once he got comfortable and an occasional breeze aided in the ability to finally fall asleep, the owl sat watch.  That night was the perfect night for the owl to come down off of its perch and peruse the area.  She must have noticed the white hair on my grandfathers hear shining under the light of the moon and swooped down to take a closer look.  Upon landing, she decided that it was perfect for her nest.  She silently crept forward until she was close enough to peck away.  She pulled strand by strand  of grandfather's crowning glory until he finally felt an uncomfortable pull which woke him.  Upon his waking, the owl flew away with all his hair in her mouth.  He told me that was why he only had hair around the very bottom which wrapped around the lower portion of his head. 
This petrified me of being out of doors at night and especially in any vicinity of that Catalpa tree for fear that the owl would decide she needed some of MY hair.  I can remember countless evenings when I would be sitting there on the porch and would suddenly hearing the sound of the owl.  I would begin getting fidgety in my seat and finally get up and go indoors.  One evening my grandmother...already suspecting that grandfather's story was the basis for my fear, pulled out a cotton babushka (a scarf) and handed it to me to tie around my head.  She told me that it would keep the owl from seeing my hair.  I tied that babushka on my head every evening.  As I got older and was a babysitter down the street for 3 boys, I would have to walk home in the evening.  I pretty much had figured out that my grandfather had made up that story....but I must admit...each time I came close to that Catalpa Tree...my walk became quickened and upon reaching the tree...I ran past until I reached the stairs to safety.  It was many years later when I realized my grandfathers gift of gab and his ability to tell a whopper.  I always wondered how he came up with the idea of an owl...and it finally dawned on me that he smoked White Owl Cigars....that had to have been his inspiration. 
copyright...by Debi Gajewski

2 sides of the coin

Good morning to all.  It has been quite some time since I had the opportunity to blog.  I have been on a whirlwind of things and starting fresh in the morning until the dead of the night...I have just not had the ability to sit down and write up something.  I have missed it terribly.  This time of the year gets so unbelievably hectic for me, between the rehearsals of stories for Halloween and working on painting projects I barely can more at night and in the morning, my hands are still swollen from the day before. 
I decided that today I would like to blog about the season.  I have noticed that the trees have turned color and dropped their leaves much quicker than before. Hence my picture of the day.    It seems as though we are about 3 weeks earlier into the season that we have been in the past.  This makes me wonder what the winter will be like.  My birds are definitely pecking away more food than even last year.  Funny, how when we are young...we don't think much about the ensuing winter months...mostly because it really didn't matter...Snow meant snowmen, sleds, snowballs fights.  As adults, it means shoveling, ice, driving in unfavorable conditions. 
Sub temperatures as a kid meant hot chocolate, long underwear, inside games.  For adults it means sweaters, higher gas and electric bills and uncomfortable breathing when you leave the house. 
I began to notice how very different life is from the perspective of the children versus adults.  Reading what I have just written...I must say that it is not always a half filled glass for the adults...because we hopefully have gained so much through the years that we can appreciate what is before us. 
I performed at the Museum yesterday and there were only adults in attendance for the ghost stories.  Now...I must admit...a room of adults is so thrilling for me because I can tell much more advanced ghost stories...but I was prepared with both.  Unfortunately there were no children and that was a disappointment for the museum.  They had put their best foot forward in making provisions for the children.  There was candy galore...comic books, cartoons and more.  We as adults could soooo appreciate this!  But in our conversation over the lack of children...discussed how the things that we are accustomed to for entertainment...are not always where the children's minds are at.  We discussed how the are all with their phones and electronics.  We joked over the future type of surgeries.  There will be plenty of carpal tunnel surgeries and we had agreed that there would be some thumb surgeries or perhaps trigger finger surgeries in their future.  Children seem to enjoy the visual entertainments rather than the audio.  I have to question their strength as far as their imaginations go when everything is set right in front of them.  They have everything at a fingers touch away.  In my day, it was an imagination away.  I cannot refute how amazing the computer is today...but it has caused us to become less tenacious when it comes to searching out anything.  It is now so instantaneous!  I enjoyed the hunt and the challenges that were there through the years...and even though I use the computer for many things...the physical hunt is still the most excitable to me.  Is there a need for our youth today to go on a hunt of any kind? 
I recently watched a recap show of Carol Burnett.  I have put together a wonderful program that is currently being booked for me to perform.  As I watched some of her shows, I found myself roaring with laughter.  She and her cast were some of the funniest characters around.  While watching...I had to wonder just how many of our youth today have been exposed to such greats as Carol Burnett, Tim Conway or Harvey Corman?  Would they even know who they are?  As I watched the scene where Carol is dressed in an outfit that Bob Macke made from window curtains as a take off of the outfit from Gone With the Wind...I questioned whether a young person today would get the joke...and then I even questioned whether they had even seen Gone With the Wind? 
I watched as I saw amazing costumes and show tunes fill the hour.  I thought about how different todays entertainment is and how much the youngsters are missing. I could not help but wonder how many classics from my lifetime will fade away.  I am grateful that some books are still being insisted upon in schools for readings.  Pride and Prejudice for example.  I was thrilled the day my granddaughter discussed the book with me.  I hope that her future and the future of her children will be enriched with both what is in the present and still what has come to pass.  As so many of our amazing movie stars have gone onto to become some heavenly stars ...I hope that the youth will take an interest in the legacies they have left behind.  I pray that they will appreciate what was here before as I appreciate what is yet to become.  Tomorrow is filled with question marks.  Hope for what is yet to become.  I look forward to what will be new.  I hope in all the rush to get to the future that the past and present doesn't become erased.  I hope that some of the simple pleasures can be reintroduced to the young generation.  I hope that they will see the value in both sides of the coin. 
I hope that the Super Heroes of tomorrow are still some of the real heroes of today and yesterday and that even the imaginary ones will still be there as well.  As for the youth...they too will grow up and age and look back...hopefully, when they look back, they will see a fulfilled life as I have.  Something that they too will be able to look at and compare.   

Back Pain Remedy That Rocks

Good morning to everyone.  Well, Friday is here and another weekend is upon us.  There is so much to do in fall...what a great time to get in a car and go for a drive.  The colors of the leaves are truly spectacular!  I see that the weather is really changing today into very wet and VERY cold for this time of the year.  they are even predicting a bit of snow mix in the northern parts of Illinois....BRRR!!  Time to pull out those hoodies.  
Today's picture is a farewell to the summers garden.  I took this picture of one of this fairy.  It is time to take the garden treasures and store them away for the winter.  I love the way this fairy has rusted.  I am hoping to capture the look of rust when I draw and paint her.  This will be a wonderful project during the winter on a bleak day! 
Well on to todays blog. It is interesting to have found an old folk cure book  at the Good Will.  I am always in search of a good book or 2 or 22.  LOL...I am a huge book collector for many reasons.  Now, this particular book was rather interesting.  If you have read some of my other blogs..and have begun to know me a bit...you will know that I don't believe in accidents...everything happens for a reason.  Now...I grabbed this book off the shelf because it's lead title was chicken soup and I thought it was another chicken soup for the soul book...but it turned out to be chicken soup and other folk remedies.  One of the section was about back pain.  Since I suffer from lower back pain...I read this section thoroughly.  It was most interesting to find out that the Rocking Chair was first built in America.  The second piece of information was that it was deemed the healthiest seat to sit in!  It was discovered by a leading back problem Dr. in England...that the rocking chair seems to block nerve impulses that produce lower back pain.  It was also discovered that aside from being good for circulation it is also has a relaxing effect for us tensed up people.  I always knew that my Grandma and her rocking chair were the key to a happier life.  I have been in search for a special rocker ever since I started with my arthritis...never knowing it's medical prescription...just because I always had good memories of my Grandmother.  I have now decided to treat myself to one the next trip I make to the Amish country.  I am determined to find just the right chair for me. 
As I continued to read the book...another discovery that they state is to avoid sugar and sugar drinks.  It went on to say that the sugars put an extra strain on the kidneys and adrenals glands which in turn causes back pain.  It also tells one to drink less fluids and to each more foods with liquid in them...suck as vegetables, salads and raw fruits. Another additional suggestion was cooking black beans, first soaking over night to remove the gas bloating effects, then to cook and each a couple tablespoons a day for month and then every other day for an additional month.  They suggest at the end of the 2 months that your back pain should have improved.  If it does to continue this.    Who would have ever imagined?
Well, it seems that some of the old remedies have stepped up and tapped me on the shoulder today.  Gram never made mention of the rocking chair as an aid to her back pain...but then again...I never asked.  I don't ever recall her sitting in any other chair...and since she too had Psoriatic Arthritis, perhaps that was her little well kept secret!    

The Adams Family's "IT"

Good morning to everybody.  A very gloomy day today in my area.  Rain storms are expected here today and it certainly looks like that will happen. 
Oh the pain that will develop through out today on my body because of it. 
Well, today's blog is about holiday decorating.  I was thinking back in time over all those years that I went to the max decorating the house for the holidays.  It was such a thrill for me to do it every year.  Each time, I tried to put a different spin on it.  I loved Halloween, that was the start of the decorating.  The pumpkins, corn stalks and bales of hay followed by the ghosts and goblins of the season.  Now that it is just the 2 of us again...the desire is there, but the energy is gone. It is not so much in the putting it up as it is in the taking it down!  Recently I saw a picture of "it" from the Adams Family.  It was done up as a holiday decoration. I thought it was so cool that I went ahead and purchased the items that will be needed to make it.  It needed a Hawaiian grass skirt...which I managed to snag at the Good Will for $2.00 and a tomato cage...got that in the yard.  I had picked up a pair of Sunglasses at the dollar store and have a black top hat from a snowman kit.  All ready to go.  I thought he would be adorable at the front door to greet the trick or treaters.  So I think today I will assemble him and put outdoors with a pumpkin.  It will be interesting to see whether he will make the kids wonder whether he is real or not. 
At least he will be something new and different. 
I have a memory of the Adams Family from when I was a child.  It was actually on Christmas Day.  I know, an odd memory!  But it was on one Christmas Day that my mother was actually home for the day...being that she was a working mother and worked in a restaurant, she was not often home on a holiday.  Well, that particular day, she was and I can still see it as though it were just yesterday and not 50 years ago.  We were sitting at the kitchen table and we were playing a board game while we snacked on her famous pineapple and cream cheese dip with potato chips while the Adams Family was on the television in the background.  It made for such a lasting memory.  It seems that the Adams Family has been a Christmas memory ever since!  It is no wonder that finding how to make "It"  was near and dear to my heart...I would leave it up for Christmas...but I am sure the neighbors might think me a bit off the mark...unless I added some holly to his hat. LOL. I suppose those who like "The Nightmare Before Christmas" might just like "IT" for the Holidays.
Lastly, I wanted to display the picture that I just took of the baby watermelon that we grew.  Many of the plants are in pots and this particular watermelon plant was in the dirt...but the trailers of the plant grew on our driveway.  The funniest part of this was that we had a number of watermelons grow and this one was substantially the largest.  Go figure that one.    

Barking up the Wrong Tree?

Good morning to everyone.  Well, another gorgeous day outside...although rain and storms are predicted for later in the day.  Lately, I am realizing that we are coming close to winter once again and I am taking advantage of all that this season has to offer.  If you are following this blog...one of the sides that I have chosen is a picture a day.  Here is today's picture. 
Yes, it is a stump.  My reason for this was to study the many textures and colors that are there.  It is funny how most might just say that it is a brown stump...and yet when upon closer inspection, there are so many layers of colors.  When I enlarged it I found shades of grays, umbers, whites and even blues.  It is interesting to me that the bark of a tree can tell us so much. Plus, each tree has its individual bark patterns.  All trees are not created equal.  When we look at a tree's bark we see it as one layer when in fact it has multiple layers...with each layer having a purpose.   Beginning with the center of the tree...first we have Heartwood, next is Sapwood, then Vascular Samblum...then we reach the outer bark...that is comprised of layers called Living Phloem and then the Periderm which sub contains Cork and Cork Camblum. 

When I think about bark...I also think of it's medicinal values.  There are many barks that are used in herbal remedies...suck as Slippery elm bark  used as a mucilaginous herb internally to coat and soothe mucous membranes while also absorbing toxins which can cause intestinal imbalances_  It comes with a multitude of benefits. Just search for its plethora of benefits.

There is Witch Hazel Bark which is an astringent bark is most often used topically to tighten and tone tissue, fight infection, and soothe irritation. Common uses include bug bites, acne, cellulite, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and cuts and scrapes.  We have  White Willow Bark which is technically a pain reliever.  There is also  Alder Bark which increases circulation and blood flow while tightening, toning, and healing tissues. It has application with gut damage, immune infections, toothache, and more...and the list goes on.  It is funny how we don't see the bark of the tree as a valuable commodity. 

Every time we uncork a bottle of wine we are in contact with the bark of a tree...although we never stop to think about cork coming from the tree bark.  Many of us even us bark chips for mulching around our plant beds without connecting the dots. 

So I guess my point here is that there are so many things that we take for granted.  There are many layers to the bark of a tree.  Many markers that make them different.  The next time you admire a tree...stop and really look at all that it has to offer...You may be pleasantly surprised.
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