Gratitude and Quarters

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The sun peeks over the horizon, as it does each day.  Its warm rays promise the beginnings of a good day.  My priorities change, and morph, as I ascend and descend on this current path.  Hoping the quarters hold out, not even enough money to put my beloved cat to sleep, who desperately needs to go to kitty heaven.  But we can see over the hill of this journey now.  Regular paychecks from Doug by the end of the next month and a busy store promises security soon, but right now it is slim pickins, Folks.  Ridiculously slim.  In the meantime we hold on with whitened knuckles and wait for the ride, and finances, to smooth out.

Simplicity and security wait in the corners of the coming month.  We sign the lease for our shop tomorrow.  We are moving into our next home this week.  Our life quietly moves forward with little holding onto us and images of sunrises and walks to the shop, a fire in the wood stove, dinners from a kitchen I have freedom in.  How I miss that.

The pieces of our life like seeds from a dandelion, fluffed into the air, settle and seed and become our new existence.  A place of family, friends, few belongings, good meals, delicious memories, valuable work, a bit of money to live on, cats lying in the sun as it warms our room and each day is a gift.

Through all these winding turns this summer, nay, the last year and a half, we have learned gratitude.  When you are missing things you had, what you have left, or what you can regain, hold a profound place of thankfulness.

Old and new customers are already calling in orders.  Gifts and encouragement from so many people keep us afloat.  We are back on track, temporary detour, thanks for staying with us!  My gratitude holds no limits.

Grandmother Moon and Mercury

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I went to a ceremony yesterday.  A beautiful woman led the smudging and prayers in Cherokee as we welcomed Grandmother moon.  Over fifty women of different colors (and a few men) and backgrounds banged on drums and shook rattles and sang.  It was an empowering group.

I didn’t fully understand what Mercury in Retrograde meant but I found out what it meant for those around me and myself.  Life changes, extreme life changes, deaths, perceived failures, loss, new paths…

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Eva explained that now is the time to start focusing only on the positive.  All things that did not serve us have fallen away.  We are waking at this time in full female energy.  The Super Moon means that the moon was closest to the earth than it will be all year.  An embrace, Eva said.  The lunar eclipse.  Venus glowing brightly in the east in a haze of dawn color.  The Cherokee harvest moon.

From here on out we get stronger.  We get wiser.  We see our bountiful blessings and we are filled with gratitude.  In this ceremony we prayed to release one thing and replace it with something better.  I traded poverty for prosperity.  I traded our family’s hardships this year for strength and love.  I traded lack of inspiration for wisdom and joy.  What a beautiful way to bring in Autumn.

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I always teach my students, as I was taught, to place their medicines in the full moon each month.  The moon’s cycles have a profound effect on us down here on earth.  Women’s menses, the ocean tides, biodynamic farming, and many other things are influenced by the waxing and waning of the moon. All of my medicines glowed like stars from the balcony hanging onto the Grandmother moon’s rays.  As she turned red and dark then light and embracing, the power of the moon made the medicines match the frequency of our own bodies.  A fascinating fact.

During this harvest season and through the feminine power of Grandmother moon and Venus in the east, I wish you prosperity, peace, love, strength, and child-like joy.

Our New Home

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We rambled up the long driveway in our old truck and took in the view of the alpaca farm down the hill and the glorious eastern horizon where the sunrises will glint down upon the plants and through the numerous trees that reside on his property.

“I really feel that the sage is here to welcome you,” he said.  I was struck and honored at his words.  The sage is prolific there.  It grows rampant this year among the many Cherokee roses.  The prickly pear and the mullein are all there.  Pines so tall they can recall when the Kiowa Indians roamed these hills and called them home.

The owner of this property is well respected, a friend of mine, who works in an emotionally challenging job helping the ill and passing.  He lives in this large home alone.  He needs help here.  It is a glorious home that holds the spirits of his parents that built it.  Sparkling ceilings and medicine bags in the foundations.  The property has a retreat-like property and vortexes abound.  It is a special place. We will live here for a year.  We will help him sort and get ready to let this beautiful house go as he moves on to his next journey next autumn.

In the meantime we will have acres of medicinal herbs and trees to use and protect.  Sunrises that greet us through the walk out basement doors.  Three more cats to add to our menagerie.  One of his chickens approached me in greeting.  A wood cook stove and wood stove to help supplement heat.  A kitchen upstairs for me to make sure everyone has sustenance.  I feel quite well received here among his mother’s things and the spirit of the house and land.  I found Doug in a recliner with one of the house cats on his lap.  I think we’ll be real happy here.

It is two miles from my shop so a brisk morning walk will take place each day but that, perhaps, is a part of the hidden blessings.  Since becoming homeless and losing everything three months ago we have been swimming several times with our granddaughter and friends, to Utah, to a winery, in an airplane, sang on our son’s album, have visited, and made friends.  We have dreamed, comforted, and become fiercely grateful for everything.  We are more flexible and need less.  We will be content with a bed and two chairs before a roaring fire as the snow drops silently outside the window upon the world of peace and quiet.  Cats curled up near us.  A table.  A bookshelf.  Cups of hot coffee.  That is all.  That is all we really need anyway.  Each other and an enjoyment of this life right here and now is what we’ll thrive on.

The White Wolf Medicine Shop

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This is the view facing out from my soon-to-be shop.  I am so looking forward to it.  Our first shop opened October 15, 2010.  It was a lovely little old building from the turn of the century with crooked wooden floors and a view of Main street.  That first summer after Doug had his nervous breakdown and left his job and as we both decided to leave our house we were going to end up losing in 2009 along with a whole lot of other people out there, we were really scared.  We had three teenagers and no work.  We did eight farmers markets a week and really hustled.  That fall we were getting nervous as to how we were going to make it and it was a beautiful sight to see that building come up for rent.  I felt bad for the jeweler that was leaving just as the antique store owner felt bad for me as I was leaving but we were all happy to have that little shop!

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Now the dream begins again.  Doug has a steady job now and our children have grown.  The shop represents a central place for me.  I attempted to be a community herbalist from home but folks don’t always know where I live!  Every day the community will need to retrieve their mail from the post office, grab their cups of coffee, get their dogs groomed, pick up their healthy food, and visit the Mexican restaurant for margaritas.  In that same central location the White Wolf Medicine shop will welcome the community.

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When I was on Main street there was a shop down the street called the Karma Cottage.  The proprietor’s name was Katie, which in a small town did cause a bit of confusion.  Folks came in to my shop to sign up for palm reading classes and into hers for hormone medicine.  She moved to Florida and her shop was missed, just as mine was.  I hope to incorporate a little of both of our shops to meet the needs of the community.  I will be putting together little bags of specially blended smudging herbs that I have harvested for praying and ceremony.  I will invite a few folks in to do readings that I KNOW are not quacks.  No woohoo scams here.  I will have my friend who makes the most beautiful dream catchers and handmade Native inspired jewelry to make his work in the shop.  I would love to have a community artist wall.  I will hold my herbalist classes there.  I will customize every single medicine to the person asking for it.  We will carry Margie and Ursula’s Garden Fairy Apothecary.

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Margie had the brilliant idea for me to have available samples of various herbal tea blends.  So each week I will have a pot of tea that helps with a physical ailment or tonic, one that helps with spiritual needs, like a broken heart, and one that is just for fun, say like Chai.  We need comfy chairs and places to read so that people feel comfortable coming in for a cup of complimentary tea and a visit.

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Each herb will have its English name as well as its Cherokee name.  I want this to be a lesson for homeschoolers as well.  I dream of parents bringing their kids in and see the various plants, how they are made into medicine, let them blend their own teas, see the Cherokee language and how to pronounce the words, color a picture, or sign up for a class.  I truly want to meet the needs of the community here.  And when I say community, I mean anyone that feels the desire to come visit the store.  I have learned from this blog that my community expands pretty far!

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There is an office in back to make products.  There is everything I need.  The medicines will be done October 13th so that will be my first day open.  I will have a huge grand opening party Saturday, October 17th.

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My little shop is without furniture or money for paint or décor.  Anyone that has a bookshelf, small hutch, a dresser, a few comfy chairs, a side table, a counter, a small round table, or long folding tables, or money for paint or time to help me paint will be rewarded with a huge holiday party and dinner thrown in their honor!

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I know this will all come together beautifully.  Every door has just flown open on this venture.  I look forward to sharing a cup of tea with you!

The No Farm School (what is next?)

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The third era.  The third year.  I have been thinking about this blog.  I started it because I love to write.  I have filled dozens and dozens of notebooks in my life of thoughts, ideas, rants, rejoices, to-do lists, plans, and prayers.  The blog is a more public journal but one I don’t mind sharing.  Farmgirl School was such a fitting name.  I was going through farming 101 in life and as I wrote it I learned so much with the encouragement and ideas from readers.

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A year ago this week we moved to what we thought would be our possible forever farm, but of course it was a detour.  Sometimes life does that, teaches you lessons when you would rather it not.  I walked away from my greatest gift.  I am a good writer.  I am an excellent dancer.  But I AM an herbalist, a medicine keeper, a plant healer.  I possess the knowledge of my ancestors, things I knew that I didn’t know how I knew, passed down and that should be put to use.  More important than dancing or writing even.

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I love growing my own food, but I also love finding wild foods.  I loved having livestock, but the kitties are good too.  I love living simply.  I learned the hard way that one can really never be self sufficient and I spiraled back quickly into total dependence on my community and my friends.  I still continue to learn.

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A couple offered to carry a note on a house for us but then with nary a full text disappeared and we haven’t heard from them since!  Every step leading us back to where we are best suited.  In nature, living simply, with a community apothecary.

I considered not writing anymore since I do not have a farm per se.  But, I decided that even though I don’t have a farm, the real idea behind this blog was to write and record.  So, the name doesn’t fit (perhaps it will again in the future!) but I am still here writing.  Maybe it would be better suited as Grammie School, or Herbal School, or the like.  Who knows!

I suppose I will lose some readers because I am not canning, gardening, milking, or much else but making medicine right now, but I am still alive and following a very interesting journey.  Those of you that are sticking around, I’ll see you in the pages to come!  I think it is going to get interesting.

The Dance

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I can’t tell you how wonderful this conference is so far.  I am enjoying the beautiful mountain air and the many classes.  The classes on practical uses and materia medicas have been filled with mostly with information I already know but there is an amazing shamanic and spiritual use of herbs being taught and a charisma among the herbalists and healers that is truly healing and a balm to the spirit.  My spirit was broken the past few months.

When I get back I will start setting up my new shop in Elizabeth by the post office.  A friend of ours invited us to rent his walkout basement in Elizabeth.  He is a respected Native elder and I will learn much from him.  To stand on his land is to be totally immersed in wild medicinal plants.  A secret place.

The next half of my life will be a little wilder.  A few less decorating books and dinner parties and more walking in pine needles and watching birds.  Wild herbalism in my shop.  Something to meet the needs of every single person that walks in.  Powerful plant medicines and natural healing.  More quiet, less bills, more mindful, more learning, less stress, more herbs, less interference.

Now, my friends, I must don my owl wings and head to the Fairy Masquerade Ball.  Margie is less than excited but I can’t wait to dance.

And I’ll continue dancing…

Becoming a Background Singer for My Favorite Singer

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Another bucket list dream checked off.  I have wanted to share this for a long time but I had to wait for my son’s album to drop.  My bucket list dream was to be the waily girl in the background of an R&B album and it was made even better because it was my son’s album, “In None We Trust”.

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It was so amazing singing into a professional microphone and  hearing myself in the earphones.  I even got to be my own background singer.  I cannot contain my excitement over this.

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My son’s first show is October 7th at the Pitstop in Denver.  My child is pursuing his dreams and no mama can be prouder than that.

I am the singer on track 1 and 3.  This album makes me want to dance.  Thanks for supporting an up and coming entertainer.

https://soundcloud.com/drew-sanders-1/sets/in-none-we-trust

Herb Conference, Owl Wings, and Store Fronts

Things are getting exciting around here now, Friends.  And word of our adventures is buzzing around town already.  Doug was stopped several times yesterday to find out about where we are going to live and about the store.  One couple stopped him at the grocery store and told him it was a good thing we didn’t buy that little house last week.  They live next door to it and the roof is about to collapse and the house is filled with asbestos!  Wow, close call there!  I will tell you next week where we are going to live.

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In the meantime, I am taking you on a field trip.  We are heading to Cloudcroft, New Mexico for the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference tomorrow through Sunday.  I have applied to teach at this conference next year, but this year Margie and I are going to drive eight hours to the top of a mountain in my favorite state to learn all we can.  Some of the classes we are both interested in, such as Tree Medicine ,and Wound Management in the Field and at Home.  Some of them we differ on.  She’ll be taking Plant Saponins while I take an hour and a half herb walk through the desert.  There will be so many people to meet, and so much to listen to, and the scenery will likely breathe life back into me.  Doug starts his job today so he won’t be joining us.  I’ll miss him at the dance.  There is a Fairy Masquerade Ball and my friend made me wings for it!  Aren’t they amazing?

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This morning Margie and I are heading to a store front that I have had my eye on for five years but always thought it would be too expensive.  It is not.  It is in my price range, it is a great location in Elizabeth, and it is among friends.

So much going on but four days of mountain air and herbs will be just what I need to start moving full speed ahead when I get back.  Anyways, if you want to go to New Mexico with me, I’ll see you here Friday morning.  Margie and I leave at 3:30 am tomorrow!

Results of Making Chokecherry Wine

Drum roll please…..

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Well, it’s been about a year since I brewed the chokecherry wine. It needed to sit for a year and I have patiently waited for the final product.  I was nervous because choke cherries are named that for a reason, they are puckeringly sour and a smidge bitter without two tons of sugar.

Friends, those old timers that wrote that recipe knew a thing or two about turning ordinary wild berries into wine to keep the spirits warm for winter.

The initial scent was of yeast and fruit, sweet berries, and summer.  A taste proved similar to meade with a hint of bitter on the end.  Not too shabby, Folks.  Not too shabby.

For the recipe, see my initial blog post here for making Chokecherry Wine.

(Note: Six months after writing this post we served another bottle and it was smoother and more delicious.)

White Wolf Medicine (a new apothecary coming to Elizabeth)

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I could say that I wish that I hadn’t closed my shop on Main Street.  The Garden Fairy Apothecary was a quaint and charming shop that stood proud for three years before I decided to move the whole thing to the mini-farm we had seven miles away.  At the same time a gal in Elbert who had a large antique shop found herself praying for a new place due to needing to move immediately.  Her shop could not look cuter inside our old store. And I cannot regret because that was all part of the journey.

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Folks continued to find me alright and I happily farmed and grew herbs and made medicines.  The landlords couldn’t afford the house anymore and it belongs to the bank now.  We had to move and that was when we made the dreadful error of moving to the last place.  People couldn’t find me anymore and I grew weary of just sending mail ordered medicines.  I sold the company to my friend, whom I live with presently, and she and her friend love mail order and those that want their old medicines that are the same all of the time order regularly.

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When we lost everything and had to leave that place I wondered if I was done.  Done farming, done teaching, done with herbs.  I gave the stack of my notes that I have kept for the past seven years, recipes, ideas, formulations, to a friend of mine. (She recently gave them back!) Left with re-piecing one’s life there is only room to think of what is very most important.  It is interesting to see what comes forth.

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I figured I wasn’t needed anymore.  I had students opening apothecaries all over the state and many still ordered from Garden Fairy.  When in the dark, the glimmers of reality are bright.  Not everyone can do what I do.  In fact, herbalism is not just something I do, it is a part of who I am.  I AM an herbalist, a medicine keeper, and I needed that reality to reignite what I do.

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People were/are still asking for medicines and I wanted to create a new apothecary that reflected knowledge that I didn’t have when I first started.  I wanted medicines that could be taken by most anyone.  Something that could be blended for each individual that walks in the door.  Something potent and effective and safe and beautiful.  Apple cider vinegar and honey extracts brew jovially in the sun.  Dozens of herbs waiting to be placed in jars for teas and fomentations.  Salve ideas, creams, decorations dance through my mind.

It would have been nice to have a shop on the same property as the home but perhaps a shop among other shops works better for people to find it.  A place where people know where they can come, even if I have to move, the shop itself will stay put.

So, I have some calls out and am looking for the place.  My mom and dad are going to help out.  My daughter’s boyfriend’s dog is a natural model for the logo.  Doug will complete the logo this week on photoshop but his sweet face works great for now.  The name chosen and confirmed.

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I woke up at dawn of the new moon, met the sun, prayed, did ceremony, and began to create.

Our new website: http://WhiteWolfHerbs.com

Our new facebook: http://Facebook.com/WhiteWolfMedicine