Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"It Cold."

Yes, actually, it is cold. We had our first hard freeze last night and had to scrape the windows on the truck before I left for the tea-making class this morning (more on that later). The truck pictured above is one we saw at Home Depot and I just couldn't resist getting a pic of it. Alaskans have a quirky sense of humor. I just wish I'd thought of that license plate first; I'd probably have bought it!

Soooo, anyway, it got down to 28 degrees last night and we're expecting more of the same tonight. The nights have been chilly up 'til now, but this time it didn't get so warm during the day, and I wore a light jacket when I went out to pick berries this afternoon. I forgot, but I think the high was around 43. Is that right? I don't remember, but it was something like that. And yet, it still doesn't feel as cold as "43" sounds. Dallas was a good twenty degrees warmer today, but I imagine it felt much the same outdoors there as it did here.

On the bright side, the frost meant I could, guilt-free, pick the highbush cranberries and rose hips that grow wild here. They have a bit better flavor after they've withstood a frost. So, this afternoon I gathered up my colanders and out I went. Tomorrow I hope to get the cranberries and hips ready for juicing and drying. It's good for me to have something constructive to do, otherwise I spend way too much time online or subjecting poor Moya to earigami:

The air seems to be so clear for the past few days. The mountains loom in every direction. I think Mt. Spurr is probably my favorite, and rounding this corner on the Kenai Spur Highway is one of my favorite ways to see it. Enlarge this one and see all the snow already on the mountain!

Monday, my soap-making neighbor Elizabeth invited me over to her house to make salves and harvest supplies for the Back To Basics group's tea making class. So I went over there and helped her get in the last of her potatoes, and then we headed into the woods to pick wormwood (antiseptic), yarrow (topical analgesic), devil's club root (Tlinkit aspirin) and spruce tips (extremely high in vitamin C and good for sore throats). Elizabeth is a wealth of knowledge wrapped up in just one person, and I will be sorry when she moves away this winter. Even as we walked around, she was pointing to this plant and that, saying "Eat some. It's good for such-and-such." She's probably forgotten more about medicinal plants than I will ever know. She ordered in pizza and we ate that while we talked, and then I helped her make calendula and plantain salve for chapped skin. Okay, I admit my help was very minimal since she'd already done the majority of the work weeks ago when she made the oils from the herbs. I did not smell so good when I got home - although my hands were quite soft - and the dogs were extremely interested in where I'd been and what I had rubbed on my hands!

So, anyway, the tea class... It was different than I thought it would be, but that's okay. I learned stuff. Elizabeth spoke on medicinal teas for the majority of the class time, and pictured below are some of the herbs she brought for us to experiment with in making our own tea blends. It's hard to tell in the picture, but those are huge pickle jars about a foot tall. She had everything from bull kelp to raspberry leaves to pineapple weed.

After Elizabeth spoke (she's seated, dressed in black), Koleen spoke on sipping teas, our neighbor Linda (seated in pink and gray) spoke on spice blends. Then we sampled herb butters made from Linda's spices, and drank teas made from Elizabeth's herbs and Koleen's fruits.

We got to make tea bags if we wanted to, and here's one of the attendees ironing shut a tea bag. I'm intrigued by the heat-sealing tea bags and have ordered myself some.
In other news:
Last week we took all three dogs in the car together for the first time so that they could go to the vet for their shots. It went well, much to our surprise, and we decided to take them to the beach. Tate's first trip to see the ocean... My majestic salty dog.

Jim and Belle:

And James with Moya the Beach Hound:

Also in other news, James had his first close encounter with a moose while driving home from his bluegrass session on Thursday. He came around the corner onto our street and a cow moose stepped out of the woods in front of him. He swerved and missed it, and came on home to get us and we went out to see it. It was dark, so we took flashlights, and when we saw where the moose had gone, we left it alone and headed back home. Moose are really big and nobody wanted to spook one in the dark!

Furthermore in other news, James and I headed off to Fred Meyer for long underwear this afternoon. Gee, is there a captive market for longies up here or what? And my, but they're ugly. So, after picking us all out a couple utilitarian sets to get us started, I passed by the women's sleepwear department and couldn't help but notice that the thermal weave sleep shirts looked very similar to the blah longies in packages in my cart - except the jammies were cute. They only had one pretty color in my size (curses, ample chest!) but now that I've figured out the jammies angle, I'll be checking back there before I head over to the long johns display next time.

Well, I suppose I've talked your ear off long enough and I should head off to bed. But maybe I should type up my notes from tea class first......


  1. So, what type of tea did you assemble? Were you able to use the lemon verbena? Mine is going into my pickle jar of garden scents.
    I LOVE the beach photos. You should have posed with Tate......Go back and get that picture!

  2. Sounds like you are really keeping busy!! It all sounds like such an adventure!!! I'm glad that you are getting to do all the nature stuff too!!! Have I said lately how proud I am of you?!! Love you guys lots and lots!! (: Carla

  3. Always knew Moya was a princess - just not princess Leia.

  4. I've finally got you bookmarked- the pictures are fantastic! Take your camera with you, James; want moose pictures!