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Ask the Bartender, Ask the Plants, Ask Karoline #79

I swear that every time I have a column due, nothing exciting/interesting happens that month, but the months prior are pretty chock full of goodness (that I never remember to write down in the moment). I've got a bunch of rambling to do now, so let's get started, shall we?!  It's finally feeling like spring around here.  A couple of really warm days and the whole city's got spring fever...myself included!  Yesterday, our whole household (all 4 of us) got down and dirty outside doing yard maintenance and digging up a garden plot. It's an incredible feeling to start on a project that I spent all last year talking about.  I know that I'm good with container gardening, but an actual backyard-in the ground-full on garden is a whole 'nother animal. Our dirt seems to be almost entirely clay so we're getting rid of what we've dug up and replacing it with a fresh mixture of new soil and humus. The next step will be deciding what we're actually going to plant. Hopefully we'll all agree. We've got the compost location almost ready (apparently 'back in the day' our neighborhood used to be full of little incinerator spots that opened onto the alley where you would burn some of your garbage, ours is full of dirt, wood chips, an old muffler and the remains of some old veggie compost) I wrestled most of the muffler out, now we just need to finish cleaning everything else out.  Other plans include some front yard landscaping, fencing in the backyard and lots of potted herbs on the upstairs front porch.  I can't wait to sit up there sipping some cool cocktails on a hot, sticky summer night sniffing the sage, lavender, thyme and rosemary. It's gonna be fantabulous!
Speaking of lavender...
Lavender is one of my most favorite plants. Just looking at it makes me feel calm and relaxed.  The scent is intoxicating and I got very spoiled in the Bay Area, because it grows everywhere! I could be walking to work and stop every few blocks to rub some on my hands and just sniff and smile like a mad woman.  I'm sure that was a hilarious sight!  I know that some of you might not believe me, but having a lavender plant around can be extremely beneficial for anyone that gets really wound up easily.  Just stop for a second and rub some of it on your hands, cup said hands around your nose, inhale slowly and deeply. It will calm you down. Judith Berger's book Herbal Rituals features lavender during June. She writes about the powers of lavender like an artist painting. I can almost smell it coming off the pages.  I know that I'm always mentioning her book.  It's my favorite herbal inspiration. Here are her instructions for lavender honey. So simple, so tasty.
Lavender Honey:
Fill a glass jar with lavender blossoms and leaves, cover with honey, let steep for six weeks. Add this honey to tea for a soothing effect on the nervous system, spread it on toast or a muffin. You should use raw and unfiltered honey from a local honey producer. Don't ever buy 'Sue Bee' or the equivalent. Those companies feed their bees sugar and cook all of the healing properties out of their honey.  It's basically just sugar in a honey-like state. I know that many vegans don't eat honey and while I agree with the principals of the honey argument, I have fairly serious pollen and dust allergies that are easily controlled by eating raw honey and  drinking nettles.  I used to rely on allergy pills that got me all wound up or made me really sleepy and were full of all kinds of synthetic crap that I didn't need to be putting in my body on a daily basis.  This way I may be oppressing the bees, but I'm not supporting the major pharmaceutical companies (who do a whole lot of animal testing) with my hard earned cash. Whew, that was rant, wasn't it. I'm certainly open for debate on this subject, but in the big picture, you've just gotta do what works for YOU and your body. Honey works for me.
Speaking of Cocktails...
I've just got one quick mixer for you that is sure to taste good on a hot summer day (hell, it tastes good on a cold winter night!). Here we go!  I call this one 'Jealousy' because it's such a great color...green with envy, if you will.  Grab a glass, squeeze some fresh lemon in the bottom, add some gin (I prefer Hendrick's, which is definitely on the pricey side, but oh-so good) then a splash of Midori (melon liqueur) and top the rest off with lemonade. Shake it really well with lots of ice and you're good to go.  Like splashing into a really cold stream. You know, refreshing.
Some Summer Reading...
The first two are on my pile of 'things to read' so I'm not sure if I love them yet or not, but they look good on the 'skimming' radar.  First up is Weedless Gardening by Lee Reich.  Basically a book eschewing the yearly tradition of digging up and working over the soil. A low impact approach to gardening that supposedly reduces weed and backache problems. Easy reading layout, planting schedules/suggestions, irrigation techniques, compost ideas, fertilizer info, planting myths, and all at a price that's easy on the pocketbook. $8.95 from Workman Publishing (www.workman.com).  Second in line is This Organic Life - Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader by Joan Dye Gussow.  A gardening book that's 'one part memoir, one part manual, one part manifesto'.  I like the feeling I get from this...organic gardening tips written from a somewhat chaotic life perspective, not in a clinical 'how-to' manner.  Not as easy on the wallet, but published by a non-profit called Co-Op America (www.coopamerica.com) 1-800-58-green.  For reading that has nothing to do with gardening or plants, but will probably make you laugh your head off, check out a few titles by Augusten Burroughs. Running with Scissors and Dry (both memoirs) and Sellevision (fiction).  Hilarious!!! Available at any bookstore.  If you've read Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel but haven't checked out her latest entitled More, Now, Again, you need to. Utterly absorbing, terrifying and yet kinda funny. I know that drug addiction and depression are not supposed to make you laugh, but somehow she writes in a way that forces you to find the humor in the really fucked up situations.
Sending My Love...
Before I wrap this up,  I must send out some sappiness to a few people.  Robert and I took a little road trip out to Oklahoma and New Mexico in February to see the Subhumans and it was tons and tons of fun.  The boys didn't know we were coming (except Richard) and it was a huge surprise.  Ya gotta love the semi-secret family reunion!  Caustic Christ and Philly Greg were also present so that made it even more perfect. We all hung out and shot the shit for two days on long drives, no sleep, tons of coffee and the occasional brewski.  We (about 20 punks all in black) kinda took over a Taco Cabana at 2am somewhere outside of Oklahoma City (much to the chagrin of the manager who tried to tell us they didn't have any meat left...we all said 'cool, how's the bean supply?' and then they were stuck with us). (Hee, hee).
I think that in the end the TC staff was a little shocked at how we all thanked them and cleaned up our tables.  Certainly couldn't say the same for the drunk frat boys that kept giving us the stink eye.  I wish Jasper had been filming the whole evening.  Oh well. We also had a great time making fun of all the utterly ridiculous nazi skinheads at the show in Albuquerque. There were a whole bunch of 'em and they were none too bright.  I was a bit befuddled to see seemingly aware, political punks hanging out with those boneheads. Oh well, again, eh?!  Finally I'd like to give a round of applause to Arwen for all her years of service at Maximum Rock-n-Roll.  She brought an immense amount of passion, creativity, and structure (she doesn't have a degree in linguistics for nothing!) to the magazine and she will be greatly missed.  Now don't think that anything bad has happened to this wonderful woman, she's just moving on to pursue a life outside the all consuming whirlpool that is MRR. Thanks, Arwen.  My world is a better place because you exist and I know that there are tons of folx out there who feel the exact same way.  You are amazing!  Good luck with the future.  Okay.  I'm finished.  Hope that someone got something out of this.  xoxo-karoline.  theroadiegirl@hotmail.com