Hal's Hat

Hal's Hat

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A cold spring but verdant!

Easter is this weekend: while I'm don't celebrate Easter as such, I do present it for the holiday it is. It is meant to celebrate rebirth of the son, the sun, the land, the green.... there is a facebook picture going around showing Ishtar and correcting their perception of an Easter that celebrates only the Christian holiday. I appreciate this but it's also, in its own way, incorrect. Easter is, in northern European countries, based on Oestara. Oestara is alternately the goddess figure of spring and the pagan/ Wiccan/ proto-Christian celebration of spring itself. Usually it is on the Vernal Equinox (last week of course) because the date was based on a celestial occurrence that could be noted from year to year. I celebrate the equinox with Easter baskets, decorated eggs, lots of yummy food and too much frenzied gardening! Don't you??
According to Karen Pendleton, down the road of all the asparagus fame, we are at least two weeks behind growing schedule! I bought and am installing floating row covers for my vegetable patch. I grow in raised beds and large trees encroaching on my space. So we push it. And I especially love early season cold/ cole crops. This means I grow lots of lettuce, spinach, arugula, and kale. I'm finally to the point where I think my soil is friable (loose, rich) enough to grow carrots. My kids are absolutely in love with snow peas and sugar snaps so I've added lots of those in their honor!
from michaelweishan.com
Floating row covers are invaluable around here. Many people use them to keep pests out, as they are permeable, allowing air and water to move through. But I'm using them to get the soil warmed up sooner. Since I'm putting them on seeds that have yet to germinate, I'm laying it directly on soil. I'll suspend them a bit when the seedlings emerge.

Herb Update:
This season, I'm growing calendula again. Many of my supposedly annual calendula is still alive and green. Well. Huh. I'm planting more since my calendula oil was such a success last year. Golden yellow/orange and vibrant. I didn't dry my blooms, even though reputable sources say "dry the blooms completely!" (Mountain Rose Herbs blog). Other reputable sources (Susun Weed) simply say, eh, dry 'em a bit. I did that. I let them sit for 6-8 hours. It's oil.... nothing to be taken internally.
I have a HUGE amount of medicinal yarrow this year. As in- want a transplant?? Give me a holler, hit me up. I'll say yes. It's a lot. I've got it in front in multiple places and a large amount in a vegetable bed that must be transplanted soon!
I'm sowing St. John's Wort seeds this next week with a new helper of mine. She is a mom of two and on her own journey- and she'd like to learn about herbs. So I'm getting her to come explore with me: we are going to plant StJW, wildcraft nettles in a few weeks, transplant echinacea and yarrow. She's going to start learning about infusions, decoctions, infused oils and tinctures (vinegar, alcohol, glycerine). Doesn't that sound fun? Really- this is giving lots of discipline to personally "get it together". Organize my herbal bookshelves, make up a syllabus and ways to present the information effectively. I'm a natural teacher but an employed landscape designer, so this is wonderful for me!
On another note: here is the powerpoint from the presentation I did at the Flower, Lawn and Garden show in KC last week. Use it as a guide to basic landscape design- within your theme or not! Please feel free to contact me if you have landscape/ design questions! Listen to me live this Saturday on Jeremy Taylor's "About the House" radio show, AM 1320.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Insulin, carbs, my drama!

The theme for this month, Miss March, is cleaning up my act. My dad would like it- I've started doing headstands, early in the morning! He did yoga basically every single day. He'd sit zazen (Zen Buddhist meditation) and do forward bends, plow, push ups and head stands. He also jogged, ten minutes or so, no big deal.
I'm also on a nutrition journey that is very interesting. My dude and I are off simple carbs- still eating fruits and a few complex carbs here and there (oats, quinoa), definitely starchy vegetables. But I feel very different already. Enjoying kale smoothies with a bit of fruit and yogurt too. Lots of fat, protein, vegetables..... Don't get me wrong, I'm not into deprivation or being hungry. I'm just working to rearrange the cravings and hungry. The science behind this goes a little something like this:
Eat carbohydrates, sugar (even fruit) and your body produces insulin. Insulin is a fat storage hormone. It tells your organs (liver especially) to hold onto the fat, don't use it! Bodily organs, like the thryroid, get very tired from all that insulin. Sometimes, when there isn't enough protein in your blood, your adrenals will start to produce cortisol. You know that shaky energy? That fight or flight energy? That's cortisol. You shouldn't be existing on cortisol. Adrenal exhaustion... the stories I could tell. At one point, my cortisol production was so totally off that I was spiking cortisol at midnight (right when baby would wake to feed). I was screwed up- I went back to my meditation practice and began taking a supplement call Phosphytidyl Serine for a short time. I'd take it at 8:00 pm and it would limit my cortisol production during sleep time. It was a perfect, "get me through a hard patch" helper.
Anyway,when get your body off the insulin train, eat vegetable and protein, your body produces glucagon instead of insulin. This is a fat burning hormone. It tells your liver: Hey, eat up all that fat in there and get the fat in the blood stream utilized! STAT! We want a glucagon ratio that is HIGHER than insulin. Clearly. Natural food and eating in a natural pattern will do that.

So, it looks like I'm eating Paleo. Shrug, grimace, yuck. I really have resisted fads or what I perceive to be fad diets because I am not a joiner. I don't like dietary changes that are based on perception  (vs. science) and that might actually be veiled "thinspiration". I've been continually grossed about by the Paleo crowd because I think they seem like zealots who want to be thin but cloak it with nutrition. I also really dislike diets that replace real food with bars and pretend food made with a wrapper. But, I'm trying this because there is physical science telling me how my body is becoming estrogen-dominant (thus putting on subtle amounts of fat on the thighs, hips area). Estrogen dominance is a pre-cursor to estrogen triggered cancers, Type 2 diabetes and other metabolic syndromes of the Typical American Diet (TAD).

That said- I'm not judging you for eating all that carb loaded goodness. (What's up last night's dinner: spanikopita and MAC N CHEESE. *sigh)  It's been hard and isn't over yet- getting over that emotional hurdle of expecting breakfast to include breads. But it can and is really, really good. And I've not lost any weight, with all my exercise, so I can assure you that I'm not doing this to be something other than what I am (well more muscle is in my plans, MORE MUSCLE!). So if your body still works great, SALUT! Mine just stopped feeling and looking so great. And I have to part with pizza, traditional pizza, for awhile. As I said someplace else, the idea is to reset the receptors in my body (in all of those organs- THYROID) and let them get back to good shape. Then, it's like being a kid again. I eat a lot of good for me stuff, indulge some, feel a bit yummy then yucky, then make better choices. And not suffer a bunch of consequences. THIS is why "kids can eat anything". Well, no they can't. But they are fresher and younger- don't do them a disservice and teach them only to eat the shitty stuff. That's your Type 2 diabetic youngster right there. What we all need to do is remove weight and fat from the judgmental analysis- make it about nutrition. Everything else will follow- some people are little, some big, fat is beautiful. Type 2 diabetes is painful and sick. Sick isn't anyone's goal. Right? So let's allow ourselves beer and bread and then have a hangover and eat our vegetables and move around and feel good. Right?

On another note- I'm presenting at the Kansas City Lawn and Garden show!  I'm giving people some tips on thematic gardens- like Japanese, xeric, meadow, woodland, etc. It's both didactic and supportive! A gentle reminder to remember to do what you do well and leave the rest to professionals. Hope to see some of you there!