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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Master Herbalist Available for Consultations

"Most allopathic doctors think practitioners of alternative medicine are all quacks. They 're not. Often they are sharp people who think differently about disease." ~Mehmet Oz, MD, FACS; Turkish -American cardiothoracic surgeon, Columbia University professor, attending physician at NY Columbia Presbyterian medical center, television personality and author. 

     I began training with a master herbalist in Spokane, Washington in 1990. I studied under her tutelage for nine years and one day as is traditional for a Green Witch--one whose allies and familiars are plants and who is gifted with a drive and ability to help others heal. Since before I could read and write I have had a deep affinity for plants which told me their names. They have always communicated with me and I often knew as a very small child, which berries and plants I could eat and which should be avoided by simply holding a leaf or stem in my hand and listening for its message. I saw nothing remarkable in this for it is as natural to me as breathing. I stepped out onto this path for several reasons: I was fortunate to have been brought to the attention of a very gifted and knowledgeable elder in the Craft who was a master herbalist and upon meeting me, she was willing to accept me as a personal tutor, fitting my training into her already overburdened life for which I will always be grateful. Daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly I practiced side by side with her, learning as her apprentice how to identify healing plants, how to gather them from the wild or grow them in my garden. I memorized the dozens and dozens of general healing properties of plants, how to create teas, decoctions, capsules, pills, tinctures, poultices, and infusions. I also learned the magical properties of plants and their uses.
     The link between Witches and herbal healing is ancient. The village wise woman and midwife had an intrinsic understanding of herbal lore and the energies of the natural world. (If you wish to know more about this history then please follow this link.) I even learned the reason that Witches knew so much about poisonous plants and grew them in their gardens. It was not to use them on their neighbors or enemies; it was as a means to end their life during the four centuries of persecution by the Christian church which actively pursued mainly women for the crime of witchcraft. If one was taken prisoner there would be three degrees of "questioning" which involved ever greater degrees of inhumane torture. Therefore those persecuted for witchcraft would make use of the poisonous plants to end their own or a loved one's suffering.
     Before we go any further in this discussion--for yes I think of my blog posts as discussions: I write my ideas and thoughts and readers respond likewise--It is crucial we all share an understanding and definition of what witchcraft actually is. There are many different branches and sects of the Craft just as there are in any religion. For me it is a spiritual path that recognizes my deep ties to the earth and all nature. We evolved within its system and, try though mankind may to divorce ourselves from nature and seek dominion over it, we are all of a part and as ill or well as the whole. Witches recognize everything in nature has energy, and just as Einstein so elegantly phrased it, we too understand that energy never dies--it only changes form. Witches are often born gifted in working with nature energy although it takes training to bring this under a discipline that allows one to use this energy wisely and ethically. We have no dogma except this: An' it harm none, do what ye will, for whatever thee send out to the world will return to thee threefold."  Those who practice unethical twisted magic are called followers of the left hand path. There is no such thing as white and black witches. There is only energy and how it is used and to what end, bearing in mind the Wiccan Rede, above.
     Out of my studies and practice I realized I could keep myself and my children healthy and out of the doctor's office which was essential. I was a full time student at Eastern Washington University and I had no medical insurance. I was thirty three years old and I would not have medical insurance for myself until I was thirty eight and working for Spokane Public Radio. I still could not afford insurance coverage for my children. I was grateful they were finally eligible for coverage by the State of Washington for minors living in poverty which my $16,000.00 a year job classified us, as working class poor. In America we don't have social class distinctions as they exist in Britain. Our class system is economic: Indigent or poverty stricken (no income and no means of support), working class poor ($6,000.00 to $26,000.00 per annum), working class ($26,000.00-$34,000.00 per annum), lower middle class ($35,000.00-$75,000.00 per annum), upper middle class ($100,000-$350,000.00 per annum), and wealthy. Herbal medicine and other alternative complementary medicines allowed me to keep my children healthy in a manner I could afford, and which I believe is better for all of us in the long run. It also placed the empowerment and responsibility for good health in our hands. My youngest daughter broke her arm on a local playground about a month after we moved to Eastern Washington. It was Independence Day weekend. The break was sufficient to require surgery twice and three ambulance rides between three different hospitals for the closed site surgery, angiogram, and open site surgery with hospital recovery time of ten days. In 1989 that cost me $10,000.00 and it took me years of making payments as I fell behind and eventually had to go through bankruptcy courts because interest on the unpaid debt carried it to a total of over $20,000.00. That said I do want to underscore that while medical care in America is expensive, we at least know how much everything costs, we know nothing is free, and while a physician may set himself up in private practice, when a doctor takes on a patient he works for that patient which I believe more often than not produces much better outcomes now than doctors working for a large corporation be it private or government funded. Americans go into the doctor's office armed with knowledge and eyes wide open and we expect to develop a doctor/patient relationship for our benefit. I am not saying American medicine is perfect because no system created by humans ever is and I want to underscore this idea. Studying Marxism at University taught me that one may develop some really elegant theories but the minute they are put into practice there must be a recognition that the wild card in any theoretical system is always the human beings involved in it and we humans have a gift for f*****g up anything we touch!
     My studies began and were underpinned by my studies of the Craft of the Wise as it is known in some circles. I don't call it Wicca because that is a New Age label and what we practiced was very "old age," if you grasp my meaning. If others need to pin a label on what I am and how I practice then I am most comfortable with Hedge Witch, or Green Witch. I seek nature first and foremost in all I do in order to find answers, healing, and direction in life. This does not mean I scorn allopathic medicine. It means I recognize it has limits like everything else and in the 21st century too often modern medicine practitioners prescribe chemical pharmaceuticals to treat symptoms without taking time to really know and treat their patients and their actual illness. Allopathic medicine is brilliant at diagnostics and surgery. I believe modern medicine lost its way when it climbed into bed with the whore that is now Big Pharma. I've had friends and colleagues who were on as many as nine different drugs, with most of them counter indicative to one another, creating a perfect storm of illness that placed these individuals in hospital, required surgery for symptoms, and I've seen many loved ones mis-diagnosed and mis-treated and a fair few have died because of pharmaceutical drugs and their very potent side effects. As those of you who have followed this blog for years know, my lovely husband Les died not of Colo-rectal cancer from which his body was slowly healing; he died from a second line bone carcinoma which developed in his lower spine as a result of radiotherapy he was forced to undergo in order to have the cancer surgery he needed. I recognize these issues also occur with unscrupulous so called "snake oil salesmen", however allopathic medicine is the mainstream even going so far as to demonize alternative medicine and therefore it has a much larger responsibility for which to answer.
     It is important to understand one of the key distinctions between allopathic and natural or alternative medicine: herbalists recognize that nature/God/Goddess--call it what you will--in its wisdom allowed plants to evolve in every continent of this planet (save Antarctica in its present icy state) which heal a multitude of illnesses with which animals may heal themselves and yes, we humans are animals and a part of the chain of animals in nature.
     The healing efficacy of certain plants was recognized by apothecaries. Modern pharmaceuticals began in the mid 19th century when apothecaries moved into wholesale production of drugs such as morphine, quinine, and strychnine, and dye and chemical companies that established research labs and discovered medical applications for their products. Pharmaceutical labs find a promising medical use for a plant and it is taken into the lab to break down its components to identify the main active ingredient which is then developed into a drug, undergoing field tests in order to allow drug companies to manufacture the formula for profit. In doing so the pharmaceutical and chemical companies are attempting to create a miracle cure marketed as a magic bullet. Aspirin is a perfect example of this system in operation.
     Plants with analgesic power to reduce fever, pain, and inflammation have been recognized for many thousands of years. The Egyptians and Greeks used White Willow bark tea to treat their patients. By the 19th century chemists were tinkering with the active ingredient in Meadowsweet (Filipendula Ulmaria), a lovely honey scented plant growing everywhere along river banks and known for the same properties as White Willow Bark. In 1853 a chemist by the name of Gerhardt teased out the active ingredient and named it acetylsalicylic acid. In 1899 chemists working for the German drug and dye company Bayer developed a chemical means of synthesizing acetylsalicylic acid and Bayer named their synthetic chemical Aspirin. 
     Herbalists on the other hand recognize the healing power of the whole plant. We understand that all the constituents of a plant's chemistry work synergistically to produce healing. With the magic bullet Aspirin also comes the side effects of acid stomach and prolonged use causes leaky gut syndrome as the gut mucosa is destroyed by this acidic compound leading to other diseases such as IBS. Meadowsweet capsules or White Willow Bark tea on the other hand, having all parts of the plant included do not produce the same side effects so in my estimation as a master herbalist its healing power is much greater than synthetic Aspirin. To put it short and sweet all the chemicals in a plant are in there for a reason and all of them act upon one another to effect safe, effective healing. With herbal treatments time is the other piece of the antidote to healing. Herbs take longer to effect many cures because the entire plant is far more complex than an isolated active ingredient (magic bullet) and time is necessary for the human body to experience the full healing process without nasty side effects. Nature in its great wisdom understands that time is also a healer and natural bodies require time for healing to have a lasting effect. 
     Seventy four percent of all pharmaceuticals are derived from plants; eighteen percent from fungi, five percent from bacteria and three percent from vertebrate species like snakes and frogs (eye of newt and toe of frog; and they call us Witches!!)
     Okay that is the theory behind all of my knowledge and experience. Onward then...it is crucial to recognize that I am not a physician. I do not diagnose illness or prescribe medications. If someone comes to me for a consultation and they have not seen a doctor, I can only point them in certain directions based on their symptoms but it is always best if folks go to see their GP and seek a professional medical diagnosis. It turns out that a lot of the time I am correct in my directions, but still, a formal diagnosis by a doctor is essential and I like to think the information I provide to my clients helps them have an intelligent and measured conversation with their physician which will hopefully move the diagnostic process forward.
     For those who decide for whatever reason, to pursue natural medicine alternatives as a means of addressing a disease or illness, and who ask me to consult for them, I first require the diagnosis and any suggestions or recommendations of their GP. Then I spend hours and hours, usually several days, researching alternative treatments backed up by nearly thirty years of experience as a university researcher and I also do a guided meditation on that person, asking for assistance in finding the most effective remedies for them. Each human being and their 30 trillion cells are as individual as a snow flake or a leaf, and what works for one person may not work for someone else. I write up my recommendations with links for places where any of the needed herbs or other items may be purchased. I also include straight forward directions on how to use everything I recommend and for how long. I always ask that clients let me know how they are doing and check back in with me.
     In the past I have always provided consultations for free as a part of service to my community as a priestess of The Goddess. Now what you may ask does that mean?  A Witch is always a Witch at his or her own altar; a Witch called to serve the community is a priest/priestess who offers themselves in service others. I was consecrated as a priestess called to serve my community in 1995 and I have designed and partaken in small group and large community rituals in my community. I gave my practice of herbalism to my community for free as a token of thanks to the Goddess for embracing me and showing me my path though this life. There is a saying in the Craft: Witches heal. But one must first heal one's self before truly being able to heal others. I did so when I researched and undertook a two and a half year alternative treatment for ovarian cancer. That was in 2009 and I am still cancer free. When I provide a consultation I never bring my spiritual background or beliefs into it. I have chosen to illustrate my beliefs in this post so that others may know how I came to be a master herbalist, why I chose to do so, and what informs my practice. Healing and herbal medicine as well as working with plants are part and parcel of the Craft. Not all who practice medicinal herbalism come to their practice in this way 'nor do they need to, but I did.
     Now that I am widowed and no longer have Les' support and loving care I find the need to develop a means of supporting myself. After a long and agonizing meditation about this, and with the support of dear friends like Marilyn McDonald on NB Waka Huia, who wrote an honest recommendation on my services under the comments in my last blog post,  herbalist Kit Alcott on NB Mudlark, and others who have suggested I undertake to use my knowledge to support myself. So my shingle is hanging out now and I am open for business. Please contact me for specifics as to fees and with any questions you may have. I wish you all good health, great love, deep joy, and peace.

"Medicine’s a funny business. After all, dispensing chemicals is considered mainstream and diet and nutrition is considered alternative.” ~Charles F. Glassman MD, FACP, American Internal Medicine specialist, author, and MC coach 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Les and Jaq Mooring Spot

"Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 103-1882. American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century.
     This is a bits and bobs post. Lots of disparate moments strung together in order to bring readers up to speed on life aboard NB Valerie. I've been moored up near the bottom of Audlem locks for a couple of weeks on fourteen day moorings. I spent a three day patch in Overwater marina week before last in order to give my batteries a good charge and use the dedicated water point on the jetty to wash the curtains, and the inside and out of the boat, as I mentioned in a previous post. Audlem is a sweet village without any of the canal pretentiousness and preciousness of other popular canal villages like Stoke Bruerne. Of course that is merely my humble opinion and since this is my blog I am allowed to say it. Les felt the same way about Stoke Bruerne especially once the mooring times changed from one week to 48 hours. As CC'rs we need three days somewhere maximum. One day to arrive, moor up, and catch up the chores aboard the boat. One day to catch a bus or walk in for groceries and pick up post restante mail, and ideally one more day to spend money in the area: eat out, check out local museums, have a walk around the village or town. With the shortened mooring times at Stoke Bruerne there was no reason for us to stop. Anyway, I digress...

Local crew of Greylag geese visiting the winding hole at the bottom of Audlem locks.

A Moor Hen gathering rushes across from my Audlem mooring. 
     Audlem is twee and doesn't take itself too seriously. There is just enough services for a boater like myself and the people both in the village and on the canal are down to earth friendly. There is only one snag. With cuts to the bus routes throughout Cheshire county, there is only one bus traveling through Audlem now: the D&G number 73. It travels from Whitchurch, Shropshire which is two miles east of the Welsh border, through a host of small villages on its way through Audlem, more small villages and finally into Nantwich. It only makes its route every two hours and it digresses in two spots for school days but the actual schedule makes no sense when one is trying to suss out which particular time the bus might do this.
     Audlem is right near the boundaries between two counties: Cheshire and Shropshire. Good luck to 'ya getting from Audlem to anywhere in Shropshire without a great deal of forbearance if you don't drive or own a car. 
Here is a perfect example:
Audlem and Market Drayton are both located on the Shropshire Union Canal. Audlem is located in Cheshire County. Market Drayton is located in Shropshire County. There is seven miles between them. One can drive from Audlem to M.D. in fourteen minutes or walk along the canal in two hours. Getting there by bus??? Phwaooarr!!! It will take three hours and forty minutes, a train and two buses: the 73 into Whitchurch where one gets the Arriva Train to Shrewsbury where one gets off, walks into the town to the bus station and waits for the Arriva number 64 to Market Drayton! Since April 2018 Cheshire East Council has axed 13 bus routes and diminished another 13 to MWF, or early morning and afternoon school run times.
     I want to give a shout out to Angie and Steve on their share boat NB Streamlines. Angie reads the blog and was kind enough to wave me down on their way through Audlem to say hello. Also a shout out to Allan/Alan??? whose boat name escapes me; I do remember it is a Celtic name. He introduced himself to me at the counter in Overwater Marina and told me he has read our blog for years. Many thanks to all of you for stopping to chat with me and let me know you follow the blog.
     When I left Overwater Marina on the 14th, I came out and moored up again near the bottom of Audlem locks as I had not used up my fourteen days however, the 2018 Transport Festival was scheduled for July 28/29th and I knew it would soon be rammed so I wanted to be well clear of Audlem before mid week. Monday last I turned at the winding hole and cruised back up the cut a half mile and into Overwater marina again!! Sudden repairs were required and I was grateful there was someone at Overwater Marine services who could do the work for me at an affordable rate. I had an engine belt squealing. It had started about a week previously and was intermittent. I didn't hear it when starting the engine. It waited until everything was warmed up and I was cruising along the cut before wailing like a bean sidhe which, besides being extremely worrying is also incredibly embarrassing. I had no idea what was causing it or how to fix it. I also lost a port hole window to the cut. Actually the window had been broken by Les back in 2011 when we were gathering wood on the cut. He was hoiking logs up on the roof, tossing them from the towpath and he miscalculated with one log. Instead of landing on the roof it went through the back cabin porthole window. It didn't take out the entire window, only the hopper at the top which opens. Instead of getting it replaced my sweet hubby found a piece of Perspex, cut it to fit the half moon of the upper window and glued it in place with gray plumber's mastic. The extremely high temperatures we've been exposed to this summer melted the plumber's mastic and the Perspex fell out into the cut. I managed to secure a piece of Saran wrap over the window opening, using what was left of the mastic and some masking tape for the short term, so back in to Overwater Marina I went. I spent one night there while measurements were taken and given to a glass cutter off the premises somewhere. The old drive belt was removed and it was then I was informed that it and the other two new belt Les had left for me didn't actually fit my alternator, which had been replaced at some point before Les and I met because the Vetus engine and all its parts are painted a bright Vetus yellow; the alternator is unpainted metal alloy. It was suggested that the smaller belts Les had picked up probably fit the old alternator. So a new drive belt of the proper size was ordered.

NB Valerie moored up in Overwater Marina. The local Greylag Geese gang swim into the marina, and glide underneath the dock to waddle up the bank to the lane.


It is quite a long queue! NB Sonoma moored behind them is a one of the new Finesse narrow boats. I had a chat with the owner who had her made just over a year ago. A Finesse boat comes with a 14 month guarantee. If anything should break or if the owner should be unhappy with anything the company comes out and sorts out the issues for no charge. A crew from Finesse was there earlier in the day to sort out several items for owners Gordon and Dawn Scott. 

After queuing up, gliding under the dock and crossing the puddle on the other side, the ducks waddle up the bank, linger along the lane and then waddle off to plop into the canal which is bordered by the hedge in this picture. Why they don't simply fly up and over it all to reach the cut is beyond me. It underscores that old saying "they don't have the sense god gave a goose." Never mind, I think Greylag geese are pretty even if they aren't geniuses.
     In the meantime I stopped in to The Cafe at Bridge 80 where I discovered they serve gluten free items. I ordered two gluten free cheese scones and a cheese quiche to take back to the boat and all of it was delicious!! What an amazing place to find food I could eat and good gluten free food at that. The next morning the drive belt was replaced as was my window and I went up to the office to pay. Many thanks to Carol and David in the office, and Simon and Ralph in the service shed for your kindness and assistance. As I left the office it began to rain!! WOOT!!! I rushed back to the boat, unwound my mooring lines and cruised off in the rain, happy as Larry, as they say over here. For the first time in more than two months I was cool and comfortable.
     While the rain lasted for over an hour and pelted down, soaking me to the skin, I knew the forecast for the rest of this week was dire. We were told to expect the highest temperatures yet this year with Amber heat warnings for today and tomorrow and then heavy rains on Saturday. I had just the perfect spot in mind to moor up and wait out the weather--a Les and Jaq spot. About a mile and a quarter from the marina is a bijou section between a canal bridge and an old railroad bridge hole where the actual structure has been removed. The canal dips into a cutting just there with adequate shrubbery and trees on both sides of the cut to provide shade for all but the hottest parts of the day. It is cool and green with just enough room for two boats to moor on metal siding and no Shroppie shelf! No one else ever moors there. Everyone continues through the bridge and moors up on the long, open stretch with no shade and a lousy view across a farmer's rubble strewn field or continues on towards Audlem to moor up.
The views from the bow looking at the old railroad bridge footings at the top, and from the stern to the bridge. these two features form a small cutting past a cluster of farm houses in Cool Pilate. Through the bridge hole the towpath leads out to a ramp up to the lane and the bridge.


The view of my Les and Jaq spot from the top of the bridge.

Looking back at the bridge hole. NB Valerie is moored on the other side. The ramp leads up to the lane which ends on the right in a gate to a farm field. There is a lovely wild cherry tree at the top of the ramp with tiny red cherries. 

View from the top: the gate, the ramp, the bridge and the cherry tree. 

The end of the road. 

Standing at the gate looking to the left the road disappears from view, intersecting with Cool Pilate Lane. This is a great spot to have a grocery delivery. Just use the address of the house with instructions that you are on a narrow boat moored just through the bridge. 

The uninspiring view through the bridge of a long slice of canal where most boats moor in the unrelenting sun. 
A spectacular sunset looking back to the bridge hole from NB Valerie. 
     The other sweet thing about this little slice of paradise which is about 120 feet long max is that boats must slow down when passing because they have just come through a narrow bridge hole and will be traveling through the very narrow bridge footings in the opposite direction. Finally, just through the bridge is a ramp up to the lane which is a perfect place to have a grocery order delivered--which I did at 6:30 AM Wednesday morning. With a full tank of water and all my laundry caught up, groceries delivered for two weeks, required health supplements for another month on board, rubbish and loo emptied I was sorted. I was in for a lovely surprise on Friday when NB Holderness cruised up with Tony and Helen hailing me. I saw them last when Les was still alive. It was such a joy to sit for a bit and catch up with them both. They were headed on up the Shroppie towards Authorley Junction. As we were saying goodbye NB Forget Me Knot hoved into view, AKA Baked on Board Pizza!

Two genuinely lovely people: Tony and Helen Porter and their boat NB Holderness. 

NB Forget Me Knot aka Baked On Board Pizza on their way to Audlem for the Transport Festival.

A close up of the wood oven pizza installed in the bow of NB Forget Me Knot. 
     I walked into Audlem yesterday for a Saturday paper: four miles round trip, but the towpath is even and fairly smooth all the way so I simply took my time. It took me an hour and thirty minutes to walk there and back with about twenty minutes in town to chat with a few known locals.
The Transport Festival was on this weekend and Audlem was rammed with old working boats and replicas. I stopped in at The Borders Cheese Carrying Company boat and bought a truckle of lovely Welsh Caws Cenarth Cheese Company's Caws Cryf.
     I stopped to say hello to Ruth Chamberlain, half of the Chamberlain Carrying Company. She and her husband Richard deliver fuels and goods to boats on the Llangollen on their boats Mountbatten and Jellicoe. Ruth also paints roses and castles on an array of goods for sale and she has beautiful style. I saw furl boat NB Halsall moored up on the offside but didn't have a chance to say hello to Lee and Roberta. In town I ran in to Samantha and John, two boaters whose acquaintance I made on the bus from Crewe back in March. They live on a replica working boat on Stoke Manor permanent moorings. They are both retired archaeologists and it is always a pleasure to stop for a chin wag with Sam and John.
     I was all in when I reached home. I preheated to the oven and started a chicken crown with baby carrots and potatoes to roast for dinner and gathered two cups of fresh blackberries from just outside the boat. I had a fresh batch on the go of Easiyo Greek yogurt with honey--my favorite flavor. When it was ready I refrigerated it for an hour while I cleaned the berries, drained them, placed the brambles in a small saucepan with 1 Tablespoon of water and four Tablespoons of Maple syrup. I grated the zest of one lemon over them with an half teaspoon of lemon juice and let the berries simmer on low.when they reached a low bubble I added in some corn starch to thicken the purple juices and turned the heat off to allow the berries to cool down. Then I stirred them into my fresh yogurt for the most delicious Blackberry yogurt I've ever eaten. I had a small bowl for dessert after dinner with a gluten free McVities Hob Nob. I napped while the chicken cooked; I fall asleep easily in the afternoons these days and at night now as well although I never sleep more than five hours a night.
     I am still researching Auto Immune (AI) diseases and Crohn's in particular for which I will write a long, detailed post regarding my findings. At this point I will only say that AI diseases while having some similar symptoms from person to person, have a lot of individual issues specific to one person. this is because AI diseases are systemic and so it is not just affecting me, it is also affecting the trillions of cells that make up my body. After meeting with the colorectal surgeon to go over my diagnostic results I have heard nothing more. I feel as though I have been cut lose to deal with this on my own. I have not received a referral to a gastroenterologist as I was told would happen. I have heard nothing from my GP and I am in the process of finding a new GP. Trial and error combined with unrelenting research have yielded a protocol that is working for now. Failure to follow this protocol means my digestive system shuts down and stops working.

The supplements that allow me to digest food and heal from a Crohn's flare up. 

I've never been able to grow fingernails. Mine have always been brittle and paper thin. With all the supplements, nutrients, vitamins and minerals I am ingesting my nails are hard as concrete and have to be filed down twice a week!
     I eat as much homemade yogurt throughout the day as I desire, with gluten free cornflakes and lactose free milk for breakfast, accompanied by a probiotic capsule and a mega multi-vitamin. Cups of green tea throughout the day help keep me hydrated with large glasses of water to help swallow the huge Omega 3 wild fish oil capsules required to fight and heal the inflammation in my gut. I take two capsules daily of seven digestive enzymes: one about fifteen minutes before lunch and again just before dinner otherwise I don't digest most of my food. I have two Whey protein Isolate shakes every day. The Gluathione in the whey is essential for healing any digestive issue and we stop making it as we age. If I stop the whey shakes I find after about four days I can no longer digest any food. Before bed I take two Wild Oregano oil capsules to kill the pathogenic bacteria load in my guts. The process of healing from a Crohn's flare up can take as long as three years. During that time if one consumes gluten it sets the clock back to zero; AI disease shortens the average person's life by 26 years. Life without sugar, alcohol, or fried foods is not too difficult but no coffee, tea, or red meat is a hardship. I will miss my coffee every day of my life. I didn't eat a lot of red meat but I do love it and I am sick of chicken and cod. Sea bass is off the menu because of extremely high levels of mercury in it. I try to eat salmon but I only really like King Salmon and it isn't readily available over here.


Our beloved Easiyo yogurt maker full of freshly made Greek yogurt with honey, top; freshly picked blackberries transform this yogurt into a berry delicious dessert. 
     Gluten gives breads and baked goods that toothsome chewiness that we take for granted. Gluten free foods don't hold together well without Xanthan gum and even then they will never have the texture or rich flavor of wheat products. Once you begin to chew a gluten free item and saliva wets it down, it dissolves into either a mushy goo or a grainy, sand-like texture. These products are also VERY expensive. It is £1.05 for a 500 gram box of regular Corn Flakes. Gluten free Corn flakes cost £2.20 for the same amount and the only difference is the regular cereal is sprayed with barley syrup and the gluten free flakes are not. Six regular par-baked rolls cost £1.60 and gluten free pettit pain cost £2.40 for six.This price increase holds true for everything gluten and lactose free.The other issue with Crohn's is that gluten is in bloody everything! Lipstick, shampoo, medicines, skin care lotions, and all foods across the spectrum from frozen food to soy sauce.
     I find I run out of energy quickly and need to rest. I have no passion for life in general and I have to force myself out of bed in the morning, and make a list, then force myself to start on things. I am utterly drained and working diligently to keep moving forward, with one foot in front of the other. I thought it was grief that made me feel this way and it no doubt was for a long while. But I know now and the colorectal surgeon confirmed it for me, that this emotionless exhaustion is a hallmark of AI disease.
     I'll leave you now with a view of the moon from this sweet spot...

The waxing moon...

Monday, July 23, 2018

Boat and Trains


This is a Les post. It is something Les would have written and shared. This post comes out of an email to a friend who wondered about where one could catch a train near the canal. Obviously this list is not comprehensive and does not include all the canals. These are the places Les and I sussed out on our cruises in order for us to make our way back down to visit family or to attend medical appointments in London. I hope this will be helpful for some folks. Jaq xxx

Coventry Canal:
Coventry (Basin)
Bedworth (Bridge 13 or 14, 20 minute walk)
Atherstone (Bridge 43)
Polesworth (Bridge 54 15 minute walk)
Tamworth (Bonehill Rd. Bridge; walk into industrial estate and catch Arriva Bus 65 or 16 at Etchell Rd and Ventura Park by the Volkswagon dealer)

Grand Union:
Watford
Hemel Hempstead
Berkhamsted
Tring cutting, (Bridge 135)
Leighton Buzzard
Fenny Stratford
Milton Keynes (Campbell Park)
Wolverton
Long Buckby

G.U./Warwick line:
Leamington Spa (Bridge 41 or 42)
Warwick (There are 2 stations: Saltisford Arm. It is a 15 minute walk from the Arm; moor up by the pedestrian footbridge across from Warwick Hospital. Walk over the bridge and catch the X17 at Scar Bank across the street from the hospital. It runs every 15 minutes and drops off just adjacent to the RR station)
Hatton Lock Flight bottom, bridge 26; five minute walk to Norther Rail station)
Hatton village (Bridge 56)
Lapworth (Bridge 65 G.U. canal, five minute walk)

N. Oxford Canal:
Napton (Catch bus 665 in to Leamington Spa and walk five minutes to the rail station)
Clifton (Bridge 66. Walk up the lane to Butler's Leap bus stop. Catch the bus in to Rugby town and another one to the station))
Rugby (Bridge 58, walk down the Black path past the Tesco and catch a bus into town and another one to the Station)
Newbold (Bridge 58. Catch the 585 bus at the Crown pub in to Rugby town center. CAtch us 4 at Stand N to the Rugby RR station)
Brinklow (Bridge 35; walk in to the village, about 15 minutes. Catch the 585 bus to Rugby or catch the same bbus in the opposite direction to go to Coventry)
Ansty (Bridge ; Catch the 74 bus to Coventry at the Rose & Castle pub. Get off at the Coventry Grove Stand stop CU5; 15 minute walk to Coventry rail station)

Trent & Mersey (northern from Fradley):
Rugeley (Bridge 66; there are 2 stations but only one--on the same side of the cut as Morrisons, will take you south towards London)
Wolseley Bridge (Bridge 70. Moor up here and catch the 825 bus to Rugeley and walk five minutes to the rail station)
Stone (10 minute walk to Stone rail station from lock 29 at Newcastle Road)

Staff & Worcs (Eastern edge):
Penkridge (Bridges 84 to 86)

Stratford on Avon Canal (northern section beginning at Kingswood Junction):
Lapworth village (Bridge 35 moor in the pound between locks 19 and 19. Walk up Old Warwick Rd. left on Station Lane. Ten minute walk from the canal)
Dickens Heath (foot Bridge 13. Catch the S3 bus to Solihull Station. Take the Chiltern RR to London's MarleyBone Station)

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs