Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mother’s Remedies from Jamaica

It’s cold season. Georgia Silvera Seamans and baby Robert catch the bug and glean home remedies from grandmother. Fetch the cauldron…


A mobile for the baby’s room? No, it’s bitter melon (Momordica charantia), used in Jamaican traditional medicine to make a tea that eases stomach ache.

Photo: wiki

By Georgia Silvera Seamans

My baby’s ear infection went away without his taking antibiotics.  Now, we both have colds.  He is not being given anything for his cold except liquids and rest.  I am gargling my sore throat with warm salt water per my mother’s instruction.  This morning, after putting my baby to sleep, my mother told me about home remedies of her youth.  My mother grew up “in the country” of Jamaica. 


Pick a lot of fever grass (a.k.a. lemongrass), boil it in a large cauldron, pour the hot liquid into a tub, and set a wooden plank across the tub. The feverish person would then sit on the plank and be covered by a sheet. The person would remain under the steam sauna until the water became lukewarm.  Prior to pouring the fever grass brew into the tub, a small portion would be sweetened with sugar or honey for the feverish person to drink.


As many cow-foot leaves (Piper umbellatum) as were needed to cover one’s head were gathered and then your head was wrapped with a scarf.

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Posted by Julie on 11/15 at 09:36 PM
MedicineSecular CustomsPermalink

Friday, November 12, 2010

Post-Frost: Elections and Reflection

Allen Bush winds down a dry gardening year with some late season beauties and a handful of cherry bombs. Thank you, Allen!


Aster oblongifolius ‘Raydon’s Favorite,’ aromatic and bullet-proof

Photo: Allen Bush

By Allen Bush

This year was one for the books, as in, bad: not quite epic in any biblical sense but hot as hell and dry, just the same.  I got tired of dragging hoses around, deep into autumn, to water parched plants.  A 60% chance of rain meant nothing.

Louisville set a record this summer for the highest increase in average daily temperature anywhere in the United States. I didn’t need to be reminded. We set another record of 83 days (the average is 31 days), above 90° F (32° C), many of them dripping in humidity. Last year in July there was not a single day in the 90s. For one summer month in Kentucky I felt like I was summering on the coast of Maine. I got diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis nearly four years ago and try to avoid the mid-day heat. Summers in Maine would suit me better. Hot temperatures won’t lead to long-term consequences, but I get a little gimp-legged when my core body temperature goes-up a click or two. The coping technique for hot summers is to get garden chores done early and be out by 10:00 a.m.

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Posted by Julie on 11/12 at 11:40 AM
Gardening & LandscapePoliticsPermalink

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Leicester’s Botanic: The Potion

John Levett comes to Leicester to retrace his steps but instead “traipses” the Botanic Garden for the first time.


Essay and Photos by John Levett

Some time earlier this year I started a new Project. I live my life in Projects. Most people go out and do ‘things’; I do ‘Projects.’ If I can fit whatever it is that I’m doing into a scheme grander than myself then life is sweet. I frequently wonder how it is that I got this way. It might be because I was a single child and we moved around a lot after the war. It could be because mum worked and I was left with Gran who was elsewhere much of the time. It meant that I got to make up worlds and inhabit them. The books I read had much to do with it—’The Boys Book of …,’ ‘The Eagle Annual,’ ‘How To …,’ ‘The World of …’—full of stuff you could do, make, collect, swap, design, fly, float. It was the 1940s equivalent of ‘Build the new you,’ ‘Create the look you want,’ ‘Make your life,’ ‘You too can be .…’

The new Project is The ‘60s Odyssey. It arrived in early Spring. For some years I’ve been doing photographic work on memory and life-moments. Much of it has had to do with growing up with my mother. I had read Marianne Hirsch’s formative book Family Frames in which she brings together many strands of how photographers, photographer-writers, photographer-philosophers have dealt with the experience of ‘Family’ and its self-creation, and it became most influential in my own work, both written and photographic.

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Posted by Julie on 11/09 at 05:51 PM
Art & MediaGardening & LandscapePermalink

Friday, November 05, 2010

Yasu City’s Zuiki Matsuri

You won’t find many signposts to get there, but a four hundred year old Shinto harvest festival based around (and built with) the stem of taro endures. Come early!


A Shinto elder and musician in Yasu City, Japan, awaits the beginning of ceremonies for the annual taro-stem festival.

Photo: Bill Bishop

The weariest person we encountered in Japan sat behind the desk of the tourist office in Kyoto station. Kyoto was Japan’s capital for 1100 years, you know, and this woman’s expression, while polite and pretty, said, “…seen it all, heard it all, answered it all…”


So we stepped up and asked for assurance that the Zuiki Matsuri (the taro-potato-stalk festival) would indeed be taking place in Yasu City (pop. 36,000), about 40 minutes east by train.

We’d had two spurts of Internet communication with a person named “Jason” in the Yasu town office before leaving Texas, but having tramped off on disappointing excursions before (many times), we hoped to avoid wasting a day that could otherwise be spent wallowing in the old Imperial city.

Our tour advisor’s look switched from mildly bored to mildly irritated. “Yasu??”

And her lovely eyebrows arched. She stood up and began picking through file drawers arrayed behind the desk. Nothing. She made an extended phone call, then hung up and returned.

Yes. She said. It would be Monday morning October 11th, from 10 until 11. “But it’s a very small festival,” she added.

Okay! So we’d missed Kyoto’s own Zuiki Matsuri. It had taken place at Kitano Tenman-gu several days before we arrived. So a potato stem festival might not feature archers on horseback or phalanxes of geishas. This was still enough corroboration to go on, and Monday we boarded the train.

Yasu seemed sleepy. There were a few preteens in school uniforms standing about and a couple about our age who were there with backpacks on, apparently setting out to hike Mt. Mikamiyama. Best we were able, we sputtered out to them, to everyone in the train station, “Where is the zuiki matsuri?”

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Posted by Julie on 11/05 at 04:28 PM
Culture & SocietyReligious RitualsTravelPermalink
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