The Children, 2022

January 7, 2022

Our fifth Christmas together was wonderful, very sweet with lots of visiting with family. The Woodards at Granny’s Christmas Eve dinner, John and Manna and family came for a visit, and the kids got along great! Also a visit to Marvin’s family in Cherokee! Wild and very fun visit, lots of cousins and most of Marvin’s dad’s family. Though Marvin was pretty sick after we got home.

January 15, 2022

We’re putting a playground swing/slide together, and June is actually being very helpful. She can put the washers on the bolts, hammer in the T-nuts (she’s quite proficient with a hammer!) and screw in the bolts. She even knows which way to turn them to go in or out! I noticed when I asked her to take some out that she intuitively knew which way to turn them! Pretty amazing! Lots of adults don’t know that. In addition, I was very impressed with her work ethic! She made sure those T-nuts were hammered all the way in, and she kept at it even when she was tired. She really wanted to be helpful and not just play, she followed instructions and was very cooperative!

February 3, 2022

We were sick much of January, though didn’t seem to ever be the Omicron- though we were worried.

I’ve tried to get in touch with Liana a lot recently to no avail— am a little worried an not sure what to do. So hard.

Trying to get the kids moved into the other bedroom. Things are up and down, sometimes I’m just hanging on by a thread…

February 27, 2022

Juney continues to spout amazing stuff! Says “ actually” a lot! And this morning over something she said, “What are they damn looking for!?”

March 5, 2022

March has started off well! June continues to amaze—playing in the sand, making castles and telling elaborate stories about the people who crash them down! She likes my “talking stories” at story time, and now she’s making up her own! What a trip! She’s very involved in them lately, suggesting topics from her imagination and then correcting my efforts to turn them into stories.

Challenging! And her Why? questions! “Why do we have bones? Why do we need walls?” Almost anything that occurs to her, she asks why we need it. Challenging to find answers! I wish I had a list of all her questions!

March 11, 2022

June learned to pump her swing yesterday! I had tried to get her to do it several times before, she kinda got the idea last weekend. Then yesterday she was begging me to push her, and I just started saying “Pump, pump!” In rhythm with her swinging and she got it, started doing it. She was so excited! Screaming and laughing and saying “I got it!”

No sick kids the past month, so we’re happy! And they’re in their own bedroom! They were fine by themselves all night, so all good!

March 20, 2022

Everything seems to be back on track now! We survived a late freeze last week, the yard looking great. The kids are getting along well most of the time! More outside time means a happier Juney! Marvin is pretty addicted to the TV/tablet stuff!

A big breakthrough! Talked to Liana for the first time since the Bob Memorial. She had heard that Stewart and Julian are selling Mom’s house, so we talked a good bit, and agreed we needed to talk more often. She told me more about her medical issues, which is very worrying to me!

Also saw Lucy a few weeks ago! She was on the way back to ATL from a visit to St. Pete. So good to see her! Life has gone so crazy! The split, the move, the virus, the world! Never see anybody! Sad! Maybe things will get better this summer!

Brother Gene is not doing so well lately, but we’re hoping for a sibling reunion this summer. His issues are spreading, getting treatment. Very worried. Also worried about Stewart since he’s moved to Brunswick and I never see him! John and Manna and the kids seem to be doing well! Hope to see them soon!

March 25, 2022

Marvin can read! And June is potty-trained!

Wild kids, Fall ‘21

September 16, 2021

Miss Anna June is wild lately! She and Marvin have fun, and they’re not fighting as much, but they ARE wild! Loud and running around the house on these rainy days! They need outside time!

June and I walked to city hall today, and she liked that! A bit shy of Barbara though. She’s learning so fast and remembers everything! Her language skills are over the top, and she’s very print-aware. Be reading soon! Still a big fan of Doc McStuffin!

September 26, 2021

I talked to everyone but Gene on my birthday. These talks seem so much more poignant since Bob’s death. Time is short for all of us. Everyone seems to be doing well, though Liana is sick. She said she’s tested negative twice so probably not the Rona. Scary. I am so ready for this Trump and his effects and Coronavirus to be gone from our lives! The two most destructive events in our national life in my 3/4 century of living.

October 17, 2021

I had a long and difficult talk with Liana this afternoon— bad news about her possible RA diagnosis. Lots of pain in her hands for a week or so. She’s delaying g her plans with Dani, and she’s not coming to Bob’s memorial in Dixie. So the chances of seeing her get slim. Maybe I can go to Atlanta, tho it’s a hard trip for me now. She’s also still pretty hurt over everything and it’s hard to know what to say to her other than that I wish I had handled things differently. Regrets are bitter medicine, and no amount of sugar makes them go down any easier.

And what’s to be done about it all now? It’s a hard conversation to have. I think we both feel a little better after talking. I hope so. I need to communicate somehow.

November 21, 2021

We had Bob’s memorial service last Sunday. Powerful and hard, but a great family experience. I think everyone appreciates the family more now. Taylor loved the family gathering and loved everyone. I think they all loved her too. Though there was some negativity.

November 28, 2021

Things are going so well lately, so sweet! The kids are doing well, bedtime has finally settled into a new routine for them, story time is good, no fighting or difficulty over it. Marvin usually goes right to sleep, June is going to sleep fairly easily with me, no crying for Mommie or getting up and down now.

They’re getting along better usually, tho June can be a stinker sometimes! And I’m a happy man!

December 5, 2021

Things continue to go well! The kids are still trying at times, but overall that’s better. June has been really stubborn a lot, but she’s also very sweet, too!

Marvin learned to ride his bike without training wheels yesterday, so we let him ride to the playground today and he did great! He was very responsive and good, able to manage the bike well! June’s frustrated because she can’t keep up on her little trike, so we’re gonna get her a bike. She’ll be riding in a year! Bedtime has been a little harder lately, but still okay. Christmas decorating is under way!

December 18, 2021

Things continue to go well on most fronts… June is being a trial lots of the time, but we are dealing with it. Marvin is doing well in Kindergarten, maturing well!

No movement on the Liana front— the other kids seem to be doing well.

Herbal Info

Recipes frequently referred to…

Chaga/Reishi tincture (double extraction)


Decoction of Chaga and Reishi:

>2 Tbsp Chaga, c. 2 slices Reishi in 16 oz water.

>Simmer 1.5 hrs., adding water to maintain 16 oz.

>Strain and add marc to CR2.

CR1: Alcohol extraction Chaga:

>3 Tbsp Chaga.

>4 oz. alcohol (40%).

>Soak for 4 weeks min.

>Strain, simmer marc in water about 1 hour, reducing to about 2 oz. water (this can be repeated if desired).

>Strain water, then mix the two liquids.

CR2: Second extraction, alcohol:

>Put marc from decoction in 2 oz. alcohol (40%) initially.

>Keep adding marc and alcohol to this jar with each future decoction, plus enough alcohol to keep it covered, recording date when added.

>When CR1 is ready, be sure it’s been at least 2 weeks past last addition to CR2, then strain and mix with CR1.

>OPTIONAL: If decoction is available, add an amount equal or less than the quantity of alcohol in the CR2 extraction.

Lemon Balm/Blue Vervain tincture:

>2 cups dry Lemon Balm

>c. 2/3 cup dry Blue Vervain

>add alcohol to fill jar to about 18 oz. (3 mos. supply?)


>Tbsp each: Astragalus, Eleuthero, Ashwagandha, Nettle.

>teaspoon each: Red Clover, Echinacea, Elderberry

>Overnight infusion in Qt. water

Decongestion Tea (kids):

>Mullein, Catnip, Chamomile, Tulsi, Marshmallow

—use about 1 tea bag each.

Four Thieves spray:

>dissolve Tbsp salt, simmer cinnamon stick in 12 oz. water.

>Clove Oil – 45 drops (or simmer cloves in water).

>Calendula Oil – 30 drops.

>Eucalyptus Oil – 30 drops.

>Lemongrass Oil – 15 drops.

>OPTIONAL: Peppermint Oil – 5 drops (or simmer herb).

Comfrey/Plantain Healing Oil:

>1/4 cup Comfrey root (chopped).

>1/2 cup Plantain leaf (dry).

>Infuse in 8 oz. Olive oil 6 weeks.

For Healing/Pain:

>Add Clove/Peppermint/Lavender/St. John’s oils for pain

Ensalvation of Healing Oil:

>4 oz. oil

>3 or 4 Tbsp Shea Butter

>About 3 tsp beeswax beads (=2Tbsp bulk)

Fire Cider::

>Onion, ginger, horseradish (1/4 cup powder)

>Chopped habanero (1 or 2)

>Chopped fresh Rosemary 1/2 cup

>Zest and juice of a lemon

>Turmeric 1 Tbsp.

>1 Qt. apple cider vinegar for 6 weeks

>Strain, simmer marc and add that water and honey.

Double Extractions

February 19, 2023

I’ve lately discovered that there is truly a lot of variety in how people do tinctures— especially with difficult herbals that are better when double extracted. So this is a report on the beginnings of an experimental process to see what works best for me.

I’ve been making teas and, recently, decoctions of Chaga, and I learned that it is one of those substances that, on account of the fact that some of it’s beneficial compounds are soluble only in alcohol, I should do a double extraction. That means normally that you simmer the mast (the herb that’s left over after straining out the tinctured alcohol) a bit and then combine the two liquids, being sure your quantities end up with a minimum 25% alcohol for preservation.

But then I started reading various approaches to get a better idea of how to do this, and found four distinct approaches. The details are a bit tedious, but essentially, it comes down to which you do first, the alcohol or the water extraction. Then there are variations in how long for each and how many times you do the water extraction. All of which is sort of a testimony to the really deep levels of beneficial compounds this Chaga has!

A Hybrid Method

I am in the process of double extraction of Chaga chunks by a hybrid method that combines several of the elements from the methods I found. Since I need to have the decoction to drink daily, I am continuing to do my water extraction every few days, and placing the mast from each in a jar with alcohol, adding a little alcohol each time to keep the proportions about the same.

I’ve also started an alcohol tincture with unused Chaga chunks, which I will let soak for 4 weeks or so — various sources suggest from 2 weeks to 6 weeks. At that point, I’ll be sure the second extraction jar has been sitting at least 2 weeks since the last time I added mast. Then I’ll strain the alcohol tincture and simmer the mast for a few hours, adding water as needed to maintain the volume.

Then the challenge will be to do the math to figure out how to combine the two so that it’s 25% alcohol, allowing for the fact that my alcohol is already 60% water (80 proof). May try to combine with a decoction as well, or just add the double extraction tincture to the future decoctions as I use them.

It’s all seeming a bit complex as I try to plan it, but I’m hoping each step will become clear to me as I go through the process — and modify as needed!

Basically what I’m doing is one batch alcohol first and one batch water first, and then combining the two. Hope it works!

No more mamas…

August 4, 2021

So mommy’s been gone two days, our first overnight without her, and things went great! Amazing ! (Taylor took Marvin to Atlanta for his big heart checkup prior to the surgery to fix his leaky ventricle… June hasn’t ever before gone to sleep without nursing, so I was not sure how she would do without her “mamas.”)

I’m so proud of her! She cried a bit last night a few times, but she got over it quickly, never was distraught, and she went to sleep by 10:30 or so. She slept all night, though she was a little upset and looking for Mommy a couple of times this morning. But we had a fun day, walked to the store for milk, and she was so good! Very sweet and cooperative, enjoyed the walk.

Mommy should be home soon, so it’s been good, very bonding! Of course, she needed 100% engagement! I did get some things done for work—a few phone calls and texts—but mostly locked in on her. We swept and washed dishes and scootered and had lots of fun!

After some comment I made about her not really needing “mamas” because she could eat stuff, I got silly and said maybe she could go out in the yard and eat flowers and bugs. She stood right up in front of me, shaking her head and wagging her finger, and said very sternly, “I don’t eat bugs!!” It was too cute!

Her vocabulary and sentences are so amazing now that it’s beyond remembering all the cool stuff she says. And she understands so much about personal interaction that I truly don’t know where it all comes from! (And she knows right/left hand!) She’s very print aware and is always asking about letters—and she can count to 10 perfectly.

August 19, 2021

In the good news, Marvin’s checkup went well and his procedure will be soon. In our life, it has been a hard month. Bob is about to die of COVID, Gene has prostate cancer, I may have it, and things seem to be going to hell on all fronts. Walking on eggshells.

June has been alternatively charming and maddening of late! She is developing so fast I can’t keep up. She talks about doing things “carefully” now, and she said “someone is in there” about a picture of an apple helicopter. She’s doing lots of watercolors the last few days, most of them butts, she says. Also turtles and snakes. She likes to be bad just so we’ll chase her, probably she likes it when Marvin chases her — which she knows exactly how to provoke him to do! But she is very entertaining and very loving — and challenging!

Herbal medicine Pt. 4

February 5, 2023

A few simple recipes.


I use some version of this every day! Both Comfrey root and Plantain leaf are traditionally revered for healing.

Make infusions in olive oil:

—about 1/4 cup of Comfrey in 4 oz. oil —about 1/4 cup of Plantain in 2 oz. oil

—keep warm for an hour or so and leave in a sunny window for about 6 weeks. Decoct using a potato ricer or other strainer to squeeze all the oil out.

Mix the two together and store in brown glass. It will keep for several months, maybe longer, if kept in a cool dark place.

Variations: use almond or coconut oil, or a mix of oils if you prefer. For a quick oil infusion, heat the oil and herbs in a double boiler at about 125* for several hours. I sometimes infuse both herbs together in a single container, but I don’t think it works as well.

This basically is a healing oil for bruises, strains, sprains and other joint or bone issues. (Comfrey is one of two herbs that are known as boneset.) It’s not recommended for open wounds but may be used on cuts that have partially healed. Another option is to add Clove, Peppermint and/or Lavender for pain relief. You can use essential oils (tho they’re maybe not as ethical) or add the raw herbs to the infusions. (Or make separate oil infusions with them.) You may also make a salve with these oils.


My recipe for salve is always evolving, and always a bit experimental, but this is a suggested mix: melt about 3 Tbsp of shea butter and 3 tsp of beeswax beads slowly. Add about 4 oz of the oil infusion (and about 45 drops of essential oil if using that) and stir together, put a little on a popsicle stick and stick it in the refrigerator… after 5 min. it should be slightly hardened. If not, add more beeswax or shea.

Please take these instructions as a starting point for your own research into herbal preparations. There are many variations and possibilities in the wide range of resources out there. (The Herbal Academy has a 5-video series on tincture making.)

The Children, 2021

Posting this on February 5, 2023, based on journal entries from 2021.

January 29, 2021

New sayings from June: “O-Tay!” like Spanky. And “Oh my!” Lots of complete sentences, like: “I used the blue scissors to cut it in half.” And lots of bring a stinker! She has such definite ideas about what she wants and what she likes!

Marvin and June did very well at the doctor’s office this week. No crying, very cooperative!

For June now, everything is “super!” Super hard, super cold, etc. Marvin has been very sweet with his babies lately— the stuffed Fox and kitten. He’s feeding them and keeping them covered up in a little bed at night.

January 31, 2021

Playing on the porch, Duney presses the button on the strap of the old high chair, then points at the porch screen and says to me, dramatically, “Watch the show!” She narrates as we watch a show of clouds, rain and trees … then it’s Blippy, Baby Shark and Paw Patrol. Very imaginative this child.

Also — “I have to use my powers!” Said about stopping the rain.

February 11, 2021

Playing with my screwgun bits, Duney holds up one with several others dangling from its magnet and says, “It fits perfectly!” At 2-1/2 she’s got that ly adjective form articulated perfectly and so clearly!

February 18, 2021

Playing with some old Tarot cards of Taylor’s, Duney looks quizzically at me and says, “I don’t understand what this is all about!”

May 1, 2021 (Beltane)

My brothers Bob and Stewart came to our house for a visit not long ago, after Daniel’s wedding event, and it was great! Juney loved them both! So wish she could get to know all my family, and them her! She’s such a joy!

May 16, 2021

She continues to amaze us with her cuteness and smartness! She’s been at Granny’s for two weeks now, ( all of them have) and though I see them often, it’s so hard being apart! I miss them so much I can’t stop crying. June has been so sweet to me, tells me she misses me and gives me hugs and kisses. I don’t know if she understands—I don’t. “Don’t worry, I got this!” is her favorite thing to say these days.

June 20, 2021

After six weeks at Granny’s they’ve come home. June can’t stop hugging me and smiling. I think she’s happy to be home! A happy day for me for sure! And she’s three now!

June 2021

Rapprochement is. June seems to be doing well, tho she is constantly testing the boundaries, trying to see how much power she can wield. Following instructions is a problem. Stubborn. But overall good. Progress on all fronts. Love is growing, each day sweeter. The June-Marvin conflict seems to be escalating.

July 31,2021

June’s language development is pretty much over the top now. She also still says all these funny, unexpected things often. She continues to be a great joy for me — but still a stinker a lot too! She loves to torment Marvin because he reacts so predictably—can’t seem to see that by making it fun for her, he ensures it will continue.


This is borrowed from an old post on the website It’s based on a study of fascist regimes, but it’s interesting how many of this aspects are found in current political movements. There are other similar examinations of fascism in the literature, and the website has lots of information about groups and movements in the US over the past 40 or 50 years or so. It’s something people need to be educated about, because it’s coming.

“Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt recently wrote an article about fascism (“Fascism Anyone?,” Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20). Studying the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile), Dr. Britt found they all had 14 elements in common. He calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism. The excerpt is in accordance with the magazine’s policy.

“The 14 characteristics are:

  1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism 
    Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. 
  2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights 
    Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc. 
  3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause 
    The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc. 
  4. Supremacy of the Military 
    Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized. 
  5. Rampant Sexism 
    The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy. 
  6. Controlled Mass Media 
    Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common. 
  7. Obsession with National Security 
    Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses. 
  8. Religion and Government are Intertwined 
    Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions. 
  9. Corporate Power is Protected 
    The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite. 
  10. Labor Power is Suppressed 
    Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed . 
  11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts 
    Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts. 
  12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment 
    Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations. 
  13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption 
    Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders. 
  14. Fraudulent Elections
    Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.”

Copyright © 2003 Free Inquiry magazine
Reprinted for Fair Use Only. 

This article was based upon the article “The Hallmarks of Fascist Regime” by Skip Stone, at

Herbal Medicine Pt. 3

January 22, 2023

Continuing the discussion of Herbal Medicine and how to make some simple concoctions to keep your health in balance.

Just began reading a new book, Energetic Herbalism, by Kay Maier. Hope to share some of her amazing insights as I go along. But today I’m just laying down a few simple infusion recipes.

An herbal tea that is particularly good for congestion, especially for the kids, is Mullein and Catnip. I’ve been doing an infusion overnight in a quart jar with about 1/4 cup of each, sweetened with honey. Sometimes I add a bit of Tulsi (holy basil), Chamomile and/or Marshmallow root. Maybe a little Peppermint for flavor. Also can brew it by the cup.

Four Thieves throat spray

A wonder! Simply simmer a stick of cinnamon in 4 oz. of water for 30 or 40 min., add a couple of Tbsp of sea salt. Add about 15 drops each of four essential oils. I prefer Clove, Calendula, Eucalyptus, and Lemongrass. Rosemary is often used, as are others. There are many versions of this out there. Four sprays every couple of hours at first sign of a sore throat. The oils are readily available, but I made my own Calendula oil. Mountain Rose has nice little spray bottles for this.

Sleepy time tea

Brew by the cup or do an overnight infusion of about 1/4 cup Lemon balm, plus 2 or 3 Tbsp each of Blue vervain and Tulsi. I pour a quart of boiling water over it and let it sit. I sometimes add some Hops or Raspberry leaf. For insomnia, this works better for me than Valerian or Skullcap, which are often recommended. I also make a tincture of Lemon balm/Vervain.

Turmeric & Ginger

For serious help with chronic insomnia, try this: mix about 2 cups of Turmeric powder, 1/2 cup of Ginger powder and about a teaspoon or so of Black Pepper. Put a heaping teaspoon of this in a cup of milk—warm is nice but not necessary—and stir it up well. Drink it a half hour or so before bed. I usually add my Lemon balm/Blue vervain tincture as well.

This drink is also serious help for inflammation and seems to help me just generally feel better. I first learned of Turmeric for joint pain from an Indian woman, Tara, whom I met at a Vipassana center years ago. It’s become one of my staples, and I keep learning more about its amazing properties for health and healing.