Satellite Dish Shade Structure

A recycled satellite TV dish becomes a simple rustic shade structure.

Desert Ephedra Medicinal Tea

bilde

If the dreaded flu breaks out in your house, there is a natural home remedy growing all over the desert. You’ll find it in botanical reference books between cypress and pines, but this scrubby native of our desert foothills is nothing like those big coniferous trees. Yet it is a conifer nonetheless, which gives Ephedra californica and its closely related species a unique place in the natural world. Also known as joint fir, this plant’s foliage is easy to spot due to its long, segmented needle-like leaves. Our native Ephedra is related to, but not the same as Ephedra sinica, the Chinese native known as ma-huang, a stimulant antihistamine used there for centuries. California ephedra lacks the stimulant ephedrin, so it is not part of the pharmacopeia. However, it was in the Cahuilla materia medica, prepared as a medicinal tea. Barrows, a turn of the century Ephedra californica growing on a cliff face in the Indian Canyons above Palm Springs, Californica. ethnobotanist claims bundles of this stuff were “almost universally found tucked away among the thatching of every jacal, or packed away in basket and olla.” He also notes that the plant was harvested in the late summer and fall when considered the most potent. This may indicate there are other components in this plant with antihistamine qualities that have yet to be discovered. According to one source, it’s prepared by boiling fresh or dried twigs in water until a “wine-colored” brew was achieved. However, among early tribal interviews it was never used long term, suggesting a potential for side effects when consumed in large quantities. Another use for our ephedra was as a treatment for venereal diseases, and was named early on as Ephedra antisyphilitica. Other common names, teamster’s tea and Mormon tea, suggest this plant was in widespread use among settlers too. Ephedra tea was served in brothels throughout the west. One source claims its common name was the result of a frequent visitor to one house of ill repute named John Mormon, while other groups claim it was popular among Mormon settlers who did not drink caffeinated drinks. Local ephedra plants have just begun the process of blooming. Remember, this is a true gymnosperm so its flowers are tiny cones. It is diecious, a Latin name for “two houses”, meaning that ovary and pollen are carried on different plants. On hikes early in the year you’ll notice the difference between male and female plants with very different looking reproductive structures. Often ephedra is the only evergreen plant to make it through the dry season without defoliating. This makes it a great choice for larger desert landscapes that are looking for shrubs that bear unique, fine textured foliage that won’t wither with extremes of heat or cold. The stems grow very thick and gnarled, and over time they may resemble an aged grapevine. When creatively pruned to reveal the most twisted parts of trunk and branches via “windows” through the foliage, you’ll better appreciate its growth habit. The
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Native Ephedra Natural Medicine

Is the dreaded flu breaks out in your house, there is a natural home remedy growing all over the desert. You’ll find it in botanical reference books between cypress and pines, but this scrubby native of our desert foothills is nothing like those big coniferous trees. Yet it is a conifer nonetheless, which gives Ephedra californica and its closely related species a unique place in the natural world. Also known as joint fir, this plant’s foliage is easy to spot due to its long, segmented needle-like leaves. Our native Ephedra is related to, but not the same as Ephedra sinica, the Chinese native known as ma-huang, a stimulant antihistamine used there for centuries. California ephedra lacks the stimulant ephedrin, so it is not part of the pharmacopeia. However, it was in the Cahuilla materia medica, prepared as a medicinal tea. Barrows, a turn of the century ethnobotanist claims bundles of this stuff were “almost universally found tucked away among the thatching of every jacal, or packed away in basket and olla.” He also notes that the plant was harvested in the late summer and fall when considered the most potent. This may indicate there are other components in this plant with antihistamine qualities that have yet to be discovered. According to one source, it’s prepared by boiling fresh or dried twigs in water until a “wine-colored” brew was achieved. However, among early tribal interviews it was never used long term, suggesting a potential for side effects when consumed in large quantities. Another use for our ephedra was as a treatment for venereal diseases, and was named early on as Ephedra antisyphilitica. Other common names, teamster’s tea and Mormon tea, suggest this plant was in widespread use among settlers too. Ephedra tea was served in brothels throughout the west. One source claims its common name was the result of a frequent visitor to one house of ill repute named John Mormon, while other groups claim it was popular among Mormon settlers who did not drink caffeinated drinks. Local ephedra plants have just begun the process of blooming. Remember, this is a true gymnosperm so its flowers are tiny cones. It is diecious, a Latin name for “two houses”, meaning that ovary and pollen are carried on different plants. On hikes early in the year you’ll notice the difference between male and female plants with very different looking reproductive structures. Often ephedra is the only evergreen plant to make it through the dry season without defoliating. This makes it a great choice for larger desert landscapes that are looking for shrubs that bear unique, fine textured foliage that won’t wither with extremes of heat or cold. The stems grow very thick and gnarled, and over time they may resemble an aged grapevine. When creatively pruned to reveal the most twisted parts of trunk and branches via “windows” through the foliage, you’ll better appreciate its growth habit. The fine textured appearance of the foliage makes a great contrast against the large masses of
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Grendel

04990093

  At least one thing won’t change, Donna thought as she slipped her hands into the alfalfa bale, pulling a flake for the horse her daughter left behind.  Thankful for the one familiar routine of twice daily feeding, she missed all the other daily tasks that composed a life as the mother of an only child who was now gone off to college to start her life. Donna carried the flake around to Grendel’s stall where the mare was always stretching her neck to steal a mouth full before the feed hit the manger.  But Grendel wasn’t at the trough nickering for the alfalfa.  Alarmed, Donna slipped into the stall then out the back into the largish paddock.  Grendel stood there in the shade of the barn, her head held low, tail barely swiping at flies. If a horse could cry, Grendel’s body language certainly showed such emotion.  She swung her head around to look at Donna, then dropped it again, disinterested. As a girl, Donna learned to beware of changes in a horse’s demeanor.  She didn’t always know what a change meant, but her grandfather had warned that anything visible in equine attitude was usually connected to something important.  “Horses aren’t big talkers”, he explained one summer at the old Langley Prairie farm when Donna was just a girl.  “You have to hear them with your eyes, not your ears. Keen observation is your most important tool for knowing if they are just conversatin’ or they’re screaming at you.” Donna felt Grendel’s sadness as she slowly approached, then began gently rubbing the mare’s withers, then crawling slowly up the mane to scratch the roots.  “Kerry was the light of our lives, wasn’t she?” Donna said in a low voice.  Grendel’s eyes flickered at the sound of a familiar name.  “I haven’t been hungry either.  There’s nothing for us mamas to do now that we don’t have a baby.” Grendel pivoted and pressed her head into Kerry’s waist.  “I know girl, I know,” she murmured.  “It’s the same for me too.” For the past weeks Donna had been wondering what to do with her feelings too.  It was empty nest syndrome all right, and she was in a real funk.  Was it time to go back to work?  Perhaps she could start a new career, or go to school for something she really wanted to do.  But there was nothing in her mind that asked to be done, and nothing seemed powerful enough to fill the void. The thoughts of equine body language brought back memories of her grandfather. “It takes age and wisdom to really bond with a horse,” he’d said once.  “Sure, you can ride the hell out of them when you’re young, but now that I’m looking eighty between the eyes, I see a lot more in them.  And I suppose I move a lot slower so I notice little things they do.  It’s the same as a horse speaking to me in their language.  When I
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