Ask the Bartender, Ask the Plants, Ask Karoline #75

I’ve got spring fever in the worst possible way. We had a late winter here in Wisconsin, with more snow in March than at any other time during that dreaded season. Earlier this week the thermometers were topping out in the high 80’s and now, as I write, it is in the 30’s. Pretty much everyone I know is going through some massive cabin fever, and no one really knows what to do with themselves with this unpredictable climate. Luckily, I’m all set for an exciting spring...I’ve got my best girl Christine coming for a visit in less than a week, The Subhumans are playing their last 3 shows of tour in my neck of the woods (so of course a road trip is in order), a trip to New Mexico to see my Mom and the inimitable, incredible Jack Watson and then I’m off to Sweden and Denmark to meet up with my best boy/husband/international touring machine Robert for a week of fun and adventure. I cannot wait!  Life sure is grand.

No More War By George...
Of course, after reading my previous paragraph, I should add that while things are going really well in my little personal microcosm, the world as a whole is a pretty bizarre place to be. I’ve been avoiding almost all television coverage of ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ because seeing the perky and stylish news anchors give the daily ‘stats’ makes me feel like I’m watching a football game. I’m also eternally waiting for Michael Keaton to pop up on the screen after seeing him in the HBO film about CNN’s coverage of the Gulf War. Not that I actually expect that to happen, but so much of what gets paraded out as news seems so contrived, such a race for the television ratings that I guess it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see actors in the embedded journalist roles. I’ve been turning to The Nation (a weekly news magazine that has been around since 1865) for most of my war info, as well as NPR and the BBC. I’m not saying that my choices for news are better, but they sure work for me. I highly recommend the latest issue of World War 3 Illustrated (#33). It came out before we actually started dropping bombs, but it is still so powerful and informative. The piece called ‘The War On Iraq: Battling for a Pax Americana’ by Katie Crane and Ryan Inzana had my blood boiling and covered me in goosebumps all over at the same time. Excellent writing and fantastic art work. If you are not familiar with WW3, please check them out at The Nation can be found at It sure will be interesting to see what the fallout of this ‘operation’ will be. Seems like Syria will be Georgie’s next target and we’ll just keep pretending that we’re not in a massive recession...oh yeah, how about slipping in some insane tax cuts for the rich while everyone is glued to their television sets. Hopefully no one will notice...aren’t we all too busy supporting the troops?!  Yeah right. How does that Dead Kennedy’s song go? ‘When cowboy Ronnie came to town’...I think that a little name substitution would work really well right about now. Okay. Enough of my ranting. I know that Dave’s column is the place to read about well written war information...not mine. Suffice to say that I cannot wait until the Bush family no longer occupies the White House.

Eye spy a stye or stye’s the limit?!
The first column I ever wrote was about using goldenseal and eyebright for an icky eye allergy attack. I don’t want to cheat and use that info again, but this past week I woke up with the start of a little stye (as defined in the dictionary: an inflamed swelling of a sebaceous gland at the margin of an eyelid) and as I was reaching for my ever present bottle of alcohol free goldenseal I decided to share my treatment technique with you.

Start with a clean bowl (big enough for you to get your hand into easily), a cup of water and a dropperful of alcohol free goldenseal.  Make sure that your hands are clean and that you have a clean towel nearby. Scoop the water/goldenseal mixture into your hand and start rinsing/bathing the affected area. Like splashing water on your face only into your eye/onto your eyelids (no scrubbing or rough handling). This is a gentle procedure. Never squeeze a stye. I did this rinsing twice a day for two days and am happy to report that I’m stye free. Simple, painless and effective. Other tips on stye treatment...don’t wear eye make-up while treating a stye, don’t share a towel with anyone else and change your pillowcase. On the cautious side of things, I can’t necessarily recommend this course of action if you’ve got a stye that has been festering for awhile (mmm, doesn’t THAT sound appealing!). Your eyes are not something you want to fool around with and I’ve only done this as an early preventative method. Seek professional help if uncertain. I only write about what has worked on me, being my own guinea pig and I certainly don’t have all the answers.

Baby steps to gardening...
I now have my own rather large backyard, but I have decided that I’m not up to the challenge of putting in a garden this year. I’m opting for the front porch potted herb garden instead. You can even do the windowsill herb garden. My favorites are rosemary, thyme, mint, sage, basil, lavender and oregano. All basic cooking herbs with wonderful medicinal properties as well. Anyone can get themselves some pots (or build some containers out of scrap wood) some nice soil and seeds/starter plants. A cheap, easy and enjoyable way to spend some time with plants and not make a huge commitment to weeding and watering. Also a great way to liven up your cooking or make some tasty herbal concoctions.

Both Avail and Hot Water Music have been through Milwaukee in the past couple of months and it was like a family reunion for me. It was great seeing them play, but the time spent shooting the shit was the best part. Those boys will always be like the big brothers I never had (even though we’re all about the same age). Uh-oh, I’m getting sappy...but that’s nothing new. One last recommendation bit...check out Since By Man (from Milwaukee, of course) and their new record ‘We Sing The Body Electric’ (on Revelation). The record smokes and they are incredible well as being swell folks. Gotta scram. Take care of yourselves. Bring on the summer! -karoline