Friends, strangers, the curious-
as the little counter at the bottom of this page spins faster and faster, I wonder-
why no comments?
Am I posting too much, too fast? Not enough time to mull it over? If you saw me today and said, a little sheepishly, “Hey, I read your blog!” then you are now required to comment. At least once! Tell me you like something, or just say hi! You don’t have to be a blogger to comment. You don’t even have to talk about the post.
I’m on a stage here, and the bright lights keep me from seeing the audience. You came for the show, at least whistle or throw something at me!
In other news, I Have Been Bitten By A Poisonous Spider. It’s been a fun year people, and it just keeps getting better! Saturday morning I woke up in my tent, in my friend’s backyard, and found a half-dollar sized welt on my thigh, with a little bite-hole in the middle. I went to the zine symposium, and as the day went on, the red circle grew. It got sore, and hard, and grew and grew! I looked on the internet, and the only likely culprit for this act seems to be-
The Hobo Spider, (Tegenaria agrestis) apparently LOVES the pacific northwest. It also LOVES backyards and gardens, and although bites are uncommon, the most likely time to get bit is August. The bites are reported to be less severe than those of the brown recluse, and less likely to be necrotic (that’s where your flesh rots away).
This morning, the bite was still there. In fact, the red circle had gotten bigger. No streaks yet, no bulls-eye, nothing weird like that. But it was hot to the touch. I went to the second day of the zine symposium, and had a fun time showing it to people throughout the day.
“Look at my spider bite!” (pulls up short)
“UGGGGGGGHHHH!” (satisfying response from friend)
After the symposium I sped to the Herb Shoppe (which is now on Hawthorne), because I knew that they would, unlike “real doctors”, or even the internet (except for this guy, but Hydrangea doesn’t grow out here) have all the answers I needed. The red circle now covered most of the front of my thigh.
I walked into the shop, immediately reassured by the long shelves of glass jars. Plants! Any plant I need! Herbalism for the lazy man! I walked up the the counter.
“Yes?” asked the woman behind it.
“I have a spider bite- look! What plants should I use?” I pulled up the leg of my shorts.
“UGGGGGGHHHH!” It was not the response I was looking for, this time. “You should see a doctor! Right away! I mean, you should really see a doctor for that!”
“I mean, I know I could go to a doctor,” I said. “But I’m sure there are plants for this.”
Because, you know what? There have been spiders a lot longer than there have been antibiotics.
“Oh. Ok. Hold on, I’ll ask…” And she disappeared behind a curtain.
And then this nice woman came out, who’s name I can’t remember, but I think she’s the owner. I used to see her there alot when the shop was on Burnside, and I had herb school classes there.
This woman pulled me in back, into a little room like a doctor’s office, and had me show her the bite. Right away she touched it with her hand, and I immediately felt better. To have someone who might be able to help you, to have them put their hand on the place that hurts and say, see look right there, no streaking, it’s not infected- sometimes it feels like that is all I need. Like that could fix whatever is wrong with me.
She hurried me out into the front of the shop, and started pulling glass jars off the shelf, handing them to me.
“We’ll need plantain,” she said, “to pull out the poison. And comfrey. Echinacea, too.”
At the counter she unscrewed each jar, and picked up a scoop.
“Make a herb cake, you know how to make an herb cake?”
“No,” I said.
“You take a spoonful of powder, you mix it with a little boiling water.” she was talking rapidly, tossing the herbs together in a bag. “You put a circle of the paste on the bite, cover it with a hot towel.” she sealed the baggie, shook it up. “You do it three times a day, as often as possible.”
“There you go.” She put the bag on the scale. “Four dollars.”
I left the shop smiling, my little baggie in my backpack. I had had a feeling plantain would be the herb for me. I could’ve saved myself the trouble and picked it from the backyard, made my own poultice. But why do any of that when you’re in Portland, and you can go to a magical place like the Herb Shoppe? Where they look carefully at your bite, mix up a special blend for you, tell you how to use it, and then charge you next to nothing?
Plantain is the real deal, people.
Once upon a time, a friend of mine (Hi M.!) rode a train by herself to Eugene, from Portland. She was being a bit sketch, and trying to get into a boxcar that was moving too fast. Well, she fell, and scratched the hell out of her knee on the ballast, making a gnarly, bloody wound. Unperturbed, she got right back up and tried again, this time making it into the car. Her knee bled some and stained her pants, but she ignored it and rode to Eugene.
Arriving in Eugene, she realized that the blood had dried, and her pants had stuck to the wound. So she peeled them off, and her knee was swollen and a bit infected. So she cleaned it and went about her business, a day or two later getting on another train, and riding back to portland.
This friend got back to the house we were living at in Portland, and boy, was her knee infected! I don’t remember the details, but I think it was gnarly- swollen and pussy and stuff. Now, she could’ve gone to the doctor and gotten anti-biotics, but instead, one of our housemates knew just the thing-
“Plantain,” he said. “Pick some plantain, chew it up, (the enzymes in your saliva activate something or other) and make a poultice. Change the poultice as often as you can. The plantain will pull the infection out.” My friend followed his instructions, and sure enough, in a matter of days the knee was no longer infected, and it went on to heal normally.
So now, dear reader, we will see how well this plant works for the bite of the tent-dwelling hobo spider!