About Lady B.......
In my baby book on the line marked "First Pet" my mother writes -- 'Worm'
.....that about covers it.
As a child, I lived to dance,
as a teenager, I lived to ACT.
(funny, now as a Grandmother, I’m back to DANCING!)
When acting wouldn't translate past High School, I turned to the plants.....and spent the next 40 years working with them. There were times, in order to make a living, that I sold them, arranged them, designed with them, and forced them to be far neater than made them happy. Only an eighth bout of Lyme Disease during the summer of 2000 MADE me cease to be a professional gardener for a living (for awhile, keep reading) and turn to what feels like Accepting My Assignment and finally doing what I came here to do...
I began to spend my time introducing the plants to the folks and showing them how to appreciate each other, and also in a way, introducing the folks to themselves so they can see what amazing creatures we all are: Self-healing organisms, wonderfully wise (in spite of our often stubborn foolishness) and ever, EVER learning. That's what this trip here is all about.
But how I came to be here: I leapt into this lifetime in 1951 and spent most of my life in Westchester County, NY. I was Schooled at Immaculate Heart of Mary parochial school in Scarsdale through fifth grade, and then the Chappaqua school system through High School. My college 'career' spanned one MISERABLE semester at Hofstra University where, although I had a bit of a Drama scholarship, it lacked ALL the magic of High School . I went off to see what I could do with my second love, plants, and rather began my 40+ year 'degree' in horticulture.
I went from florist, to houseplant-store manager - in the HEYDAY of the houseplant CRAZE in the '70's....(ah the macramé hangers of it all....the five-gallon terrariums!) to 'caring' for the poor Prisoners of Retail, the department store plants, (what a horror THAT was).
I was married in '75, had my mad gypsy daughter on the Solstice of '77
and accepted the role of Full Time Mom
(with a side-line of being a calligrapher) until divorce in '81 when it was out to work at Sprainbrook Nursery where I worked off and on over the next 6 years and lectured for them long after that. The Sprainbrook 'offs' were filled with freelance landscaping and gardening
(and yes, that chapter of delivering balloons in the gorilla suit).
I may have gotten my first case of Lyme in the early '80's but never knew it. I became the head gardener at the PepsiCo Sculpture Gardens in Purchase, NY for two years and there in '88 I got my first official diagnosis of Lyme. From there, I became the Perennial Dept manager and head Wreath-maker for PoundRidge Nurseries and from THERE I attempted the ill-fated LadyBarbara's Garden, an organic herb nursery with a HUGE leaky greenhouse, in Peekskill, NY. Although the business was spectacularly out of business in a year's time, I made the most wonderful large group of splendid friends with whom I am still in close touch, and the nursery's closing was one of those 'White Water' chapters that led me to let go of everything and launch myself up to Woodstock for my Apprenticeship with Susun Weed in 1993. I returned feeling quite comfortable with calling myself a Wise Woman Herbalist and I set out to teach.
But the 'White Water 'part wasn't quite THROUGH with me yet, and by 1995 I was desperately ill from both repeated bouts of Lyme and uterine fibroids that were causing life-threatening hemorrhages.....The grand finale to THIS chapter (imagine Arthur Fiedler setting off the fireworks in Boston Harbor on the 4th of July with the 1812 Overture playing in the background) was to be evicted from my apartment, hauled off to the hospital in an ambulance in shock from a hemorrhage, (set off by a 'let's try this' drug a doctor had put me on for that sixth case of Lyme) a four-pint transfusion and an eventual emergency hysterectomy TO which I owe my being here today writing this. (and I thought BOTTOM was just being homeless, HAH!)
With the DEAREST of friends passing my convalescing self around, I finally master-minded a house-sitting gig for six weeks, got a job with a photographer as a scout, started teaching Adult Ed, picked up a few new gardening jobs and yez indeedy got into cleaning houses. (I call it my Bertha the Cleaning Lady Chapter) Eventually, I rather created the Head Gardener's job at a huge conference center/estate in Cold Spring where I lived and worked for four years until the deerticks carried me off for my EIGHTH DANCE WITH LYME during the summer of 2000, from which, I daresay, although I finally GOT IT and gave up trying to be a professional gardener for a living, (not so fast, keep READING) I have FULLY recovered.
So I believe it would be fair to say that you really can't SCARE me too much any more; (though I suppose I shouldn't say that TOO loudly....) and now you may have an idea as to where I get this notion of the amazingness of the human spirit, the sense of humor of the Higher Power (whom I most respectfully refer to as George and Gracie), and my own ability to keep on keepin' on.....As a matter of fact, I recovered from Lyme SO spectacularly, that I took on one more full-time gardening job in NY, as the head gardener at Frederic C. Rich's magnificent place on the banks of the Hudson in Garrison.
Back in '97 I became the 631st contributing editor at a web site called Suite101.com where I wrote a topic called (oddly enough) Weeds and Wild Things. I have upwards of 60 articles there on everything from Dandelions, to Groundhogs, to Walks in the Woods, to Lyme Disease. I'm grateful that all my work is still there, although they seem to have changed the title of my archived topic to "Weeds and Wild Plants" and have it peppered with links for weed KILLERS.
I also wrote for the Putnam County quarterly Nimham Times Magazine doing a column called The Good Earth, and am, at present, one of the moderators at the Susun Weed WISE WOMAN FORUM , one of the most astonishing herbal healing resources on the internet.
At this point, Lady Barbara's Garden pretty much exists wherever I happen to be, and at this update (March ‘11) that happens to be on the west coast, in Eugene, Oregon where Lady Barbara’s Garden: World’s TINIEST Herb Shoppe may yet again sprout up at Eugene’s Famous Saturday Market
I completed my Clinical Hypnotherapist certification and advanced training with Paul Aurand at the Holistic Healing Center in Chestnut Ridge, NY. in the fall of 2000. It really was the missing piece. While I often say it's very hard to be doctor and patient at the same time, it was wonderful to be student and client at the same time. Through trans-personal hypnotherapy I made HUGE strides with what was a five-year long anaphylactic allergy to cats. I went from abject panic and the inability to breathe, to being able to PET them again, to now being able to pick them up and haul them around -- I KNOW this is a powerful healing tool. My own cat is in my lap now as I type.
So. Life is good (it always HAS been, in its own brilliant way, but it just got a trifle DRAMATIC there in a few spots)
At 49 I took up BellyDancing , at 50 I began teaching it and had my royal navel pierced, and at 51 I finally started my own Healing Practice in a real office in Cold Spring -- hmmmm, just about the time all my contemporaries are retiring. I must just be one of those late-blooming weeds!!
At 52, in 2003, I was blessed by my daughter Phoenix and her partner Gerrick, with a grandson, one Jicaiya Hegarty Rainbird, and then on the day after my birthday in 2005 another grandson came in for a landing, Aulii, and once again I get to totally REDEFINE MAGIC. I may be self-appointed royalty, but GRAMABEE is the greatest title ever bestowed upon me……A visit to see these guys (and meet Aulii for the first time) brought me out to Eugene in August 2005 and by Sept I'd made up my mind to DO it. Yes, move all the way across the country. I landed in early December of 2005, without any doubt one of the most trying and stressful things I've ever, EVER done, but now that I'm HERE.....I am truly LOVING it, even the rain.
In Feb of ‘07 my Grand daughter, Paikea arrived, home-birthed as Aulii was, with only her parents in attendance. My admiration of both Phoenix and Gerrick is endless.
I gave my first truly public dance performance here on Dec 21st ‘07 as part of the Middle Eastern Dance Guild of Eugene’s monthly showcase, and taught Goddess Bellydance classes 3 times a year for awhile , as well as multiple rounds of a 12-class in-person herb course.
Zooming past my 5 years in Oregon anniversary, I lived a few years in an ‘aluminum mansion’, then moved out to a 40-acre farm for one winter where I definitely ‘struggled’ with the woodstove, and am now back just outside of Eugene city limits. I’ve spent the past few years as a freelance gardener (yet again! I TOLD you to keep reading!) and loving most every minute of it. Such wonderful gardens and great folks. I’m now teaching ONLINE herb classes and doing much more Herbaling to stock my tiny ‘shop’ and ship tinctures around the country via mail order
And now....if you'll excuse me, I must get on to the greatest hits of the NEXT 50 years! (see more below)
2003 (photo by Bill Irwin) 2005 2007
March 14, 2011.....Said munchkins above are now nearly 8, nearly 6 and recently turned four. I shall be having a very quiet Spring getting through a LONG recovery from 4 different major surgeries in a 7-week period, one of which went after colon cancer. I have a 70% chance that the cancer was completely removed and will not be returning. The remaining 30% warrants more tests in a year. This has felt much more difficult than having Lyme 8 times. Since I was put into full anesthesia at least 6 different times, it’s going to be a truly LONG recovery. I have one MORE surgery coming up probably this summer, so I won’t be taking part in Saturday Market until the fall if that. Things CHANGE. I’m grateful to be alive, a LOT of folks worked on me for a LONG time. So, this is a year to drop back, accept the help that’s offered and view things a bit differently.......LadyB