Another mystery solved

The ferocious vine growing on my back fence is catbrier.

Back when I was still fooling with medicinal herbs, I bought a terrific little book called Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke.

Dr. Duke is probably the most famous and most respected ethnobotanist in the world. I bought several of his books when I was trying to learn about herbs. I don’t use herbs (or any other kind of medicine) these days, but I still use this great little field guide all the time, because it has tons of full-color photographs of medicinal plants, many of which seem to show up in my garden of their own volition.

Looking through the section on vines, I found a picture of catbrier that looked exactly like that treacherous thing that’s climbing the back fence.

Dr. Duke says,

“American Indians rubbed stem prickles on skin as a counterirritant to relieve localized pains, muscle cramps, twitching; leaf and stem tea used for rheumatism, stomach troubles. Wilted leaves poulticed on boils. root tea taken to help expel afterbirth.

“… Science confirms anti-inflammatory, estrogenic, cholesterol-lowering, and anti-stress activity of various Smilax (catbrier) species.”

I don’t know about that “anti-stress” thing. I find catbrier awfully stress-inducing when I’m trying to figure out how to uproot it without ripping my hands to shreds. But maybe that’s just me.


“The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms timidly, and struggles to the light amid the thorns.”
— George Santayana


On my way home from work this evening, I saw a half-dozen sparrows foraging in the grass between the sidewalk and the pavement along Southwest Boulevard.

Along Riverside, I saw several evergreens, but I didn’t see a lot of other activity. Of course, it’s hard to see much from the car.

There wasn’t much happening in the yard today, except that the honeysuckle vines are trying to come back on the back fence, and that thorny vine I was grumbling about the other day is greening up and looking evil again. Apparently it’s a perennial. I still can’t identify it. I think I’ll snip a sample and take it to the OSU Extension Service sometime in the not-too-distant future and see if they can figure out what it is.

WHTC reports that bald eagles should be showing up along larger rivers in Illinois. It would be a good time to go eagle-watching on the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge if we still lived in the metro-east.

I was going to take a walk with Songdog this evening, but I was tired and decided to take a nap first. I woke up three and a half hours later. I was tired all day today. I’m still tired. Guess I stayed up too late last night, though I can’t remember why. I love my job, but if I could move my shift about two hours later, I’d like it even more. It’s hard to get up and get to work by nine when Ron gets off work six hours later than I do. I like to be awake when he gets here. If I didn’t have stuff to do in the evenings (church, errands, etc.), I would just sleep from the time I get off work until the time Ron gets home. I guess I could do that every night but Wednesday, and then on Wednesdays, I could just move my sleep schedule a few hours later to allow time for church. To the casual observer, I could pass for a normal person that way … and it would make it easier for me to get up and go work out with Suzanne at 6:30 a.m., like she’s been trying to talk me into doing, without depriving myself of even more rest.

Maybe I’ll try that next week and see how it goes. I’m tired of trying to run on five hours’ sleep every night. I think you are only allowed to run a sleep deficit of so many hours, and I’ve been waaaay over my credit limit since 1993.


“I can remember the first time I had to go to sleep. Mom said, ‘Steven, time to go to sleep.’ I said, ‘But I don’t know how.’ She said, ‘It’s real easy. Just go down to the end of tired and hang a left.’ So I went down to the end of tired, and just out of curiosity I hung a right. My mother was there, and she said, ‘I thought I told you to go to sleep.'”
— Steven Wright