The Great Aloe Vera Experiment

The Great Aloe Vera Experiment

aloe vera plant

While trolling my way around the web, I found an old article on using Aloe Vera gel for healing the teeth and gums. This seemed interesting, and I read and then searched for a few others. Imagine my surprise when not one but several of these articles firmly declared that using aloe gel as a substitute for toothpaste was every bit as effective as those aforementioned toothpastes!

Yup, the stuff from inside the aloe leaves was as good as toothpaste. Fights germs and everything, according to the article. Here’s the link to the study I found which gives all the details of the 15 person study they did, using aloe gel directly injected into disease pockets of gums in the test subjects.

I am more used to using aloe gel on my skin for sun burn and the like, but since like most folks I do have a bit of an issue with my teeth and no dental coverage, I figured it couldn’t hurt. So I am going to give it a try.

First and foremost let me state firmly that I am not a doctor! I am just trying this on my own, so if you want to try it, I’d suggest talking to your doctor first. Now that we have that clearly established, let’s proceed.

Since I have a HUGE Aloe Vera plant with lots and lots of little plants cropping up, I took several of  the larger older plants and stripped the biggest leaves. The instructions for processing aloe at home advocated using a vegetable peeler to remove the outer skin and leaving just the clear interior gel.

That wasn’t exactly a success, I have to admit. I did my best to scrape the gel from their interior before giving up and simply whirring them into submission in my blender. The result was a thick, sticky green goo. Since I mean to carry out this experiment for at least the next couple of months, I will try to have pictures of the process for you at a later date.

I then put the sticky goo into a mesh colander and set that in a large bowl to catch the drips. I wasn’t aiming to remove all the outer skin of the leaves, just the biggest portion of it. The saponins in the skin have a mild laxative effect, but with the current trend for colon cleansing that is only another plus, right?

Now while my delightful alien slime was settling out, I headed back to the computer to do a little more research.

Apparently Aloe Vera gel has a lot of vitamins. Mike Adams, editor of has a very detailed article on the benefits of using Aloe Vera. He also has included links to studies and analyses of the plant and its effects. Here’s the link: .

Once the gel had more or less separated from the gunk in the colander, I poured it into a sterilized glass bottle, labeled it and put it in my fridge. Using a shot glass, I poured a one ounce amount and swished around my mouth for several minutes. I can’t say I’m fond of the texture, but the taste wasn’t too bad. Kind of hard to describe, but the best way to say it would be that it tastes very ‘green’—like a mix of celery and kiwi, if you can imagine that. When I was done swishing it, I swallowed the stuff; no sense letting it go to waste, right?

I even used the leftover green gunk as a facial mask, since aloe has such significant benefits for the skin. I just smeared it onto my face and let it sit for twenty minutes while writing this post. My skin is feeling nice and smooth and fresh and my mouth feels pretty good too.

I’ll keep you guys updated as to the results of my Aloe experiment. So far things are in the very early stages, but if it has even half the effects that are claimed for it, this could be a very good thing. Who knew a little houseplant was so good for you? If you have ever experimented with Aloe Vera, I’d love to hear your results as well. Please leave a comment and let me know, or if you have any advice on a better way to process the leaves, it would be great if you would share!

Find your peace, friends.
Rev. Zita.
All pictures and images on this page are courtesy of Microsoft Free clipart

What’s the most important book you ever read?

What is the most important book you ever read?

off kilter library

I’m not talking about religious books like the Bible, the Quran or the Talmud; we all know those are important, so let’s leave them aside for the sake of this discussion.

What are the most useful books you have ever read? Which book was it that you read and actually put to work in your daily life? How did it influence you?

Was it something like the ‘7 habits of highly successful people’ or was it possibly Internet for Dummies? Did Hints from Heloise change the way you live?   How to win friends and influence people is a classic on the art of communication and has helped thousands in their daily lives.

So what has helped you to live your life? What made you change for the better?

For me these are a few of the most influential books I have ever read. I’m sure that someday I will add more to this list, but these are the ones that really hit me hard and made me think.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare. This play taught me at a very young age that you need to really think before taking drastic action. If Ol’ Mac had asked more questions when he met those three ladies, he may not have put a disaster into motion.

The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris. I went to a Catholic High School and found this in the restricted section of the library one day. A study of humans as biological entities, it made me really think about my place in the world. It had the added benefit of really upsetting my teachers. Hey, I was sixteen at the time.

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. This book made physics less mysterious and more accessible for me. I loved it.

The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort. First, I found the pun of his name amusing, and the truly practical and un-embarrassed attitude was just what I needed at the time. I can’t say I’ve been able to put everything into practice, but the clear, rational tone was wonderful.

Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven: Women, Sexuality and the Catholic Church by Uta Ranke-Heineman and Peter Heinegg. Ranke-Heineman was a chair of theology and used Roman Catholic Canon Law as her source material. It made me angry that as a female I was being so devalued on so many levels. Yeah, this was a huge influence on the way I thought about the world.

Chess for beginners by Israel A. Horowitz and Sol Horowitz. Hours of fun!

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. It’s still the basic primer for the art of politics.

The Art of War by Sun-Tzu. The ultimate strategy guide, written by a man who lived it every day.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Yeah, this is a weird one to have in here, but as much as I dislike Scarlet O’Hara, she knew how to survive. She also wasn’t willing to hide her abilities behind a folded fan, even if she had no clue about how to manage her personal life.

These are not the only important books I have ever read, of course. My personal library has several hundred books in it, not counting the ones I have sold or donated when I was done with them. I have read books on everything from cooking to car repair (if only that one had taken root) and philosophy, religion and politics, fashion and art. I like science fiction and crafts, how-to books and fantasy fiction.

In the midst of all the millions of words I have read over the decades of my life, the books that have actually helped or hindered are few. I’d like to know what books you consider the most influential in your life. Take a moment to think about it, and use the comment box to let me know: what was your most important reading experience?

Find your peace, friends.

Rev. Zita.

(Image courtesy of free clip art

Planning for my next millennium.

Rev. Zita and Rev. Kelly


There are a lot of very embarrassed people out there right now. Well, that or they have already shut down the phones and websites, grabbed the money and run. Given the amount of media hype over the last twenty years, I’d say it is probably the latter.

I’m talking about all the interesting people who have been hawking books, websites, survival kits, bugout bags, videos, classes and spare toothbrushes over the last couple of decades. They’ve made a lot of money by claiming the world was ending and they could get you what you needed to survive. If they were scamming us, they have vanished by now. If they were sincere, then they are either very surprised or are trying to figure out what went ‘wrong’.

Oddly, I have a problem with the continuation of the world being ‘wrong’, but then I didn’t buy a generator, learn to make candles or stock up on baked beans. Since I have survived the apocalypse, I have decided to make the best of my next 1,000 years. I even have ideas.

Rev. Zita’s top ten list of ways to spend the next Millennium:

  1. Read everything that Warren Buffet has ever written. For a billionaire, he seems like a pretty cool guy.
  2. Vote Independent. The regular parties are just so last eon.
  3. Finally decide on a hair color.
  4. Invent my own religion based on sacred sarcasm and the Zen of lifting the perfect sardonic eyebrow. Groucho Marx will be our prophet.
  5. Create the perfect hot sauce. I’m actually well on my way with this one.
  6. Learn to dance without beer. Need I say more?
  7. Write a manual on how to live the perfect individual life. Including references and diagrams.
  8. Learn to use technology correctly. Seriously, I’m so far behind that it’s sad.
  9. Help people to see that the world can be a very good place if you want it to be one.
  10. Learn to enjoy the life I’ve been given without freaking out at every little thing Chicken Little says.

I’m going to get out of my life the things I put into it, and I intend to put some very good things into my life. You should too. Make a list for your next thousand years, and we can share them. If we get enough responses, we can put up the best suggestions and goals for everyone to enjoy. What will you do for the next Millennium? Tell me, I want to know. We all could use some good ideas.

Find your peace and have some fun.

Rev. Zita.

Merry Christmas One and All!

It’s the time of year when we are all looking around and saying “Bless it, I forgot to get a gift for… (insert name here)!

Yeah, we all do it and more often than we want to. I’m doing it right now and trust me it’s a total panic attack since I have a pretty big family. I’d love to lavish them all with whatever their little heart’s desire, but that just isn’t possible until I win that darn lottery. Then you’ll see some Christmas presents, I tell ya!

So here are some ideas to take some of the fear out of forgetting a special someone, or at least to let them know you actually did think of them, even if it was at the last minute. The craft store is your best friend right now, so here are some ideas before you jump in the car.

For the thinker in your circle: make them a PDA! Not the electronic kind, this one fits in the back pocket and uses a more traditional interface. Get a small notebook that will fit in a pocket and a small craft pencil. Wind ribbon in a bright color around the pen and glue in place, leaving two lengths about 4” long to attach to the notebook. The tails can be used to tie the book shut. Now they can keep their day organized. You can decorate the book as well with fancy inks or stamps. Make a few, since these are good for men or women.

Decorate a pen for your favorite writer: Choose a pen that is a little thicker than normal. You can wrap it in fancy ribbon or fabric trim (check out the remnants sections of your nearest craft store for some good deals) hang chains with charms from the top, strings of beads or pearls, or paint the barrel of the pen with glue and roll in seed beads for a mosaic effect.

Make a necklace for your beloved fashionista: Mix and match different sized chains from thin to thick and add chunky beads, sea glass pendants, wood and ceramic to create a drape she’ll be proud to wear.

Bracelets: These can be done with leather thongs, chains, braided colored cords, you name it. If you can tie a knot in it, you can make a bracelet out of it. Add steam punk charms, lockets, watches, dog tags, mini bird cages, whatever looks fun and wild. Great for the teen emo in the family!

If you can sew or know someone who can, get a plain rayon scarf in their favorite color. To this you can add coin or bead trim, fringe in the same or a contrasting color (black and white is always good).

A custom T-shirt: stamp it with fabric paint in a cool design or use a bleach pen to write their name on it over and over again (works better on cotton fabric, and remember to rinse with a vinegar solution to stop the bleach from eating the fabric)

We love Christmas and we love our families, but sometimes life just gets in the way of showing that. None of these quick crafts require a lot of time and all will be appreciated! Merry Christmas, Happy Yule, Happy Hannuka, and a Blessed Winter Solstice to everyone out there!

Rev Zita.

The Post-Election Blues

It’s all over and for once there isn’t much shouting. Obama is once again the President, but sadly the Congressional roster didn’t change all that much. The Democrats have hung on to the senate but the Republicans have kept the House. It may be silly of me but I choose to be cautiously optimistic.

For the last four years we’ve heard the Republicans declare that defeating Obama was their highest priority. Not being wise legislators, not creating good laws and not balancing the budget.

While the overall makeup of our government has not really changed that much, the Republicans have suffered some pretty serious losses in the public eye. Democrats as well have been smacked in the face with the realization that this is a new political game out there. They, however, do seem to be far more adaptable than the Republicans.

As a voter and a citizen of the United States of America, I have some hopes for the next few years. I don’t think they are outrageous or extreme, I think they are fairly reasonable. Here they are:

  • Party infighting has got to stop. Congress has done nothing but stall and create a vicious cycle of fiscal difficulties and then tried to blame it on the other guy. I don’t care who started it, clean it up.
  • Compromise is not a dirty word. It also is not treason to make a deal that will benefit the entire country and not just your political party.
  • Pragmatism has its’ place, and it is definitely in politics. Be practical and you can get a lot more done, no matter which side of the aisle you are on.
  • Obstructionism is the political name for whining and throwing a temper tantrum when you don’t get your own way, and that is how our senators and congressmen look while doing nothing. See also filibustering.
  • Pump some money into the small business sector.
  • Get some basic manufacturing back on home soil. Right now we can’t make our own toothpicks, for gods’ sake. Get some agribusiness and biotech in the pipeline.
  • Improve the school system. Smart ideas have to come from somewhere.
  • Take care of our own, first. We’ve spent sixty years being the helping hand all over the world, but we have forgotten to take care of ourselves.

Like I said, I feel these are reasonable expectations for the new congress for the next four years. The tragic thing is that I really don’t see any of them happening in the near future without some pretty serious attitude adjustments taking place for both republicans and democrats. I can only watch and hope and plan for the next election.

Find your peace, friends.

Rev. Zita

A Few Thoughts on Samhain and Halloween

It is October, the wonderful month of color and spooky events. Winter is coming and we are getting ready for our long cold months by insulating the house, covering windows, getting our cars serviced, etc. Samhain is coming, too.  Most people call it Halloween and celebrate by buying candy and costumes and going to bars and parties.

I loved Halloween as a child; what kid doesn’t? I would agonize over my costume and wonder how much candy I was going to get and be annoyed when my brothers made me go home after a couple of hours of raiding the neighborhood for goodies. C’mon, there are lots of houses we haven’t hit yet!

When I got older I envied the little kids who still got to go Trick-or-treating. It didn’t seem fair that they could do it and I couldn’t just because I was taller than they were. To add to my dissatisfaction, I was a tall kid; I got my growth spurt early and it never let up. It may have saved my teeth from all that sugar, but it definitely messed with my morale.

To soothe my angst, I started to look into All Hallows Eve. I learned the history. I studied the myths and the social meanings and the religious significance of the holiday. I discovered the thrill of ghost stories and a love of low-budget horror movies. OK, I watched them from behind the couch because it was past my bedtime, but Vincent Price was my favorite actor almost until puberty was over.

I loved the idea that Samhain or Halloween was when the veil between the worlds thinned and the spirits could visit again, if only for a little while. The idea that those who loved us might pay a visit made me happy, it made me feel that someone was keeping an eye on me in a good way. I felt connected to family who had passed long before I was born. The Celtic custom of leaving food out for the ‘visitors’ made perfect sense to me. You should always offer your guests refreshment; that is what a good hostess does, after all. My mother didn’t agree and I had to settle for hiding cookies on the porch with a note. The cookies were always gone in the morning, though and I hoped that they understood.

Ghost stories always got my full attention. After a while, though, I realized that all too often the people who got hurt in those stories generally brought it on themselves. If you know an old building has a history of strange and bizarre events, why would you deliberately go there? Doesn’t that seem as if you are giving the disembodied occupants permission to hurt you? If there is an old asylum where people died and investigators have been injured, it seems pretty stupid to hold an all-night party there. So I tend not to watch those cheesy teen horror movies any more—after all, most of them don’t have much of a plot these days and they do seem to be what Stephen King called ‘torture porn’. Yuck.

But I still love Samhain. This Halloween I will light candles and pray for those who have passed on. I will make dinner and leave flowers and food out on the porch for them, even though I know that the food will be eaten by stray animals and the flowers will freeze. I will give candy to the little monsters and Disney characters that come to my door and I will decorate with pumpkins and spider webs and severed plastic body parts.  I will love every minute of it.

Find your peace, friends.

Rev. Zita

Pop culture is the same as it always was…

I love to watch pop culture. People love magic, and we are always looking for more. We want that sense of wonder, the opportunity to gaze in wide-eyed wonder and go “Ooooh!” From UFO’s to Pyramids, magnetic bracelets to chain letters, we have this odd need to believe these things will actually influence our lives one way or another.

I find it really funny that a society that has been to the Moon and has created the most massive communications and information network in history and stands on the verge of defeating diseases that have plagued mankind for millennia, still thinks that not passing on a chain email will bring Bad Things into their lives.

Hey, I do it too. I don’t pass on or even open the stupid emails that threaten me with consequences; I delete those and if the threat is really bad I pass them on to law enforcement. I do pass on the good luck ones, and I hope my friends don’t mind—some of them are really funny. I’m just sharing the joke. Of course there is always that thought in the back of my mind: ‘Couldn’t hurt and it might even work, you never know…’

That’s the secret to these things, after all is said and done.  There may be only a one-in-a-million chance of a magnetic bracelet helping Aunt Stella’s arthritis, but it is still a chance, isn’t it? It is the newest magical talisman that appeals to our primitive hopes and beliefs. When science has failed us we turn back to the concepts of our past, to the magic and rituals that have prevailed for centuries. It’s exactly the same as the medieval Pilgrim buying a saint’s medallion, secure in the belief that his souvenir will protect him from disease and misfortune.

We follow the ideas of UFOs or angelic visitations because the concept of the powerful strangers from outside our territory is actually normal—strangers do bring new things to us, but they are usually from another country, not from another world. Strangers are often hostile or their motives are at best obscure, so fear and fascination are a perfectly normal response. UFO’s and Angels have a lot in common, really: powerful beings that are mysterious, incomprehensible and bizarre in appearance. We have no idea why they are here or what they are doing, but it must be important, right? UFO’s are still magic, just with space ships substituted for the wings and halos.

Of course we are ambivalent about the entire concept of magic in the first place. Books and shows like ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Charmed’ are wildly popular, but they demonstrate our need for that sense of wonder. Religions have always held that magic is evil, unless it is being done by their own, approved outlets and then they do a spin on it and call it a ‘miracle’. Tales of the old saints commanding strange beasts and healing the sick or causing earthquakes to level an enemy city are just stories about magic by an authorized practitioner. It’s a lot like a trade union, if you think about it.

 What most people won’t tell you is that these things are normal. We pass on the good-luck emails because we all want bit of an advantage in getting through our lives, whether that means carrying a rabbits foot or just ‘hoping for the best’. We tell stories of ghosts and UFOs interchangeably because we are creating our own cultural archive; these are our new mythology. The image of the Scientist has replaced the image of the Witch or bearded Sorcerer; Merlin wears a lab coat and glasses nowadays.

In a way, pop culture hasn’t change in several thousand years. Whether it is Sindbad or the late Neil Armstrong, the adventurer is still going to new and exotic places and bringing back tales of wonder and danger. Poltergeists and EMF fields, Hackers and Wizards are all part of the collective mind; we love these images and use them almost interchangeably. We will still buy and use our talismans and good luck charms even as we check the NASA website for the latest pictures from Mars.

Pop culture isn’t a bad thing, unless you become obsessive on your favorite topic, but that holds true for anything you enjoy.  Pop culture is just us, as we always have been and probably always will be. Enjoy it.

Is Religion Bad for Your Brain?

Science and religion have always had a very tumultuous relationship. If they were married, I’d be recommending lots of counseling and calling divorce attorneys for them. Science is always attempting (and often succeeding) in disproving some of the more flamboyant claims of religion and Religion is persistent in decrying the ‘faithless’ efforts of science to explain the world around us in reproducible terms.

While reading some random news posts, I ran across an article in Philly Health that suggested that some of the more extreme evangelical religions may reduce the size and capabilities of the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory.  You can read the entire article here: The tests were done on older adults and were more geared to be part of an elder care study, from what I read.

I don’t think they were trying to insult anyone’s religious beliefs, but it got me to wondering: If a religion that prefers you to seek all answers to all questions in its sacred texts can lead to atrophy of a key area of the brain, would a religion that encourages analytical thinking and exploration actually prevent some forms of degeneration?

I admit that I am reaching , here. The study was not geared to the biblical literalists in any way; I just took a faint concept and ran with it. On the face of it, it does make sense. If you are restricted in your source of information and have little contact with external stimuli, the brain would have no reason to maintain or renew neurological connections associated with memory. An extreme example would be completely cloistered religious or isolated groups that severely restrict contact from ‘outside’ their immediate environment. All responses would be entirely by rote rather than requiring new solutions or analysis to be created in response to new situations or information. Sadly, I do not know of a study that has been done on member of any cloistered groups in this area, so it is pure speculation on my part.

Unfortunately I also don’t know of any religion that insists on and encourages continual learning and questioning, either.

The conflict between Science and Religion is based on their fundamental principles. Religion on the whole is based on Faith with a capitol ‘F’’: believe in what has been revealed to you without question. Science is based on the idea of questioning everything from the very start and takes nothing on faith. Both have their place and should not attempt to usurp the other’s place or function, since that usually leads to very bad things happening. If you doubt that, I suggest you look at the rigors of communist anti-religious purges or the current series of religious wars going on.

As a last note, I’d like to recommend a look at the ‘Aphorisms for Heretics’ in our archives here on this site, especially aphorisms 5 thru 8 and number 25. I am a proponent of continued education, but I also encourage belief in that which brings you comfort. Just don’t overdo it and remember to keep your brain healthy.

Find your peace, friends.

Rev. Zita

A letter I sent to the Friends of Scott Walker

Dear Governor Walker,


Today my husband received a letter from your campaign asking for our household to support you and send you money to defeat “Big Government Labor Unions”. We are not supporting you, and here is why:

  1. In April, you repealed the equal pay act of 2009 making it easier for women to get the equal pay for equal work. As a woman and my husband whole heartedly agrees this is discriminatory and insulting.
  2. You are looking to increase premiums and drop women, children, and families enrolled in Badger Care making it impossible for them to obtain quality health care.
  3. While the unemployment rate in Wisconsin has dropped, you do not have a comment or even mention that we have replaced living wage jobs with jobs that pay only slightly better than minimum wage, yet have the nerve to complain about people using public assistance to make ends meet. Minimum wage is not a wage that a family can live on.
  4. Wisconsin is still dead last when it comes to unemployment numbers, so if you are creating so many jobs, why is that?
  5. You would like to end a woman’s right to birth control and the right to choose. This is America, and if you do not like abortion, don’t have one.

Governor Walker, you do not have my support, I will not send you money, and frankly I will not vote for you either. From what I have seen of your term as governor, you do not represent any Wisconsin value that I know of.


Reverend Kelly K Hunt

Has the Republican Party lost its collective mind? Act 219 and Wisconsin women.

With a Governor facing a very hostile recall election and the overall poor performance the party has been showing they have done it again: repealed the Equal Pay act of 2009. This law allows women the right to sue their employer when pay discrimination is discovered. It counters the restrictive sections of the Ledbetter act by making it possible to sue after discovery, rather than suing when the discrimination begins, as in Federal Law. If you want to check out both, just Google ‘Lily Ledbetter’ and ‘Act 219 Wisconsin’. You can get a list of the Senators who sponsored and seconded the act as well.

219 has other results as well: it bans coverage of abortion or birth control by any insurance obtained through an exchange, and keeps workers from suing over the results of genetic testing by employers. It keeps teachers from discussing any form of birth control or STD prevention other than abstinence.

 Back to my question, however. Are they crazy? The Republicans have completely forgotten that 52% of the population is female. Yup, that’s right, more than half of Americans are women, and they are voters as well. The very same voters on which the republicans depend to attain their positions in the first place. These same female voters have husbands, boyfriends, fathers, brothers and male friends that might also dislike what is happening. Husbands don’t like it when their wife’s pay is cut. It makes them change political allegiance to protect their womenfolk.

Those same women voters are patient people for the most part. We don’t like to make a fuss; we just want to get on with our lives. But everyone’s patience has an end point, and it is starting to look like the Republicans are getting on our last nerve. I’m having enough trouble making ends meet and they are making it harder than it needs to be. I intend to take some practical action.

I’m not going to start camping on the steps of the state capitol and whine about how unfair it is. That is not an effective tactic. Instead I’m going to vote the crazy people out of office and get someone in who is actually going to get things done properly and fairly. I’m checking out the voting records of incumbents and looking at the histories of new candidates to determine who will do the best job. That’s the person I’m going to vote for and from what I have seen so far, it will never be a Republican.

Find your peace, friends.

Rev. Zita.

Note: In addition to voting them out of office, write, no flood the offices of your state representatives with letters and emails. Find out how to contact them here: They only will listen if we make them.

Love to all,

Rev. Kelly