Born in Oakland, CA., I was raised in Omaha, Ne., amidst a tightly knit albeit far flung Irish Catholic family whose matriarch, Margaret Fogarty, had a go to stable of patron saints; St. Anthony for lost things, St. Christopher for safe travels, and St. Jude for lost causes, but she never knew of St. Bibiana. And with a family as dedicated to a good party as mine, we should have.
I went on to study at NYU, first in the theatre department and then film at Tisch School of the Arts. Mid 80’s, Lower East Side, Art School. Yet another time I really should have known of St. Bibiana.
After graduating I decided to take a break from the city and move to Colorado. The plan was to work for a season in the mountains, decide what I was going to be when I grew up and then move back to NYC. That was over 30 years ago now.
It was just so damn fun! I consider this the apex of my party girl years. First working on the mountain and then as a DJ at the local radio station. In iconic mountain town fashion, the parties were a plenty, and it’s a wonder I survived it without knowing of St. Bibiana.
This was all Pre Adulting: pre marriage and kids, pre businesses (a bakery and coffee shop called Lizzie’s Bagelry and Coffeehouse, then a massage therapy practice, Healing Hands, which grew into True Source Wellness when yoga and meditation offerings were added and is still in practice today).
I settled down into my white wine spritzer phase (also still in practice today. And do not judge, they are refreshing and delicious and you stay hydrated while drinking). I really didn’t need the assistance of St.Bibiana for many years. That is until, 2020.
We all read the articles screaming about how drinking at home was up 2453% during lockdown. Well, where else were we supposed to drink? Were they paying attention to how much we drank at home before? And how exactly did they come up with these numbers? Regardless of how they did, I was contributing to them, for sure.
And I was feeling the effects. Fortunately, I have my wellness practice offices within an apothecary run by the most knowledgeable herbalists and naturopathic doctors who I have been eavesdropping on for years. I have learned so much about the power of botanicals by just being around them (the herbs and the doctors). It is the most fascinating and empowering thing to study and discover the power of plants.
I researched the best herbs for the most common effects of alcohol and began experimenting. It started with Milk Thistle, which is an amazing tonic for the liver, and then began adding the herbs that would address headache, stomach and digestive issues and mood. All would be for nothing if it wasn’t delicious and craveworthy though. So, my next step was getting the taste profile just right. Because if it doesn’t taste good you won’t be motivated to use it.
When I got the taste just right, I got really curious if it actually did what I formulated it to do, so I tested… and tested… and tested. (At this point it just sounds like I developed a justification to drink). But it did. It helped.
I began to make it for friends and family and when requests consistently came in for refills, I knew I had to get serious.
And that is, of course, when I decided to put it in jars that looked like devotional candles and name it after the patron saint of hangovers!
Accidentally discarded in a bag of clothing set out for the Salvation Army, I escaped and was welcomed by a roving band of chickens and goats as one of their own. The going was tough to begin with, my six month old pipes were unaccustomed to greeting dawn, however, my lips eagerly greeted the teat of my new goat mother whose sweet milk empowered me to fend off the constant pecking of the hens. Within a few days I had befriended a rooster who enjoyed picking nits from the folds of my baby fat. He was strong and taught me the ways of eating grasshoppers with no hands while grooming my nascent throat to welcome the first rays of sun. After being shed of my nappies by a hungry goat a week or two into my new life, I found the freedom of nudity which I enjoy to this day. I long for those days of roaming the great plains with that feral band of livestock, smashing my head into gravel I thought were kernels of corn with the chickens and eating tin cans with the goats. After three years of pecking and eating garbage, I was, along with my family of chickens and goats, “adopted” by a wandering milliner who had fallen upon hard times and had a seriously sunburned nose. He taught me the hazards of the sun and sequestered me in a ramshackle chicken coop where I was bound to a discarded roll of chicken wire and commanded to knit woolen hats. Imprisoned in this hell, my only diversion was to watch my brethren framed by a broken board in the wall as they suffered the summers mid-day sun. This image has been burned into my mind and I have tried to capture it in a series of paintings called Barnyard Couture. In future paintings I hope to wax laconic about my life after being rescued from the milliner by a pack of raving drunk gypsies with a penchant for playing Flamenco music on mouth harps and banjos. That series will be called Between Vomit and Castanets: Surviving The Lunatic Fringe. But that’s another story.
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