Friday, October 29, 2010

autumn autumn autumn

Ahhh, happy morning. I started off the day with some Reiki meditation and a couple of creaky sun salutations. And then a cup of black coffee the size of my head. Perfection in all things, that’s me.


You can see the morning sun glinting off the pond in the distance, on the right.

Eventually, I took myself for a walk.


Should I be disturbed at the magic shrooms right in front of the elementary school? Actually, I don’t know a thing about mushrooms. I’ll get there, eventually. I do know that if you want to key them out, it helps to get a spore print, and I’m a little unclear on how to do that.


Some exploded milkweed pods.



So silky.



Rhus glabra – smooth sumac. This is a male plant – no flowers.



And now, for the wildlife portion of this post: I found this cricket bouncing all over the road. Late October and they’re still at it. Yay!



Best Buddha statue, ever.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

More renovations, you say?

Oh happy day, more renovations are afoot in the Brennan household. We’re finally redoing the downstairs bathroom.


Oh, the fun you can have in PowerPoint while your husband watches the World Series…this is the layout of the bathroom as it currently stands.

We’re replacing a five-foot tub with a four-foot shower.


This shower, specifically. If you zoom in on the built-in seat, you might notice a butt print in the dust. That would be my butt print. Hey: truth in advertising – I wanted to make sure that my mom would be comfy using it, right? Oh, speaking of my mom, Mom, not to worry, there will be an industrial-strength grab bar in here.

Naturally, when you change one thing, you end up changing just about every other thing. This shower is a good six inches wider than the existing tub. That means we have to move the toilet over a few inches. Whoops, that will bump up against the four foot long vanity we have. Fortunately, I loathe the vanity, and have wanted to have at it with a crowbar and sledgehammer for some time now.

Which brings us to the new vanity. We’re going with a three foot wide one, and it will look similar to the one upstairs in our bathroom – at least, in terms of the door style, handles, and finish.

existing vanity

Except it will have a big swing door on the left, and two drawers on the right. You get the idea. (The one above is a foot wider than what we’re getting for the guest bathroom.) Oh: granite counter top in your basic innocuous beige.

The floor – currently white hexagonal tiles – will almost certainly be replaced by the same bamboo we have upstairs in our bathroom. And the oak-veneer-over-particle-board medicine cabinet will go far, far, away, to be replaced by a medicine cabinet in the same finish as the vanity.

We still need to figure out the lighting, since we’re currently rocking some vintage 70’s stuff that needs to join the medicine cabinet in Mistakes Were Made land. Just because I love orange doesn’t mean that everything from the 70’s was a good idea, OK?

Are you ready for pretty pictures now? Because I sure am.

OK, first, a sad picture. Animal lovers, brace yourselves.


This is the back of a pickup truck, Connecticut plates, headed south on 91. That’s a bear head in the center, and maybe three or four sets of elk antlers to the right.  A big pile of mayhem.

I don’t have a problem with hunting.

I do have a problem with trophy hunting.

I’m thinking this is the upshot of trophy hunting. I’d love to be wrong about this.

Let’s look at some trees now. Today, we’re going to celebrate oak trees, the under-appreciated altos in the chorus of fall foliage.


This is New Hampshire, as seen from the coop parking lot. That whole hillside burned many decades ago, and there’s a largely even-aged stand that’s come up as a result. Or so I learned in grad school. Let’s visit some individual oaks next.


Update: Kevin would like me to point out that this picture – and the ones that follow – were taken at the Canal Street School, in Brattleboro, the site of the evening child care program that he and our buddy Patrick founded.





Apropos of nothing, have you ever wondered what a house built out of cobblestone would look like?



Now you know.

OK, now let’s go home. Yep: this is on my running route.



Hey, Mom, you know that Vermont Shepherd cheese you love so much? This field is where those sheep graze all summer.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

in which I realize I’m a hippie

Our Hero Michael is here, to finish off the shingling on the garden shed roof.


By the time I finally made it outside with the camera, he’d already put the paper up on the front side and shingled about two thirds of the way up.


He was still contemplating the north side.

After not very much time, he’d completed the south side…



…and had made decent progress on the north side.





Oh, please notice the drip cap on the edges.




It was a great day to be working outside – about 70 degrees, and calm.  Kevin and I took a walk. We even held hands, except for the times when his tendonitis got in the way. That’s right – tendonitis, in his right arm. It’s from hammering the plywood up on the garden shed. Let’s review why he might have gotten tendonitis in his right arm, shall we? It is because he is not, in fact, right-handed.

OK, back to our walk. The bittersweet nightshade – wait, let me back up – I can’t BELIEVE I haven’t mentioned this plant before, because it has the cutest flowers ever, of all time. Here’s a borrowed picture of the flowers from the intertubes:


OK, so the nightshade’s leaves are turning purple – how cool is that? – and it has awesome red berries.





At one point, I heard a woodpecker above me, and Kevin helped me zoom in on it, mostly by allowing me to lean on him while I tilted my head way up. I have lousy echo-location skills – it took me forever to see this guy.




I took a handful of close-ups of moss and lichen on a stone wall, but this is the only one that turned out. This is probably Leucobryum glaucum – pincushion moss (don’t quote me, though). What we’re seeing here – those tall, pinkish skinny things – are the sporophytes, or fruiting bodies, of the moss. The naughty bits.


Just a glorious fall day in Vermont. What could be sweeter? Perhaps the prospect of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” episode of “Glee” tonight? (Whoops, I just revealed that I watch “Glee”. You will either love me more, or lose all respect for me. Ah well, it’s the price I pay for Being Me.)

I’ll leave you with a few shots from the neighborhood:


Oh my god, I just realized, I’m the long haired woman taking close-up shots of roadside weeds in a hippie neighborhood.

Well, at least there’s “Glee”.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

One is silver and the other gold

I have a husband who makes cinammon bread. Nyah, nyah!


This was in honor of a mini-college reunion, chez moi!


Ellen, me, Emlyn, Sara

Ellen came down from Hanover – a couple hours north of here – for brunch today. Emlyn and Sara came from points farther west on Thursday – Emlyn from Chicago, and Sara from NYC. We’ve spent the last three days yakking about our lives. Nothing finer than catching up with folks you’ve known since you were eighteen. This afternoon, we even tried to do a Skype video conference call with two other roommates, with limited success but a great deal of hilarity.

Last night, we went to a friend’s house to celebrate her birthday. As is usual in this crowd, we danced to Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”.

ring of fire

Like so. Kevin at left, Sara in the pink sweater, Emlyn in the gray sweater next to her and the birthday girl on her other side, and me with my unkempt hair in the foreground. Various other loved ones as well, but let’s be secretive about their identities.

We did Ring of Fire at our wedding, too. We had such a big crowd for that that we had concentric circles, plus folks to take pictures from either direction:

Wedding - Dan & Cathy's pictures 043



What I love about this picture is, that’s my dad in the foreground on the left. Hi, Dad! I love you!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

a) The Devil… b) more fall stuff… c) a public service announcement.

Our washing machine is
possessed by the Devil.


It moved here all by itself.

If you wade through the rest of this post, you can learn the secret of washing machine possession and exorcism. But first, you’ll have to have a nature experience, as per usual.  Which brings us to…

More fall stuff


One last hurrah from the asters. You might recall I bitched about how the purple doesn’t typically come out well on my otherwise perfect and unimpeachable camera. But I think I got it this time. You’re welcome.

Around here, maple leaves typically steal the show with their bright color…



And I’m all for bright color.


Such as the Euonymous outside our kitchen window (fringe tree on the left, euonymous on the right). When the sun’s bright – which was not the case here – you see how it got its name. Fiery red!


And such pretty orange berries! Although they do appear to be a bit past their prime.


So’s this lily-of-the-valley berry. And its leaves are practically translucent as they start their journey to decomposition.  But the prizewinner for translucent leaves goes to the hosta outside the front door.


It looks like it should be slimy, but I didn’t think to check. I should mention, at this point, that it took a heroic feat of willpower to get me out the door today. The cooler weather has all my hibernation instincts kicking in, and all I really want to do is generate a stream of baked goods, eat them, and pass out in food coma.

But I knew there would be hell to pay from my (ahem) loyal and vocal readers, so I dragged myself out.

Aren’t you glad?


Our neighbor’s cosmos. OK, enough bright color. Let’s get on to the muted colors part.


Crazy fungus activity on a tree stump. Gotta zoom in.


And, in keeping with an earlier post, have you ever wondered what the underside of a shelf mushroom looks like? No? Are you sure?


It looks like this. But bonus, see the spider?

Another tree, another shelf mushroom. This one is called turkey tail, and it apparently has loads of heavy-duty medicinal uses.


Okay, on to the Public Service Announcement.

You probably know how to recognize poison ivy, right? Leaves of three, let it be?


(Thanks, internet, for the picture.)

Well, here’s some poison ivy for you.


Yep, this vine is poison ivy.


White berries.


Little rootlets attaching the vine to the tree.

Yep, that’s all poison ivy, and it’s just as nasty as the leaves, so don’t touch it! Oh, and don’t burn any firewood that has this growing on it. Or you will be very, very sorry.

machine possession and exorcism

OK, so our washing machine isn’t actually possessed by evil spirits. It just doesn’t like having to deal with an unbalanced load. Which occurs when you take your cat to the vet to have a post-operative check-up, and he poops on the towel, and then you wash the …oh, I’m sorry, that’s too much information. Sorry.