Friday, September 30, 2011

check out my tag cloud

I geeked out and with the teensiest of assistance from a former colleague (I can’t believe I used to be a geek for a living – that part of my brain has atrophied, apparently), I added a tag cloud to the blog.  If you’re here because you get here via an email or Google Reader, click on the title of this post, above, to be taken to the blog directly, and admire it.


I’ve been spending the evening retroactively adding labels to posts so that they’ll show up in here.

In other news? Yesterday = hugely long day at work for no good reason. Today = Reiki Reiki Reiki at the hospital, where I had the great privilege of being with three people as they each fell asleep under my hands; then, I visited my foot and ankle guy, who tells me I need to stretch my Achilles tendon and ice it after I run. Yes, sir!

Tomorrow: weight lifting! Strong, like bull! and it’s supposed to rain, so we’ll see what happens, photography-wise.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

strong, like bull

My dad, the scholar and athlete, was a serious weight lifter until he was unceremoniously felled by ALS – Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. In fact, the first symptom of this nasty motor neuron disease for him occurred in the context of his weight lifting. He noticed he was having trouble with some sort of back extension. It turns out that’s where the disease struck first. Knowing he had a tendency to go overboard, but then gut it out, I told him maybe he was working himself too hard, but no, it was the first warning. ALS seems to strike a disproportionate number of athletes, and I’ve always wondered if Dad’s weight lifting might have had something to do with it.

At any rate, he always loved staying in shape. My sister suffered the brunt of this more than me and my brother (“my brother and I”, thanks, Mom), because of circumstances. Her bedroom was next to where he stashed all his suits for work, and he’d tromp up the stairs to her room at some ungodly hour in the morning and make her sit on his feet while he did sit-ups.

I’ve lifted weights myself on a couple of occasions, but I never really stuck with it for long. Third time’s the charm, I hope: yes, I’ve joined a gym. I went for a free workout last week as a test-drive, and I’ve been twice again so far this week. (This is my long-winded explanation for why there is nary a picture of Nature in this post. )  I have no particular goals at this point. I have a medium-size frame: I’m no waif. I’m told I’m small, but actually, I’m kind of dense, especially in my back and shoulders. Point being, I think if I can channel Dad, I should have some impressive guns to show for it.

Strong, like bull.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

youth to old age, in a single day; the virtues of a good book

We have a lot happening simultaneously these days.
1. withering.  As the our northern hemisphere tilts away from the sun, more and more plants are closing up shop for the season. Are the ferns as beautiful as they wither as they were in the spring?
May 21
You tell me.
2. making babies as fast as they can I went into the Mystery Woodland – scene of many an early-spring flower – this afternoon. I’d neglected to visit it for quite some time: I’ll have to do better next year. Lo and behold, I found some helleborine (Epipactis helloborine) and its fatty seeds. I wanted to linger but the mosquitos (again: WTF?!) were killing me.

Also in this category: wild grape, species unknown, irritatingly out of reach high up in an apple tree.

Next up: plantain. A lawn weed to most, but remember, this is the one with the fantastic purple flowers.
The awesome flowers, a month ago today, as it happens…
…are now getting alarmingly ready to pop.

3. Still flowering – as I’ve mentioned recently… there’s always the asters. This time, the “little purple kind” as opposed to yesterday’s “big purple kind”. I love how some are yellow in the middle, and some are purple. Seems to be a reasonably common feature of asters.
Also, a common-enough little guy I’d kinda been ignoring, but it’s one of the few spots of color left these days:
This is wood sorrel – probably Oxalis europaea. This is the one I always thought of as related to clover (same three-cute-leaves) except for those leaves look like they’re been folded in half. Mother nature sure does love the five-petaled-yellow-flowers.
Remember vinca? It’s a ground cover with shiny dark green leaves. It was flowering back in May. I managed to completely forget to look for what its seeds look like. Well, I may yet get my chance, because I found a few flowers today. Today! Late September!
Oops, that was a little blurry.
And the foliage of primrose looks practically edible, it’s so fresh. It hasn’t gotten the memo yet about winter being on the way.

I have to confess: I spent more time on the couch, doing this:
Happy sigh. This is one author whose stuff we automatically buy, in hardcover, the second it comes out, sight unseen, advance reviews unread. He wrote it, we’ll read it. Pretty simple. Were that all of life were that simple.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

spider harassment, goldenrods, exploding cattail, and run-on sentences

I told a friend the other day that we were down to goldenrods and asters up here (she’s from the tropics of Massachusetts), but today I was pleased to prove myself wrong:
We have a reprieve of black-eyed susans.

Or, from another perspective…

I had fun bugging the spider.
Next door, a neighboring susan was covered in aphids:

But it’s true: a lot of asters are still blooming. Next year, I’ll start to differentiate between them all. This one’s the “big purple kind”.

As for the goldenrod, we have the almost done cooking stage…

…and the done cooking stage.
Actually, look again: two of the clumps above haven’t opened because the tip-ends of flower stamens haven’t completely dried up and fallen off yet.
The cattails are engaged in a competition to see who can explode the most, the fastest. Current contenders include:
P1150670 P1150676
P1150678 P1150677

Bittersweet nightshade does this awesome thing.
The flowers, as you might recall, are purple. The leaves are normally green. By now the flowers are long gone. It’s as though the plant was like “oh wait – something needs to be purple here – you! leaves! turn purple, stat!”
We still have some soapwort (Saponara officinalis) blooming.
But a lot of them look like this now.
Can you see the bug hiding out in the post-bloom at lower left?
Something else still blooming: japanese knotweed, a roadside invasive the stalks of which are apparently edible.
Such teensy flowers. It’s curious: some plants get their flowers going first thing, before even generating leaves (think, coltsfoot. Flowers show up first thing in spring, and right around now, their huge leaves dominate roadside ditches). And this guy, the knotweed, isn’t bothering with flowers til the very end of the season. Hm. I wonder if the fact that japanese knotweed is apparently so good at propagating from even cuttings (to such an extent that I’ve been advised, should I be so brave as to eat it, not to put any of it into the compost pile unless I want the side of our hill to be taken over by knotweed) (end of sentence: coming soon) …that it can afford to do the seed game late in the season. There’s a study in here somewhere, probably.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

a net of diamonds

So, does the spider say “dammit!” or does the spider say, “excellent, look at all this drinking water?”

Some kind of mold or fungus is troubling some of the evening primrose seed pods. I don’t remember seeing this last year. Of course, last year, I didn’t know this was primrose. In fact, if you look at this here post from about this time last year, I have learned a ton since then. I was taking pictures of the same species, but didn’t know what they were. Yee haw!
Anyway, back to the primrose…
The ones at the top of the stalk – this stalk, incidentally, is maybe four feet tall – are the newest, and largely still green.

Down the stalk a bit, they’re starting to ripen. Which, once again, looks a lot like “decaying”, “dying”, “getting all oogy and brown”. There’s a life lesson in here somewhere.

Until at last you come to the opened-up pods with seeds inside.
A search for life and color leads us to the world of lichens and mosses…

We live on an awesome planet.
I startled what I think is a spring peeper. Normally they have “X”’s on their backs, and I’ve sort of convinced myself that this one has the “X”, but it’s faint, which apparently can happen. All the other froggies around here are way more marked up, so I’m going with peeper for the time being.
Look at those tiny little fingers! As I told Kevin, who was chopping wood into kindling nearby, I think I’m in love.

Tasty shrooms.

This caterpillar does not seem bothered by all the spikies on the yellow foxtail. It’s eating all the seeds anyway. I took several pictures before figuring out which end’s the head, and which end’s the bum. Answer: head’s on the bottom. As for the plant: this time last year then I was calling yellow foxtail “that tall grassy thingy”. Maybe by this time next year I’ll know what kind of caterpillar that is. Or maybe it’s not a caterpillar. Maybe it’s a larva. Whatever that means. I think it means, similar stage in the lifecycle, but not going to end up a butterfly or moth.
Boatloads of mushrooms in the woods – I know nothing about mushrooms, so these will all be unidentified for now…
I took waaaayyyy more pictures of different mushroom than I’m posting, mostly because the light was crappy and they all wound up blurry, dark, etc. etc.
Is this snail not gorgeous? Look at the almost phosphorescent bits – is that in the shell? Are these body parts we’re looking at? Snails have – get this – lungs! Well, only one lung per. Also? Livers. Who knew?
It was a damp and occasionally drizzly day today. Not the greatest weather for putting laundry out on the deck to dry (oops!). And not so great for our friends, the windblown seeds.
thimbleweed (tall anemone)
OK, that was my afternoon. Happy rest-of-the-weekend, world!

Friday, September 23, 2011

slow news day

There was much Reiki, there was rain, there was a hike coffee with a friend, and lastly, there was retail therapy.
Purple was involved.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

how come you never hear the word “combobulate”?

What’s up with the purple gentian? This looked so promising at first, but not a one has bloomed.  At best we have a wilting into brown.
At worst we have an infestation of slime nuggets.
No, that’s not the worst. The worst is being eaten alive by some kind of mold when you have yet to unfurl your purple freak flag.
This is super blurry because I was being eaten alive too – by mosquitos. MOSQUITOS! In September! Arrrrggghhh!!! Very annoying.
Fall used to be my favorite season, hands-down. The change in the air, in the light; the smell of fallen leaves – pure exhilaration. Lately? Not so much. I’m having trouble adjusting. I think it’s because I’m still getting used to the new schedule/job – I don’t have NEARLY enough free time on my hands to dawdle and peer into flowers’ naughty bits and ask questions and research stuff. You know, the IMPORTANT stuff.
The trade-off for glorious berries is wilting leaves. I want to be the berry! Not the leaf!
More and more of the thimbleweed (tall anemone) is opening up. Dreams of baby anemones, made manifest.
OK, enough whining, sweet girl. Tomorrow I’ll be doing my Reiki volunteer gig at the hospital; there’s the possibility of an as-yet-not-figured-out hike with a friend, and dammit, I’m going for a run. And maybe I just need to adjust and start taking pictures of rotting and decaying things. It will be fun! Hooray! I could launch this new phase with a quick peek at the completely-squashed-flat baby snapping turtle I found in the shared driveway yesterday but I think I’ll spare you.
I guess once we cave in and get the woodstove going, I’ll be OK. What does the cattail think, when it goes from its nubbly velvet perfection…
to this?  Maybe it’s psyched, actually.