Saturday, April 30, 2011

April is the cruelest month

Now this is freaky: here’s what we were doing on this very day, last year:

last year

One guess as to what I spent the afternoon today doing:


I killed dozens and dozens of trees today. Ripped ‘em, clipped ‘em, savaged them, poor buggers. It started with the usual suspects – the raspberries – but one thing let to another…


…and I cleared out a ton of saplings from the mystery woodlands between the house and the shared driveway. I discovered a treasure trove of blue cohosh hiding in there.


In the meantime, Kevin braved the garage to retrieve the ingredients of the portable screen porch…


…and found the grill! Hooray? Guess what’s for dinner? Who cares? Whatever it is, it’s going on the grill first.

I’ll leave you with a shot from sunset last night:


Oh, and that 14 mile run? Didn’t happen. Monday, I guess, since tomorrow’s out of the question.

Friday, April 29, 2011

the first day for canada mayflower, sugar maple, chokecherry, primrose

Since yesterday’s post had zero pictures, I’m giving you a double dose today.
ALL the lilac buds seem to have popped – even the laggards.
Sea o’ myrtle (Vinca minor). That’s a forsythia in the background.
The primrose (Primula vulgaris) just bloomed today.
Cheerful little bugger, innit?
The unidentified-pretty-in-pink Playtex tampon applicator flowers are still lovely…
…unlike the wild ginger flower (Asarum canadense), which by the way, is not related to the tasty ginger we eat.
Remember how I thought it looked a little carnivorous? See the insect on the right side? Heh heh! If anything, that guy’s a pollinator.
Ferns continue to open up…
Onwards to the trees. Today, sugar maple (Acer saccharum) buds started to open up.
Isn’t this wild? That’s a leaf, all neatly folded up. Surely some of the buds will have flowers – today, I only noticed leaves.
Beech buds are not yet opening, but they are HUGE. Don’t believe me?
This one’s the size of my thumb.
Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) buds – boom, open, bam. Some buds are for leaves…
…and some are for flowers.
Witchhazel buds don’t so much open, as unfold. Their buds are naked, meaning, there are no protective scales. You can see those are leaves, right? They just need to fluff out a little. Today, they look green for the first time. And yeah, those are flowers, but not new ones. They flower in the winter.
And now for the gray birch (Betula populifolia) report. Oh, by the way, the reason I stick the scientific names in here is for the hordes of people who find this blog via searches for these species names. It really does happen – I get hits on this blog from all over. Most folks don’t stick around for long – as wonderful as I am, all they want is my flower and bud porn (insert heavy sigh here). Jeez, stick to the topic, Sarah. OK, first up, here’s a bud opening up today – see the wee little leaves?
Those are definitely leaves. I STILL don’t understand what that fuscia red stuff is for. Maybe…maybe it was just an exuberant “get ready, world!”
A wildflower called Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense) JUST came up this morning. How do I know? See the specks of soil on the leaf? It was raining yesterday. If this leaf had been here yesterday, it would be clean. You can see a few more of them in the background, on the left.
Remember the blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)? How the other day, it was blue, stem to leaf to flower? Yesterday, I noticed the leaves were greenish-blue – today, they’re green. And all the flowers are open!

Somebody’s nibbling on the trillium (Trillium erectum). See the top center? Chomp chomp, nom, nom.

And now for a different kind of fern…the fuzzy ones… I’m lousy at fern ID, maybe that can be a summer project…
This is a willow (Salix something) that I just had to capture, because it just looks all blown to hell – almost like a fistful of clover sprouts. Huh.
And now…
Daffodils! Don’t they look like spectators at an event!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

contains material not suitable for children

On Thursdays, I volunteer at the chemo unit of a local hospital, giving Reiki to patients, their families, and staff members. I’m usually there for about three hours, and I usually treat four to six people. Today, I hustled out the door to be sure to get there in time for the arrival of a particular patient I’d made arrangements with last week, but alas, her appointment had been cancelled. No worries: the blank space in my schedule was quickly filled by one of the oncology nurses whom I’ve been trying to get my hands on for over a month now. She’s usually too harried to sit still for ten minutes, but today, lucky us, we had a whole half hour to play with. Zzzzzzt – sinus headache? Gone!
The way the scheduling works at the hospital is that the patients often get slotted into a given day (or days) of the week, so that I see the same folks over and over. Every so often someone new shows up. Sometimes, the new ones are immediately eager to try Reiki, but occasionally I get folks who need to be eased into it. They take a couple of weeks to dip a toe into the waters. Today, one new guy offered up that yeah, he’d heard of Reiki, because his wife – sitting right next to him – was attuned to Reiki some thirteen years ago, and her certificate is within sight of his nightstand. “He won’t let me touch him,” the wife said. Then, when she sheepishly admitted that she does not give herself Reiki every day – which is, if not a cardinal rule, at least a Highly Recommended thing to do – I yelled at her. OK, I didn’t yell. But I did wag my finger at her and warn her that in two weeks, at their next appointment at the hospital, I’d be checking in on her.
Tough love, that’s me.
When I received my Level 2 attunement a few years ago, I learned a technique in which it’s possible to place affirmations directly into the client’s subconscious. I place one hand on the client’s forehead, and the other on the back of their head under their occipital lobe, do some Reiki magic that I won’t bore you with here, and start concentrating on the affirmation.
Lately, I’ve taken to incorporating this technique into most of my work with patients at the hospital. And I have found that when I do this, my whole body gets super hot, to the point of whole-body-sweating. This tells me that not only is the person I’m working on very open to absorbing the positive affirmations, but that my own body is really open to the Reiki as well. Having become a Reiki Master last fall amped up my capacity, too, no doubt. Another nurse, whom I’ve treated a few times, told me that when she receives Reiki from me, it feels different and more powerful than when she receives it from others, and she believes it’s because I’ve received the Master attunement.
I mention all this because when you give someone Reiki, you receive the benefit of it yourself. It’s like some of it sticks to you on its way through your body.  And today was a good day for me to have channeled all that juicy love, because as soon as I finished up at that hospital, I headed to another hospital, closer to home, for a (gulp) follow-up mammogram.
I’d gone in for my annual check-up last week, and got a call early this week saying that “additional diagnostic evaluation” would be needed – not a biopsy, but additional magnified shots. This has been weighing on me all week.
Wanna hear how it went? Let’s just say, I’m surprised that my boob is still boob-shaped after all the squashing that took place. Whoops! Did I just write all that out loud? You were expecting some nature photography, weren’t you? Sorry! We’re all about boobs today, AND, there will be no pictures. Sorry. At any rate, all is well, I am told. It looks like I have “microcalcification”, which is when wee, tiny sand-size specks of calcium show up. In my case, in a very awkward location really close to my chest wall, which meant that about half my torso clear through into my spine was wedged up into the machine. Ladies, you  know what I’m talking about. Usually, these bits of calcium don’t mean a thing, but you have to keep an eye on them in case they start plotting the overthrow of the free world, starting with your boob. First, Sarah’s right boob, and then, Poland. In my case, I don’t have to do anything other than show up next year at my regularly appointed time.
By the time I got home, I really, really, really wanted to dive head first into “Clash of Kings” (epic fantasy novel) on the Kindle and possibly consume my weight in strawberry rhubarb pie, but I managed to go for a run. And what gave me such awesome discipline and self-control? Is it because I’m a super-duper Reiki Master, able to cause people to either fall asleep or spontaneously combust at the touch of my Magic Reiki Hands? Um, no. It’s because of that half marathon I signed up for. My last long run before the race itself is on Sunday, only I can’t run it on Sunday because I’m going to Connecticut for my cousin’s baby shower, so I’m running it on Saturday, except for wait, I have choir practice on Saturday morning, so I’m running it on Saturday afternoon, so maybe I want to run it on Monday? No wait, should I run it tomorrow? Oh Help! No, I’m not stressed about the race at all, who me? stressed? no way. I’m a Reiki Master. I don’t do stress.
Hah hah hah hah hah hah hah!
It was a perfectly fine run.
I’ll do the long run on Saturday afternoon.
Now, where’s that pie?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

sparrowcide, wild ginger, fruiting moss, and pie

An old friend came to visit for the day. Since she’s moving to Wisconsin in a couple or three months, we have a limited number of playdates. On this one, we went for a stroll and got caught up on life, the universe, and everything.
An advantage of spending time with other people is that you realize that your own perspective is just that: your own wee little world view – not the only game in town. Would I have thought to take this shot if it hadn’t been for Kristin? Nope.
You know me. Give me the close-ups.
This opening-up-of-the-magnolia-bud is new since yesterday.
You can’t turn your back for a minute around here – everything’s popping open.
Like the wild ginger (Asarum canadense). Yes, that’s a flower. It looks more like a tiny insectivorous monster (“Seymour…feed me…”), but I’m not sure that it is. I think it’s just…a funny looking flower.
More ginger. Boatloads of these this year.
Oh hey, we apparently have a forsythia bush halfway in the woods. Who knew?
I know, I’m obsessed with the gray birch (Betula populifolia) buds with their little headdresses – well today is the first day that it looks like there’s more coming out of that bud. I think those are leaves on either side…?

The blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) from yesterday – some of the flowers are opening up – this was the one non-blurry shot I got.
But even the blurry ones are kinda cool.
Eventually, Kristin and I got as far as the cemetery a quarter mile away. I got obsessed with a massive tree trunk in the middle of the cemetery:
Like Devil’s Tower, Wyoming, in profile.

And then I got obsessed with chisel marks on the backs of ancient marble headstones:
In other news, this happened today. Strawberry rhubarb pie. Think I’m gonna go see how it turned out.
Oh, about the sparrowcide?
Sigh. Time to bell the cat.