Thursday, July 26, 2012

re-disapparations, upside-down orgies, and stoner moths

Remember the mysterious disappearing Asiatic dayflower from the other day – in which a) we had two flowers and then b) suddenly we did not, and c) I concluded that the flower had been sequestered away into a little leaf pouch?

I take it all back.

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Here’s one of those leaf pouches, and it’s spitting out a new flower. Which leaves open the question, what happened to the two flowers from the other day? I’m so confused…

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Ahhhhh, this, I get.

Let’s play the focus game with a day lily.

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or stamens?

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or stamens?

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how about neither?

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Don’t they look like little Venetian Renaissance slippers? In which case, this truly IS an orgy – everyone’s upside-down with their feet in the air. They haven’t even bothered to kick off their shoes.

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I’m not the only one obsessed with flower innards. This is a primrose moth getting stoned in a common evening primrose. Scandalous.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

scenes from the day

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one end of a dragonfly damselfly
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comes with rocket-pack
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grass supernova
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“mine mine mine!”

I went looking for the Asiatic dayflower of the other day. It was gone. Simply gone. Eventually I realized that that’s what the dragonfly had been sitting on. Where the flower had been was now a sealed pouch.

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two days ago

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

one small miracle, please.

My 97 year old grandmother has decided that she’s done. She is refusing food and medication, and it won’t be long til she slips past the border of this life into whatever mysteries await her next. Yesterday I wrote her one last letter. An aide, or if I’m lucky, my cousin, will read it to her, since by now her macular degeneration renders her functionally blind.

Sweetpea and I set out for the mailbox yesterday to put the letter out for the carrier. On the way, I noticed a tendril of one-seeded burr cucumber vine grabbing at a neighboring Queen Anne’s Lace.

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I guess we all grasp at life, for as long as we can, until we just can’t any more. I can’t blame her. In fact, I admire her, for her courage in deciding what’s right for her.

It’s been a week of pain, mostly, as my shattered nose figures out how to rebuild itself. I’ve had a couple of days of ruinous discomfort and eyestrain (from not being able to wear my glasses). This is not helped by the lack of exercise, and inadequate time outdoors. This morning, I felt as though I had given up my right to expect miracles, but I swung the camera bag on my shoulder anyway. I was hoping to find inspiration in anything, anything at all. As I wiggled my toes into my sandals I thought I saw something blue out of the corner of my eye. Two flashes, down by the hostas under the front windows of the house.

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Oh my. What’s this? I’ve never seen it before.

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Tis Asiatic dayflower (Commelina communis). In the west, we call this an invasive weed. In the east, it has all sorts of medicinal uses. Why does this not surprise me?

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Little-known fact: when you don’t mow the lawn frequently, the hostas send out invader parties.

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And the syrphid flies celebrate in the overgrown, gone-to-seed grass. Who wouldn’t fall in love with this guy?

The plan for today was to get out in the boats. We headed to the Harriman Reservoir.





That’s Mt. Haystack. Just behind it is Mt. Snow, scene of last weekend’s Tough Mudder event (aka nose breakage).

I took my last prescription pain pill this morning. From here on out, it’s over the counter meds. And tomorrow, at long last, I have an appointment with the specialist who will tell me if I need surgery.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I advise against breaking your nose

Hey, guess what? Broken noses kinda hurt! Who knew? The swelling’s gone way down. My appointment with the “what now” surgeon was rescheduled for next week because – get this – he hurt his leg so badly that another surgeon advised him to go home today, thereby missing my appointment. So I won’t meet with him til Tuesday, 10 days after I broke it. That’s the outside limit for seeing someone and having it fixed on-the-spot. Not that I necessarily want it fixed on the spot, as I understand it involves chopsticks. I wanna be sedated.

I was advised by the doc in the ER not to lie down – to keep my torso at least 45 degrees upright. I don’t know for how long, but given how tender things still feel, and given how I typically sleep on my stomach, I’ve been sleeping in a big-ass chaise we have in our bedroom. This has cut into my Spooning with Best Beloved Regimen. My morning yoga routine – which involves a lot of attempting to touch my toes and downward-facing-dogs – violates the Stay Upright rule, and I have yet to use my brain power to devise another routine. So, no yoga in days. Running feels like it would be too jouncy, so I haven’t been doing that.  In short, I have gone from Super Duper Toughest Mudder of Them All, to Mildly Depressed Couch Potato, all inside a week. How’s that for accomplishment? And what do couch potatoes do? They hang out on the couch. Well, actually, they hang out in their their home office and work work work, and forget to Go Outside and Visit the Flowers.

Can you imagine the spiral of doom that is developing here? Pain + no exercise + no flower visiting = glum = why bother  = oh good lord, Sarah, just go outside already.

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Recognize this? It’s a tiny baby milkweed pod! With the petals and stuff still attached!

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Sumac flowers. Yeah, I had no idea, either.


Lobelia – Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata)


Big Sis, the first black-eyed susan to open up this summer, is getting to be an old lady now.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I am, without a doubt, one Tough Mudder

Today was finally The Day, The Day we’ve been waiting for: The Tough Mudder. A ten mile endurance course laced with over two dozen military-style obstacles: walls to clamber over, barbed wire to scurry under, tunnels of mud, running through fire, getting electric shocks…you know, just your typical ideal way to spend a Saturday morning. Our friend, Other Kevin (not to be confused with my husband Kevin), invited me and his friend Geno to join him in this adrenaline-fueled frenzy a few months ago. It sounded like fun, and then I told a bunch of people I was going to do it, and then I looked at the website and watched the videos and freaked out, but it was too late: I’d told too many people I was going to do it. (That, incidentally, is not a bad way to accomplish something you’re not sure you’re capable of.)

We learned a few days ago that we’d be in this morning’s first wave, at 8:00 am – lucky us! It means we’d have a shot at avoiding the worst of the heat of the day.


Our team, “Something to Prove”, at 6:15 this morning, punchy before the day’s even begun: me, Other Kevin, Geno. See the orb over Geno’s head? That’s an angel, obviously.


We headed over to Mt. Snow, a ski area here in lovely southern Vermont, to register. They paint your number on your face, the better to identify your body at the morgue, later. Take a look at this pretty face. Take a look at that nice, straight nose. Hold on to that memory.


Aw hell, ya gotta jump over a six and a half foot wall just to get INTO the start corral?


In blue, Geno. To his right, mostly hidden, Other Kevin. Then me. Pretty, pretty me.


announcer: “When I say Tough, you say MUDDER! Tough!”

crowd: “Mudder!“

announcer: “Tough!”

crowd: “Mudder!”


And we’re off!



First up: climb this here ski slope.


Ah yes, the first of MANY trudges up one of these slopes. This one’s the bunny slope. The rest are wayyyyyy steeper.


I was SO PSYCHED to see My Kevin, bearing my point-and-shoot.

OK, and now we come to the pivot point in our story. We’ll call this picture, “Before”.P1200745

This is Artic Enema: a vat of ice water. It’s the very first obstacle in this course (if you don’t count going up and down the mountain itself an obstacle.) There’s a big fat beam down the middle of it that forces you do submerge yourself completely in the ice water. You come up on the other side and then haul yourself out.

And now, for the After picture:


Aside from the fact that my bandanna’s gone missing, you can’t tell there is anything wrong. But there sure is. See, I knew I couldn’t get under the beam on my first breath. So I jumped in, and came right up, and did a breast stroke to bring myself to that heavy cross beam. It was Effing Cold. I took a deep breath, submerged myself, and launched myself under the beam…only to smack my face, HARD, RIGHT into the beam. Ooops.

But there is no way out of that vat. Gotta go under. I felt for the bottom of the beam, took another breath, got under, and surfaced to see that Geno had hauled himself to the side wall to wait for the girl ahead of him to get out. I followed suit. Next to me was another vat of ice water with teams of people going through. “Hey! You have a bloody nose!” a few of them told me. No shit – I could taste it.

Now, this was the first obstacle in this whole course. We’d gone up about a third of the mountain and back down, and we had only just gotten started. Should I stop? Can I go on? I talked to the medic. Kevin was too far away to see or investigate why I was talking to a medic.


He quizzed me to see if I showed signs of a concussion. Nope. Aw, fuck it, I paid all this money, I’m here, I feel fine, let’s move.


Wiping the blood off. Did it hurt? A little. Not too bad, actually.

Kevin-My-Kevin, in the meantime, had realized that (cough) the course organizers weren’t very organized. Nobody noticed he didn’t have a spectator wrist band (with its $40 price tag), so he wandered all over the mountain, trying to find us and see what we were up to.

The next obstacle we faced  (aside from climbing The Entire Mountain, I think) – and not shown here – was to slither on our bellies through a mud pit with barbed wire strung out at intervals over our heads. This was, for some reason, surprisingly easy for me. It helped that I had those knee pads on. I slithered away merrily. And then I ran into a guy wearing a super-cute purple bandanna – mine! and he graciously offered it back to me. Probably because by now, unbeknownst to me, I was looking kinda scary.


Grrrr. Note the mud mustache? Sexxxxxy.

There were a bunch of other obstacles – by no means are they all shown here. There was a set of Berlin Walls – 12 foot walls to scale – which I decided to skip, because I knew that the jounce of the landing would cause me to bleed more, and I was already regularly wiping blood off my face and licking it off my fingers.


In this one you make your way through a submerged tunnel – filled with, you guessed it, mud – for a while til you pop back out. I’m not claustrophobic, so this was fine.

Not knowing where we were, My Kevin wisely took pictures of the other obstacles he found:


The gigantic hay bales to climb over.



The electric eel: slither, through mud, only this time, electrified wires (those little yellow things) are dangling down over you. I nearly wussed out of this one but fell back to my earlier, “Aw fuck it” strategy to propel myself through it. I got a shock – mild – it wasn’t too bad.


Oh man, this one was awesome. Nearly all of us gave up, dropped into the water, and swam – it was just too long a journey. None of our team is in this picture. There were guys in kayaks monitoring the situation.

What else was in here that’s not shown…hauling a log on your shoulder for a while…oh, the one where you leap off a 15’ platform into a pond – I skipped that one, too, because I knew the shock of landing would do bad things to my bloody nose. But in solidarity I submerged myself completely in the pond. Some cool things with rope netting to climb up – other Mudders used their body weight to hold the netting taut while about four or five of us at a time would climb up 20 feet and down the other side. One girl, and a couple of guys, flipped over the top in a super awesome manoeuver that I didn’t want to experiment with in that setting. I went with the tried and true sit on the top and swing one leg over tactic.


Running through fire, sorta. Not really. Just a lot of smoke.

Here’s the one I’m most proud of for pulling off: fifty or so feet of two, two by sixes – so maybe four inches wide – over a pond of lime green water.


Other Kevin and I started at the same time. Geno was right behind.


Off he trotted.


Uhhhh…my beam was SUPER wobbly. That caused my legs to jackhammer. Which no doubt added to the wobbliness of the beam. I nearly gave up and jumped into the water about three times but I just kept inching along. It was truly a mental exercise of being completely, totally wobbly, but just staying present, staying present, staying present. Delicious.


Here I am with Kevin and Geno, having finally made it. Please notice the weird black gangrenous-looking nose I have. It’s dried blood. I’m not aware of it, other than the fact that others are regularly commenting or complimenting me on it.


Here is me at the beginning of…


…and Other Kevin at the end of, the Boa Constrictor – just another random mud-and-gravel-lined tube of nonsense. What else was there…Oh, there was one where’re inching along through the mud in a pitch dark enclosure. They’re playing the sound of booming thunder, and occasionally flashing simulated lightning, plus you’re being hosed down at the same time…and there are electrified wires over you. For that one, if you stayed flat on your belly, you’d be fine.

In the meantime, I should mention, we are regularly hiking up and back down increasingly steep slopes – and that’s not just my tiredness making me think they’re getting steeper – they are getting steeper. We’re all over that damn mountain. I’m calling out all the wildflowers I see – bedstraw, oxeye daisy, st. johnswort, cow vetch…you know, I am nature girl, when I’m not all warriory.

I did, however, skip another set of Berlin Walls, as well as this monkey bars thing where if you let go (which you may, since they’ve helpfully greased some of the bars), you fall into – wait for it – a pit of muddy water. I knew I didn’t have the upper arm strength for it. Kevin and Geno completely rocked that one.

Ah, here we are contemplating the insanity of Everest – a big quarter pipe, slippery as all hell, with a bunch of mostly burly guys, and some chicks, at the top to help. We’re watching our fellow Mudders run like hell to the base and up this thing, and half the time, not getting far enough up to grab hands with the others at the top. THUD – slide. THUD – slide.


“Jeez, I don’t know about this one…”


“Me either…”  He went first and nailed it.


Well, like I said, fuck it. Let’s do this thing. (Am I a hottie, or what, by the way?)


OK, I made contact with the folks at the top on my first try – this is great!


Not enough purchase. Only their arms are keeping me here.


I got a leg up, and Other Kevin grabbed it, and three people hauled my sorry ass to the top.


At the top, I saw My Kevin had gotten the whole thing.


Here’s our gang of three, having just gotten down the back of Everest, headed for the very last obstacle:


Electroshock Therapy. More electrified wires, but these babies really pack a punch. We observed any number of people getting knocked right off their feet.


Including Kevin, who started upright, but once shocked, found himself in the by now familiar belly-in-mud position.


Go, Geno!

But not me: by now, I knew I needed medical attention for my nose. And the sight of a couple of people really struggling to continue, when they’d just gotten knocked to the ground and were having trouble moving, but still getting shocked because those wires hung pretty low…I said, self, you’ve a good day here. You’re done.


So I joined the boys to cross arm-in-arm under the finish line.

And then we had a beer, and I went to the first aid building where they attempted to pry the blood off my nose and told me to go to a real doctor. We went back to Other Kevin’s house, ruined their bathroom by showering, laughed about the day, and ate. And then My Kevin and I went to the emergency room.


That’s me, with my hospital band next to my Tough Mudder band. Yeah!


Me in the ER. This one is probably the best shot for showing the swelling.

I got a CT scan.

And guess what? I have a broken nose! Multiple fractures! I’m on pain meds and antihistamines, and once the swelling goes down, I’ll go see a specialist about having my face re-broken so it can be set right. Yee haw!

All in all? Fun! Would I do it again? Naw. Right now it’s feeling like hey, I did what I set out to do. And with a broken nose! Hah!