Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Fungus Among Us

Cementing my position as a nature-nerd once again!!! If you are not a regular reader here you may be asking yourself what the heck sort of person devotes an entire post to fungi. Well, I've given up trying to explain myself, so I'll just say that I find them beautiful and I took many good pictures of them this year. I ran across these ones while organizing digital photos the other day and decided that they would make a great blog photo-post. So cast your votes for the prettiest & weirdest!!! (btw, I would be grateful to anyone who can provide me with common species names and latin names on some of these, please leave a note in comments. This is one of the few areas of nature where I have almost no expertise).

#1. Blue Mushroom

#2. Unidentified brown mushroom

#3. Cool texture on the bottom of another unidentified fungus.

#4. I like to call this one the "Shrek" fungus.

#5. Striated Fungus of some sort, I love the colors.

#6. It looks like a pallid flame, my personal favorite.

#7. Puffball mushroom, Lycoperdon Perlatum - edible, but I wouldn't recommend trying it unless you are versed in how to tell it apart from another common species which looks quite similar and is somewhat poisonous.

#8. Orange Mushroom

#9. Staghorn Lichen, Letharia sp.

Jewelweed, Impatiens Capensis - Yeah, I know it's not a fungus, but it deserves honorable mention because the expressed juices from pulverized stems & leaves can serve as a wonderful topical treatment for some of the varieties of fungi which infests humans & other mammals.

Indian Pipe, Monotropa Uniflora - Again, not a fungus, but it also deserves honorable mention because it is one of the only plants you will find growing around here which does not need chorophyll to survive, it lives as a parasite feeding off of a common soil fungus found around trees.

I intend to have a good pictorial book on fungus species identification by next year, any suggestions? I would at some point like to start harvesting wild edibles (and yes, I know it is dangerous if you don't know what you are doing).

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Speaking of Ballet...

I was just surfing the internet and I happened to run across a picture of a ballet dancer... this triggered a stream of consciousness in which I remembered one of the oddest sights I've ever seen....

It was quarter 'til midnight in the early summer of this year, I was sitting in my buddy's truck, waiting for my friends to select a video inside of Blockbuster. I was idly listening to the radio and staring off into the distance past the almost-empty parking lot in the plaza where we were parked. A large Ford van stops suddenly in the middle of the parking lot, and several young ladies get out of it and do an elaborate ballet performance around the vehicle, equating to an elegant "Chinese" fire drill (sorry, I know that sounds offensive & racist, but this is the only term I've ever heard in conjunction with this activity). They completed this within the course of about 30 seconds after which they pirhouetted & pliƩd back into their respective places in the vehicle and took off just as abruptly as they had stopped; leaving me completely bewildered and confused about what I had just witnessed. Judging by the way they danced, they were not novices either. So now I am wondering, is this what accomplished ballet students do for kicks on a wild Friday night? I told my friends about it when they came out of the video store a few minutes later and they thought I was just blowing hot air.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving, Hike, & Memories

Wow, lots of large photos in this post, one might think that I am trying to punish blog readers who have dial-up internet connections. Sorry folks :)

... and here are some things I am thankful for this past year:

  • The library and a new-found love of reading.
  • The results of the mid-term elections.
  • Paying off my car (which has stayed reliable) and a general lessening of financial debt all around.
  • Learning to gain better control my mind in order to keep it quiet, still, and receptive when it needs to be.
  • My family.
  • The wisdom & insight that my sister has brought into my life, which as also resulted in my deeper understanding of my family and the world around us.
  • Excellent health.
  • More friends who seem to help bring out the best side of me.
  • Emotional healing, I've not exactly attained complete inner peace but I've come a long way.
  • Mild autumn weather & scenic surroundings throughout my excursions in the outdoors.
  • Without the aid of medication, winning most of my battles with the depression that has plagued me these last few years.
  • Forging a fresh connection to life and parts of me which I thought were irretrievably lost years ago.
  • The beauty of rural New England.
  • Renewed faith in goodness and the positive side of things.
  • The Religious Society of Friends: the enlightenment, spiritual healing, and positive energy I've experienced as a result of the various meetings I've attended. I have been reminded that there is something pure, good, and right out there... which is not bound to any single religion and it has the capacity to give knowledge & wisdom; getting one in touch with the divinity hiding beneath this complicated, protective shell that many of us wear; healing the wounds inflicted by those who do not understand the big picture.
  • A relatively peaceful environment at my work place.
  • New furniture.
  • The wisdom to know when to walk away from a problem that no amount of skill or effort will fix.
  • Decent, dependable roommates.
  • A good pair of hiking boots.
I headed over to my parents' house for the usual Thanksgiving Day meal and I brought back enough leftovers to give me a piece of the holiday for the next week's worth of lunch breaks at work. I also decided to go on a 3 hour hike to view many of my childhood/teenage hang-outs to reminisce a bit and collect photo memories. My hike today lead me down some of the old trails that I used to traverse when I was 12 years old and just looking for a way to escape for a while... Sometimes my little brother came along. I remember these times fondly, though I was a bit disappointed to see extensive logging activity on some of what used to be the more scenic parts. At least the logging seems to have been done in a somewhat mindful fashion... selectively cutting down only what is needed and leaving healthy, half-grown trees every 5-10 feet so that these areas will recover within the decade.

Thanksgiving Eve: a panoramic view of a beautiful sangria-pink sunset on the west side of my town, taken from the bank of the river.

I laid back on a boulder and enjoyed this view of some bare oaks poking at the sky, almost seeming to want to catch the impending snow.

An old farm house on a back-woods plot. Tragically, starting to fall into disrepair.

The dirt driveway leading away from the farmhouse, down to the dirt road which I used to live on.

Recent beaver activity near the old beaver pond. It seems they've been rather industrious... these trees are twice as thick as my leg.

This pond was here when my family first moved to New Hampshire and my brother & I spent countless hours here catching newts, frogs, tadpoles and picking water lily blossoms to take home. Notice the beaver lodge in the middle. This pond almost disappeared in my mid-teen years after they trapped and relocated the beavers due to their road-culvert-plugging activities... well, it looks as though they have come back in full force.

Scenic old farm belonging to one of my parents' neighbors.

One of the swimming holes that my brother and I often used to beat the summertime heat.

Another swimming hole with several different views.

Until a few years ago, there was a HUGE old beech tree, about 3 feet in diameter, mounted to the left of the boulder, overhanging this deep bend in the river. I used to sit on the roots with my feet in the water, fishing for trout. There was one summer that I refused to swim in this particular location because I saw a snapping turtle the size of a wash tub milling around in the mud on the river bottom.

*Sung to the tune of "I Got Rhythm"* Rusted car-wrecks, links of stove-pipe, no more windows, they will not run anymooooooooore...
Old classic cars sitting at the edge of a field. I'd love to know where these cars have been and where they were driven before ending up like this.

A trout pond in which my brother and I used to swim, under the radar of a grouchy townie who didn't like children on his property (but had no compunction about allowing rowdy groups of ATV & snowmobile riders free reign). I do believe that my little pet snapping turtle may have found a home here too >:)

Another vehicle that looks like it has seen better days.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


It seems that no good deed goes unpunished...

Lately, in an attempt to adopt life practices that are healthier for me as well as the environment, I've been walking to work at least 3 days out of five. I usually prepare for whatever weather is coming before I leave, so I hoofed it to work today with my umbrella, backpack, and lunchbox. After an amusing day filled with assorted unusual customers and people who were so drunk that I could have caught a buzz off their breath I realized that I needed to walk to the grocery store to pick up kitty litter and a few other little items before heading home. So I am walking home in the wind and pouring rain, trying to avoid stepping on the earthworms that were all over the sidewalk, with a 15 lb. bag of kitty litter on my shoulder in addition to my other cargo, trying to control an umbrella that kept threatening to fly away in the wind... and the bag of kitty litter rips right open and pours all over myself and my belongings. As I type this I am soaked to the bone and still peeling off bits of caked on cat litter from my clothing & hair. May tomorrow treat me better!!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Busy busy busy!!!

And hiking hiking hiking!!! Yeah, I've been staying busy. Last week I did a million things including several long hikes, a scenic walk around Grafton, VT (what a stunningly beautiful town, and many thanks to one of my new friends for showing it to me as well as giving historical highlights). While in Grafton, we attended an interesting talk on sustainable living, hosted by local author Tom Wessels. Last week also included antiqueing and perusing junk stores/thrift shops with a couple of friends... I was shown a cool little thrift shop/junk store on a back street in Bellows Falls, VT. It is shabby on the outside, but contains all sorts of treasures within.

The weekend included a casual lunch date and movie (Borat), and more shopping. I really have to get in gear & start Christmas shopping early to avoid the insane shopping & wrapping frenzy I went through last year.

I have a feeling that this winter will be far easier on my mind and body than last winter. The warmer months have given me all sorts of creative new outlets for my energy and I am hoping that I can use them to stave off the usual seasonal funk. Just down the street from my house there is a karate dojo which piqued my interest in taking classes, but first I want to bring a respected friend with me to observe the teaching style within these classes. He has a strong background in the martial arts and I wanted to get his opinion on the sensei's primary focus before I actually commit to this particular place.

Hmmm... and here are yet another couple of David Firth animations which I happened across while killing some time the other day: Ptikobj and Sock Episode 1. Obscure, slightly crass nonsense as per Mr. Firth's usual style, yet I find them rather addictive and quotable.

Well-behaved citizens (or possibly escapees from the criminally insane ward???) out on an Autumn hike in New England.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Interesting Little Fact

So, a few years ago, I was made aware of the fact that even when we stop growing in height... our nose and ears grow consistently throughout our lifetimes, very slowly, but still they continue after the rest of our bodies have gone into retrograde. Now take a look if you will at my new profile pic in the right column... I'm already running large in the schnoz category, so I am a little scared to think of what I will look like when I reach my 80s, hehe :). (I wonder if they manufacture tissues the size of twin bed sheets.)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


DEMS TAKE THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE!!!! HOLY ***$$%#@!!!!****!!!!

Life is good :)

Now let's just hope that one of those "unusual" recounts which directly contradicts exit polls doesn't take place.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Parade of FREA... errr... Interesting People

OK, so there are mixed opinions in some circles as to whether or not the lunar cycles affect people's personalities, particularly the full moon. I can tell you with certainty that I believe they do. Having worked in the nursing field, I've observed that dementia patients get far rowdier and more unsettled (as well as exhibiting more pronounced unsettling behavior), and in retail, rude customers become more rude around the full moon. Between the crazy lady who lives in her van with 15+ pet rats... harassing the front counter people to give her a refund for a product which she has no proof of having bought... and not just harassing... she HUNG AROUND FOR OVER FIVE HOURS and proceeded to bombard different staff members with no less than three different versions of why she deserves a refund and how she obtained the product.... and the man who seemed to imply that we had somehow conspired to sell him sick fish (despite the fact that the illness manifested almost 2 weeks after he purchased them, pretty much all fish diseases are evident within a few days of purchase if they were sick at the time of purchase)... then getting incensed about the fact that he had to actually PURCHASE the medicine for curing the ones that hadn't died yet. And a whole other delectable onslaught of miscreants... The highlight of my day was the several hours of having to duck pipes and ductwork in a cobwebby basement room where I had to slouch like a hunchback because of the low ceilings (my back is killing me as a result)... and repeatedly plunging my hands & forearms into mud that smelled like a swamp filled with human waste... ( I was trimming pond plants of all vegetation & external roots and storing them for winter)... Ummm... let's just say that today was a bit of an ordeal and I am glad that it is done with. On the positive side, I went to Dimitri's house to watch O Brother, Where Art Thou? with him and his mother. I had never actually seen the film before and I have to say that I enjoyed it... such a quirky and creative adaptation. I also made a huge pot of my Italian(esque) gumboish soup... gumboish because my soups are typically so thick that they could be considered the bastard child of gumbo and soup. Will post the recipe at some point soon.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Lily-White Marzipan Armpit Cream

Oooooh, another pointless title that has nothing to do with this post... surprise surprise (or not, if you are a frequent reader of this blog).

Tonight I went on a dinner date with a gentleman by the name of James, who I met at my party a couple weeks ago. We went to Mai Thai, a great thai restaurant on the main downtown strip in Hanover, NH. After that, we went to see The Departed at The Nugget Theater. All in all, a lovely evening.

In other news, I spent this past weekend up in northwest VT with my sister and grandmother where we had an early celebration of my birthday (that's right folks, I'm now 27, time to break out the metamucil and the walker). I ended up receiving many lovely gifts, including a sharp set of clothes from my sister and grandmother, a DVD recorder/vcr combo from my parents, and a dremel tool just arrived in the mail from my little brother. I don't believe I've ever gotten so many useful and much-needed gifts on a single birthday. What a blessing!!!

One of the more unusual gifts I've received in recent times. We have a bit of a long-running family joke concerning smoked salmon sandwiches.

The back yard at my grandmother's place, gardens winding down to sleep for the winter.

My sister & grandmother's cat, Miss Jane, aka: Jane Doe Kitty, Madame Pickulus.

I have a slightly odd fascination with knick-knacks and colored glass items sitting in windows, which I believe comes from having seen so many scenes like this in my grandmother's house.

A lovely view of Camel's Hump mountain on the stretch of interstate just below Burlington, VT.

Halloween spirit at my workplace

Hmmm... and a couple of humorous time-wasters that I would recommend: A twistedly funny ICQ prank perpetrated by Richard "Lowtax" Kyanka of somethingawful.com, and yet another flash offering from Fat-Pie entitled: Video Dating Tape. Fair warning: this animation is not for those without a dark, twisted sense of humor. If you watch it and laugh raucously like I did, it will likely mean that you need psychiatric intervention, however viewing this film may be the cause of needing psychiatric intervention whether or not you find it funny.