Saturday, June 30, 2007

Shiny! New! Foxglove!

This morning I gave Nadine a call, and we met at the regional farmer's market to do a little shopping. We wove our way amongst the stalls of fresh produce, flowers, baked goods, and the occasional dairy. Although I did see a few vendors selling bananas and limes, the vast majority of items for sale were of local origin. We were like kids in a candy store. It was so hard to decide.

I finally ended up with locally grown peas and locally grown cherries, much cheaper and fresher than they'd be from the supermarket. And I am insanely pleased with my sole plant purchase, a gorgeous foxglove. This picture doesn't really do it justice, but you get some idea. I was also tempted by the local butter, and the myriad of produce options, especially the fresh lettuce. There is always next time, when I hope to get a few perennials.

I already have the perfect spot in mind.

Monday, June 25, 2007

What the Hell am I Doing Here?

So, being the Radiohead fan that I am, when Andy over at The Ballpoint Banana mentioned that Creep provided the fodder for one of the best Beavis and Butthead commentaries ever, I had to go a-looking. Problem is, in addition to the spotty memory--I must have seen the episode, it is a near certainty--I am also highly distractible. Of course, I have loved this footage ever since it first aired, but nevertheless... it's not even remotely what I came for.

Witness where I landed instead:

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Bulleted Odds and Ends

  • Not much going on in my bloggy world of late, but I thought I should throw something together here. The wheels are spinning, though. Dur.

  • The peregrine falcons I've been watching out my office window have fledged. The chicks are still a little rough on their aviation skills and circle gracelessly attempting their landings. They have started resting on a building right next to ours, though, so I still get some pretty good views.

  • I took a lovely walk this morning to Stormwater Park, but my photos were uninspiring. Instead I share with you this shot of a frog I took last weekend. Much more interesting.

  • My birthday was this past week, and I reaped a shocking bounty of gifts. Many of them are piled up on the dining room table, and it is a little overwhelming, frankly. I have many shiny new books I want to devour all at once.

  • This is in immediate conflict with my plans to re-read all the Harry Potter books before the release of Book 7 next month.

  • I am so torn that I spent most of the day yesterday frantically reading, alternating between Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and one of my new birthday books, A Mile in Her Boots.

  • Many thanks to ScienceWoman, who wrote the review that put this book on my radar. It is truly a delight. I am glad to be reading another book at the same time, to prevent myself from flying through it. This is definitely a book to be savored.

  • There are also some large boxes from a consumer blitz yesterday, when SodaBoy and I took the gift card his parents sent me and spent, spent, spent. It came in a card for daughter-in-laws. I guess that's me now.

  • Obviously, I need to get out some thank you notes. Ugh. Thank you notes are a chore I always dread. I suppose that makes me sound ungrateful, which is not the case at all.

  • My loathing of the thank you notes could possibly be attributed to my late grandmother, who ever since we kids could write, would force us to write thank you notes *before* we could play with our gifts. Sheesh.

  • OK, I am off to do some more reading, and if I am good, some writing, too. What is the bloggy consensus out there about thank you notes? Like them, hate them, think they are a relic of another time?
  • Sunday, June 17, 2007

    June Tradition

    This year it was for Father's Day. Last year: my birthday. Whatever excuse we use, June is a great time of year around here. Out in the country west of the city, past the village I grew up in, active farm fields blanket the landscape. Dad works out that way, and has been on watch for the last week or so. Mid-week, I got the message the first strawberry fields had opened, and plans were made.

    Sis and I met our folks at the parental home early this morning, in a successful attempt to beat the heat. We drove out past the first few farms, where all the "tourists" stop, and went down to another farm that had just opened up their fields. Dad, Sis, StepMom, and I were all assigned separate rows, all as yet untouched. The picking was easy, the fruit sweet and juicy. We each picked two quarts, a pittance against the stories my Dad told from his youth, when his family, picking in these very same fields, would gather 100-150 quarts to put up for the winter. I think strawberries must have been less expensive then.

    After we returned to the house, I spent close to two hours chopping. SodaBoy came out to join us for the fantastic summery lunch StepMom threw together while I chopped the berries. Pulled pork sandwiches, a trio of salads (one using fresh strawberries), and strawberry shortcake for dessert. After that we were all painfully stuffed, and lazed about for a bit. Leftovers are stacked in the fridge, and vanilla bean ice cream awaits in the freezer. Life is good.

    What's next? Raspberries, of course.

    Friday, June 15, 2007

    Got Knotweed?

    We took a bike ride after work today, to Tall Trees Cemetery and the campus of Hometown University. It is a perfect day for bike riding. Or maybe it just seems that way because it was the first ride of the season, the novelty of cool air rushing by, the smooth immersion in speed of one's own creation. Or maybe it was the glow of the evening light, and how it basked the deserted campus.

    Aside from the normal water bottle, I had a little something extra in my bike bag: a vial of dessicant and a folded sheet of instructions. I had read last month over at the Invasive Species Weblog about a grad student doing research into the genetic diversity of Japanese knotweed, Polygonum cuspidatum. Jonna, the UMass student, is looking for samples from different parts of the country. I am obviously a sucker for all things plant related, so I sent an email offering my plucking services.

    Got knotweed in your neck of the woods, too? Head on over to the Invasive Species Weblog and find out how to contribute.

    Saturday, June 09, 2007

    Prairie Smoke

    I had written last weekend about our failed attempts at a hiking trip, and how we were thwarted by the hail. The main draw to that particular preserve, aside from the pleasure of exploring new territory, is the unique habitats and rare plants supported there. Of particular interest was the Geum triflorum, or prairie smoke. I last saw this plant many years ago, in Michigan, and was eager to lay eyes upon it again.

    Luckily I have a job that takes me to some pretty cool places. It was actually how I first found out about this preserve, conducting field work on private land nearby. I ate lunch in the parking lot and went back to work before I ever hiked the trails. I haven't been getting out in the field as much as I would like this time of year, just one day this past week and one day scheduled for next week.

    However, that one day this week was a good one. Coworker and I stopped by the preserve on our way home for the day and I was able to snap a few pictures. Prairie smoke is not uncommon in the west, but is quite rare at the eastern edge of it's range, and I had never seen it before locally. These are exciting times! For the most part, we missed seeing it in flower, but for this particular species, the fruiting stage is most dramatic. Witness...

    Tuesday, June 05, 2007

    Tomorrow, Tomorrow, There's Always Tomorrow

    Last Friday we found a little blue tag on the door from the Department of Public Works, announcing that our street's surface will be treated "tomorrow." The notice went on further to state that if we wanted use of our vehicles for the day, we'd have to move them out of the driveway and onto an adjoining street by 6:00 am. Oh, yeah... and that the schedule will be delayed one day in case of rain.

    We decided (correctly) they weren't really going to pave on a Saturday, but Sunday night I was a good girl and moved my car onto an adjacent street. Monday it rained, so nothing happened, and last night I parked my car around the corner again. Today we got another notice saying they are coming "tomorrow." So for the third night in a row, I parked on Dead End Avenue. I was surprised the other morning to be marching down the road towards my car in a line of other women doing the same. It was kind of funny.

    I shouldn't complain, I guess, since our street is getting repaved. Although, frankly, I'm not sure it needs it. There are lots of other streets around the city in much worse shape. Plus, they did Dead End Ave last week or the week before and it was super stinky for days and days. The DPW can't be blamed for the weather, but still: I just wish they'd hurry up and get it over with already. I thought I was done parking on the street once we bought this house.

    Monday, June 04, 2007

    Be Careful What You Wish For

    Remember how yesterday, I wrote that I was longing for a cold front to pass through, and also that we were going hiking? It's abundantly clear in hindsight, but yeah... that's a pretty freaking stupid combination. Especially since we had a long drive before our hike and a lack of foresight in checking the Doppler. It was pretty much an unmitigated disaster.

    We stopped and filled up the gas tank, grabbed a bite to eat and drove up north. We weren't even five miles away from our destination when the rains hit. Now a little rain is no big deal, but this was a *big* rain. Black sky, faintly tinged with orange, hours from sunset. Hail. Violent thunder and lightning. We tried driving around for a while, being only five or so miles from a scenic lakeshore, in hopes the storm would blow over. No such luck. And no scenery either, since there was very little visibility.

    The only twinge of redemption came when we stopped at a cheese shop, and bought a local cheddar. I have mentioned before that extra sharp is my cheddar preference. This local product is marketed as "XXX extra sharp." That's because normal extra sharp cheddar is aged for 9 months, whereas this stuff sat around for three entire years. Mmmm. Three-year old cheese.

    I was miserable on the drive home, just despondent. SodaBoy tried to cheer me up, saying we could always go back next weekend. Easy for him to say, as he didn't care about seeing the prairie smoke (Geum triflorum). It was likely brutally crushed by the hail.

    Not unlike myself.

    Sunday, June 03, 2007

    Weekend Sick Day

    We had been planning on going hiking yesterday, but I finally succumbed to SodaBoy's blight and took a weekend sick day instead. Plus it was so hot! This horrid nasty sticky oppression is no good for doing anything anyway. My garden needs weeding, too, but go out in that? I need a little more fortitude to face such heat. So I laid around on the couch much of the day, reading Anne Fadiman's book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Fascinating stuff.

    We also popped out to run a few errands. Early afternoon took us to the pet store for a collar with bells for Elijah. He has developed a nasty little habit of bring live chipmunks onto the back porch. The porch is screened and the poor little creatures easily climb up out of his reach, but they can't escape with the feline jaws of death hovering below, so we have lock Elijah up and then catch the chipmunks and take them back outside. The whole thing is very traumatic for all involved. Except the cat, of course. Cats are far too haughty for empathy. Surprising enough, he hasn't inflicted any visible wounds on the chippies. Just possible internal injuries and definitive mental trauma. No more... now he must suffer the humiliation of being belled. Ha! That will show him.

    I also did a load of laundry and a quickie run to the grocery store last night. Evening runs are so much easier, no fighting to get the cart down swarming aisles. In and out, get what you want, no fuss and muss. Only problem is the specialized departments are closed, so no seafood or patisserie goods. But every time I go at night, I think I should always do this.

    So we are going hiking today instead, to a Nature Conservancy preserve up north. I still feel a little wonky, but one day of laying on the couch is about my limit. It's quite a drive, so we need to head out into the infernal heat sooner rather than later. We were supposed to get a storm pass through, but it never showed up. Well, there was thunder and lightning last night, but no rain, and no relief. It is hard not to wish for a cold front in times like these. I hope everyone is having a good weekend and finding ways to stay cool.