Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Cup Fungus

A couple of pictures of a cup fungus from earlier this spring.

Gaze into the inky depths...

You are feeling sleepy, very sleepy...

I believe this is The Devil's Urn, Urnula craterium. At least according to the most entertaining key you'll ever see.

So, The Devil's Urn... the Stephen King of fungi?

There are possibly more suitable candidates for that title:
Death Cap
The Sickener
Destroying Angel
Bleeding Heart Mycena
Poison Pie
Trumpet of Death
Dead Man's Fingers

I found this link about mushroom poisoning in general and the Death Cap mushroom in particular.

The page itself is interesting, but so are the google ads. The first one fits: Morel mushroom hunting. Sure. The next one though, is Hats and Caps for Men. Hmm. Then you have Death Indemnity Coverage. Kind of drives home the whole "world's most dangerous mushroom" idea.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

April Wildflowers

A few of the flowers that have bloomed in the last few weeks:

Spiderwort (Tradescantia sp.)

Rue Anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides)

Fire Pink (Silene virginica)

Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium reptans)

Yellow meadowy flower I didn't identify

Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata)

A largish Pennywort (Obolaria virginica)
Compare to more normal size in this post.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I love it here

A gray, rainy day. My husband calls on the cell phone.

"Look out the window. There's a turkey in the back yard!"

Meleagris gallopavo, eating clover.

I duck-walk below window level to grab the camera.

And spy this out the kitchen window:

Snowy Egret, Egretta thula.


This was the first time we'd seen only one turkey. Normally they're in flocks. It seemed awfully large for a female, and we wondered if it might be a first-year male. I'm not sure when they develop the red color on their heads or when they grow their beards. I couldn't find any info about that online, so if you know please feel free to instruct me!

The Snowy (a new yard bird for us) hung around the rest of the afternoon, foraging in the pond. In the past we've only seen them at the beach I think, so this was the first time we'd noticed foot-stirring behavior.

"Look at him, what in the world is he doing shuffling his feet like that?!" He'd take one foot, and move it ahead in the shallow water in a back and forth motion. Like he was stirring up the mud on the bottom.

Ah, YouTube to the rescue. There's a video of the behavior here. Our guy was moving much more slowly and deliberately though, and the behavior was more obvious since the water was so shallow.

From what I read online, that behavior is used to forage for crustaceans. In the time we watched, he didn't catch any of those, but did score one small fish and one rock (which he threw back).

Work in progress

Ruh-roh. When I changed my template it threw away all my blogrolling links.

Well I wanted to categorize them anyway. So I've made a new list. I'm sure I've left some out. Let me know if you disappeared.

I use Bloglines for reading blogs now, and rarely my blogroll, but I wanted to keep it since others have said they found it useful.

The categories... I tried to divide them into main groups but some people were so diverse that I just made a "Personal Blogs" section. Sometimes if there was a choice I may have just put you into the one that was less crowded. Let me know if you want to move.

I'm still in the process of adding links. Bear with me!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Pablo of Round Rock Journal is just about the best blog friend you could ever hope for. Recently he gave me a "Thinking Blogger Award", which I was very grateful to receive. It was especially nice considering that I'm not usually likely to be found, say, debating politics, or pondering existentialism or the like.

I have a hard enough time following regular memes the way I'm supposed to, without smartypantsness getting in the way. And I really wondered about the oddly restrictive rules for this one.

The "rules" are:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to five blogs that make you think.
2. Link to (the original post) so people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

I didn't actually link to the post you're supposed to. Because I suspect that so people can easily find the exact origin of the meme really means so I can get lots and lots of links.

The blogealogy went backwards like this. The date on the entry is written after the blog's name, and they're American-style dates so 4.8 is April 8th, not 4th August.

Round Rock Journal 4.8
Arboreality 4.7
Classical Bookworm 3.12
A Work in Progress 3.10
Pages Turned 3.9
Mental Multivitimin 3.9
The Sheila Variations 3.9
Put on Your Big Girl Panties 3.9
One Weird Mother 2.25
Oh, the Joys 2.25
It's Really Me 2.24
Frog and Toad are Still Friends 2.23
Under the Mad Hat 2.22
Bub and Pie 2.22
So Fast Away 2.20
Life: The Ongoing Education 2.18
California Teacher Guy 2.18
History is Elementary 2.16
Another History Blog 2.13
Primordial Blog 2.12
Sandwalk 2.12
Greg Laden 2.11
The Thinking Blog 2.11

OK, so assuming that this timeline is representative, if all had worked as plotted -- if everyone obeyed the rules and nobody got nominated more than once -- the originator would now have roughly 11,920,928,955,078,100 links.

That didn't happen, of course, but depending on which source you believe, that idea did garner somewhere between 1,000 and 162,000 links.

Pretty good thinking.


Now, whether you're tempted to say, "Hey I've got to get me some of that. What kind of award can I dream up?" or "Help, help, I'm being manipulated," do click on some of the links above. After just a couple I found blogs that I not only hadn't heard of, but who didn't even link to anyone I'd heard of. And some of them are quite wonderful!

So, to sum up:
Nice results from possibly scammy origins. How often does that happen?!


Since I never leave a meme as I found it, I'm going to list five blogs for you to check out that I've never linked before. They can accept the "Thinking Blogger Award" or not, as they choose, and don't have to follow no stinkin' rules. Unless they want to.

Snow Crumbs
House of Lime
French Word-a-Day

Oh heck. This was so funny that I'm going to link it even though she's already listed in my sidebar. I offer you The Chicken Story. Cackle at will.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Wildflowers of a Lesser God

Green violet, Hybanthus concolor

Tuberous Stoneseed, Lithospermum tuberosum (a.k.a. Southern Stoneseed)

Wood Spurge, Euphorbia commutata (a.k.a. Tinted Woodland Spurge)

Their respective larger images:

Hybanthus concolor

Lithospermum tuberosum

Euphorbia commutata

I've found that even most wildflower enthusiasts don't get too excited about wildflowers without much actual flower to them. I do, though.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Can you guess what kind of car I was once tempted to buy, just so I could get a license plate that read ML8 ML8?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Last Leg

We lost our last White Leghorn yesterday. At just over three years old, she was our longest-lived chicken, and the last hen from the original flock. She never came back to roost at night, and was presumably a meal for a predator with babies to feed.

I looked up every synonym for sad, but couldn't find a word to explain the feeling I had when I opened an egg carton and saw her white eggs still in there.

Catbox stuffing, in better days.

Friday, April 06, 2007

I know what you did last summer


I've mentioned before that we grew some edible flowers, Sakata Sweet melons, and Tigger melons last year.

Here are a few of the other things we tried for the first time.

Plum Granny.
Supposed to be an heirloom "pocket" melon. (Somewhere between the size of a golf ball and a clementine.) I read that they were grown primarily for scent. They're so bland as to be inedible. They did smell great, but weren't as strong as I'd hoped. Nothing approaching the scent level of daffodils, say. It may vary with growing conditions but I doubt I'll try them again. Some little critters definitely like to eat them -- I think it was the most munched-on thing in the garden.

Japanese eggplant.
We liked these much better than traditional eggplants. They seemed less likely to grow bitter, and were more versatile for cooking just because of their size. We'll definitely grow these again.

Triamble squash.
A winter squash. I ordered these seeds purely based on the look of the pictures, which were idealized to say the least. Still, it's an interesting looking vegetable. But hard, hard, hard to cut. It tastes good, and keeps forever, but I really should have realized that ten-pound squashes were a little much for two people.

Top view.

Profile view.
These were really picked too soon. (The stem should be dry first.)

I couldn't find a picture, but we also grew lemon cucumbers. I was under the impression that they had a lemony taste, but the name just refers to the size (and color, somewhat). They tasted good enough, but did get bitter sometimes. Plus they have tiny hairs or spines that were difficult to rub off. And they didn't keep well at all -- one day, tops. So, back to white cucumbers for me.

If last year was the year of melon experimentation, this will be the year of the squash! More on that later.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Scenes from dry woods

No time.

We'll talk later.

Maybe by then the Mockingbird will have tired of taunting me, repeating midnight tales of Scarlet Tanagers.


Turtle shell.
Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum). My husband calls these Germamiums, partly (I believe) because he knows I think it's cute.
Morel mushroom.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Showers

We don't need no stinkin' cherry blossoms. We have redbuds.

Hard to believe things are blooming so nicely with the ground this dry.

Crabapple, I think.

The downside of the season. (Pollen on car.)

We had a miniscule amount of rain last night -- just enough to make the drippy noise on the front porch sound exactly like a cat trying to evict a hairball. Over and over and over. Ugh.

I imagine lots of other people had the same joke played on them that we did this morning... Our "smart" clocks sprang forward again all by themselves.

Growing up, we rarely played any pranks on the first day of April. There was something bigger going on: it was anniversary day! (A.k.a. going out to eat day!) My friends always thought it odd that my parents had married on April 1. I guess they all imagined, "I do... April Fools!" My sister must have seen the appeal though, because she got married on the same day. (Anniversaries less likely to be forgotten if they fall on a holiday?)


Roger at Words and Pictures has hosted a wonderful edition of the Festival of the Trees. Go visit!

If you like nature, you'll love Tom's blog from New York's Allegany State Park area, Mon@rch's Nature Blog. I love this photo from his Salamander migration report. Make sure to watch the videos too!