Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fungophile (or not)

Lentaria micheneri

I thought this fungus would be fairly easy to identify, but not being a true fungophile (or at least not an educated one), I apparently neglected to perform important field tests.

Lentaria micheneri

I didn't touch it, so I'm not sure if it was tough, brittle, or pliable. Was the surface felty, soapy, smooth, or otherwise? I don't have a clue.

Lentaria micheneri

I didn't sniff it - did it smell typically mushroomy, or more like newly-dug potatoes? Or perhaps like beans? I'm not even sure how "mealy" smells.

Lentaria micheneri

I sure as heck wasn't about to taste it. So it may or may not be bitter. Or peppery.

Lentaria micheneri

I didn't try to collect spores. I didn't cut a sample to see if it dried a different color.

So all I had to go by were visual clues and a knowledge of the habitat.

I thought it might possibly be Clavicorona pyxidata, but that one grows on rotting logs, and this one didn't appear to... though the log could have been beneath the leaf litter. I should have checked.

Clavaria fumosa was another possibility, but the habitat does not seem to fit. That one grows in open places, and mine was in the woods.

I briefly felt certain that it was Ramaria acrisiccescens, but that one's only in the northwest US.

Then I found Lentaria micheneri. The only description that lists "salmon" as a color possibility. Plus it mentions oak and beech and leaf litter, which was spot-on for the habitat. So that's my best guess.


So, what's the word meaning "mushroom lover"? I thought fungiphile, but Google kept asking me if I meant fungophile. Online dictionaries don't recognize either, and all my real dictionaries are still packed up in boxes somewhere.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


We take a break from regular blogging, to bring you this blatant ad:

Here is a coupon code you can use online, if you'd like to order some soap:
10109081199 .

It's 10% off, good through the end of the year. Shipping is $5.95 per address, no matter how much you buy.

The site is here.

It could use some major updating, I know! It should look all spiffy with lots more pictures and fading-in-and-out doodads, but to be honest, I haven't changed it much since I started it 10 years ago. I need to either learn all the new html, or break down and pay someone else to do it for me. On the bright side, the site is written so simply that probably still works on the Dark Ages version of Windows.

Anyway. I hate it when I read a blog that makes me feel like a crumb if I don't buy something the owner is selling, or make a monetary contribution to their tip jar or some such. So I hope this doesn't seem like a high-pressure sales job. I love you whether you buy soap or not!

Do feel free to pass the code along, if you know anyone you think may be interested - it's not limited to the blog.

Now, I have to go get ready to overeat all day. Happy Thanksgiving!


Updated -
We are through with craft shows for the year, but here are the places you can buy the soap locally:
The Eureka Shop, Oneonta (next to Regions Bank)
The Golden Temple (Five Points South location), Birmingham
Bowie's Pharmacy, Curry/Jasper
Gower Paints Plus, Ohatchee
The Rural Heritage Center, Thomaston

These stores may or may not still have the soap-
Hospital Gift Shop, Oneonta
The Garden Shop, Homewood

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Surly beasts

Cheating a little - this was taken before the big freeze. (Click to see it larger.)

We stopped just in time to spot this flock rounding the corner up ahead. I wanted to talk turkey, but they were not agreeable.

The two on the right were torn between joining their friends on the open road, and turning back to the brushy path at hand. In the end, they remembered that saying about birds of a feather, and ran to catch up.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Poor ducks

When we are away from home and return after dark, the ducks sometimes elect to spend the night on the pond. The next night, they're usually back in the pen, waiting for us to close the door. No harm done.

Recently though, after we came home late several nights in a row, the ducks refused to return to the pen at all. We tried herding them off the pond, but they were having none of that.

Duckie (1, 2) disappeared. If I'd laid bets on which duck might be picked off first, it certainly wouldn't have been Duckie, the flightiest one in the group.

Then Runt disappeared. Then Bluebill. Dagnabbit, we were going to be stuck with only male Runner ducks left, and wouldn't the female Muscovy just love that, come springtime? And why won't those dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks ducks come back to the safety of the pen at night?! You'd think they'd notice their comrades getting nabbed.

Then Runt reappeared. I don't know where she'd been... she didn't look injured. I am guessing that something chased her, and it took her a while to find her way home again. I held out hope for the other two girls for a few days, but it looks like they're not coming back.

I'm not sure what's getting them... coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, or turtles. Or something else our game camera hasn't caught here yet.

I'm going to try tempting them into the pen in the afternoon, with corn. But they have to be in the vicinity of the back yard to see it, and I can't have fed them too much in the morning, or it won't work. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Spider poetry

One morning we awoke to find that spiders had woven diamonds during our sleep.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Teakettle frostflower

I've written about Frost Flowers before, but I don't remember ever seeing them this early.

This teakettle was formed from the stem of a White crownbeard flower (Verbesina virginica). Dr James Carter has the definitive page on Frost Flowers. He's also done a lot of fun experiments on extruding ice from pipes (also here).

The forecast was for 23°F last night (-5°C), but here in our glacial little microclimate, it was 13°F (-11°C) when we woke up this morning. Too bad it's not always 10° cooler in the summer too.

Friday, November 21, 2008

War of Wealth

Geez, y'all stop collapsing the world financial system, would you?

This is a poster from a 1895 play. I'm not sure if today's equivalent would be War of Wealth, War on Wealth, or War for Wealth.

Wikipedia has a handy reference of Economic disasters in the US that includes 16 incidents labeled "Panics". I guess since the last one was in 1911, somebody thought it was high time for a good old-fashioned panic. Many panics seem to start when the Joe Moneybags of the world try to grow even filthier rich, by means of dodgy schemes designed to swindle everybody else.


Here are a couple of money-saving tips that I learned by accident.

#1: Discounts.
Hubby had a few medical tests a while back (he's fine). The bill was substantial, about $1000. I always feel a little cheesy doing it, but since we have one of those BigNameGasStation credit cards that rebates 1%, well, why not use it. I've learned to tolerate a little cheese.

"Can I pay over the phone with a credit card?"
"Yes. How much would you like to pay?"
"All of it."
"I can offer you a 20% discount for paying the entire amount."

I'm sure if I'd written a check, they'd have happily cashed the whole thing.

#2: Look closer.
Counterfeit $10 bills have been passed in Oneonta recently. Who's risking a felony charge for $10?! ("Teenagers" comes to mind.)

This is another thing I love about small-town living. The bank teller not only told me about it, she showed me the bill in question. I would never in a million years have caught this bill as a fake. It just looked and felt like one of the new tens that had already seen a lot of wear.

She told me there were two ways to spot it as a fake: look for the plastic security strip by holding it up to the light, or check that the glossy "10" (in the lower right) changes color when the bill is tilted. But who does that kind of thing for $10 bills? I check the strip on $50s and $100s at craft shows, though it always makes me feel so rude. Hubby's been saying that I need one of those currency-checking pens instead, but the teller told me that counterfeiters now use paper that the pen doesn't detect.

Bottom line, if someone hands you one of the newer bills that seems like it's seen a lot of wear... take a closer look.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cat puzzle

cat boxing

A purrfect fit? (Sorry, can't seem to stop myself when it comes to bad puns.) In a change from the normal procedure, George has crawled on top of Ginger in this picture.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Seven things

While I was gone, Twinks asked me to do a meme. I'm supposed to list seven random things, but since I'm contrary, I'm going to list seven things that happened during my lost four months. It's longer than my normal posts, but since I'll be out of town for a few days, feel free to read in shifts!

1. I joined The Gym.
Really, that's what the gym in Oneonta is called: The Gym. I joined with a friend, and wheedled my way into a good deal via a long-term, prepaid, early-hours contract. I can't say I've lost any weight, but I feel in better shape. I'm getting to know my friend a lot better too, since we gab for about four hours a week more than we used to.

2. I thought I'd found a diamond.
People with a five-carat diamonds don't shop at Wal-Mart, I suppose, but I was momentarily dazed by the karmic thrill of it all. My mother lost her engagement ring stone over 40 years ago, and I imagined it had returned, with interest! Turned out to be only a cubic zirconia though, drat. Here is how you tell the difference. I couldn't read a newspaper through the CZ, and was already dreamily wondering how long the police would have to hold it before it was deemed unclaimed. The dot test worked like a charm, though. Like a big, balloon-bursting charm.

garden that got away

3. The garden refused to bend to my will. Again.
I had fun with the Zinnia experiment though. I got a late start, and Powdery Mildew crept in when we left town for a week. The grass got way out of control, as usual. Somehow I still managed to grow a few flowers to donate to Hospice. Maybe next year I will finally have my act together enough to get them there throughout the blooming season.

4. I won a major award.
Because I could remember the Alabama state bird, mammal, fossil, etc., when an emergency preparedness expert spoke to our wildflower group. OK, the award wasn't really all that major, but I basked in the egghead trivia glow anyway. Then a guy even more pointy-headed than me whined that my answer of "some kind of whale" to "What is the state dinosaur?" wasn't up to par. "The Basilosaurus cetoides is the state fossil, not dinosaur!" he moaned. I hugged my MRE and ran out of the meeting room.

5. We let Anatoli go. He'd developed a lump that we decided may have been from improper nutrition or insufficient sunlight. Since he was wild-born, we figured he'd fare better on his own. We saw an unusually high number of anoles this fall, but I was never sure if any of them were Anatoli.

6. I had to wait in line to vote!
There were all of four people in front of us when we arrived at our polling place. An elderly couple let us cut in front of them though, since the man was still searching his wallet for ID. There were a few local issues on the ballot so turnout was very high. The tallies from my precinct, not exactly what you'd call a democratic stronghold, included:
Obama 45, McCain 450
Figures 52, Sessions 442 (US Senate race)
Tag fee increase: Yes 59, No 392
Wet/Dry referendum: Yes (Wet): 226, No: 270
The ratios for the whole county were similar. I still haven't figured out how Vivian Figures, a State Senator from Mobile, received more votes than Obama. Most people in north Alabama weren't even familiar with her. I read that her budget was $22,000; the incumbent Sessions spent multi-millions. (I have loved her ever since I read that she was able to get the outdated, misogynistic Alabama State Senate dress code changed... the one that said women couldn't wear pant suits or slacks on the Senate floor!)
We needed the tag fee increase ($15), which would have gone strictly towards road maintenance. I had a feeling it wouldn't pass, but I was surprised at the resounding defeat.
I'm glad we stayed a dry county. I wouldn't mind alcohol sales in stores or restaurants, but didn't want a bar across the street from us. Rural counties don't have a lot of regulations, so it could have been a real possibility.

7. Alabama football, woohoo!
I had to say that before we play Auburn and Georgia Florida, just in case.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Like Braveheart, but with a cow.

A cow with heart.

If this were my cow, I'd name it Taurhartt, though only rednecks familiar with ancient languages would get the joke.


The cow lives on the mountain between us and Springville, but we usually only take that scenic route on Homestead Hollow (craft show) weekends.

I believe MountainMelody actually lives much closer to this cow. But if she can post photos of downtown Oneonta (see last April) I can show this!

P.S. to Fred: You should see this pic from May also. I keep forgetting to tell you about it.


A family member of the owners has commented and told me:
The cow is actually a steer, his name is Valentine (good one!), and he's a pet (not potential steak).

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off (as usual), busy with last-minute preparations for a local craft show.

"Come look!" My husband was very excited. "I think it's a Bittern!"

My reaction involved trudging and muttering. I was busy. We had to leave soon. Not that I wouldn't love to see a Bittern; I'd only seen one once before, at the coast. They're secretive birds. But my husband, always a birding optimist, has a track record for thinking that other things are Bitterns.

He was right though. It was indeed an American Bittern, Botaurus lentiginosus.

"You can use the pictures for the triumphant return of Rurality!" I had to laugh, but it really was time to start back. It was October 4th, and I'd been rude for two and a half months already.

Then the next week I caught the crud that's been going around here, and was down, down, down, for way too long. I was in the clutches of a cold that had managed two years at Influenza Junior College. ("In the grippes of it," she said, going for the year's most obscure pun.)

And there was an insidious feature. Every day, I thought I'd be much better in just another day or two. I missed the trip to Georgia I'd been planning for months. I also missed the Native Plant conference that was the brightest thing on the calendar in five years, and that I'd already paid $100 to attend. (That I probably could have gotten a refund for, if not for the insidious feature.)

So anyway, when I finally could force myself to move around, I had a lot of catching up to do in a hurry, soapmaking-wise, before the last and biggest show of the year. So no time for Rurality. (All of this in explanation to those folks I told that I was just about to start back, and then didn't. Sorry!)

Friday, November 14, 2008

How rude!

How rude, to just disappear for so many moons with no explanation.

In the beginning, I didn't realize it would be so long. I intended to start back several times, but somehow my good intentions kept getting foiled. (Evil forces, no doubt.)

Listlessness, lassitude, lethargy. Laziness! And also a bit of a detour towards a genealogical addiction.

I know, those dead relatives aren't really going anywhere. But with the living ones, well you never know. Got to prise all those deep dark family secrets out of them while they're still around. Got to motivate them to dig in the closet for those old portraits, before they're sold for a song at the estate sale (since nobody has a clue who those old moldy dudes are anymore).

Anyway. Sorry for the long absence. Hope you'll forgive me.