Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Stinkhorn

Because about 100 bizarre fungi sprouted from the wet earth on christmas day we'll begin with the Columned Stinkhorn. And yes, they stink after oozing their spore slime.

Christmas day also brought us another gift: a small flock of Cedar Waxwings. Our camera was incapable of capturing the birds but here is Cymande and Lula enjoying the chance encounter. They hung around for 10 minutes until a Hairy Woodpecker scared them away.

Earlier this month we played with our friends (David and Allison) in Orlando and got totally overstimulated by things that threw us into the air and dropped us from the sky. I felt a bit sick by the end of it all. I failed to bring my camera because I figured it would be difficult to hold onto it while simultaneously screaming for my life. This chapter shall go undocumented. We did stop off at the Botanical Gardens in Orlando on the way home. Above, Cymande enjoys the fine Orchid Tree. Mmmm.

This is part of the new winter morning ritual. Reading with the light box.

We spent the entire Christmas weekend on-call and mostly at the clinic. I try to avoid discussing work here, but our job seemed to dominate our free time this holiday. Lake City did experience a little excitement and national fame (I heard "Lake City, Florida" on NPR) after a tornado touched down 10 miles north of us.

Oh, the coop. The interior is complete, as is the exterior! Now, we need actual chickens.

Charlie is back on Old Wire Road after they kicked him out of North Carolina. He is contributing greatly to the many difficult jobs around here. He also can be spotted batting oranges much to the delight of Lula.

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family and creatures of the forest and field.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Thanksgiving in South Carolina

Cymande and I spent Thankgiving by the marsh on St. Helena Island with her parents, sister and friends. I started Thanksgiving day with a butter-fueled smoke show, but out of the ashes rose a dozen cinnamon rolls (Cymande insists I report them as delicious). Outside we spotted some yellow-rumped warblers and bluebirds. Inside, the larger flightless turkey reached the perfect temperature. We were all thankful. The food was truly memorable and delicious.

There was good cheese, good wine, good music, and a goofy dance Cambridge made up herself. We toured Baxter Oaks with one of the proud developers. You can see from whence Cymande's smile came.

Upon our return to Lake City we were presented with a complete double rainbow that arched across the back of our property.

If you really used your imagination you might imagine its origin at the base of the soon to be dedicated Chicken Chapel (fully sided and painted, only the interior awaiting completion). Cymande would call it le Palais de Poulet but its style is more Plymouth than Versailles. Ahh...Florida...land of rainbows and rednecks.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Cymande is Thirty!

Cymande's sister Shannon thoughtfully sent us some previously unreleased photos of Cymande's childhood. In celebration of her birthday I present age 5 and 9.

1981, Rooftop Elementary, San Francisco. Favorite activities: counting and pretending to be a pigeon or ant.

Four years later, still at Rooftop. Madonna's influence has clearly been established. So damn cute!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Pears, Birdwatch, Pressurewash

The annual pressure wash nearly coincided with Cymande's annual birthday. For her 30th celebration multiple items were presented including pear scones baked in JB's Boston apartment. She also knit a couple of amazing little pears.

After pear consumption we went on a birdwatch with Four Rivers Audubon. We were allowed access to PCS (a land owning company that that extracts phosphorus from the earth with massive torrents of water) and saw some lovely birds including: avocets, greater yellow legs, white pelicans, terns, tree swallows, snowy egrets, great blue herons, common yellow-throat warblers, swamp and song sparrows, hooded merganser ducks, pied-billed grebes and a harrier. Until you see beyond the gates of PCS you will never know what a strange environment exists out there.

After the bird watching ended the ritualistic chicken temple construction commenced. Modest progress was made followed by an evening of tapas and wine in Gainesville. The next day was all about pressure washing.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Chicken Temple Nears Completion

We will begin with the obvious. I am soley focused on the construction of a chicken coop (recently refered to as the chicken temple) that may actually rival our home in terms of structural integrity and luxury. I am finishing this project soon. With its completion I will search for further meaning to my existence.

Existential condolence to my previous statement...

Our field is home to bobwhites, turkeys and deer.

The lawn tractor with a steaming cup of coffee.

During the summer these stands held our peas while the sun burned them to a post-vegetable crisp. Now they stand as a monument to rural minimalism as the WDO's (wood destroying organisms) dismantle them slowly.

Our field becomes congested with equisetum every fall. Equisetum is actually the only scientific name I remember from my plant physiology course fifteen years ago. I also remember the term 'xylem' and 'phloem' and I'm pretty sure they involve moving sap. I'm also pretty sure my professor had a vanity plate involving one of them.

Our winter bird population has returned. Goldfinches, towhees, chickadees, tuftedtitmice, cardinals, mockingbirds, etc. They enjoy their bath (built for Cymande's 28th Birthday.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Christmas Retrospective

Last December we traveled to Ajo, Arizona to visit our parents. We drove through the Sonoran Desert and played pool under the stars. I baked soot covered bread in the outdoor wood oven that no one ate while my mother's cat practiced his St.Vitus dance to everone's delight.

We travelled to Mexico and learned to scream "Alto!" at my father. He would simply laugh and barrel through yet another intersection. It was fun and exciting.

Ah, Ajo.

Monday, October 16, 2006

"What you got there?" Well, clearly not a rental car...Our Vacation in Massachusetts.

If it were not for the generosity of our dear friends, Ross, Sarka, and Sam we would have spent our vacation criss-crossing Massachusetts on a greyhound bus. This is what happened: Upon our arrival at Logan Airport we came to the sudden realization that one should always reserve rental cars, especially on holiday weekends, and especially especially during leaf-peeping season in New England. After receiving no information and a good dose of Revere-style rudeness from the "information and welcome" desk, we called Ross to invite ourselves to his home in Ipswich. Luckily, our invitation was accepted.

Beer and nachos were consumed over a mini-nervous breakdown (gnashing of teeth included) as we theorized how we would get to a wedding the next day in Springfield and then to Kripalu the day after that without a car. But, by the end of our respective pints we were laughing and shrugging off this unplanned event, opting to go with the flow. We got ourselves to North Station, taking note of the missing elevated green line trellis. We then rode our old commuter rail train to beautiful Ipswich. Ross instantly allayed our transportation fears when he offered his car for the week.

The next day, we attended Patrick and Anne's lovely wedding. We both wept openly during the ceremony. It was wonderful to see old friends and many hugs and laughs were shared.

Then we drove through the Berkshires, staying at a hotel in Great Barrington. The next day, we ate breakfast at the historic Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge (circa 1773!?).

Later that day we traveled to Kripalu in Lenox. There we relaxed and renewed with a 90 minute massage that left us like two piles of bliss, ate amazingly healthful meals and purposefully did not do any yoga. I did get a nice heart chakra meditation cd though! I didn't really have the energy for more.

We woke up early the next day and meandered up to North Adams where Mass MOCA was closed (its closed on tuesdays). We didn't really mind, considering the nice ride. So, we continued on the colorful back roads eventually arriving back in Ipswich.

The next day we walked to Russell Orchards and found some old friends. We ate the legendary apple cider donuts of our youth and visited the barnyard animals. Then Ross and Gregg played Whiffle ball, each blowing out his pitching arm.

The next day we went over to Rockport and Gloucester to find friends and visit family. Our 3 year old friend Sam came along and tried to help his father consume about four thousand calories worth of carrot cake pancakes, but he mostly stuck to the chocolate milk (known in Sam-speak as "chokit nilk"). We had some coffee on the deck of the Strudel Shop and admired the Autumn Atlantic.

We drove the Back Shore and stopped at the Ocean View and watched Ross save Sam from rogue waves.

From there we walked Appleton Farms where Sam grabbed the low voltage electric fence against the rules, twitched and said, "who just kicked me?". This was both funny and scary.

We finished the day with a date at Essex Seafood (fried clams and calamari!). Farnham's was way too crowded.

The next day began at the best breakfast place in the world, Stone Soup (did I mention that we ate while we were on vacation?).

We met up with our friend Jenn and did a little walking and talking through some antique shops in Essex.

We drank some wine, ate some cheese, talked and found ourselves at the Franklin later that night. Sam didn't quite appreciate the low light levels or the lack of chocolate milk. He fell asleep mid-sentence on the ride home. The sentence was probably "what you got there?" or "what are you doing there?". I was teaching him to say "squander money" and something quasiprofanic involving George Bush. I'm sure Ross has already picked up where I left off. Cymande taught him about Argyle socks. Someone had to do it.

Jenn treated us to a fantastic breakfast at a South End bistro the morning we left. Thanks JB! You rock. Love those socks! We're gonna have babies just so that you have to knit us something fabulous because you love us and you would be obligated to in such a situation. Just so you know. We loved meeting Daniel, finally. Someday, he will be forced back to the southern U.S., and he will like it.

Overall, it was a trip full of color and memories and cable tv and great food and Sam and friends and walking around Ipswich and more food and more Sam. In short: perfect.

Today, back in Florida I started back on the coop. I managed to avulse a goodly piece of flesh from my finger in the Lowes' parking lot, but a little masking tape and paper towel and all is well. The tin roof is nearly complete! My finger hurts.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

If I Eat This I Might Die: The Fungi of Old Wire Road

I have always thought mushrooms and lichen were worthy of interest, but who knew they were worthy of obsession?

Turns out, we have at least 50 different kinds of mushroom in our field and at its edges, so we thought we'd try to document and share them with you, you know, naturalist style. Right now, we only have 1 mushroom field guide, the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, and, sadly, it is inadequate. We could only identify 3 out of 50 of our fungi with certainty using this text: the tiny Velvet-Cap Marasmius, the gelatinous Beefsteak Polypore and the freakish and very stinky Stinky Squid.

We will be ordering Mushrooms Demystified this week and hope it can help us better determine edibility. I mean, there's one called the Fried Chicken mushroom, and it looks like some we have growing near the future chicken coop, which would be, you know, funny as well as fun to eat...but, you know, not so funny if we ate it and died. For all we know these could be brand new Dirty Trichs masquerading as Fried Chickens and that would be a dirty trick indeed.

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