hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sigh: the Ups and Downs of Trees, Again

A really gorgeous fungi in our woods this morning: about 12 inches across and stacked another 16 inches high.  I've seen it one other year, but it's not reliably here every year.  Called 'chicken of the woods' or 'crab of the woods.'  Can be cooked in any way chicken can be, although, according to Wikipedia:

"In some cases eating the mushroom "causes mild reactions . . . for example, swollen lips" or in rare cases "nausea, vomiting, dizziness and disorientation" to those who are sensitive.[4] This is believed to be due to a number of factors that range from very bad allergies to the mushroom's protein, to toxins absorbed by the mushroom from the wood it grows on (for example, eucalyptus or cedar or yew) to simply eating specimens that have decayed past their prime. As such, many field guides request that those who eat Laetiporus exercise caution by only eating fresh, young brackets and begin with small quantities to see how well it sits in their stomach."

Well, maybe we'll pass on the kitchen use.   What it reliably appears to be is a cause of trees falling.  So adds Wikipedia:

 " From late spring to early autumn, the sulphur shelf thrives, making it a boon to mushroom hunters and a bane to those concerned about the health of their trees. This fungus causes a brown cubical rot and embrittlement which in later stages ends in the collapse of the host tree, as it can no longer flex and bend in the wind."  

Entropy strikes again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

When a Tree Falls in the Forest, etc.

A few evenings ago, a very tall poplar chose to split in thirds about 15-feet up the trunk and come gently down to rest upon the roof of an outbuilding.  This is a messy business.  It happened around midnight and the cat meowed and I got up (I wasn't asleep yet) and went outside to try to assess what had happened: a fairly unsuccessful job in the dark.  But it didn't look like a crisis that would require 911 or something, so I just went back to bed and spent the night worrying.

Earlier in the week, the County spent many days taking down a big conifer in the road easement that had been termite infested at the base.  And yesterday, a neighbor told me she has a similar problem with a conifer at her house.  So we are going to need to do some serious looking at this tree.  That would be Ed on the first round as I don't stand on ladders.  I did trim the stuff hanging down to the ground though.

So, yes, it did make a sound.  And like the tree branch that fell last winter, yes, it did do some damage.  And that's one of the things about living in a forest that one does not always keep in mind.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dinnertime at the Homesick Restaurant

This evening, we were about to sit down to dinner when the little raccoon mom with her even littler raccoon child showed up for their dinner.  We were having chicken soup with kale and other yard-grown vegetables.  The raccoons were having plums and apples and blueberries and water.  Zoe the cat looked at them and looked at us and decided to throw in her lot for dinner with us.  She had tunafish, though.

Under the plum tree.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Westshore Terminal

It's just up the road from us in Point Roberts and many residents here only now about coal dust.  In the summer, the Terminal conducts tours for visitors.  About an hour long.  You see a short video and then ride around the terminal area (not all that big, really) and find out what they do.

Ed and I made reservations and took the tour a couple of weeks ago (they're finished doing this for the year now).  But i really recommend you're trying to remember next summer to get signed up.  Despite living very much IN the world, I am always surprised to find that I know almost nothing about how anything really works.  How trash gets collected and disposed of, how paint is made, what they are doing at all those places down on Mitchell Island.  When I was a kid, we used to go on a tour of a bakery every year.  That's pretty much my entire background on industry.  I'd like to go on a tour of a bakery now!  My guess is that they have changed over the last 70 years.

Anyway, everything they told me was news.  I didn't know that Westshore Terminal was an entirely different operation from the container terminal.  Or that the coal didn't come there in railway cars and get immediately transferred into ships somehow.  Or that they are shipping two different kinds of coal: metallurgic coal from Canada and thermal coal from the U.S.  There are giant piles of coal all over the place and giant machines moving it around.

[A very big machine and some very fine coal.]

Growing up, my family had a coal stove.  Originally, a small one that you put lumps of coal in.  Later a coal furnace that had what was called 'slack coal' and was more pebbly.  Neither of the things they're shipping look like those.  All very interesting.  They showed us what they're doing to try to reduce coal dust.  But they understand it's a problem.

Go and learn something next summer when you have a chance.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Losing Trees

Sorry to hear that 20 acres in the Mill-Johnson area are soon to be clear-logged. [update: south of Johnson, east of Mill] I would guess that most people here are fond of the Point's rural quality, especially illustrated by its trees and its small-ish houses almost randomly distributed about our almost 5 square miles.  So, while the Character Plan Committee is fussing about gas station signs*, we lose trees, mega-houses get constructed, radio towers are scheduled to be inserted*** (by the FCC, in this case, not by the county).  One can only hope that the Character Plan Revision Committee is looking to focus on the things we actually care about.**

*In its defense, that is the task of the Character Plan Committee, so the members can't really be criticized for focusing on what they're told to focus on.  However, some cups don't need to be drunk, even if that doesn't permit you to drink some other cups that aren't on offer.

**If you long to read the Character Plan, there is a copy of it here
This link takes you to the Friends of the Library webpage and on the right side toward the bottom, click on 'other reference documents' and then, on the left column, click on Character Plan.  It's a pdf file so it takes a bit to come up.

***Surely being appropriately and admirably responded to by the community via the Stop the Towers group.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Quilt Show

I had a big quilt show last week in order to raise some money for the new library.  I can't figure out how to cross post between blogs without reentering everything, so i'm just linking to the quilt blog where I describe the event: click here!

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Fine Summer for Sunflowers

I've planted tall sunflowers for the past four or five summers and have had no such success as this year.

 They're in full sun in my neighbor's field and that probably accounts for some of their improved status.

  We have very little space with full sun in our yard, but I once had 2 plants that grew really well.  This year I have fourteen plants in the field that are doing wonderfully and just now starting to open up to their flowers; and another 5 in the semi-sun of my yard that are pretty tall but not budded yet.

In any case, although the flowers are not enormously gigantic, the stalks themselves are record making in my view.  Easily 11 feet tall.  That's 8 kale plants at the bottom right.  Not record-making, I'm afraid.