April 27th, 2007

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

A general thank-you

Thanks, all you friendly visitors who stopped by.   I'm a wee tad overwhelmed, but happy, about the reception here.  (But I really need to get the last of today's words done realsoonnow, or I won't get going in the morning.)

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Morning again

When I have to start the day with the regimental marches CD, the morning is Not Going Well.   Got those words on the page last night (or rather, at o-dark-thirty this morning) fell into bed and all was fine and dandy.

Only to be awakened by a very early call from Michael, who said he wouldn't be ready to come home at the usual time for the weekend, as he had a doctor's appointment.  Fine, OK, can deal with that.   Slowly began to get up (stiffnesses from yesterday) and had just made it in here to turn on computers when the phone rang.  The nurse from the group home, to explain that they had another case of scabies and were taking several of the residents to the dermatologist.   (Michael's had one rash after another since he moved over there, and they want to think everything is scabies.)

This was after the desktop, which is finicky about starting, had done its thing of not showing me the "pick your option" long enough (the old monitor is a bit slow to light up fully some days) to avoid getting the blinking cursor instead of actually launching the OS. 

I handed the receiver to Himself, who deals with these things better than I do (or it's my excuse) , got the desktop up and working, looked at last night's words...oh, dear.  Well, they're words, they're relevant to the story, they're grammatically correct and correctly spelled.  Aside from that, they show every evidence of having been written after midnight by a morning person.  And they're boring.   I want to smack both viewpoint characters upside the head and remind them that our job here is entertainment.  We need oomph.  We need sparkling dialogue, not something with all the sparkle of day-old porridge stuck to the side of the pot.   What do they mean just standing there with their hands dangling loosely, uttering ordinary dull words???

So...nice bright marches, good and loud.  This should work after a bit.  One toe is already tapping.   I don't know which regiment has "Gaudeamus Igitur" reformed into a jaunty march for its music, but it's just crazy enough that I can feel the mood changing.    Hope so.  Because if they come up with reason not to let Michael come home for the weekend, nobody's going to be happy about it.    We had told him about a chance to go hear some special music he likes. 
  • Current Music
    Regimental marches of the British Army
woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Assembling an ID request

This is the second year we've had a plant very similar to a skeleton plant show up on the place.  It is in only one spot, and it doesn't look like anything else.   Skeleton plants are in Compositae, but have only ray flowers, and normally only one row of petals, with very interesting "stringy" styles showing in the middle.   The ray flowers on our place are normally a delicate lavender blue (they can be pinkish lavender in other places.) 

This plant has flowers that are snow-white on the tops of the petals, and as the  flowers age delicate pink lines appear on the underside of the petals.  There are multiple rows of petals (thus ray flowers) and the inner row has yellow at the base; the styles are white, not purple.  Also, the basal rosette does not wither away before the flowers appear, and there are a few more leaves (still very scant) up the stem.  Unlike skeleton plant, the stems may branch once, producing two flowers/plant.

It should be in the same genus, at least.  I have  Correll & Johnston, the big fat Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas, and it's not in there, that I can find.  Or in any of my other regional guides.

Since the stem is long, slender, and bare, it sways easily in the wind, making photography of the whole plant even more difficult (against the background available, which is "busy" with mottled cactus, the small leaves and flowers of other plants, it's hard to pick out the skinny stem if you photograph the whole plant....there's too much other stuff and too little stem. 

I have six photographs (flower straight on, flower lateral, basal rosette, young plant not yet in flower,  stem of adult (worst of the lot), and overall location/habitat showing six or so of the flowers "floating" in the air, which I'm about to email to the plant ID person at the Wildflower Research Center.

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

My leps will be listed

Huh?  You ask.  Well, there's this really nifty website being built to collect data on all the butterflies and moths in North America.  You can find it at www.butterfliesandmoths.org.   The idea is to have, eventually, a species list for every county in every state.   At present, it's incomplete.  To contribute a species you know is in your county, you can photograph it and send it to your state's authorized "accepter."  (That's not the term they use, but never mind.   They have to see a photograph, or the specimen itself, with the location and date, and agree that it's what you say it is, before they'll let it into their database.

Well...I looked up our county, of course.  And it was woefully lacking in butterflies and moths I knew were there.  So I sent in some photographs last year.  And this year, I looked again, and I had new lepidoptera (leps) that weren't on the county list.  And I've now sent those in, and the state arbiter has accepted them. Well, he corrected me on one crescent, and pointed out that I had misspelled one scientific name, but I'd already sent him other pictures of the right crescent,  so we're all cool and seven new species will go to the county list when he has time. 

And that means that (unless someone else sends in a bunch) I will have contributed over half the butterfly records for the county.   I'm right at half before the new ones are posted.   As BugGuide is showing, amateur naturalists with cameras can make a real contribution to serious science.  (Doing the happy dance.)
woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Well, rats

Michael can't come home tonight; they're treating the entire group home for scabies.   And his internet's down, probably because the bill went astray.   Himself tried calling, but heard at a local store that their server's down, so no luck getting through by phone.

Himself is back home now, and I  don't have the house to myself for a few hours, which is how I work on difficult music, so no one has to listen.   We're singing a Walton anthem this Sunday and it's pages and pages of "must read every note/notation/suggestion/marking-made-during-rehearsal."   I need to be alone--I can't attempt one of those sixteenth-note runs with half-steps if anyone's listening.  When I know it, sure.

On the good side, the bread is rising.   Whole wheat/cranberry/walnut/seeds bread.   The seeds being pumpkin and sunflower...and since I ran out of walnuts I threw in a few pine nuts.   I need a new scraper; if the hardware store in town is open tomorrow, I'll get another one of those things painters use to float joints...it works as well as the expensive metal and wood ones they sell in fancy stores, and costs very little.   Even when the handle breaks off (about two years of use) it's still fine until (as happened to me) you lose it. 
  • Current Music
    none at the moment
woods, Elizabeth, camera, April


Bread's down for its second rising.   The weather changed while I was making it, which changes the chemistry a bit.   (Humid weather, bread needs more flour.  Warm humid weather, the most.  Cold dry weather, the least.)  And this particular recipe, loaded with the cranberries, nuts, and seeds, is stickier anyway than the plain brown bread.   It wanted to stick to everything--the counter, my hands, the scraper, the rolling pin.  OTOH, I'm wanting the texture.of the mix.

I do it the old-fashioned way because I love to get my hands into the dough and play with it.  (Yes, I liked making mud-pies as a child...why do you even ask?)   So, in a short while it will be ready to bake, and then...ah, then, the "cook's portion", a heel of a hot loaf, with butter. 

Now to tackle the Walton.

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

...And meat...

Starting to thaw is a block of beef short ribs from the most recent of our calves (Mr. T (bone). )    That's because I bought the cooking wine last night, so I can make the appropriate libations over the ribs, along with some garlic, peppercorns, and various other things.   Short ribs are not my favorite part of a critter, but there's not a lot of choice right now.  The freezer is way...there's less than a layer of things on the bottom...I can defrost it (it's a manual defrost chest freezer) and then we can start filling it up again. 

We are lucky enough to have our own beef.  I have a few mama cows who live with their relatives on a larger place; we trade half our calf crop for pasturage.   Grass-fed, of course, and living untroubled lives in the pasture with  their herd-mates, handled enough by people on foot that they aren't spooked by it.  Then they go (one by one) to a small custom slaughterhouse, which does the cutting, wrapping, and freezing.    It's not the same meat you find in the supermarket.   Lean, perhaps a little tougher, and incredible beef flavor.   Making soups and stews from this meat is a cook's joy...there's something there to work with.  

When I was a kid, during the '50s drought, a friend of my grandfather's gave us meat, range beef, and my mother made soups and stews I still remember.  Mine aren't exactly like hers (I don't think she ever put barley in her beef soups--I do.)  But the principle is the same and I feel very connected to my cooking foremothers when I make soup or bread or any of the foundation foods.
  • Current Mood
woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

At work...

Perfect music for this scene and section.  On the radio--I may have to get a CD of it.

Or at least put on the Bruch Scottish Fantasy after this.  Had to sit through a miserable squeaky string quartet to get to this.  Deep, lush...
  • Current Music
    Mendelssohn, "Fingal's Cave"