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I took three books out of the library: another of Paul Stametz's mushroom growing books, Tanith Lee's The Dark Lords, and Lisa Goldstein's Tourists.

I'm a bit disappointed in the mushroom book. I thought that since it was promoted as being more for the home grower than the other one, that it might therefore have more information about the kind of garden cultivation I am trying to do, but it doesn't. It has even less information about it than the other one, and quite frankly I am not planning on getting into large-scale cultivation.

I've been warned that it is "too soon" to be very detailed about being appalled at and not enjoying a book of Tanith Lee's, so I'll leave it at that. Well, I'll hint: sexual politics, race politics, class politics, esthetics, and story structure.

Lisa Gildstein's book would have been written a wee bit differently now, I think, but it stands up (publish date 1989, a momentous year). Americans in a fictional Middle-Eatern/Central Asian sort of country for the father's research become embroiled in a complex magical/national/political crisis, where "nothing is as it seems" in an interesting way. I like that while the teenaged girls' presence is catalytical for the history of the country, they aren't the story at all, in the long view. I mean they are not the American Saviors. Magical forces have simply slotted them into the patterns that are being worked out and fought over. Literally, patterns are key here. There are many things I love about this book. The girls have been engaged for years in developing an imaginary landscape with warring countries, including making up their own languages for them and producing stacks of notebooks with mythologies, histories and literature for them. The older girl has withdrawn from the "real world" to escape the pressures of gifted child adolescence, The younger girl has withdrawn from the imaginary world to take on the practical challenges of keeping her dysfunctional family together (a task which is less hers than she imagines it to be). All of this is extremely relevant. The mother, who gave up her career for marriage, drinks to deal with her disappointment and her difficulty dealing with things. The father wants to do nothing but his research and hides as much as he is able from the problems of his family.

I could go on for hours about how the different pieces of the story interlock and move about in different directions, but a lot of you people care about spoilers and I don't really understand well what constitutes a spoiler and what doesn't, so I'm going to leave this here and say it's a yummy book.

Also I finished it in the wee hours of the morning the night before last because I couldn't sleep for reasons that escape me. And then I started a strange duck of a little story which I am now having trouble finishing. Although the story doesn't have any of the same elements except that language does a thing in it, I think the story is inspired by the book.

Next I will go back to the library and find something else to read, I don't know what.
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I'm feeling a bit more cheerful today because I have apparently found my brain again. I spent a bit of time discouraged, and then a bit of time on a deliberate writing vacation, and then I had no thoughts whatever in my brain and that was frightening: I was actually empty. It was so weird. Anyway, I just chose a project at random and now I'm back to producing, slower, but a few hundred words a day is okay. The project I ended up working on is the amorous haunted nightstand one. I'm feeling tentatively optimistic on it.

more about the last couple weeks than you want to know, probably )

Oh! It's Wednesday. I should talk about what I'm reading. Um, Growing Gournet and Medical Mushrooms by crazy man Paul Stamets. Today I'm picking up another of his books at the library. There's a lot of information in this tome, and it's superficially laid out in a sensible and accessible way, but in reality when you go to read it, the information is scattered around in all of the places you don't expect it and also there are a lot of frankly odd bits of hyperbole and strange claims. But I am figuring out some stuff from reading it, and the occasional blurry black and white photo of his cute kids holding mushrooms as big as themselves is amusing too.

All of my friends who never had dogs are getting them.
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So, my Grey Bears bag this week consisted of two large bags of baby spinach (which I can't eat ever since I had an intestinal infection three years ago), two heads of radicchio one of which was as large as a standard head of cabbage and bitterer than almost anything I have ever eaten, a couple blood oranges, some potatoes, some yellow onions, a medium portabella mushroom, and a tiny anemic heart of romaine, This may sound like I am going to be complaining, but no! I am going to brag.

I gave away the spinach and set about concentrating on the radicchio. It comes about its bitterness naturally: it's one of the chicory cousins and it inherits bitterness as a birthright. So I set about reading radicchio recipes online, finding that most of them are rather better suited for the milder instances of the herb rather than the bitter manifesto I had in hand. But I found one recipe that intrigued me. It called for radicchio to be sauteed with mushroom, onion, garlic, and walnuts, and finished off with lemon juice and parsley. So I made that and it was still too bitter (I mean this. I like bitter, so if I say something is too bitter, I do not say it lightly). Well, I was not done. I thought about what Jozseph Schultz said in his mushroom cookbook about how to adjust for flavors that are too strong in the balance, and started tinkering. My roommate who will never get that being pre-diabetic means that I am screwing up when I use sweeteners suggested honey, but I went with raisins (which have sugars in them but also fiber and delicious, delicious nutrients) (also notice I don't say I never use sweeteners, only that I am screwing up if I do: but I don't feel I am screwing up if I make jam, wine, etc., because I can use these items to deal with the human need for sweets while exposing myself to less actual sugars). Then I served this delicious but still too-bitter concoction in a quesadilla and the extra blandness from the tortilla and the cheese put it right over the edge into heaven territory.

Today I have more radicchio, but no more raisins or garlic, and I don't want to use a tortilla because the ones we have are for Keith and they are white and I'm trying to be a little better every day. So I had the idea of putting sliced potato in for blandness and torn-up dried Satsuma plum slices for sweetness. I also had the idea of putting in kabocha squash to help with umami, blandness, and sweetness, but that got sidetracked because I was so hungry when I was cooking (it was eleven and I had not eaten yet), so I just ended up microwaving (shut up, it's actually a good technique for vegetables you want moister than grilled and drier than steamed) the kabocha squash (half of a tiny one) and eating it plain plain (soo good while it is still hot) while I cooked and now I am too full for the radicchio so I can't tell you how today's came out until supper time, when I will reheat it with (meyer) lemon juice, parsley, and cheese, and that will be my dinner.

On a related note, I have a wild mushroom cookbook in French. I find that with my forty-five year old high school French I can actually read some of it in a useful way, but if you are fluent in French and would like a wold mushroom cookbook, let me know and I will send it to you.
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Our "likely rain" for tomorrow has been upgraded to "showers, with a chance of thunderstorms." Well, okay, it's not like we never have them, but thunderstorms are not really common around here. And also, it looks pretty wet from here until Monday.

On another front, Truffle and I met a mushroom hunter at the park. He's also the plumber who drives around the van with "425-CRAP" painted on it.
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Zack and his girlfriend went shrooming yesterday and they broguht back a butter bolete, a queen bolete and more immense chanterelles than you can imagine.

I just ate a big old sandwich of chanterelle with onion, parsley, and oregano on ordinary whole wheat bread.

And also, I accidentally brought home my brother's hazelnut torte that I was packing for him to take home, so I ate it.

And also, the jellied compote (made from fruit I dried this summer and quince jelly I made this fall) is heaven. And so is my sister-in-law's whole orange cake which I have to figure out how to do myself in the future.

I'll go back to greens'n'beans tomorrow. That will be heaven also.
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We went up "back o' Cowell" today to check on Zak's guess that boletes have come and gone for the year already. Apparently they have. Their big flush is usually around Thanksgiving and maybe as much as a week in either direction, with a few of them before that and a trickle throughout the rest of the rainy season.

The key word there is rainy. We have had very little rain, even for early winter. The ground up there was dry, almost as dry as summer. There was very little mycological action of any kind. And very little moss, though there was some here and there, mostly at the expected stage of development, but furled inwards because of the lack of moisture. The logs were mostly bare! We did see one log with a bunch of little creamy lumps that the nice fellow thinks might turn out to be oyster mushrooms (pleurotis). Our native oyster mushrooms are large and white and tender, and some people think they are too bland, but they are one of my favorites to cook with fresh. Some people call them angel wings. We also saw a large and handsome calyptrata, but I have taken a firm stand that I will accept no more calyptrata. We don't like the taste of them fresh, and dried -- well, we have tons of dried boletes and craterellus still from past years, why should I go to all the trouble of slicing and preserving something we don't like as much?

Which is my current opinion on amanita muscaria, no matter how much we enjoyed them with David Arora. You have to blanche amanita muscaria to remove the emetic alkaloids, and then you can sautee them, and sometimes they come out lovely, but they are more fuss than they're worth if you can get your hands on a chanterelle or a queen bolete. We didn't see any amanita muscarias, anyway. We did see this other amanita-ish mushroom that is associated with them -- they grow together, often -- whose edibility is unknown. It's known not to have muscarine or whatever that stuff is called, but it is not known not to have other toxins in it.

Anyway, the forest is dry at the moment, even though we had a paltry rain yesterday. This is a section of forest which in "normal" years is a wetlands, crisscrossed with tiny, fast-moving streams, and muddy enough to make you worry about getting across it. This is how wet it is: orange peel fungus grows right in the paths, sometimes.

Until recently, nobody official has been saying the d word. Except in the general, "we always have to be prepared for it" sense. We are on water restrictions, but they are pretty mild: you have to put a trigger-grip thing on your hose if you want to water after 10 or before 5, or if you want to wash your car with a hose (I thought they had passed an ordinance against washing the car with a hose, already, but apparently not). But Saturday's headline was all about water rationing being "on tap." I can't decide whether to hate or love punning headline writers.

Fifteen years ago they said we were going to run out of water in 2005 if we didn't do something drastic like build a new reservoir, dig new wells, build a desalination plant, or buy water from out of county. I think we enlarged a reservoir or built a new small one, fixed some mains, and pushed water conservation in a big way. So it's 2007 and we haven't had to import any water yet. We're looking at the desal plant -- it will be a joint project with a small water district in a semi-rural part of the county, last I heard. In dry years Santa Cruz will take some, and otherwise Soquel Creek Water District will use some. I don't gdet how that works, but I know that though it's supposed to be a smallish desal operation, it's not supposed to be operated at capacity very often. But that will take years.

Is there any wonder that the town leaders are beginning to demand that the University cooperate in water planning?

I'm on an upward bounce right now so I'm tightening up the regime, even though it's that weird season when I have to make cookies and crap. So far I've made fruitcake and almost made one kind of cookies. I was out to make refrigerator pinwheel cookies with choloate and vanilla dough but the dough was all crumbly when I took it out of the refrigerator and they ended up being marbleized roll cookies which I cut with the tree and bell cutters. And then the oven wouldn't light. We put it on a cleaning cycle and now I think I can bake the cookies. I had Emma get Costco walnuts and pecans so I can make traditional walnut balls and I have this idea for tiny pecan tartlet dealies (we have a "gem" pan I almost never use -- it's like a muffin pan but the wells are tiny. Or we also have these small star molds originally meant for jello. I could use those) All the sweets are for other people, for example the young man at Hogwarts-Night Watch who has no oven.

The point of that paragraph was actually that gaining those five pounds, which puts me back at thirty-five pounds lost, makes me feel really much heavier, bulkier, and more awkward. I used to be puzzled when some slender, willowy person would complain about having gained five pounds. Now I know. Two kilos plus up is really noticeable.

Also I couldn't sleep last night. I mean I couldn't go to bed.

Also, in the forest -- I breathe better than anywhere else. That is, I do in an open mixed-semihardwood forest, redwood, pine, scrub oak, tan oak, madrone and deep duff forest with lots of sky and a sweet still air, just cool, not chilly. Which is good, because it means I go uphill better than other places.

So I don't much care about whether we find a nice stash of king or butter or queen boletes, because it's really lovely in the forest in the morning. Dry or wet.
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My computer won't boot. I'm taking it in today but dog only knows when they will be able to get to it.

I can read email and lj from one of the kids' computers, but I can't work on current writing projects (yeah, so sue me, I'm about three days late in backing up and it makes a big difference), except for maybe a couple of stories. Posting is annoying from any computer but my own, but, we'll see.

In any case, it's about nine hours till I see Frank again and hear the full story, and during that time I get to rack the wine, take the computer in, and attempt to clean things. Oh, and walk the dog. Who totally went with us yesterday to both the Lighthouse Field and river mouth cleanups. At the latter we recovered 443 cigarette butts, just the nice fellow and me, in about an hour. Later we went to this hotel on the beach where we were offered munchies and information about more volunteering and good speeches by ocean conservationists and some of our favorite politicians. The speeches were extremely flattering to out community but the best part is that they managed to combine urgency and optimism. The guy who's paddling a surfboard from Crescent City to the Mexican border has not quite become accustomed to public speaking and mostly just said "I'm actually a lousy surfer" and "We have thirty years to save ourselves," a number which I think will remain the same for at least twenty years. He also said he had been hassled by orcas and stalked by sharks, especially off Ano Nuevo, which is infamous for it, I think because it is the biggest elephant seal rookery on the coast (and the first one where their population began to rebound after they almost went extinct from hunting for fur forty years ago).

Other volunteers went right into the river and pulled out many things, including a water heater and a swingset.

As the celebration of International Coastal Cleanup Day ended, a man in the audience drew our attention to an immense raft of brown pelicans right outside the window, feeding on anchovies as close as six feet from the sand, accompanied by a pod of sea lions doing the same thing. And two people in kayaks, ignored by the pelicans. Right next to the wharf. Those pelicans also nearly went extinct forty years ago, from eggshell development problems caused by indiscriminate DDT usage. DDT has been outright banned for most uses since then. Now (much, much later, realize: it's not a cause/effect relationship) there's a severe resurgence and spread of mosquito-borne diseases and some people are saying that DDT is the only weapon that really works against them. It will be interesting to see, first, if that's true, and secondly, if it's possible to develop a DDT use protocol that doesn't destroy birds and helpful insects.

Department of irreproducible recipes: moussaka with sulfur shelf mushroom. Make a safflower and nutmeg flavored bechamel with whipped egg whites -- I forget what that's actually called -- prepare eggplant as usual (salt, let drain, rinse, sautee in controlled amounts of olive oil until limp), prepare sulfur shelf mushroom by slicing very thin and sauteeing in generous amounts of olive oil until a rich apricot color, layer these with tomato sauce enriched with oregano and cinnamon, put the bechamel on top, bake at low-medium temperature maybe an hour: I'm not sure of the last bit as I was late home from attempting to buy pants (most of my old ones are like clown pants now) and the nice fellow just turned the oven down to low till I got home. This is very successful. The sulfur shelf is famous for "tasting like chicken" and Emma was sure there was meat in it and, while she doesn't like a lot of meat preparations, she liked the sulfur shelf. It's called sulfur shelf because it grows as a bracket and it's really very brilliant yellow and orange in parts.

no storylet

Dec. 3rd, 2006 11:41 pm
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Working on the synopsis for Afterwar requested by my writing group. Easier than other synopses because I know what they want to see in it, and why. But since they want it soo they can understand the kind of complicated time line and judge for themselves whether they think the book would do better with a different chapter order, it has to be very very complete and it takes a long time.

We went to Gray Whale ranch with the nice fellow's brother. No mushrooms to speak of, the ground was dry, and the moss was dried up. This is the new pattern for the central coast: a dedent opener, and then nothing much until January. Plays havoc with the bolete and chanterelle seasons. But we've gathered a lot of shrooms already.

You know that new kind of spam where the subject field has the sender's name (as in "tristan said:" or "Re:Harry")? I just got one from a Tristan Conklin in Australia, with the subject header "Fwd: re: Conklin" which meant that I had to look at it, because there was an offchance that it could be about Uncle Groff. No.
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So Thursday I took Emma to various appointments -- one of them the steroid shot that's supposed to maybe make her stop hurting -- and went to the City to pick up Frank. I've decided that I'd rather drive to the City on Sunday and Thursday to take him and pick him up than to have him take the train (and bus). This is not because he's so tender he can't take the public transportation but because I selfishly want to see my father and stepmother twice a week. Thursday was a shock. My father couldn't eat or speak and could hardly move. Rosemary and Frank got him to the table, but to get a bit of stew down him I spoonfed him. Moher was devastated to see him like that and she not able to do much herself (Ishe's recovering very well from the satroke, though).

Today I took Frank back up to the City, but I went the long way round, so that Frank could go play some role playing game or another with his friend Keith at Games of Berkeley, and then the nice fellow and I ate noodles and shopped at Ikea, and most importantly, stopped over to play with my grandniece Julianna. So it was evening when we arrived in the City and I was worried, of course, but:

Luis was not sitting up or walking around, but he was comfy, lounging on the couch, with color in his face and very pleased with his state. He was talking, sounding like my father. He'd gone to the emergency room the day before where they had prescribed Gatorade and jello (dang, why didn't I think of that?) and pointed out that no, he wasn't supposed to be getting two opiates after all, the one was supposed to replace the other. My brother, always the gourmet cook, had made my father a Bavarian (which is sort of a jello custard thing). And Luis had eaten some actual food as well.

While we were shopping around town, I got my father a random Gypsy music CD -- just something I knew he wouldn't have -- and Ted got a Hawaiian steel record, and I got myself a copy of Sean Stewart's Perfect Circle which I've been searching for since before it was published as I heard him read a bit of it at the San Jose World Con and it had been a revelation, pure and simple. And we got Julianna a weird little stuffed animal, dog knows what it's supposed to be (the sign said "Kanin/rabbit" but that doesn't make sense. It's clearly neither a dog nor a rabbit). Julianna's parents, Lisa(Alyesia) and Jon, had made a nest of the stuffed snake we brought a few months ago -- "safety snake" -- so she can practice sitting up and have something soft to fall on, a strategy we had told them about using with Frank and Emma.

We've been drying a few mushrooms almost every day, so that now we have a nice little stash of chanterelles and another one of wine-colored agarics and another of craterellus. And the nice fellow keeps adding to his store of candy caps. He wants to make candy cap cookies or ice cream. I think when you go with the sweetness of the candy caps like that they become cloying. I've wanted to put them into tomato sauce, but Zak is right: he says they should be used to make squash ravioli (or, add I, squash soup).

(note to Emma: yes, I got your recommendation letter from Beth, in which she does invoke the name of the Longshoreman's Union, which means that yes, you have to write the essay, but of course I will help you. I had to be suitably impressed by Maya's 4th grade history project which is a complicated diorama showing the founderr of the first waitresses' union in San Francisco in her Labor Day parade float). And it's official: we'll be taking up a collection to send Rosemary to Calistoga for a mud bath.

I'm almost ready to write again.
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We really don't get lost that much. It's just more newsworthy when we do. We've been going to Gray Whale Ranch a lot, for several reasons. We usually go in one of two directions which take us to where there are sometimes chanterelles, on the one hand, and where there have historically been huge drifts of craterellus ("black chanterelles") on the other. The place where the path takes off from the road is easy to get to, just beyond the west gate to the University. The walks are easy but good exercise: no excessive steepness, but a lot of underbrush. We're at a time in the year when there may be still some chanterelles and when the craterellus may bloom at any moment. We've found wine agarics there. The whole trip can be done in an hour and a half if we're in a hurry, like if it's lateish in the afternoon and we're trying to beat the sunset.

So the nice fellow thinks this is a good day to try going a little farther downstream. Nothing much. So we're going home. He says. I have this feeling, but I haven't been paying attention and I don't have any better suggestions and I therefore can't blame him for what happened.

After a while the nice fellow becomes convinced that he's lost. Honestly, we're in a spot we were in before, years ago when Zak led us to get lost -- he's famous for that -- but we've no better idea of its actual relationship to the trail than we did then, and if Zak were with us I doubt that he would know any better either.

The nice fellow decides that our best bet is to descend the steep ravine before us, cross the creek, and head back upstream on the other side. Again, I don't like this, but still, I don't have any better ideas. Descending was not so bad, though the ground is all loose from the fact that it's rainy season. Did I mention that it's about four o'clock and rain has been forecast?

Crossing the stream is no problem, as it turns out: nice rocks all across the bed of the stream almost as if they had been put there (hmm, in light of what followed . . . nah). I've stopped taking pictures because we're trying to get out before dark or rain catch up with us.

Getting up the other side, now, that's a problem. The other side is much steeper and the ground is much looser and right now I discover several things about my body: I'm panting and sweating like a person in heart failure: my ankles are turning: and I don't seem to be strong enough to pull myself up this slope, even with the help of twin walking sticks foraged from the forest floor and even going down on all fours. Yep, asthma strikes at the worst times, definitionally. Not bad asthma though: no cough, no wheezing, no godawful feeling like I was about to die: just the inefficient breathing and sweating. There's some unpleasantness here, with me kind of freaking out because the nice fellow's charging along way ahead and I'm sliding down as fast as I'm climbing. And then he gets sharpish and I'm more freaky and finally he gets it and comes back and stops berating me for not taking the direction he took (which was impossible for me), I get up the bank, and we're setting off on more manageable terrain. Barely more manageable, at first.

Did I say what beautiful forest we're traversing? It's intertwined fingers of mixed broadleaf (not deciduous, mostly: evergreen broadleafs like oak and bay laurel and madrone)and mixed conifer (pine and fir and redwood) forest. All green and lovely up above, all yellow and brown and orange and red and black and crumbly and mushroom-scented below. Except for the fact that we don't know how far we are from the road, or whether we're headed towards Empire Grade where the car is or Highway One which is a few miles downhill, and the anxiety over whether my body's going to stop functioning long enough to strand us, we're having a fine time.

After a false start following an old logging road till it petered out, we find a hint of a trail going uphill, upstream, and northeast, which is a better bet than going southwest at this point. And then --

We find ourselves on a hard, bare track, almost as firm as if it were asphalt. The trail has become easy, inclining gently -- my ankles stop turning, my breathing returns to normal and so therefore does my pace. The nice fellow points out the impression of a mountain bike tire. "Some crazed bike nazis come up here," he says.

I say, "They don't have to be crazed to ride this trail, it's so easy and solid."

A while later I have to agree with him about the crazed part, because the trail starts sprouting this elaborate jumps and ramps made out of fallen timber and cut-up pallets. Some of them look impossible -- they'd surely tear up the tires of any bike that tried to make them. There's lots of these. Each is unique, of course. We're sure that this must be clandestinely created by mountain bike commandos, possibly on moonlit nights. No pictures -- we're much happier about our prospects but we don't know how far we've gone or how far we have to go, and the higher we go, the bigger and darker the trees are, so we really don't want to risk sundown. We're walking as fast as we think it is sane to do.

Then the trail splits. But one part of it is a wide stretch of rotten asphalt, and the other is more bike trail, so we take the rotten asphalt, figuring it will lead somewhere. It does. It leads past a locked but easily bypassed gate -- with a sign that says "are closed," referring to the place we're coming from -- to an actual road, one lane, barely paved, which stretches off to the left and uphill and down to the right. We can't hear the main road, but there's a feeling that it's out there -- which we didn't have before. While we're studying this and feeling a strong pull to go right, the nice fellow hears a dog barking. When we got lost that time in Fall Creek, we headed for the dogs barking, and found the light of a house that way. So we go off down to the right in the direction of the barking dog, and we see a light -- a car! Nice cheerful lady informs us we are headed the right way to get to Empire Grade, and it's not far now. She seems to think our getting lost at Wilder Ranch is a pleasant amusement that everybody indulges in, like marathon running or something. Yes, I know, I said we went to Gray Whale Ranch but she said we were coming from Wilder Ranch. All I know about that is that they are both public land and they both stretch from Empire Grade to the ocean. And they're partly contiguous.

We came out on Empire Grade just a quarter mile or so up the road from the car. Walking back along the road is nervewracking -- it's winding, narrow, shoulderless and bordered by slippery ditches overgrown with prickly things, and the cars come around the curves at some outrageous speed (oh how I hate Locals on country roads!) but since we know where we are and we have almost a half hour of daylight left and it looks like it won't rain for hours yet, we're actually kind of ecstatic. The dog, who has been a complete darling all through this, is completely unnerved by the road, and wants desperately to bolt and run under some car's wheels.

But so, we're home, I'm tired, and feeling quite quite alive, thank you.

And, icing on the cake: the nice fellow pulled a tick out of my shoulderblade which had been there for days because I couldn't see it properly and assumed it was a scabbed-over burst pimple. The nice fellow found one mushroom that intrigued him -- he thought it might be a matsutake, but then he decided it was not, and neither were its many large neighbors under the huge tree with the elaborate treehouse built into it.

forays

Dec. 6th, 2005 11:19 pm
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We went to the woods along Empire Grade just across from upper campus but while we found some pretty things, and lots of fresh, shiny black bambi poop and dead bambi by the road, we found nothing to bring home.

I have been way too sedentary lately, for several reasons. I've been discouraged: I've been under the weather: I've been trying to be productive writing. The under the weather thing is the reflux/asthma/other stuff revolving door, which makes it hard to breathe for coughing and weird throat, and makes me just want to sit very very still.

So I've been trying to break through the cycle of that and I may have done so. Anyway, the result of all this sedentariness is that crashing through the underbrush was very tiring on those muscles that lift the legs when you step over branches and things. So I exercised them a little when I got back.

Also I submitted five stories today, including two I never got the rejections for, but dog, I am tired of waiting and feeling stymied. So I sent the GPS highway robbery story to "Amazing Journeys," and the bitter Gulf War piece to "From the Trenches," an anthology being put together by Carnifex Press, and the last people in the world/quilt block story to "Dark Energy." I sent the social worker story to "Futurismic," and I sent the self-aware minefield story to "The Intergalactic Medicine Show." And I added some words to the rain story, which still has no resolution.

Aynathie, I've started reading, but I'm really behind. I'll send you comments Wednesday (my time) and Thursday.

On other fronts: I am such a busy little bee: I have also nearly finished making myself a linen shirt for the holidays. A long time ago I bought these three pieces of linen, a warm rosy-golden brown one, a sagey-minty one, and a white one with a complicated woven-in pattern, to make an outfit of. I figured that with me making so little money this year, if I wanted holiday clothes I better make them out of what I have.

The pissy part is that the pattern I have is marked with the same size I buy clothes in at the store, but I had to add four inches to the shirt to get it to fit anything like the ready-made clothes with the same size number. I don't care whose fault it is, but I want them to stop doing this. Is it so hard to have an industry-wide standard which applies to all secotrs of the industry? Isn't it in the pattern companies' interests to present patterns which work for the regular customer without having to be redrawn?

I don't know if the cloth is pure linen or linen/cotton/rayon. Whatever it is, it wrinkles like crazy and feels delightful on my skin.
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I don't think I'm going to have the actual poison oak dermatitis, but that's not the nice fellow's fault.

We've been wanting to extend our mushroom season, so we went back to the "chanterelle spot" off Empire Grade. In the last month, the poison oak has leafed out and grown tall. I'm traditionally immune so I'm not freaked out completely, but I told him if I do break out he'll never hear the end of it.

No edibles, but some pits -- looks like the pigs and deer have been combing the duff (well, mud, actually). We saw some clear hoofprints and some scat -- deer and coyote. And a lot of interesting-looking shelf fungus and I forgot my camera.
Which is really too bad because the flowers were cooking along. The cynoglossom that I saw last time was still doing its thing, though a lot of them had faded from blue to pink and a lot more had set seed. There were little yellow violets near the road and little white violets farther in. And single white irises sitting their solitary selves in the stream banks and ditches. And more poison oak than you can imagine. It's lovely anyways. And some other flowers whose names I don't know.

And now I've got the crawlies, worrying about ticks, you know.

Oh, also, I made a terrible mistake: I went to see "Sin City." It is very well made, so it's not a mistake for everyone, but I'm kind of a wuss -- no boundaries to speak of -- and I lasted less than ten minutes, I think -- anyway not to the end of the little girl sequence -- before I had to leave and go to the Bookshop to wait for the nice fellow.

I thought Mothers and Other Monsters would be out, but not until June, so I read a flippant gay murder mystery set in New Orleans, involving a figure skater and the death mask of Napoleon.

I didn't write, but I did conduct war against oxalis. I found that many of my perennials have made it through the flood season and have endured months of neglect.
ritaxis: (rock arch)
I just have to learn to resign myself to not getting things done when everybody else is around. Lots of reasons -- I need to be with them, I need to cede the machine to them, I need to do other things, and I can't think straight when they're here all day. But anyway. I now know most of what I need to write about Bella and Chain. Chain is a bicycle messenger, and his secret has to do with knowing more than he thinks he knows. Possibly because of things overheard while on the job. And that is probably why his name is Chain. Something to do with some incident famous among bicyclists. I could steal a bit from life: perhaps a broken chain while mountain biking in some godawful wilderness like Henry Coe Park resulting in a near-death experience. Possibly involving mountain lions. And that incident may be something that gave him more knowledge than he knows he has, or perhaps it was an assisted accident because he already knew something.

Speaking of bicyclists, Zak said he has been finding chanterelles and craterellus in his "spots" which, unfortunately for us, are miles away, up steep mountain paths in the Forest of Nicene Marks. It's kind of late for those, but they're often a little later than some other fungus, and we'd seen like two little buttons of chanterelles up in Fall Creek this year, that's all. So we decided to go after chanterelles. It was getting late in the day so instead of going way the hell up Empire Grade to Fall Creek, we took a shorter walk on University land off Empire Grade nearer to town. The results can be seen in my new gallery, "Empire Grade Craterellus Foray" -- most of the galleries are currently empty while I rework them from scratch -- the forest is tremendously beautiful this time of year and we brought home half a big grocery bag full of craterellus which are kind of forbidding looking but they taste a lot like chanterelles. The dog kept climbing onto downed trees but the camera is slow and I haven't figured out how to outwit it and I got many terrible pictures and only one not too horrible one of Truffle climbing a tree. And now I think I have a tick but I can't catch the little bugger, and I hope my immunity to poison oak holds a little longer because it was leafing out all over.

In other news, did I tell you I have normal cholesterol readings? I guess I did.

Anyway, I will catch up with Afterwar tomorrow.
ritaxis: (hazy mars)
It was supposed to be a two-mile or so hike behind Crown College, trying to retrace the path we made with David Arora a couple of years ago. I think we did that, mostly, but we also ended up walking for more like five miles on various fire roads and seeing parts of the campus we had not thought of seeing. We were never very lost though. We always knew roughly where everything was and about how far it was: it was getting on to the right fire road which was troublesome. I think following the road markers might have made things worse, actually.

But the revelation was -- I used the albuterol before the hike, and it was like somebody ordered a better atmosphere or something. I felt like I was breathing things I had never breathed before. And I didn't get out of breath ever even on the steepest bit (though I did get my pulse up nicely and found myself panting at rest a little). Conclusion: I was just wrong, before, when I thought I had my asthma under control without the inhalers. I'm going right back on the azmacort today.

I have been reading the printed-out book, which looks really thin printed out. My first reaction was that the story was thin, repetitious, and internally inconsistent, and that I was never going to be able to make it a real book. I'm feeling better about it now, but I think I want to double a couple of the chapters -- the tomato picking one especially. And maybe add some more to the Boss.

Other than that -- cleaning cleaning and finally seeing some results.
ritaxis: (blue land)
I haven't added anything, but I didn't expect to. Yesterday -- Saturday -- was the band review in Madera, which is just about smack in the middle of the state and therefore a universe away from us. Much teenaged drama, but the kids were beautiful in competition and came away with trophies. The bus ride was over three hours each way, and I spent almost the whole time talking to other mommies about stuff -- the dynamics of the band, motherly philosophy, our histories, the election, food . . .

This morning the nice fellow organised us -- him, me, my son, and our friend Connie -- to go mushroom hunting early in the morning. Not early enough. There were telltale pits everywhere. "Our spot" is entirely too well known. Nevertheless we found three nice, medium-sized boletes and a bunch of slightly soggy oyster mushrooms, as well as some interesting unidentified fungi which we admired and left standing.

I came home and slept for four hours. I'm ready for bed again.

I did make empanadas -- I hadn't realized that's what they were until the nice fellow told me. Cheesy ones and boletey ones. 4 dozen all told.

I can't find my favorite blanket and I can't remember if there's a good reason for that.

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