Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, December 29, 2014

Yes, I'm kind of Fungophobic

Yesterday I returned home from celebrating Christmas with my family, in the Bay Area. It was fun, busy and enjoyable. So enjoyable, in fact, that I didn't take any pictures. I can't believe it. This is a first. There will be no photos of the wonderful dinner that my sister hosted, no pictures of the Beans playing with their new toys, not one selfie or close up of the other family members who were with us. I don't even know what to say. I left the camera in the car and NEVER used it.
I'm a failure as an event photographer. But, I had a great time and enjoyed my short visit.

On Wednesday, Christmas Eve day, I wrapped presents. I made a lemon Bundt cake, packed my stuff up and piled it all into the car for my trip on Christmas morning. But the first thing I did was to go for a hike.

 It was cold, foggy and beautiful.
At the top of the hill the fog lifted a little, so I just sat on a favorite downed log...
and spent some quiet time with mother nature.
This log is always covered with these wonderful Bracket fungi, or shelf fungi. 
This one is called Ganoderma. It can  grow large thick shelves that may contribute to the death of the tree, and then feed off the wood for years after. This tree has been laying here for years and these fungi are always here on it. Their hardiness means they are very resilient and can live a long time,  developing beautiful multi-coloured circles of color that are actually annual growth rings.

The Oaks are covered with many different mosses, lichens and tiny ferns, mostly on their north sides.
The Poison Oak vines uses the trees for support and climbs all over the trunks and into the branches,
... covering some trees like a corset. The trees that fell in the wind storm a couple of weeks ago, were old ones that didn't have the poison oak growing around them. I think the vine acts as a support system for the trees and give them strength against the winter weather.

I walked up the ridge to an Oak tree that I had noticed before, because it has a multitude of mushrooms underneath it. It's a healthy, average looking oak tree that, for some reason, has an abundance of different mushrooms growing below it.

I stepped lightly around the tree and took some pictures of the amazing assortment of mushrooms that live under this tree.
There are pretty brown ones that look very fragile and somewhat rubbery. Same with the little cap mushrooms behind this one. I think the little ones are called Deadly Galerina and they would kill you with their deadly toxin. But, I'm not sure.. and there lies the dilemma.
There are some that look like pretty rocks...
odd shaped potatoes?

These two, very different mushrooms, seem to be having a serious relationship.
But, they all look dangerous to me,
except for this one...
These are the most abundant kind that are growing under the tree.
This one starts growing up through the earth like a brown ball of leaves...
 Then you begin to see the white top.
 It carries the grass and leaves with it as it grows out of the ground.
Finally the mushroom looses its coat of leaves and becomes a rather good sized mushroom with a really white stem, white cap and yellow gills.
This one looks good enough to eat... but who knows.
The cap has a beautiful, undulating shape.
Many of the caps seem to be broken off...
..which would indicate that something has tried to eat them. I guess this could have happen when the mushroom was pushing through the ground, but it sure looks like a critter has taken a bite out of them.

The rain and sunshine is producing a lot of mushrooms this year. They're everywhere.
This one is on the slope behind our house.
It's a monster. It arrives every year. We never touch it.

I love looking for mushrooms. It's like a scavenger hunt and there are so many different  kinds.
I don't know what any of these mushrooms are and I would rather not think that I do. It's safer to take pictures of them than to make a decision about the good and bad ones, eat them and end up sick... or worse.
My Italian family knew which were OK. They showed me when I was little, gave me books, explained which was which... but still... I just don't trust myself to know.

This is a wonderful pastime... photographing mushrooms.
So I think I will just lay on the ground and watch them grow... and buy the good ones in the store.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wishes for you

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow~
From our house to yours... Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Baking bread. birthday wishes and creature comforts

I baked some nut breads for Christmas today. The house, this evening, still carries the fragrance of orange peel, spices, pecans, walnuts and bourbon.
The three on the left are pecan/ orange rind/ bourbon bread. The ones on the right are walnut/ orange rind/ cinnamon.The pecan bread mixture seemed more dense and baked up much higher. Interesting... Same recipe with different nuts. Could a tablespoon of bourbon make the dough rise higher? Don't know.
I love these paper bakeware pans. They are pretty and perfect for giving out as gifts. This brand is called Welcome Home. You can buy them on Amazon.

Another storm moved in today. Wind and rain... I didn't know how much I missed this weather. I curled up in the afternoon and took a nap with the dogs (A perk of retirement) and fell asleep listening to the wild weather outside. After dinner I read my latest Mary Oliver book of poems, called Blue Horses. A birthday gift to myself a few weeks ago.
Cutter, happy to just be nearby, lay sleeping on the sofa.
sharing with me, the joys of his creature comforts.

Today is also my youngest grandson's birthday. He is eight years old. How fast they grow. It seems like he was, just a little while back, this toddler, eating dirt in our vegetable garden...

 but he's growing up so fast.
Happy Birthday little man. We love you.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Walking by myself

~How I go to the woods~
by Mary Oliver

"Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone,

with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers

 and therefore unsuitable.
 I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds

or hugging an old black oak tree.

I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours.
 Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible.
If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much.”   
~Mary Oliver~

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pickle juice and sausage

I brought my Beans back with me on Thanksgiving Day.
 They were here until Sunday. Then, the Prospector (Papa) drove them half-way home and met their daddy at Flag City, so no one would have to drive the whole, almost three hour, trip.
We had a wonderful visit with moments of chaos and silliness...
Leaving Cutter and Carl wondering what was going on.
Leaving Carl with pillows and little stuffed animals... and socks to chew on.
 You sly dog, Carl. I know you've got your eye on that little, stuffed animal. I know you're not asleep.

We made bird feeders out of empty toilet paper rolls, peanut butter and birdseed. I didn't take any pictures. I had peanut butter on the fingers.
We drove them to the river...
 for a few hours of panning for gold.

They love "going for the gold", and learning how hard it is to retrieve this valuable resource.
Papa shows them how to find the "good spots" and how to have patience.
They always have a smile for Noni's camera.
We went to the Thanksgiving Weekend Christmas Delights in downtown Jackson on Friday night.
Santa arrived on a fire truck...
 The Christmas tree was lit...
All the Main Street businesses were open.

 Santa gave out candy.
One Bean learned to play pool.
Little Bean finally crashed in a comfy recliner waiting for his brother.
All the decorations were delightful.
The weather was nice. We went with a neighbor and her grandson. He was visiting too.
The next day I took them all to a movie. Now I know that movie reviews aren't always accurate. They said that Big Hero 6 was pretty benign, but the ending was very intense and the boys came out of there very quiet. My youngest grandson said that his heart hurt at the end. Mine did too.  I will just say that some of these animated movies are more like "sheep's clothing" for adults.

I love having the Beans here. It's kind of like a small whirlwind for a few days but we love it.
Saying goodnight and tucking them into bed with their pillows...
 ...takes me back to a time when my boys were little and life was about children, noise, toys, learning to be good parents and having patience.

They are good together and I would offer this photo as proof.
Of course, you know it wasn't like this the whole time, because they are filled with what I heard them say one night, from the bedroom door.
They were  hysterical... they were laughing and being really silly.
Then I heard one say, "Pickle juice" and the other answered "Sausage!". Then, they went to sleep.
Yep, that's the kind of weekend it was...