Thursday, August 25, 2011

STR Drive

What can you say? This is halfway up the 1/2 mile driveway. I always stop and look.

Eat Your Veggies!

There is just about nothing in veggies that isn’t good for you. Raw, that is. If you have digestive trouble, it may be caused by myriad things, or just one. It doesn’t matter. Get out the cutting board and a knife or mandolin. Start with fresh cucumbers and tomatoes. Add some basil or cilantro or parsley (all three would be best). A little sea salt and maybe a pinch of pepper. Dash of oil and vinegar, or just vinegar if you’re feeling like you need a little zing.
Fresh food from the garden! Bowl by Paula Moran
When you shop in the grocery store, remember what you went in to get. Don’t buy the stuff in boxes with all the packaging and additives. Think about it. You’re paying for garbage. You don’t want the cardboard, and you don’t want your insides to look like cardboard. Get fresh. You’ll feel so much better. If you need energy for exercise, or energy for mental tasks, your body works best on things that give you clean energy, vital fluids, and organic live enzymes.

If you’re buying food grown in poor soil, or food that comes from plants grown in sterile ground, you don’t get trace minerals if they aren’t there in the first place. There’s no fusion there, so if it doesn’t have those minerals, there is no way to magically get them into the veggie without them being in the soil. Think about it. Plants can be fed to fruit – to flower and thus be harvested. But that’s like putting gas in a diesel engine. Like putting dirty clothes in the washer with no soap and expecting them to come out clean. OK, you got me there, I have done that.

If you are going to eat, you should make every bite count. Make it healthy. Make it vital.
Although I like to buy everything organic, I can’t find organic sometimes. If I can’t, and it’s on the Clean Fifteen list, I will buy it. Not so with the Dirty Dozen. I change the menu. Here’s the list (from EWG – Environmental Working Group):

Dirty Dozen:
1.       Celery
2.       Peaches
3.       Strawberries
4.       Apples
5.       Blueberries
6.       Nectarines
7.       Bell peppers
8.       Spinach
9.       Cherries
10.   Kale/collard greens
11.   Potatoes
12.   Grapes (imported)

Clean Fifteen:
1.       Onions
2.       Avocado
3.       Sweet corn
4.       Pineapple
5.       Mangoes
6.       Sweet peas
7.       Asparagus
8.       Kiwifruit
9.       Cabbage
10.   Eggplant
11.   Cantaloupe
12.   Watermelon
13.   Grapefruit
14.   Sweet potatoes
15.   Honeydew melon

So why would I buy something organic from the list below? Because I also want to consider the workers and the soil they’re grown in. Do we harm others with growing with pesticides? Yes, it’s not always about what I’m putting in my mouth. It’s what else was impacted by my buying the item. Do the banana bags laden with pesticides end up in the river? Do the growers have to wear masks? Then it’s organic for me. We all should be thinking about the consequences of our actions as much as we can.

Eating seasonally and locally helps that too. Imagine planting a lovely sage in your backyard. It’s cold and wet. Sage doesn’t like it. It doesn’t grow well. It wants more sun and less water. It’s not happy, it’s not healthy. It gets bugs. It rots, and dies.  Eat food that’s happy where it’s grown, and not picked before it is ripe and trucked or flown hundreds or thousands of miles.  It’s more vital, and it will feel better when you eat it. I won’t go into the idea of planting when the moon is waxing and harvesting when it wanes, but cycles are important to our bodies, in the same way we wake in the morning and sleep at night.

Taken with my camera through the telescope!

Sorry, shift workers, you tend to have your own special problems that are not just physical. Shift working (Nurses Study) showed that working opposite this impacted people far more than just having your body working opposite the normal cycle. It also affects socialization, communication, depression, and a whole host of other processes, not just metabolism.

When I get up at my cabin north of Willits, I walk outside and pick fresh blueberries. Then I saunter (depending on what I’m wearing) down to the vegetable beds and check for any fresh strawberries. If there aren’t any, I may have a cherry tomato or two. Lunch can be a cucumber salad, or tabouli, with fresh parsley and tomato, with lemon juice from freshly picked lemons. With weather in the 90’s lately, I rarely turn on the stove (I may grill something outside), so an enormous salad with feta cheese and kalamata olives hits the spot. I walk around the house visiting various herbs for a snip of this or that. Parsley, cilantro, fennel, sage, marjoram, thyme, sorrel (yum) all go into my salads. I think tonight it'll be kale salad with lemon and feta and pine nuts. I find that there is no slowing me down when I eat like this.   

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wildlife in Mendocino County

Taking in the wildlife here has always been my favorite thing to do. There is always some animal, vegetable, or mineral that fascinates me. Here is a collection of some wildlife and...'dead' things too.                                                        
This is a salmonid (sal-MON-id). We have the last wild run of coho salmon in the state. We've tried to help them recover by shading the river to keep the water temp down by planting willow. The biggest problem is water hauling, where trucks back up to the river and load up their trucks. The flows decline and water gets warmer. Then there are the bullfrog tadpoles. They're like hungry black tennis balls. But slimy.

This monster is the biggest praying mantis I've ever seen. Godzilla size. It was as big as a Cadillac. OK, maybe 6"? It sat on the ground just over the edge of the porch, and at the entrance to a hive of ground-dwelling bees. As the bees came up from the hole, this mantis would grab them quickly with a front limb, and bite its head off. Maybe grab two, eating one while the other one struggled. Creepy. 

These guys were just jumping for joy, what can you say? They just are so happy to be alive. Actually, it's a mini-trampoline I built for them, and they jump on it all day long.

Again, lies! They love to sit on the screen when the door's open and catch a breeze, it's so lovely. Sometimes I tickle their toes. I love the blue bellies. Sometimes they chase each other but it's too hot and eventually they just stop and catch the breeze.

I also wonder if maybe they're up there to avoid being eaten by Mr. Kingsnake. 

The boys hangin' out. There are 5 in this picture, but one took off. We don't know where, but he came back for a bit, everyone was happy to see him, and then he took off again. Geldings, so don't go there. Rio will sit peaceably with them until someone catches him doing so. Then he'll bark at them as if they're a threat. He doesn't fool us. Last week two of them crossed in front of my open doors at 6:30am and scared me half to death. I thought it was a bear. If I had made any noise, they would have bolted. I wish there was some clover for them, but it's all dried up. They go down to the pond for water.

This is my boy Rio. Not mine, really, but mine anyway. I love him. He's so sweet. He's wearing the sweater I knit for him. He said he really likes it. But only when it's really cold out. He also said it's a little itchy but he likes it 'cause I made it. And maybe also because I always give him biscuits. He rolls over for me whenever he wants one. Also for salmon skin, leftover meat, salad, veggies, just about anything edible. Or inedible. Occasionally I'll be working outside and have caught him chewing on a deer leg. The hoof will be sticking up in the air over his head. He didn't kill the deer, they're really old bones, but he likes them anyway. He doesn't get to kiss me after that. 

He's had some arthur-itis lately. May be Lyme Disease. He's gotten a remedy or two, we'll see how he does.

These two little babies were found hopping around the back of the house, almost were dinner for Mr. Kingsnake. The moms were very upset. But maybe it was a dad and mom, and they were siblings. I couldn't tell, but every time I put one of them in the nest I concocted, the other would flop out, a 10' drop. Eventually I settled on my wooden salad bowl, and the sides are too slippery, they couldn't get out. I left them on top of the ladder on the porch (so no other critters could get to them). I left a note in case CalFire came to check my fire abatement work. When I came back, they'd fledged. They were so cute. 

They'd screech if I picked them up, but once I closed my hand around them, they were happy. I sprayed this one with Arnica because I thought she must have fallen out of the nest. Then I found the nest on the ground, and realized both babies probably fell from some height. 

The parents get lots of bird food. I wonder if I'm not messing with the population, feeding them all the nijer seed. Finch-pigs. Pig-finches? They are ravenous, but I love to hear their little tiffs about who gets what perch.

I think these are Swifts. Not sure. They've got a crest across their chests, and come to check out the insect population on my front meadow. I don't see them very often. I've seen Mergansers, though, playing with the bullfrog tadpoles. Now that I'd love to get on video. It's like a cat playing with a mouse. Then all of the sudden, it throws the tadpole in the air and swallows it, like a kid catching peanuts. 

This poor baby had a run-in with the garage. Not sure how. Maybe trying to get in the small windows? Such pretty colors. The ants hadn't come to deconstruct yet. Every once in awhile I hear a thud and check for birds outside the house, with my trusty Arnica spray in hand. Often they're fine and I don't even see them. 

Not sure how I got so many quail in one picture without one head showing. I guess they got some good eats. They're like little round footballs. They certainly look well fed. Maybe it's all the compost I bury. I bury it in the open so the bear won't get it. Someday in a few decades, I may have better soil, but now it's mostly clay.

These toms really are teenagers. They act just like kids at recess. In this picture, though, they saw a hen coming their way. They perked up immediately and stopped the shenanigans. She paid no attention, and went on her way. 

I hope these weren't the guys that slept in my lavender and oregano. They really destroyed my plants. It wasn't all bad, they left some fertilizer.

This baby is just amazing. It's wingspan was about 5" and it has a face that will give you nightmares. It's called  Cecropia moth, normal range is only west to the Rockies, certainly not all the way out in California. Hyalophora cecropia. What a beauty. 

Well, that's it for now. I have to find my camera again. So many things at which to marvel. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

So I Was Wrong

So I was wrong after all. It wasn't the pollen. It was 95 degrees F (35C) every single day for a week. The series wiring of the solar panels indicated only half the panels were powering the system off and on during the hottest part of the day. I flipped all the switches off and all back on again, et voila! power to the batteries once more. The insulation on the wiring must be melting on the roof inside the conduit.

Satan's Bolete (poisonous!)
I noticed today while folding laundry how many of my pieces of clothing have battery acid holes in them. My Jost Van Dyke dress from Foxy's (BVI) has a hole in the most embarrassing place. I moved a pocket on a pair of pants. Many of my towels look like someone neatly cut holes in them. A shirt I wore Tuesday to clinic has a little eye-shaped hole right near the hem. Most of them have been tossed, so I don't get sad when I see them. Others stay in the drawers in the cabin so I can still enjoy them, even if I can't wear them in public.

A few weeks ago I took a hike in my pajama shorts and a T. I rarely see anyone up on the roads, and the construction work is done. You can hear a car pretty far away, so I'm usually safe. Flip-flops are fine unless we go down the back side of the ridge, Fawn Rd. That's bear country, and feral pig country, and all the other countries. If you need to run, you want shoes. Although, I think bears, mountain lions, and feral pigs can all run faster than me in my trail shoes. Mushroom country, par excellance. Don't have to run from them! Coffee cup in hand, Rio and I took it all in.

These are Coccora mushrooms - they grow like hard boiled eggs until they get too big. Then they sprout up to tall tan stipes with dried egg white on their caps. My sister Ronalee and I had a huge haul. Delicious when sauteed in butter or oil and garlic. Bad year for them last year, and King Boletes too. Good for Chanterelles and Black Trumpets. Puffballs came and went and we didn't notice them till too late.

Psilocybe (sil-AH-so-bee). Bought a Psilocybe book and my son finally found it..."MOM!!" Hey, I'm just lookin'!