Friday, June 30, 2017

UVM greenhouses

i was playing ingress on the UVM campus because it has a lot of portals and i needed (needed, right?) to find a lot of portals all in a hurry, and i was wandering up near the aiken building and there were some plants out in front of the greenhouses that caught my attention and then i noticed they were having some kind of plant sale, so i figured it was open to the public.

it turns out it's always open to the public, at least the conservatory rooms. it's very different than a garden store greenhouse where usually the goal is to get you to buy stuff. here the mission is to do science and education and oh by the way, here are some lovely rooms with parts of our collection on display.

a wall of drawings by students in a botanical drawings class

cacao tree


passion flower

more orchids

the pitcher plants of your nightmares

the "fruit cocktail" tree. it bears plums, peaches, and nectarines.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

black locust muffins

earlier this month black locust trees were in bloom, and my friend rapunsell gave me a recipe to use for the blossoms.

yes, you can eat them, or at least you can eat the blossoms. locust trees are related to the legume family through a second cousin on their mother's side.

no, seriously, they're legumes.

and, um, you can eat the delicious, delicious flowers. the rest of the tree you shouldn't eat, yanno, because toxic.

rapunsell gave me a recipe for muffins because she's good that way.

so here:

Locust Flower Muffins

2 cups flour
1/2 rounded tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup melted butter
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla

2 cups black locust blossoms

Whisk together dry ingredients in large bowl. Beat wet ingredients together in smaller bowl. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and butter 12  muffin tins. Dump flowers on top of dry ingredients, then pour the wet ingredients over. Stir just until everything is moistened with no large clumps.

Fill 12 muffin cups equally with batter (about 3/4 full). Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick stuck in center comes out clean.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

tours of camp 3

here are two video tours of campsite 3, one in november and one in may. the november one is cut off at the end because dead battery, but you can see the site and how different it looks with winter pitching.

the summer tarp is just a convenient ceiling on one side of the main living area, but the winter tarp has walls and is pitched with the fireplace at the front.

november camp 3:

and may camp 3:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

stowe gondola

it costs a lot of money to ski stowe.

but you can buy a single  trip foot passage ticket for $28.

yanno, if for some reason you want to go up to the top of the gondola (not the top of the mountain, by the way) and then ride the gondola down.

when you buy the single trip ticket, the person at the ticket booth will look at you like you're odd and she will ask you if you understand it's just one ride up and down and no skis.


she will look at you like you are insane if the coffee shop is closed and there's no view from the top because of the clouds.

the skiers you stand in line with will look at you like they can't figure out what you're doing, and when you get to the top, the attendants will notice you don't have skis and they will ask you to notify them when you leave. they will eye you warily until you DO leave, because they cannot imagine why you have dome up there if not to wander off up into the clouds and become a big pain in the ass for everybody.

they're polite about it, of course, but it's the same polite questioning you get every time a ski mountain sees you headed uphill away from the lifts.

so anyway, here's my little video of my trip up the stowe gondola.

Monday, June 26, 2017

letters we haven't written yet

i was having a conversation with MB in which i did that thing i sometimes like to do where she pauses in a sentence and i try to insert a different but only tangentially related noun as a guess.

so we weren't having a conversation ABOUT crotchless panties when suddenly we were.

maybe this is TMI but i gave up wearing underwear years ago and never looked back, so you know i TOTALLY do not get the concept of crotchless panties. i mean, if you're going to go to the trouble of wearing panties, WHY WOULD YOU LEAVE OUT THE FUNCTIONAL PART? and she said some women do it to be sexy because easy access, but i was all like why even bother with the panties at all?

and that's when she told me there are "crotchless panties" that really have kind of an easy open flap, which i imagined to be like the fly on men's briefs, and i said that was just wrong, because that's not crotchless, that's even a double crotch with a flap entry.

and she said i should write to the sellers of these things and complain about this in stern language.

...and then write about it on my blog.

and i said "way ahead of you".

and she said "better your search history than mine."

oh. and while doing my research, i found this:

Sunday, June 25, 2017

city of winooski

while i was out in winooski recently i saw the city's cute little code enforcement vehicle, which is one of four electric vehicles owned by the city of winooski. they are environmentally friendly and save the city a ton of money which is great, because winooski doesn't have a lot of it to throw around.

cute EV
apparently it is named sparky
on the side is the city seal.

the city seal of winooski happens to be a bunch of ramps. i am only realizing that just now, because most sources say it's onions or leeks, which i am learning is generally what people who don't know what ramps are call them because they're kind of like those things but aren't either of them.

that picture is what ramps look like, though. no mistaking it.

anyway, "winooski" is an anglo approximation of the abenaki word for onion or leek (i'm going to bet you a nickle that the abenaki who originally lived here had no confusion over this plant.) and named this location after the (probably) ramps that grew in abundance on the hillsides and still do in some places.

the winooski river runs through winooski, and although a lot of things in winooski are named winooski this or winooski that, a great many things named for the river in other towns are called "onion river" something or other.

winooski remains the onion city, though, and they've incorporated that into some of the lovely details of their public spaces.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

west canal street

MB says that west anal street would have been funnier, but "yay, kids!"

Friday, June 23, 2017

a little bit of math

...but just a little bit.

while we were at arbortrek, some of us were talking about how many times we'd clipped and unclipped the smartsnaps. i have to tell you that i am totally in love with these things, because the system is designed so once you're on the cable, you can't come off of it by mistake, and elements can be made directional by a wire key there being on one end  but not the other. if you're clipped to a wire you can move. if you're clipped to a ring, you're anchored. the only way to get from one wire to another is via a ring on account of some cables of appropriate length.

on the apple creek course we were on, there was even one place where we came down to the ground but could not detach from the system because a wire key had not been provided. i'm pretty sure the purpose of that is to keep guests from detaching themselves and then wandering up into the trees without being properly secure. you could have a guide come over and unlock you say, if you needed to use a bathroom or you wanted to get down and take pictures i guess, but you can't come off accidentally.

so i think it's a genius system.

anyway, we were talking about how many times we operated the smartsnap, and realized that it's a simple uniform growth of pattern thing, because at every platform (including the station on the ground) you're coming off of one wire and onto another wire with one ring in between, except at the ends where you are only either going on or coming off, so it's twice at each end and three times at every other node, no matter how many platforms you visited, provided you moved from platform to platform and didn't mess around with clipping in repeatedly at the same place.

so with normal movement it's 3(n-2) + 4 where n = the number of platforms you were on.

i knew you'd want to know.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

adventures in trees

true story: when i turned fifty (which wasn't yesterday) my mom asked if there was anything special i wanted to do, and i wanted to go to arbortrek, but i was having trouble finding someone to go with me because winter or heights or both and i didn't want to go alone, so i was un-arbortreked.

so then last week my girl scout troop had its spring camping trip and WE WENT TO ARBORTREK!!!

can i just tell you? i am SO afraid of heights, but it's a super way to confront your fears.

it was super fun. i made a little video. really, there were more of us there, but my footage was mostly shot from my chest mounted camera, so the views are just what was around me. some of the time.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

dental anesthetic

i managed to live into my 50s without having any cavities or needing any dental work, so i was a little sad to have developed some.

it was cool going to the the dentist, though. i only sort of count as a new patient, though, because my current dentist bought my childhood dentist's practice and although i had not been there since before dr. fersing retired (he has since died) i'm not exactly a new patient.

i am the prodigal dental patient.

the new dentist has not taken dr. fersing's original nameplate off of the door and has no intention of ever doing so, which warms my heart.

so anyway.

i got my first two fillings last week.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

history of everything

maybe you've already seen this.

i was saving it in an open tab on my desktop thinking i would toss it in with some other entries, but i keep watching it and not finding other vids i want to show you that bad, so here it is.

 there ya go.

Monday, June 19, 2017

the patriot bag

they started selling these things over at the shaw's in waterbury back in may:

it's the PATRIOT BAG! because if you are patriotic you NEED a big bag full of fireworks that aren't really even fireworks, because those aren't legal in vermont unless you have a license for a public display. what's in the PATRIOT BAG is a collection of annoying smoke bombs, black snakes, and party poppers.

that's right, those little snapping plastic bottles the sell for new year's eve parties.

but you NEED this. it's the PATRIOT BAG.

it's also a sack full of disappointment, because the kind of people who buy this have children who want FIREWORKS and instead they're going to get smoke bombs and probably there will be crying.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


i was on remote campsite 3 for a while this spring, and also for a while around thanksgiving, and also for a short bit in april. it's a fantastic campsite, but it's not so level and there's no place really to set down your stuff.

it also has an active beaver and rather than leave a bunch of beaver cut wood all over the place i decided to make a table because of course i did.

basically i had to build it twice because i started building it in november with cheap twine and then tore it down to start it with bank line and only finished it just before i left camp after memorial day.

the top of the table incorporates logs that i split BY HAND with a ranger knife, baton, and wedges, so yay, me.

this first pic is the table with only half the top places (not tied) so you can see the bracing underneath.

and here's the finished table. it's designed to hold your stuff flat on a slopy hill and also to have a lot of places where you can hang stuff.

and here it is with some heavy bags on it!

and of course i signed it.

all of the wood for this table
was cut by beaver
no live trees taken.

a place for your stuff!
flask 2017

Saturday, June 17, 2017

view from route 100

i saw this on my way to waterbury center one morning. it doesn't really fit in with any of the other posts, so it's getting its own.

Friday, June 16, 2017

2017 venture vermont: Find and photograph animal tracks

this here is a deer track, seen on the long trail just south of the summit of stark mountain.

deer are large animals, and prefer to use trails through thick woods if trails are available and empty of people, so if you hike a lot of forest trails, you see a lot of deer tracks.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

about that class action thingie...

i eat quorn products. they are excellent for me because while i'm not a vegetarian, i don't enjoy cooking with meat and i think our environment would do a little better if we cut back on the meat consumption.

the quorn line is nice and meaty tasting, and although they don't explain too carefully what
fermented mycoproteins" are, basically, they are using some sort of edible fungus, which sounds every bit as delicious to me as fermented soy anything (although i also enjoy tofu and soy sauce).

but when you do a search for quorn, the top hit (a sponsored one) is this.

did you read down?

it contains these words: "Medical studies have proven that Quorn's fungal ingredient is an allergen, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency still allow its sale."

seriously? because EVERYTHING contains "an allergen". an allergen is not a poison. it is not universally bad for people, just bad for the people who are allergic to that particular thing. the FDA still allows wheat products and peanut products to be sold and last time i heard those also contained ALLERGENS.

i have allergies. i avoid things i'm allergic to. works for me. it should work for those asshats, too.

but yanno. someone's making money off of it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

i am never going to be a food blogger

granted, i write a lot about food and even take pictures of some of my food, but i'm never going to be a food blogger.

those people take way too many pictures of delicious food arranged JUST SO. do those people ever eat? have time to do anything?

the other night i made a reasonable dinner, but because pasta with green pesto and pasta with red pesto on one plate would look pretty, i fancied it up a little. the cutlet is one of them quorn things, which i find moderately delicious. the peas are frozen peas, but the pasta is done in beet pesto and ramp pesto and they are delicious, if dish intensive.

normally when i'm putting pesto on pasta i just mix it all up in the dish i'm going to eat it from.

but since i wanted two colors on my plate i had to mix them in two separate dishes and then put them on my plate and i had envisioned some sort of yin-yang thing because that would look cool but seriously, i'm a single person eating dinner alone at four in the afternoon and who has time for all that?

it was a pretty experiment and nice to have the two flavors of pesto (delicious even) but more work than i think i'd go to unless i had company and wanted to REALLY DRAW ATTENTION to the two different pestos.

also if you're serving more people than just yourself, it feels less stupid to dirty an additional two dishes for the pasta.

Monday, June 12, 2017

time and again

a few weeks ago i was on the campus of st. michael's college (ingress portals) and i had a look at a sculture there that i have seen before. it's one of those moments where you look at it in passing a lot and then all of a sudden decide to take a closer look and it becomes a whole other thing.

it's one o' them undulating sculptures made of field stone that you see from time to time- or at least i thought they were pretty common because there's even a house up in morristown that has one in the front yard...

but no. it turns out the artist, thea alvin, lives in morristown and she does these huge projects with volunteer help and they really are very lovely.

the one at st. mike's is called "time and again" and while it's worth looking at pictures, i notice that none of her works are fully photographed in her gallery, and i have to think you can't possibly capture them properly from one angle.

at least that's how i found it.

because i have engaged it as a pretty undulating shape on a lawn, with the surprised realization that it continues over there not physically connected but connected very obviously if your eye follows the curve of it, and most recently i noticed what could only be described as a round pucker hole at one end and i had some time so i went over and looked through it.

to my surprise and delight it forms a viewer to focus your gaze on a particular line that creates a lovely image incorporating the building behind the farthest part of the sculpture.

and i'm like wow.

this is the view through the hole, which is more like a tunnel.

and this is the view from the building on the other side.

you should really go look for yourself if you can.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

signs of trouble

under the bridge, above the falls, i saw this:

(appears to be written in eyeliner)
My Dearest Teagan & Damon
I love you with everything I
am I'm so sorry I couldn't
be the mom you deserved
I will pray and watch
over you every day of your
lives And love you through
anything and everything you
go through I loved and cherished
every minute i got to spend with you
all my love,
your "crazy" mom
PS Thanks Mom & Sy
FOR Nothing

(to side:)

you are
my heart
& soul sorry
i wasn't enough

(and at the bottom, apparently a first attempt in lipstick:)

I ❤ you
Teagan &
(change to lip liner? brown?)

above the bridge, this:

Saturday, June 10, 2017

april wood frogs

why, yes. i am going through my photos and videos and telling you about stuff i saw or heard but did not write at the time it was happening.


apparently if you are a wood frog, bright sunlight and icy water makes you go "hey, baby let's get it ON!" because you hear these guys while there is still ice on the water.

not for me, but then again, i am not a frog.

i was out on the burlington bikeway where it crosses the mouth of the winooski river and all around me was this fantastic sound of wood frogs singing.

if you like frog song, here's a good site you can visit. wooo!

Friday, June 09, 2017

2017 venture vermont: Find a spider web outside

Find a spider web outside and look up close. There are several types of webs, what type is this one?

this here is an orb-type web.

because of its construction, i can probably narrow it down to a spider belonging to the araneidae family.

this web probably belongs to a female spider, because apparently females build webs and males typically wander around saying "helloooo, ladeeeez".

here's an interesting article on how they make their webs.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

2017 venture vermont: Find frogs’ eggs or tadpoles and take a picture

i might have told you that i accidentally went birding with the community senior center of bolton, richmond and huntington. did i? no?

well, a few weeks ago i accidentally went birding with the csc. it happened like this: i pulled into the parking lot at the birds of vermont museum (ingress portals) and there were all these people in the lot gathering for something and they were taking a group picture.

and it's my habit to ask people posing for a group photo if they want me to take the picture so they can all be in the photo so i did and they asked me if i wanted to be in the photo and i said i wasn't with the group and they asked me if i wanted to be and then they offered to lend me a pair of binoculars and i said no need, i have mine here in my bag.

so we all went birding and now i'm on their mailing list and i might be taking up pickleball.


we were passing the pond and the nice young woman who works at the museum was telling us about the FROG AND SALAMANDER EGGS in there which i would have been interested in anyway but *angels singing* VENTURE CHALLENGE!

these are about to be spotted salamanders. they're not yet. they're still in the eggs.

these guys are wood frog tadpoles, and they have apparently just slipped out of their eggs but are still hanging out in the jelly. they're THAT NEW.

good luck, guys.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

it's not a bug; it's a FEATURE.

i do not know how you react when you turn over something and discover something like this:

me, i think wow. something really cool apparently just molted. i better find my camera.

and then a day later i found another one of these things:

i had no clue what it was. maybe you're an entomologist or a junior entomologist and you know right away, but i broke out the field guides and everything and it took me forever to identify this thing because it is not the adult insect. it is the nymph stage of didymops transversa, the river cruiser dragonfly. the empty casing i had found is apparently called an exuvia, which is the term for the molted skin of an arthropod.

it sort of makes me cast a side eye at this line of beauty products. that's really not where i'd go with the naming, but what the hell. i'm no beauty consultant. "here. put this on your face. it will be like when a spider molts."

the thing about it, though, is this is an animal who has lived underwater for a few years. it has come out onto land to shed its skin and become a strikingly sleek adult. it will be fierce and streamlined and have the power of flight. there isn't a practice period; it just cracks open its old skin and steps out, transformed.

if i had known who you were, i would have paid closer attention to you.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

my new policy

hey, hi. i experience gender in mostly the usual way, even if i do get called sir sometimes because i'm kind of androgynous and wear hiking boots in the city.

but there are people who do not experience gender on the binary or even in one consistent way and those people are othered every damn time they have to fill out a form that has checkboxes for gender.

there are, by the way, legit reasons to collect gender information, or even just to collect information about how a person wants to be perceived and addressed.

instead of making people choose male or female (for you rightwingers) or male, female, OTHER or "prefer not to say" (for you well-meaning but oh-so-wrong lefties) you could just put a little space there:


and you leave it blank and let people write in whatever the hell they want. you get the information you want, and a more accurate data sample.

also, on a lot of forms they really, really want to know your preferred prefix. mr., ms., dr., mrs. on some forms they make this a REQUIRED FIELD.

i prefer no prefix. i'm just flask. if you insist on calling me by a title i don't want, you are not being polite.

so i am now going by the eggplant rule.

if the form i am filling out is one on which you want me to do something (sign a petition, answer survey questions, anything non-essential that i could do without in a pinch) and i cannot answer "eggplant" to either gender or prefix, i'm not filling out your form.

my rules.

i make 'em up.

Monday, June 05, 2017

totally not a rock

i was outside a shopping mall (i needed new glasses, ok? but also there are some ingress portals there so i have to go sometimes, ok?)

anyway, i was outside a shopping mall and they have this electrical box thingy- who knows what it really is?- because they have covered it with this extremely unrealistic plastic rock COVER that's supposed to, i don't know- make it blend in?

nope. not working.

also, waste of plastic.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

recipe: ramps and 'taters

this is a classic springtime thing, and traditionalists will tell you it should properly be cooked with baconfat, but if you are vegetarian or maybe just don't like cooking bacon (i will happily eat it, but i don't like bacon grease in my kitchen), you can use butter or even olive oil as your fat. the real star is the ramps.

so mmmkay, cut up your ramps into pieces of the size you would like to eat. remember that the cook down a lot smaller than they are. hot up your chosen fat in a pan over medium heat and cook your ramps down until they are bright green and smallish. what you're doing here is infusing your fat with delicious ramp flavor.

remove the ramps from the pan because you don't want to overcook them.

then toss in your potatoes, cut to a size and shape you like to eat. i like a rough dice. distribute them evenly in the pan season them (salt, pepper, whatever you like) and then DO NOT TOUCH THEM. seriously. leave them alone until they are brown on the bottom. unless you cut your potatoes into huge honkin' monoliths, they're probably cooked through a third to halfway. you can tell because the cooked part is a little more translucent than the uncooked tops.

when they're nicely brown on the bottom, flip them over. season the other side, cook them about the same amount of time. maybe cover with a lid part of the time if you need to speed up the cooking, but finish them open so you still have crunchy brown outsides. when the potatoes are about done, toss the ramps back in there and mix it all up.

it's good by itself, and it's good with eggs. it's good with fish, too. and it you have leftover it's good if you scramble some eggs right on top of the leftover in a fry pan the next day.

go crazy with it, but don't expect to smell nice.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Friday, June 02, 2017

gear review: dry bags

if you've ever taken a trip with me, you know that i'm a bit of a bag whore. and because i go camping a lot, i need a collection of stuffsacks and packs. and because i go camping a lot on water, i need drybags. i'm going to review a bunch of them for you today.

let's be clear: these are all bags that i either purchased or were purchased for me by friends and family as gifts. none of them were provided to me by manufacturers or retailers. i'm writing about them because i have them and because you might for some reason want this information.

i don't know, maybe you like camping too. or bags. or my breezy style. or you're curious about how i carry all that freakin' gear with me when i go out and live in the woods.

so ok.

modern stuffsacks are pretty water resistant, but for water travel or for very wet weather your stuff will be driest in drybags.

old-school drybags are the most durable and also the heaviest. these are the vinyl-coated fabric bags that weigh a ton and are bulky, but man, are they bombproof. i have an old EMS brand boundary 70 liter backpacks style and the comparable sealline baja bags in the 20 and 30 liter sizes. i've used mine hard, a couple of them for a decade at least, and they show no sign of giving out and none of them have leaked on me.

come to think of it, none of my drybags have ever leaked on me, but i also don't put the little splash-resistant ones in the bottom of the boat or toss them around like cargo, either. but that 70 liter daypack has done me well when i needed to put another daypack INSIDE it and swim with it trailing in the water.

i also have a couple of the sea to summit big river bags, one of which serves as my kayaking purse and gets rough use. i keep my camera inside a 3 liter tucked inside the 8 liter, and bone dry. going on 3 years.

more recently i've acquired a pair of event compression drysacks (also from sea to summit) which are not intended for submersion, but boo-yah, i'll tell you that the couple times a sleeping bag has escaped down a bank and into the lake my sleeping bags have stayed completely dry for the time it took to get in a boat and fetch them back. it only happened twice, but hey. i'm satisfied. plus overnight your sleeping bag collects some moisture and i like to air mine in the dry part of the day and then bag it until bedtime, and this bag does super well for that while in camp. the compression straps get a little in the way for this purpose, but uncompressed the bag is just about the right size for daytime storage that preserves loft on your bag.

i just now returned from my first trip with a cute little granite gear 13 liter drysack that i used onsite to keep my pajamas out of the rain. it also makes a spiffy little pillow in my hammock. i have not subjected it to much abuse, but everything in it stayed dry and the bag is supple and light.

and also making its first appearance in my gear array is the super-cute granite gear slacker packer compression drysack, which is large enough to hold my entire hammock system for transport to my site and light enough to be my go-to shopping bag for trips across the water to town. also it's handy for jaunts on and off the paddleboard because it's a pack.

i dunno. maybe i just love all these too much.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

sad and angrymaking

i was just looking at youtube things (as one does) and i came across this:

go ahead, i'll wait.

how far did you make it into this before your ears started to steam?

i managed to watch the whole thing, getting progressively sadder and angrier for the whole forty minutes.

so the basic premise is they take five poor and desperate women and make them tell their sad stories for entertainment purposes and then they give one of the "lucky" contestants the thing she asked for plus some fabulous prizes!

there's so much wrong here that it's a little hard to unpack.

say you're poor. you're poor and you're desperate and you want simple things to make your life better so maybe you and your kids don't starve and so you get dressed up and you tell your story on national television where a kindly host makes light entertainment out of your misery. maybe you'll get that hospital gurney and transistor radio for your polio stricken son or enough construction materials so that your four kids don't have to sleep all in the same bed.

but when you win your fabulous prize package at the expense of your dignity, voted on by applause meter in the audience who appear to be petty middle class ladies who get to sit in judgement over which of you is most deserving of having some basic needs met, the other four candidates have to face the reality that they have gone begging on national television and been judged not worthy.

the other four candidates will be sent home with an iron and some perfume and some laundry soap and consider themselves lucky.

you can see the pain on the faces of these women.

i notice it's formatted to be just women going begging.

i also notice that many of the prizes in the package are stoves and freezer chests and automatic laundry machines and other things designed to help women DO WOMEN'S WORK but doesn't really address the underlying inequality, poverty, or lack of medical care.

then again, these days we seem to have television shows that are pretty much just people behaving badly for the camera.

i am all out of ideas.


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