Wednesday, July 26, 2017

2017 venture vermont: Hike to a waterfall

if i have to be fully truthful about this, really i wasn't hiking TO a waterfall so much as i was hiking up a mountain with the intent of going BY a waterfall, which i think should count.

although the stark mountain trails have awesome maps, there's not so much in the way of summer trail markings, so it's easy to be on a ski trail that you think is probably the right one but really isn't.

at least that's true for some of the lower parts of the mountain.

so when i saw this waterfall, i assumed it was a problem of summer dryness (because yes, there was a whole week of dry weather) and it was nice and all that, but i did not see why anyone would label it "the waterfall".

but then on the way down i was on the right trail and saw this:

hike to a waterfall: check.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

gear review: mountainsmith tour with strappettes

reminder: nobody ever asks me to review gear, but i use gear and sometimes like to tell you how it performs. i do not receive gear from merchants or manufacturers to try out.


a long time ago (like, i was either still in college or just out of it) i bought a handsome mountainsmith lumbar pack. i loved it and used it for all the things, making it my de facto purse. in those days, there was only one model of mountainsmith lumbar pack, and i had it.

but then as more and more people had these bags and used them, mountainsmith came up with design changes that reflected how people were using the bags, like an improved shoulder strap.

and i saw these improvements and wanted one of the newer bags.

problem: my old bag was still in good shape and worked just fine. so i told myself i would use it hard and rough and wear it out and get me a new one.

twenty years later i still have not succeeded in wearing it out.

apparently this is a common story among fans of the original mountainsmith bag.

so this spring i decided to JUST GET A NEW ONE ALREADY, especially because the new one has more carrying space to hold my junior naturalist materials.

i bought the mountainsmith tour and a set (pair?) of strapettes, which are mountainsmith's packpack-style straps that can swap in and out for the shoulder strap to stabilize a large load for a longer hike.

my mom did the ordering, which is significant, because i didn't much care which color came, so she ordered huckleberry, which she judged to be the most handsome. this is only significant because she also apparently decided to nickname the bag "huckleberry", because a bad needs a nickname.

"huckleberry was shipped!" she'd tell me.

or "huckleberry's here!"

so me 'n' huckleberry, we're tight now.

we've carried a lot of stuff up a lot of mountains and i will tell you that this bag is tough like the original, has more carrying space, and the strapettes make it a comfortable carry for long days even with two full water bottles, a field guide, and a pair of binoculars.

and part of what i love about the strapettes is that if you don't need them and you just want to carry the bag as a purse or with fewer straps, they pop right off.

so yeah. would recommend.

be sure you like the color, though, because you're going to have the bag a LONG time.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

things you see on the res: swimmers

i am still cleaning up old photos and videos that at the time i thought i would make into blog entries but then i couldn't be arsed to put them in chronological order or anything, so this is about a thing i saw back in may when i was living on site 3.

i was hanging out at camp and i saw this guy come through swimming and a canoe was following him with a wonan and two children in it, and they kept stopping to take water temps and they stopped for a minute or so to discuss that and the follow distance and some other things and they weren't far from my shore so i asked what he was training for.

to swim the english channel.

from the sounds of their accents this was their vermont vacation but that's no reason for the training to stop.

the next time they went by the crew was in three kayaks, but otherwise the same and they said they didn't mind me shooting video.

so here it is.

Friday, July 21, 2017

hanging out in the rain

during the time i was living on remote site 2 on waterbury reservoir, it rained.

like it rained a LOT. it rained so much that they eventually had to close the dam and let the water rise because after all it is a flood control project, but that's for another post.

one day i went out in the morning to visit my house and have a shower and so some laundry and then i went back to camp to hang out in the rain because even a rainy day on  the res is still a day on the res.

here's video:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

outings: mushroom walk

i told you about the time i accidentally went birding with the richmond/bolton/huntington senior center.

even though i'm not yet 60 i am retired and therefore fall into their demographic population, so i'm on their mailing list and sometimes go to activities.

anyway, i went to the mushroom walk with motown mushrooms.

it is a lovely outing at black barn farm in bolton, which is that farm right next to the upper potholes.

the nice young man takes you an a lovely scenic walk through woods that will have some wild mushrooms and some cultivars he has planted, including some that have naturalized. you go out in the woods with knives and big bags and then you bring the haul back to where the grill is already hot and you eat your fill of fresh grilled mushrooms and anything you don't eat, you can divvy up and take home.

pretty spectacular.

upper potholes 
raised bed with inoculated log borders
dye mushrooms

inoculated logs



our haul

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

2017 venture vermont: Go on a day-long outdoor adventure. Take pictures of all that you do!

my adventure day wasn't all that exciting.

and it wasn't entirely outdoors, although to be fair i have a lot of day long outdoor adventures and it was hard to pick one in particular so i woke up one day and said to myself "imma take a lot of pictures today and call this my day-long outdoor adventure."

and so i did.

so for starters, i played some ingress on my way over to stark, and then i messed with my gear and stuff and started walking up the mountain. i'd never been up the stark mountain trail, plus there's a waterfall up there (more about that later) so woo! jam-packed day!
trail signs
little violets growing wild
above the birdcage

kent thomas nature center. thomas kent? i always get it mixed up.
lunch inside, because the blackflies are outside
always read the log.
view of camel's hump
up the singlechair from midstation
water barrel at stark's nest
stuff on table.
feet up
long shadow, way down.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

closing tabs

i was not going to do another "things i found on the internet" post, but i have all these open tabs.

you may have seen them. or not.

first, and it's really important to make this first, because the open tab is messing with my browser speed, is the oskar fischinger google doodle. it's super awesome and you should play with it. clear your calendar.

there's this game coming out called miegakure and i want it. i want it SO BAD. but it's not out yet. meanwhile, there's a little box of  4 dimensional toys  you CAN buy and i'm thinking of buying it, only it's a little pricey for a thing that's just cool to play with and i don't know how much i'd really play with it. here's a video of the guy explaining it:

next, i WANT this bowl. i want it in stainless steel in the small size. i do not want it for kitchen purposes, but exactly for the reason we are being warned against: apparently if you take it out in the sun, its parabolic shape starts fires.

...which would make it an excellent addition to my fire kit.

changing topics suddenly, here's a video of a school board meeting. notice how the desperate young teacher tenders her resignation after detailing the ways her school is completely broken. then notice how when she's done, the board does not go into "holy shit our hair is on fire let's drop everything and really TALK ABOUT THIS" mode, but instead they don't even skip a beat and it's business as usual, which is what makes this so completely horrifying.

ok, now if you have a heart in you, you need to feel better, so here's this:

i am now in love with this kid.

also, i went to celebrate canada day weekend on july 4th  (yes, i know it's a little late, but i like the perverseness of celebrating canada day on july 4th) by putting on my spiffy canada maple leaf socks (because i'm like that), only to discover they have holes in them and have to be retired. no amount of watching this video will make up for that, but it is a pretty awesome video:

and there's this:

and this.

and this last thing sums up my week.

ok, i'm back to normal now.

Monday, July 17, 2017

extreme perversion

i told you about falafelnaan.

now i will tell you i've gone off the deep end and spread fresh salsa and guacamole in the falafel before adding the falafel and slathering it with tzatziki.

is is probably an abomination, but a delicious one.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

recipe: mocha coconut mousse

the day of my emergency root canal i was sitting here thinking that some smooth food might be nice and coincidentally this recipe popped up on my desk and i'm not really into chocolate cherry anything, but i figured i could adapt the general concept to something i might like.

so here's my adaptation:

things you're gonna need

a cup of chocolate chips. it won't pay you to go cheap on these.
a teaspoon of coconut oil
a can of coconut milk, preferably one that has settled. don't jiggle it.
some coffee flavored thing. i used instant coffee powder reconstituted with maple syrup. it's what i had in the house. don't judge.

things you should do

turn the can of coconut milk upside down and open the bottom. drain the liquidy stuff and save it to do something else with. the part you're going to use is the solid creamy stuff. if you get stupid and open the wrong end of the can you have to use a spoon to scoop it out, but no harm done.

toss the chocolate and the coconut oil in a bowl large enough to hold all the things. melt them together in your microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring between. alternatively you can use a double boiler on the stove, but why would you?

add the solid part of the coconut milk and the coffee flavored thing, and blend it up real well. a hand mixer will make it fluffier, but your stick blender will do ok in a pinch.

put in in some little dishes and chill it for a few hours.

it is very tasty and does not hurt at all.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

live to know

so this one day a while ago i was out playing ingress (because of course) and i needed JUST A FEW MORE POINTS to level up and i had burned out the portals immediately by me but i noticed one hidden over there down that trail a little ways so i went and blew it up and got some more points and BOOM hit the next level (yay!) and it turned out to have been somebody's guardian and they were all ticked off about that but i was still a day or two from even knowing what one was so i didn't even know enough to go "huh? what's a guardian?" which would have been funny...

but anyway...

i was over there and hidden out of view there's a pretty little collection of stone cairn sculptures and farm wire sculptures an a nice bit of landscape tucked on a hillside and here are some pictures.

Friday, July 14, 2017

let's have a video grab bag, shall we?

because i really need to close some tabs.

ok, this thing isn't a video but it's striking and informative. you should look.

here's a video about how to make a "recorder" out of a carrot.

there are some other videos about whether or not this really works. it does. the vegetable orchestra has been doing this for a long time.

this is cool, and it's the sort of thing you almost thing you could do at home until you realize you just don't have one of those mirrors.

and if you've ever wondered about why women of the 18th century upperclass were so useless as to require lady's maids to help them dress, you maybe do no have a full appreciation for the difficulty of the process.

i drag myself out of bed in the mornings and pull on a pair of pants, a bra and a shirt and call it good. most days i get the shirt on forwards. no knickers are worn, so there's that in common.

and then there's these guys. i am enjoying everything they do, if we include "oh my goodness that looks so frightening" as "enjoyment".

but cool, you know?

and then there's this guy. his primitive technology channel is fascinating and for full benefit i recommend you go back and start watching him from the beginning, because basically he's starting with sticks and stones and working his way up to livable standards, if not modern ones. he makes a stylistic choice not to speak at all in the videos, unless you have subtitles on, and it turns out he does have a lot to say about his processes.

if he doesn't get a lot of marriage proposals, i will be very surprised.

and then there's this:

nuf sed.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


it's a version of that old kid's joke:

you're going in for your first root canal. what time is it?


tooth hurty! get it? huh, huh?

yeah, it's THAT good of a joke.

ok, anyway.

so in may i went to the VTC dental clinic for a cleaning and they said "we're not licensed to diagnose, but if we were we would probably say you need a filling or two, so we'd like to encourage you to go to a dentist who WILL be licensed to tell you that you need a filling and will probably tell you that and then give you a filling or two. if you need one. which you might. but legally we can't tell you that. so you should go see a dentist."

so i went to see a dentist.

he put in some fillings.

and then everything was all awesome.

until two days ago i was just minding my own business (well, actually i was walking down some mountain out in the nowheres because ingress) and all of a sudden OH THE PAIN.

now, i am not a stranger to pain. i have experienced pain on a rather grand scale, like that time i nearly froze to death up in avery's gore.

this, my friends, was PAIN. it was more or less alleviated by the judicious application of topically applied lidocaine and benzocaine in conjunction with ibuprofen and acetaminophen. oh, yeah. and that relief from the topically applied 'caines lasted all of twelve minutes each time (i timed it) so it was a bumpy night.

but then i felt ok in the morning, so i went to my appointment with my rheumatologist like nothing was wrong (air conditioning) and then out again (warm out) and then to the grocery store (air conditioning) and then out (pretty near hot) again and i was experiencing some discomfort but then i made what i will now call THE MISTAKE.

i ate a ham sandwich because i had missed breakfast and i was feeling kind of peaked.

and what followed was the kind of rip-roaring pain where you would do anything to stop it, including saw off the hurty part, only you cannot escape it because it is IN YOUR HEAD.

so there i was in the grocery store parking lot gasping and crying and keeping the door open in case i started to throw up because it hurt THAT BAD and then (only pausing to play a little ingress) i came right home and called my dentist.

and he could see me following day and now i have had not only my first fillings ever but my first emergency root canal.

when the dentist broke open the filling* the smell that filled my head was not good. and as you maybe know, a bad smell emanating from the inside of your mouth is hard to escape, since it's very local to all your smelling apparatuses.

the giant empty cavern is being left open to drain for the week before the dentist goes in to drill and fill and crown**, so that feels weird and tastes and smells horrible, but it is still WAY better than the two days of SEARING UNBEARABLE PAIN and all in all i'm pretty happy with it.

* it turns out the tooth that needed the biggest filling also has a teeny little crack in it, and an infection far enough below the surface so as not to be visible in the initial drilling and not even visible on today's x-rays, but oh, boy, i was headed for that root canal sooner or later and the dentist says putting the filling in only "kicked the bear".

**because i am a stranger in the land of dental work, i asked the dentist to explain what a crown is for me, and he started with "it's like a little hardhat for your tooth."

Monday, July 10, 2017

2017 venture vermont: Make a utensil or accessory for your campsite out of recycled materials

i'm all about using what's handy for my current purposes. last year on remote site 13 i made some little pots out of clay i dug on the reservoir which is not recycling things to use at my campsite, but i did use a piece of wood i dragged out of the water to dry my pots on, and i needed a little water dish, so i pulled a soda bottle out of the water (i'd have pulled it out and put it in recycling anyway) and cut it to make a dish i still have and use in my outdoor craft box.

but that was last season.

THIS season (so far) i have made a little waterproof map case out of the packaging for some socks. that's kind of a lame entry even though it is a handy item, because i didn't have to modify it to use it as a map case. it's just right the way it is.

but then i was sitting on my campsite and i needed a little bowl to hold some wood scraps for me and i happened to have a juice jar, so i cut that:

but also ever since last year's venture challenge, i'm really into cordage, so as long as i was eating my usual cookies every morning (don't judge) i decided to make a handy little cord out of that, and cordage is always handy at a campsite. plus this cord is sparkly, so you can use it for decoration, i guess.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

courage in bloom

so i was in montpelier some months ago playing ingress (remember, kids, join the BLUE team) and it took me to the courage in bloom garden, which i had never seen before.

more about the garden, and the text of the poem can be found here.


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