Thursday, August 27, 2020

boil water

 i'm under an boil water order here at home now, until further notice. this is because our regular water was shut off and we were placed on a grade level cistern while the nice workmen do their project of replacing the entire water system, which will take  some weeks yet.

i am more put out by the boil water notice than i was about the original "hey, you drinking water is radioactive" notice.

i mean, it's not "leaky nuclear plant on top of your groundwater" radioactive", it's just "you live in new england and there's granite" radioactive.

anyway, i'm using my spiffy camping filter to make my water safe to drink, because that's a thing.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Go to a VT state park you’ve never been to

 yesterday i found myself traveling for an errand and i thought: "hey! is there a vermont state park ear here that i can visit and scope out?"

why yes, yes there was. 

so i went to Bomoseen state park and i was going to do this history loop but there were some ugly looking clouds so i thought "i'll just roll up to this spot here near the parking and do a little field study of woody plants" because what's here is unlike what's at home and i was just starting to diagram when the sky opened up and i was soaked before i got back to the car.

but then i didn't ave a nice picture of be at Bomoseen State Park, so i schlepped an umbrella out and went over to the sign near the bathhouse.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

how to eat like my mom

 ok, really, it's more how to cook like flask, only i got this recipe from my mom and have translated it into my own style and adjusted it for how i cook. my mom used a ruler on her version.

my mom wrote out the recipe for 4-6 people, but imma tell you how to make it at home for me, because i live alone. i make two servings, because i like it leftover.



one medium sized tomato per serving. it should be fresh and picked ripe from the vine.

a little olive oil, not important exactly how much, but somewhere around a teaspoon per serving.

somewhere between 4 and six ounces of brie

a half handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped

a pinch of salt

some little red pepper flakes. a few if you're me, a whole bunch if you like pointy food.

approximately one clove of garlic per serving, minced

a serving of pasta. i like something that holds sauce because the sauce is the point.

some parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top.


peel and chop the tomatoes. this is very important, the peeling.

peel and cut up the brie. also important. you want it without its rind.

toss then together in a bowl with the other sauce ingredients. give it a good stir and leave it be for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally. what will happen is the tomato and the brie will marinate and make a lovely pink velvety soup.

just before you're ready to eat, cook the pasta. 

drain it, and pour it hot into the bowl with the lovely pink sauce.

sprinkle with parmesan.

if you like, go ahead and garnish with more basil.


struggle mightily to eat a moderate helping.


Monday, August 17, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Learn a new technique to purify water

 there aren't that many practical ways to purify water on the trail.

but i was taking my friend barb for her first backpacking camping (a short one) and i have a sawyer mini i had never used before, so we brought that to try out which is very fortunate because barb has one too that she bought for work in case she needs to go to a place with dubious drinking water.

i have an old pump ceramic filter that i've been using, but this is my first time using one of them newfangled nanotube filtration jobbers.

we collected water from a stream some distance from our campsite and filtered it onsite for our cooking and washing.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Go on an overnight backpacking trip with everything you need in your backpack

this one continues to be hard.

but ok.

it's harder to do this one now because as a high risk person in the covid era, trails and camping at trail shelters is not acceptable risk.

but my friend barb just got herself and actual good camping hammock and tarp setup and we headed off into a vermont state forest for some dispersed  primitive camping. a lot of people don't think about dispersed camping, but it's a thing you can do if you have the appropriate skills and gear, and it's legal if you follow the guidelines.

so we did that.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Write Haiku or other nature poetry based on things you observe in nature around you

 a couple weeks ago i was doing a thing with some kids and one of our activities was to write a haiku, but we rolled a die to determine some of the required elements. we did this twice, so here are my haikus.

I)  theme: flowers

    character: snake

    required word: green

everywhere are blooms

green grass, riot of flowers

follow the snake.

II) theme: wind

    character: horse

    required word: green

as if galloping

he blows the grasses over

green and flexible

and then because i had a few minutes left, i wrote a double dactyl on the same foundation:

hurchison murchison, galloping overland

blowing green grass on an incoming breeze

pounding and sounding the


signs that there's pollen to make you to sneeze


Friday, August 14, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Create a scavenger hunt for you and your friends and find everything

 i went for a walk with my friend barb in a state forest, and i asked her if i could make her a scavenger hunt, and good sport that she is, she said sure. i had to teach her some things for her to be able to find all the items, but it helps here learn her plants and teaching helps me retain my knowledge.

so here was our list:

  • three kinds of maples
  • an amphibian
  • a sedge
  • a grass
  • a compound leaf
  • two kinds of pine trees
  • a vine
  • the footprint of a mammal
  • an animal scat
  • a birch tree
  • a beech tree
  • a polypore
  • a gilled mushroom
  • something in the rubus genus
  • a feather
and good for us, we found everything, too.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Hang your laundry outdoors to dry instead of using a drying machine

this is a hard one for me because i do't have a place to put an outdoor line, and although i can put racks on the patio, it's got to be a really warm and dry day with a breeze, and  leaving it to evening's no good, and an afternoon storm's no good, so that's unreliable at best.

but i figured that the spirit of this item is served just fine if i put the racks inside the house and it's a bit of a PITA to walk around them in the living room, but the clothes smell as good as if i'd done them outside and i save energy. it's also easier on the clothes.

i'm trying to do this regularly now. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

weathering the storm

 last week we got the tail of a tropical storm coming through here, which meant a lot or wind and a LOT OF RAIN. i have two tomato plants, one of whom (yes, i am granting them personhood) has been having a hard time. initially i was overwatering it, and then you can't just stop watering a thing entirely so i was trying to figure that out and then there was ALL THIS RAIN and the poor thing just had a fit.

there was literally a moment when it went from looking like a distressed plant to one that had given up and was dying.

and i could not just let it drown. one of the problems is that the container, large as it is, does not drain., which is fine i guess if you haven't overwatered at all. there was nothing to do besides go out into the storm armed with a power drill, gently tip it sideways and drill some holes.

and a LOT of water came out. 

but it was still raining.

so i dragged this thing over to my door and up one step and then onto a big plastic tarp and right into my living room on MY TAN CARPET.

and then i brought in all the other containered plants to join it and good thing too, because that's about when the WIND started.

they all seemed to enjoy their little sojourn as indoor plants and my poor little overwatered friend has recovered sufficiently that it now has brand new foliage and is starting a second set of blooms.

i am enjoying roughly one fresh ripe tomato every day.

and my carpet looks fine.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Photograph and identify five species of wild growing native Vermont plants

 it's never hard for me to complete this item; learning the plants that grow around my home and on the natural areas i love are a thing that i do all the time.

so i'm just going to pick five that i liked from the past few weeks.

this is a plaintain leaf sedge, Carex plantaginea, which is one of the first plants to green up in spring.

it blooms right about the same time as

Canadian wild ginger, arum canadense, with its beautiful furry leaves that make it look shiny, and its fantastic three-clawed red flower.

this one is sallow sedge, carex lurida, and if you're wondering at this point why my native plant identifications are heavy on the sedges,  it's because i just finished taking a course on sedges with Jerry Jenkins.

here is a native plant. it is very teeny. i found it looking through a microscope, but i assure you, it is a plant.

this is a micrasterias rotata:

and here is one last sedge to round out my five:

this is a straw colored flatsedge, Cyperus strigosus.

that's my five for documentation purposes.

the more i learn about plats, the easier it is to pick five i haven't done before.

Monday, August 10, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Roll down a grassy hill

 this one is always fun because as a grown-ass adult people look at you a little odd when you, alone, trudge to a hilltop and then instead of doing any of the usual things adult humans do at the tops of hill, you roll down, pick yourself up and continue about your day as if nothing weird had just happened.

Sunday, August 09, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Take a human powered boat on a lake or pond

 this one's pretty easy to do, but this year i have been avoiding boat landings most days because COVID.

but on a wednesday afternoon traffic is light and it felt good to be on the water, sciencing and just enjoying.

on board with me are my orang deck bag ( dry bag) some sedge samples for study, my mask and fins, and a mesh bag to carry wet things.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Do a handstand underwater in a lake or pond

 although this one is on the list a lot of years, this is the first time i have done it.

i promise you, i got a solid dive down, planted my hands on the bottom, raised my fee above water level, and pushed up.

i did this a dozen times trying to get some good footage, but this is the best i could do for the footage. i am thankful that the folks who adjudicate the challenge are more into experiences than documented results.

i had a blast, though.

Friday, August 07, 2020

sedges: third problem (incomplete)


It’s been a wild couple of weeks. “Over the next three weeks try [to] find one species in each of the 10 sections…” he said. 

“Oh, sure”, i said. “This will be easy. Like a scavenger hunt and with three weeks to work in!” So apparently learning sedges is a lifetime project. I’m ok with that.

I took another little trip over to Wolf Run conservation area on the left is a thing I am practically certain is  group phacocystis, C. gynandra. Go me!

Which brings us to this right hand page:

Habitat: along the old woods road

I’m going to say this is group lupulinae,

C, intumescens

And turning the page?

I was very excited about the thing on the left, but on close inspection every single one of its little possibly-achenes had six sepals and each one had a hole in it where something had gone in or out. Every one of them was empty. None of that matched sedges that i had in the guides.

On the right side, growing in a boggy area pondside, was this other thing.


Given its size, habitat, and pergynia shape, i’m going with group vesicariae, C. baileyi

And turning the page in my notes:

I went to gillett pnd, on the richmond end and spent a happy afternoon on the northern shore by the dam.

On the left, growing in the dried up margin of the pond is this thing:



I am calling this an eleocharis obtusa.

And then on the right i have a photos of the achene and the barbs on the leaf:

I’m calling it group lupulinae, C. lupulina.

Ok, last page of the notes:

 I’m going to say this is group multiflorae, C. Vulpinoidea.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Cut your own energy use

ok, is it rant time?

because really if we want to cut down on energy use significantly on this planet, we need to change the behaviors of the BIG CONSUMERS. we need to have the right to repair, and not throw out perfectly good stuff that could be fixed but huge corporations want us to buy new.

if each and every one of us made the tiny changes that are under our control, we still wouldn't have done enough because we, individual people, are not the largest part of the problem.

i can take a shorter shower, but they're still growing alfalfa in california for export and using water taken from nevada rivers to do it.

i can throw out less stuff, but the battery on my phone is wearing out, and the company that makes my phone wants me to buy a whole new phone and that is a problem of global scale.

i'm still in favor of energy efficient as long as we all recognize that there's going to need to be some very big changes to the structure of corporations and governments if we want to make a significant difference while there's still time.

so. with all that in mind, i had energy-efficient heat pumps installed at my house this week. i stand to save 40% on my heating bill in the winter.

i'm going to go ahead and award myself ten points.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Make a map of your favorite natural area

this "make a map of my favorite natural area" thing... how do i pick a favorite natural area?

ok, maybe that one place, or the other, but i have already made maps of those. complex maps.

but i like maps, yanno? and i have been trying to incorporate maps into  some of my outdoor activities as storytelling devices, so a couple weeks ago down at volunteers green in richmond, i made two maps: one that shows the colors i could see from each location, and one where i list the first five sounds i could hear in each location.

it's nonstandard mapping, but i'm a big fan of nonstandard and experimental.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Identify a constellation that is new to you.

so this winter i was looking through my rss feed and i saw a somebody post something about a petition to bring back the constellation Bufo.


it turns out that obsolete constellations are a thing.

and nobody knows if the english naturalist John Hill was serious or not when he created fifteen constellations with names like toad, slug, and leech.

because he had a rather longtime feud with the royal society, it's entirely possible that he only created them hoping they would embrace them and he could have a laugh. 

they didn't.

and yet there once was a constellation called Bufo, and because i like both toads and obscure things, i decided to go out and find it.

so i picked a good clear night when the comet Neowise was visible and i had a look at that, and then i turned my attention to an obscure patch of sky between the still recognized constellations Libra and Hydra.

the star Brachium, also known as Sigma Librae is meant to be the eye of the toad, and it presses stars from both of its neighboring constellations into use.

but still.


here's my drawing.

Monday, August 03, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Build a fire only using one match

i've decided to go my own way on this item, but staying with the intent of this skill.

lighting a fire with one match is not a biggie for me and i feel it better meets the spirit of learning and practicing skills to light a no match fire, so i did some lens ignitions with all-natural tinder and blew it up into a fire.

this is the first time i have used a natural tinder bundle with lens ignition:

Sunday, August 02, 2020

2020 Vermont Venture: Catch a butterfly or dragonfly with a net

i'm not in favor of catching animals that i don't know how to handle safely. fortunately, i went to an interpretive program (was it last summer? the year before? all the days are running together now) at Little River State Park and Brian taught us how to safely net and handle dragonflies and damselflies.

i caught this beauty up at gillet pond while i was collecting sedge samples for study.

it is a slaty skimmer, Libellula incesta.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

2020 Venture Vermont: Have a picnic in a VT state park

after our adventure in chickering bog, we found our way over to marshfield, which wasn't as easy as we expected.

also, getting sandwiches to go wasn't as easy as we expected, either.

but we got pretty good sandwiches and headed up to Molly's Falls State park to eat them on the lawn overlooking marshfield pond.


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