Friday, November 2, 2018

All About Stink

After regular laundering, the stink re-activated with wear, so I tried vinegar, then baking soda, then color-safe bleach, then vodka (that's a trick for deodorizing theater costumes), then eucalyptus-based Mirazyme, specially formulated for stinky and skunked gym and camping clothes. When the stink persisted, I threw the clothes away except for two sport tops made for mastectomy ladies and therefore rare and blanch-your-face expensive.

Online I googled "stinky clothes" and read about OxyClean Odor Blaster. Last night I dissolved scoops of OxyClean in hot water and poured that brew into cool water and stirred stinky clothes in it while chanting. Instructions mandated a seven-hour soak, followed, per instructions, with a regular wash that included OxyClean. The tops are now air-drying. I will let you know if OxyClean is the one.

Perhaps not coincidentally I remembered my yoga mat -- bright pink, unrolled on floors and carpets I know are teeming with bacteria because the one time I set my chin on my mat I broke out like a teenager -- and put the mat outside in the sun, to air and purify. Later I returned to find on my pink mat a brilliant lime-green bug doing the Balasana, or Child's Pose. Looked up the type of bug so I could tell you. It's called the stinkbug.

Some days have a theme and some don't.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Puff and Blow

I was raking while barefoot because barefoot links us with Earth energies and all that, when I saw puffballs: One fresh (beige, about 3 inches in diameter) and one blown (the brown, tattered one on top) and rejoiced because I had thought the season was over. Promptly I obtained a paring knife and bag and harvested my dinner, provided that when I sliced it lengthwise it was pure white inside. It was. Puffers (in this case, Calvatia gigantea) barely have stems at all. When dried-out and brown their heads explode volcanically, sending spores far and wide.

Put on my hunter-orange cap and scoured the nearest quarter of the Divine Woods, all gold-leaf and black hieroglyph, for the same sort of prize, not finding a darned thing, and then I looked down and in the crevices of a log were whole colonies of puffers, little ones, also fresh.
These I scooped up not to eat but to propagate. All along the walk home I crumbled, threw and dropped the pieces, hoping for more puffers next fall. Not tired enough, I tried another trail and found another large puffer, not so fresh. This too I crumbled up and tossed hither and yon. May there be puffballs, a lot, next year. Tomorrow, after the hunters leave the area, hike into deeper woods to seek  more. To cook, slice them lengthwise, always making sure they're pure solid white inside, and saute in butter.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

R & R & T

I am a workaholic and realized I almost never spend whole days outdoors anymore. So out I go into the mists of October, scaring packs of deer who apparently thought this property was all theirs.

I have now re-engaged with recreation and hobbies. A two-mile walk today on an unexpectedly steep new trail I balanced with a half-hour of leisure in the zero-gravity chair with a pot of hot tea.

I'm taking Russian-language classes and barre classes. The Russian teacher lived four years in Moscow. She says, "Russia is the only country in the world where a poetry reading can fill a stadium." I plan to live on my Social Security in the lovely Silk Road city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan. They all speak Russian, and I'm glad they do, because there's no Uzbek-language classes around here.

Barre classes are ballet-inspired workouts but without the impact. I bought a package of 10 one-hour classes to deliberately invest too much to waste them. One hour in class draws only the most determined and addicted, because barre is torture and whips up those endorphins like, whoo-ee. The regulars -- there are lots! -- are all trim through the middle and have built a genuine booty. That's right, a booty worth writing home about. If I get one, I will post it. Twenty years older than most participants, I sometimes lag but never quit and after three classes am catching on.

Later I'll practice my bongos.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Judas' Ear

Rain brings for one day these delicate and translucent wood ear mushrooms, usually velvety brown, growing on thoroughly dead branches. They pop up at all times of year after a soaking. You'll find these in Chinese cuisine, but they are so light and flavorless -- really, they're jelled water -- they are not worth cooking and eating any other way, except for their 9 grams of protein per 100 grams of mushroom.

You have to, must, are required to cook them or they are not edible at all. They and the water they are cooked in are folk remedies for sore throats.

Latin name Auricularia auricula-judae tells a story: These are often called Judas's Ears, because Judas hanged himself from a tree.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Post-Season on the Black River

Camped out at the private Twin Rivers Landing on the Black River for two nights, on a writers' retreat with seven others. This area, the Arcadia Valley, is gorgeous, and will be even more so in a week or so when the foliage turns. Quite remote; 68 miles as the crow flies was more than 100 miles on the road. Perfect weather; we might as well have been indoors as out. Only two other campsites out of about 30 or so were occupied. It really is the post-season but they made an exception for us.

Mostly I either wrote in a notebook in the shade beneath a tree, supine in a zero-gravity chair; or we sat around the campfire with skewers and weenies, reading each other stories, recommending books, websites, and organizations. Saturday night I took a long walk by starlight; no moon, because the New Moon was Monday. This is sunrise on Sunday, one of the very few photos I took. The light was powder-pink.

What struck me is how I took for granted that I could take home my dew-sodden Kelty tent and tent-fly and lay them on my gravel to dry before packing them. The city dwellers had no room to do this. Draping the tent over a car parked on the street was not possible. Didn't have floor space indoors. Didn't have a back yard. Couldn't hang it from a window. That was once me, in a studio apartment. . . I camped state parks often, renting a car when I had to, because the city stifled me. . . How did I cope? I don't recall. I know only that I am blessed. On October 1, I have lived on the Divine property for 17 unbroken years.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Speaking to Spiders

Spiders were once sea creatures, climbing onto land about 100 million years ago and teaching themselves how to hunt very efficiently by spinning webs and then sitting and waiting, and they've since mastered the art. These elegant creatures have three separate spinneret nozzles in their abdomens: one for spinning non-sticky "framing" thread for their webs; one for sticky thread that catches their prey; and one that's a safety or parachuting line.

These threads -- for their size, strong as steel -- are made of protein and water. A spider needs both protein and water to keep spinning, and when necessary will eat its own web to build up energy for a new one. The orange-red artist in my photo lives on the corner of my garage where my car's headlights every evening give a minute of light while I get out of the car and raise the garage door. The first night I saw the illuminated web, the spider fled to a dark corner. I said "Don't worry. I won't hurt you." It took me at my word and now we are partners. I provide light by night that attracts moths and things into the spider's web.

The daddy long legs spider -- always close to the house because it likes water -- a year ago fell in love with a scrub brush that I left outside, and they had something in common, but this year it has the hots for half a geode, unfortunately destined to be unrequited love, but I said nothing, figuring it should be allowed to enjoy its fantasy world. I wished it much happiness, and went indoors back into my web and my fantasy world.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Do You Know Reddy Kilowatt?

One Girl Scout field trip was to the electric utility company's Home Ec demonstration kitchen with electric stoves, which we had never seen, and we practiced cooking on them, back when they WANTED people to use up electrical energy.

The electric company 's mascot was a figure made of lighting bolts with a bulbous head, a light-bulb nose and electric-socket ears, named Reddy Kilowatt, and it gave out Reddy-themed potholders and lapel pins, and electric bills had his picture on them, but after the energy shortage of 1973-74 -- the winter that, to save energy, we walked to school in the mornings with the stars still overhead -- saw him rarely, and now Reddy Kilowatt items are collectible. My sister and bro-in-law in Wisconsin collected two nostalgic Reddy potholders for me. Flummoxed because they had no tabs to hang them, I left them in a drawer for years before realizing they contained magnets for sticking them on the fridge. I now use them frequently. Here they are assisting me, saying "Be modern, cook electrically," on the propane stove with a pan of lavender shortbread.

Although Reddy looks to me now as if he suffers from terrible arthritis, I am fond of him. He was designed in the 1920s, to be consumer-friendly when farmers hemmed and hawed about buying electricity because they'd gotten along for 10,000 years without it. As I moved around the country I met people who had never heard of Reddy Kilowatt, and at times felt very alone, the way you feel when no one around you shares your archaic memories.

Then one day I had at the Divine Cabin a guest, born in Missouri in 1947. He saw my potholders and said, "Oh, Reddy Kilowatt," and I almost threw myself at his feet and begged him to marry me.