Saturday, April 30, 2022

The Cruellest Month

T. S. Eliot's long poem, The Waste Land, published way back in 1922,  describes April appropriately and accurately. I think we in the northeast can all relate

"April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain."

Veratrum viride

Goodyera oblongifolia, in the orchid family

Friday, April 29, 2022

Blooming Maples

This incredible beauty, in all its perfection, is only 1/4 inch in size! Such a teeny flower for such a big tree.

Here is a better idea of its scale, seen against the veins of an oak leaf

I love the fragile shadow this bloom is casting on the water. The collection of stamens makes me think of a multi-legged creature. It would look magnificent as a brooch.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Wildlife Haiku


Muskrat, loon, osprey,

Bald eagle, great blue heron,

American mink.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

From Shawl to Blanket

I began a new fiber arts item, attempting to make a shawl for my friend's "Cozy Butterfly project" ( I decided though, that I was much better at crocheting than knitting, so wanted to try making a crocheted contribution instead.

Somehow, I got carried away and miscalculated how wide the shawl needed to be. Instead of pulling it out and starting again, I decided to use up some odd balls of yarn and continue with it as a campfire blanket, or knee rug. 

I tried something from YouTube called the crochet knit stitch; this is how it turned out. It doesn't look like knitting to me, so when I start my Cozy Butterfly shawl again, I'll have to try something different.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Chipmunk Fungus

This polypore on a downed tree had a similar coloration to a chipmunk, which interestingly was not present at all on our walk to the Heath.

I'm not good at fungi ID, but I'm guessing this is the red-belted bracket fungus, Fomitopsis pinicola, one of the hoof fungi. I think it should be called the chipmunk fungus.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Polypores, Peepers and Poop


We explored the Francis Small Heritage Trust's "The Heath" in Cornish/Limerick last week. I was disappointed that there was no trail map or indication of distance at the entrance, but we proceeded nevertheless, assuming the trail would loop back around to our car.

It's a lovely walk, very well signposted and easy to follow, though it's VERY boggy in places. (It's a bog! And it's spring!). Sometimes the path is necessarily far from the marsh on elevated land. 

Some of the downed logs that we relied on to get through soggy spots seemed to be mattresses dressed up to look like moss covered trees. They were not solid foundations at all! They squished down and depressed when we stood on them, so despite our precautions, we sometimes got our shoes wet. Maybe Wellies next time?

We encountered a lot of deer and turkey droppings, heard peepers and wood frogs, saw an eastern garter snake, a soaring turkey vulture, tons of polypore (shelf) fungi, and exquisite mosses. We called up a hermit thrush by playing its call on our phone - it was incredibly inquisitive, and came right over to see who was in its territory.

The iridescent green of fresh new plants was striking. These are Veratrum viride, a native commonly known as Indian poke, bear corn or devil's bite. It has a high alkaloid content and is toxic if ingested (it has been used externally by some indigenous peoples). Not a good plant to have around livestock!

Thanks to our friends G&D for revealing this gem to us.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Celebrating Forests


Forests are not merely carbon sinks to help purify our air. Trees also play a vital role in keeping our air (and planet) cool - satellite imagery shows increased low level clouds over forested areas.

"Researchers from the US and Colombia found that overall forests keep the planet at least half of a degree Celsius cooler when biophysical effects – from chemical compounds to turbulence and the reflection of light – are combined with carbon dioxide."

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Gold Thread


The sun shining through the top of the moss, and reflected down into the water, looks like a loop of gold thread floating beneath this log. It's magnificent!

Wednesday, April 20, 2022


I first noticed signs of my garden trilliums (trillia?) arising from the leaf litter and unfurling to the light about 10 days ago. This is how they made their presence known: 

This is my little sweet Betsy, or Trillium cuneatum

And then, an incredible 5 days later, they looked like this

Aren't they magnificent?

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Disaster in the Kitchen


After leaving my hot cross bun dough to rest and rise in the bread machine before shaping and baking, I opened it up to discover an abominable mess of gooey, gelatinous spillover that had filled the bottom of my bread machine. I was so exasperated and upset, that I needed help spooning the 'glue' out of the appliance (and I didn't even think to take a picture at that point, but it would have been priceless). This is the pond of goop that Dale scooped out for me. 

I've made this recipe before, so wasn't expecting a disaster of this magnitude at all. I played back the video in my head of me 'making' the mixture, and I recall measuring what turned out to be almost 2.5 times the amount of liquid the recipe called for!

Instead of 125 ml of water, I distinctly remember using 1 cup plus 25 ml (125 ml is half a cup!). I was distracted and attending to other things at the same time as following the recipe, so I'm not at all surprised that it went wrong. I am surprised though, that I THOUGHT I could multitask on an 'assignment' as critical as this!

I'm pleased that this mistake forced me to thoroughly clean my neglected appliance, and I can honestly say that this is definitely the cleanest it's ever been! I'll have to try it out soon to see if the motor still turns the paddle!

Not to waste anything ... I added almost 3 more cups of flour to the dough in the pan, kneaded it and baked 3 bricks/loaves from it. I wasn't going to bother shaping individual buns, adding the dough crosses and brushing with sugar water at this point. It's cinnamon-y and tastes great toasted, dripping with butter.

The big question is, will I be confident enough to try making those hot cross buns this year?

UPDATE: not only does my bread machine still work, but so does my recipe when I measure correctly. These turned out nicely!

Monday, April 18, 2022


Shortages such as these are becoming more common. I am not complaining, merely documenting.

Having to substitute half and half for light cream is not a hardship - it's a luxurious inconvenience. I can pull up my big girl pants and deal with it!

What we call empty shelves, is in fact restricted choices, and not about going hungry.

Most of what looks like full shelves in this pic is a reflection of the full shelves on the opposite side of the aisle.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Matching Mats


My latest crochet project - not perfect, but ... ok for home use. The color appeals, and the heft is nice, like a weighty blanket.

Sun, shadows and railings created this effect

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Ondatra zibethicus


Muskrats are courting

Chittering to each other

Swimming in circles

Like water beetles 

Whirligig-like behavior

Though rodents, not bugs.

More tidbits about muskrats that interested me:

  • They are the only species in the genus Ondatra
  • The species name, zibethicus, means musky
  • Muskrats are part of some Native American creation myths, one of which was described in Louise Erdrich's The Night Watchman - the muskrat is the creature that dove to the bottom of the primordial sea to bring up the mud from which the earth is created.
  • They build pop-up shelters (vegetation humps in lakes) which they use in winter. They chisel their way through ice to continue feeding instead of planning ahead and hoarding for the winter like beavers do.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Cat Eyes

These reflections in these raindrops hanging off a twig remind me of cat's eyes

... but it's not as obvious from this far away.

Thursday, April 14, 2022



Our in-house supervisor, Dallas, checking that the wood cart is loaded correctly before being brought inside.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Less is More


A strange contemplation this morning - how does one reconcile the philosophy of 'less is more' when it comes to having a helping of dessert?

"Less is more" might align with the catholic belief that refraining from temptation makes one spiritually superior,


that fewer calories makes one more successful at keeping one's weight down?


more simply less indulgence, more healthy?

Robert Browning included this dictum in his 1855 poem called Andrea del Sarto:

"      ...I could count twenty such ...

Who strive – you don’t know how the others strive

To paint a little thing like that you smeared

Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,-

Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,

(I know his name, no matter) – so much less!

Well, less is more, Lucrezia.”

Tuesday, April 12, 2022



This vision greeted me in the parking lot, and it got my mind whirring (of course!). Are these cherry-pickers mating in public? Is this how they reproduce, or is this just an innocent tête-à-tête?

Monday, April 11, 2022

Feeding Wildlife

My yard feeds wildlife:

Muskrat ate my skunk cabbage!

Feeling accomplished 😀

Brrr, I got my feet wet getting a shot of this chewed off plant

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Shades of Boardwalk

I love how the different algae colors make the boards different from each other - it's quite a nice pattern, and is enhanced by the shadow. But it makes for tricky walking when they're damp.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Roach Motel

We needed a cheap place to stay at the last minute because of an impending ice storm last month, so booked a motel room on the low end of the scale. We're still averse to unnecessary COVID exposure, so we planned to have as little time as possible in a foreign room, eating dinner and showering at home before departing for the motel. I also prepared an on-the-road breakfast so we wouldn’t have any additional, non-essential interactions with people at a diner or restaurant in the morning.

During our 2 hour journey, concentrating as I was on the driving, I wasn’t aware of how full my bladder was, and that I could have used a toilet break. As soon as I began clambering out of the car at our destination, I realized that I was absolutely desperate. Every movement, every step, just in separating my legs, seemed to threaten the floodgates! We didn't see any signs of an office, so we set off to find it to do our check in before unloading the car (and compromising my bladder further). It just so happened that the direction we started off in was the longest possible way round. I stumble-walked and shuffled so as not to lose control of my bladder. We ended up walking almost the entire perimeter of the building before finding the office. Once there, I started checking in, but about half-way through our transaction, I blurted out, “is there a Ladies Room here? I’ve been driving for 2 hours and I’m desperate!”

“Well, there isn’t a public one, but you can use my office one if you like!” she said, lifting the hinged countertop.

O, joy! What a relief, though my germaphobe tendencies during COVID made me balk at this intrusion into someone else’s private space. I had to do it. There was just no more waiting. Phew! I was relieved, and my son completed the checking in process while I was indisposed.

It was on our return to the car, that we realized that the large shipping container next to which we'd parked, was obscuring the posted signs and arrows indicating the direction to the office. Hindsight!

It was about 10:30pm by this time, so bedtime was looming, but the water in the toilet tank continued running after we’d flushed it, so we both made attempts to rectify the situation before settling into bed. We did succeed eventually, having got the hang of tweaking just the right spot in the tank. 

But by this point, we had become more acquainted with our room, and we were finding dead and dying roaches at various places on the floor on our forays into the bathroom to stop the toilet flushing. Ughhhhh. We even saw one running off along the baseboard - great! Most of our food was put away in the fridge, but we decided to put our cereal containers into the freezer overnight instead of leaving them out on the counter. I was keeping my fingers crossed that roaches were all we would encounter overnight, and they were, though my dreams were filled with things biting me! We couldn't wait to be out of there.


On our way to check out in the morning, we passed a man standing in the open door of one of the rooms, smoking a roach ...

Friday, April 8, 2022

Wildlife Abounds

Two deer at breakfast,

Muskrat, wajashk*, at lunchtime,

Prime rib at dinner.

*wajashk - Anishinaabe word for muskrat

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Birch Curls


Birchbark coils and curls always seem to attract my attention. Looking at them closely leads me on to other things, like the shadows of their curls against the bark, which suddenly become the focus instead. I used B&W effects on this first one to emphasize the shadows.