Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Caterpillars and butterflies

I don't get it at all. A caterpillar eats leaves creating a big squishy soft body, then wraps itself in a cocoon. Then a few months later out emerges a butterfly. Completely insane.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wild onions on the Charles

A little over a year ago, my friends Brian and Alex left me a little surprise when I came back from a week away. My bed was covered with bananas. Trader Joe's was selling them for 20 cents each, they bought 100. For weeks afterward I ate 3 bananas a day - part of the genius of this particular surprise prank gift is that I can't waste food of any sorts, so right away I knew I was in for a lot of bananas. I ended up having to freeze a bunch [ :) ] of them, and I'm still working on them - I took a break for a while - but almost done. Anyhow, Brian also has this aero herb garden that is awesomely productive and he mowed down the field the other day and gave me a bucket of herbs to mow through. The combination is the result. Banana and herb smoothies, with some assorted whatever like pineapple, lemon, and also some nut milk like almond or hazelnut. And the verdict: excellent. So soon, instead of herb smoothies, it will be wild edible greens smoothies.

We always want spring to come quicker than it does, and we always get teased. The warm weekend in early March is the teaser. Today, the last Sunday in March, is cold and rainy and I'm sitting in the gallery awaiting the Muse Stew jazz show. But what I'm really awaiting is the coming of the foraging season. Here I've been teased too. I found some wild onions on the Charles the other day, and gobbled some up on the spot. Then i returned for more and put them in my miso soup. So I thought - foraging is on. I even think I've spotted lots of evening primrose stalks from last year so i am diligently returning to those spots to look for basal rosettes that I can yank up for a big yummy root. No luck yet though. And yesterday poking through my brother's woods, the most I found was some old wintergreen and some old puffballs, which amused my nieces and nephew. I tell them - don't eat these - as if a child would want to pop a weird dried out old mushroom in his mouth. Still, they've seen me pop in plenty of weird things in my mouth out there, so I gotta be clear.

Briefly, the 3 books in my life right now: Dragon Mountain - memoirs of a late Ming man. Sometimes I'm at a bookstore and I see a book that looks good and has high praise, and I know jack squat about the subject, so I buy it and see what happens. So, I'm learning about the life of one upper class Chinese guy born around 1500 who was an essayist. Upper class in the Ming apparently studied their entire lives away preparing for state exams, each rung they passed allowing them a better state job. So, nights of socializing and partying, and taking boats out across the lakes, and attending and organizing lantern festivals, and days reading ancient texts, Confusious, that sort of thing, preparing for exams.

History of Anesthesia. This topic has always fascinated me. I mean, there are plenty of things that "shouldn't exist" - sea horses being a prime example. The world is already strange enough that it exists as it does, and then you throw in the sea horse and it just pushes us over the edge. OK, so you have sentient life, which is _obviously_ whacked out. And then the straw breaking the camel's back - you can find not just one but several chemicals that shut off consciousness and allow doctors to saw off limbs and remove internal tumors and yank out teeth, with the patient having no feeling or memory of pain. The stories from the book that I like the the best so far are these 1840's science guys sitting around passing out as they experiment with ether, chloroform, nitrous oxide, what have you. Science doesn't happen that way anymore.

Just finished "Changes in the Land" which I picked up for free at the irate hippy Harvard square sidewalk book seller who is getting thrown out by Cambridge, so giving all the books away. Slim pickings, definitely now. A couple of months ago I stumbled on this book on their shelves, it's about how the ecology of New England changed when the colonists came over and pushed out the Indians. Briefly, the settlers were not about to be roamers like the Indians, and grazing and farming a single piece of land wears it out pretty fast. Indians working the land were constantly moving and burning undergrowth and had a pretty steady state sustainable thing going. This all changed come 1620, and the book details the process. Also, the book prompted me to look into the story about how the settlers gave smallpox infested blankets to the Indians to wipe them out. This always depressed me a lot. turns out, it's not true. There seems to have been one letter written by someone suggesting this as a possible tactic, but there is no evidence that it was ever done - and certainly if it was done it was a small time operation and not massively organized and repeated. Anyhow, a relief.

Jazz time.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A quick walk - oenothera by the tracks.

Today I'm sitting the gallery all day. Lots of people came in - the good weather gets people out. Pete kindly offered to sit and relieve me for a couple hours. I took this time to do a walking loop: I took 3 bags of clothes and dumped them in the Planet Aid box, which brought me along the railroad tracks through Cambridge. I suspected I might find some old evening primrose stalks, and I did (I think). In less than a month rosettes should be out and I can dig them up and eat that spicy root vegetable that is supposed to be underground from them. I searched for these guys last year, but I was a real amateur then (now I'm a real intermediate), and had no clue. In the case of evening primrose, it's all about looking for last year's dead stalks. So, today then marks my first official foraging day of 2009, which is pretty exciting.

Then, I found my way to the salvy and bought my third microwave in the past half year. I have bad luck with them, they die suddenly. I'm feeling good about this one. It's the same model as the one at the gallery.

Drinking watery coffee. Allowed to drink a lot of it, even if it's past 4 PM.