Saturday, October 31, 2009


Today is warm Halloween. I woke up with 3 hours to kill before having to be at the Gallery, so I headed out for a bike ride to Lexington, along the Minuteman Trail. First stop was some bittersweet for Sarah B's costume. Not edible.

next stop was a couple of pretty good looking patches of stinging nettles, so I bagged up some of those. I poked around in some woods around there. Mostly maple along the minuteman, so not a good chance for hen-hunting, but I did find one old hen-of-the-woods. It was taken over largely by mold but I can't let a hen go, even if moldy, so I cut out some of the better looking pieces.

Then, on my way home, I took a walk onto a meadow trail and found a chicken that was in better shape. I had run out of bags so I bundled up as much of it as I could and balanced it back to my bike. My few bags were filled up - I'm trying to get better about bringing enough but this seems to happen no matter how many I bring. And then, passing through Alewife Pond Reservation, I hit upon a high bush cranberry that was loaded. In they went, right on top of the nettles. That will be fun to sort out later.

Rob and I chatted over a couple of beers last night about an age-old topic for us: the COMMUNE. Buy some land around here (my stipulation; needs to be within 2 hours of beantown, I like beantown) and go pioneer, building up houses and gardens. Eventually it turns into a place where writers, artists, musicians, like-minded people come to stay for a brief term to get away from the grind. This idea is not a complete check-out from society, more of a picking and choosing of the prime parts, and emphasizing work and back-to-the-land, and art and creativity. Every time we discuss this, it seems a little closer to possibly happening in some baby-step capacity. Anyhow, fun to think about.

Foraged soup for the intern-dinner last night; burdock root, evening primrose root, evening primrose seeds (they are finally out, and not that hard to gather!), lamb's quarters, narrow leaf plantain, dandelion greens, curly dock, and then a bunch of stuff from Trader Joe's to make it reasonable.

It looks like The Bread Machine show might happen. Bread machines on the gallery walls, one going off or so every hour with a fresh loaf, and these loaves being tweeted about. First come first served. I have to find a local wheat producers, and get some of my mother's antique toasters...a few of them will go up also. I think this show will warm up January quite nicely.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Riddle of the Sphinx

I finally got to meet the famous and somewhat elusive Boston mushroomer Ben Maleson the other night. Ben is the guy who foragers for the edible mushrooms that you get in Boston restaurants. He taught a class the other night on boletes and polypores, but it's closer to the truth to say he stood behind a table of mushrooms and entertained the crowd with wacky half tales interrupted by himself, occasionally interspersed with a thing or two about the boletes and polypores. The edibility of the mushrooms he touched on seemed to be beyond him, and every time someone would ask: "Is that one edible" he would invariably say "You can eat any mushroom once".

I tried hard to curry favor with the mushroom man, but I need to keep this brief right now, show time with Hermann Hudde at the Gallery in 25 minutes. So I will just say that the best bit I got from him was that there was a nice chicken up high in a tree near the Sphinx. The Sphinx? Yeah, the Sphinx in Cambridge, everyone knows where that is. I figured if I found it and got that high mushroom, he might give me credibility. So I googled a little and found it. The Sphinx is in the Mt Auburn cemetery and is a civil war monument. I got there the other day, and sure enough, a beautiful chicken right up in an oak tree where a large branch had been cut off. Way too high to get right then, I will need to go back with a rope or something,

But the trip was not for naught. The best score was a haul of Chinese Chestnuts, which are just like the real thing after you get by their sea urchin-like hull. Really, the day after God made the sea Urchin, he made the Chinese Chestnut, it is uncannily similar. Here they are in the fading light of the day.

Friday, October 2, 2009

God and mushrooms

The god debate is never ending, everyone knows that. And it is easy to get real sick of it. This has come up for various people I've been talking with lately. Plus, for a few weeks I had the book "The God Delusion" by my bedside. My tactic of late for dealing/coping with the complex issue (I see the God issue as complex, even though atheists and believers seem to have no problem with it) is to have fun throwing the G word casually into conversations..."ahh, that's just God telling you to slow down", etc.

I've been finding some new mushrooms (to me) over the last couple of weeks. Wine caps were popping up all over the mulch at the arboretum, so I ate a lot of those. Then the other day I noticed, along the Charles, a patch Inky Caps. The books agree that this mushroom should not be eaten with alcohol since it has something in it that makes the liver temporarily unable to process booze. Well, it took me 4 days to finish the load that I found, so this was 4 days with not so much as a beer to end a long day. This was, of course, God telling me to chill on the consumption. Going to the chicken slacks last night sans miller high lifes just was not the same. I've made a vow, from now on when I find Inky Caps, they win over a beer, Oktoberfest or not.

The J.P. open studios was good the other day. Apparently i missed getting to see Eliza and her baby by about 10 minutes. My favorite artist that I found was a soft spoken woman who titles her paintings after lines she gets from poems and stuff, which I dig. Here is one of her paintings. I forget her name. Harvested heavily from the one autumn olive tree I know of in J.P. and made a puree with the fruits. It goes right in my oatmeal, along with the kousa dogwood berry puree I made the other day when I came across a loaded kousa tree with quality fruits. This is a good fruit for the foley mill, I didn't even need to cook it first since the inside is naturally soft.

Last night was a marathon battle with my car, which needed to be moved for street cleaning. I needed to jump it since the battery drained because I grabbed rope from it a few weeks ago, and left the interior lights on like an idiot. I've removed all the interior door lights so this wouldn't happen (the right rear door doesn't shut all the way so these lights would always be on). I should knock out the other lights too. Anyhow, I borrowed Sarah E's car to jump it, this was about 12:45 am. By 2:30 I was in bed. Where did those hours go, you wonder. Well, it took a while to get the thing started first of all. After 10 minutes of being connected to Sarah's battery, it sounded like a creaking rocking chair when I tried to turn it over. At this point I had basically decided that was it for the car, and sad that I'd have to pay for a ticket and towing, that would be a bad final date with the car. I gave it another 20 minutes or so, eating an entire bag of chips to pass the time, and it miraculously started after that. This puts us at around 1:45 or so. Next 30 minutes I spend looking for a spot. Then, finding one about a 10 minute walk from my house, I walk home.

Also, a new feature: my headlights only work when I put them on high beams - and then they are normal beams. That car needs to find a cliff.

The other day after work I made a quick trip to Brooks Estate in Medford with stef. Grabbed my first burdock root, but was really hunting for mushrooms. It had rained very hard a few nights before -- the night the Sox got rained out and we watched the rain come down from our sheltered grandstand seats. As the sun was disappearing, I was really getting edgy, and finally I saw an old tree with a bunch of mushrooms, but nothing I knew. I peaked around to the other side and bingo, chicken of the woods, young fresh and lots of it. That's me in the tree getting it. Later, picking up Stef's CSA, the farmer had a huge hen of the woods in his truck. After working hard on him, he parted with a piece of it. So I've been eating lots of hens and chickens these days. Also, in the Brooks Estate, found my first east coast thimble berries, which I'm happy about because Thoreau mentions them but I had begun to doubt they were still here.

I've started helping robert house .com with his new website, and art-based social networking site, kind of a monster. We'll see if I don't fry my computer brain with this project. Spend a week planning esophagus patients for a study I'm working on at MGH, then come to the gallery today and spend all day updating, webbing, working on a press release (for the coming show, mechanical migration, which I'm very excited about), and then, php for f-celebrities [rob's new site]. UGH! Need to go mushroom hunting ASAP. And visit NYC. And do more yoga. And record a new album. And shell those acorns in the bag in the back room.