Category Archives: Plants
the leaves have begun their mystical journey
I’m taking care of me Ma’s dog and I forgot how frantic and disorganized a multi-dog walk can be. She wants to go one way, he another, and before I know it my plastic poo bags are out of my pocket and halfway across the courtyard.
I got them back later but in the meantime (of course) one of them was ready to go. Seeing as how I was right near a trash can I tried to use a large fallen leaf as a plastic bag substitute. Don’t ever try this.
Anyways, the leaves have begun their mystical journey. All the colors, all the fun of Fall, which is by far my favorite season for a variety of reasons. Soon, nothing but bare branches.
Need to get out of this cubicle and on a hike.
why should the Amazon not burn?
I remember hearing about how important the Amazon is when I was a schoolkid, how important it was to save it. I don’t remember them talking about the rest of the planet’s forests though. I certainly never got taught about how my ancestors clear cut most of their trees. When I go visit my great-grandfather’s house, it’s important for me to remember that almost every tree in that area is about post the year 1900. Local residents and lumberjack companies took the rest of the forest in the hundreds of years before that time. I’m sure my family did it all with glorious abandon, they were in America from the 1600’s. Parts of the area that are now unspeakably, beautiful forest must have looked like desert moonscapes a 150 years ago.
So the planet now points the finger at Brazil? Okay, got it. But as the BBC points out, what about the Amazon in Bolivia?
What about the forest fires in Indonesia and Malaysia to start palm oil plantations that literally blot out the Sun in Singapore each year?
Or here’s a shot from The Economist which shows forest fires globally right now. Seems the real problem is in Africa more so than Brazil.
I’m not saying I want the Amazon to burn. It’d be nice if it didn’t. But there are no easy answers. When you look at it, everybody in human history has burned or chopped down their forests at some point.
The G7 wants to give Brazil $22M to stop. Or, in terms of scale for international monetary efforts, about $4. What a joke, if I was Brazilian I’d be pissed too at the contemptuous, cheap way people are talking about my country.
The answers are much harder. Throwing money at the problem isn’t the answer. Careful, considered, engagement is. But it has to be global. It’s not about the Amazon. It’s about the whole planet.
I don’t get it
Plastic straws will soon be banned everywhere, just like how putting chloroform in your coffee was banished to oblivion. But then I see this thing at a place that sold me food and drink for a nominal fee and it broke my brain:
What the heck is this thing? It looks and feels like a plastic straw. But apparently it’s not. It’s made out of plants or something. So this thing will be legal, but the plastic straw will not.
I’m so confused, what precisely is the haters’ issue with the plastic straw? I thought it’s that it was plastic, and too small to be recyclable. So they want it banned.
But how is this plant based straw any better?
1) Uses plant material likely better used to feed humans or make compost or animal feed
2) Still takes up the same volume of space in the landfill/trash cycle as a plastic straw
3) Although the product claims ‘renewable and compostable’ what this really means in practice is it will compost in a landfill over 734 years instead of the 3,382 years that a plastic straw would take
4) Makes the ill-informed feel better about themselves when they actually should not
5) Illustrates the absurdity of feeling good instead of actually doing good
6) Is a hallmark of the future downfall of all Humanity as we struggle and bicker over foolish things while our culture, planet, and politics descend into the gutter
By the way, I’ve never used straws. I don’t get them. Just drink out of the glass/cup/whatever.
Please, help me.
San Diego – Cuyamaca Rancho Park
On travel for work? Got that rare day off? Get outside, run. Run away before they change their minds. They know where you live, it’s how they pay you. Run!
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, about a hour or so east of San Diego depending on whether you exceed the posted speed limit. The park itself is massive and you could spend weeks there without seeing it all. I had a day.
I did no research other than just to drive to the park. The state highway snakes through it and you can get off at various campgrounds, trails, etc.
Stonewall Peak. One of the greatest feelings on the planet is to see a mountain and you’re like, “I want to climb that.” So you do. A campground sits at the base, you can park there for ten bucks or so with the park rangers. It’s two miles up and two miles down. It’s not too difficult if you regularly hike. I did some other shorter hikes off the highway, but this was the longest and best part.
The climb for the most part is a series of switchback trails carved into the side of the mountain.
After a while you get the creepy idea that this place burned in the past. Turns out I was right.
In 2003 a lost hiker lit a signal fire in Cuyamaca Rancho and started one of the largest wildfires in California history, which is saying something. Nearly the entire park burned including just about every long growth tree.
Once upon a time, the firefighters of the American West were dedicated to putting out every fire no matter how natural, no matter where it was. This was a mistake. It allowed decades worth of growth to accumulate into the forests. Nature needs fire.
A forest of the West needs to burn as part of the natural progression of its ecosystem. It cleans out brush, certain species of plant need the flames to reproduce, etc, etc. By putting out every fire folks got in the way of this.
So when Cuyamaca Rancho burned for the first time in like five decades. It burned hot and massive. If you have a wildfire once every ten years or so, the ecosystem can recover. That’s the way it’s meant to be.
But it seems when it burns once in a century, that the system can’t recover. They’ve waited for Cuyamaca Rancho to regrow for these near 15 years and it’s become clear that some species aren’t coming back. They were wiped out by the intensity of the flames. So the park service has begun replanting by hand instead.
When you hear people talk about allowing natural wildfires pay attention. This stuff is important. It’s also why some folks who build brand new swanky houses up in the forests and then demand the state protect them are in many cases actually doing their surrounding forests genuine harm.
Stonewall Peak and the nearby abandoned mine were named after Jackson by former Confederate veterans who’d come out West after the war. What a tale some of those lives must have been.
Immune to fire.
At the summit. The folks who put this up here were the real deal. They got to the top before proper trails, before online park maps, and so on.
Just one hill among many. So much else to see.
Wisconsin – Kettle Moraine Forest
We’re back, after an unexplained 13 week absence. During that time we had the pleasure of enduring work, more work, a visit with a self-described crypt-keeper-leprechaun, some more work, and we fought a dragon. Now we’re back to mindlessly telling stories and share the breadth of humanity’s experiences. Because it’s what we do. Side note: don’t ever fight a dragon. This was a bad choice.
Anyways, as part of their desire to endlessly prove their incompetence, I ended up in Milwaukee again for work a whole day early. Rather than tool around downtown again I decided to venture out away from the concrete. So I planned a hike through Kettle Moraine Forest, Lapham Peak Unit. It’s about a half hour drive west of Milwaukee via I-94.
I hiked the Moraine Ridge trail which they clock at 6.6 miles. I broke with my usual practice and didn’t carry any weight. I even left the boots aside and just used my running shoes. I was just too tired to get crazy with anything.
I saw something new in that all the trails are actually made for cross country skiing. In most places the paths are cut through the woods with a very wide diameter. It’s weird. Though they probably don’t have any choice for skiing.
When I was there it was still the end of winter, only the very barest of green saplings were beginning to appear.
The various trails constantly cross each other at multiple points. Accordingly, the park unit labels each intersection and provides an updated map. Beyond that they don’t really label the trails at all. I had to check multiple times to ensure I didn’t take a wrong turn. Even so, I did actually take the wrong way once and had to backtrack.
Dude is glad winter is ending.
There were many other folks on the trails, but I would not call them crowded. Like a dummy I dropped my gloves and had to go back and get them at one point. A couple put them where I could see them after finding them on the ground. I passed them later and they were happy to see I’d found them. I thanked them, though was a bit embarrassed. I was a nice human moment. I think they were Quebecois.
According to the trail marker, the Native Americans that used to inhabit the park grounds bent these trees on purpose as their own markers. This one marked the way to a water source. Here is another example.
Note the difference between the trees just emerging from winter, and the pine trees who laugh at winter.
I didn’t time myself, I stopped here and there. Again, I was tired to begin with so it didn’t matter. But I had a great time. It was a good release from paperwork and all the stuff that doesn’t actually matter. So nature did it’s job. Hail nature.
what is that?
Do you ever go through your camera’s memory, and you’re like, “what the hell is that shot?” This doesn’t happen to me often, mostly because I don’t take many pictures. But it sure happened here. I had to conduct detailed forensic analysis to find out where they flowers came from.
And by detailed, I mean beer assisted.
It’s at my Parents place. I can tell by the sliver of brick on the right, which is the side of their house, and the touch of concrete on the left which is their walkway. It took me forever to figure this out due to:
b) the Where’s Waldo of the brick hiding in the lower right of the shot beneath the shadows laid by the plant
For those of you who are a bit young, Where’s Waldo is the most popular smartphone app of 1982.
I’m going to have to show these to Mi Ma in a few days and ask her what these are.
peppers unto happiness
My Brother gave me a Thai red pepper plant last spring because he is well aware that I like spicy cooking that melts my brain. Unfortunately I travel so much for work and have so little direct sunlight into my place that the plant didn’t reach full quality this year. Maybe next year if I leave it outside. But I took three smallish peppers to cook with tonight before I leave again for work tomorrow and through the weekend.
I yanked a pair of Indian recipes off Saveur so we’ll see how this goes. I’m cautious but looking forward to trying some new techniques.
As you can see, the addition of four random habaneros should tell you how wrong my Bro was about my preferred level of spiciness. I also have all those usual Indian dry spices. And some cayenne, which I have sitting atop a spice pedestal under a white light ready for action.
But the below is his work, both in terms of growing, photos, and bottling. He’s above my level of pepper awesomeness. I’ll try and get there.
His peppers are: “Ghost, Thai, Scorpion, Choc. S.B., Trinidad Perfume, 1 Reaper”
His bottling is a Caribbean recipe.