Sunday, November 25, 2007

Scavenged from the Compost Heap

Lavender in November

Winterizing the garden. So not fun. I've been chipping away at the task—an hour here, an hour there—since early October, basically just dragging out the torture. Yesterday, I finally somehow conquered my inertia (Rusty sets a very poor example) and got out there to do the final hack-down. It was ice pelleting a little, but that's the price I pay for procrastination.

The thing about the garden, though, is that once I'm out there, I enjoy being there. Even in winter (thanks to our relatively mild climate), there's always something attempting valiantly to grow. The chives, thyme, and oregano are thriving and doing much better than they did in high summer. There's at least half a dozen different species of mushroom. The Oregon grape is about ready to bloom. But the most surprising find was a few brave sprigs of lavender in bloom--on November 24th! Lavender—a Mediterranean plant that hates soggy clayey soil, supposedly. WTF? I think almost one of my favorite things about gardening is seeing plants in my garden contradict accepted gardening lore. Ha-ha! (Of course, the flip-side is seeing so-called foolproof plants [e.g., marigolds and sunflowers] wither and die on me.)

The November lavender now part of a bouquet that consists of a bunch of stuff that I might otherwise have tossed into the yard waste bag to be sent off to some enormous municipal compost heap (I assume that's where our yard waste goes). Here's the end result.


I especially love the hydrangeas. The blooms don't really fade until there's a hard frost. Instead, they go through all these permutations of color. They start out magenta in about June or July, but when the temperature rises they take on a bluish or purplish tint (heat stress?). They hang on through September and October and then the color of some of the flower clusters deepens to this sort of dryish pink-red, but some of the other clusters develop a dusty green or a grayish blue edging. It's actually quite fascinating to watch them age so gracefully. I can't think of any other flower or flowering shrub that does that.

Labels: , ,


Sunday, November 18, 2007


Socked In
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
This is what I like to see! Apparently, this weather system is stalled over the Willamette Valley, and it's going to rain all day. Yay! More rain. Even though I live in the notoriously rainy Pacific Northwest, I personally don't think we get all that much rain. I could do with more.

Chicago, as I remember it, seems to have been just as rainy as Portland. Recently, I found proof in the form of the diary I kept when I was in 5th and 6th grade. I remember sitting at the kitchen table agonizing over how to fill the four lines alloted to each day. It seemed like such a chore. My solution seems to have been to devote at least two of those lines to weather data.

I don't know if I did this because I was paranoid that my brother or mother would read my diary, and I didn't want them to know what was really going on inside my head (if anything) or if my mom (a farmer's daughter) suggested that I document the weather in my diary and that seemed like the easiest way to get the diary writing out of the way. Anyway, I guess my obsession with the weather lives on.

The reason I dug out my diary was for an event sponsored by the Multnomah County Library called "Cringe Down Memory Lane," which is one of several storytelling events being held this month. People brought in embarrassing diaries, letters, poetry, etc., and read them out loud. One exceptionally brave woman even sang a song she'd composed as a kid. Another woman (after much prodding from the crowd) actually read an entry from her diary about the first time she had sex, although I think she exercised quite a bit of self-censorship. I don't think I could be that brave. Of course, there's no way I would ever even write about something like that in a diary.

So I read my weather-o-centric entries. I have to say that compared with a couple of other diary entries people read (also from 5th/6th grade), I came off as a singularly underachieving kid. There's no evidence of any ability to think analytically, link together related ideas, spell words correctly, punctuate properly (if at all), or even print legibly!

If you want to see what I'm talking about, click here. Cringe!

Crammed onto the same closet shelf as the diary, I was very surprised to find a letter from an ex-boyfriend that he'd written to me after a friend of mine had seen him with another woman. Why did I keep that? Even more surprising, I found a draft of a letter I'd written to him about a year after we broke up (typed on the back of an article about carpal tunnel syndrome [?!]). At first I thought that I'd struck the cringe motherlode, but after reading it, I realized that the letter made me sound like an absolute lunatic--and pompous to boot! OK. I was only in my 20s when I wrote it, but still. Here's an excerpt:
You may not believe this, but I'm not a fragile little fool that has to be protected from the truth. I wouldn't have liked it at first, but it would have been the right thing to do, and I would at least have some respect for you. Lying the way you did is cowardly and not something I would expect anyone but the most novice of high school boys [I have a feeling I was really proud of that turn of phrase] to do. And here you are at age 37. It is really quite pathetic, and in many ways I feel sorry for you. When will you ever get your shit together? I could never treat anyone the way you treated me. Can't you see that the way you handled our break-up caused me the maximum amount of pain? The fact that you could lie to me about something as important as why you didn't want to see me anymore and keep reinforcing that deception causes me to call into question our entire relationship.

Yikes! Fragile little fool? Ha, ha, ha!!!!! This letter was like three pages long (single spaced). And I actually sent it. I have no idea what the guy (he truly was a passive-aggressive jerk, just so you know) thought after he read it. Do you think he continued to think I was a fragile little fool? Should I work on mustering the courage to read this thing at the next Cringe Down Memory Lane? I've got til March of 2008 to think about it.

Labels: , ,


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Death by Camera

I was up until 1:00 AM a few days ago because I'm reading this horribly fascinating book called Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon. It's about all the different ways people have died or nearly died while visiting the Grand Canyon. The "grand" total as of 2001, when the book was published, was 550.

Lots of people plummet off the edge right near the Visitor's Center, if you can believe that. Almost all of them had climbed under or over the guardrail (ignoring the warning signs that are posted everywhere), so that they could pose for a photo or take a photo, and whoops! they lost their footing and fell to their deaths. Was it worth it?

Most victims were male, you probably won't be surprised to learn. Some of them thought that once over the guardrail and out on some precarious and unstable ledge it would be a great idea to cavort around a bit, hop from rock to rock, and strike various attitudes to impress the ladies that happened to be watching. I doubt they were impressed. Horrified? Traumatized? For sure.

Most ignominious of all, some guys have died while taking a whiz. (According to the authors [both of whom are men], this is due to the "male urge to urinate off high places." I asked B if he's ever been tempted to pee from on high and he said, "NO WAY!" Smart guy. No wonder he's still in the land of the living.)

Falling off the rim is only one of many ways to die. Lots of hikers and river runners go ahead and ignore flash flood warnings and end up drowned or entombed in the newest layer of sediment on the floor of the canyon. And, I haven't gotten to these chapters yet, but apparently people also die because they don't realize that if you go out on a hike with temperatures of 120 degrees F and don't bring any water with will DIE. Or they decide to take a swim in the unpredictable Colorado River, or they get bitten by a venomous creature, or crash their plane or helicopter into the walls of the canyon.

It's easy to think that all these folks must be utter dummkopfs, but I have to say that as I'm reading this book, I'm thinking about all the times I didn't make the best decisions while out in the wilderness. Just this summer B and I were hiking at Mount St. Helens National Monument on a trail that had been damaged in floods last year, parts of the trail were hardly wider than the width of my boot and very crumbly! If the footing had given way, we would have slid down a steep ravine. Probably not to our deaths, but either one of us could have been badly injured. Did I mention that this was a trail on which we saw no other hikers (i.e., no one who might have gone for help if we'd needed rescue)? And, oh yes, Mount St. Helens is also an active volcano that is currently erupting. Go me!

The other super dangerous (super stupid) thing I've done many times is hike alone. All hiking books you ever read say in no uncertain terms: Never hike alone. Period. Don't do it ever. Don't hike alone. Always hike with others. However, they say it they all always say it. But I (and many, many other people) ignore that sound piece of advice.

When people hear that I hike alone, almost all of them ask me if I'm not afraid that I'll get attacked and raped out there by myself. No. Not at all. Hiking up to the top of a mountain on the off-chance that a lone female will appear is way too iffy and strenuous a proposition for most rapists. They prefer mall parking lots. Also, as most of you probably know, most rapes are not perpetrated by total strangers. You're in more danger from men you know than those you've never laid eyes on. (Yes. I know there are a few notorious instances in which female hikers have been raped or killed, but the crimes occurred in areas near roads and civilization.)

No. It's far more likely that solo hikers (male or female) will get hurt or lost and no one will be there to help them. That's the real danger. In fact, I'm just about to get to the part of the book about all the solo hikers who've perished at the Grand Canyon. Oh dear. I have a feeling I'm going to start to feel like I've been really lucky. More than anything, this book is a gigantic and relentless cautionary tale, albeit a sort of morbidly fascinating one.



Monday, November 12, 2007

Oops, I Did it Again!

Peppermint Sundae on a Stick
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
I have no willpower when it comes to the Fat Boy. Look at the sepia-tone packaging! Plus, peppermint ice cream? My favorite! On a stick? How convenient for tidy mid-afternoon snacking at the keyboard. Plus, what a brutally honest brand name for an ice cream manufacturer. Full marks!

I fell under Fat Boy's spell last year, too. That was when I first became aware of the Fat Boy brand. I bought these. I'm a nog fan from way back, and apparently I was so taken with the idea of the nog sandwiches that I didn't even notice the peppermint sundaes on a stick right next to them in my grocer's freezer. But you know what? Those nog sandwiches were tasty.

I did try to resist the Fat Boy this year. Last week, I placed a box of the sundaes on a stick in my cart, talked myself out of them, and put them back. Then talked myself back into them, then put them back for good, telling myself that if by next week (that is, this week) I still wanted them, I'd go ahead and get them.

This week there was no dithering. I didn't even look at the ingredients on the back of the box as I usually do. That is, I didn't until I got home and was putting them in the freezer. Oy! It could be worse, but there's way more numbered dyes than I'd like to see (including the ultratoxic-sounding red lake #40--red lake?). However, to counterbalance that there's a folksy little history blurb on the back of the box about the making of the first Fat Boy on a Stick by a man named Casper back in 1925. People loved the Fat Boys so much that Casper just had to go into business as a manufacturer of ice-cream novelties. It was preordained.

Looks like Fat Boy is pretty much a legend in Utah. Writermama and Tinarama, am I right?

I'll leave you with this piece of surprisingly good advice excerpted from the Fat Boy philosophy (which, by the way, is written in verse!):

"Winning is giving one hundred percent
It's paying your dues, your taxes, your rent
It's trying and doing, not crying and stewing."

Da-da, da-da, dah...dah!

I think I especially need to heed that bit about stewing.

Today's Completely Not Randomly Chosen Blog (I've had it with that so-called Randomiser/Randomizer): Sex and Salt Lake City

Labels: ,


Friday, November 09, 2007


Caged Head

Of the 1,309 photos I've taken and uploaded to Flickr, this one is my favorite--at least it is tonight.

Does that make me an archfreak?

Today's Random NaBloPoMo blog: Dairy Daze

Labels: ,


Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Phantom Project

Last April, I went up to Seattle for a meeting with a client. They are hiring me for a big important project of theirs. That meeting turned out to be more or less a waste of my time, but I guess these things happen.

The project was supposed to start up in August. I heard nothing from the client all summer, so at the beginning of August I e-mailed my contact person to see what was up. She didn't get back to me. I sent another e-mail a week or so later. Silence. I called her after a few more days went by. Oh, yes, she'd just been thinking about me that very morning on her drive into work. There'd been a few delays in the start up. OK. Fine. She thought that things would probably get going mid-September. I told her that was fine and that I'd adjust my schedule accordingly. These things happen. And it's for this very reason that I always have several projects going on at once. So I can juggle and keep my work flow fairly steady.

Mid-September rolls around. I've heard nothing more from the client. Same routine. I send an e-mail politely asking if there have been further delays. I get no response. I allow a week to go by before sending another email. This time I tactfully point out that I do have other clients making demands on my time, but that, of course, I don't want to accept other projects if their project is going be starting, since I've committed to work on it. However, if it isn't started up as scheduled then I do need to schedule work with other clients. I was more eloquent in my e-mail than I'm being here. She did respond to that and apologized and told me that they'd have something for me from them "no later than October 19." Well, you can see where this is going.

I preemptively e-mailed her on October 15, because I needed to know if I should book a job with another client and she told me that some big meeting that she and the committee of old men who are in charge had went as planned, but that she'd have to get back to me on exactly when I might expect the crap I'm supposed to be working on to show up.

Naturally, I heard nothing more from her. Does this project even exist?

Here's some questions I'd love to ask her.

Why isn't she horribly embarrassed every time I have to e-mail her repeatedly to ask her what's going on with this project?
Doesn't that make her feel incompetent?
Doesn't she realize how unprofessional that is?
Doesn't she see how discourteous and disrespectful of me she's being?

I've tried tactfully to mention several times that it's absolutely fine if there are delays. I can work with that. I just need to know about them (preferably as soon as she knows) so I can book other work. Is that too much to ask? It would take 30 seconds for her to respond to an e-mail to let me know there have been more delays.

Meanwhile, I keep having to be vague with other clients, telling them I'm not certain how much work I can take on, yada, yada. And the result is that currently, I'm underbooked because I anticipated that by now part of my time would be taken up with this phantom project. So, yes, her incompetence is actually costing me money. I'm "working ahead" on one project, so I'll get it out of the way, which will free up time down the road that I can hopefully use to recoup the underbooking if this project continues to not come into existence. (Does this even make sense to anyone?)

There's no way in hell I'd put up with this kind of crap if it wasn't for the fact that this is going to be a very lucrative project and something that "will look good on my resume."

I have no reason to think that they've decided to hire someone else for the project and they're just not telling me. I have a long relationship with this client (working with other more on-the-ball staff members, I should point out), and I know they love my work. I think it's just them not having their shit together. Which is fine. I'm used to it. It's the nature of the whole self-employed gig. All they have to do is be upfront about the fact that their shit isn't together and let me know when they expect it to be together.

I sent out another e-mail on Monday, asking for an update on project. (Again, I was as polite as polite can be, of course.) I've heard nada. I guess I'll wait til Monday to rattle her cage again, but, jeez, I just hate the position it puts me in. I don't like to nag and badger people about basic things they should be doing--things that are simple and fundamental to good client/vendor relationships--especially if that person is, essentially, my boss.

And one last thing. On the occasions I do finally talk to her, she alway tells me how busy she's been. She's one of those people. You know, the sort that makes a shitload of money for doing nothing. I saw her in action is Seattle, and she didn't do crap except run her mouth all ding-dong day long. She wouldn't even carry her own purse! She made one of her lackeys do it. I saw that with my own eyes.

Does my attitude suck or what?

Today's Random NaBloPoMo blog: There isn't one. The Randomiser isn't very random lately. The same five blogs keep coming up over and over. One was in French, one was a poetry blog, and I forget what the others were but I didn't find them compelling. Anyway, I've worked myself up into quite a state, and B's bugging me to watch a Canadian TV show with him right now, and I think I'd best do that.

Labels: ,


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Victory Lap

Measure 49 passed! And it passed by a healthy margin--61% to 39%.

I'm thrilled and hugely relieved. It feels to me like a triumph of common sense and concern for the environment over greed and short-sightedness. When was the last time you saw that happen? Oregon's farms, forests, and waterways are safe--for now--from massive and inappropriate development.

This was really, really important to me, and it goes a long way in restoring my faith in people (at least in Oregonians). Some 10,000 ordinary people across the state volunteered their time to work to get this measure passed. And another thing: The measure didn't have whacking great infusions of cash from business interests or large corporations. Most of its support was very grassroots. I find that tremendously heartening. It gives me hope that in the election next November we'll see a sea change in the direction this country has been heading for the past eight years.

Anyway, I've made another 30-second video with all-new images to celebrate the fact that Oregon has been saved from destruction--a sort of victory lap. It's fun to make this things, but this will probably be the last one I do for a while and the last of the politico blogging as well (whew!). By the way, this video has even more zonked-out effects* than the last one!

*Just so you know, I have no real control over the effects or the editing of these ANIMOTO videos; it's all done automatically by a computer that apparently really goes for the gusto when it comes to slicing, dicing, swirling, and twirling the images. It also seems to be a fan of the Rubik's cube.

Today's Random NaBloPoMo blog: Wanderings Across the Pond

Labels: , ,


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Eyes Shut, Fingers Crossed

Hear ye, hear ye! The polls are now closed. Do poll workers actually still call that out? I wouldn't know, since I've never been one of those last-minute voters (of which there are surprisingly many, as I found out during the phonebank last night).

And now the nail biting can begin. Actually, I won't be doing any nail biting. I am going to cut myself off from all media until tomorrow morning--late morning when all the votes are counted. If things aren't looking good for Measure 49 during early returns, I'd rather not be sitting here wondering if things will turn around or if all is lost and I'll have to move to Canada.

I went through that with the last presidential election. Watching election returns can be way too stressful and disheartening.

So in a few minutes, I'll be drawing myself a nice hot bath, lighting some candles, pouring myself a glass of red wine, and hoping for the best.

Today's Random NaBloPoMo blog: July Bug

Labels: ,


Monday, November 05, 2007

A Delightful and Refreshing Aperitif

Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
Whether you think this looks like a delightful and refreshing cold-weather aperitif* or a goblet of dog puke probably depends on whether or not you ever ate Christmas dinner at my Aunt D's and Uncle J's house. If you ever had, then you would most definitely be in the delightful and refreshing aperitif camp.

In case it's not obvious, what I have here is some rainbow sherbet bobbing about in a quantity of unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider from the Draper Girl's [sic] Farm in the Hood River Valley. It's a bit sludgier looking than the concoction Aunt D made (she had no option but to use Mott's filtered and pasteurized apple cider), but I think it's much tastier. I made some tonight to help me unwind from yet another stint of working the phones for the Yes on 49 campaign (one last time before tomorrow's deadline) and it got me all nostalgic.

Deprived as my siblings and I were of all things sweet and desserty, we looked forward immensely to getting our glasses of apple cider and sherbet--I don't know if there's an actual name for this stuff. Shider? Cidbet?

It was so tasty! I liked to let the sherbet melt down a bit, which gave the cider a sort of creamy frothiness. Alas, the cidbet was always served in binky little glasses, and I was too shy to ever ask for a refill.

Usually, however, there were other off-limits foods (i.e., foods that were never to be found in our own house) laying about that we could snack on until dinner rolled around. For example, it was at Aunt D and Uncle J's house that I was first introduced to the Chocolate Orange. I ate most of one in the brief interval between the cidbet and the announcement that dinner was served.

For some reason, dinner always had to be called several times before anyone would mosey over to the dining room. Aunt D and Uncle J always invited a few orphans from their church where Uncle J was the choir director or from the university where Uncle J was a professor. The table often had a couple of extension card tables pushed next to it to accommodate all the extra people. This suited my cousins just fine because it meant that they'd practically be sitting in the den--the den with the TV set into a cubbyhole in the wall, the TV that was tuned to the football game. I didn't get it, but then again my cousins were boys and were all at least 10 years older than me.

The dinner menu was always exactly the same: Turkey with stuffing; mashed potatoes and gravy; a quivering cranberry-strawberry-celery Jell-O mold that came with a sidecar of cream cheese "dressing" (I once lobbed a massive dollop of the dressing straight into my lap.); dinner rolls; butter (not margarine like we had at home); green-bean casserole (you know which one I mean); sweet potatoes with bronzed mini-marshmallows on top; and pumpkin pie, mince pie, and Christmas cookies for dessert.

Here's what I'd eat: The tiniest sliver of turkey I thought I could get away with; some stuffing; the Jell-O thing (with dressing if I could manage to maneuver it to the plate); at least three rolls very liberally buttered; a small serving of the green-bean casserole (I'd try not to dig too deep, so as to maximize the ratio of fried onions to canned bean gloop); no mashed potatoes (unless Uncle J inexplicably forced me to put some on my plate), and no sweet potatoes (unless pressured by Uncle J, in which case I'd try to just skim off the marshmallow scum on top). Truth be told, the only thing I really liked were the dinner rolls, the butter, and the stuffing. And you know what? If I were served that meal today, my plate might look much the same.

Of course, I always saved plenty of room for dessert, and I always had a slice each of pumpkin and mince pie, a la mode. In fact, I didn't really like either variety of pie that much, but they were desserts and desserts were a scarce commodity at home, so I had to git while the gitting was good. I loaded up on the cookies, too. Aunt D always made at least a dozen different varieties, but I was (and still am) especially partial to toffee bars.

After dinner there was a lot of grown-up talk, usually centering around the antics of choir members. My siblings and I would ask if we could "be excused." Then we were free to roam Aunt D and Uncle J's huge old house. Everything about their house was pretty much the opposite of our house.

Where our house was a modest one-story ranch built in the late 1950s, theirs was a massive old hulk from the early 1900s with three stories and two staircases. One used to be a servant's staircase! Our house was kept at a frigid Jimmy Carter-ordained 68 degrees (or lower), while their house was toasty warm. Hot even. And it always smelled great. That is, it smelled like dinner rolls. What could be more delightful and welcoming?

Overall, everything was just ritzier, cleaner, and classier than our house, but somehow not in a snobby or pretentious way. Even the toilet paper was posh. It was white with an off-white fleur d'lis pattern printed on it. I later found out that Aunt D bought that fancy toilet paper at Marshall Field's. Imagine that!

Today's random NaBloPoMo blog: Love from Leila

*Edit: When I wrote this late last night, I had a niggling suspicion that an aperitif might, by definition, have to contain alcohol, but I didn't bother to check and just went ahead and used the word, because, heck, how often do you get to use that word these days? Being the stickler I sometimes am, I looked it up this morning, and, yes, an aperitif is indeed an alcoholic beverage. However, Aunt D and Uncle J were teetotalers, so the cidbet was about as close to an aperitif as they were ever going to get.

Labels: ,


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Better Watch Out

Some of the potentially dangerous things I encountered this weekend.

This pig lives in the swank Portland neighborhood of Irvington with a couple of chickens (not pictured). A sign (also not pictured) warns, “He bites!” Luckily, all he could muster while I snapped this photo was a half-hearted snort. He was busy sleeping.

Pig in the City

Pot-bellied Pig Crossing

Perfectly innocent bulk containers of honey in a supermarket, right?

Bulk Honey


Yeah, right.

Or so the wacky employees at WinCo would like shoppers to think. Of course, I am not so easily hoodwinked as the average shopper.

B and I had the good sense not to venture down this street.

Deadly End

Today's Random NaBloPoMo blog: Crash Into My Arms

Labels: ,


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Vegging Out

A glorious autumn day without a whole lot of agenda. I spent most of it hanging out with B, which is always a fine thing to do.

This morning, we went down to the Hollywood Farmers' Market. It looks a lot different in early November than it does in early September. A bunch of the farmer stalls have been replaced by crafter stalls. Those farmers that are still there are pushing squash like there's no tomorrow. I, myself, am not a huge fan of squash and am even less of a fan of huge squash. And most of the squashes they were selling were huge. Some were the size and shape of a standard watermelon and had rather offputting pale pink skin. They must have weighed well over 20 lb. What on Earth are you supposed to do with something like that? I've heard or read that some of these monsters have to be cut with a chainsaw. Squash just isn't worth that kind of bother. Sorry.

One farmer did persuade me with very little effort to buy some kohlrabi. I've eyed it with interest on many occasions. I like the cut of its jib, but I was never certain just what I might be getting myself into if I bought it. For starters, which part or parts of it are even edible? You eat only the "swollen stem," as this Web site helpfully elucidates. That doesn't exactly sound very appetizing, though.

I found a simple recipe for braising it, and it turns out that kohlrabi is pretty turnippy. Fine by me. I like turnips and all other scorned and/or out-of-style vegetables like rutabagas, parsnips, beets, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. So kohlrabi is a keeper. And I am now inspired to try other poorly understood winter vegetables. Next up? Celeriac. The name makes it sound boring as hell, but I hear it's tasty.

Today's Random NaBloPoMo blog: Villa Grammatica



Friday, November 02, 2007

Is Paulrus Dead?

Paulrus Is Dead IV
Originally uploaded by skomra.
For a couple of years now, I’ve been seeing a particular type of urban scrawl all over Northeast Portland. It was maybe about 2005 when I first started noticing it. “Paulrus Come Home” it said in black sprayed-on block letters on the panels of U.S. Postal Service boxes, on the backs of restaurants in the Hollywood district, and on the sides of dumpsters. Every few months I’d see one of these tags.

B and I both wondered what it was all about. In my head, I was pronouncing Paulrus as “Paul Roos” (like the Ballets Russes), but it turns out B thought it was pronounced so that it rhymed with “walrus” and that it was some sort of Beatle-ish thing (having something to do with that “Paul is dead” rumor and the fact that the Beatles wrote a song called “I Am the Walrus”). A bit far-fetched if you ask me.

Then, after a few months of “Paulrus Come Home,” tags started appearing proclaiming, “Paulrus Is Dead.” After not seeing one of these tags for a while, I saw one tonight spray-painted near the ceiling of the restroom in the Bella Faccia pizzeria on NE Alberta. It got me to wondering all over again what this whole Paulrus thing is about. Is/was Paulrus a real guy? Are these tags part of some arcane Dungeons and Dragons-type of game? Is it something that has meaning only to the mysterious Paulrus tagger? Does anyone know?

I did some cursory research (read: I Googled “Paulrus is dead,” skimmed quickly through the first page of results, and called it a day), and discovered that I’m not the only person who has noted Paulrus’s supposed demise, but that no one seems to know much more about it. But there is this pretty cool “Paulrus Is Dead” photo set that someone put together.

And that’s all I’ve got for you tonight.

Today’s random NaBloPoMo blog: Syma Says

Labels: ,


Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Fungus Among Us

OK. Dumb overused phrase for a blog title, but quite a spectacular amount of fungus has been growing quite spectacularly right here in my house at my own behest. I couldn’t be happier about it.

These golden oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus citrinopileatus) grew from this size (caps averaged about the size of a thumbtack) on October 29…


to this size by October 31!

Ready to Be Eaten

I’d check them in the morning and by late afternoon they’d be, like, twice as big as they’d been earlier that day. Totally sci-fi. Also totally freaky and the kind of thing that is right up my alley.

The weird thing is that I was certain that that something was severely wrong when signs of growth first appeared on the bag ‘o spawn. It had developed these nickel-sized eruptions under the plastic that looked a bit like popcorn (or buboes), but not a bit like anything that could ever develop into mushrooms. (Sorry I have no photo documentation of the “plague phase,” as I now think of it.)

Anyway, last night at about 9:30 PM, I decided that I’d better harvest the mushrooms right quick before they started maturing into those big varnished looking things you see on trees out in the woods that look to be about as tough as horse’s hooves. Waiting even an hour longer could have been fatal (or so I convinced myself).

Fortifying myself with Reese’s peanut butter cups (only three Trick or Treaters came to our door), I cut all the mushrooms off the bag ‘o spawn and started flipping through my mushroom field guides and cookbooks to find out what I should do with my mushrooms. They all seemed to damn the oyster mushroom with faint praise, hailing it as a “choice edible” but in the next sentence proclaiming that it had little or no flavor but was great for providing texture to dishes. Texture? How insulting! I grew these things myself, you know! How could they be anything other than the best, most flavorful, most sought-after mushrooms ever?

I decided to make duxelle , something I’d seen a professional chef and wild mushroom enthusiast make a few years ago, but something I never dreamed I’d make. It's French and, therefore, out of my league. Unbelievably, though, I happened to have all the ingredients on hand (shallots, brandy, butter, fresh thyme), so I thought I might as well give it a go.

Duxelle, it turns out, is quite easy to make and smells absolutely wonderful (like the aroma in a fine restaurant) as the mushrooms cook down to nothingness. And the great thing is that duxelle keeps in the fridge for at least a week or in the freezer for a few months.

I don’t think it’s going to last long. About half of it ended up topping a couple of lamb steaks I made for dinner tonight (ignore the lame salad that looks like a lettuce sweater with three radish buttons). The lamb/duxelle dish was really super yummy—far yummier than most cooking experiments I attempt, even if it's not the most photogenic thing you've ever seen grace a dinner plate.

And this is only the beginning! Supposedly, the bag ‘o spawn has plenty more fungal life left in it. I just need to keep my eyes peeled for more popcorn/buboes to erupt.

Last year during NaBloPoMo, I commented and linked to a randomly chosen NaBloPoMo blog (thanks, Randomizer!) in each post, and I think I'll carry on that tradition this year. Today's random NaBloPoMo blog: Yeah, So Anyway...