News from Sheba!

Sheba's new owner sent me this picture taken today.  Look at her face!  I am teary with joy at what a perfect home she has now!

Sheba’s new owner sent me this picture taken today. Look at her face! I am teary with joy at what a perfect home she has now!

Adventure in the Woods

Pink Ladyslippers

Pink Ladyslippers

I was outside when the sun was too high, so I hope you enjoy the subjects of the photos. The pictures themselves aren’t great.

This was the first ladyslipper I found.

This was the first ladyslipper I found.

I suppose first I’ll tell you the adventure part, as the photos are pretty self-explanatory. I set out toward the back of our property, heading toward the area that is the best mushroom habitat around, by a little steep-banked creek. I never made it that far. There were many blowdowns, thick underbrush, hills and a steep ravine. I didn’t make it back that far, either!

Another double ladyslipper.  In this shot you can see a little of the flower's interior.

Another double ladyslipper. In this shot you can see a little of the flower’s interior.

I did make it a few hundred steeply sloped feet. I found several varieties of LBM’s (little brown mushrooms) that the experts have difficulty identifying. I also found a couple of medium tan-colored mushrooms that I intended to try to identify when I got back to the house. And several tiny orange mushrooms that looked a little chanterellish, but it’s way too early for them. They went in my bag to identify, too.

(But — pink ladyslippers are blooming! They were my consolation prize.)

Anyway, I got very tired and out of breath, so decided I’d better head (uphill) home. I climbed one little ridge, and that was it. I sat down on a thick cushion of forest duff and hyperventilated for a while.

Yu can see how soft and downy the young bull thistle flower stalks are at this stage.  (Pardon the dirty fingernails... it happens when I grub around outside!  :)

You can see how soft and downy the young bull thistle flower stalks are at this stage. (Pardon the dirty fingernails… it happens when I grub around outside! :)

I was going to stay there until I recuperated, but then I heard some of the dogs that run free around here sounding like they were fighting. That REALLY scared me, so I bushwacked over blowdowns, greenbrier, blackberry bushes, sapling trees… until I couldn’t go any farther.

This time I found a nice log to sit on. I beat on it with my hiking pole and prodded around to make sure there were no nasty critters under it, sat down, and the log cracked and sent me tumbling.

The bull thistle flower stalks after scraping.

The bull thistle flower stalks after scraping.

So I phoned Ron and told him where I was and asked him to bring me my inhaler. After using that, I felt better. And after resting a while, we made it home.

Exhausted, I threw the mushrooms I had planned to identify in the trash, too tired to mess with them, and crashed for a long nap.

So, apparently the COPD is getting worse… which means stick to easy trails and always carry my inhaler.

Before I headed into the woods I saw a couple of bull thistles with flower stalks and unopened flowers. At this stage the prickly flower stalks are downy and can be easily held with bare fingers.

Wild strawberries are blooming.

Wild strawberries are blooming.

I had them in my mushroom basket, so did put them into the refrigerator before I crashed.

When I got up, it was an easy job to scrape the down off the flower stalks and pop them in the pan with my chicken stew. At this young stage they have a very mild celery flavor, and they didn’t add anything to the dish I was cooking except fun.

When the stalks get older, they get prickly and hollow. I hold them with a pair of needle-nose pliers and peel off the prickles with a pocket knife. They have an intense celery flavor and are much better for cooking.  They get tough at that stage though, so need to be sliced thinly then.

So today was a good news-bad news day.

Tasteless, invasive Indian strawberries are crowding out the sweet wild strawberries.

Tasteless, invasive Indian strawberries are crowding out the sweet wild strawberries.

Oh, I almost forgot! I saw the plastic surgeon this morning who will be tightening up my droopy eyelids which is supposed to improve my vision significantly. I hope it does. But I’m secretly thrilled that my eyes will look better, too!

Little orange mushrooms

Little orange mushrooms

For Budding Mycophiles

Weather only a mushroom lover could love

Weather only a mushroom lover could love

(Click the photos to see a larger image of the Myco Pro app that you can read.)

The very best mushroom ID app

The very best mushroom ID app

The weather hasn’t permitted foraging in the woods, and our handyman hasn’t shown up yet. So I’ve been entertaining myself immersed in my favorite mushroom app. So far I’ve been able to get up to 256 points on the quiz before losing the 3 lives the app allows. It seems rather unfair because sometimes when you correctly identify a lethal mushroom, you get

From the Myco Pro library

From the Myco Pro library

a point for correct identification, but sometimes lose a life anyway! However, it is a reminder that if you aren’t very careful foraging mushrooms you could die — just like that! On the positive side, the quiz repeats mushrooms you have correctly identified as well as the ones you misidentified. The repetition really helps fix the mushroom in your mind.

You can also save photos and GPS locations where you’ve found mushrooms so you can find them again.

Each mushroom description has photos that you can click on to see beautiful, zoomable high resolution images.

Each mushroom description has photos that you can click on to see beautiful, zoomable high resolution images.

Can you tell I am crazy about the Myco Pro app? I have downloaded or bought every mushroom app available on Amazon and Google’s play store — and I have uninstalled all but 3. But Myco Pro is far and away the very best! If you want to use the app to full advantage, you really need to know the main characteristics of the most common genera. For that there is no better book to introduce beginners (and intermediates) to the

One of (usually 3) photos for each mushroom.

One of (usually 3) photos for each mushroom.

safest and tastiest mushrooms than David Fischer and Alan Bessette’s book, Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America. Get the book — not the e-book. The e-book is riddled with typos and has tiny, low resolution images. The hard copy is truly superb. It’s

Another view of the same mushroom

Another view of the same mushroom

impossible to poison yourself if you follow the excellent key points for identification that precedes each mushroom description.  Most importantly, it shows you how to take a spore print, which is a critical first step in identifying mushrooms.

A third photo of the same mushroom.

A third photo of the same mushroom.

Totally off-topic, I am doing this post on my phone because the touchpad on my new netbook died. :(

Anyway, after all this rain, I’m heading to the woods hoping to find lots of mushrooms to photograph  — and hopefully some that are good to eat!

Obligatory disclaimer: I get no financial or any other kind of consideration for these endorsements, although, admittedly, I sound like a commercial!  :D

It even lets you know what taste and texture to expect when you cook the mushroom.

It even lets you know what taste and texture to expect when you cook the mushroom.

Leisurely Progress

Vegan hopping john

Vegan hopping john and brown rice

The first order of business when we got back home was to catch up on medical appointments. My doctor informed me that my cholesterol was sky high. Since my body has zero tolerance for statins or livilo, that means my only options are diet, supplements and exercise.

So, I am planning three vegan days per week, and cutting back on meat and cheese the other 4 days.

Fortunately, Ron loves my vegan meals as long as I promise him a steak and a pork chop once a week. So tonight we had hopping john and brown rice. Ron went back for seconds, which assured me he wasn’t feeling deprived with the meatless meal. :)

I also found a highly recommended handyman who charges very reasonable prices to do the projects on the house that I can’t do. Needless to say, he is backed up, but should be here next week to put in the new back door and give me an estimate on the utility closet. So we are slowly on our way to getting the place ready to put on the market.

Ron is having cataract surgery Wednesday. The following Thursday I go in for a preop consultation about eyelid surgery. My drooping eyelids interfere with my vision enough that Medicare will pay to have that fixed. Then Ron will go in for the other cataract surgery, then this fall it will be my turn.

At least we should have all that done in time to head to Florida again next winter.

Between repair jobs this summer, we plan to schedule week-long getaways whenever we can work them in.

lbmWe have had tons of rain, so I know the mushrooms are going crazy out in the woods. I haven’t made time to check them out, so maybe I can squeeze a mushroom hunting expedition in tomorrow.

I did find a LBM (little brown mushroom) in one of the campgrounds we were in. I’m not sure which one. I didn’t try to identify it because it’s a tedious process for me and I didn’t have the inclination to spend that much time on it. At first I thought it was a deadly gallerina, but the gills are wrong for that. Anyway, it is definitely not one I was tempted to eat!

We have found the solution for Sunny’s incontinence problems.  It’s a belly band with a sanitary napkin inside.  It’s not very glamorous, but it works.  I thought he would hate wearing one, but he is so used to me putting sweaters and jackets on him that this is just another thing that Mom makes him wear.  :)

We’re Home

We just got home a couple of hours ago.

Thankfully there was no sign of mice, no broken pipes, and nothing missing. It looked like we had just been gone a few days.

And the projects look a lot less daunting than I had built them up in my mind.

Sunny is ecstatic to be home.

Ron has gone to buy new batteries for the smoke detectors with instructions to bring home taco salads.

And we are so excited about our new goals of fulltiming and eventually buying a small home base in Florida.

Life is still good. :)

Home Tomorrow

Commitment and persistence.

Commitment and persistence.


I am trying to face going home tomorrow “with the grace of a woman, and not the grief of a child.”

Once we leave here tomorrow morning, we will be plunged into a maelstrom of tasks, chores, medical appointments, etc. and probably won’t even have time to think for a few days.

Then the real work starts.

I had planned to redo the bathrooms a year or so ago. My normal procedure is to research how to do projects, watch Youtube videos to learn techniques, then plunge in over my head and eventually end up with a decent job done.

That doesn’t work anymore. I learned I simply don’t have the physical strength to do carpentry and remodeling anymore.

So those projects remain undone. And if we are to sell the place, the kitchen counters also need to be redone.

So my job for the foreseeable future will be scheduling handymen to do the work as I can afford each project. I can’t afford to hire professionals. Hopefully I can find some gifted, reliable handymen.

But back to dreams of fulltiming…

Tinycamper laundry.  :)

Tinycamper laundry. :)

It has been rainy here, but yesterday we got a break in the weather long enough to do a little laundry with my Wonder Wash and spin dryer.

That was pure fun to me… and the wash smelled so fresh after drying in the sun and breeze.

But the real world calls, and we will answer tomorrow.

Spring!

Spring is following us north.

Spring is following us north.

I was seriously tempted to take some of the redbud flowers to make pancakes with, but decided I didn’t want to have to explain to a ranger why I was eating his trees!

Field garlic

Field garlic

So I settled for using a little field garlic in our dinner omelets this evening.

It’s fun watching spring start all over again after experiencing it in Florida.

Dandelions.  My favorite spring flowers.  Seriously!

Dandelions. My favorite spring flowers. Seriously!

We have had to take turns walking since Sunny can’t be left alone now. We went shopping in Valley yesterday, but had to take turns shopping, too. It was too hot to leave Sunny in the truck without air conditioning.

Lush clover.

Lush clover.

I thought I would always have a dog. But after being so constrained by Sunny and Sheba this trip, I think that when Sunny passes on, I may wait a while and see how I do without one.

Nature's lace.

Nature’s lace.

Another beauty.  Can anyone tell me what it is?

Another beauty.

Another cute COE safety sign.

Another cute COE safety sign.

Joy!

View from our site

View from our site. Can you see the small tree on the point? I bet it will be beautiful once it gets its leafy summer dress. :)

This morning as we were getting ready to hit the road I was flooded with happy anticipation, which changed to sheer joy once we were underway.

As I’ve said before, I am happier than I have ever been. Ron and I are both talking about “when” we fulltime — not if.

Yesterday, at Pine Island, I sat outside observing the activity around me. Coots bobbed up and down on the sparkling waves. An osprey flew overhead and landed on the sandy beach, picked up a long stick in its beak that looked too big for it to carry, then flew heavily to its treetop nest on the mid-lake island.

Our Casita at R. Schafer Heard campground.

Our Casita at R. Shaefer Heard campground.

Later that evening, as the sunset faded, I watched dozens of small, maybe 3 or 4 inch long fish jumping out of the shimmering, liquid copper colored surface of the water. They fully cleared the water with each jump and it looked like they were trying to fly.

On our previous visit to that lake 2 years ago, a fisherman told me they were carp when I asked him what kind of fish were jumping out of the water then.

Another view from our site.

Another view from our site.

I deliberately did not have my camera with me because I feel and observe so much more when I’m not distracted with trying to photograph my surroundings. I think I need to devote one day a week (at least) to doing that. When I do, the sights, sounds and scents are more deeply embedded in my memory.

So tonight we are at West Point Lake in the R. Shaefer Heard campground. This is another of our old favorites, and is only a little over an hour from home.

We plan to stay here 7 days, then this fantastic journey will end.

We did discover anotther swamp at our last campground.  Fortunate the area was hilly and the campground wasn't swampy at all.

We did discover another swamp at our last campground. Fortunately the area was hilly and the campground wasn’t swampy at all.

Just Pictures

It’s foggy and overcast this morning. But I have a good enough signal to upload photos, so I’ll post some from yesterday.

I love the COE's safety signs.

I love the COE’s safety signs.

tmp_1367-alligator alley-1694633834

The alligators were getting out of hand the last time we camped here. One man told us that when he brought his boat into this canal after dark, the red, glowing eyes of the alligatos along this bank looked like Christmas lights.

This is the area where the young alligator chased baby Sheba.  it used to have all kinds of vegetation in the water and on the banks.  I'm sure that's why they've mowed the bank and trimmed the aquatic plants back.

This is the area where the young alligator chased baby Sheba. It used to have all kinds of vegetation in the water and on the banks. I’m sure that’s why they’ve mowed the bank and trimmed the aquatic plants back.

There are dug up areas along the road.  It's not bad enough to be feral hogs, so I think it's armadillos.  Here they were probably going for the young bull thistle's turnip tasting roots.

There are dug up areas along the road. It’s not bad enough to be feral hogs, so I think it’s armadillos. Here they were probably going for the young bull thistle’s turnip tasting roots.

Gorgeous little flowers.

Gorgeous little flowers.

Young 2nd year bull thistle beginning to send up celery tasting flower stalk.

Young 2nd year bull thistle beginning to send up celery tasting flower stalk.

This fallen pine tip looked like a still life to me.

This fallen pine tip looked like a still life to me.

Former lake denizens

Former lake denizens

Critter tracks

Critter tracks

Camping Heaven

Our Casita at Pine Island Campground

Our Casita at Pine Island Campground

Today is a glorious, breezy, sunshiny day with a high in the low 80’s. Weather like this makes us high, too! :)

There are many hugepines here.  Unfortunately, they show evidence of pine bark beetle damage.  I had Ron pose in front of one for scale.

There are many hugepines here. Unfortunately, they show evidence of pine bark beetle damage. I had Ron pose in front of one for scale.

Sunny is sleeping hard enough now that if we leave the trailer when he is napping, we can get nice walks in before he wakes up. That’s another good news, bad news situation. We love being able to get out for walks together, but are sad that he sleeps like the old dog that he is.

For several days rowing teams have been practicing for a competition (we suppose). There are 4 long boats with several rowers each, accompanied be an instructor in a motor boat with a bullhorn that sounds like a Parris Island drill instructor! It’s been fun to watch.

This afternoon the sun is sparkling on the lake like a million diamonds. The breeze is steady and cool — keeping the 83 degrees from feeling hot. It couldn’t possibly be more perfect.

I’m still phone blogging and editing my photos on the phone, so I have no idea how they look on a screen. Hope you can enjoy them.

p.s. I had a whole lot of photos to post, but my signal has dropped to 1x, so I can’t upload more.

Bummer!  :)

 

 

 

 

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