September 2012


Today Beth and I walked to the Union Church. One of my caching friends had hidden a cache there, and it had somehow escaped my notice until now. I had been thinking about placing one there, but thinking about it and doing it are two different things. I thought. She did. And actually, she had hidden it exactly in the spot I had intended to.

On the way there, we saw a garter snake.

Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)

Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)


I haven’t seen many snakes this summer. I think this is actually the only one I’ve seen.

Once we got to the Union Church and found the cache, we headed over to Beth’s first geocache. Not so we could see the cache (but we did check on it), but so that I could check up on a shrub I had marked there last winter. I marked it by tying a length of yarn to it so that I could identify it when it had leaves. I find it funny that I marked it on the winter solstice and checked it on the autumn equinox. Pure coincidence! Here it is with leaves:

Marked Shrub

Marked Shrub


I still don’t know what it is, but I’ll dig through my books in a little while. If you look closely, you can see the blue yarn marker right in the center of the frame behind some of the leaves.

While we were out that way, we stopped by Sandogardy Pond for a few minutes. Then we headed home again. After I caught my breath, I put the roof rack on my car and loaded up my newly repaired canoe. David was spending the day with some friends, and I couldn’t talk Beth into coming with me, so I went alone.

Topside

Topside


I paddled it around the pond in a counterclockwise direction. For some reason, I always paddle around this pond counterclockwise. Maybe because that gets me to the wilder side of the pond more quickly.

I found a bullhead lily (Nuphar lutea) still in bloom.

Bullhead Lily (Nuphar lutea)

Bullhead Lily (Nuphar lutea)


And several fragrant water lilies (Nymphaea odorata).
Fragrant Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata)

Fragrant Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata)


I soon found myself at the north end of the pond where the leaves were beginning to redden. Autumn equinox indeed.
Paddling north

Paddling north


When I took the boat out I realized that I had failed to tie the grab loops onto the ends. In Virginia, that would have been illegal, and it may well be here as well. I should look into that. I’ll need to drill the tie holes out again, as I covered them with fiberglass during the repair. It will be easy to do – I just need to do it!

I haven’t been able to get out of the office very much lately as work has been insanely busy. But I had to step out on Wednesday just to keep my sanity. I only went around the block, but I decided to pay a visit to the kousa dogwood I found early this summer. The fruit was ripe!

Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa)

Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa)


I plucked one off and examined it. Then bit it open. Here it is:
Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa)

Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa)


The texture of the flesh reminded me a lot of pawpaw, but I would imagine that description is not terribly helpful to most people, as pawpaws are not commonly eaten. Maybe mango. The taste was rather like a peach though. Nice and sweet. Unfortunately, the skins are kind of bitter, so that if you get any of that, it almost ruins everything.

I picked about a dozen fruits and brought them back to the office. I had a plastic container there in which I had previously transported some soup. I had eaten the soup for lunch and had washed out the container, so it was perfect. I was intending to do something with them when I got home, but all I managed was to pop them into the fridge.

I intended to do something with them on Thursday too, but that didn’t happen either. But tonight… yes. I ran them through my chinois in an attempt to separate the pulp from the skin and seeds. It mostly worked, but some of the skin did make it through.

I ate the pulp with a spoon, but didn’t offer any to Beth or David (I know Va well enough to know that she would have refused). Since it still had some bitterness in it, I didn’t want them to dismiss it permanently. I’m hoping the day will come when I figure out how to make this stuff irresistible.

In other news…
My canoe is almost ready to go again. All I have to do is let the varnish dry. Well… I’ll have to touch up the gunwales too. I varnished them with the boat upside down, and couldn’t reach the part of the gunwales that was sitting on the sawhorses.

The way I dealt with the bubbles in the fiberglass was by sanding them off and patching them over with small bits of fiberglass cloth (and more epoxy). That worked out pretty well. Once I got the patches sanded down, it was pretty hard to tell where they were.

The varnish instructions said to not use the product unless the temperature was between 50-90F. It’s supposed to get down to 48 tonight, but I did the deed in the garage. I’ve closed the door and left on the lights (about 260 watts total), so I’m thinking it should stay at least 2 degrees warmer in there vs outside. I’m not worried about it.

With any luck, I’ll take it for a cruise tomorrow.

Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)


Tonight I will give you a month-old photo of some Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) that grows in my backyard.

While we were eating dinner tonight the power went out. It was raining, so I presume that might have had something to do with it. I had downloaded a couple of blog pages and some email to read, so I went ahead and read that. Then I took Penny outside in the rain and threw sticks for a bit. Then I came in and realized it was the perfect time to do something I had been meaning to do for some time – untangle all the power cords in the “IT” corner. It was a mess!

That kind of work does require light though, so I fished out my camping lantern. This is a solar/crank charged LED lantern, so there are no carbon monoxide fumes to worry about. When it gets dim I just crank it for another minute and we’re good to go for a while.

I found five cords that were plugged in only on one end. I don’t know what they used to power, but I’m guessing two of them were for the old desktop, two were for charging hand-held gaming systems, and one must have powered the old wireless router that we no longer use. I freed an entire surge protector and put the unused cables in a box of old computer parts down in the basement. I also disconnected our old very reliable HP LaserJet 5. That printer was a workhorse, and it still works perfectly. I think we got it in 1995. Unfortunately, we no longer run a computer with a parallel port, so it just sits there gathering dust. I ought to buy a USB-to-parallel converter. That thing is a tank.

About the time it got dark, we all loaded into my car and went to DQ for dessert. While we were out we noticed that the outage is pretty limited. They have power over on the next road.

When we got home, I rounded up a 60 watt inverter and an extension cord. I plugged them into Va’s car and routed the cord through the kitchen into the family room. We now have enough juice to run the essentials. And by “essentials” I mean the cable modem and wireless router. Forget the fridge and well pump! We must have Internet!

Actually, 60 watts doesn’t come close to running either the fridge or the well pump, but it does run the Internet OK. So we do what we can.

Ah! Power’s back!

Yesterday I went with Va’s Adventurer Club to the Miller Farm. This is a working dairy farm in Vermont, and the conference Adventurer leadership team had a full day planned.

Arrival at Miller Farm

Arrival at Miller Farm


We brought two refugee girls with us – one from the Sudan, and the other from Burundi. There were other kids from our club there too, but they came with other adults.
Beth finds a new friend

Beth finds a new friend


Beth is too old for Adventurers now, but we wanted her to come with us anyhow. She was not the only Pathfinder-aged kid there either. She didn’t want to participate in the “kiddie” things, so she found a barn cat and played with that pretty much the whole time we were there. I think she enjoyed herself.

Of course no trip to a farm is complete without a hayride, so we had one of those.

Hayride!

Hayride!


I was amazed when our host threaded the tractor and wagon through an S-curve made by a barn and an outbuilding. Pretty sure I would have snagged a post and brought the barn to the ground if I had tried that, but he did it masterfully.

Just kidding!

Just kidding!

They had a half dozen goats on the farm, but the main focus was clearly on the dairy cows. This one tried to eat my pants, but I wasn’t having any of that.

Milking the goat

Milking the goat


They showed the kids (err… children) how to milk one of the goats, and several of them tried their hand at that – and most were successful. Va gave it a shot too.

Va milks the goat

Va milks the goat


They also let them hand milk one of the cows. Va tried that too and said the cow was a lot easier to milk than the goat was.

...and a cow

…and a cow


That surprised me, but I guess it shouldn’t have.

They told the kids that if they wanted to be farmers, they would have to get in shape. So it was exercise time!

Exercise builds strong muscles

Exercise builds strong muscles


In addition to these push-ups, they also did some chin-ups. Then it was off to a field to sow some grass. This is where I tell you that the farm abuts the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power plant. Really. See the power transmission lines?
Sowing seed next to Vermont Yankee

Sowing seed next to Vermont Yankee


Both the state and the power plant test the water and milk at this farm on a regular (and frequent) basis. I don’t know if that would make me feel better or worse if I lived there.

The kids sowed the seeds a little… unevenly.

Seeds!

Seeds!

With that job done, it was time for more fun. The kids got to bob for apples.

Bobbing for Apples

Bobbing for Apples

As an added bonus, one of the cows calved while we were there.

Calving

Calving


Ewww! When that was done I turned to one of my friends and remarked that this was just as repulsive in cattle as it is in humans. He agreed!

It wasn’t too long after that that it was time to milk the herd. I think this is my favorite shot of the day:

In the Parlor

In the Parlor


Beth abandoned the cat and came with us to see that.
More Parlor Shots

More Parlor Shots

We left pretty soon after that. It was a two-hour drive back to Concord, and Jonathan and David met us there for dinner. Then I took Jonathan back to UNH, and finally got home around 9:30pm. I was pretty tired. It was a long, but interesting day!

I made another attempt at photographing the Sand Jointweed (Polygonella articulata) at the church today.

Sand Jointweed (Polygonella articulata)

Sand Jointweed (Polygonella articulata)


This one is almost passable, but I’m still not 100% satisfied with it. The background is still too cluttered, and this one was lying over instead of erect. I was still fighting the wind though, and this low-lying one was the only one holding still.

After church today we had the second Adventurer meeting of the year. I taught my group about weather, and Va’s group studied rainbows. Va made these cupcakes, which are best appreciated when they have been bitten into.

Rainbow Cupcake

Rainbow Cupcake


The kids had a great time.

Tomorrow is the annual Adventurer Fun Day, and we will be taking them to a dairy farm in Vermont. I’ll try to take a few photos and share them here.

David hits 2004

David hits 2004


David was happy tonight. He finally got over a 2000 rating in chess. Good job, David!

2000 is significant because in some rating systems, that’s the threshold of being a titled player. His 2004 was from chess.com though, not from a “real” chess organization (such as the USCF or FIDE). David says it’s pretty hard to correlate the two, but still… 2004 is pretty good!

He plans to play in another tournament next month, so we’ll see how he does there.

Sand Jointweed (Polygonella articulata)

Sand Jointweed (Polygonella articulata)


This is a new-to-me plant, Sand Jointweed (Polygonella articulata). It’s not in any of my field guides, so it took me a while to find out what it is.

To tell the truth, I only discovered its identity by happy accident. I was reading Saratoga woods and waterways and there it was. A plant I have seen for a couple of years and not known what it was.

It does not seem to be a very common plant. Wikipedia has no article on it, and Wikimedia Commons doesn’t seem to have any photos of it either. There is not very much information on it at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center either.

This one was growing between the edge of the woods and the edge of the parking lot at the church. I took a hurried shot of it this morning, but I need to get out there and take a more careful one. Maybe then we can think about Wikipedia and the Commons.

Next Page »