I haven’t uploaded any photos lately, but I have been taking a few. I guess it’s time to catch up.

Orange Hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum)

Orange Hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum)

Some people call this Indian Paintbrush or Orange Paintbrush. But whatever it’s called, it is an invasive alien in these parts. It is pretty though.
Oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)

Oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)

I was surprised to see this one, as I just wasn’t looking for it when it kinda popped out at me. Like the orange hawkweed, it’s another member of the aster family.
Louise's swallow-wort (Cynanchum louiseae)

Louise's swallow-wort (Cynanchum louiseae)

I don’t know who Louise is, but I do know that her swallow-wort is another invasive alien. This little crop grows along Loudon Road in Concord. It’s the only plant I know that has black flowers.
Pinks (Dianthus deltoides)

Pinks (Dianthus deltoides)

This is a stunning flower, and I always love taking its picture. I took this one while Jonathan and I were on our way to L.L. Beans (and Boloco, a burrito shop) for lunch the other day. These grow in a grassy area between an off ramp and I-93 along Loudon Road. Jonathan was rushing to catch the pedestrian light (to go under the Interstate), but I knew that was futile. They give you 17 seconds to cross two roads (and they count it down), and as it turns out, 17 seconds is just enough time to get to the second of the two roads. Then you’ve got to press the button again and wait another cycle. My stop here to photograph the Pinks though was… premeditated. There’s another patch of them just off the exit 3 off-ramp from I-393, but that’s even more inconvenient for purposes of photography.
Blue Toadflax (Nuttallanthus canadensis)

Blue Toadflax (Nuttallanthus canadensis)

Toadflax is another flower you’d miss unless you were looking for flowers. IMO, they are worth noticing. Not very big, but they are pretty pretty!
Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

I’ve been seeing a patch of these along our ride to work, but haven’t really been able to stop and verify it. But then I saw this patch on our lunchtime trek to Bean/Boloco. I couldn’t take my time and get a nice shot though, because the light was about to turn green. Thus… the poor focus.
Painted Trillium (Trillium undulata)

Painted Trillium (Trillium undulata)

Here’s the painted trillium I took several pictures of while it was in bloom. I guess it’s in fruit now. See all the greenish-yellow powder? That’s pine pollen, and it is thick here right now. It floats on the water too, and washes up on shore. But at least it’s not crude oil.

Today Dennis and I walked down to Moe’s deli to grab some lunch. On the way back Dennis asked me “What’s all this I’ve been hearing about crocuses?” As it turns out, we were pretty close to the office by then, and that meant we were pretty close to Hermanos. So I told him, follow me, and I’ll show you.

I didn’t know if they would have bloomed yet or not, but I knew they were indeed crocuses, and I knew exactly where they had sprouted. Here’s what we found:

Crocus blossom

First Bloom of the Year

I’m not real pleased with this picture, but it’ll do I guess. It was kind of windy outside, and the bloom was shaking pretty bad. I had the exposure set to 1/30 second, and that’s slow enough to make a wind-blown flower blur. If the wind would have stopped for a moment, this coulda been a stunning shot. But oh well.

When we got back to the office I logged on to the Bloom Clock and entered it in as my first bloom of the year. I hadn’t been there in a while (no flowers since October or so in these parts), so I checked my watch list. There was a note on a friend’s talk page, so I read it. It was the (perhaps) tail-end of some high wiki drama, including some vitriol from Jimbo Wales about maybe shutting WIkiversity down. Jimbo founded Wikipedia BTW. And he de-sysopped my friend.

So! I dunno if I’ll continue with this bloom clock hobby or not. Maybe I’ll just set up my own wiki and keep my logs to myself. When the founder raises the spectre of closing down the project, that gets my attention, but not in a good way.

I’ve spent the evening getting ready for the Camporee this weekend. I have about a thousand things to do. Tonight I planned the menu and entered it into a pretty slick spreadsheet I developed a couple of years ago. For a given number of people it calculates how much and what kinds of foods I need to buy. For example, the meals we have that will feature bread as an ingredient are grilled cheese sandwiches, French toast, and PB&J . The speadsheet tells me I’ll need 12 loaves for that, which kinda makes sense. That’s roughly half a loaf per person. It does this for every ingredient I could think of for each meal, and since I’m reusing the menu from a previous time I used this spreadsheet, it should pretty much cover everything (it did before).

When I got home from work I took a quick walk on the trail through the woods. I found a goldthread (Coptis groenlandica) in bloom. Last year I didn’t see one of those until mid-May. Maybe this year I was looking closer? Here’s the pic I took of it.

Coptis groenlandica

Coptis groenlandica

This photo doesn’t show its leaves (I had to trace the stem beneath the fallen tree leaves to find this guys leaves a couple inches away. Once I found those, I remembered what this guy was). The leaf behind the bloom is from another plant, False Lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum canadense). Those should bloom in a couple more weeks.

I think it was yesterday when I found my first Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius) in bloom. That’s another interesting plant. The stem forks into four branches about halfway up. One goes straight up and sports the flower. The other three branch out away from one another and sport the foliage. Here’s what it looks like.

Panax trifolius

Panax trifolius

This year I might try my hand at identifying grasses too. But we’ll see. It’s hard enough keeping up with the plants I’m familiar with, much less adding grass.

More and more species of flowering plants are blooming every day now. It’s hard to keep up with them. Today it was tulips, periwinkle, birch trees, sugar maples, and a couple I have not yet identified. I went for a quick walk after lunch today and took several pictures. But I didn’t have a lot of time to dally around, because we have a lot to do in the office. I went for my walk anyhow because it helps to clear my head and keep me awake after lunch.

When I got home I took Penny outside and looked around the property for more blooms. Comptonia peregrina (sweetfern) is blooming right now. That’s not a fern at all, actually, which is why is can bloom in the first place. Ferns do not have flowers, nor do they have seeds. Rather, they produce spores. They also have a pretty interesting (i.e., non-traditional) life cycle. They produce male and female gametes which grow large enough to easily see with the naked eye. In humans (et al), gametes are the sperm and egg cells. But with ferns, these can exist independently for some time. Eventually, they get together and form a new plant. I don’t remember how exactly they do this, but I do recall that it involves water.

Anyhow, sweetfern is not a fern at all. The leaves are very fragrant and can be used as the basis for an herbal tea. If you are so inclined. In my study of edible wild plants, I found that MOST of them are great for making herbal teas. So if you’re ever stranded in the wilderness and want a tea-like drink, you’re in luck. Wintergreen, yarrow, goldenrod, and a whole slew of other plants fall into this category. You might still be hungry, but your tea cravings are sure to be satisfied.

Tomorrow promises to be busy. Va and Jonathan are heading to Vermont to take four seminars towards their Master Guide class (that’s a Pathfinder thing). I’m going to teach one of the seminars, but I have duties at church, so I won’t show up there until the afternoon. I’ll take Beth with me, but leave David at home to tend the dog. I have asked Cheryl to take my Juniors Sabbath School class, and I’m going to teach Va’s kindergarten class. I’ve never taught that age group, so this should be fun.

I have detected three plant species in bloom today. The crocuses I’ve already written about, so that’s one. The grape hyacinths (that I thought might be another variety of crocus) have not opened yet, so those don’t count. It only counts if the flower can be pollinated, and for that to happen, the blossom must open.

The second one I found was the infamous Taraxacum officianale, more commonly known as the Dandelion, and the third was Acer saccharinum, or what we naturalists call, the Silver Maple. I was somehow expecting the Red Maples (Acer rubrus) to bloom before the silvers, but didn’t really have a good reason for that. I didn’t catch the beginning of either’s bloom season last year, noticing that they had been in bloom well after they both started. Sugar Maples should come after both though. Those are hard to miss if you know what to look for. Sugar Maples have green flowers (not many plants do), so unless you’re paying attention, you could easily mistake them for leaves.

I found these while I was out for a walk today after eating my fourth-to-the-last Veggie Patty. I also saw what I expect is going to turn out to be some daffodils, but like the hyacinths, they have not yet opened, so they do not count. I logged all the “counting” ones at the Bloom Clock, but I have not detected anyone else there doing the same yet. Maybe it’s a dying project, I dunno. I haven’t heard a peep from the principal investigator yet either. So if any of my readers want to join in the fun, I implore you to do so.

I really enjoy identifying the plants, and logging the blooms gives me something to look for when I go for a walk. More than that, it gets me out of my chair more often than I otherwise would, and that’s good for my health. Walking good. (In moderation.) Sitting bad. (In excess.)

I finally managed to mail my old camera to my Uncle Jim. He has agreed to take a look at it and see if he can fix it, and for that, I am very grateful. I tried to fix it a couple of times, but it is apparently beyond my skill level. He, on the other hand, it like a level 92 mage when it comes to that sort of thing. He has never tried to fix a camera, but I think the odds are pretty decent that he will succeed where I have failed.

A little before noon today I called Va to see where she and Beth were eating. They get out of school at noon on Fridays, and then they go someplace to eat. Since I had to swing by the post office to mail that camera, I decided I would join them. We met at Pizza Hut, and had what Uncle Jim has the habit of calling “a fine meal.”

When I got home I poked around in the backyard looking for things to photograph. I found a mosquito. Still no frogs or salamanders, but I’m almost certain I heard a frog. Then Penny came running up and the frog sounds stopped abruptly. I couldn’t find him if he was there, but it was not from a lack of looking.

The only flowers I know of that are in bloom is that little gang of crocuses I photographed Wednesday. I found some dandelion plants, but they haven’t bloomed yet. As soon as they do though, I will log them on the Bloom Clock.

When the alarm went off this morning, Va went to check on Beth. She still had a stuffy nose and a cough, but she seemed rather chipper. So… keep the doctor’s appointment, or not? I knew what would happen if we blew it off. She would get sicker at an even more inconvenient time. So I thought it best to take her in.

Va and Jonathan both had dental appointments, so taking Beth to the doctor fell to me. They left the house to pick up my usual riders and take them to school. They hit the dentist some time later. I guess. Taking Beth to the doctor myself was OK with me though, as I had a chance for a more leisurely morning than usual. I took a long, hot shower. I made an egg sandwich. I set Beth up to practice the piano. Then I grabbed my camera and went outside. The main mission was to retrieve the garbage cans, and the secondary mission was to take pictures of… whatever. I found some silverod gone to seed, as well as some aster gone to seed. Silverod is like golden rod, but it has white flowers. I liked this picture best:

Daucus carota gone to seed

Daucus carota gone to seed

Daucus carota is more commonly known as “Wild carrot” or “Queen Anne’s Lace.” I uploaded the photo to Wikimedia Commons, because they didn’t have a photo of this plant in this phase of its life cycle. But now they do.

Then I taxied Beth to the doctor’s office. Her appointment was at 9:30, but we got there at 9:15. And sat in the waiting room for almost an hour. Good thing I was early! I always feel a little stupid waiting to see the doctor with a kid who seems for all the world to not be sick, and that was most definitely the case today. She was chatting up strangers, playing happily with toys, and just generally bouncing off the walls in there. But once she saw the doctor, the infection was confirmed. Both ears. And her nasal passage. And her throat. One prescription later, and we were out of there.

I called Va to see if she would fill the prescription (that’s her domain), and she said she would. But today was also ice skating day, so I was instructed to drop Beth off at the ice arena, which I did. We got there about two minutes before the rest of the students from her school did. Then I went to work.

Soon after arriving, I got a call from the guy in Keene where our fruit was to be delivered tonight. It showed up last night! I made arrangements with him to pick it up at 6:00 as we had originally planned. And then at about 1:30, I got a call from Ken. He was concerned about the weather and the fruit delivery we had been planning on. He teaches at Coe Brown, a school on route 4, and they let out early – so he was thinking maybe we could go up together and get the fruit before the weather got too bad. I made several phone calls to make arrangements, and then bugged out. We grabbed a tarp from the trailer, and decided that it would be a good idea to bring Jonathan with us (he was still in Concord after his dental appointment). Then we set out for Keene. It was slow going too, because it was raining. And freezing! They don’t let school out early for no reason, ya know!

We got there before dark and loaded the fruit – all 73.5 boxes. Then we drove it back to Concord. I had decided to store it in the table closet. Andy was there, and he helped us unload. About the time we finished unloading, Cheryl called wanting to know if we were in Concord yet. I had forgotten to call her, as she and Dirk wanted to help unload. My bad! Instead, she came in and put names on the boxes. Jonathan and I then carefully drove home – the roads were a mess too. I decided it would be better for me to drive rather than allow Jonathan to. He was disappointed, but the tread on my tires could be a lot better than it is, and it was pretty slick.

We got home in one piece though. And I will be astounded if school is not canceled in the morning.

I got up at 7:00 this morning. Va had gotten up sometime in the middle of the night not feeling very well. We had been planning to go to the arboretum to meet up with SB Johnny, an Internet friend of mine, but she wasn’t feeling up to it. I got Beth out of bed and fixed her some breakfast. Then I fixed one for myself, and the two of us set out for Boston.

We got there a little before 10:00, and Johnny showed up at about 10:20. He came with his wife and four year-old daughter. Johnny knows his trees!

Years ago when I was at the National Zoo in Washington DC, I would see an animal and try to identify it before looking at the plaque. I found that I was wrong most of the time because they had such unusual animals there. I;d cite an example, but I cannot remember a single one now. It was the same way at the arboretum. I know trees pretty well, but for the most part, I had no clue what trees I was looking at. It didn’t help much that they were mostly leafless this late in the fall. But Johnny knew most of them immediately. He majored in horticulture and has something of a nursery business though. For him, trees are a living. For me, it’s a fascinating hobby.

So while I had an expert’s attention, I asked him about a tree that has defied all my identification attempts. There are several of these growing along the streets in Concord. They look a bit like a cherry, but the leaves’ margins are crenate. For a while I thought it might even be some sort of elm. With that description, Johnny pegged it as a Zelcova. And before we were finished talking about it, we came upon one. There were still leaves on the ground, and sure enough – that’s what it was. I guess the main reason I couldn’t identify it is because they are not native to North America. They are, however, in the same family as the Elms. Johnny said that these were introduced here to replace the elms that have been dying off from Dutch Elm Disease. So… now I know. But I have already forgotten the word Zelcova several times already today.

I guess we walked around for a bit over an hour. Most of that time it was drizzling. I had a hard time keeping Beth’s hood on her – it just didn’t want to stay on. Johnny’s wife and daughter decided to head off somewhere while Johnny, Beth, and I went to a restaurant for some lunch. His wife suggested the “Purple Cactus” – a Mexican restaurant. So I drove us there (it was only a couple of miles away), and the food was pretty decent (though not cheap). Beth ate a cheese Quesadilla, which really surprised me. I had a squash and corn burrito. It also had beans in it, so I called it a “Three Sisters” burrito, referring to the Native American practice of planting beans, corn, and squash together. That’s actually my plan for this summer’s gardening experiment.

I took Johnny back to his wife’s relatives’ place, and then Beth and I headed back for home. I stopped at Lowes and bought some halogen bulbs for the light outside the garage, and when I got home, I put those in. After that, I kind of dozed in and out with an upset stomach. I liked the burrito, but I guess it didn’t like me.

I’d like to go back to the arboretum sometime when the trees have leaves, but I know myself well enough to know that that’s pretty unlikely to happen any time soon.

Beth had a half day of school today, so I drove her (and our riders) in. I came home after that and had the idea of making a fly for one of those mesh tents I bought this summer. David used it on our backpacking trip, and if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might remember how well it fared in the rain (hint: not well at all).

I planned to use some superfluous interior tents walls for this, so I laid a couple out on the floor and took some measurements. They are not quite right, but I think I can stitch a couple together without too much difficulty. And so that’s what I did. But that’s as far as I got. Maybe more on that tomorrow, we’ll see.

When Va was ready to leave the house this morning, I volunteered to go with her so we could pick up some fabric. She’ll be running the Adventurer “Camp In” in February (?) and the theme is “The Jerusalem Market Place.” We will therefore need several costumes. We picked out a couple of prints for the villagers, but they didn’t have enough of it there for two of the three outfits. So we bought enough for one villager outfit. Also some for a rabbi and enough for two Roman soldiers.

But all that was after we picked up Beth. Today was the first day the school kids got on the computers I set up for them. They were all pretty excited about that, and Camille seemed to be happy with it too. That’s a good thing, because we are piloting a Linux Terminal Server setup, and if all goes well and it meets all their needs, the software will cost exactly $0. Plus, I know how to set up and maintain such a system. I’m pretty helpless when it comes to Windows (see yesterday’s post). So if this doesn’t meet their needs, I will not be of much use to them.

After the fabric store extravaganza, we came on home. I started working on a villager costume, but could only take it so far. I need some interfacing. Oh well.

Then I helped Beth with her piano lessons a bit and put her to bed. After that I started researching the ancient art of thatching. As in straw roofs. There’s a Pathfinder honor from East Africa for that, and I thought it might be an interesting one to tackle. To my surprise, I found a couple of pretty thorough resources on d’web. I also ordered a book from a retired thatcher (not Margaret!) from England for $16.00. Cool. Right now I am thinking that I will thatch the log cabin I’ve been building for Beth for three years. Maybe this will spur me to make some progress (though I suspect a chainsaw might spur me even more). I was originally inspired to build a log playhouse by Richard Proenneke, but man… a chainsaw sure would be nice! But right now I’m excited about the prospect of thatching the roof, and documenting it as I go for the Wiki answer book.

It has been rainy all day. It may have snowed a little last night, but that was long gone by morning. We may get some snow tomorrow, but with the high forecast at 40 degrees, I’m not expecting any trouble.

I also got a call from an Internet friend today about a meet up. He’s the guy who founded the Bloom Clock project, and he’ll be up here for T-Day. Currently, we’re considering a meet up at the Boston Arboretum on Friday. If that happens, I’ll bring the family.

Well, that oughta be enough for tonight! Thank you both for reading!

Today Jonathan had an orthodontist appointment. Their office is a five minute walk from mine – maybe less. So Jonathan came to work with me today. I put him in what we call the “Starbucks” office. That’s the office where our remote workers set up shop when they come to Concord, so named, because they usually pick up a cup of Starbucks when they get off the plane. I guess. It also has a window into the hallway, which reminds us of a drive-thru window. The usual greeting for them is “You want fries with that?”

We didn’t have any remote workers today, so Jonathan camped out in there with my old laptop and an Internet feed. He does his school work online. Unfortunately, distractions are only a click away, and he suffers mightily from his inability to resist.

Wednesday is code-review day, and the company picks up the tab for lunch. I went ahead and bought Jonathan some lunch though, but he had to eat it alone. Well – he was alone in meat-space, but I’m sure he was not alone in the virtual world.

It was another stressful day at work. I did manage to get one problem knocked off my plate, but it was replaced with another even before I was done with it. My emergency queue is still too deep. Va picked Jonathan up at about 4:00, and I worked an extra two hours longer. I’ll be glad when next week rolls around, because I plan to take the whole week off. I haven’t taken much time off all year so far. I will use that time to help get the house cleaned up (my idea), and also to tweak the network at the school/church. And maybe get a little relaxing and recreation in as well. I do plan to meet up with a Bloom Clock friend if we can both squeeze it in. He has family in Western NH. The nice thing about NH, is that no part of it is more than two hours away from my house. (But I haven’t actually checked that. I merely assert it without support.)

When I got home, Va had a hot meal waiting just for me. Sautéed mushrooms and quinoa. Man, it was good too. Then I had an orange for dessert. The orange was fantastic, but I enjoyed the hot food even more.

I ordered up a copy of the Pathfinder Pocket Guide. I wrote about that either yesterday or the day before. I can’t wait to lay my eyeballs on it. But now I must wait.

Yesterday when I was leaving my fruit customer’s workplace, I saw a skunk come ambling across their driveway. I stopped, and seriously considered waiting for it to leave, and then looking for some skunk tracks to cast. But I wasn’t sure I had enough plaster in the car, and the family was waiting for pizza. Someday though, I will cast a skunk track.