05 February 2016

Hummingbird Help

A friend and I found a sick humming bird today. Or maybe it was just cold. It did go down to 43'F last night. Normally, I leave cold birds alone. The sun will warm them. Songbirds on the ground might be fledglings learning to fly, being watched by adults in surrounding bushes. However, this one was not moving, fluttering or crying. It was smack in the middle of the driveway to a car dealership. I scooped up the still form. As I stood up, a huge black pickup truck approached. It waited as I got out of the way before rolling over the spot my new friend had been.

Witches butter

Witches butter on a log in Redwood Regional Park looking a lot like melted macaroni & cheese.

Witches butter is odd. It is a blobular yellow fungus found on every continent except Antarctica. Thin and unnoticed during dry times, with the application of water it achieves the look of a slimy, golden brain. It is near impossible to draw something so gelatinous.

21 January 2016

Recent fungal finds

These are everywhere in my yard this year. Hard to say if they are natives to the yard, or sprung from the organic soil I brought in to fluff up the beds. Most likely, Russula rosacea. Not edible.
Here in Northern CA, January is often the wettest time of the year. The ground is green with new growth and fungus pops up underfoot. I have been taking photos mostly. I tell myself I will draw them - and I might yet. I pull my two favorite shroom books off of the shelf (All the Rain Promises and More by David Arora, and Mushrooms of North America by Roger Phillips.)

I do not forage for mushrooms, or eat any of the wild ones I find. Mostly because my mycology professor at MSU had way too many horror stories about pumped stomachs, horrible symptoms and painful agonizing deaths. I am capable of taking spore prints and identifying down to species. I'm usually too lazy. Especially when it is so much easier to go to the grocery store, or the mushroom booth at the farmer's market and get the kind I know are edible. 

31 December 2015

The books of 2015

As part of my traditional new year, I post all of the books, comics and magazines I read last year. I would definitely recommend #13, & #60. My daughter introduced me to #124, which was better than I expected. 

What did you read?

  1. Creative Nonfiction #54; 55; 56; 57
  2. Poets & Writers vol. 43 no.1; no.2, no. 3
  3. Drawn By Instinct - Tiffany Bozic
  4. Shimmer #23; 24
  5. Egg & Spoon - Gregory Maguire
  6. Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime - Ellen Prager
  7. The Woman Who Died a Lot - Jasper Fforde

31 October 2015

Mushroom growth

I found this fungus growing on top of the Eucalyptus stump behind my house. The growth pattern reminds me of the Chicken of the Woods mushrooms in the Laetiporus genus. However, it has none of the bright sulfur yellow color that is a major characteristic of that edible fungus.

The spores are white to cream (changing as they get older?). The only Laetiporus I can find with white spores *does* grow on Eucalyptus, but is still much more yellow in color (see photos here).

I will be doing a little dissection and adding to this post. Stay tuned!

14 October 2015

Walking smug.

I am feeling a little smug. Today I walked 4.5 miles. Today I walked 4.5 miles for the THIRD day in a row. As many of you know, I have a crazy dog. He is huge, demanding and destructive. In short, he more of an asshole than most people can deal with. I have discovered that a tired dog does not have the energy to be an asshole. Instead, he sleeps like a log.

11 August 2015

Sketches from a hike....

Went on a lovely hike last weekend to Point Isabel in Richmond. There were dogs everywhere at the beginning. I missed my own pooches. The Path soon led onto part of the Bay Trail. The sky began overcast with a brisk wind off of the bay.

29 July 2015


Ever since the flames that swept the Oakland hills in 1991, destroying homes and causing mass evacuations, folks around here have been less enamored of Eucalyptus trees and brush. The oil from the Eucalyptus leaves and bark (which they shed constantly) is an amazing accelerant. The brittle grass and drought browned brush is excellent tinder. Many of the lands most prone to fire are either too inaccessible or too costly to trim by machine. This is why, I believe, nature gave us goats.

13 July 2015

Turtle Tribulations

I woke up from a nap to a house full of smoke. Mind racing I moved through the rooms. Had I cooked anything today? Did I leave the oven on? The smoke was thicker as I moved towards the kitchen. It was not, however, coming from the stove. It was billowing out of the turtle tank.

25 May 2015

yard work

I made my first insect hotel today. I have been a fan of the idea for years, but this was the first time I put one together. As you can see, it is kind of random and sloppy like me. I used a five gallon plastic pot I found behind the shed in my yard. Bamboo makes a great substrate - the hollow stems are great niches for insects and spiders to take shelter. Straw works well too. Fortunately for me, the people who owned my house before me thought that bamboo would be great planted everywhere. I cut some back and then chopped it up into pieces roughly the size of the pot.
Insect hotels are a perfect place for native bees, and predatory insects (i.e. lady bird beetles or a praying mantis) to find shelter. It is a spot to lay eggs in your yard. A home in the yard where they can live. You want them around so that they can pollinate your garden, or protect it from aphids, mealy bugs or other plant-eating insects.
Some of the photos I've seen are quite elaborate. Today I decided to go for finished before perfection. But these links will give you an idea of how creative you can get making your own.