Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Wildflowers and Idiocy


So this is what the sky looks like here lately.  There are wildfires burning to the North and the East of us - all blessedly distant - and this is typically what the skies around here look like for at least a couple of weeks every year at the end of Summer.  It makes for apricot skies and mango sunsets, and the moon rises like a huge flaming balloon every night.

Today the wind shifted. The last trailing effects of horror death run eek tropical storm Hilary blew over last night in a light rain, and today the skies are clear and the sun is OUT.  (See, when California gets a bit of rain I can jeer since OMG get over it that's just an average day up North here - but when we get temps over 80f I am suffered to cry and scream and bitch because That's Not Fuckin' Normal.) We had a lovely blue morning, and as the day progressed, the smoke crept back, and the heat increased, and I am now distinctly uncomfortable.  I was not meant to imbibe polluted air and suffer in temperatures above 72f.  I could die. Any minute. My tits are sweaty. I am uncomfortable. Shit.

So I got high as balls and went out and took some more wildflower photos up and down my street.  

HA I fooled you this isn't a wildflower!  It's a Snowberry!  You can't eat them. I don't think anything eats them. I think they just fall off the bush eventually and lie on the dirt.

HOOT HOOT!!  Gotcha again!! This is the fruit of the Red Elderberry. No wait it's a Hawthorne. Yeah. This is a Hawthorne.  OK it's not really a Hawthorne, it's what we call a hawthorne.  A regular hawthorne is called a myrtle, and a myrtle is called a pincherry.  This makes sense if you live here.

Some tansy, also known as ragweed, that's been stunted.  You have to resort to chemical warfare on this shit to knock it back, as this has been. Once it takes root, forget it.

A clover head. If so inclined, you can carefully slip one of the purple blossoms out of the cluster and sip a perfect drop of honey out of it.  I mean, not this one, right. People's dogs have been at this stuff.  It's on the side of the road here. Ew.

Here we have Queen Annes' Lace at every stage of it's thang, with some purple clover in the background.  At this point I was down on one knee in the street angling my phone around trying for the perfect shot, and...people saw me.  Good thing I was blazed.  Behaving in an abberrant manner doesn't count if you're high.

This is called yellow lotus, and it grows in a nice round cushion.  The crazy thing about it is that once it has sprouted, it will grow to suit its conditions exactly.  This little clump is no larger than a demitasse, and all its parts are perfectly miniature.  If the seed had landed in a more fertile location the clump would have grown to the size of a hassock, in a perfect half-sphere.  

This humble little plant is a native orchid in seed - platanthera elongata.  It is EXTREMELY rare.  And it comes up in its multitudes between buildings H and G here where I live, and nowhere else.  I've looked!  A small miracle, this humble little plant with green, nondescript blossoms, ant pollinated, spread by ground nesting birds who pick at it's seeds (and live in the landscape heathers.)  This is a life- list plant for me and I was astounded to find it here!

Every single year since 1969 I have cut off the side of my pointer finger, right or left.  Every single fucking year.  And this year is no different, as I type without using my right pointer finger. I just did it, trying to cut an onion on a mandoline.  You'd think by this time I'd know how to avoid this shit but noooooo. I am truly disgusted with myself.

I am so used to doing this, in fact, that I don't even freak out anymore.  I just go through the drill.  Let it bleed clean,  press it closed, open the bandaid one-handed and stretch it on, whoop whoop and done.  God I am sick of this.

I don't usually use a mandoline for that exact reason.  Thing is, we finally joined the trend and bought an air fryer.

Seduced by the promise of frying minus the part where the kitchen and the cook get coated with a fine mist of grease, we let this appliance into our lives and now I have to figure out how to use the damn thing.  I messed around with slices of bread and temperature settings and the timer and finally thought I was ready to make something substantial, so I went for crispy vegetable fritters. Potatoes, zuchs, carrot and onion (the villain of the piece) all cut on a mandoline, squeezed, mixed, a little seasoning, a little tempura batter, a little oil, twirled into a nest type of thing and fried.  A pain in the ass usually, given stove-top frying in hot oil during August, and messing with racks and paper towels and bowls and hot fat... but delicious nonetheless. It's what you make this time of the year when people realize they've planted too much zucchini and try to fob it off on you. 
I thought I was ready. I thought I had this knocked.  Right up until I slipped and lopped off a quarter of my fingertip AGAIN.  

No it did not land in the food. I knew you'd wonder. 

I however cannot be felled by such inconsequentialities.  Tomorrow I will be air-frying like a hero, turning out tasty fritters.

-Oh, and baking a nice cake too, in the oven, like a normal person.  Tomorrow is the Bikers' birthday!!!!

Monday, August 21, 2023

Super Fantastic Wildflowers

NOTE:  These pix are going to look a little glum because it was an overcast day when I took them, and so the colors are not as saturated as I'd like.  And what I like is the standard of all things, like Vitruvian Man, only not naked and not Italian.

This pan of kidneys thanks you.  


It doesn't get much more wild and weedy than Dandelions, and this is as fine a stand of dandelions as you'll find. In the rear, blurry, is a stalk of alumroot in bloom.

Now the name of this is debatable.  Some call it Tansy, and some call it Tall Comfrey.  Me, I'm too lazy to look it up.  All I know is that it smells weirdly like the inside of an unused purse. In the right place this comes up six feet tall, and as long as it isn't on my property, it looks pretty and ferny, I think.

Wild Hardneck Garlic against a moody sky. These are its setts, and they're ready to shatter and 
-yes yes fine that's the old Rancho in the background, but this is Garlic Gone Wild. It is FERAL GARLIC. Nobody can tame it. 
Not even with a whip and a chair. 


The gloriously abundant Wild Blackberry, with fruit and the palest of pink blossoms. This stand was about ten feet high.   Apparently we have Luther Burbank to thank for introducing the Himalayan Blackberry strain to the U.S.  After battling these things all my life, I say Go Get Stuffed, Burbank.

You know what is amazing is the sheer health of this plant.  Not a blemish, not a chewed leaf, nothing.  Of course this is why blackberry is taking over.  It'll get you before you get it.

This plant has hybridized with the native strain, Rubus Ursinis, which has a fruit that is tiny and ovate. Thus, you get a berry that is wider than is long on the 'Himalaya' form, writ large.  Here's the native strain:

Note the shape of the ripe fruit! 
This is a tiny, tiny little plant that you find winding across the forest floor, with roots that go down to China.  The vines are silver-white and act as a tripwire, scouring the ankles with hundreds of tiny, brittle needles tipped with fomic acid.  The berries are the size of a button, but they taste like concentrated honey and blackberry jam, and so you risk your ankles to get them because they are that delicious.

Enough of that.

  What is beautiful that you didn't think was beautiful?

More corn, with some wild amaranth-type stuff around the bottom there.

OK fine here. Have some conventionally pretty flowers.

Beautiful fireweed, mixed with wild grasses in plume. (Also blackberry, alders, cottonwood and Elder.)

A fog of fireweed!  The same thing as willow herb, or at least in the same family of plants.  The grey slugs have gotten that sprig down bottom left there.

Very difficult to see, but you'll seldom see rarer - the little yellow blossoms here are known as Jewelweed, or Noli Mi Tangere. 

 Noli is extremely rare to find here, particularly at sea level, as Noli prefers cold gravel bars in and along high elevation rivers and streams.   I gasped when I found this stand growing in a crook of the Sumas River.  Hanging ass-up over a bridge guardrail was as close as I could get, or else risk sinking into the mud, never to be found again.  Upper right you can see a couple of jutting pale pink blossoms of wild buckwheat, or Bistort, and along the bottom the leaves of morning glory run out into the water. The silk-fine water grasses are just exquisite.

This is a much better picture of the PNW strain that I stole off the Web. You can just make out these orange highlights on the blossoms in my picture.  It's a big, fleshy blossom, very like a Scotch Broom or a snapdragon when seen head-on. Bumble bees lose their little minds over this stuff! 


A lovely clump of Morning Glory not afraid of the day, growing though salt pine, a young maple, wild currant and an old apple tree. As long as it's not growing in my yard, it's pretty. 


Now in my last 'out and about' post, I talked about wooden sidewalks.  Here's an intact set.

This is what a lot of the little townships out here look like still... false-fronted buildings, and particularly the wooden sidewalks.  This place still had hitching rails, that were used! back when I first moved here and all these little bends in the road were isolated.  Nowadays, thanks to sprawl, you really have to hunt to find this kind of Wild West stuff. 

Of course there's a taco wagon.  There' always a taco wagon.

Now you are edified. Go forth and spread your knowledge throughout the land.

Monday, August 14, 2023

The Edge of America One Cool Summer Day

These were taken on August 10th.  It was a perfect day.  It was warm enough to be comfortable yet breezy enough to be invigorating.  There was a pearly haze in the air. The sky was filled with masses of low, trailing clouds, and the humid air was full of the clay and metal smell of well water sprayed high over the ripening corn and the scent of millions of blackberries ripening. An absolutely quintessential Northwest summer day.  Wasn't that paragraph just lyrical as all get out?  Of course it was.

I went out to the last gasp of the last road before the international border, where the Cascades start up suddenly from the Fraser River plateau.  I'm going to follow this road until it meanders out to its end.

Heading East.  This is what constitutes the last bridge over the Sumas River before it runs into Canada, which is over about an acre to the left.  

Turning to the right and hanging over the guardrail, we see the Sumas River (or at least one branch of it) as it runs beneath that bridge.  This is called Saar Creek depending on what time of the year it is and how hard it's been raining.  It's three inches deep and narrow enough to step across here.  The bed lies on the blue clay layer this whole valley floats atop. You can make it out through the crystal clear water. It actually is bluish.

This is where the Cascades begin.  Imagine the aroma of all this ripening fodder, the corn growing, and the smell of the evergreens coming down out of those hills.  It was amazing.  I could have stayed out here all day.   I've come out here in the past and seen herds of deer going up the rocky sides of this mountain in broad daylight.  I'd hoped to see them today.  The deer had other plans. Oh well.

Nearing the end of the road now...

The blue flowers are chicory, also called Bachelor's Buttons, that have been mowed. Usually they stand about two feet high.

Up past the last curve, to find a curious horse!  I am using all the zoom here because horses kind of freak me out, although this one seemed very chill.

This is it.  From here you walk.  Where to?  North across the border to a very, very small town called Arnold, or straight up East into the Mt. Baker National Forest where a bear will eat you. Or back South across the farmland until a cow eats you. 

Now let's turn our backs on this and head back in to Sumas City Limits!  Hooray!

Here we are, just past the city limits sign, standing on the bridge over the mighty Sumas River! The river that killed a town! Oh shit it's the Sumas River bridge!  What dire peril awaits below this span???What scene of death and tragedy?  What swift, gnashing waters running white maned o'er jagged, merciless rocks??!  WHAT SCENE OF WRECKAGE AND HEARTBREAK???


To me - and I've mentioned this before - this is a creek.  In fact it doesn't even rate the name 'creek' - it's a rill. A trickle. A seep.  And this is what it usually looks like, Spring, Summer and Fall.  In the Winter it might fill this swale until the water reaches four feet across...

...when it can find the damn swale at all.  

I've only turned to the left slightly, and the river, such as it is, has been completely obscured by this carpet of morning glories.  

Here's a close-up of that house.  A year ago, all this had been washed away, right back to the foundations.  All that has been replaced and shored back up. Look how fast the plants have taken back over!

The morning glories are even clambering up the bridge!  (I've turned my back on the house and now am looking back toward the Rancho just past the speed limit sign.)

Of course I had to visit the old place.

 I absolutely love this shot.  Neglect never looked so good.  Man, that moody sky and the full, gorgeous greens here... this may be my favorite. It absolutely captures what I love about this time of year, and about the Northwest.   


 Next post:

  !!!Super fantastic wildflowers!!!!

Friday, August 11, 2023

GOTTA DANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Watch out Friday Night! We got an international dance party brewing up in this situation!

 You got jump and jive!  

You got Cab Calloway!! 


OO baby I wish I had six asses so I could shake them all! 

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Save The Peanut People

 I almost feel guilty.  (Almost.)  The rest of the world is suffering the sudden effects of global warming and me, I'm enjoying life here in the 4th Corner.  So are my fellow  Bellinghamsters. 

We even have our own mug.  And yes, that's the official town motto.  
Yup. I know.

It is downright comfortable out!  And sunny! People are out actually doing things besides going to brew pubs.  They're having garage sales and letting the kids stay up and splash in the sprinklers, walking dogs, working in their yards, visiting up and down the street.  And I have been out among them!

It has been so temperate, in fact, that the local blackberries have come on like monsters, growing out over the street overnight in some places. It makes me homesick for Oregon, where the blackberry patches ruled. They got so big you could walk underneath them!  As kids we'd take in a broomhandle and rattle it up above in the canopy and the blackberries would tumble down, all warm from the sunshine above. This was more fun if you were four feet tall and didn't mind being covered in splattered blackberries, of course.

I live on a bluff overlooking Puget Sound, and every bird in creation has been planting blackberries on the edge of that bluff since the first Native American chased a wooly mammoth here.  So off I went - less than a mile away! - and picked a gallon or more of blackberries yesterday.   It only took me twenty minutes to fill the bucket!  And all the while I had a beautiful view of the estuary of the Nooksack River going out into Puget Sound, the emerald green marshes and all the lacy creeks and rills running through it and out across the tidelands toward the bay. I spent more time examining bumblebees and watching herons fly across the water below than I did picking berries, naturally.

Long story short, made a blackberry pie, and four blackberry tarts!  But I had blackberries left over.  Hmm.  So I tinted an old white t-shirt with them.

Now I'm going to dye my hair. 
With blackberries.  

GOOBER GRAPE (that's what they'll be calling me)

I cannot believe people actually used to eat this. Stripes of grape jelly and stripes of peanut butter running lengthwise was squirted into the jar, and made for a novel sight on the grocery shelf . But when you'd go to kids houses and they'd offer you some, the whole inside of the jar had already been shlorped around with a butterknife and looked like a horrible catastrophe had happened and all the peanut people were dissolving from a purple disease. 
When the going gets tough, God makes you eat stuff like peanut butter and grape jelly or perhaps sauerkraut that's full of caraway seeds, and you have to tough that out.  If you don't, you won't go to Heaven. At least not the good Heaven.  You'll have to go to Bargain Heaven and you don't get wings there. You get a scooter.


I was too busy drinking animal beer in the sauna.     

See, I was smart for once. I've gone pure white at the temples, like a Horror Host, which I adore.  I left well enough alone - and do not want a bright purple scalp.  No.  Tempting as that sounds.

The t-shirt was more than enough warning.  A once-white shirt went from a deep red-purple, before washing, to something you'd find in a shallow grave in the woods. 

This is how you get impregnated by a ghost, I'm pretty sure.

Not only did it turn myn shirt wet newspaper grey, it picked up ever hidden stain and just sank its teeth in.  I had no idea my detergent was that shitty! So that's something I learned - switch to a better brand.

Yes it's been a hectic swing through space and time here at the el Apartmento. Whatchooz been doing, dime?

Friday, August 4, 2023

Side Effects

 The thing is, I suddenly have a case of nerve entrapment in my right leg.  It BLOWS.  Imagine having a really bad sunburn.  OK.  Now imagine that same sensation, only inside your muscle tissue.  That is the jolly, wacky fun of Nerve Entrapment.

I'm like 'The fuck.'  Where did I even get this from? I'm special and this is some undeserved bullshit.'

Anyway, they gave me Gabapentin for it.

Not necessarily relevant to this story.    

Now Gabapentin is just fine.  It works - always a good thing - and it mellows you out - always a good thing.  But when you start out, the stuff hits your system BOOM and you literally reel, like in actual circle, which is something I always thought was a figure of speech. 

It is not.

Gabapentin, when you first start taking it, has no mercy.  Ten minutes in, your legs just fail you in mid-step, and you need to grab for a pool boy and steady yourself.  And this is a novel sensation.  It's not at all unpleasant.  It's just that you can't chuck a Gabapentin down and then go sit behind the wheel of a car and drive. Or do much of anything, like use the stove, or a chair, unless you've planned out your handholds and angle of attack beforehand, just in case you go full Jello-mode. Fortunately, these spells pass quickly, but damn.  

So that's where I've been. Deal with it.



This man has a door in his ass.    

I tried to run the inscription around the rim of this plate though Google Translate but all I come up with is "Because of that through my sack a lot of gelt com I crept up der om worde ick van al de wellt int called" which tells us nothing. 

"I had gold, his butt was open - inside I crawled, and now it's croakin'?"

That's what I want it to say.


Oh lord.  So I was at WinCo, which is basically Wal-Mart for groceries.  Winco is where all the funny-looking people shop, and so I am among my peers, sporting my armadillo t-shirt and yoga pants, doing my shopping, humming a little tune.    

 I'm in the produce section bagging up my raw parsley and cilantro and wheeling off to go find the green onions when a small girl comes up to me and says 'Excuse me.  That's our basket.'

Yeah.  I grabbed some poor woman's cart full of tamarind and mangoes and plantain and kohlrabi and yams, dude, and completely failed to notice that fact.  

Instead of grabbing the handle and scuttling off, cackling in glee, I apologized and gave the woman back her produce.  Now that I have the advantage of hindsight, I should have done the former.  It would have been more fun than apologizing.  I would have had kohlrabi, too.

Get me some kohlrabi my good man and make sure it has a pleasant expression on its face.    

That kind of thing is happening way too often lately.  I'm getting eccentric whether I like it or not. I prefer to be in charge of my personal eccentricity.  Now I have eccentricity thrust upon me.  




I just do.  Think of some for me.