Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fall...Mushrooms and Poetry

The colours have peaked and the frost has already been thick on the pumpkin, as the autumnal finery starts its slow descent to the multi-browns of November. Piles of leaves for the kids to shuffle through, as Halloween approaches!

Hoping to get out to the Dunbar Bridge for one last photo day before all the leaves are gone.

Looking forward to Halloween. Found the best book yesterday for the Grands!

A wonderful parody of the classic "Goodnight Moon" which I must have read to my three, a thousand or so times over their younger years.

Delving deeper into the whole mushroom is quite interesting...but seriously:

The first mushroom cultivated must have been by Howard Hughes. I can only assume this because of the emphasis on STERILIZATION of...well pretty much everything, as you go along.  With instructions to build a "Glove Box"  (...think Homer Simpson handling radiactive materials here)

And no..I am not making this up. And sterilizing the multitude of available substrates...and collecting you own spore patterns to eventually create your own inoculation syringes.

Let's get back to sterilizing the substrate for a moment. You mean the same fungi that grows on Cow-Flop and rotting trees suddenly gets overly picky when domesticated? I don't know...

But, I am willing to learn.

Completely immersed in all things MUSHROOM this week and my transit driver is bringing me several hardwood logs to inoculate with Shittake pegs soon. The morel area is already spored from last year...and hopefully the Spring rains will be kind next season. And yes...I am going to try the Oyster Mushrooms both on the toilet paper rolls and Kleenex box...because not only do I LOVE Oyster `shrooms...and I am excruciatingly curious...but also that (according to the guide) they are pretty much fool proof. Will grow on anything cellulose based including books.  We shall see.  ~laughing~

So for anyone who wants to try it yourself:
This is the book

 Is it wrong to want to buy a copy and grow Oyster Mushrooms on it...just for a photograph?

Also found an interesting selection of Poetry bound in three thin volumes.

From the: Let's Write About project.
Edited by Brien O'Neill

The Indiana Experience
The Indiana Experience Volume II
New Voices

All three were the plain-spoken voices of everyday Hoosiers. Nice to sit on the patio in the crisp Fall air with a cup of spiced tea and enjoy a slow read.

Worth a Look!

And my Go-To Fall Food Recipe

Fried Red Potatoes with Bacon and Onions

(...I think I could eat these every morning.)

Put a 1 inch square chunk of butter in a shallow skillet.

Slice Red Potatoes into 1/4 inch slices. Figure one large red potato for each person.

Cut Bacon strip into 1 inch pieces. Use one strip of bacon for each person. Do not use pre-cooked bacon.

Sprinkle top with salt, pepper and chopped dried onions.

Cover skillet with lid and cook on medium heat until the potatoes are cooked through and easy to cut with a fork. If you want them browned increase heat and turn once before plating.

And calorically not the nightmare you would imagine.

A single serving (one whole red potato and slice of bacon) is only

1 Red Potato =  108 calories
Butter 1 tablespoon= 102 calories
Bacon 1 strip= 46 calories
Dried Onion  1 tablespoon= 17 calories
Salt and Pepper (negligible)

So the whole skillet full is only around 273 calories.  Amazingly filling.
And outrageously delicious.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

And then we all BREATHED out...

Frankly...I am happily amazed.

Today the last of the 48 Ebola contacts from Dallas were released from quarantine...all asymptomatic. Even Duncan's girlfriend and the three other people who had lived four days in close quarters with the man after he became symptomatic...which seems like a minor miracle, to me.

And despite the botched way this was handled throughout and the two infected primary care nurses...we appear to have dodged a rather large bullet...and hopefully our hospitals and CDC will be more vigilant in any future Ebola case.

Whereas, I still intend to maintain my personal no cough/sneeze bubble and carry hand it will prove helpful in reducing colds/flus and bacterial  infections...I must admit a certain relax in concern re: Ebola when no one at the apartment ended up with it. I would have placed cash on his girlfriend being infected.

Finished my seed gathering today...bringing in the pink and fuchsia petunias that have dried and went to seed. Breaking open the papery brittle seed casings for literally thousand of ground-pepper-fine petunia seeds collected in paper towel and slipped into envelops to save and share next season.

And, about next season. 

Researching a new growing project for next year.  Along with the previously spored morels I am going to foray into Shittakes, Lion's Mane, Oyster, and well as a beginning Button/Portabella kit (which I will try over winter- inside)  From the simplest Oyster, which can actually be substrated on a roll of white fragrance free toilet paper, to the delicious morel which must be babied along in oak shavings...I am excited to learn and try growing several gourmet varieties.

                                                       Shittake Log

                                                    Lion's Mane



I am particularly interested in Reishi, which has been cultivated and used medicinally in China for centuries, and has proven immune enhancing abilities.

This week's book The Fault in Our Stars by Indianapolis writer John Green. The novel on which the movie is based. Both truly outstanding pieces of work. Besides the obvious cancer connection...and the irreverent thought process he captured so well...I think what I also enjoyed was the setting. The novel was set in Indiana. Specifically, the Eastside of Indianapolis...with which, I am intimately familiar. When the star-crossed lovers are in the gardens at the back of IMA...I have been there many times. When Hazel Grace is rushing down 96th to Ditch Road to help Augustus I can envision the area because I, too, drove these streets in the past. When she is describing The Faux Ruins at Holiday Park I have picnicked there also, years ago. Well written. Fast paced. Nice moral and tying up of loose ends. Even the loathsome, alcoholic, burned out...incredibly, finds redemption near the end.

 All in all, a book well worth the reading.  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Covered Bridge Festival...Chris' 25th Birthday and Chandler's Orchard

Celebrated my youngest's 25th birthday on Friday at The Covered Bridge Festival...all my children have finally reached that quarter-of-a-century mark!

                                                      Chris and Tina
                                                      (...and the sloth puppet)

A beautiful Fall afternoon. Couldn't have asked for nicer weather. We ate our way through the festival...Sati Babi...Deep Fried Cheese Curds...Lemon Shake-Ups...enjoyed the booths and crafts...and Chris even added to the general flavour of the whole thing by strolling minstrel-like with his mandolin throughout the fair.

A nice addition to the Mansfield Festival was the tram that ran back to the car at the end of the day! A lifesaver :)

Saturday, Grandma Nancy, Nicki and I took Aiden, Emma and Brenden to Chandler's Orchard and Pumpkin Patch.  They ran through the hay-maze...fed the farm critters...rode the horse-drawn hay wagon out to the pumpkin patch to pick their very own Halloween pumpkin

...and came back to enjoy hot apple cider and spiced doughnuts by the bonfire! They had a blast.

                                               Emma and Brenden



Completely exhausted today...but so worth it. 

Spending the day recharging...reading and writing a bit...painting....meditating...puttering in the remains of the plants repotting/trimming/saving seeds and generally tidying the patio while it is warm...Donna and Eric sent home a couple of jars of home-made apple butter with Chris- and Eric suggests using it mixed with the honey BBQ sauce on the grill...which sounds amazing and I will have to try! very very good!


   Mansfield Covered Bridge

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ebola Redux...

Okay...I am not part of the CDC or the Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas but I AM pretty sure that

"After expressing concerns that their necks were exposed even as they wore protective gear, the nurses were told to wrap their necks with medical tape, the union says." (direct quote)

 Is NOT Ebola Protocol...

And now CDC Director Tom Frieden is admitting:

 Mistakes were made. 

                                   -Ya think? 

Pretty steep learning curve there, Mr. Frieden

So another healthcare worker infected with Ebola in Dallas and more to follow...and not a peep about the four people who were in the apartment with Mr. Duncan (patient zero/now deceased- here) since October 6th...and hearing strains of our former President's lament in his voice as he talks about

"...following contacts is hard work..."

And they have started screening incoming flights...the illusion of "doing something" even though Duncan himself would have passed the screening, as he was not symptomatic, when he arrived in The States.

Instead of attempting to fix the problem they are spending inordinate amounts of time trying to affix blame...and sugar-coating and downplaying the risks.  At least they have stopped saying it can't happen here.

Is this a bad time to say I told you so?

 Kudos for the Nurse's Union who has stepped up and revealed what most of us have suspected all along...that they are basically making protocol up as they go along. 

And about that goddamn dog...

A survey done in 2005 reports

"These findings strongly suggest that dogs can be infected by Ebola virus, and that some pet dogs living in affected areas were infected during the 2001-2002 human Ebola virus outbreak," the study concluded.
It also pointed out that noticeable symptoms of Ebola did not develop in any of the dogs in the study, which supports the notion that they were asymptomatic. However, this does not mean that the dogs cannot transmit the disease. Even dogs exhibiting no symptoms of Ebola "may excrete infectious viral particles in urine, feces and saliva for a short period before virus clearance", which has been observed in other animals, according to the study."

And "Excalibur" (the dog in  Spain) was humanely euthanized instead of taking the chance that an infected pet might spread the virus further. Despite 400,000 protests.

In many parts of the World, lest we forget, cainines are simply referred to as "lunch".

But not here.  No, so many other things we have been arrogant about concerning this we have spirited "Bentley"  the exposed Spaniel off to an undisclosed location. All the while looking down our noses at Spain rudely and shaking our judgemental heads.

"How horrible of them to put her dog down."

Somehow, I can see these people trying to save the rats during the Bubonic Plague. Although to be completely was the fleas on the rats who were spreading the plague...not the actual rats themselves.

And is it just me, or have they got a lot of people in an undisclosed location now? I immediately think of Dick Cheney who spent the greater part of the Bush Presidency there, as well.  When he wasn't shooting friends in the face, that is.

For the record...I think both dogs should have been send to a CDC lab to continue the research that was started in 2005. Whether or not house-pets can be a carrier of Ebola in a nation where HSUS estimates there are 83.3 million pet dogs might just be a handy thing to know for sure.

Because I don't want to hear Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings...or the CDC Director come out in a month or so and say (again)

"...mistakes were made..."

And Governor (Goodhair) Rick Perry?

Well he is out of Country right now...attempting to act all Presidential and shit...although I suspect part of the reason is to put some distance between him and the Ebola flap and the 2016 Primaries, myself.


You see, everyone listened to Tom Frieden...and President Obama...and a great many other talking heads. They told us how exceptional we were and how this was something that couldn't happen to us and there was nothing to worry about...instead of encouraging us to be prepared...really prepared months ago.

Talking of preparedness was met with derision and scoffs of

"Panic" and "Chicken Little"

Ask any Liberian and you will see...the sky has already FELL in their part of The World.

 Let's try to make sure it doesn't fall here, as well.

West Africa- The Numbers

March 24th, 2014- 59 dead and 86 confirmed cases.

April 8th, 2014-     101 dead and 171 confirmed cases.

May 5th, 2014-     157 dead and 235 confirmed cases.

June 29th, 2014-   399 deaths and 635 confirmed cases.

July 31st, 2014-    729 deaths and 1,323 confirmed cases.

Aug. 28th, 2014-  1,552 dead and 3,069 confirmed cases.

Sept. 27th, 20143,083 dead and 6,553 confirmed cases.

October 14, 2014-  4,447 deaths and 8,914 confirmed cases.

Educate yourself...don't be a statistic.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday's Fall Cup

Complete with a trip to a petting zoo...and Aiden's first close encounter with a donkey!

Soon the Covered Bridge Festival...

Enjoyed a weekend out at the Farmer's Market recently, compliments of our newest business venture in my small college town. We finally have cab service for the weekends and evenings!  Spent an absolutely perfect Fall morning soaking up the sights and sounds beginning with Cafe au Lait alfresco and a slice of Almost Home Tearoom's Strawberry Pizza (which most closely resembled fresh strawberry pie spread over a layer of cheesecake and atop a crushed pecan tea cookie crust). Sipping morning coffee while listening to live music.

And the air filled with the smells of Fall.

Sampling fresh apples...and buying a large jar of homemade apple butter. Booths filled with fresh vegetables and fruits and candles and CHOCOLATES ,

Yes...hand-dipped chocolates! Including an entirely delicious dark chocolate dipped caramel sprinkled with  large flakes of sea salt. And clay whimsical yoga rabbit sculptures done by the same woman. I am so buying a meditating bunny sculpture!

Cakes and pies and cider and hand-crafted jewellery...drawings and paintings and wood crafts. Fresh flowers. Local Honey.

Surrounded by the strumming of a local acoustic guitarist playing "The Music of My Generation"  CCR...Simon and Garfunkel...Neil Young.

It was perfect.

Off to Bloomington College Mall and yes, another day of mall-ratting with friends on Wednesday...where Loretta and Sharon and Tim and I found ourselves brunching at Applebee's on this

Which is even more awesome than it looks...complete food-gasm. Their Signature sirloin steak with a creamy garlic and Parm sauce over sautéed   shrimp. Paired with sautéed mushrooms and mashed red cheese potatoes and a salad.

We revisited all the usual haunts Victoria Secret...Bath and Body...Yankee Candles (new scent: Caramel Pecan Pie) as well as plundering a few new ones. Loved the Stuff A Bear shop! Found earrings in Macy's that were tiny crystal pave bows, and a black fuzzy oversized sweater at Sears so soft it must have been knitted from kittens!              
                  (okay...maybe not...but still incredibly soft...)

Toying with taking the leggings plunge this Fall with the slouch booths, infinity scarves and oversized sweaters. Still trying to shake the feeling that you are walking outside in long!

Picked up a thin silver chain off eBay and now am wearing Idgy's pendant.

She has finally convinced me to embrace turquoise and brown..and feels quite smug about it, I might say.  It has only taken 9 years. It is growing on me. Realize the other day I had actually deliberately paired a light brown infinity crinkle scarf with a teal top...and smiled.

Knowing, even from Tennessee, she was nodding her approval.

No book to review this week...but I did manage to catch a really good movie. The Good Marriage (based on the Stephen King short story). Well cast. The plot loosely involving a character much like the BTK serial killer. The perfect couple...the attentive and adoring husband...and the wife, when she finally makes the connection that monsters don't live UNDER the bed....sometimes they are the person on the other side of it. Well done. The ending was modified from the original story...but surprisingly, it is more better.  Very suspenseful and entertaining.
From the book: Full Dark. No Stars.

Have a Wonderful Weekend!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Who's Da Bat?

That's right..."You Da Bat"

The kids (Chris and Tina) Spending the weekend at Awesome Con and getting to meet the original (Adam West) BATMAN and his trusty sidekick Robin (Burt Ward) as well as the guys who did the voices for Gir and Chaos (Invader Zim) and an assortment of other well loved characters.

And my mild mannered, sweet almost-daughter-in-law morphing from

This to

                                                  Harley Quinn
before they left! They came back excited and chatty and had a wonderful time!

Opened my mail this morning with a smile to the smiling faces of my grandsons! Thanks Donna :)

And a video of Brenden riding his neon green birthday bike without the training wheels...after one of those Hail-Mary pushes by Preston :)

Talked with Lennon...who is excited about coming up soon...and James and Nicki who were back from their getaway and ready to plunder the pumpkin patch with the kids, and wanted to know whether I wanted them to pick me up and come along.


Yeah...I know...  
"Bad Grandma"

Actually, I made a prior commitment late last night that this Sunday I was going to slip into my leopard print pyjamas for the ENTIRE day and do nothing but relax, read the huge Sunday Edition with the Tucker-Cat, write a bit, nap a bit and enjoy comfort food. It has been a long couple of weeks.
It was amazing!

Relax...I'll be spending Halloween with the munchkins :)

So Fall is slowly creeping in and I've been cutting and drying the sage, oregano, mint, and savory for Winter. Also digging and splitting Irises and my Yellow Day Lilies.

                                         Sage for November's Stuffing!

                                                Irises Divided to Share
This morning it was 40 and chilly outside, though. The perfect day for lounging about and sipping hot cocoa!

So things are settling with my childhood friend who recently lost her home...and hearing echoes of my own sentiments when I moved here from the Rose simplify...simplify...simplify. And to get exactly the pieces she has always wanted.

And blind-sided again this week with news of another good friend who was having some breathing difficulties...went for the exam...then biopsy...and came back with a diagnosis of Stage 3 Lung Cancer.  Everyone is still in shock. She is preparing for surgery in the next two weeks.

Life is so fragile. 

I'm reminded of a saying i particularly like:

You know all those things you have always wanted to do?
                          You should go DO them.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cassandra (and Ebola)

The Cassandra metaphor (variously labelled the Cassandra 'syndrome', 'complex', 'phenomenon', 'predicament', 'dilemma', or 'curse') occurs when valid warnings or concerns are dismissed or disbelieved.
The term originates in Greek mythology. Cassandra was a daughter of Priam, the King of Troy. Struck by her beauty, Apollo provided her with the gift of prophecy, but when Cassandra refused Apollo's romantic advances, he placed a curse ensuring that nobody would believe her warnings. Cassandra was left with the knowledge of future events, but could neither alter these events nor convince others of the validity of her predictions.'s kind of like that, this morning.

You know what sucks about being clairvoyant?   
There aren't many surprises.

 So the "It can't happen here" crowd are looking around themselves, now.  The first patient having presented in Dallas, Texas with Ebola.  Actually, he presented on the 26th...after being symptomatic since the 24th...and was given a pain pill prescription and an antibiotic, and SENT home for two MORE days...where he crashed and burned and had to be transported back to the same hospital who finally diagnosed him with Ebola on the 30th.

Jesus wept.

A man who had returned from Liberia on the 20th, having helped his landlord literally carry his daughter who was dying of Ebola to the hospital. The landlord's son also died of Ebola. Is it possible he was fleeing?  Could he have thought he stood a better chance of survival here in The States if he did become infected? The Country who saved Dr. Brantly and a female nurse, whose name I have forgotten. Will there be others who flee?

More disturbing than the fact he spent the first two days of being symptomatic wandering around the fact he went to the Emergency Room and told the Admissions Nurse he had recently come from Liberia,and she didn't make the Ebola connection. She didn't find it important information to pass on to the examining medical team. The attending physician.

And they wrote him a pain prescription for the abdominal pain. And gave him a prescription for antibiotics assuming the fever was linked to an infection...and sent him home.

Ever been to a ER doctor and tried to explain something...only to be ignored? too.

But, because of this medical team's negligence...not only is there a high possibility that  this man will be dead within a day or so, but he also went back home to be a  Close Contact for (last count) 20 other people. And a casual contact for nearly 100 (last count). Some of which, undoubtedly, will develop Ebola and die as well.

As I have, undoubtedly, said before...a large part of the apathy I see is the United States concerning the EVD virus is directly the fault of Cinema. Whose movies like Outbreak and Contagion lead us to believe that pandemics develop in 24-48 hours and bodies are piling up in the streets the next morning. In real life...pandemics take time to develop...a LOT of time. This is especially true for a pathogen which is (as yet) not airborne. In Sierra Leone today they are estimating 5 new infections every hour now...and throughout Liberia the bodies are starting to pile up in the streets.  

In the early 80's a friend and I did our dissertation on the new-on-the-scene HIV/AIDS virus. At the time there were a handful of cases...about 10 known and scattered in New York and San Francisco. It was ignored and largely dismissed as "...a gay disease..."  Today the CDC states there are 1.1 Million known active cases of HIV in the United States.

And HIV is much harder to "catch" than Ebola.

We really need to NOT drop the ball on this one.

And here's the deal...we can't wait for the government or some agency to rush in and save us. That (also) only happens in the movies. 

We have to educate ourselves. Know the methods of transmission. We have became so used to hearing the term "bodily fluids" and equating it with HIV transmission which is basically blood and blood products and sexual contact...that we refuse to acknowledge that EVD (Ebola) exists in all bodily fluids, blood...saliva...mucous...sweat...urine...feces... The biggie, of course being sweat. 

And the virus can live on surfaces (and transmit) up to 3 days. All surfaces including contaminated linens and clothing.

Since the symptomatic patient usually presents with a high fever and diaphoretic (profusely sweating) perhaps you can see the problem ahead.


Get place your hand on a tabletop...or handle a dollar bill. Take a look. Is the bill damp and limp? Is the tabletop beaded with sweat?

Got it now?

Work out in a tee-shirt on a hot day.

Now can you grasp the scope of the problem?

 And your skin doesn't have to be broken for the virus to transmit by sweat. Ever known anyone who was on a nitroglycerin patch...or Duragesic...or the nicotine patch for smoking cessation? Do you know why these medications work through your skin instead of the doctor having to open a wound there so they can be absorbed into the bloodstream? It is grade-school science, folks...the skin is this huge semi-permeable membrane and absorbs the medication directly into the small capillaries under the surface.

Take some time to pause...reflect...yes...holy shit...

"So that's it then, we're most definitely going to die?" 
 (in my best Arthur Dent voice)

Not so fast. Or as we learned in the same book

Because in reality we are not "special snowflakes" and for all our blustering about how much more civilized our masses would be in the midst of an Ebola outbreak...we wouldn't be.

Okay...maybe the British would be.

"Oh seems Geoffrey has gotten the Ebola...dreadful...Spot of tea, Niles?"

The rest of us...ummmmm...not so much.
Remember the two snipers that terrorised people at gas stations (Malvo and ?) and the way people were terrified to gas up their cars and basically hiding at the pumps. Yeah.
In a real crisis, we are herd animals in a stampede.

Never forget that.

So what can we do?  In the event this begins to spread.

Establish a personal perimeter...a bubble. Your Space.  Handshakes and hugging strangers...completely out. And make sure you have enough distance to avoid sprayed saliva...sneezes or coughs. For although it is NOT airborne at this time it is droplet spread. And assume anyone sweaty is contagious...or treat them that matter who they are.

Be mindful of touching surfaces...and carry hand gel.  Everywhere.

Handwashing...handwashing...handwashing...and avoid public restrooms. If you must use one...touch nothing but yourself. Gel the seat if you have to sit.

Avoid paper cash...use a debit card. If part of your job is to handle money...wear disposable gloves...seriously.

Avoid crowds...heavily populated areas...public transportation...airports. And yes..if it spreads enough...doctors and hospitals.

Stay safe, people.
Use common sense.

                                          Yeah yeah...I know...I'm just one
                                          effing ray of sunshine today...