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Archive for October, 2007

Fish, Fish, Bang, Bang…

Shotgun 

Yes, I spent an interesting weekend shooting and fishing… No, really! I went to a Women in the Outdoors program Saturday and actually had a great time. You get to choose four events and they have volunteer instructors spend time teaching you the basics and giving you some practice.

My first event was shotguns. And damned if I didn’t hit my target the first try! I have to say…I really enjoyed shooting clay targets to smithereens. (What does that say about me psychologically…)

Next up was handguns. Didn’t like ’em. They were much harder to use than the shotgun and I kept worrying that I was going to point them the wrong place and shoot my foot (or something worse). Also, the instructors were from the NRA and they were…um…the word “fanatical” comes to mind. They constantly peppered their directions with various political comments while stroking their weapons. Seriously, there was stroking. And a LOT of guns. They had cases and cases of guns.

Overall, the handguns just had too much kick for me to aim accurately. The problem is that with my small hands I needed a small gun and the smaller the gun the more recoil. I did like the single action revolver, though. The kind you see in the old Westerns. And I learned that the curved, wooden stock is designed to take the recoil and rock in your hand, so that it basically cancels out the kick.

After lunch it was off to archery. OK, I have found my new hobby! Loved it. And the instructor told me I had the best technique/form he had seen all day (yeah, and I’m sure he told that to all the girls 😉 )

Did pretty good at archery, too. I was worried it would be too much for my arm, but with the compound bows, it wasn’t that bad. I forgot to take a picture of the hyena foam target we shot at (why a hyena? no one knew…maybe he was on clearance?) I did manage to get some good “kill” shots (except for the time I shot it right in the nostril…)

I’m thinking of doing this for target shooting only, as I have no real desire to skin/clean anything. Sounds too messy. I’ll stick with hay bales and foam hyenas!

Finally, I ended the day fishing for bass. They weren’t biting for anyone but the instructor, though. I did manage to catch 3 leaves! And tangle my line with 3 other people’s…when people duck everytime you cast, you know you really suck at fishing.

Seriously, it was a blast. There were many classes to choose from, ranging from outdoor photography to edible plants. I’ll keep you posted if I get a bow for Christmas;-)

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(OK, am I the only person who remembers that SNL skit with Dana Carvey on the piano?) So, I ran across this headline about broccoli helping to prevent skin cancer and it just is a real oddly written article with a bunch of great quotes too good to pass up.

For example:

“We don’t want people covering their bodies with broccoli and going to the beach. They will have no protection whatsoever.”

Tell me you didn’t just get a great mental image there!

And then this quote standing all alone by itself in the article:

“One expert was excited by the discovery.”

Um…just the one then? OK.

If you want the techno-talk on the compound they identified, look here. Basically, this has got a long way to go so I’m not sure why it’s even a news story yet. For now, the basic news is….are you ready…wait for it….eat your broccoli!

Stunning, I know.

While noodling around for other interesting broc info, I came across this blog with a fantastic picture of some odd broccoli. Enjoy!

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Spider Bread

How cool is this!? This was my present for Sweetest Day (don’t even get me started on what a sham “holiday” this is!) from my husband who knows me so well. I love it! Thanks to Wixey Bakery for another wonderful creation.

It is, however, definitely not for eating as it is a bit, uh, firm. Slightly reminiscent of the Loaf of Death. I’m going to use it as a centerpiece until it becomes all moldy (although then I could say it was a hairy wolf spider?)

This isn’t quite the same thing, but I am sure you can modify this recipe and get a similar spider bread creation. Happy Halloween!

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A River Ran Through It, Alright

One of the most dreaded statements you will hear from someone is, “I had the strangest dream last night…”

Because you know that it will be followed by a long, rambling and disjointed tale that you are going to have to pretend to listen to. This is because of The Dream Rule: While we find our own dreams fascinating, amusing, disturbing, etc…we could give a rat’s arse about those of other people (this is directly related to The Driver Rule: The driver in the car in front of me is driving way too slow, while the driver of the car behind me is a speed maniac on my bumper!)

OK, having said all of that, I’m still going to write about this dream I had.

Mainly, because it was a very specific nature dream: I was sitting on the banks of an impossibly blue river watching clouds blow by really fast overhead. I woke up from the dream and I had a name stuck in my mind: “Una”

So, out of curiosity, I looked up the Una River and lo and behold….there is one!

It looked just like what I saw in my dream. The crazy blue water? Due to limestone in suspension. Here is an explanation from PBS’s Land of Falling Lakes (which is in Croatia, not too far away):

“As water travels through the limestone, it dissolves the surrounding stone and bubbles to the surface heavily laden with suspended lime (calcium carbonate). The water then flows through a natural filter of moss and plants that grow in a luxurious carpet along stream banks. Under the right conditions — water and air temperatures play a key role — the suspended lime is deposited on the plants, entombing them in a hard glaze. Eventually, the lime-encrusted plants petrify, and the entire mass turns to a rock that geologists call travertine. Even small animals can become entrapped in the “living” stone. Then, new mosses grow atop the travertine and the process begins again.”

Cool, huh! (Incidentally, I really want that DVD…hint, hint) Here is a map showing the river’s watershed region.

There is a movement to get the Una listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, as it supports some unique and rare species and is (currently) relatively unpolluted. Check out this grassroots organization which boasts:

“The Una River is not unique only because of its unrepeatable beauty, but for being the only river in the world that has:

– ecological movement of children Unski smaragdi (Una emeralds), ecological alphabet, ecological identity card, ecological bon ton, ecological parliament of children, ecological town of children – Bihac.

“Ecological bon ton”?! Well, whatever that is, there are lots of good reasons to help preserve this river. It says it is home to the cave dwelling, sightless newt Proteus (which may be a candidate for Garfman to list…)and other unique organisms. (On a side note we’ll just label as “down the rabbit hole,” here is a long but interesting article you might want to read, as it does mention the newt and you can spend hours searching around this site!)

All this from one dream….

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Need Your Feedback Here

OK, just a few questions for the (two!) people who read this blog:

  1. Should I keep the Snap links? (that’s the thing that pops up a little window of the link when you roll over an embedded link in a post) Or are they annoying to you?
  2. I am thinking about separating this blog into 3 categories:
    1. Nature Blog (the main blog here)
    2. Family Stuff/Daily Life Blog
    3. Library School Blog

 So, just leave a comment about these things if you would. K thks! (sorry, I’ve been looking at lol cat pictures today!)

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 Black blister beetle.jpg

Photo from Bruce Marlin, black blister beetle, Epicauta pannsylvanica shown on Goldenrod, Solidago sp.

When the goldenrod starts to bloom, I know it’s time for the rise of the blister beetle at a local park. Every year in the fall, the females and males meet up for a little beetle lovin’ at this one particular place (yes, they are many other places, too but they seem to be more noticeable at this spot).

The trouble is, there is a paved sidewalk right through Beetle Inspiration Point. Oh, the terrible beetle carnage that ensues! The poor things don’t stand a chance. It’s the busiest park in the county and on the most popular trail.

I’ve always liked the black shiny, iridescent beetles because they are not only beautiful but they seem to be stubborn as well. (Sure, that’s anthropomorphic of me, but it’s my blog and I don’t give a crap!) This is where they have always come to hook up and, by gum, they are going to keep on crossing that sidewalk come big, hulking feet of doom or not. If you try to move them off onto a leaf or steer them away from certain squish, they just stop, wave their antennae at you as if to say, “NOW what?!” and do not comply.

There’s a lot of cool stuff about these beetles. First off, here is a place to read about their interesting life cycle. And here’s some photos of some different blister beetles.

Then, you should listen to this podcast from CBC’s Quirks and Quarks program about some freaky blister beetle tricks (it’s the very first story, so you don’t have to listen long).

Of course, there IS a reason they are called blister beetles so I would not advise picking them up without caution and please do not eat them (or rub them on your naughty bits)! Otherwise, you might end up laying on the sidewalk next to them…see here for more gruesome details. Yeah, you really should just get the little blue pill from your doctor instead….;-)

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For some reason, I couldn’t seem to get any sleep last night. So, I was laying in bed at 5:30 a.m. trying not to think about the fact that the alarm would go off soon and willing myself to get some shut eye (because THAT works so well…) and I heard a sound.

I sat upright, because I thought I recognized it. It was the haunting sound of a screech owl calling. As I listened, it came closer. In fact, it swooped in to the tree right out front and continued to call.

I love that sound! And if I had been asleep I would have missed it. It felt like a gift.

Sadly, a jet flew over and then that noise was combined with the ambient car traffic we get from living in the city so the owl was drowned out. It made me think about how much I must miss hearing by living in our industrialized society. (Not that I am advocating anything radical, I mean I am using a laptop computer now so I can’t be too overly critical…).

Still…heavy sigh.

The one place on earth I have been where it felt like there was absolute silence was a remote part of the North rim of the Grand Canyon. It was so quiet it was deafening. If you’ve been there (or someplace like it), you will know what I mean.

Should you want to hear the sound of a screech owl, go to this page and scroll to the bottom. Beautiful!

(Also, check out this page for photos and more info on the screech owl).

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