Seahurst with Silver Fox, Plus Cryptopod: Why Did the Green Bug Cross the Road?

It’s been a busy social week for this introvert! On Wednesday, I drove down to pick Silver Fox up from the airport and take her to Seahurst Park on her layover. Since I-5 has basically been a parking lot between my new place and downtown Seattle, I took Highway 99. This meant I had to go through the Viaduct. I always white-knuckle it through there, begging the Cascadia subduction zone not to rip right then, please. Then I took a wrong turn and ended up on I-5 anyway, which was okay because it was below the jam. Then I took a wrong turn out of the cell phone waiting lot at the airport and had to drive around trying to find a way back to the terminal. It was a comedy of errors, but I did at last manage to collect Silver Fox, and we found our way to Seahurst without incident.

It’s a lovely park with lots of beachfront. [Read more…]

Strategic Responses to Tract Thruster Tactics: Let Us Brainstorm Together!

This article at No Longer Quivering gives some insight onto the tactics and motivations of Tract Thrusters. You’ve probably encountered at least one of these annoyingly religious folks who make it their business to get up in your business and thrust their terrible tracts at you, then run off having convinced themselves they’ve done something heroic. Or you’ve dealt with a shiny doorknocking person who’s just convinced you’ll come right to Jesus once you’ve heard their Extra Special Message You’ve Only Heard 1000x Before, and obviously you’ll want to forego sleep, food, etc. to hear the Good News.

Image shows an orange and white kitty dressed as a Mormon missionary, being held sitting up on its owner's lap with a mini Book Of Mormon.  Caption says, "Have you heard the good word about Ceiling Cat, Brother?c

Oftentimes, we’re caught flat-footed. Especially in the case of Tract Thrusters who impose themselves upon us in public without warning, we may not be ready with an instant riposte. So let’s think of creative ways to respond if some zealot tries to force religious tracts upon us.

For instance: if I’m in a hurry, I’ll hand their tract back, saying, “That’s so thoughtful, but I’m overstocked on butt wipes from bigots. Have a nice day!” If I have time and inclination, I shall sit down with them and ask them to explain exactly what each bit means, asking them to define terms like “God” and explain to me how the more violent or gross verses and stories in the Bible (or Holy Book in question) apply to the tract in question. Intersperse with horribly embarrassing personal anecdotes about fictional uncouth religious family members. Repeat until they flee.

Of course, the most efficient response would be to reciprocate with tracts from the Satanic Temple. Alas, those only come in a swag bag, but for cheap comebacks to religious solicitation, perhaps these spiffy buttons will do. And maybe, as an ordained minister of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I should write a tract or two myself…

What’s your strategy? Have you already countered a Tract Thruster with a brilliant counter-ploy? Do tell!

Mystery Flora: Thus Spake The Night Blooming Flower

Hey, look! It’s a flower that is not from the Pacific Northwest! I’ll probably have some more lovely exotic flowers along the way, as I now live in a household with a gardener in it. Speaking of which, if you need someone to rehab your garden, please let me know and I will hook you up.

Anyway. Here’s our beauty:

Image shows a plant with long, almost rectangular green leaves and a white flower dangling from a twisty pink stem.

Mystery Flora I

This plant, I am told, is older than Misha. It’s only a couple of years younger than N, who just turned 30. It had a rough patch recently when it wasn’t living with S, so it’s smaller than it was and only had four buds this year. But you can see the thing is bloody huge and vigorous even so.

Here, you can have a cat for comparison.

Image shows Boo lying beside the pot. She is much smaller than the plant and, lying down, is only half as tall as its pot.

Mystery Flora II

So that’s the bud that bloomed first, a couple of nights ago. It was already partially blown. Here’s one of last night’s buds just as it was getting ready to go. These flowers only bloom for one night, so you want to watch the buds carefully to see when they’re about to bloom. When you see about this much white, you know it’s time.

Image shows a bud, which is turned horizontal to the ground. The pink bracts that enclose it are beginning to thin as the flower petals appear to swell beneath. Some of the bracts are curling at their tips.

Mystery Flora III

These buds are huge. They’re about four or five inches long, and pretty thick at the base. You’ll see why soon.

When a bud is ready to bloom, it begins opening very slowly in the late evening.

Image shows a single bud, which is about 5 inches long or so. It is just beginning to open, and the outer pink bracts are curling away.

Mystery Flora IV

See how the tips are curling outward a bit? Yep. The dozens of long, narrow petals just keep opening and curling over the course of a few hours, until they’ve achieved full magnificence.

Image shows two blooms, one facing right, the other left, one atop the other. They are almost fully open. They look like starbursts.

Mystery Flora V

It’s about now that they’re spreading their scent all over the patio, trying to entice their pollinators to come help them get it on. It’s a sweet and earthy, almost sharp, scent that’s rather hard to describe. It doesn’t smell like any other flower I’ve smelled. And the inside is pretty weird, too.

Image shows one of the flowers in full bloom from the front. You can see the anthers covered in yellow pollen within, and a really odd structure poking from the interior that looks almost like a white sea anenome.

Mystery Flora VI

Here’s a somewhat sharper image of another flower, showing the weird bit from the side.

Image shows one of the flowers from a three-quarter profile. The anenome-like structure is clearly visible, coming almost to the edge of the bloom.

Mystery Flora VII

If I’m still here around this time next year, I’ll try to get them a bit better. I normally don’t use the flash, and it was also dark as fuck outside, so I was shooting rather blindly. I’m happy my camera did as well as this. That little machine always surprises me.

Last night, we had three blooms at once. When they’re fully open like this, they’re astounding, and the scent permeates the entire deck. It was almost strong enough to overpower the woodsmoke from the bonfire in the grill.

Image shows three of the huge flowers extending from top right to bottom left, and progressively looking into the camera, in profile, and then from the back.

Mystery Flora VIII

Since these blooms only last the night, S clipped all three, just before they began to fade, and handed them out to us. There’s one sitting beside my bed in a wine bottle right now, and my whole room is delicately infused with its scent, which is a lot better than old cat odors.

Image shows my rectangular rice paper and cherry wood lamp with the night flower in a bottle in front of it. Image is looking up toward the ceiling, which is cast in a Caribbean blue light.

I love this combo of warm rice-paper lamp hue and blue ceiling I got with the white balance being all wonky, so I left it and called it art.

S says I should have really vivid dreams, as this plant has a neurostimulant effect of some sort. I’ll report back, but alas, there is a confounding factor in our experiment, as I just got my visit from Aunty Flow and am taking tons of ibuprofen. That stuff also gives me vivid dreams. But if they’re anything like the Chantix dreams, then I’ll be able to tell there’s been a turboboost.

You can see a more true-color version of the above photo, plus lots more pictures showing the blooms in their many phases, here at my Flickr page. I can’t wait for you guys to identify this one! I think it’ll blow a few minds. When you ID it, try to include what plant family it belongs to, what its natural habitat is, and what its pollinator is, because all three things are delightful. Happy questing!

Oh, and for those who like black metal, the post title refers to this.

Fun With Night Photography: Come Meet the Doggie!

Around here, it’s a B.F.D. when certain plants bloom. We actually throw parties for them. I’ll have the current bloomer up as our Mystery Flora later today, so ya’ll be ready for that. Right now, I wanted to share a few of my night photos, and introduce you to the doggie.

Have I posted a photo of Pipa yet? Doesn’t look like I have. Let’s remedy that right now.

Image shows Pipa, a small Miniature Pinscher, sitting impatiently in front of some strawberry plants. She's got ears like a gremlin and lovely black-and-tan markings.

Pipa with strawberry plants.

She pretty much always looks worried, so don’t mind that. She was extremely anxious for me to stop snapping photos and just walk her already. [Read more…]

Cryptopod: Ghostly Presence

It’s been a fraught week. Let us return to the peaceful shores of Silver Lake, created by Mount St. Helens a couple thousand years ago, and wander through the forest along its shores. It’s quiet aside from the birds and the breeze. Near sunset, not many people come by, so you can be alone for long stretches of time, even at the height of tourist season. The trees crowd out the sky, and shield you from civilization. There’s just nature, and a ghostly presence looms in the dusk. [Read more…]

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Baker Beauty

No, I didn’t make it to Mount St. Helens today. Didn’t have set plans, of course, and Misha was actually being super-sweet. She decided to cuddle upon my lap in the 90° heat. Well, when your kitty is over 21 and you know time is short, when she wants to cuddle, you cuddle. So we did. And then Boo was busy on the bathmat, giving herself a bath, when I attempted to take a shower. And then Pipa wanted a walk. And then I went to get the car serviced, and then bought cat litter, and ended up leaving my tablet at the store, but happily some wonderful soul turned it in to customer service, so that was a little bit of all right. By the end of all that, though, I was done, and hadn’t even packed yet, so I decided I’d risk the party. I’m currently in the yard listening to a dude relate how he was interviewed by the FBI as an Unabomer suspect. This is an interesting bunch. The music’s good, too.

Yes, that is correct. I am so devoted to you, my darlings, that I blog for you during a party. That’s love, that is! Also, they’ve just started asking me what the word is for a flock of birds that swoops and divides and comes together again. They think murmuration. Damn it, Jim, I know rocks, not birds! I have no idea. So it’s over to you! There’s a bonus UFD sort of thing.

Anyway. I have prepared for you a UFD we saw at Mount Baker, so you will get a few pretty photos in a volcanic setting. [Read more…]

Mount Baker’s Magnificent Flower Fields, with Cryptopod

I’ve got many pretties for ye today, my darlings. I figured we’d return to our other volcano today, and enjoy all the pretty flowers, because what else could be better on a Saturday? Not much!

Mount Baker’s wildflower season peaked early this year, due to our unusual heat. Almost all the snow was gone, and the spring streams were dry. It didn’t matter to the monkeyflowers, though. They were in vigorous bloom, on the rocks, along the streams, and practically in the streams as well.

Image shows a huge bush of pink Lewis' Monkeyflower leaning over the rocky banks of a stream.

Lewis’ Monkeyflower

We encountered Lewis’ Monkeyflower all over the place, pinking up the local gray andesite, but my camera was not doing pink that day, so unfortunately I haven’t got many artistic shots of them. However, the Seep or Common Monkeyflowers were also in full bloom, and were even more happy growing in the streams, and my camera was doing yellow, so that worked out.

Image shows a triangular rock lifting above the water. Yellow seep monkeyflower is clinging to the wet bits of the rock just above the waterline.

Seep Monkeyflower adorning the base of a rock in the stream.

I love how vibrant that is against the dark water, the gray rocks, and the swirls of algae.

And it wasn’t just the rocks that were being all mountain-lake delightful: enormous fallen logs that look just a bit like rocks themselves also played host to flowers, and looked fabulous.

Image shows swirls of algae at the top left. In the center, an oblong gray log topped with wild grasses rises out of the water. Seep monkeyflowers are draped over the right side of the rock.

Monkeyflowers dangling off a lovely large log.

There were enormous banks of purple daisies.

Image shows a lot of tall purple daisies. There are two orange butterflies on them.

A vibrant bank of purple daisies.

You can see a few of the ubiquitous orange butterflies hanging about on the daisies. You’ll see that much closer soonish, because there were many butterflies, and they were all absolutely mad for those daisies.

The fireweed was just starting to come into its own, and it starred in many pretty scenes. Here it is with some pretty white daisies.

Image shows a blooming fireweed with two white daisies.

Fireweed with daisies.

Have you ever looked at the blooms in a fireweed stem up close? They’re really delicate and beautiful.

Image shows the delicate purple blossoms of fireweed, which are composed of four petals and many drooping stamens.

Fireweed flowers up close.

There’s even a cryptopod in that one, if you look closely enough!

And now, because you’ve all been very patient, I shall give thee flowers with volcanic scenery. Here is fireweed with a beautiful mountain tarn.

Image shows a bit of the Bagley Lake trail, with a stem of fireweed in the foreground. In the distance, the cirque is visible with a blue-green tarn within.

View of the tarn and cirque with fireweed in the foreground.

And here are some of Mount Baker’s plentiful andesite columns and lovely fireweed.

Image shows several fireweed blooms to the right. Gray andesite columns peek through walls of trees across the valley.

Volcanic columns peeking through the greenery.

Believe it or not, these are just a small sampling of all the flower photos I took. You can find many more over at Flickr if you’re not done enjoying the blossoms. I loved our trip to Mount St. Helens a lot, but when it comes to blooming things and pretty insects, Mount Baker has her beat this year. Superb!

Bodacious Botany: Trefoil Fans

We haven’t done pure botany for a while, have we? We found some vibrant specimens of the plant world growing happily in the Muddy River Gorge when we were visiting the south side of Mount St. Helens. Lots of plants seem to be rather thrilled with the lahar that scraped all the old-growth stuff away, opening up lots of opportunity for fine young things.

Image shows two leafy plants. They each have three leaves with ruffly edges.

Mystery Botany I

These were growing in shady areas along the trail. They’re pretty huge, actually, even though they’re not super-tall. [Read more…]

The Awesome Power of Lava: Watch Metal Burn!

Remember when we poked some gentle fun at Hollywood and ‘splained that most lava flows are so slow that you can outwalk them? I wish I’d known about this video back then, because it shows how even pahoehoe flows – you know, that thin, runny stuff – are often so ridiculously slow that an elderly sloth could escape their wrath. But it’s not like they’re not powerful! In this video, you’ll see how powerful lava is. I especially loved the tree roots asploding. Pay close attention to the chain link fence as it burns – this stuff is so hot it sets metal afire! Also parking lots, tires, and, buildings. And the lavafalls – spectacular!

It’s interesting watching folks save the power poles. We humans are pretty clever, figuring out how to live with erupting volcanoes and all.

I’m declaring this week Volcano Week at Rosetta Stones. B and I just got back from back-to-back trips to Mounts Baker and St. Helens, and we’ve got lots of pretty pictures for you! Check back often for all the new goodies. We’ve even got some home-grown pahoehoe! And you’ll see what that orchard may look like two thousand years after those poor engulfed trees have wasted away.

 

Originally published at Rosetta Stones.

Mystery Flora: Delicate Beauties

Yep, we’re having a Mystery Flora post on a Monday. Seattle suffered another heatwave over the weekend, my uterus is gleefully torturing me, and I’m very much looking forward to more unconsciousness. Therefore, we are doing something fun and easy that doesn’t require Dana to expend precious brain energy.

Besides, you’ll love these fetching little things. They’re so delicate! A barely-there filigree against the gray volcanic ash on the Cowlitz River banks. [Read more…]