Saturday, August 19th, 2017 03:53 am
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Three vultures and a crow in a dead tree. The crow seemed to be cawing at the vultures.

Impressive power lines.

I call this the "yellow brick road". Yellow flowers grow in this gravel path, and only in the path, not in the surrounding fields of grass.

never see the same

Thursday, May 18th, 2017 09:43 am
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Now when I see dandelions, I think to myself "Aha! That one has pointy leaves, not round, and they are sticking up, not close to the ground. That is a true dandelion." Or "That's not a true dandelion, it's cat's claw... err, no, cat's ear" (almost every time, "cat's claw" comes to mind first, even though I'm not familiar with it... per a search, it looks similar to yellow jessamine).

The yellow flowers themselves look identical to me on both kinds of dandelions, though this one below didn't have a ball of unopened petals in the middle. Its petals were all open.

It's like when as a kid, I learned the difference between white oak which has the round/curve-edged leaves versus black oak which has the pointy-edged leaves, not to mention, blackjack oak.

faster fluff

Monday, May 15th, 2017 11:24 pm
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Today I learned that cutting down yellow dandelions right before they go all seed-heady doesn't stop it from happening. Instead, it makes it happen even faster. In retrospect, it makes sense.

I actually had wanted to gather the cut stalks yesterday and trash them after using the string trimmer to cut them down, but didn't have time. Today after coming home from work, I was surprised to see a bunch of white fluffy spheres at ground level. But at least they hadn't blown away yet, so I was still able to gather most of them up into a plastic bag.

Earlier yesterday, I had driven by a yard which was full of dandelion seed heads. When I saw that a few of mine were getting seed heads too, is when I decided that I'd better cut mine down before I had seeds all over my yard.

I like having a smallish patch of dandelions, but I don't really want a yard full of them. So I try to compromise by letting some of them grow in that one place where they've always grown, part of the year, and weeding them from the rest of the yard.

There's more to this story, about how the dandelions are like my christmas tree, but I need to go to bed.
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I ate 3 dandelion/cat's ear flowers today. They were not sweet. They tasted pretty similar to the green leaves, slightly bitter. The leaves were hairy, but not as unpleasant as chewing on under-ripe peach peel. I could probably eat a plate of it if I had to.

[Edited to add, 2017/05/13: I ate 4 more of the flowers today, after even more carefully peeling off the green parts than last time. They still don't taste sweet, nor particularly good. They taste a little like raw celery but without the crunch. Ie., not bad, but not special either. I wonder if "true" dandelions have any different flavor to them.]

A reminder that there are a lot of mis-facts on the web...
Nutritional Information on Dandelion Root : The image at the top of the page is neither dandelion nor false dandelion. It looks like coltsfoot.

Cat’s Ear: Backyard ‘Weed’ With Super-Antioxidant Properties : This page says: One identifying characteristic of cat’s ear is its leaves; they are sharply toothed and more asymmetrical than the leaves of dandelion. But that is not true. Cat's ear leaves are more rounded than regular dandelion.

I'm sort of amazed at the details I got in some of these photos. When looking at the flowers in the yard, they all pretty much look like the 5th one below. In the sunshine, the clump of unopened petals in the center of some of them aren't very noticeable.

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False Dandelions For Lunch

Dandelions, True or False?

Wild edibles: How to eat and identify cat's ear / flatweed / false dandelion (video, posted by wildsuperfoods)

Foraging Notes: The False Dandelion (video, posted by Survivalkraft)

Both people in those videos have said the false dandelion flowers are sweet. Now I am very curious, and am going to taste them in the coming days.
The leaves on my dandelions are close to the ground, so they tend to be dirty as well as hairy. But maybe I'll try some of them too. I'll probably need to cook them, as I don't even like eating peach skins, due to the fuzz that scratches my throat.
I've already tasted some root, raw, from 2 of the largest ones I pulled up while weeding last weekend. (Even so, they're fairly small and narrow). The root's not particularly tasty, but not bad either. It's rather dry, so I'm soaking the remainder in water to make it crunchier.
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The little fig tree leafs are growing (bigger). There are a bunch of little figs growing too. The car is already getting lightly covered in pollen. This evening we had some wind and a small refreshing rainstorm. It was too warm inside, so I opened a few windows to get some of the breeze. Tomorrow it will be cooler, a high of 65. (Last week or somewhen, when the forecast was also for 65, I thought *eek* that will be cool, and then reminded myself that normally 65 in February would be nice and temperate.)

Feb 2017 weather history, Columbia SC
(click to enlarge)

Now that it is March, maybe I will stop feeling so disconcerted about the weather. In my experience, we could have cold weather and sporadic snow and ice up through the very end of February here. But March has always sounded like Spring.

Photos under cut... )

Spring of February

Saturday, February 11th, 2017 04:43 pm
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It is such a gorgeous warm sunny day today. This whole so-called winter has been relatively warm. Other than a few cold nights and cool days, it hasn't even felt like winter.

The pink magnolia tree started blooming this week. The blooms don't usually last more than a week or two. Based on photos, in prior years it bloomed in early to late March. So this year is a full month earlier than usual, unless the years in which I didn't take photos had earlier blooms too.

The fragrant yellow jessamine on the fence is also already blooming.

There is a bush at Qiao's house, which I've been curious to know what kind of plant it is. It has thin stalks, some with reddish blossoms and some with white (unless the white ones are a different kind of bush). It started blooming right at the beginning of February, even before the pink magnolia. In the summer, it gets roundish green fruit that look like plum-sized small apples. They are surprising to see, because the thin stalks don't seem like they could support such relatively big fruit, yet they do. The fruit smells and tastes like bitter apples (too bitter to eat). So it's probably some apple variant. It doesn't look like what Google Images shows for crab-apples, though.

After doing some searches, my best guess is that it is a shrub quince, even though the fruit is green rather than yellow, and more apple-shaped than quince-shaped.

More photos... )


Sunday, March 6th, 2016 10:49 pm
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I made a batch of "Pistachio and Rosewater Cupcakes" (sans frosting) today, but forgot to add in the pistachios. They taste great anyway.

Pink magnolias abloom:

Me back in January, suited up for using the angle grinder:

A sunrise last month:


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Cute videos of baby goats!


Our first daffodil bloomed on Feb 1. The stem got bent, so today I cut the flower and put it in a glass vase on the table. From a distance, it smells like sawdust, but up close it has a very floral scent.


As of 12:36am we had bits of ice falling from the sky. It has stopped, but the forecast says it might snow overnight. If so, it will likely be melted by the time I get up. We already had a bit of snowfall on the morning Jan 23 too. If I hadn't been awakened by an early phone-call, I wouldn't have seen it.


VeganEgg - another new vegan egg substitute. This one can even be used to make scrambled eggs. Its ingredients include nutritional yeast and black salt for the eggy flavor, the same as Vegg does... I wonder if they got the idea from Vegg. Vegg has a scrambled-egg product now too, which I hadn't known about. Vegg Scramble uses a different main ingredient than VeganEgg does though (soy protein isolate vs algal flour & algal protein), so I wonder how they compare.

It's getting hard to keep up with all the new vegan products available!

olives & flowers

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 12:19 am
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There are these "Botija" black dried pitted olives which are very expensive (I got the first packet on sale). But they are so good that I subsequently bought a 2nd packet at full price. If I had to describe the flavor, it would be "bitter, salty, oily", which doesn't *sound* particularly appealing. But they do appeal. Especially together with the chewy texture, and the fact that I can eat them with my fingers, without my fingers getting wet.

Eating them late at night doesn't help with a case of acid reflux though.


One of the things I like about Lantana is how the flowers go away but keep coming back all summer long, even up through now in November.


Wednesday, August 5th, 2015 01:00 am
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Nearly half the window shades were kept down during the flights. Have those people flown so much that they are bored with seeing clouds and sky and the land below?

Free soft drinks were still served even though the flights were short.

At the hotel, greeted by a sweet scent of pink petunias.
The room had the same layout as the one in Jacksonville.

Difficult typing without dedicated Home & End keys.

Car alarm that goes off, apparently if you open the car door with the key and don't put the key in the ignition soon enough. Though at first it seemed to go off even when opening the door with the button on the key. The rental car company did not warn us about this; we had to figure it out on our own.

Running Firefox from a USB 2 flash drive is maddeningly slow and jerky even on a laptop with 32 GB RAM.

Parlour Bells played the opening act at the concert. They were quite good. The lead singer reminds me of Billy Idol, without a sneer.

The Culture Club gig was great. They did end up playing most of the new songs I had heard on the SoundCloud page, interspersed between old songs. Here are some videos from the concert that others have posted.


Sunday, April 5th, 2015 02:47 am
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Serena & me.


Cherry blossoms.


Flowering almond, with wisteria, forsythia, and jessamine in background.


Bouquet with bumblebee fishy.

shangri la-la

Saturday, April 4th, 2015 01:11 am
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Such gorgeous weather this week. All warm and gentle, breezes and blossoms. Have photos, will post, later.

I noticed this evening that the scent of wisteria has a hint of cinnamon to it. I wish it were possible to post examples of scents, not only words and pictures.


Went to the post office today to pick up a package. They searched and searched and called the truck driver who told them where it should be, and they still couldn't find it. At one point, the lady helping me said, "You've got to go" in a firm voice, and I was like "Oh. ::blink:: Okay." My immediate impression was that she was telling me to step back from the half-door/counter I was leaning on, as she intended to close the window while continuing the search. My next impression was that she was telling me that I had to leave, that I had been there long enough.

She seemed to catch on to my confusion, as she then repeated it, "You've got to go?" in a more questioning tone. She was simply asking if I was still able to wait longer. That was amusing to consider, afterwards. I did wait longer, but eventually left my phone number so that they could call me if the package was found. It ended up being left at the house. The truck driver must have had it in the vehicle after all.

crazy humans

Monday, March 30th, 2015 08:01 pm
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Fallen blossom petals tend to get blown into small heaps before the garage door. If it is a windy day, they get blown into the garage when the door is raised. Partly because of that, but mainly for fun, I like to gather up handfuls of the petals and toss them up in the air to watch them flutter down around me.

A lot of times, I toss them up in the air over the dogs too, so that the petals flutter down over them.

Zorro looks at me then with a resigned expression which seems to say, "Humans are crazy sometimes, but one just has to put up with it."

And now she's inside and I'm petting her, and when I stop, she starts thumping her tail against the floor as if to say "I deserve more petting because I put up with your silly petal throwing."

blossom flutter

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 12:40 pm
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It's nice watching blossom petals fall and swirl around in the wind. It's like watching snowfall, but with birdsong and pleasant scents in the air, and without the freezing cold.
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They look like daffodils from afar, but they're not. They might be wildflowers, or perhaps someone intentionally planted them right there.


Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 05:27 pm
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After reading several pages about the best way to keep cut flowers fresh the longest, I've come to the conclusion that I should:

- remove all bottom leaves, especially ones below the water level
- trim stems to begin with (with scissor, under running water; using a knife is too difficult)
- use any flower food packets that were provided with the flowers, for the first few days
- change water daily
- don't use a penny or aspirin in the water; hasn't been shown to work well
- don't use lemon juice or sprite, as then would also need to include bleach.

yellow beauties

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 10:55 pm
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I got the blister while uprooting dandelions in the yard of Forestfen's new house. Dandelions are so beautiful. I never feel pleased about mowing them down or disposing of them as weeds.

This is them, 4 days after having been pulled from the earth and tossed on a pile. You'd expect them to be limp and dying. But see how bright yellow they are, and how their stems have curved upwards to the sky?

There's an empty corner lot on one street, absolutely full of blooming dandelions. So gorgeous.