Saturday, June 29, 2019

Rock Faucet

Our backyard forest has turned me into a botanist! I used a couple of phone apps that can take photos like these
and give guesses on the plant name. I hacked up some code to compile a list of of 80 different plants and trees I’ve found so far:
In the process, I have uploaded 50 photos to augment existing Wikipedia articles and created (brief) new articles that were missing on the fourvalve mimosa, the arrowhead rattlebox, and this guy, my favorite, the rare Alabama skullcap.
There are lots other common skullcaps, but this beauty can be found only in a small area around Birmingham.
This one is called dayflower because it’s flower only last one day:
This one is the medicinal Saint Johns-wart:
This poisonous plant is called pokeweed:
If you boil the leaves 3 times, tossing out the water each time, they become a not so poisonous cooked green, pretty tasty! Polk Salad Annie was a hit song back in the 60s.
I the safer food category, we have our first potato harvest:
And in the stinky food category, you can look for this fruit:
He is a Durian. Smells so bad that they put ‘No Durian’ signs right next to ‘No Smoking’ signs in Asia where they are otherwise popular.
To aid in our gardening, I managed to squeeze water out of a rock:
And Helen managed to squeeze me, briefly, into a Scottish kilt:
Zach made another trip from Bozeman back to Rochester to install some kitchen appliances:
The plan is to finish a full inside and out renovation and sell it to friend James within a few months.
Closing with a few critter photos:

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

7 (Not-So) Sacred Pools

I found this mysterious 2' blob of black rock deep in our forested backyard:
It looks like and chips like obsidian, but the most recent volcanic activity here in the East was 200 million years ago, and this rock is relatively fresh.
So seems likely it is man made, maybe left over slag from one of the famous Birmingham iron ore furnaces. But that still leaves a mystery of how it got into our forest, 200+ feet from the nearest road! Maybe aliens were involved.
I built some shelves with drip irrigation for my budding Bonsai hobby:
I’m having fun starting baby bonsais with both backyard and store bought plants:
I built another set of custom screens, so we now have screens on almost all our windows and sliders to allow for fresh air when Alabama allows it:
We got our first pond lily yesterday:
Helen has been populating the ponds with koi and goldfish. I setup a fish cam so we can watch them:
The male goldfish have this interesting bump on their heads:
Finally, I promised just one last pond, number 7!
I like to call them ‘The 7 not-so-sacred pools of Alabama’, our version of Maui’s Seven Sacred Pools :
Our pools come with their own set of happy shadow ghosts :)

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Fanny Pack Demotion

I have a new way of listening to podcasts when I’m trail running: Bluetooth speaker in a fanny pack. Helen had a $500 one she loaned me for a while, then I discovered there are cheap $10 versions. You can probably guess which one I prefer:
Speaking of cheap, my shoes only last about 2 months, 3 if I send them to life extension surgery:
Speaking of extension, my latest trail extension, before and after:
We had a great visit with some friends from Boston:

We took them down to the gulf:
Doggies enjoyed many miles of sand:
Helen enjoyed many miles of shell collecting:
She also enjoyed feeding many miles of sea gulls:
We found a few fish:
And one expired sea turtle:
We sealed him up, took him home, and left him out in the forest. Critters cleaned him out in just one night:
Had some neighbors over for dinner and a trail hike. The 3 boys enjoyed wrestling with our big bear:
I installed drip irrigation for the garden and bag potatoes:
Finally, it wouldn’t be a complete blog post unless there was another pond … number six!
I think I have room for one more pond, then I promise to stop :)