Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Flat Plants: They are no joke

If you received something from me in your e-mail today (April 1), you might be wondering what's true, because you know that I can't make this stuff up.  Except that I do make it up, at least some of it.

I am giving a seminar this afternoon entitled "11,000 Flat Plants" and it was announced in both the big city and the local paper recently.

My students did present at the Oklahoma Invasive Species Conference.

I spoke about prairie turnips at the University of Oklahoma last week.

CHASA is a very real support organization for people with hemiplegia and their families.  Some parents I communicate with are in Australia.

Rabbits have been a horrible invasive species in Australia and are partially displacing the lovely native bilby, which has very large ears, making it great for a chocolate figure.  Bilbies Not Bunnies! is a real campaign.

One of my former students is a Timbersports Champion.  An elementary friend has been testing for American Ninja Warrior (but apparently didn't make this season) and Jennifer does have amazing plant photography.

It did storm impressively.  The hail didn't add up.

Prairie Chicken's lek.  The leek in the plumbing comes up every year and there has yet to be a Lek Off for Love because they keep getting scheduled for June 31.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Good Glowing, Bad Glowing and Glowing Well

I just ran The SWOSU Tough Enough to Wear Teal 5K.  My time of 39 minuted, 10 seconds, was slower (by a minute and a half or so) than last year,  Given various real factors and lame excuses for why I am not in better shape, and that the Mister is completely congested with allergies, I'm just super-excited that we finished.

At the one mile mark I was really wondering why I do this at all.  I hate to run.  If I train for a 5K, I do it by swimming and dancing if I can.  And then at the end I was dancing again because it is so fun to do this (and perhaps some coach should tell me that if I am dancing immediately afterward I am not pushing myself enough, but I'm a conservative person who always wants to have enough money for an emergency and enough energy left to dance).  And I did this for my friend J.
Glowing in the blurry backlight, Nov. 2012,
Wichita Mountains

J is in the middle of six months of chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.  She's my age (young!) and single.  Every week of her treatment, she posts a photo of herself grinning with her chemo crew-- a different loving friend every time.  I know she is struggling, physically and emotionally, but she looks positively radiant (and I don't think it is actual radiation doing it).  And the teal in "Tough Enough to Wear Teal" is for ovarian cancer.

My logical self doesn't know how paying to run 3+ miles around town and thereby donate a small amount of money to the American Cancer Society for the fight against ovarian cancer will in any way benefit my friend J*, but my irrational self felt this had to happen, that the synchronicity of the race change to teal, her diagnosis, the Facebook images of her radiant self facing icky treatments, and my resolve to glow this month, was a sign that I must move my large body those three miles and shine while I am doing it.

Maybe I just need to move that distance to remind myself that I can,  And when I go far enough, I do glow in a good way.  And that we all need some help to be at our glowing best.

Keep smiling, J.  You're beautiful and it shows.  Keep smiling everyone else.  We are beautiful and we can glow.

*And yes, I am working with J to be part of the chemo crew and to act in ways that will directly make her life a little easier.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Name Yam and Cauliflower Hash: More Roots Including This Classic Combination

Despite not having my grading done, I am heading back to class tomorrow less frustrated with myself than I usually am after spring break.  Dianthus and Aster went to Branson, MO for a few days (with The Mister's parents) and the Mister and I had time to sleep late (past 7 for five days in a row!), read, garden, watch movies, and eat vegetables.
We ate lotus root in vegetable stir fries twice, and, although it does look really cool, I was not convinced I needed to buy it again.  Stir-fried lotus is a lot of "chomp" and reminded me of water chestnuts.

I also bought a Name Yam (with a long Vietnamese looking name that I didn't record and can't find in any of my cookbooks*) and ended up making a yam, cauliflower, potato hash and serving it with poached eggs, asparagus and a little balsamic truffle cream.  The skin was brown and much thicker than that of a sweet potato and the inside was white and ridiculously slippery (although it didn't look particularly mucilaginous).  It was wetter and crisper than I expected, with a texture reminiscent of jicima.  The hash was great.  The Mister had walked by and commented that "cauliflower and yam" was obviously a classic combination, but otherwise contributed to, rather than shying away from, the experimental cooking frenzy of the week.

Unfortunately, I charred his golden beets this evening, just as KU was losing. Otherwise, a good week eating good food with a good man.  I'm pretty lucky.

*This is probably Dioscorea trifida also known as the cushcush yam. Diana Morgan, in Roots, lists it as ~name with a enye.  In any case, it is a true yam, as opposed to a sweet potato, some of which are called yams.  It is difficult to look up because "name" isn't a good google word and I've found three different specific epithets related to "cushcush".

Friday, March 20, 2015

In the Shadow of the Moon: Equinox Eclipse

My brother survived the equinox eclipse in Europe and recorded this image through a little box while in a partial shadow of the moon.
That makes me happy.
I love the idea that the little moon can blot out the big sun for a little while.
Meanwhile, I am getting grumpy about the US American convention that the seasons start on the equinoxes and the solstices.  I'm delighted that spring is arriving (I was just out planting kale, collards, chard and spinach this morning) but spring does not need to start on any particular date.
I can feel some of you getting defensive about this; your calendar reads "First Day of Summer" on June 21.  I am here to tell you that this is not universal.  Of course it is different in the Southern Hemisphere, but it is also different in Europe (and presumably Asia).  The summer solstice is "Midsummer's Night" and while some European friends I know grumble because it is not the middle of summer, it certainly isn't the very beginning either.
While I was gardening in Scotland, there was some talk of a record-breaking winter, weather-wise.  I asked what constituted winter and was given the look of, "What sort of idiots do they raise in the States?" since everyone apparently knows that "regular calendar winter" is "December, January and February."  My understanding is that US-based seasonal weather records are also typically 3-month based, rather than from equinox to solstice, so when the newscaster says, "Summer doesn't officially start for three more days but we've already had seven days above 100," you can become grumpy like me and complain, "'Official'?  What do you mean by 'official summer'? What office dictates this?" and "Ugh, too hot, perhaps I need to leave Oklahoma."
Where does that leave us?  I am pro more celebrations of the changing of the light levels, be they pagan or scientific.  Let's call them the Vernal Equinox, the Summer Solstice, the Autumnal Equinox, and the Winter Equinox and use them as reasons for celebration.  Then lets use cultural definitions of the seasons.  "Summer" depends on whether or not you are tied to a school year (or a beach house or something else that magically opens from Memorial Day to Labor Day).  "Winter" is when it snows (unless one is in Colorado, in which case "Winter" include only the months when there is no possibility of rain rather than all of the months in might snow), "Spring" is a feeling, and, everywhere I've lived it starts over and over again.
This year our first daffodil was blooming on Feb. 1 and the maples and elms bloomed that week.  Then it snowed, sleeted and hailed for the last two weeks in February, and spring came back with the crocus on March 1, an actual blizzard arrived on March 4, and spring returned with singing birds, blooming Iris reticulata and a bunch of daffodils on the 7th.  Bradford Pears were fully opened around town on March 14th, apricots and cherries are blooming now, and my east side currant has been blooming all week, while the north side has not yet opened.  The first peony plant emerged yesterday and the little bulb iris are fading as the hyacinths begin.  Spring is here!
Happy Spring!
Happy Equinox!
Celebrate both, but it doesn't need to be at the same time.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Awakened By The Moon

At four this morning there was a shimmering white rectangle on the floor in my room.  I figured it must be the moon, but I looked out the window and I could not find it.
I love moonlight, but couldn't get back to sleep.
I found the moon this morning. It was probably there all along.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ladies Glow

More glowing resolutions:

Team Ecuador, from the FIFA Womens' World Cup 2015 webpage
12.  I will see women from around the world glowing as they play World Cup Soccer.  Specifically I will see women from Cameroon, Ecuador, Switzerland and Japan in person from BC Place in downtown Vancouver, although I also intend to watch other matches televised.  These women will be "glowing" in the sense of, "Horses sweat, gentlemen perspire, ladies glow," but perhaps also basking in the glow of victory.

13.  I will glow myself into shape.  Somehow it feels like I am sullying my "fun" resolution to add a serious fitness resolution. None the less, I was recently reminded 1) about how "ladies glow" 2) how unfit I am 3) how important it is not to be unfit 4) that public accountability helps with achieving fitness goals and 5) that I am running a 5K in a month.  I also recalled Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project (which I really enjoyed, and would heartily recommend to some, but not all, of you) and how dividing her big resolution (happiness) into smaller month-long chunks made sense.  So, while I will be pursuing moonlight and candlelight this month, I will be focusing on developing that healthy glow through exercise, and will be publicly posting about my trials and successes here.  Tonight the new fit bit comes out of the package.  Tomorrow I wear it. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Underground Parts Eaten

I did succeed in eating a greater variety of roots (and other underground parts) during roots year than I previously imagined.  I did not open the jar of pickled kachai whole in brine (roots purchased back in acid year), but I did eat all of these.  Asterisks denote items that I cooked with for the first time.  Of these, I think only burdock and black radish were entirely new to me.

Carrots (orange, red, purple and yellow)     Parsnips     Turnips
Daikon     Red Radishes
Black Radishes*
Roots from my cousin's first serious garden, Summer 2014
Rutabagas     Red Beets     Golden Beets
Burdock Root*
Jicama         Celery Root/Celariac*
Horseradish and Wasabi (although I didn't process either myself)

Root Tubers
Sweet Potatoes (orange, white and red)
Purple Sweet Potatoes (or were they true yams?)
True yams (although very little)

Stem Tubers
Potatoes (of many varieties)


Ginger    Galangal*    Turmeric

Onions    Garlic    Shallots    Leeks
Fennel (although arguably above-ground)

I did, thus meet goal #1 from the original list of root resolutions, along with #3, #4, and #14.