Monday, November 23, 2015

Vegetable Evangelism

I've become a vegetable evangelist.

If you are feeling snarky, you're probably wondering, "Oh, really, SpSq?  What was your first clue?  That not only do you feed everyone brussels sprouts, you blog about how much you love them?  That you go through 13 heads of cauliflower in a few weeks?  That you anonymously send people vegetable cookbooks?"

Well, actually, I didn't come up with this phrase on my own.  I didn't know I was a vegetable evangelist until someone told me I was.  We had friends in town, and as I was roasting brussels sprouts, turnips, sweet potatoes, and beets while discussing the apple fennel slaw I apparently made last time they were in town and mentioning best things to do with parsnips and rutabagas*, the phrase magically appeared.  And I love it.  "Vegetable Evangelist" makes me feel much cooler than "woman who inflicts root crops on unsuspecting guests."

I'm a vegetable evangelist and apparently I am becoming a poor writer.  Or rather I am becoming the writer I have always been: one who cannot quickly articulate the bits that are cleverly connected in her head. And because some of what I am wanting to write is time sensitive, I guess I will go ahead and list my points and (probably never) return to rewrite in a clever and witty fashion.

Intended Points of Post:
  1. I am a vegetable evangelist and proud of it.
  2. I want to discuss Thanksgiving side dishes. 
  3. The Mister and the boys made little "hoop houses" (or very low "poly-tunnels") over our winter garden on Saturday and it made me ridiculously happy.
  4. There was a "holiday" farmer's market in town on Saturday, at which we purchased fresh tomatoes (peppers, sweet potatoes, new potatoes, eggs, honey, pickles and turnips).  I harvested my basil before it froze (for the first time) on Saturday night, so we had pasta with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella last night, as is typical of late November in Oklahoma (or maybe not).
  5.  I want to teach people how to cook (and to not be afraid of vegetables).  I want suggestions for how to do this.
  6. I am excited to offer my readers an opportunity to help refugees by helping them grow food through a fund-raising project vetted by a friend I trust (I have lots and lots to say about this, but for now, a link to Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is),
 And, see, in my mind this all makes sense together-- love vegetables: here are some examples -- excited to be growing food: look at the picture of cute boys and hoop house -- thankful for friends and family and Thanksgiving (but no green bean casserole for me) -- let's help others grow vegetables -- thank you for being my friend -- now let's talk about food some more.

Please comment about side dishes and suggestions for spreading the good word o' veggies.

*Parsips: parsnips and carrots.  Rutabagas: rutabagas and apples, perhaps with some red cabbage.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

November Glow

Wild Rose, Rocky Mountain National Park
October 17, 2015 
As I came to post photos of glowing trees (our November has been stunning that way), I realized that I haven't yet posted the carved glowing faces of a few weeks ago.  So, here, yes, evidence that Aster and Dianthus are getting older and bigger (compare to past Halloween's starting here), images of vegetation changing ever so slightly in the light, and the glowing faces carved into squash which I use to remind students that weird plant rituals are not confined to tribal people of another place or time.

One can fight and still be friends

November 14, Red Rock Canyon

Crazy disjunct Sugar Maple population

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Glowing Day and Night

Evening Glow: Smoky Hills of Kansas Sept. 6
One thing I love about the "glowing" theme is that so very many things glow: candles, Venus, boys playing with their grandparents, aspen leaves, Mars, the moon*.  I've started noting the difference in glows that light up the darkness and glows that dazzle in the bright sunlight.
I'm sure there is a profound metaphor there-- let me know if you find one.  For now, some photographic examples from this season:
Birthday cakes emit lovely candlelight 

Boys and eclipsing moon Sept. 27

Venus, Jupiter (and Mars) Before Sunrise Oct. 16

We tried to take a selfie with Longs Peak.  We don't practice.

Despite having seen some beautiful fall colors in many places, late every September for the last 15 years I have been sad about not being in the Colorado Rockies to see the aspen turn.  While we were well past peak aspens, we caught the very last trees on our trip two weeks ago.  They made me deliriously happy.  Aspenglow is a real thing.  People write songs about it.  They named a campground at Rocky Mountain National Park after it.  The trees really do light up with it.  It is like they are warmth botanified ("personified" applied to a plant.  Yes, I just made it up in an attempt to describe these trees).  It is wonderful to experience.

*Mars and Luna both deserve their own posts.  Maybe soon?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Basking in the reflected light

One distinction between luminosity and radiance (which, I just learned, is not the scientific difference) is that luminous objects glow with reflected light (i.e. the moon is luminous) and radiant objects (like the sun) create their own.  So it is completely in keeping with the theme of my year to glow with pride as I mention some of the amazing things my friends are doing, even though absolutely none of the credit is mine.

My college friend Witt, his wife J, and their "world-schooled" six-year-old Q, are wrapping up a two year adventure driving the length of the Americas in a van.  They are reporting from the Carreterra Austral in Chile at the moment, and the photographs of the blue waters and snow capped Andes, like most images on their blog, are stunning.   Have a look at "When Sparks Fly" before they settle down in Western Colorado.

Another college friend is just starting a year in Mexico with her husband and her three-and-a-half year-old.  While they will be living on the Pacific Coast, they are hunkering down in a safe place away from the coast at the moment.  You can read about their adventures not related to the current hurricane (like the wonders of the Baja wine region) on Debbie's blog.

Matt Cogar, a former student of mine (and defending US Champion), has advanced to the STIHL Timbersports US Championship Finals, which you can watch this Sunday on ABC (and since there is no Bronco game, and I happen to know the outcome of the competition, I am really looking forward to it).  I'm also particularly pleased that he married one of my other favorite students, and am immensely proud of her as she pursues her PhD.

SalSis, my great friend in Lawrence, KS, has tickets to go back to Haiti to teach ecology for another semester.  Want to help with the world but not pay for fundraising newsletters?  SalSis's work is low budget, local and direct.  She teaches college level ecology (to students without books or regular computer access) and also encourages collaborations between the college students and the local students so that people of all ages are starting to recognize good water quality, the importance of raptors, and that bats are not grown-up mice.  Should you ever want to take an ecotour in Haiti, she is the woman to talk to.  Check out some of the past adventures at her blog, Zwazo Yo.

And that's just the beginning of the glow of cool happenings in which I choose to bask.  Thanks for all all of you do to glow.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fears about next year being here

I have exactly 6 minutes to write before class, and, as you will see, this is time sensitive material, so the editing may be poor.

I woke up up in the middle of the night last week worried about the Cubs facing the Royals in the World Series.  The Mister laughed because Royals vs. Cubs is the World Series match-up he wants to see, and why in the world would this be a problem?  In the middle of the night it was a problem because I wouldn't know who to cheer for.

Then, as the Cubs won last night, some fan commented that "It is next year," to which my immediate response was, "You shut your mouth right now young man," and then I worried as a life-long Cubs fan, exactly what would happen if the Cubs win it all.  Shouldn't we always be hoping for next year?

But deaths, accidents, and illness around me are reminding me that life is short.  I'm heading to Colorado tonight to see autumn in the Rockies (which I have been promising myself I'll do next year for 15 years) and we're sticking in a winter garden this afternoon (see here or here for some explanation about how these are related to baseball in my mind).  Maybe it is time to live like there is no next year.  Maybe next year is here.  Maybe my two second-favorite teams can face each other in the World Series and I will cheer for every game and I will be happy either way.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dragons and Kings in Our Midst: On Other Migrants

Politics is making me grumby lately.  So I'm not going to write about immigration in the US or the migrant crisis in Europe or . . .  many other things.  That many people I care about are unwell is also making me very grumbly.  While we are at it I could grumble about some of my students, some of my colleagues and some of the young people living in my house.  But I won't.

The monarchs are flying through.  A few pairs of lost looking kites are hanging around, and for about ten minutes on Friday evening, Sept. 18 we were under a cloud of dragonflies heading south.

Anyone know anything about dragonfly migration?