Phillips School

On a day when I could be blahging on yogurt ecology or lucha libre and masked fighters in Mexico, let me take you back to country schools in township and range country….

When I started school, it was the first year the consolidated elementary school was open, so I never attended the two-room schoolhouse down at the corner. We did, however, play in the cemetery right behind it, especially climbing the majestic maples that lined the street.

Later, I was in the first class to spend an entire year in the new Junior High, a sprawling one-story building that separated the younger kids from the High School kids for the first time. Having all of us together stuffed the old three-story HS to overflowing, literally. I remember scrambling down the steps during snow storms and when they were icy to attend study hall in the band room and art classes across the street. Oh fun!

Remember Phillips School Kel? Gord? Shan? Did it originally have a cupola anything like this?

Salamander stress?

Mama’s getting ready to persuade the last of her four wee-ones to leave the nest (I thought “fledge” meant leave the nest, but it turns out it means get feathers; o woe is me on this vocab stuff); I’m guessing this was the runt (invisible to Mama’s left). She and her hubby, Señor Brilliant, have been nesting in the Taxus next to Mom’s kitchen window for several years now….

Was it a kind of fledging when jcb and I left this morning?

On the critter front, how much do salamanders feel stress? A week or so ago, I found one on the dusty, pea-gravel path next to Lake Clara Meer, and with some gentle (I hope) prods of a handy twig, I nudged the little guy over next to the water. I’m just hoping I didn’t give him (her? it?) a heart attack in the process….

Memorial Day

Memorial Day—for years I worked jobs that required me to be at work on many holidays, so I figured they felt a bit different to me than to the partiers and family reunion types, like those at this county park.

Had an interesting conversation with my favorite vet, the Botanist (trying out nicknames a la Anne and Mouse), and got a recitation of the list of bases where he was stationed 1943 to 1946, including Camps in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Georgia, and Texas.


I’m not up on my garden-flowers, so I don’t even know the name of this one, but Dad says he got it from the farm in the UP, where it had survived for years after active flower-gardening had ceased. To me, its spikiness seems very Victorian.

The Botanist just wandered by, and I quizzed him about the specimen. It’s a Centaurea spp., commonly called a knapweed if it’s pink/rose, and close cousin to another Centaurea, the Bachelor’s Button, also blue.

Now we know!

Late Show

Reaching into the iPhoto memory bank, here’s this from our last (late?) trip to NYC, the heart of it all (sorry Ohio—see yesterday’s entry)!

Welcome to…

Report from I-75: fewer RVs than expected; about as many cops as expected; more people talking on cell phones while driving than hoped; only one traffic delay (fortunately reasonably easily avoided)….

No “ack�?

I haven’t been to the Island since the digital revolution lead me to replace my camera, so the best I can do is this.

“Last time we went on a family vacation I had to spend five days on an island in northern Michigan with no transportation on it except for horses, and the main attraction was fudge,” she said. This from a NY Times story.

I know where that is!

For those of you from Elsewhere, the topic here is Mackinac Island (say mack-in-aww). And if you live south of the bridge, because of the fudge-culture that’s grown up around the bridge (that is, the Mackinac Bridge), you are a Fudgie. And probably a Tourist to boot!

Boletus edulus?

Several years ago, I found my outdoor picture-taking adventures focused on fungi, not normally in my mental viewscape. Conditions were perfect for ‘shroom growth, and I discovered them scattered across the forest floor. Even at their best, though, some fungi are basically rather ugly….

What kind, you ask? I can’t remember about the underside of this one, but my guess is it’s a boletus, the kind with a spongy underside rather than gills. For you fans of cooking, or of Mario Batali, the Italian porcini is known botanically as a Boletus edulus, and there are other tasty boletes.

But maybe I’m repeating myself!

Striped abdomen

Every once in a while I get lucky and the critter world coincides with the flower world (flour world, too, but then you toss it!). Look at that green thorax and the striped abdomen—cool!

Ibn Khaldûn

On occasion I encounter colors in nature that leave me breathless by their intensity or hue. Often they are flowers, but not always.

A mere 1500 words today, mostly about Ibn Khaldûn. He lived in the fourteenth century, mostly in North Africa, but also in Arab Spain. Later in life he made the pilgrimage to Mecca, broadening his horizons to include the eastern Mediterranean. While in middle age, the bubonic plague struck Europe, disrupting the trade routes that linked Mediterranean coastal communities with those inland and to the east and west. I don’t remember hearing about whether the plague also struck the North African cities that were ports of call for the same vessels that sailed into Venice, Genoa, and lesser European Mediterranean cities and spread the rats, fleas, and disease.

Social scientists remember Ibn Khaldûn (his “real�? name is about two lines long!) because of the multi-volume work he wrote on the history of his world (Arab and Mediterranean), including theories on how dynasties became established, grew, and declined.