Musings

Family day

I think this is Prunus serrulata, with the huge distinctive dangling blossoms.

Found this huge trunk; tree too tall to make a good “portrait” photo.

We spent most of the day with family, sitting and laughing/talking, with this great view. Also: great eats.

Apologies for the delayed post; we had too much fun for too long, so I didn’t have time to get my brain in gear to write a cogent post. I DID think of youall, Gentle Readers, however.

Daytime’s goodbye

This is very close to what it looked like standing there. You have to imagine the fresh air, slight breeze, and faint noises coming from the water and moving vegetation. Down two-thirds of the way from the moon to the land, and to the right is Venus (thank you, SkyGuide app), and between the moon and Venus is Mercury, but I couldn’t pick it out, and the camera missed it, too.

I do like the camera’s computational capabilities, but this example is maladroit, and I didn’t take the time away from all the fun social hubbub to finesse it.

Ferry adventure

The high school nephew had an open day today, because: covid. So we had an outing. We took a short ferry ride, a little longer than it took to wait to board, board, and disembark. We were told to stay in our vehicle, because: covid.

Since it was mid-day, our first stop was food. We drove by the possibilities and picked a hometown burger place. With a food truck. This is the drivers control area. Shift on the left, which I do not recall ever seeing for a left driver. Not because: covid.

After wiping our chins and downing the last fry, we drove on to Point No Point Lighthouse. It is the shortest lighthouse I remember ever seeing.

Atop a row of evergreens I suspect were planted to protect the lighthouse from the prevailing winds, we saw eagles land and watch the doin’s below from on high—not so much the tourists as the fishing.

Down on the beach, we spotted an otter moving along, then finding something to eat—clam perhaps? An eagle spotted this, too, and dived the otter; however, the otter seemed to have positioned her/himself to see if this happened, and quickly plunged into the water, saving lunch from the feathered, screaming predator-thief.

Next stop had no David Attenborough drama, instead an eroding escarpment called Foulweather Bluff. Rusty red dot lower right is nephew’s jacket, so you can tell it’s a tall bluff.

Lucky us, the tide was out. We used our identification crutch, the iNaturalist app, and found out these are aggregating anemone. With seaweed and what we thought was a tiny jellyfish.

With plenty of excitement behind us, we headed back to the ferry, and were stopped behind HTBNANA. The plate surround indicated that “it only happens twice.” We remain unsure what that refers to.

Mole negro Sunday

Mole negro (say: moh-lay nay-grow) is a famous sauce native to Oaxaca, Mexico. We made it (more or less) the way it is made today, so it includes Old World ingredients not available in the prehispanic kitchen, like almonds and chicken. We processed a long list of ingredients this way and that, often with toasting, ending up as three different purees, plus chicken stock (upper left). The immersion blender got a huge workout, as it was the processing workhorse.

The final assembly began with the toasted then reconstituted dried chiles (right foreground), pureed, pureed, then more pureeing, and finally sieved to achieve succulent smoothness, then adding stock and simmering down. To that, we then added the upper right mixture, colored principally by roasted tomatoes, but also including tomatillos and toasted bread crumbs. Plus other lovelies. And more stock and simmering. Next, we added the lower left mixture, three kinds of nuts plus roasted plantain, and toasted spices like anise seed and raisins and sesame seeds and cinnamon bark (not a lot, but still). And stock, followed by simmering, of course. The final add was “Mexican chocolate,” which includes more cinnamon, and is not super sweet—still, it does include sugar. And more stock and further simmering.

At the end, the harsh sharpness that the chiles initially had was gone, and their biting heat was tempered. The twenty-four (or so) ingredients had become one amazing, complex sauce.

So very yummy. Probably won’t make it again from scratch, yet a lovely experience. And the eating—well, incomparable.

IDing fun

See the horizon? Those white vertical not-egrets? They flank the Columbia River at Biggs Junction, great for parasailing and wind turbines.

Found this little gem hugging the ground, with lovely about 3cm diameter flowers. ID conclusion: Lewisia rediviva. Grateful for assistance from iNaturalist, which indicated it was a Lewisia species.

I wondered what the (free!) app would do with this, as it is just vegetation without blooms. But, I thought, it has distinctive configuration. iNaturalist suggested Lithospermum ruderale, and (after comparison to multiple pictures) I concur!

Well-nourished

We crossed no state lines, although we did change time zones.

The high point was partying with old friends, and later new—so so many laughs. Such good company. Such lovely eats. So special-precious.

Title refers to second photo comments, but you already figured that out.

Sun, not sun, sun (thankfully)

We stopped to stretch our legs while we were motoring west on the plains and I found these wee blooms that my magic iNaturalist ID app indicated is a milk vetch, and a legume. I can SEE the latter—look at those flower shapes…so leguminous.

Continuing west, we climbed up and up after Cheyenne, and into sleet and snow-rain. Fortunately it was over 40°F, so no ice on the road to worry about.

Soon, we descended again and I found a wee sagebrush doing springtime burgeoning. A nearby sign indicated that Wyoming hosts 13 species of sagebrush. And this one is…?

Not in Kansas

The Big Muddy dominated half our driving day. It was big and it carried sediment. “Formidable” seems rather tame for summing it up, although it carries the appropriate tenor.

This is on the north edge of Alton, Illinois, where the river slid along limestone bluffs that Euroamericans heavily mined. I assume these are abandoned mine entrances.

For the other half of our driving day, we pushed west, to stop in La Plata, Missouri, pronounced like plate, so: lah plate-uh.

Rather unremarkable town with an Amtrak Stop [that I assume Joe Biden has never visited] and an art deco style station that is suffering genteel decay (the exterior, anyway, as we didn’t get inside—yet).

These two also live in the town. It is bucolic, with frequent train whistles.

Most anything

I’m still enamored of the (free) “iNaturalist, LLC” app as a wonderful and fast identification assistant; however, its first few choices for this are bluets, and as far as I know bluets have just four petals. It is that size and in the color range…so I’ll have to take a deep dive into the alternative possiblities. I found these “gone wild” in a yard, so that’s little help at all.

We’re cool

We’re full on in foxglove season. [My fingers typed both floxglove and foxgove earlier; got it right this time.]

Our temporary resident heating and air crew finished today—usually two and sometimes three guys. Now we have new units for up- and down-stairs. It was time, as the technology we had was in the 25+ year age range. We’ll see what happens to our electric bills. Plus…yay! a $500 rebate!