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Monday, December 31, 2018

Wishing You the Success of the Fungi

 
Tonight I just bring you a little nondescript fungus growing in my grass at the end of December.

brown mushroom

Did you know that fungi are neither plants nor animals? They have their own kingdom. They don't make their food internally as most plants do, nor eat like any sort of animal. Their cell walls are chitin, more like insect skeletons than the cellulose of plant cells. They exude enzymes which digest substances externally and then they absorb the nutrients they can use, sort of like wearing your stomach on your sleeve. Incidentally, if you eat certain poison mushrooms they can digest your liver which is sort of a horror story of it's own. You kill the thing and then it exacts a terrible fate upon you as host.

Although botanists are often interested in them, they behave more like animals than plants.

There are about 144,000 known species, but it's estimated there are over 2 million kinds. DNA testing is finding new ones at the rate of about 2000 a year.

Possibly 25% of the earth's biomass is fungi!

Of course, yeast is also a fungus, and who doesn't love a nice crusty yeasty roll?

At any rate, Happy New Year! And I wish you the success of a fungus in 2019.

PS- all we saw today was solid gray and rain.

In other news: I did more work on my web site, more bookwork, wrote my Get Off the Couch column for the newspaper, and spent the rest of the day reading short mystery stories by Agatha Christie and P.D. James. Research or escape? You decide.

See Trail Work Day
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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Sunrise, Sunset, Sun In Between

 
With no apologies, I bring you more sun and sky pictures. We had sun all day today. It's been a while. Sunrise:

sunrise

I figured the sun would slip back under the clouds, but instead it burned them off! November 2018 had 9% of possible sunshine (only November 1992 was lower at 5%). I couldn't find a number for October, but I was out hiking a lot of it and sunny it was not. December has been very gray. We all will come down with SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder.

But today, we had blue sky all day!

blue sky

I walked to the library, and the sun was making magic with a plain old parking lot edge.

sun on Norway Spruce

And it even stayed around to provide a gorgeous sunset.

sunset

I'm not usually bothered too much by the gray skies, but it's starting to get to me, and we aren't even to January yet! So, today, I'll celebrate the sun.

In other news: I spent the entire day getting the Books Leaving Footprints web site up to date. It had been a long time since I'd worked on it. That's not so good. Now, I'm sorting copies of my Get Off the Couch column. Haven't kept those records up well either.

See Light!
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Saturday, December 29, 2018

Some Puzzlers

 
I've been saving these goodies for a slow day.

Here are five puzzle questions to ponder. Back when everyone was blogging and I would often do a monthly contest, I learned that most people don't really like difficult puzzles. And yet... I still like to think that someone must. If anyone can get all five of them correct, I will give you a free book of your choice.

1.
When does 10 plus 10 equal 8?

2.
When does 4/4 = 4?

3.
Change a pig to a weasel by changing only one letter.

4.
When does 3 = 6 = 4 with just a tiny bump?

5.
When does 4 holes + 1 cut = 3 holes?

And now... I should have taken one more in between picture, but here's where the watercolor is tonight. Still lots to do.

watercolor of a cardinal in progress

In other news: I've been doing record keeping, and working on my newsletter and web site all day. Boring.

See Light!
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Friday, December 28, 2018

Light!

 
We had sun! For about 7 minutes this morning before it slipped under the clouds and left us with a gray and rainy day.

sunrise

But those seven minutes were wonderful. When the sun blazes through a slit in the clouds it usually lights up objects to the west, and today was one of those days. I liked the stripes across the driveway leading to a pine.

morning light on pine

And it hit the twin mulberries as so often happens. This picture is very like one from a year ago.

morning light on bare mulberries

And, I've started another watercolor pencil attempt. I'm doing these on regular drawing paper because I don't have any watercolor paper. So they end up wrinkly and it takes a while for it to dry before I can add the next layer. Here's where this one is so far. Remember, I don't know much about what I'm doing... I'm just fooling around yet.

background of a watercolor painting

In other news: I spent most of the day trying to get the page numbers and headers in Dead Mule Swamp Mistletoe to work right. Finally got that done, and am working on my next newsletter. Be sure to give me your email if you aren't on the list and want to be.

See Morning Light
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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Watercolor Pencil Play - Baby Steps

 
I asked for and received this set of 72 watercolor pencils for Christmas.

watercolor pencils

One of my usual responses to gifts like this, even things I want, is to put them aside until I'm ready to use them. This is another of my "Ray Junior" qualities. My dad did this all the time. Can something like this be genetic?

Anyway, this time I'm not going to never get around to playing. I've been watching a lot of videos of how to use them, and there is no ONE right way.

So tonight I just fooled around. I drew this out of my head, which is why some of the proportions are a little off and the beak is too dark. I was more interested in what the pencils would do than the finished product.

watercolor pencil drawing of a cardinal

In general, I think these are going to be a good medium for me. I've always been better with pencils and pens than brushes. The fingers have better control than the arm.

I added some details with a plain old gel pen.

So, this isn't anything wonderful, but it's a start.

In other news: I finally figured out what the problem was with the cover for the DMS Mistletoe paperback. It's now uploaded for approval in their line, which can take up to 3 days, but doesn't usually. I cleaned up some of the Christmas mess and did laundry.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Hairy Holiday Hammerer

 
This guy was hammering on the wood corner of the house today. I prefer to have him hammer on the trees!

hairy woodpecker

But they sure are pretty. It's a hairy woodpecker. They look just like the downy woodpeckers except they are bigger.

hairy woodpecker
In other news: I've got Dead Mule Swamp Mistletoe formatted for print, but am having trouble with the cover. Now that CreateSpace is part of KDP there are different rules, which I followed, but it's not loading correctly. Trying to fix, and will eventually succeed.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Day 2018

 
It was calm and pleasant here.

Christmas Tree

The antique creche never got set up, but Omer found two others we had been given as gifts that we hadn't used in years, and I enjoyed seeing these. The simplicity of the white ones is appealing.

nativity scene

And this one is a puzzle- all the figures fit into the stable frame for storage.

nativity scene

I got nice gifts: art supplies and small funnels I asked for, new dishcloths (much needed), the camper ornament and towel from Loretta, and Steve sent the square camper pot for me to try. It's interesting. I might have to blog about it separately. Steve also paid for the vinyl for my trailer floor (when I get back to working on it this spring). Josh brought us a fruit basket and trail mix.

Christmas gifts

We had a yummy meal with no fuss at all- serve yourself from the kitchen- and we are JUST FINE with that. Lots of leftovers for the coming days.

Christmas meal

I've been reading a book and working sporadically on formatting the print copy of DMS Mistletoe.

Following so many friends on Facebook and seeing that you have had a wonderful day as well. Merry Christmas!

See Christmas Day 2018
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Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve 2018

 
We did a marathon of Christmas Eve stuff today, but tomorrow will be laid back.

First, we went to the Community Dinner at Radiant Church. They served over 450 people (which included something like 110 meals delivered to shut-ins). Om is in the green sweater and Joshua is across from him.

Community Christmas Dinner

Then, we stayed for the first part of the service at Radiant. You can deduce from the decor that this is more modern, but tonight they held the volume down to a level I can tolerate and actually sang some carols.

Radiant Christmas Eve Service">

Then we went over to the Methodist Church. I like their evening service. Also, the bell choir plays. Again, I was only watching this time, but I have lots of friends there. They played two of my favorite songs. I just wanted to get up and play too!

Methodist Christmas Eve Service

The choir sang "One Small Child." I haven't heard that for a while, so it was nice.

Methodist Christmas Eve Service

And of course, ending with Silent Night sung by candlelight.

Methodist Christmas Eve Service

A wonderful calming way to end the day.

In other news: Dead Mule Swamp Mistletoe is available in e-book format!

See Christmas Eve 2017
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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Tar Train

 
There are often train cars sitting on the siding between my house and town. A few days ago, there were some I'd never seen before.

train cars on a siding

It was pretty cool to see something besides the hoppers full of chemicals for making de-icing salt.

asphalt carrying freight car

How about this one?

asphalt carrying freight car

Fast post tonight, because I'm working like mad to finish the edits of the book. Back at it! That's really all I've done today.

See Rail Tales
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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Starlight 2018

 
This will wrap up the Christmas concerts for the year (I've gone to seven!). I'll be going to a Christmas Eve service, but that won't be all music.

I always expect great things at Starlight, and this year did not disappoint. The decor is different every time.

Starlight decor

Starlight decor

The choir opened with a song called "It's Christmas." There were quite a few pieces of music this year that I was not familiar with, but for the most part you could understand the words, so that was good. The set for the program was a storefront, and the choir was dressed as shoppers.

Starlight choir

One of the store "windows" had a Christmas dress on display- with a skirt of evergreens, of course.

And this skit this year was various bell-ringers explaining why they volunteer. Not all the motives were so great, which was the "lesson."

Starlight skit

The window on the other side was a Santa with stuffed animals. Here the shopper had just finished singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

Starlight skit

One really cute song with a definitely modern theme was "Text Merry Christmas."

Starlight text Merry Christmas

The closing song was "O Holy Night." For those of you that recall my grumpy quest to find a recording of that song I liked a few weeks ago, this one made the grade. No cowboy twang, all the notes were on key, all three verses sung, you could understand all the words.

Starlight O Holy Night

And, afterwards, a nice visit with my friends Paula and Gaylynne. Since I don't manage to see them very often, it's nice to go to Starlight with them.

friends

In other news: I worked on book formatting.

See Starlight 2017
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