Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Mushroom Memory

The summer of 2016 seems like forever ago. We took my grandmother on a sojourn to eastern Washington and one of the highlights of that trip was a lovely lunch I had featuring oyster mushrooms, which I had not tasted before. They really did have an oyster-ish flavor.

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On returning home, I was emboldened to get some mushrooms at the local farmer’s market and experiment with them, both in still life photographs (which I rarely do, in part because I don’t have any clutter-free areas in the house to use) and in cooking.

I hadn’t thought about that for a long time, maybe I need to hit the farmer’s market this Sunday…

Experimental

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You say “honk”…

and I think geese.

There are a couple of gaggles of Canadian geese that hang out near my Dad’s place in the summer. This year a couple of white geese (domestic runaways?) who joined them. I also added a couple of pictures of the snow geese that winter in the Skagit Valley.

Daily Post prompt:Honk

This fall has had it all

Weather-wise that is.

This fall has been a wild ride from a gorgeous Indian summer through a week of solid storms, to more gorgeous sunny days now back into a ten day forecast of storms. Snow, sleet, sun, wind, rain, sometimes all at once.

 

Response to Weekly Weather: Fall and Daily Post: Temporary

Fall in Shouguang-1

Introducing Shouguang

In September and October I visited a “small” city (roughly the population of Seattle) considered rural in China. The city of Shouguang in the prefecture level city of Weifang in Shandong province.

Shouguang merits mention in Wikipedia! It is the vegetable capital of the world (self proclaimed). The city hosts an International High-Tech Vegetable Fair every year in April/May. I went a couple of years ago: I’ll meet you at the giant bok choi. It was a lot of fun, but we didn’t see the city itself at that time.

Fast forwarding, my son got a job teaching at a new school in Shouguang and moved there over the summer, so this fall I had a chance to explore. Shouguang is a seasonal city, they roll out the carpet and have wonderful gardens oriented to being at their peek in the spring. In the fall it has a more relaxed charm. Over the course of this month I am planning to share a little bit about Shouguang in the fall. With any luck I’ll be able to explore it again next spring.

Park Art

One fun feature of Shouguang was the sculptures around town, especially in the parks. Shouguang has a large amount of land dedicated to parks. Each park seems to have its own personality. The first sculpture I noticed was a giant strawberry tucked among some trees in a park. As I wandered along more of them appeared. Then I saw the giant pumpkin patch.

Who is my neighbor?

I can always tell when my next-door neighbors are going somewhere, because my bark alarm goes off. Asta’s high pitched barks start it, followed by Ginger’s lower, but lilting “Wooowoowoo”. If it is just a squirrel or bird, or the wind, Ginger doesn’t go off. But: is the bark alarm the best definition of who is my neighbor? (In which case it also includes everyone who walks their dog in front of our house, our mail carrier, and miscellaneous other delivery folks.)

This question was asked of Jesus when he said to “love your neighbor as yourself”. As usual, he didn’t give a straight answer. He launched into the well known story of the Good Samaritan. It’s in Luke, chapter 10. Since there are so many translations out there the exact words you know may differ a bit.

Seeing this mornings Daily Post Prompt, followed by skimming the morning paper, brought that vignette from the Bible to mind.

Whether you are a Christian or not, whether you think the Bible is literally true or not, there is a power in this story that has shaped much of the Western worldview. This is the gold standard for how we are to treat each other..or is it?

Two articles in the paper show the two sides of this. The front page headline this morning was: “GOP tax plan a boon for business”. I can’t find a link for it, the story originated from the New York Times and the Seattle Times doesn’t seem to have a link for it on their site. However, the real story, the one that should have taken up the entire front page in my opinion, was this: Who wins and who loses in the Republicans’ tax-code rewrite. Every citizen in the US should read that one. There is a stark contrast between the winners and losers and the story of the Good Samaritan. This is the party that supposedly represents conservative Christians? Hmmm…Reminds one a bit of the priest and Levite who crossed the street so they wouldn’t have to go near the injured man, before the hero of the story, the merchant from a different area, came along.

The second article was in the local section, also about taxes, but with a different slant:  “How would candidates spend your money?” In it the lefty loose-y Seattle mayoral candidates are debating how they will try to solve the homeless crisis*. The article was gentle on them, after all at least they are trying to be humane, but the bottom line is that you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.

We don’t have the resources of the rich merchant who paid for the care of the injured man. There is some talk of trying to get the money out of our local rich merchants (and developers) via taxation. Our local rich merchants are better known for buying football teams then hitting the taxpayers up for the cost of a fancy new stadium, funding U.F.O hunts, and things like that. (The Gates Foundation is a notable exception, and I am not saying that there is no charity from others, just that it isn’t as notable as using huge influence to make regular citizens subsidize their businesses.)

In trying to be both truthful (about my ignorance) and fair, I digressed from my trajectory: The contrast between the behaviors and perceptions related to “Christianity”.

To hear Fox “News”, and even loonier right-wing nuts, you’d think that the lefty loose-y’s are Godless, evil people and the Republicans are the chosen people. And yet, if one uses the Good Samaritan test, we see a very different story. The Republican tax plan and health “care” plan will likely add to the homeless problem over time: more people will be bankrupted and lose their homes as health care becomes increasingly expensive and unavailable, and we are hobbling the future for our youth with the huge increase in national debt meaning more of them will lead lives farther down the economic food chain.

Alms are fine, but that is not a good excuse for creating a system that deliberately, and it is deliberate, drops more people into the steep sided pit of needing them.

Sorry about being both a bit religious and a bit political, which I mostly am not, but I am trying to figure out how to vote.

* My personal opinion about how to approach homelessness:
Since turnips don’t bleed, I feel these mayoral debates are about everything that they can’t do as a mayor (meaning a waste of time). Homelessness is not a local problem. It isn’t even just regional. It is  nation-wide, assuming closed borders, and should be addressed at the national level.

Instead of Seattle’s candidates spouting off solutions that can’t be enacted, and, if successful, will just create a vacuum to suck more people into the area, there should be a nation-wide approach that has some consistency and cohesiveness to it (don’t let the US congress loose on it!). Mayors and governors should get it going instead of trying to go it alone, which is using a band-aid to try and stop a hemorrhage.

Mine’s not a slick easy answer, but homelessness isn’t one problem. It’s one symptom which can result from many underlying causes.

I’ll stop now.

Random Ramble about Recycling

I have a question. No clue whom to ask, so out into the WordPress world it goes.

This morning’s paper had a big story on how China, which is working hard toward becoming a what we used to call “first world”, isn’t wanting to take our trash any more, specifically the recycling we send over there for processing. They are concerned about the pollution from processing in their air and water.*

My question is this: what would it take to do the recycling here in the Pacific Northwest, cleanly?

I ask this because I realized that technology has been improved since the factories in China that pollute so badly were set up. It might be possible to set up clean factories today, designed and built to be so from the start.

Eastern Washington has sun and wind that can be harnessed for power, in addition to hydro (alas, Western Washington doesn’t have enough reliable sunshine to count on any solar). So does eastern Oregon, which is where a lot of our (Seattle area) landfill trash goes, and likely where the trash China rejects will wind up.

I realize that the idea isn’t sexy, but it sure seems like if we can pour vast amounts of money into building electric, self-driving cars and sending uber-rich people into space we could do something about our trash.

Second question: how does one go about finding the answer?

Here is what The Wiki has to say about recycling plastics.

*Ironically the US is rushing as fast as it can to reduce regulations in order to head back down to second or third world levels. This makes me sad. I have traveled in countries with unsafe air and water; the thing I love most when I get home (after my husband and the fluff-y family) is taking a deep breath of clean air.

The Moon-as negative space

For the Halloween Challenge of the Moon

Tonight’s crescent was okay and I thought it would be seasonal to catch it with some clouds, but, typical of Seattle, the clouds decided to reduce the moon to nothing. So I thought about how I took a few pictures of the full moon last summer in order to test out camera settings for during the eclipse (totality is supposed to approximate the amount of light cast by the full moon). Then I realized that my pictures from the eclipse are of the moon, in a way. So here is the moon as negative space (a shadow on the sun).

The Boss

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We could identify the real boss by his attitude and swagger. He went from table to table checking in with every customer and visiting, like every good restaurant proprietor I’ve known. So I dubbed him (Chinese style) “The Proprietor XiaoGou”. Xiao Gou means “little dog”.

On my recent visit to Shouguang (Weifang Prefecture, Shandong Province, China) a near-by coffee shop run by an old guy and his tiny, but plump, little dog was a favorite place for me to get my morning eye-opener and check in with the folks back home. The tip of the crutch gives you a good idea of how small the dog is.

Daily Post Prompt:Identity.

Shimmering Pictures

Been, mostly, away at the beach while the city had had a hot spell and smoke from wildfires in BC.

We took all the animals (two dogs and the cat) and stayed on Vashon for much of the last week. The haze made things look a bit funny, especially in the morning and evening.

Naturally we had commitments and had to spend the hottest day of the year in the city. I fail to see why, when there are only a handful of times when I have to be somewhere, and only a handful of days when it is really unpleasant in the city, that the two have to align.

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The pups got to stay on the beach. Here is Asta running for all she is worth, just happy to be on the beach. The sunlight was shimmering on the seaweed so it kind of fits with the shimmer daily post prompt.