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Not dead Journal

...but holy moley, this con-crud has some teeth to it. Cough, body ache, fever and fatigue. Then you lay in bed and think "Am I REALLY sick or just lazy with a cough?" Then you get up out of guilt and then you have to sleep for three hours. Fun.







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Snow Journal





The tweet, if you can’t read it, reads as follows:

ERNIE: i ate snow sad now
ME: Oh buddy, your ears are so cold. Let me snuggle–GET YOUR TONGUE OUT OF MY COFFEE
ERNIE: better now

Anyway, being home alone with the hounds during a snow event is not a bad thing, although I’ll be glad to see another human soon!


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First Journal of the Year



I’ll tell you a thing, though. As many crappy little doodles as I do in these pages (and there are many!) when I look back, I don’t think “God, that sucked! I wish I’d done better!” I’m just glad I drew a weird little thing at all. Even if it’s just a chicken.


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In Which I Take The First Steps Towards An Alarming New Skill

Here we have a post that I am more than a little afraid to write, but I will do it because I am me and I do not let good sense stop me. And also I have written sagas of having electrodes taped to my butt, and if y'all can handle that, you can handle anything.

And, perhaps most obviously, if I can do this, anybody can do it, and perhaps my stark terror will be of use to someone.

Read more...Collapse )

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Minor Botanical Mystery

So here's a thing I tweeted about awhile ago, but I wanted to do a full write up. It's an interesting botanical thing I figured out about beans!

Here's four kinds of beans. Last year, I grew three of them!



The Aztec Cave Bean keeps appearing under various guises in seed catalogs. The story goes that this bean was found in a sealed clay jar in a cave during an archaeological dig in the Seventies. Carbon dated to 1500 years ago!

Thing is...nobody knows anything about this hypothetical dig. Who ran it? Where was it? There is no info. Dig on a forum and you'll get, "Uh...maybe Berkeley?" And then I went digging around in Google Books and found a reference to this legend from the 1800s (and the author was skeptical then, too!)*

Also, the Aztec Empire flourished from the 13th to 16th century, which by my math was at most 800 years ago, so if this WAS true, it'd be a Nahuatl Cave Bean. But never mind that. Let's just say I am Very Skeptical.

The ones I got were a lovely maroon mottled bean. It looked like they'd grow into Holstein cows or tiny paint horses. Artist representation above!

I also grew the Tarahumara Red, a rare bean variety from the high desert, grown by the Tarahumara people. It's one of those varieties that I don't know why they're rare--they're tough as nails. It produces a small maroon bean with a black ring around the hilum. (That's the white mark on the bean, or the "eye.") The Aztec cave bean ALSO has a black ring around the hilum, or at least the ones I got did.

So I had both these beans and I grew them and at first, all was well. Aztecs produced and produced, Tarahumara were less productive but they kept going and going and going and they grew in crappy buckets I forgot to water.

Then an odd thing happened. The Aztec cave beans...vanished. Suddenly I was harvesting nothing but solid maroon beans with black hilums.

Okay, sez I! The Aztec beans melted in the high summer heat and humidity. This was the first year I grew them, I had no idea what to expect, and some things just melt in our heat. These are obviously the Tarahumara Reds (I had planted a couple extra about midway through the season when another set of beans had choked and died.)

And then one day I harvest some beans, shell them, and out come the Mystery Beans. Maroon bean. Single white splash right where the sprout would emerge.

I stared at them for awhile.

I finally decided they had to be an Aztec cave bean that just got weird. Okay. These things happen.

I harvested a few weeks later and got dozens more.

Had I somehow made a cross-breed between my Tarahumara and my Aztecs? Beans can cross-pollinate, but they usually don't. Even when they're grown on the same trellis, they rarely cross, unlike peppers or squash, who will joyfully sex up the world. Beans are suspicious of other beans. Peppers would cross with pine trees if they could reach that high.

And then, in late fall, the very last round of beans, suddenly I have Aztec cave beans again. Little Holstein cow beans. AND Tarahumara Reds.

What the hell just happened?

I was baffled. I threw them all in jars and eyed them suspiciously. Had I found two beans that were star-crossed lovers and crossed easily? Were these sports? (Some beans are sold with the specific note "Throws an occasional all-black bean" and so forth.)

And then, browsing seed catalogs in December, trying to keep my spirits up, I happened on a bean collector who has been growing beans since, literally, the year I was born. His site was an obsessive catalog of hundreds of varieties. And one of them was the Jacob's Cattle Bean.

Jacob's Cattle Beans are an old, old variety. They range from maroon to medium tan, and they are speckled and spotted and splotched with white. It looks like an acid washed kidney bean. It was grown by the Passamaquoddy Indians of Maine, according to legend. Unlike the Aztec, they're more...flecked, I guess? Appaloosa horses instead of paints.

What they don't tell you, what I learned from our bean collector's site, was that many, many spotted beans descend from Jacob's Cattle types, and that if you grow Jacob's Cattle in high summer temperatures, it becomes solid colored.

Now, I can't know for sure, but I will bet you a dollar that my "Aztec Cave Bean" is a reasonably modern descendant of the Jacob's Cattle Bean, and the high heat in North Carolina turned them solid red. Then, as the temps cooled, they got the first white splotch, and then finally reverted to their normal coloration.

"Okay," you say, "but why do I care?"

I have no idea, honestly. It's neat? It screwed up my counts because I kept thinking that the hot-weather Aztecs were actually Tarahumara Red, so I now have no idea what my total counts were and need to regrow both.

But anyhow, I thought it was cool that I finally got to the bottom of my mystery beans.


*There actually ARE a couple of vegetable varieties found from ancient dig sites--a very impressive squash was found on the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin. They named it the Gete-okosomin, and you can get seeds now, which I'll try once I've got the Gem Squash reliable.
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Nearly there!

I don't dare take anything for granted, but it's 2.5 hours to 2017, EST, and we can do this! Hold the line! Don't die! If you feel yourself about to die, clench or something! We can make it!

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Held the Line Journal


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Summer in Orcus

So Summer in Orcus chapters are up--two of them today, in fact, because Richard Adams and Carrie Fisher have both died and I feel like giving people a five minute break from reality is the only thing I can do to blunt the impact a little--but LJ has now decided that hotlinks are for other people. So manual clicking.

http://www.redwombatstudio.com/portfolio/orcus31/chapter-thirty-one/
http://www.redwombatstudio.com/portfolio/orcus32/chapter-thirty-two/

Fair warning--last one cliff-hangs, and if you don't want that right now, hold off until tomorrow, when I'll post Chapter 33.

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The Great Hot Tub Massacre

A saga in a series of tweets, with commentary by some VERY clever Twitter-peeps. (This one was so fun that I hated for you guys to miss it!)

Also, that is MY wee little battery-powered chainsaw. I can't lift the big gas-powered things. We have one of those too, but Kevin's father borrowed it a few years back and...well...you know...


































































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Hanging In There Journal


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