The zucchinis (yes, that lumpy thing is a zucchini) and the pie pumpkins are from my own garden. The apples are from a relative’s tree.
This is Neanderthal Woman, a.k.a. me.
This is the tree
that came down this June
in the yard of N.W., a.k.a. me.
This is the tree
that came down this week
in the yard of N.W., a.k.a. me.
This is the weather
in our favorite State:
90, then freezing, then 90 again.
This is the sunflower
that grew in my yard,
now killed by the weather
in our favorite State.
This is a small
price that we pay
to live near the mountains
in our favorite State.
As you can see, fields near my house are done with wheat harvest.
This is yet another flower that grows so prolifically on the roadsides, and looks so bizarre, that I was certain it would turn out to be native to the Intermountain West. Will I never learn?
The tall, coarse stalks of woody mullein stand as sentinels along the roadsides. They are biennial plants, growing the first year as a round cluster of large (12 x 4″) radiating basal leaves covered with thick, woolly hair. The second year, they rapidly grow a 1 – 6′ (!) tall stalk, crowded with yellow flowers in a spike arrangement. Then, with all its energy expended, the plant dies.
This introduced (!) weed colonizes disturbed places from the valleys and plains to the montane forests.
Dioscorides, the Greek physician to the Roman armies in the first century, used mullein to treat coughs, scorpion stings, eye problems, tonsillitis, and toothache. Today, herbalists value it as a medicinal herb for asthma, bronchitis, coughs, throat inflammation, earache, and various other respiratory complaints.Central Rocky Mountain Wildflowers by H. Wayne Phillips, page 157
On my walks along the country lanes of Idaho, this wildflower is one of the most handsome and prominent. As you can see, it looks like a giant dandelion but with a more sculpted-looking stem. During the morning, the striking yellow flowers open and face the sun. Later in the day they close up into those very pointy-looking buds again. Eventually, they turn into large puffballs, like a dandelion but about three times as big.
Here is some growing in front of Silver Sage, which was our last featured wildflower.
Naturally I assumed these things must be native to the Intermountain West. They seem so at home here. But I could find them nowhere in my Central Rocky Mountain Wildflowers guidebook. So, after Googling things like “yellow chicory images” and “looks like a giant dandelion images,” I at last discovered … it’s Yellow Salsify. Native to Eastern Europe, according to one web site. Yet another distinctive “Idaho” wildflower that is actually introduced! But look at how well it is getting on with that silver sage!
By the way, when I Googled “salsify” just now, I discovered that there is a purple variety and that the taproot is edible. This somewhat ameliorates my disappointment at finding out that it’s not a yellow variety of chicory as I had first hoped, and that there are, in fact, no yellow varieties of chicory. So, if you are into foraging, send me your salsify recipes!
It became necessary to buy this book last week.
The fam and I went on a hike. A steep hike. The mountainside looked barren from the valley below, but when we were in among it, we were passing through thickets of trees and meadows (near vertical meadows, mind you) of tall grasses. And wildflowers. So many wildflowers.
This is the only wildflower picture that actually came from that hike. Obviously some kind of thistle, though it does not appear in the guidebook.
Every one of them was very distinctive looking, as if a person who knew what they were about would be able to identify them at a glance. I realized it was a disgrace that I didn’t know any of their names. (OK, Indian Paintbrush, but that was it!)
Black Sheep (who has apparently dropped off the Internet!) was aiming to have a Big Year with bird watching. I am not up to that, but perhaps I can start watching wildflowers. At least they hold still!
Having bought and looked through the book, I now know at the very least that I saw Lupine. The others have fled my memory. But here are a few found around our house, with my best shots at identifying them.
Wavy-Leaved Thistle. Much easier to find, but less spectacular, than the (thistle?) above.
Volunteer Yellow Columbine growing right in my flowerbed.
The things with yellow flowers are Leafy Spurge.
“This introduced noxious weed grows in disturbed soils along roadsides and fields. It is vigorously colonial, spreading laterally and forming dense communities, often excluding other plants. Twelve native species of spurges occur in the Pacific Northwest. Leafy spurges and other Euphorbias are known to be poisonous. Cattle and horses seem to be affected by the toxic properties of spurge more than sheep, which readily eat leafy spurge.” (page 133)
The hanging-down ones are Wild Lily of the Valley.
“This common native wildflower was named for its resemblance to the introduced garden lily of the valley flower … The garden plants have dangerously poisonous compounds that are purgative and have a digitalis-like effect on the heart … The native wild lily-of-the-valley has edible berries, although they are not very tasty, and eating too many will unleash their laxative properties. It is sometimes called starry Solomon’s seal.” (page 219)
And, climbing on a juniper tree, Climbing Nightshade.
“Climbing nightshade is an introduced vine [in the Rockies] … The plants scramble over shrubs and other vegetation for support, sometimes robbing them of the light needed to survive. Solanum is one of the larger genera worldwide, but it is concentrated in tropical and subtropical America. It includes the common potato (!). Many species of Solanum contain poisonous alkaloids, and grazing of climbing nightshade foliage has caused livestock deaths. … The bright red berries of climbing nightshade are very attractive and tempting, but they are poisonous and should not be eaten.” (page 62)
This instance of climbing nightshade is on our neighbor’s juniper, but we also have it in our raspberry patch!
And, finally, an old friend …
Lamb’s Quarter. This isn’t in the guidebook, as far as I can tell, but I include it because is is one of my favorite weeds. Yes, it used to be my job to classify weeds for agriculture scientists and I always kind of liked Lamb’s Quarter because the silvery power hidden in the top of it was something I found romantic. I would imagine a group of adventurers (very tiny ones, of course) climbing to the top of one of these things and being surprised by what they found there.
Happy Summer, everybody!
What’s your favorite weed?
This post is a tribute to Bookstooge’s post Lord Bookstooge versus the No-Internet, which is much funnier than this post is likely to get.
Well, hello, everyone! This weekend, while the world burned, the Neanderthal family in their remote location were going through something that was much less distressing and had fewer long-term implications, though it felt like a crisis at the time. It did result in Neanderthal woman having no access to her blog from Saturday through Tuesday.
On Saturday, Neanderthal woman spent a little time mixing fertilizer into her garden with a rudimentary digging stick. Then the Neanderthal family went on an arduous journey to a distant place. They returned right around the time of sunset. Rain clouds were ringed about their abode, but were only spitting a little and emitting bursts of wind which are not unusual in this particular Neanderthal family’s habitat.
However, at some point the winds became very strong and the woman was forced to close the windows, which she had opened in order to air out the cave. It wasn’t until the torches went out and the Neanderthals glanced into the front yard, that they realized the winds had been very strong and had in fact blown down a spruce tree, completely blocking their road.
Neanderthal woman texted her cave landlords to inform them of this development. They immediately arrived and, using mysteriously advanced technology, cleared the spruce tree from the road. This took them until about midnight.
Meanwhile, the Neanderthal kids were quite freaked out. The Neanderthal woman spent the night comforting them as they huddled together.
It later turned out that the winds (called a “microburst”) had knocked down power poles for about a mile to the West of the cave. It would take some time, even with advanced technology, to restore the fire of the gods.
It also turned out that cave’s well is accessed by an electric pump, which meant that until the fire was restored, the cave would have no water. The Neanderthal family was forced to go back to the ways of their ancestors, hauling buckets of water from a nearby stream in order to flush toilets and brushing their teeth using water they had reserved in 2-liter bottles. They ate cold food, being unwilling to fire up the wood-burning stove. Unwashed dishes piled up, but this was not too different from ordinary life so the Neanderthal family hardly noticed it.
The Neanderthal children missed their Netflix and their online games, but they had fun playing at a friend’s house. Meanwhile, the bearers of advanced technology were working their high, Cro-Magnon-style foreheads off and by Monday night, the fire of the gods was restored. The Neanderthal family eagerly dived back into their highly electricity-dependent life, resolving from now on to store more than six liters of water in the basement.
This man, his wife, their 2-year-old and their 6-month-old baby survived a tornado that took their entire house … except the concrete room where they were sheltering … which room they had recently bought the house for.
They had been in the house with the safe room mere weeks.
The dad had been in the safe room 20 seconds before the tornado hit.
“I’m just going to let the insurance handle it and trust in the good Lord,” says Andrew Philips.
You may be a prepper, but you’ll never be a prepper like this guy.
Jeevan’s understanding of disaster preparedness was based entirely on action movies, but on the other hand, he’d seen a lot of action movies.Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
- “sweet” chicken curry (using canned chicken)
- “chicken noodle soup” using Ramen noodles and canned chicken
- chocolate chip cookies (
- almond strip cookies (1 batch so far)
- pies: pumpkin, chocolate pudding, banana pudding
- lemon poppyseed muffins
- biscuits (No, not the things the British call biscuits. Those are cookies. I mean those things that are made with flour, shortening, and buttermilk) (Lost count of the number of batches I’ve made. Son keeps requesting them)
Do I detect a theme here? Sounds pretty carb-heavy, no? We even managed to run out of white sugar. But rest easy, because I also made …
- fridge pickles (to go on frozen hamburgers)
- Moroccan-style preserved lemons
You all remember this pastel sketch of Sasquatch, which was inspired by Starry Night …
Note the evergreens, because Sasquatch lives in the Northwest. (And yes, I know that not every evergreen is a pine! There are spruces, hemlocks, etc.)
I just like adding conifers (maybe we should call them that) when it seems called for. They are easier to paint than deciduous trees, though harder and less advisable to hug.
When I did this quick sketch of a certain little boy, he posed for me indoors. But I decided to add some conifers and some golden light to make it look as if he was standing in a Northern paradise.
Come to Idaho! We have trees. Happy little trees.
Just call me Bob Ross.