Sunday, February 27, 2011

Visited my mushroom tree today

Trailhacker and I got a chance to visit the mushroom tree today. I had tried to go there on my birthday last Tuesday but failed. He has four-wheel drive and could drive on the icy road.

There was a lot of snow on the mountains.
Snow on the mountains

The trail had quite a lot of snow on it. It was easy to walk on.
Tony hiking in the snow

Snow on the trail with the oaks

It was really beautiful on the trail. We spent some time sitting in the sun enjoying nature, dreaming of long distance hikes. Trailhacker plans to take 3 weeks off from work and return to the PCT where he left off near Apache Peak and hike to Hikertown. I'm very jealous. I think he wants to do it alone. Maybe I'll do another solo hike sometime this spring or summer, too.

Our mushroom tree had a few mushrooms. There were none in the places where we had found them before. They had popped up in new spots. There were not many.

I went up to the other spot where I found some and found only one, but it was all rotten. I found some interesting white mushrooms, too, so I picked those to take home and see if I could identify them with my new book, Mushrooms Demystified.

On our way back up the trail we found a few more mushrooms and picked them. Most of the snow had already melted, too.

When I got home I spent some time identifying the white mushrooms. Here is a picture of them still in the soil.
White mushrooms, Russula cascadensis

The book has a key so I followed the key and identified them as Russula cascadensis. I guess it's technically not poisonous but it was described as tasting "acrid." I guess tasting it is part of identifying it, but I really didn't want to taste something that wouldn't taste good. It was also described as being reviled by mushroom experts. Apparently they like to kick them and crush them. They are very brittle and during one of the identification tests I broke the stem and it exploded in my face. I can see why it might be fun to kick and crush them. But I can't say I revile any mushrooms enough to abuse them.

Too bad they weren't good mushrooms because they looked really good and tasty growing there. They were very fresh looking. Most of the other mushrooms we found, if they weren't frozen solid, were rotted.

I wore my new hiking kilt and my homemade hiking shoes. I imagine I look ridiculous in my crazy hiking stuff. Oh well. I kind of like my hiking shoes. They work quite well. The kilt is fun to hike in. I enjoy hiking in a skirt. I feel like it puts it all into perspective. It's not "Man vs. Wild" out there. It's just walking. I wore silk leggings to protect my legs from poison oak. I had tried capilene previously but capilene sticks to the kilt bunching it up. Silk worked a bit better, bunching up the kilt a bit less. My plan would be to use the kilt for So Cal on the PCT in the future.

When I got home, after identifying the mushrooms, I spent the rest of the afternoon making patterns for another pair of shoes. I am determined to follow the instructions I got on a CD for making fancy moccasins. I sort of feel tired of making shoes, but I really want to try to make these because if I succeed they will have been made from a pattern made from my actual feet, with a pattern specially made for each foot. They ought to fit well and look good. If they work, perhaps I can backpack in them.

The man who sold me the instructions has been helping me and suggested I make them from upholstery fabric the first time around. Well, if upholstery fabric would work, what about some kind of fabric appropriate for hiking shoes? That could turn out really well, be lighter for warm weather than leather.

I've only gotten as far as making the pattern. I haven't even begun to make the actual shoes.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Frugal score

I scored pretty well at the thrift store today.

I went to the expensive thrift store. I spent quite a lot of money, but I came away with a new and never worn Columbia hiking shirt and a new and never worn pair of hiking pants from Magellan. I also found a sweat shirt that I had been admiring new in a boutique downtown but for a fraction of the price and in the perfect color. I also got a nice fleece sweater and a couple of other things.

I guess I was celebrating because I realized that since I came home from the PCT I've earned about $27,000 and saved about $14,000. I think that's pretty good for someone who lives in one of the most expensive cities in the US.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I found an injured sea gull today

I found a bird today while walking home. It was sitting on the curb. The poor thing was tangled in a fishing lure. It was a seagull.

I picked up the poor bird and tried to use the pay phone at La Bamba market. I didn't have my cellphone. I had a really hard time calling 411. I guess their operators get paid to process calls quickly, not to actually help anyone. So two out of three times I got the answer "no listing" and they hung up on me. The first time I called I got the number but I couldn't remember it because I had to go inside and get some change to make the call and by the time I got the change I had forgotten the number. Then the next two times the operators hung up on me.

I ended up asking a lady walking by and she surfed the internet with her phone and found the number for Wildlife Care Network. I waited for almost an hour. I couldn't get anybody inside the market to help me with the bird. I needed to put it in something so it wouldn't struggle in my arms. I'm sitting there with this giant white bird in one arm and nobody would help me get a box. I could only use torn up boxes out of the trash to put the bird in and I had to dig them out of the trash myself while holding this giant, struggling bird.

I finally got the bird into a couple of broken boxes and it finally calmed down a little bit. Finally the lady from Wildlife Care Network came with a real box and she took the bird.

The poor bird had a fishing lure that looked like a fish stuck in both its beak and one foot. There was a three-pronged hook at both ends of the lure, so one hook in the beak and one in the foot. It couldn't fly or do anything except struggle.

I wonder sometimes about the people in my neighborhood. They never seem to care anything about animals. This is the 2nd time I have tried to get them to help me with animals and neither time did any of them show the slightest interest at all. I blame the Catholic Church for telling people that animals don't have souls. I believe all creatures are sentient.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My birthday all to myself

Today is my birthday. I spent my birthday mostly alone, which if you know me at all, is not a bad thing at all.

First I went out to coffee with an old work friend. I hadn't seen her in about a year or so. I can't seem to go anywhere in town without seeing people I know, so within a half hour some boorish hiking friends of mine barged in and my old friend decided to leave. So I decided to leave, too.

I decided to go see if I could find some more mushrooms. I drove up to the top of the mountains but there was a big road closed sign in the middle of the street way up in the mountains. I thought about just going by and continuing on, but didn't want to cause trouble. So I decided I would try to get to my mushroom place from below.

So I drove down to the road below but it, too, was closed. I bought an adventure pass so I could park my car at the gate and just walk in. The road was closed because the river was pretty high.

I took off my shoes to walk across the river. It freaked me out for some reason. The river was very wide and I was walking on the concrete road. The water was knee deep and not moving very fast. But it freaked me out and I had to tell myself not to hyperventillate. On the other side I put my shoes on. As I was putting my shoes on, a young couple walked by swinging empty Easter baskets. Seemed odd to me. I overheard the woman complaining about how they want to ban plastic bags and how stupid that was. "What would we do without bags?" she said. Duh, look at what you are holding, I thought. But I didn't say anything.

I set off down the road to the bottom of my mushroom trail. I walked up to the river but it really looked way too scary to walk across here. It wasn't quite as wide and appeared to be flowing a lot faster. I decided to go try a different trail and see if I could find a new mushroom tree.

I followed this other trail, stopping at every promising oak tree looking for mushrooms. I really didn't see mushrooms anywhere of any kind. I did see a few under one tree, but they were the wrong kind and they looked old and yucky. Maybe even after all the rain this weekend, mushroom season is over for Santa Barbara.

I thought about collecting greens but decided just to head back home. I decided to stop at the grocery store and buy some seeds to make some trail food. I recently made some "crackers" from sprouted sesame and flax seeds. They came out pretty good. I thought maybe I could add chocolate nibs and some kind of sweetener and make a sweet version of these crackers. Maybe add chia, too. So I went looking for these ingredients.

While I was there, I saw an old friend from high school. I stopped to talk to her for a while. I guess she makes documentary movies now. I swear I can't go anywhere without meeting people I know. I'm too famous here.

So now I am home researching how to use whole chocolate beans. I tasted one and it does taste sort of like chocolate, but bitter. We'll see how this turns out.

I hiked in my new hiking shirt (thumb loops, cool!) and my new hiking kilt. I kind of like the kilt, but I had to wear leggings because it was cold and there was a lot of poison oak under the oak trees.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wild greens for dinner

wild greens for dinnerI collected some wild greens on a hike this weekend. I gathered wild mustard greens and a little bit of miners lettuce. I am going to have this for dinner.

I wrote to Trader Joes

I sent a message to Trader Joes today. I think their products have too much packaging. I wrote to ask them to reduce the waste and use less packaging, especially plastic packaging. Maybe if every yuppie environmentalist driving to Trader Joes in their giant SUVs emailed Trader Joes about the excess packaging, we could make a dent. As it is, a low-paid pedestrian had to do it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Vitamin D

I read that it's recommended to take 2000IU of vitamin D daily. I decided to try it. I feel a lot better all of a sudden. If it's just the placebo effect, then hooray for the placebo effect. If it's the vitamin D, then hooray for vitamin D.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

I gathered greens for dinner while hiking

Today on a hike with the Sierra Club, as we walked under a live oak tree, I pointed out to my friend who is from France and is familiar with edible plants, that there were lots of edible greens under the tree. The two of us got out our plastic bags and filled them up with stinging nettles and chickweed.

Later, after I got home from the hike, I decided to walk to the grocery store to get some ingredients to make a soup from my greens. Along the way I noticed a hillside was full of miner's lettuce. I picked some of them and brought them home with my groceries.

I made a soup with commercial mushrooms and onions and my wild greens. I have never eaten chickweed and nettles before. They were delicious. I intend to pick lots more nettles and chickweed and make different dishes from them. They tasted much like spinach without the astringent aftertaste. Sweeter and better than spinach. I think a quiche would be good with these wild greens, or just a simple side dish.

The nice thing about chickweed is it grows everywhere. It's a weed and is all over the backyard. Stinging nettle is harder to find, but not impossible. When I worked at the garden at the mission it would pop up after rain. There may be some in the backyard.

Nettles are a little hard to deal with. I used my plastic bag to pick it so I wouldn't touch it. I was careful not to pull it out of the ground so I didn't bring home any dirty roots. I rinsed it in a colander without touching it. Then I chopped it up without touching it. Then scraped it off the cutting board into the soup without touching it. I've touched it before when pulling weeds and it really hurts.

Friday, February 04, 2011

I'm sick of it

So, the Arab world is rioting, the climate is changing, gas companies are putting toxic chemicals in the ground water to extract gas—without any regulatory oversight, the Republicans are trying to redefine what rape is and what is on the news every night? Ads and shopping tips. I hate everything about our culture. The only place good is the wilderness.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Tab Sandals and weeds

Tab SandalsMy latest shoe project: 4-Tab Sandals. They are very comfortable and pretty easy to make. I put up a tutorial.

So far homemade shoes and sandals have been my only real getting free item. I have also started learning about edible plants. There are a lot of edible plants that grow as weeds in my back yard. So have no fear that I'm devastating the wilderness. It's more like I found a way to grow food in the garden without working very hard—by eating the weeds instead.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

All your aspirations are belong to us

The Man came out of his den where he sometimes works from home and said to me, "I don't know what is wrong with me. All I think about is [the PCT]. I don't take my job seriously anymore. I don't care about anything except the trail."

Ha! He's been infected just like me. Nothing matters except the trail.