Friday, November 5, 2010

Orange velvet

Sorry to be all about the weather but its been a glorious couple of days in Seattle.  At this time of year we are usually under a blanket of cloud wearing a layer of fleece with a gortex in the car.  Instead, it has been unseasonably warm with a record high temperature under dazzling blue.  All the clarity has led to fabulous vistas of acid yellow poplars, ruby maples and trees arrayed brown and orange with leaves like crushed velvet.

We have been enjoying ourselves.

Wren at Greenlake before a quick visit
to the dentist to adjust his first filling

Abundance of Agaricus
This warmth after rain (a record rainfall from a storm the day before) has led to a fresh crop of mushrooms all around.  Sadly, with Mum gone I have no myco-friend with whom to range into the woods, but I have been learning about the agaricus which have sprouted in profusion around the sidewalks and parks in the neighborhood.

Agaricus Moelleri from North Seattle yard
The majority look tasty and share many characteristics with the agaricus bisporus which is most commonly sold and cultivated (portobello) but I have learned that most are instead most probably Agaricus Moelleri which are toxic.

The agaricus genus is more difficult identification than other species I have tried to key out.  They are not nearly as distinctive as chanterelles and the common boletes.  Instead, the characteristics are often subtle things like odor and staining of the flesh.  I am, apparently, pretty smell-blind at the moment as I cannot smell the phenolic or almond odors which help distinguish between species.  To make it more complicated, pretty toxic ones appear similar to those which are most delicious.

I took some mushrooms down to the PSMS ID clinic at the Center for Urban Horticulture (Monday afternoons) and they confirmed the ones from Snoqualmie area were "fried chicken mushroom" Lyophyllum decastes so I ate a few.   I hope to take some of these agarics down on Monday to learn more from the experts.

More Raccoons
 The raccoons haven't dared show their faces here for a while or perhaps don't care to now that I store the compost inside and have no more chickens for them to savage.   However, I learned that raccoon drama has been playing out in other areas of Seattle.

Walking around the lake with Chris this morning, I heard the story of her neighbor who let her small white dog outside a couple of nights ago and had to fight off a raccoon which had it in a death grip.  The dog survived but everyone was shaken up.  Chris and Pascal heard the ruckus and learned later what happened.

Speaking with another neighbor I have learned that the man who feeds them lives over the back fence from her on 23rd.  Apparently he has fed them for years.

Wren makes a code
We have been rearranging the living room to prepare for our recent purchase of a couch.  While I was reinstalling the shelves in a new spot, Wren found a few discarded pieces of shim.  He drew on them and then asked for tape to join them together.

"This is a code!" he announced.
"What's a code?" I wondered.
"You know, when the boys play Indy Andy Jones they get A CODE to open THE DOOR into a NEW LEVEL!"
He carried his code around all day, even on a bicycle ride to the park.  When he feared he had left it at the park we had to ride all the way back even though we were almost home!

"This is my code."
On the same playground trip Wren surprised me by running up to me and hitting me with a stick.  While other parents looked on, bemused, he yelled at me:

"I am hitting you with a stick because I love you and I loosed you!"

He was very angry with me because he had lost sight of me (I was sitting on a bench nearby while he played and when he looked up he could not see me at once) and was afraid.

Couch Destruction
Josh hasn't been feeling very well and took the day off today.    Since a new couch is being delivered tomorrow,  he decided to break up the old one to enable me to take it to the tip in my van.  That way we save on a van rental.

"There is a Lego book in the couch!"

Wren and Josh work at demolishing the couch
Wren was very interested in the process of breaking the couch using a reciprocating saw (a big chainsaw in his words) and a sledgehammer.   We were all intrigued by the collection of pens, lego, dust, hair bands, broken ornament and coins which were down the back of the couch in the bottomless crease.

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