Saturday, September 30, 2006

Juglans nigra

At Black Creek today -- needed a hard hat to walk one stretch of the trail which shall henceforth be known as Black Walnut alley. The wind would blow, and I'd hear thuds all around me as walnuts hit the dirt. I think I'll go back with a backpack tomorrow and see how many I can pick up. The husks stain everything, but they have this really neat resiny smell. I never much cared for the nuts themselves -- they always tasted kind of "off" to me -- but there's so many there for the taking, I'll have to give them another shot. I was hoping to get some hickory nuts, but no such luck. There's only two shagbark hickories that I've seen along the trail, and the squirrels have been keeping them cleaned out. There's plenty of pignut hickory, but from what I understand, they're not really good eats.

I picked up a black walnut husk that was the biggest one I've ever seen -- they're usually bigger than an apricot but smaller than a peach. This one is baseball-sized. You could do some serious damage with it.

There's some black walnut trees at the playground we frequent and C. once asked me what you do with them. My immediate response was "well, they're good for hucking at people." Back in the day that's what we did for fun -- pick up the nearest small object to huck at someone. Black walnuts, pine cones, apples (extra points if they were rotten), crab apples, pokeberries (they'd stain you and your target both), cockleburrs (aim at hair at your peril).... not rocks, we had more sense than that. It was a little more work, since you had to break them off the stalk, but you could huck cattail heads at each other. They were more fun if you broke off the whole stalk and had swordfights with them. Actually, you could probably tell a lot about where someone grew up by what they used for projectiles as a kid. How about it? What did you used to huck at people?

It must be a biologic imperative for kids to throw things and hit a target -- especially a moving one. Now that they've practically outlawed snowball fights what do kids do? (Besides becoming outlaws...)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Hey, it could happen...

Summer is well nigh over, today's weather notwithstanding. I've managed to not talk about baseball here since about May, for all the good it has done. At least I can rest easy knowing I didn't jinx us. I'm feeling a lot better about things after this past weekend. Our disastrous last 5 game series against the Yanks and our subsequent slide into oblivion put me into a funk that I am just now climbing out of. Taking 3 out of 4 from them in a two day double-header marathon helped immensely. Chatting with the Yankees fans at work, I said "So if we win every single game we play for the next two weeks, and the Yankees lose every single game they play, we've still got a shot at the post season..."

At the very least, I'll have something to look forward to for next April.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

some things never change

I had two best friends in high school -- two interesting and completely different relationships. In my either/or reductionist mind, friend A and I looked at the world the same way, but we looked at completely different things, and friend B and I looked at the world completely differently, but we looked at the same things.

Friend B and I would have marathon conversations about the meaning of life, and our different perspectives allowed us both to explore things that never would have occured to us. Friend A thought stuff like that was too serious -- anyway she knew where I was coming from so what was the point of exploring all that shared ground. She would rather discuss with me why, since we shared many common values, I should like a particular band she thought was dreamy.

I loved both these kids, but it's the 4-hour marathon phone conversations that I remember as being more satisfying. One of my biggest joys in life is learning something I didn't know before. Not in the sense of lists of facts, but more just getting out of my own head and getting a peek at someone else's experience. I think that's why I kept taking language classes in college -- each one gave you a feel for a different world view. History too -- so many people's stories, with different sets of values, with a different answer for "what does it all mean, anyway?"

So that's another reason I'm enjoying my current line of work. We're all working with the same goals, but the women I work with have different life experiences from me, and I think we're all having fun bouncing things off each other -- "hey, what do you think about this..." We figure out more about each other by our reactions.

But yesterday was a real high school flashback, as we generated a master list of cute guys. Two of the girls are always clipping stuff out of magazines for each other, and occasionally it might be a photo of someone they think the other will like. I said they should put up a bulletin board so they could keep all their favorites up on it, and that prompted a whole discussion of who that would be, and why, and "ugh, how could you think he's cute?"

Good thing we don't work with any actual men, we totally would have gotten busted for harassment. Especially if we had put up that bulletin board. Pinups? Completely inappropriate. We should all know better, right? (but it was fun anyway....)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Labor day, indeed

finished a frantic week at work, with our national accreditation team visiting to check us out. Ok, we do this once every 4 years, and they come when I'm 9 months into the job to check out my skills as a totally green new clinician -- I couldn't have gotten hired after their visit and had four years to get into shape. They actually spent most of the time checking out the facilities and going over charts, but I stressed enough that they might just as well have been looking over my shoulder all week. They left on Thursday, Friday I had a very light schedule, and now a three day weekend. Of course it has to rain the whole weekend, wouldn't be any fun otherwise.

Got back to school clothes shopping done, now if we can find someplace open tomorrow to get C. a haircut, we'll be all set for her first day back on Thursday.