mystery Lactarius no more
Friday, July 10 2015
Rain had been falling at a steady rate for hours by the time I went to bed last night, so I decided to sleep in the greenhouse, partly because I love the sound of rain on a galvanized steel roof. Growing up, that sound had associations with being able to take a bath, a rare luxury in a house in one of the driest regions east of the Mississippi whose potable water came from a cistern. Aside from time spent in the bathroom, it was hard to get much privacy (and sometimes sufficient warmth) in the 700 square feet of my childhood hovel.
The rains had cleared out by morning and the day was a sunny one. I was able to gather 218 pounds of firewood, 112 of which was in big pieces from the large fallen skeletal oak a quarter mile away on the Gullies Trail. The other 106 pounds came in a single piece wrestled home from the staging area west of the Farm Road.
With the large sustained increase in environmental moisture, mosquitoes have become a serious problem around the house. Today, as he often does, Oscar the Cat came down to the brownhouse to visit me while I was using it, and he had maybe 20 mosquitoes hovering in front of his face. They couldn't get through the thick fur of his body, but they could occasionally set up operations around his eyes and nose. There wasn't much I could do about that, but I could do something about all the places the mosquitoes have to lay their eggs. I dumped out containers of rainwater on the laboratory deck and changed the water in the kiddie pool in the yard. Despite the screens over their tops, the water in the rain barrels contained mosquito larvæ that needed to be strained out. Evidently adult females will drop their eggs through the screen into the water below. Or perhaps water in the barrel reaches all the way up to the screen.
To do something about all the adult mosquitoes that are facts in the air, I built a trap from a two litre soda bottle. I cut it in half, put a solution of sugar water and yeast in the bottom half, and turned the top half upside down to form a funnel into the lower half. The idea was that mosquitoes would be drawn by the carbon dioxide, enter the funnel, become trapped, and die. Unfortunately, after hours of use, the only insects I'd managed to trap were gnats. Perhaps the smell of yeast discourages mosquitoes and overwhelms the luring power of the carbon dioxide. I'm thinking a better source of CO2 might be a chunk of limestone or concrete in vinegar. Baking soda would produce a lot of CO2 quickly, but I think limestone/concrete would break down at a slow enough rate to produce CO2 constantly, without requiring much maintenance.
This evening Gretchen went off to some poetry obligation. To feed myself, I made a delicious burrito containing several ounces of Lactarius hygrophoroides mushrooms that Michæl (of Carrie & Michæl) had given me. I'd actually gathered this same species near the southwest end of the Farm Road (41.926279N, 74.109352W) on that day we went with Lisa & Gina to the Canary Falls, but I'd been unable to identify them to my satisfaction and had thrown them out. They were too similar to Lactarius rufus, which my mushroom book had labeled as "poisonous" (though other references says they can be eaten after being boiled in water). They didn't have the characteristic acrid flavor of Lactarius rufus, but I never eat gilled mushrooms unless I have a solid identification. For those who don't know, Lactarius mushrooms produce a milky substance when injured (and sometimes when not). My father used to gather lots of Lactarius indigo mushrooms, which taste a lot better than they look.
This evening I stayed up late struggling with my Arduino development system, which always seems to become unreliable after a period of disuse. At this point I'm suspecting the problem is the wall wart that powers it or the connector that carries the power. This time, simply exercising that connector was the thing I needed to do to make it work once more. Oddly, though, even when nothing else works, I can nearly always successfully do things using AVRdude from the command line.
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