Monday, February 29, 2016

False Turkey Tail

False Turkey Tail Mushroom, Stereum ostrea, Pittsburgh, 2016

Recently I blogged about Turkey Tail Mushrooms and their medicinal value, and so there is the need to blog about the look alike to Trametes versicolor, False Turkey Tail (Stereum ostrea).  On the top view, it does closely resemble true turkey tail, but on the under side it's smooth, lacking the obvious pores that the authentic turkey tail always has.  While not poisonous, Stereum ostrea is considered inedible, and lacking in medicinal properties as well.  While there would be no dire consequences in confusing the two, you would miss out on the health benefits gained from the real thing.
As a side note:  I made Trametes versicolor tea on Saturday.  I steeped 3g of dried turkey tail in 2C of simmering water for two hours.  The flavor was what you would expect, slightly mushroomy and woody.  Not unpleasant, and my wife suggested that I try adding a bit of these mushrooms to the pot when I make vegetable stock.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Turn Tail And Run With It

Trametes versicolor, dorsal and ventral views, Pittsburgh, Feb., 2016

Growing on a Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) stump in the backyard is a colony of turkey tail polypores (Trametes versicolor).  I cut one free and brought in to do a photo study of it.  A fine specimen, pliable and fresh, as with age they tend to become woody and hardened.  Then, I started to do a bit of digging into the function and uses of T. versicolor.  Times like these the internet is really a wondrous thing, such a wealth of information, things that the identification books don't provide.  Of course, you still have to be wary of where and how you get your information, and the veracity of the claims made.  Just because it's on the internet doesn't make it accurate.
I was surprised to discover that T. versicolor has been widely studied in Japan, China, and South Korea as a cancer treatment, most specifically for stomach, colorectal, esophageal, and breast cancers.   My thinking with mushrooms and assorted fungi in the treatment of any ailment, is that it is most effective as a preventative measure, to keep you from getting a disease in the first place.
I'm going to dry some T. versicolor and make a tea of it.  The rule of thumb with mushroom teas is that 1 ounce of dried mushrooms produces 1 gallon of tea.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Winter Rainbow in Pittsburgh

Rainbow, February, Pittsburgh, 2016

Two days ago it was 60F and raining, after which we got a brief glimpse of a rainbow before the rain commenced again.  Today it's 24F and snowing.  This has been the craziest winter for weather I've ever encountered.  One day it's almost like spring in the dead of winter, and then the next winter throws the worst it has got at you.  Wretched.  I can hardly wait to see what terrors spring brings.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Kitty In A Sunbeam

Kitty In A Sunbeam, Pittsburgh, 2016

Some days, the best you get is a kitty curled up sleeping in a sunbeam.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Rustle of Color In Winter

Heinz Chapel, University of Pittsburgh Campus, December 2015

It's so odd how some trees cling to their dead leaves, or the dead leaves yet cling to the tree.  That rustle of color in the slightest breeze.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The 43rd Hoyt Regional Juried Exhibition

Lounging, 2002

The first time I exhibited in the Hoyt regional was in 2002.  It was quite an honor to be accepted into the show because that year the juror was the then-Andy Warhol Museum executive director, Tom Sokolowski.  The above print, digitally altered by a watercolor effect to mask the identity of the subject, was awarded an honorable mention.  If memory serves, this was the only photograph to be singled out for recognition.  This exhibition typically tends to favor the paintings.  Almost always very good paintings, very challenging in technique and subject....except for that one year a still life of pears won best in show.  Three pears, not even a bowl, no table.  Three lone pears, minimalist fucking pears suspended free of the pull of gravity on a canvas.  But I digress.
Anyway, I've shown at the Hoyt since then (see above pear rant), primarily because they always get top notch jurors and I want to get my work in front of those eyes.  This year (I just heard back yesterday via email) my submission was accepted.  I've posted the photo on this blog before, but I'll put it up again at the end of this post.  The juror this year is Janice Diesbach, chief curator at the Akron Art Museum.  I really respect the collection that they've got there, and how they exhibit.  It'll be a thrill to meet Ms. Diesbach at the opening reception, and I don't 'thrill' easily.  I'm already fussing over what to wear, which I never, ever do.

In The Garden of Headless Women, 2015

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Feathers of Blood

Robin Feather with Blood, Pittsburgh, 2016

The other day as we were leaving the yard to take the dog for a walk, we came upon a death scene where, it appeared a small hawk had captured and eaten a robin.  There are significant differences in how birds of prey eat their quarry versus say, a cat.  Most significantly, the hawk will  immediately pluck the kill and eat it on the spot, creating a downy patch, and if there's snow on the ground, you can usually find spots where the hawk's wings brushed over the snow.  It's beautiful, if brutal, but that's nature.  The only thing left at this kill site were the feathers and the beak, all else was gone, presumably consumed.  I pocketed the beak, which had a single under feather clinging to it.  Upon close inspection with the microscope, tiny droplets of blood emerged within the barbules.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Slouching Down The Rabbit Hole

The entire weekend was spent working on my family tree.  For long stretches I'll abandon the task, usually after hitting what appears to be a dead end, and I welcome the respite from the past as invariably the research becomes obsessive.  Hours spent poring over leads and details, teasing out the right Symon Grant living and dead in 16th century Warwickshire.  On both my mother's and father's sides of the family, there are major branches that reach far back, and despite there being little more than names and dates on church registries from centuries gone, it still excites me to no end to be able to go back one more generation and think of how their world was.  And the starkness of it.  This happened when I discovered that one of my ancestors lost his mother at age 8, and then his father 8 more years later.  He was the oldest of three children, and an orphan at 16, it was the middle of the 18th century in England...How on earth did they survive?  I can't say that the three of them did survive, but my ancestor did, and he lived a long life.  His wife did not, and left him with two young children to raise alone, as there is no record of him remarrying.  I wonder if his mother or wife (or both) died in childbirth and that effected the way he felt about remarrying.  I don't know, and barring ever finding a long lost diary kept by him three hundred years ago, I can never truly know.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Post-It Nudes

Recently I checked a book out of the library on the medical collection held at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.  Some prior lendee of the book put post-it notes over all of the nudes.  My word, it's not like these pictures are vulgar in any way, but clearly there's a local prude out there who takes issue.  At least the images weren't permanently defaced.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


Dippy Carnegie Library, Oakland Branch, Pittsburgh

Two blocks down from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, and in front of the Carnegie Library, Oakland Branch, stands a life-sized statue of a Diplodocus carnegii, a dinosaur species named for the ubiquitously eponymous Andrew Carnegie.  Sometime in the fall, as the temperatures begin to really drop, somebody wraps and ties an enormous scarf around Dippy's neck.  Every year it's a different scarf, and often around St. Patrick's Day the scarf is switched out for one that's very Irish themed.  Just a bit of fun.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Magda Watts Dolls

Tailor and the Rabbi, Magda Watts dolls, Jewish Community Center, Pittsburgh

Born in 1929 in Hungary, Magda Watts  later survived Auschwitz, and indeed, her time in the concentration camp led to her doll-making.   The dolls in the collection at the Jewish Community Center in Pittsburgh depict the lives of working class Jews; Tailor, cobbler, butcher, rabbi, jeweler.  The dolls are very detailed as are the trappings of their various occupations.  Mind boggling the time and attention to detail these dolls would've commanded.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Interior Skylight

Waterlogue Effect Interior Skylight, Pittsburgh, 2016

I think that the waterlogue effect works well with the sky, much like it does with water scenes.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Reflection of Compartmental Thinking

Reflection of Compartmental Thinking, Pittsburgh, 2016, Original Jane Haskell

The glass, you see, that protects the original print, serves as an uncontrollable visual echo, a shout of light from the room.  The original photographic print was created by Jane Haskell and consists of different crops of the same image to convey how the same thing can be perceived differently.  My photograph of her photograph is just another layer within her established narrative.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Four Chaplains Mural

Jewish Community Center Mural, Pittsburgh, PA, 2016

Everything you need to know about the mural is in the description, but I would just like to add that it is, as murals tend to be, massive and striking.  There is something eternally heroic and romantic about sacrifice, which belies the equally eternal horrors and waste of war.