Thursday, November 14, 2013

Alien Invasion

On a lovely fall walk through the park I stumbled upon hundreds of  these:

In all my life on this planet I'd never seen any foliage of this nature. Peter and I both commented on the fact that having come from different parts of the country, and visited so much of it, how unlikely it is we have never seen this type of greenery before.

Peter dubbed them brain apples and I concurred. Oddly enough, that is how I found out what they really are. The internet is a glorious tool that way. I googled brain apple and came up with a photo of one of these exotic produces and fortunately there was an article attached to the image.

These odd looking Plantae are known by many names Osage orange, hedge apple, horse apple, bois d'arc, bodark, or bodock. It is neither an orange nor an apple but related to the mulberry. They are a multiple fruit filled with sticky latex and many seeds. Oddly enough their natural range is East Texas where I grew up but I don't remember seeing any of these as a child. You can eat it but it has a chemically taste that most people are not fond of. Although exposure to frost improves the flavor which can then be likened to cucumber. I have yet to taste them either before or after frost because they really look like alien pods to me.

Currently the only animals that use them as a food source are manly squirrels that eat the many seeds. Horses and cattle are also known to partake in this unusual weed (note the name horse apple) but they tend to choke on the fruits. Due to the many bovine and equine deaths farmers tend to remove these plants from their land.

There are many hypotheses about how seed dispersal occurred throughout North America. Some say a large ground sloth that became extinct shortly after the first human settlement ate the fruit and deposited the seeds through it's feces. Similar theories exist for the mastadon, mammoth, and gomphothere (elephant-like animal). The Osage orange is commonly used as a windbreak in many prairie states, hence the name hedge apple, and even FDR used it in a plan to modify weather and prevent soil erosion called "Great Plains Shelterbelt" WPA project.

The wood of the tree is very dense and was coveted by many Native American tribes to make their bows. They would often travel hundreds of miles to amass the trees for the assembly of their primitive tools. Bois d'arc literally translated means "bow wood" and was given to the tree from early French settlers who witnessed the Natives using it for their weapons. Likely the names bodark, and bodock are bastardizations of that very same label.

No matter how much knowledge and data I compile I still see them as some sort of foreign entity. They just seem so unnatural. It's probably all in my head!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Winter Wonderland

Last night we got our first legit snow of the season. It wasn't the first snow just the first to stick around. I love snow! People keep telling me it'll pass but I've been here in Chicago for going on 4 winters now and I'm still not over it. I spoke to my mother yesterday as the snow was coming down and her description of it was "Gross!" She thinks anything below 60 is horrendous. My response "Not me, I'm in love!"

Monday, November 11, 2013

Weekend Adventures Abound

Peter and I were at two amazing events this weekend. Friday night was a charity fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House called "Rock the House". Thanks to John Tulloch for his donation of our tickets to go. Peter's sister Claire and her boyfriend Craig were in attendance as well and the whole evening was buckets of fun. They had a live band, food, and of course booze but I would have to say the most fun for me was the people watching. Our crew was quite young, comparatively speaking. Watching a bunch of older people get drunk and kind of crazy in the crowded arena of a bar is always enjoyable. I would say the purpose of the event was a major success as they stated they had raised over $150,000. If you would like to learn more about the charity please check out this link:

Saturday we attended the Big Buck Hunter World Championship. If you have never played this game you should! We made it to the Big Buck Hunter facebook page, so basically we are famous. If you send $10 and a self addressed stamped envelope we will send you autographed photos. Unfortunately Peter and I neither have the time or money to qualify to participate in this event. We did make friends with some of the competitors, which totaled 64, and one guy told us that during the qualifying time (1 month) he was playing 5 hours a day, 5 days a week. We had hoped to qualify next year but after hearing that I think I'll pass. I love Big Buck Hunter but after playing a few rounds my shoulders start to hurt and my neck gets really stiff. I'm sure it's nothing compared to the pain real hunters push through to assassinate their prey. There were a number of people there from the U.P. (upper peninsula of MI) that had real coyote skins and were wearing them as hats. Also spoke to one of them in line for the bathroom and he said plain and simple "Well when a coyote gets in the chickens you gotta kill it. We made a nice stew with this one and you wouldn't want to waste a beautiful coat. Gotta use everything ya know?" Yep! I know.

Friday, November 8, 2013

My Grandma

My Grandma Bessie is in the hospital. She went to the doctor yesterday because she was feeling weak and fainty and he admitted her the hospital for a blood transfusion because she was very anemic. It seems like pretty standard stuff and hopefully she will come out better than she went in. She's an amazing woman. She's 89 years young and still smart as a whip and does not have any trouble getting around either. A few years back she had a hip replaced and I was worried that was going to slow her down. The recovery took a long time but she was better than new after all was said and done. Let's just hope this time is the same! Send your thoughts, prayers, well wishes, whatever it is you do in cases like this out to Lufkin in hopes that she gets better soon.

Friday, November 1, 2013

My First Halloween

Last night Peter and I gave out candy on our front porch. This is the first time in my entire life that I have been able to give out candy from my own home. For those readers that don't know I grew up in a very rural area and trick or treaters were not common. It was very exhilarating. Giving out fistfuls of sugar to vampires and batmen. Speaking of batmen, they were plentiful but the best batman costume of the evening was an old school dark greyish blue batman worn by a 2 year old boy. It had the fake foamy muscles built into the suit and looked as if it may have been the father's costume 25 years ago.  Peter and I dressed in our tried and true pirate costumes. When you have fancy pirate hats pretty much anything can be a pirate costume.

Now it's on to planning for my favorite holiday! THANKSGIVING! Look forward to photos of a deep fried turkey and a Thanksgiving sized pit fire in the backyard.