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Sunday, February 19, 2017

A nice little rain at CMO

Just a quarter inch but enough to make glorious wildflowers and lots of butterflies.

Got to town today and did a little research. I just couldn't believe I would get the flu. I never get it. I've been taking such good care of myself.

My husband's hot sauce recipe calls for 12 tablespoons of Accent (MSG). Then when I googled online to see if MSG could weaken the immune system, bingo!

This popular additive can be found in…well, pretty much everything. It “enhances flavor” to make the cheapest ingredients seem delicious.  MSG can increase the production of histamines (an allergic/immune response) and also increases inflammation. Not everyone is allergic to MSG, but on varying levels, most people are sensitive to it. There’s a direct link between histamine production, inflammation, and a weakened immune system.

Gotta stay vigilant. The day before I ate that hot sauce I was feeling super wonderful. Couldn't wait to climb the mountain. And I'll never know for sure that the hot sauce was the culprit, but I know for sure it was loaded with MSG. And MSG weakens the immune system.

Just hoping now that I'll be better in a day or so. With no pneumonia. Spring is calling to me!

Still sickly

Guess I've got a mild case of flu. Maybe not bad because I get flu shots, but not well enough to tackle the mountain for sure. Determined to do it Wednesday and Thursday though. On Thursday a group from the West Texas Native Seed initiative is coming to scout out the mountain and I'd like to be well enough to join them.

Yesterday I forced myself to water the oasis. It set me back, but needed to be done. I felt I had a little discretionary water so lavished a bit on this patch of wildflowers (Verbena & Havard Penstemmon).


Friday, February 17, 2017

A few puny days

I had to cancel my climb up the mountain yesterday morning due to what I believed was an MSG headache. It's been a couple years since I had one, as I'm very careful what I eat. However, my husband buys Accent spice (MSG), as well as various processed foods containing MSG (which I easily avoid eating). Last year he made some homemade hot sauce which is usually too spicy for me, so I don't eat it. A couple of days ago I ran out of my hot sauce and he assured me his wasn't hot, so I tried it. After years of no headaches it's easy to let down my guard. The sauce wasn't too hot, so I ate it, totally without thinking that he may have put Accent in it. I probably observed him doing that at the time but forgot after a year, and he didn't think to mention it. So, I got a headache night before last. Since I didn't eat a lot of the sauce it wasn't a killer headache, but definitely not up to hiking yesterday. Then last night I got feverish and achy, so not sure if an MSG headache ran down my resistance, making me susceptible to a virus, or if there was no MSG in the sauce, and I just got a virus. Hubby's on a fishing trip so I can't ask him. Either way, I took it easy today. Since it was cool and windy I didn't mind too much. Probably won't go up the mountain this trip. For sure will when the weather gets warmer. I puttered around doing some overdue jobs. Here's a female Black Swallowtail.

The Mexican Redbud buds are coming along at the same time they do every year.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

No hummers

While I have hummingbirds twelve months of the year, there are a couple of weeks in February where I have none, and this is that window. Not to worry, they'll be here in a week or two.

Ann and I are going up her trail tomorrow looking for more flowers in bloom. I was trying to decide which camera to take, so did a little practicing this afternoon along the road to see if I can take acceptable photos without my Canon because it's soooo heavy. I think I'll give it a try with the Lumix one more time. Then Friday I'm going to go up my trail with the Canon in case I find good butterflies up on the very top of the mountain.

Rough Nama (Nama hispidum)
Also, I check the Mexican Redbud every time I'm at the oasis to see if it's starting to bud. Bryan wants to come when it's blooming to look for Henry Elfin butterflies. Today when I checked it I saw the first start of budding. It's always the first thing at the oasis to bloom.

Checking my records, the earliest I have a photo of Henry's Elfin is Feb 18. That was two years ago.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

More flowers from yesterday

Amazingly neither my sister, Andrea (Ann to me), nor I are any worse off for the wear after our five hour mountain climb yesterday. Can't wait to do it again. And I even had one minor fall. We were walking on a rather steep area of her trail where there were steep switchbacks. The soil on the edge of the narrow trail (better than no trail like before) was loose and when I planted my walking stick and weight on the stick (probably simultaneously) I tumbled down the slope to where Ann was on the switchback below me. I was in fear that I would knock her down, while she was afraid that I'd fall all the way down the slope. I knew I could stop myself. Wasn't worried about that. As it was, I ended up against her legs. We didn't laugh at the time, but I laugh now every time I think about it. What I wouldn't give to have a video of it! Two old ladies (75 and 76 yrs. old) who aren't giving up.*

Still working on identifying my photos. And filing them in the right family folders. Doing that is supposed to be a learning experience for me, but if I'm learning, it sure is taking a long time! This first one we think is Wedgeleaf Draba (Draba cuneifolia). Ann calls it Whitlow-wort. Name variations only add to our confusion, but we soldier on. (See post of Jan 22) There was a lot of this blooming on the mountain slopes.

Next is a Cerastium, which is my first flower of the Carnation family. Not sure which species of Cerastium. Will try for a better photo next time. For now, I'm leaning toward C. brachypodium.

I've been photographing ferns a lot, but haven't yet tried to sort them out. For now they just go into a fern folder. Same for a bunch of generic looking yellow flowers. Here's a common one I shot yesterday and gonna leave it go for now.


*The composition of the terrain is totally different between our trails. So is the vegetation. That couldn't have happened on my trail as the ground is rockier and more stable, with no switchbacks along steep slopes. Furthermore, the tumble happened as we were descending and were both exhausted. That's when it's easier for missteps to happen. It probably won't be the last one. I was also focused on protecting my camera and binoculars, which slows down one's ability to catch oneself. Happy to report no harm to them. Only damage to me was a slightly scraped elbow and some thorns in one hand.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

First of many

My sister and I are determined to climb our mountain every week to inventory the plants and flowers. And for me, butterflies too. So today was our first trip for the year. We spent five hours in our efforts. Now we're pretty crippled, but plan to go back up as soon as this upcoming cold front passes, in other words, Wednesday or Thursday. Very little is blooming yet, but there are some interesting plants ready to bloom any day. It's amazing how many interesting plants are up there. There are lots of patches of scrubby oaks that I had never seen before. None are much over four feet tall. I hope to get an ID on them soon. I guess I should have collected a leaf. My sister collected one, and she thinks it most closely resembles Emory Oak. That would be cool.

I really liked this little flower. It's been identified as Desert Anemone (Anemone tuberosa).

And here is a Cholla infested with parasitic Cochineal.

Lots of Desert Olive blooming too.

I'm totally overwhelmed right now with plants and flowers to ID, and it's only going to get worse as spring progresses. And next time I'm taking my Canon. Too hard to photograph butterflies with my Lumix, although the weight of the Canon is a difficult decision to make. Here's a Dury's Metalmark (of the Mormon Complex) that may be an early date for the species. As you can see, not a good photo, but I felt lucky to even get that.