Category Archives: Other nature

weird smelly fungus

Garden Fungus Begins as a White Pod and Then Gets Weird

As I have been gardening I keep noticing these weird, puffy white balls under the soil in my raised garden bed. As I dig them up I throw them into the yard.

Yesterday I found another one. I just set the round slushy blob on top of the dirt and left it. Today this is how it looked.  Pretty gross.  There is some slimy thing at the top, and the whole thing smelled bad.

weird smelly fungus
Columned Stinkhorn

The round white balls are around 1-2 inches and have little white roots at one end. They are soft and squishy, and I had no idea what these weird things were.

When I noticed those bizarre orange things sticking up from it, I had to investigate further and find out what it was.  When searching for white “puffballs” mostly the puffball mushrooms show up. Then I came across this post at East Tennessee Wildflowers site which showed the exact same thing.  Now I had a name for it.

So now I know it is a Columned Stinkhorn (Clathrus columnatus) and according to Wikipedia it is commonly found in mulch.  It also mentions that it is edible… gag… who could eat this nasty thing?

Since I live in Florida, home to nasty creatures and all types of weirdness, I was afraid it would be an egg that lots of hideous things would crawl out of.  I guess I am relieved to know it’s only a smelly orange fungus.

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gray mouse

A Little Mouse Story

I really don’t remember how I came across this little mouse. But I believe I saw my cat, Skittle, chasing something outside my back deck.

When I went outside there he was, “hiding” behind the dying nasturtium vines. Luckily for him, Skittle doesn’t seem to have the greatest eyesight. She couldn’t find him, but she knew he was in there someplace.

little gray mouse
Mouse hiding in the nasturtiums

This is skittle perched on the deck post, looking for the mouse down in the plant (lower right). The little guy stayed very still, thinking he was hidden… or maybe too scared to move.

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His little nose was pushed into the vines and maybe he thought that made him safe.

gray mouse
You can’t see me… right?

Now, mice are cute. But up north, where I lived in New Hampshire, they always seemed to find a way inside the house for the cold winter months. I fought them every winter.

I hate to kill anything, but they can’t be left to take over the house. I set traps in my basement, and trusted the cats to help keep them away.

More than once I was up in the night because the cats were out in the kitchen “playing” with a mouse. They never killed one in the house, but Skittle liked to bring them into my bedroom – up on my bed – in the middle of the night, just to show me her treasure!

Ya… no.

I would get a plastic bowl and plop it over the mouse, then slide a piece of cardboard under it to catch the thing.  This was surprisingly easy to do.  Then, I would open the door and let it outside… where it belongs.  Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep if I knew there was a mouse running around my home.

This little mouse in the Nasturtiums got away, as Skittle gave up looking for him.  I’m sure he eventually made his way inside and scurried around my basement enjoying the warmth.  The never-ending cycle.

winter snowfall snowstorm

Remembering Life in New England

winter forest photography
My Backyard – Long Ago

This winter photography recently sold in my Zazzle store as a postcard. It seems fitting as a reminder of how far I’ve come. Since I am no longer living in the northeastern U.S., and back down in the humidity of Florida, this scene makes me a bit sad.  I was born in New England, and I love it there.

I took this winter photo back in 2007, and it reminds me of great hope and huge loss. After spending 27 years in the humid, bug-infested south, I was back home in New England and loving every moment of my first winter with snow in years. I took pictures every day I think. This is a scene from my back yard after a nice storm had passed. I say “nice” because it dropped a bunch of that sparkling white stuff I had been longing to play in and witness. I wanted a white Christmas, and New Hampshire nearly always cooperated in the eleven years I lived there.  I love the change of seasons and winter is part of it.  It’s a long season, but we are all in it together, and somehow get through the worst ones.

We had moved together as a family, but ultimately I ended up alone, with a son dependent upon me to provide a decent life. I couldn’t take a little boy away from his father, no matter how much that father lacked the qualities to actually be a father. So I stuck it out until my son graduated and wanted to move away. Then it was his choice. I did my part. But it wasn’t easy getting by alone in a place known for it’s costly living expenses. By the time I left my New Hampshire home, I had moved 5 times, finally settling into a little fixer-upper for my final years there.

The beautiful snow had lost it’s charm after the hellish winter of 2014-15. And my final winter had very little drama – or snow. It was okay with me.

I’ll never live in New England again, short of winning the lottery. I have some pictures left that remind me of the great hope in my heart when I moved there. The opportunity to spend time in such a beautiful place one last time, is what I will be thankful for. And I’ll visit when I can. But I may never see such a beautiful winter scene in person again. Nor will I walk in the deep snow and enjoy the silence of snowy woods. But I did it once. And that was good.

Dilemma: Bugs, Birds, Bears, and Cats

grasshopper eating a sunflowerThis is my garden dilemma:  I have a grasshopper infestation.  I need a natural way to get rid of the bugs, as I am an organic gardener.

Attract birds that will eat them, is my first thought, but I have cats that go outside.  If I feed birds in summer it’s only the hummingbirds.  My cats would never be able to catch one of them.  In fact, neither of my cats are big hunters, but I imagine that birds get nervous when they look down and see cats in the yard, so they move on.

If the birds do end up eating the grasshoppers, they will be down near ground level.   The grasshoppers are feasting on the leaves of many of my garden plants.  If I put out feeders, I feel like I am inviting birds to their death, because of the cats.

Summer bird-feeding can also attract black bears in my area.   Continue reading Dilemma: Bugs, Birds, Bears, and Cats