Sunday, December 11, 2011

August - December

I took a season's sabbatical from blogging, and here is what you missed:

I visited the Yazoo Brewery here in Nashville, and drank a lot of straight off the conveyer-belt beers while walking around the giant stainless steel tanks.

Yazoo Brewery

I also saw Tall Glenn Danzig there, checking out the Dos Perros.

Yazoo Brewery and Tall Glenn Danzig

I spent two 100+ degree days wandering around Memphis with my mother, including an incredibly moving trip through the Civil Rights Museum. It is built into the back of the Lorraine Motel, and the last stop on the self-led tour is standing inside the room Dr. King had rented, staring out at the site of his assassination.

Civil Right Museum, Memphis TN

Halfway through August Matt came back from Pittsburgh! It was sweet to live together again, and we did lots of fun things like look for Monkey Balls.

Matt found some monkey balls!

Monkey Balls, or Osage-Oranges as they are properly called, are giant green fruits filled with seeds that are altogether inedible. Nothing can eat them, except domesticated horses and mules and the occaisonal determined squirrel (and they don't seem too hot on them either). But wait, you may be saying. Dr. Carrie, isn't the whole point of fruit to entice animals to eat them and shit the seeds elsewhere, thereby perpetuating the species?

Monkey Balls!

Well, I'm glad you asked that.

The osage-orange, along with other fruits like the pawpaw and honey locust pods, are thought to have co-evolved with the now extinct megafauna that once roamed North America. Animals like mastodons, gomphotheres and giant sloths could easily eat the fruits whole and pass the seeds, spreading the osage-orange throughout North America. This article, entitled Anachronistic Fruits and the Ghosts Who Haunt Them (ie Best Title Ever), explains the process well. For those of you who might need a little additional clarification, I worked up this diagram:


The tail end of summer turned into a long, warm Autumn. October was consumed with Halloween witchcraft, including some very elaborate costume planning and throwing a rad Halloween party. Here I am in costume as Frank Rossitano from 30 Rock:

Me as Frank Rossitano

My hat says "HOLLOW WEENIE".

Here is Matt as "the white guy from All-4-One":

Matt as "the white guy from all-4-one"

Then November came and I disappeared socially, hermiting myself up to compete in NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing Month. Over the course of 30 days I wrote a 144 page feminist sci-fi epic called In the Shadow of the Mechanical Planet. I was among the 14% of contenders who finished, and December 1st looked pretty sweet from the winner's circle:


Now it's 11 days into December and the leaves are off the trees and the garden is finally dead. The blackened cores of the okra stalks still raise up four feet above my head, between me and the clear winter sky.

Dead Okra

But if you brush aside the leaves piled up in the garden, you can still find cilantro growing, verdant and strong, 14 days before Christmas.

Cilantro in December

It's nice to be here and it's nice to be back.