Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Day at the Beach

today's intact bottleneck
Collecting Beach Glass is one of my favorite hobbies, and late autumn is one of the best times to find it.  The rare calm days that punctuate November's status quo of choppy riotous waters are oft to reveal marvelous treasures.  In part this is because the weather conditions dredge more of it up, but the real reason is because no sane person wants to get cold and wet and slapped by wind at the beach in late fall! Of course, that means there's simply more for the taking for those of us occupying the lunatic fringe.

of course, not every day is a  lucky one.  there are a number of productive beaches near where i live; rocky, smelly, full of trash and dead fish.  and on occasion i leave with pockets full of pinks and yellows and all manner of rare colors.  Today, that did not happen.

i found some nice things, no doubt, but not quite what i was hoping to find.  the first treasure of note was the intact top of a bottle, presumably from hot sauce judging by the small opening.  intact bottlenecks are a relative rarity, so even in a common color such as clear glass, they are a treat to come across.  Not long after, i discovered an opaque, two-tone blue glass bead, which i for sure thought was plastic but picked up anyway.  the bead was heavy for its size, and had a gritty feel, more akin to polished glass with a definite glassy "plink" when dropped on a hard surface.  I'm in love with
two-tone opaque glass bead

the vintage character of the bead and it looks slightly art deco.  im not sure if i want to turn it into a jewelry piece, or keep it in my jar of rare pieces as one of the trophies of my collection.  either way im very glad i found it!

The rest of todays haul was mostly common colors, though i did find two pieces of clear pattern glass, 3 pieces of UV glass, 1 piece of gray glass, and an unusual aqua-gray piece, much darker than is typical for aqua glass.  it was also a good day for cobalt blue and lime green, and found several pieces in both of those colors, though they are not as rare as the reds and yellows which I covet.
Pattern glass, and gray and aqua-gray

at any rate, i was at least the first person to the beach this morning.  so i got first pick of what washed ashore last night.  as i was finishing up i got the chance to talk to some fellow collectors, informed them that there wasn't much today and we got to boast about our past finds.  one older woman i talked to informed me of a beautiful piece of dark purple she found at the location during the Super Moon earlier this month.  we wished each other luck and went our own separate ways. 

once i got home and emptied my pockets, the first thing i do is check my collection under a black light, and if you dont check your finds either you are really missing out on some rare treats.   years ago, uranium was used in the manufacture of glassware and ceramics.  before it was weaponized, and before people even knew what radioactivity was,  uranium was valued as a pigment, yielding a vibrant color in shades of yellow and green.  in years past, glass of this sort would have been proudly displayed in a window, since the color of the glass seems to intensify in sunlight.  This effect is the
Today's Limes and Cobalts
result of the pigment reacting to the light, and is not actually caused by radiation (many substances fluoresce under black light, and very few of them give off radiation).    Speaking of radiation, this stuff is pretty safe to handle.  The amount of uranium actually used to create a piece of this glass is so minimal that even an intact piece of green depression glass wont even register on a Geiger counter and the exposure you would receive from these little shards is nothing to worry about when you consider the background radiation we are exposed to daily, which enters earth from space, and comes up from the ancient rocks beneath our feet. 

Today's UV glass under black light
UV glass is highly collectible, both in its intact and surf-ravaged forms, and looks simply amazing displayed under a blacklight, or stored in a jar on a windowsill to enjoy its much more subtle display.  If you would like to find such glass, the most common color is a pale minty green, though over the years ive found UV reactive pieces in red, pale yellow, pale blue and opaque white milk glass.  if you have jars of beach glass from years past lying around, i encourage you to check your collection and see if you have any UV you didnt know about!

Thank you for reading :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Scavenging for Squash

one of my favorite things to find this time of year is discarded pumpkins.  not all the pumpkins people buy end up getting carved, many an ornamental pumpkin is purchased simply to sit there and look pretty, only to be tossed once the fall holiday season ends and the winter season begins.

Jarrahdale and a little Lumina
 through the whole month of november its very easy to find perfectly good gourds left at the curb with the rest of the yard waste (which of course is not waste, but excellent compost waiting to be!) and so every trash night i go out hunting for them. Here's what i found yesterday.

the stars of last nights garbage harvest are the two Jarrahdale pumpkins, which have the unique gray-green flesh and a superb eating pumpkin. there was also a Lumina Pumpkin (the small white one) and two normal Jack-O-Lantern varieties.   the larger orange colored pumpkin is a cultivar im unsure of.  it looks like a Boer pumpkin, but the wrong color. so perhaps its some kind of hybrid, perhaps with a Cinderella pumpkin (yes that is the actual name of the variety)
Jarrahdale, mystery cultivar, and a teeny tiny baby one

being car-free for the most part, bringing these prizes home is an extra big challenge.  Have you ever transported pumpkins on a bike?  I have, and last night i brought home 37.5 pounds of free food home.  cargo trailer not included.

it was a lot more secure than it looks
It took two trips to get everything home;  at first i just went with the initial Jarrahdale and Lumina in my backpack, dropped them off at home and continued my rounds with heavy artillery.

i strapped the mystery cultivar to my rear-rack since it was the flattest and the deep grooves allowed my bungee cords to get a good hold and keep it still.  Although i still went very carefully over bumps and even dismounted to walk the bike when going up and down hills.  Better safe than sorry,  i wasnt feeling like scraping pumpkin guts up off the sidewalk that evening.

the second jarrahdale went into my backpack and the two [uncarved] Jack-o-lanterns went in a cloth shopping bag, cleverly rigged so it wouldn't flop all over the place while biking.  the strap of the bag went over my shoulder and at the base of handle straps i fixed another bunge cord and wrapped it under my other arm and then hooked it to the other strap.  not the most comfortable way to transport heavy cargo, but it worked!  the bungee cord was tight and made my arms feel a little numb, but nothing i couldn't bear with.  also the large pumpkins in the bag kep flopping in front of my leg which made pedalling difficult but not impossible.  point is, I did it!

so "why" is probably the question forming in all of your minds, dear reader and the answer is because i hate to see anything wasted.  Pumpkins, squash, melons and pretty much all cucurbitacea are heavy feeders, and require massive amounts of water and fertilizer to grow their gargantuan fruits

my whole collection of rescued pumpkins
why should this just go in the trash when its perfectly edible?  Jack-o-lantern varieties for sure, do not taste good.  they have been selectively bred to favor a large overall size and thin skins to make them easier to carve.  the flesh of these pumpkins are watery and insipid, but by no means inedible; the seeds at any rate, are an excellent snack.  However many of the 'ornamental' pumpkins are heirloom varieties bred for eating, and have no business in the trash

one of the Jarrahdales i reclaimed weighed 9.75 pounds, and though difficult to carve, yielded a sweet and firm flesh, with a summery aroma and a light buttery taste.  and that dear reader, shall be the subject of my subsequent entries:  how to deal with carving cooking an eating a nearly 10 pound vegetable

thank you for reading :)

Trail Cam Tuesday

A good chunk of my spare time is spent out in the woods, but unfortunately i cant spend all my time there.  Being as it is, last year i purchased a trail camera to first of all keep track of what wildlife visits my backyard, but also found that it is a great way to get candid shots of your pets as well
granted, this shot has been cropped, but this is one of my favorite pictures ever of my dogs, Myth (the large Samoyed) and Chia (the little Eskie-mix)

I enjoyed harvesting these images from my remote cameras so much that this fall i bought a second one, and now i have one for backyard and for the forest to capture a greater variety of wild creatures, and not just the backyard fare of squirrels, crows and opossums ( though these are animals i always enjoy seeing, no matter the setting)

every tuesday i check my cameras, and so on tuesdays i will post what good images were captured that week, although, some weeks i get nothing but overexposed blurs of animals i can make hide nor tail of, so Trail Cam Tuesday will be an on-and-off venture

for the week of 11/29/2016

note the strange furry crest on this opossum's back

a normal looking opossum

we see two different shots of opossums!  my favorite animal! unfortuanely both my trail cams are cheap and the quality of nighttime photos is poor, so i had to really doctor (or butcher) these images to make them more discernable.

the first image is quite bizarre, since the face is obviously an opossum, but the back of the animal resembles a skunk, with those raised bands of white fur and black down the middle.  opossums do not have such markings and dont raise their fur in that manner either, so perhaps a skunk was walking behind the opossum as the shot was taken or perhaps i have photographic evidence of some cryptic skunk/opossum hybrid haha!

one day hopefully i can invest in a trail camera that takes decent night shots, but that day is long away i'm afraid.   the most interesting animals we have around here by and large are nocturnal or crepuscular, and especially with how late in the year it is, the hours of daylight my camera has to operate at its best are few.  So as we near the winter solstice, heres to hoping for better shots and more hours of light in the weeks to come.

thank you for reading :)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Greetings and Salutations

Welcome to Sniffing Around!

as the title suggests i spend a lot of times snooping around and looking for all kinds of interesting things, usually in the woods, or at the beach but not always. 

this is  a blog, primarily about my hobbies, and the joy that can be had acquiring interesting, bizarre and even useful things that are naturally occurring, lost or discarded as every day trash.  I love to find uses for things that might not have any apparent usage.  things such as bones, shells, beach glass, rocks, sticks, herbs, bottles, jars, buckets, pallets, roadkill, bat droppings, bagged leaves. old window panes and a whole host of others

unfortunately I am starting this blog near the close of the year, so until next spring, when the sport of finding and collecting things gets really swinging, most of the posts on this blog will be retrospective in nature; reliving old exploits and boastful pics of what ive found in the past and what im making out of the things i find.

i hope you will find something to enjoy here! 

thank you for reading