Last Saturday we said farewell to the summer weather by going on a mushroom foray at Devil's Lake with the local mycological society. Our friend Natalie went with us, as she is also a mushroom hound, and was interested in the hope of also learning about lichens. We started the foray around 10:15 am and heard a little introduction from some of the members, mostly professors and grad students here at the UW, and from there went off exploring into the woods (off the path!) to find what mushrooms and lichen that we could. At first it was hard but then we started seeing mushrooms everywhere! We discovered we are really good at finding poisionous mushrooms, so we'll never eat what we find in the woods, much to our future selves liking. They found a very large white amanita gemmata, some honey mushrooms, puffballs, dead man's fingers, orange peels, jelly, wood ear, shelf mushrooms and many colors of lichens (an important barometer for air quality, like crustose), which they were happy to identify for us and detail what they ate, how they worked, and their role in the local environment. There were even mushrooms that fed on other mushrooms, and the lichen was a master/slave relationship between a fungus and algae. At the end, all the mushrooms collected by everyone were laid out on a picnic table, and it was filled to the brim.
Following a picnic lunch, we stopped on the way back to Madison at a very large Delaney's surplus store, with an outdoor exhibit in the back with sculptures of metal. Most were fashioned to look like animals, or some weird amusement park rides, for robots. There was a symphony of animal instruments, and some weird bug shaped animals, all rusting away with their old farm equipment skeletons. It was a sight to see. Inside, we found some decks of cards and dice, and a Coke pub glass, all very cheap, which made our travel experience complete.
Friday night, it was a trip to see Serenity with Matt, Burr and Natalie. You didn't need to see all the episodes to understand what happened in the movie, but since we had and loved them, the movie was excellent and funny and scary and sad and hopeful all in one. Two hours of action, with the crowd being very into everything, laughing, gasping, it was like we were in a living room with 300 other people watching our favorite show. We'll definitely have to get this when it comes out on DVD, along with the original series.
On Sunday, Laura returned to the saddle for horseriding lessons. She finally got to ride Shadow intstead of Copper, a very nice change of pace. Shadow had a very nice canter, and the lesson went very well with minimal ankle soreness. Tuesday night, we had the first Game Night on Tuesdays for the fall, with 6 people (including us) ready for some games. After last week's Zepter excursion for 3 hours, this week we packed in 6 games in 2 and a half. We started with two games of Liar's Dice, rolling and bluffing our way around the table, followed by For Sale, a quick but tricky double auction game, first around the table bidding, followed by some blind bidding, all about buying properties only to sell them for more money. Hick Hack in Gackelwack was up next, with some foxy playing for the juciest poultry mostly going afowl of it's intented target. Laura was able to rack up lots of corn for the win. We finished off the night with two games of Diamant, pushing our luck as we explored some dangerous mines in the hopes of returing with rubies and diamonds; fortune and glory, kid, fortune and glory.. We'll miss Matt Anderson as he heads off to Nebraska to find his own fortune and glory. Wednesday night I was able to join up with the Madison Board Gamers, and played a few games with Brett, Todd and the gang. Santiago is cool with all the decisions going on, and Big City was a light but interesting tactical game, whereas Turbo Taxi was a speedy brain melter, and Poison was a trick-taking version of cribbage and 6 nimmt. Todd is off to Essen, and can hopefully pick me up a booster pack for 6 nimmt while he's there salivating over all the new game releases.
We had a good rolling week in the kitchen, starting of with an improvised stromboli dish. I remember Mrs. Hamm bringing a stromboli to the church potlucks sometimes (and Mrs. Oxley's crab dip, yum!) and I always wanted to make some, so we found a few recipes online. They consisted of making a pizza then rolling it up, so I gave it a shot with our traditional recipe, adding hard salami to one and smoked turkey to another. They didn't turn out too bad, but were missing something, maybe the dough was different or there was more meat, but I'll keep on exploring how to find a good stromboli recipe. Our second recipe was planned to be turkey medallions wrapped in Bacon, but we couldn't find the right turkey at the store, so we subsitute rib-eye steak. Neither of us was very sad to see the turkey go. After making the dish, we made a creamy bacon gravy to go on top of the mashed potatoes, and Laura was inadvertently burned by the pith of a super-hot pepper. Solarcaine and Bactine are your friends if you get a similar burn, and will be in our cabinet if you need them. The medalions, after a little bit of extra cooking than the recipe called for, were amazing, melt in your mouth wonderful, the bacon and steak flavors mixed perfectly, and we felt like we were at a super-fancy restaurant. It will be a meal we don't make very often but enjoy whenever we can.
The TV for the week was highlighted by Lost, Invasion, Alias, and a PBS special on Leonardo DaVinci's Amazing Inventions. Lost was captivating and while a few secrets were revealed, as usual we now have even more questions, but we're still hooked. 4 8 15 16 23 42. Invasion was a little less creepy, but still mysterious of how things fit together (we pretty much know there's aliens or something not human stealing bodies). Alias wasn't as good as previous years, too much focus on the baby storyline and not enough about the spy activity. It's weird that the cast is changing and the show seems to be losing focus. But the DaVinci show was facinating. They tried to construct two of his early machines, one a huge crossbow cataput, and the other a flying machine, to see if his sketches could come to life with minimal changes and influence from our advanced technology. In some ways they succeeded, but it's hard to erase our knowledge and influence, and they selected the one flying drawing that looked like it had the most promise, from thousands of unlikely candidates. It was amazing to see the flying machine work like a glider and see the catapult toss the cannonball about 60 yards before they broke it. I still think the chances of these succeeding back then were very slim, but it was more interesting to hear about his life as an artist/engineer, experimenting on the human body and trying to discover how the heart and other organs and bones worked together.