Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Sometimes its not the voyage that is perilous but the home port.

We build on unstable ground, take into our hearts unstable people, grow up in homes that have no foundation.

Occasionally our tenous homes are tolerated by those surrounding us.

Really, one can live in remarkable difficulty and get used to it: the man I see sleeping under an overpass in the middle of a ten lane highway.

My grandmother used to say, "if you are tired enough, you can sleep hanging on a nail"

There is more to say

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

amanita amanita amanita

Amanita Muscaria

I have been taking photographs of mushrooms. I am lucky to live in a place that is damp, wet, organic.
This year I have collected photographs of over 30 different species. I have followed the fruiting and life cycle of a patch of amanita muscarias. First they push up through dirt looking almost obscene- thick white bulb thrusting up to breaking the surface. This is the mushroom with its "universal veil". The bulb begins to change color and open its cap shortly afterwards, shedding the spores that were tightly kept inside. The cap opens and lifts- becoming an umbrella shape. The small white spots are what is left of the veil attachments. This amanita- in the photograph- was uprooted early, and lay on the ground exactly as I found it.

The mushroom glossary of J. Lindgren reads like a poem. Imagine someone reading aloud these
sensous and beautiful words.

Amanita muscaria- mysterious, veiled, beautiful, poisonous, potent....

abruptly bulbous - top of bulb flattened, sides and bottom rounded
adnate - gills which are broadly attached to the stipe
adnexed - gills narrowly attached to the stipe
amyloid - spores which stain bluish in Melzer’s reagent or iodine
annulus - a ring of tissue around the stipe
appendiculate - margin of cap fringed or adorned with fragments of the veil
areolae, areolate - spaces marked out on the surface, separated by cracks
attenuate - gradually narrowed
clavate - base thickened like a club
convex - regularly rounded, domed
disc - center of the cap

ellipsoid - spores with rounded ends and slightly curved sides
evanescent - slightly developed and soon disappearing
farinaceous - mealy to powdery particles on the cap or stipe; may also refer to the odor of fresh meal
fimbriate - gill edges finely fringed by cells
floccose - loose cottony or soft tufts of tissue
free - gills that are not attached to the stipe
fusiform - spindle shaped, tapering in both directions from an enlarged part
gills - the knife-blade-like structures on the underside of the cap
globose - spherical, like a globe
habit - the general, external, and characteristic appearance, or manner of growth

habitat - the natural place of growth
lamellulae - the short gills that do not span the whole distance from margin to stipe
limbate volva - membranous, attached closely around the bulb and with an open, free margin
marginate bulb - with circular ridge around top edge of bulb; in age it may flatten to look like wide shoulders on a rounded bulb
Melzer’s reagent - an iodine solution used to test for an amyloid reaction of the spore wall
membranous - like a membrane or skinlike
obtusely conic - rounded or blunt cone-shaped
plane - having a flat surface
pruinose - finely powdered

saccate volva - one shaped like a sack, cup or sheath
spores - the reproductive units of a fungus
stipe - the correct term for the "stem" of a mushroom
striate, striations - radiating grooves or lines on cap margin
subglobose - almost spherical
subumbonate - center of cap slightly or broadly raised truncate - appearing chopped off or abruptly ending
umbo, umbonate - having a raised knob or mound at center of cap
universal veil - the enveloping veil that covers an immature amanita and which breaks to form a volva at the base, and often leaving remnants on the cap
volva - the remains of the universal veil; usually refers to the structure found at the base of the stipe