Our afternoon outings this week took us to two units of Illinois Beach State Park and to two forest preserves (Pine Dunes and Grant Woods). The wildflowers are stunning. I know they've always been there but I am really alert to them this year as I've taken 'destination' walks (rather than just in the neighborhood). The Picture This app on my phone makes identification easy.
Swamp milkweed, Joe Pye Weed, pale Indian plantain. Prairie ironweed, nodding onion. Prairie blazing star (liatris), prairie dock or Lucy Braun's rosinweed, broadleaf arrowhead.
(I was interested in the eponymous Lucy Braun so I looked her up. Here's her story.)
Whole-leaf rosinweed. Soapwort or Bouncing Bet. (It lathers in contact with water. I will have to try that.) Hoary vervain (verbena). Swamp milkweed.
Rattlesnake master or button-snake-root or bear grass is my favorite new wildflower. "Native Americans used the leaves to create both baskets and sandals. Monarch butterflies love the nectar from this flower."
Here are two monarchs on mountain mint and butterfly weed.
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In the studio: my One Monthly Goal is once again more than one project.
#1 The wedding quilt. That's hardly a surprise. I have two columns of blocks assembled. The third is at the sewing machine. Once the top is put together I need to piece the back.
#2 The guild challenge reveal is at the September 1 meeting. The theme is "Birthstone and Flower" for the month we were born. Pearls and roses for me (June). I have a couple of ideas but that's as far as I've gotten. Fortunately there is a size limit -- 20 x 21 for 2021.
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I read two good nonfiction books this week, both published in 2021 and borrowed from the library.
Dr. Thomas Neill Cream was a doctor, an abortionist, a blackmailer, and a serial killer. From 1880 to 1892, he fatally poisoned ten people by strychnine and attempted to poison five others in Quebec, Ontario, Chicago, and London. (All were women except for one man, whose wife was the intended victim.) There might well have been many more had Cream not been imprisoned in the Illinois penitentiary at Joliet from 1881-1891. Following his release he went to London where intrepid Scotland Yard investigator Frederick Smith Jarvis assembled enough evidence to bring Cream to trial, convict him, and execute him. The thoroughly loathsome Cream was as notorious as the mysterious Jack the Ripper. Dean Jobb's thoroughly-researched account is very readable. He interweaves Cream's upbringing and medical education (McGill and Edinburgh) with the social setting (young women in big cities), the investigations, the murders, and the trials.
Of course, eating is critical to our survival. To put a punny spin on that, we should be more critical about our eating in order to thrive as we survive. Food writer Mark Bittman presents a history of eating habits/practices and agriculture from the earliest days to the present. The Age of Exploration came about because of the Europeans' quest/demand for resources. That demand led to exploitation of people (indigenous and slave labor; now low-paid workers) and land. Industrial agriculture concentrates on monocrops that demand high levels of chemical fertilizer and pesticides. We have the resources to feed everyone but we must have better nutritional value and equitable distribution.
He advocates supporting the Green New Deal, saying that we need systemic change to provide ecological and nutritional justice. He concludes, "We must choose how to respond to crisis....We can be thoughtful and thorough, and choose reason and justice over greed and fear. We can build stronger, saner systems that benefit the many, not the few, and communities all players have a part in building. We can consistently choose peace and cooperation over strife." (p. 299)