About Blogging …

Canteen scene with Drew barely visible on the left, washing dishes; Tim and Trish in the right foreground, sharing their stories; and Wendy, in the right-side rear having a break from the cooking.

About Starting a Second Blog

Inevitably, when an activity starts to take more of the hours in my week, more of the effort I have available, more space on my dining table, it starts to look like an obsession. I’ve been there before. Twelve years ago I lost a beautiful tung nut tree in my backyard to an excess of rain. As the rotting trunk was chopped down, I comforted myself with the idea that I’d be able to see a parade of fungi taking hold of the wood one after another.

The rain continued. Dozens of fungi species helped rot that stump down. I learned about fungi wherever I could find the information. Over the wet months of the El Nino weather pattern, more than a hundred species helped me become obsessed. I took my camera out for walks and recorded the ‘chitinous critters’ wherever I walked.

Chitinous critters?

Fungi cell walls are made of the same stuff as insect exoskeletons. Fungi have more in common with animals than with plants, despite having been umbrella’ed by ‘Flora’ since Linnaeus. Fungi have no chlorophyll, they need plant food to survive. They don’t move around in the same way that sponges don’t. I could go on and on. Have, in fact, given talks about them; walks and talks; I’ve done guest speaking at high school science classes; written articles; IDed fungi on FB, entered fungi sightings on ALA and iNaturalist. Citizen science stuff.

But I’ve probably only seen about four fungi species in the last two years. I have much less energy. More sedentary time. I’ve become rusty on names. Chemo fog didn’t help. It was the right time for a new obsession.

So. Lego seems to be it. With so many platforms where I could post up my finds, I never hankered to set up a separate blog for my fungi finds. Although there are quite a lot of platforms for Lego too, they don’t tend to encourage what I’m interested in. Stories. I like to write about my discoveries while building, and I like to write stories from within the building process.

Though I could write on this blog about my discoveries, I haven’t found a good way to format the stories in this blog’s existing structure. Hence. Designing and planning a second blog.

But keeping this one going is a thing. Usual stuff. Life and about life. Fiction and about fiction. Earth versus World. About media and about reading. Blogging and about blogging.

After Chemo

Every morning I open the vertical blinds out to the patio and open the glass door then the screen door and go out to check what little things have sprouted. I said fungi would be first thing in my new life, and so it has so far been.

I take their photos: caps, stems, undersides, the way the gills attach to the stem, the pattern of their gills, is there or is there not detritus from a partial veil on their caps, what color is the cap, what color is the center? I note a few more things for future reference.

These may be in the Coprinopsis genus
These may be of the Parasola genus

All of them are tiny and really to make good photos I’ll need some equipment superior to what I have. An older model mobile phone with a 50% success rate where the photo is sharp enough to enlarge for extra detail. Just like the older model operator whose eyesight is not as sharp as it was, but whose eye for detail still works very well.

After breakfast and a couple of chores I may sit down at my laptop and do online fungi IDing on the various FB fungi groups I’m a member of, or I may submit a few more fungi observations to https://inaturalist.ala.org.au

Some days … when my state of being doesn’t allow me any running around … that’s all I do. Like today. Have to keep reminding myself, need to crawl before I can walk.

Part 1, Fungi

A recurring part of my new life will be fungi. Even though I can’t get out into the field as yet … am stuck photographing whatever comes up in plant pots … I’m spending the majority of every day traversing the four FB fungi groups I belong to, and now also adding old data to my account at iNaturalist.org

Hygrocybe astatogala

Ideas Mash-Up

First, being in a state of nit-picking doubt about my novel Meld, I re-read about the need for micro tension at sentence level. The novel’s so far milky pale sentences paraded in front of my mind’s eyes. I wondered where or when to start. Continue writing pale and milky? Start writing micro tension when I’m about half way? I haven’t even finished the first draft?

That was last week.

I started writing micro tension in Zebe’s POV chapter—where my head was at that moment—but soon hit a place where Zebe’s mood needed to be able to play off a moment of micro-tension that should’ve been written several chapters earlier.

Writing is a lot like sketching. For me, anyway. Sketching, I make a mark on my paper. Another mark alongside it, or continuing from it. If I make a mark in what proves to be a wrong place, I’ll erase it, and redraw it in a better place, or draw over the top of it.

Getting a story down, if I change direction, I can’t just keep writing into the now incorrect direction. I need to go back and change where that direction is coming from, to be able to remember it correctly for the next swag of material to be fitted into place.

And so I decided I need to start again, again. Bring the manuscript up to scratch before continuing.

BUT the day I present the Fungi Walk-and-Talk is approaching. Saturday 21 at 1 pm I’ll be out in Brunswick Valley Heritage Park trailing twenty keen-to-learn-all-about-fungi learners. Gone are Zebe and her problems. Because this week I’ve needed to refresh my mind on all things fungi. The novel is on the back-burner of the writing stove again.

Path through Brunswick Valley Heritage Park

Because, yes, there is what started as a little idea on the front burner. I asked myself, what could be a better way to practice writing micro-tension than with single, or at most two sentence stories? Of course I agreed. Who doesn’t, when they’re talking positivity at themselves?

Little stories they’ll be, part of larger stories of approximately 30 sentences and or 300 words. With that word count it could only be a kid’s book. Inevitably, I mashed that idea onto the Duplo story idea.

The Duplo people are tired of living in a box … They build a staircase for everyone to get up, and out…

[The staircase (previous post) is a MOC I learned, which is an acronym for My Own Creation.]

I’m using these sentences to learn my new version of Powerpoint, which is the only appropriate format I could find to publish a read-aloud book for toddlers. That, as well as another idea, is also a justification/rationalization to continue with this much more finishable project when I could working on my so far 77k sf manuscript.

At the same time as studying up on Fungi, of course.

Fungi: Parasite

Fungal parasite on a ‘waxy’ bracket

This is the 83rd fungus I have observed in Brunswick Valley Heritage Park, a white crust … type 13 … that apparently parasitizes the undersides of ‘waxy’ and ‘pikelet-like’ brackets.

My filing system is littered with labels like that. Crusts get a number. Polypores and Agarics get descriptive words if I don’t have any other clue.

Fungi have three main life-styles. They are parasitic, like the one above, living on other organisms; they are saprophytic, consuming dead wood … if we didn’t have saprophytic fungi we’d be neck-deep in wood; and they can be mycorrhizal in habit.

Mycorrhizal fungi help keep us alive, by helping to keep 95% of plants alive. They help plants to gain more nutrients and moisture when plants and trees themselves can’t reach, by extending plant roots with fungal mycelium.

You’ll Have Noticed…

…a dearth of anything. Am dealing with a bout of influenza. The doc said, go home two weeks in bed. This after I already spent eight days ailing, including an overnight stay in the local hospital.

All else is the fluttering of leaves in the wind.

Twin ink caps (fungi) that dried on the windowsill while I had my attention on other things