Fungus Schmungus #6

I found three very colorful mushrooms. The violet ones are Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucicum) and are also known as Lingzhi, Divine Mushroom, and “Mushroom of Immortality.” Reishi mushrooms are used in medicinal teas. I could not correctly indentify the green mushrooms or the odd bright yellow mushroom. The yellow mushroom was growing out of a woodpile and may have a stalk.

Vintage Hotel Signs

At the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument in Kearney, Nebraska stands a reproduction of an old sign from The Hammer Motel in Kearney, Nebraska. This weekend I went to the Des Moines Art Festival In Iowa and was delighted by Ed Pribyl’s colorful visions of vintage hotel signs.

Fancy Cars

I saw two artistic vehicles recently. The truck went by while I was at a gas station and the car was parked in a grocery store parking lot.

Match Stick Museum

The Match Stick Museum in Gladbrook, Iowa is small but fun. The artist is Patrick Acton. His match stick art is in Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museums and is shown at the Iowa State Fair. This is a replica of the US Capitol which took 478,000 match sticks to make.

Tire Horse

This life-size horse made out of old tires was outside of a tire store. The dogs went crazy when we discovered a horse on our dog walk.

Chameleon Changing Colors

Last summer, my family visited the Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Aventure. This chameleon was green and blue when we arrived. He s-l-o-w-l-y followed my son from one side of his aquarium to the other. My son, Cole, wore a magenta shirt with a wild pattern. As the chameleon followed around the enclosure, he changed colors to match my son’s shirt.

Deer Eating Mulberries

I was sitting at my kitchen table when I saw this small buck in our back yard, eating mulberries off the tree.


I saw this mandolin for sale in an antique store. I am not a musician, but it made me want to find out more about mandolins. This instrument is from Italy and brings to mind “Italian Restaurant Music.” But it can be found in many genres of music. For other examples, you can watch this video by Bruce Hornsby and the Range “Listen to the Mandolin Rain” where you will see a brief mandolin solo.  The Lumineers’ video “Hey, Ho” starts with guitar music and switches halfway to mandolin played by Neyla Pakarek.


Dobsonflies and Dragonflies

I found this insect crawling on the ground near the Mississippi River. It was about four inches long. I had never seen one of these before.  My research showed that it was a dobsonfly larvae which would normally be underwater. Maybe a bird plucked it out of the water and dropped it. Anyway, a dobsonfly is a large insect that flutters around lights at night much like moths. Although the larve looks very much like a dragonfly body and their names are similar, the two insects are not related to each other. The second picture is a perfectly preserved dragonfly that had died. It is on the small plate to show its size and not because anyone was going to eat it.

German POWs in World War Two

My great-grandfather, Emil Otto Gravert, immigrated from Germany when he was a teenager. He worked at the Heinz factory in Muscatine, Iowa. During WWII, there was a German POW camp near Muscatine and the prisoners worked on the Heinz farm, planting, weeding, tending, and picking the tomatoes used to make ketchup. Since my grandfather spoke German, he was in charge of the prisoner’s work routines. By all accounts, the prisoners actually enjoyed their time on the farm and one of them gave my grandfather a calendar that he carved out of wood. The calendar sat on top of a china cabinet at my grandparent’s house. I thought it was so beautiful but I was not allowed to touch it. Now it is in The Pearl Button Museum in Muscatine and I was allowed to touch it and take pictures. On the bottom part, it has two woooden scrolls that change the day and month. On the top, it has two wooden wheels that change the date. The inscription from the museum also mentions two rings made by another prisoner. These were my great-grandparent’s wedding rings. Below, is my grandmother’s ring which was too small to fit on my ring finger.