It was a very full weekend here in Illinois. Friday night was the Butterfly Ball, the annual black tie fundraising event for the Museum. We spend months preparing for it. My department becomes especially busy the two weeks prior to the event cleaning, pruning plants both in the butterfly exhibit and on the museum grounds. I have attended all of the Butterfly Balls, nine to date. Occasionally Leon accompanies me, as he did this year. It’s my only foray into the Chicago area social scene (yes, the event is covered on the society pages of the local papers). It has always intrigued my that I’m capable of functioning quite comfortably in this type of atmosphere, even though I’m more accustomed to (and happier) wearing jeans and a tee shirt and working out in the field.
On Saturday, I donned jeans and a tee shirt and worked out in the field. It was a Bluff Spring Fen workday, and we spent the morning attacking public enemy number one- garlic mustard- in wooded areas of the preserve. Garlic mustard is another one of these non-native invasive species that moves into an area and takes over, displacing many native species in the process. The oak trees are in full flower at the moment, which means allergies for me. In the afternoon, Leon went back out to the Fen, and I returned home and crashed hard for the afternoon. That’s often a consequence of allergies for me.
Sunday was a work around the house day. I removed the mulch from the herb garden and replanted some of the herbs growing there. Our vegetable garden is doing well. We have radishes and four varieties of lettuce germinating. I also have flats with two varieties of sweet peppers and two varieties of eggplants coming up (thanks to Ur-Spo and Someone for the Christmas gift certificate to Seed Savers Exchange. This gift will definitely keep on giving). I made two cheeses Sunday afternoon, a mozzarella and a Gouda. The Gouda just finished its brine soak and is now drying. The mozzarella went on a pizza. I used a new crust recipe and was very pleased with the results.
Oh, and one final note on the Butterfly Ball. I mentioned that it’s a fundraiser. This year we had an interesting challenge. If we raised more than $1 million, an anonymous donor would match it dollar for dollar. We actually raised $1.5 million, so the event raised a cool $3 million for the museum. It’s really gratifying to see the institution’s financial situation improving to the degree that it is.