Hold the plantain, and the worms

I saw an unusual thing while I was running around yesterday — I do that on rare occasions, and yesterday I took the garbage to the inconvenience center and then took a long way back home — something that reminded me of an almost 20-year-old joke.

There was a little place a little ways off of a quiet interstate exit. That exit, itself, was headed to nowhere in particular. You don’t get off at that exit unless you wanted to drive through the woods for another half hour or so to get to the small place you were going. You had to drive a mile or two from the freeway just to get to this old rusty, dusty gas station. It looked like an elongated trailer. It was one of those places that tried to be all things to whomever was doing without in the area. The two nearest communities have less than 800 people between them, and that dirty old gas station probably saw them all with great frequency.

What those people saw, when they drove up, was a gas station advertising tanning beds and live bait.

Some guys I worked with, that had that interstate exit on their commute, discovered it. They named it the Bait ‘n’ Tan.

That came to mind yesterday because as I was headed back home, and back to the grading, the endless grading, I chose a route that took me by a new restaurant. Once upon a time, it was a store that sold the local ice cream.

The ice creamer’s creamery plant — presumably The Plant, but I’m still trying to figure out the details — and it’s main store are near our house. The creamery is closed, though the brand still exists, somewhat. There are lately some goings on at the plant, which is showing its years and neglect. Apparently that building has new owners, but no one is clear yet on precisely what the plan is. That’s not terribly important.

Instead, we’re focusing on this other little storefront, about eight miles away as the crow flies. It has been closed since we’ve been here, but most recently it seems to have been operated as a convenience store and small pizza shop. Last fall there was a marquee sign out front. If I remember correctly, the sign promised a Mexican restaurant coming soon. Each time I rode by it on my bicycle — it is on a regular bike route, but not necessarily a direction I need to drive that often — I would take a glimpse to see if it was open. Finally, the last time I pedaled by, I noticed a blinking sign in the window.

I was having a good ride the day I noticed that, and I didn’t see anything else, so I figured I’d stop by another time. Well, friends, because there was grading to work through, and the weather yesterday was so lovely, that was the time.

The old ice cream sign is still out front, but there’s a smaller sign on the building giving the name of the new restaurant. My internet searching suggests the new place is a Caribbean restaurant. Now, it’s a bit out of the way, and almost everything around here is locally owned, and that’s delightful, and I feel the need to support those local efforts. Also, I love Caribbean food.

And, then, I saw it. In the far corner of the small parking lot.

Restaurant. Live Bait.

I sent that as a text to one of those guys. He replied instantly, “Oh my goodness. You might look down the road for another option. Like a sandwich from a gas station.”

I emailed it to the other guy. He wrote back, “It’s funny the things people want to pair live bait with. I think I’d rather get my bait where I tan than where I eat. But that’s me.”

Turns out the convenience store had stayed in one family for 30 years or so, but it went on the market last summer, just as we were unpacking. And now, it’s a specialty restaurant, and bait supplier.

I can’t wait to try it. The food, I mean. And just the food.

Today, after a substantial chunk of grading, the endless grading, I took a walk through the backyard. Look what’s blooming today!

And just around the corner, the grape vines are starting off strong.

This year, maybe we’ll get to the grapes before the birds and bugs.

Inside, more grading, and then more grading. And when I stepped back out this evening to water the vegetable seedlings, I took a moment to admire this part of the path, and the new solar lights my lovey bride installed last week.

We might cover the joint in solar lights before we’re done.

That might also happen before the grading is completed, as well.

After today, I have just one set of assignments and two sets of final exams to mark.

Here’s a nice distraction for whatever your Thursday has offered. These are a few more specimens of the beautiful bloody belly jellies. And, if you missed them the last time they were here, they are all about light, the absence of it, in fact. The combs are providing us with a bit of light diffraction, but there are no spotlights where these creatures live. Red looks black even just below the surface of the water, and in the deep sea, where the bloody-belly comb jelly lives below 1,000 feet in the North Pacific, it is dark.

These beautiful jellies, then, hide in plain sight. The combs are providing us with a bit of light diffraction. Predators and prey never see those incredible colors.


Technically, they are ctenophores, meaning that they are not true jellies, but the name is sticking, even though it is a new one. This species were first collected off San Diego in 1979 and described in just 2001.

These beautiful ctenophores will show up here one more time, next week. Tomorrow, we’ll return to the 1920s. And I’ll also be grading.

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