Posts by tjdevarie

Hello! I am a writer/editor-for-hire, food forest & mycology enthusiast, knitter, and art lover. I also offer editing, ghostwriting, copywriting services and more - contact me at jeweledit@gmail.com if you're in need of a freelance writer or editor. Peace!

How Batgirl Saved Me

Babs did me a 24K solid during my TBI recovery

Okay, she didn’t really save my life.

But, she did something else that’s valuable: her character boosted my confidence at a time when I had ambitious goals to achieve but little strength and guidance with which to do so.

She ended up being a strong female role model whom I’d tap for strength and whose example I learned from when I felt lost and confused. The New 52 Batgirl also happens to be a big influence for Shroom Raider—so, I’ll give a little context on why Barbara Gordon is a great influence for Amanita Jones (or anyone else for that matter).

new52-batgirl

New 52 Batgirl, Barbara Gordon

If you enjoy DC comics, you may know Gail Simone’s work well. She is a considerable influence on the style of Shroom Raider. . .in fact, Simone’s Batgirl trade paperbacks were the first thing I remember reading when I awoke from my coma in October 2014.

Wait, waitwhat? Coma?

I awoke from a week-long coma in an ambulance (not that I had any idea what ambulances were at that point), rumbling along to the 3rd hospital I’d stay at after getting a rash of TBIs (Traumatic Brain Injuries). I was hit by a drunk driver on October 4th 2014. He drove his Ford F150 into my left hip and sent me flying 40+ feet onto my forehead.

Comatose Taylor in hospital

The impact skid marks on my forehead left scars, but they’re gone now! Woohoo!

Let me tell you, recovering from TBIs feels like undergoing adolescence again. Actually, I could only describe what I personally felt upon waking as being “born again.” Pretty strange feeling. I’m just glad I didn’t have to go back to high schoolbut I did have to earn my driver’s license a second time. Naturally, the State revokes it if you contract a TBI.

The recovery process is like undergoing a second adolescence

The Feds don’t go easy on you either: did you know that over two-thirds1 of SSDI applicants are denied benefits? They must undergo lengthy appeals processes to prove they’re in need (the litigation often takes years). So, I’m grateful that I’ve been able to keep jobs after my severe TBI.2 And, I know it only helped to have Barbara Gordon as a fictional role model while I struggled to recover some semblance of my former life.

Taylor at rehab1

The netted bed I was confined to for hours daily

Following the injury,* my partner bought The New 52 Batgirl comics for me. As soon as I cared about reading again, after a few weeks, I absorbed Barbara Gordon’s story. I found in it a figure I could relate to from the confines of my netted bed. The story of a woman who struggles to regain her abilities after a devastating injury. And her ability to walk was stolen from her in an instant—boy, did I relate to that.

Taylor hospital-Vallejo2

I eventually regained my balance thanks to the generosity of many.

The New 52 Barbara Gordon is funny, smart and imperfect3, and I relate to her struggle to regain former balance despite severe trauma and disability. For Barbara Gordon, this involves maintaining a convoluted docket of work and superheroingnot to mention personal life management, which involves roommate conflicts, romantic relationships (with her own therapist even), family disagreements and so much more.

Barbara’s wit, strength and courage helped me find my footing under pressure

In my personal experience, Barbara Gordon is an apt and wonderful role model for Traumatic Brain Injury survivors. If you are helping anyone heal from trauma and acclimate to a new way of living, you can help them rebuild self-confidence by gifting them The New 52 Batgirl comics. The comics helped me see my potential and aid redevelopment of my moral compass throughout a lengthy recovery.* I believe they’ve helped others too.

 

*the distinction between the words “accident” and “injury” are important to know if you want to understand this TBI survivor’s perspective. The man behind the steering wheel of that Ford F150 accelerated into me. There was no evidence he tried to stop (no skid marks found onsite). He made a mistake. But the situation wasn’t unexpected given the circumstances.  It wasn’t an accident.
*the term “recovery” is another one…the process is made one-dimensional by this term.

1 http://www.headinjuryrehab.org/assets/files/headinjuryrehab%20SSD.pdf

2 http://www.traumaticbraininjury.com/symptoms-of-tbi/severe-tbi-symptoms/

3 https://wtfdccomics.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/new-52-batgirl/

Credits

Thanks to my Dad, Ben Devarie, for the photos

Thanks to the many, many people who donated to my GoFundMe fundraiser and helped me in other forms during my time of need (we know who you are)

Thanks to all I might have forgotten

And thanks to you for reading this. This post is important to me.

 

Shroom Raider issue 1 cover image, Amanita Jones sitting atop pink-hued chair-sized mushrooms

First issue of Shroom Raider!

Hey there! It’s been awhile since my last post, but I’ve recently completed some new work – I’m trying my hand at comics!

I think comics are where it’s at in terms of storytelling.  What better way to tell a meaningful story than through semiotic mediums – or comics! Comics are unique because they are like languages –  they are systems of signs the reader must interpret to understand what the author intends to communicate (just think of any time the sequence of panels on a page threw off your understanding because you read the panels’ speech/narrative bubbles in a different order than the author intended).

shroom-raider-Pelo-Mo

Amanita Jones finds the legendary Pelo-Mo mushroom.

 

via Shroom Raider: Mushroom and Zombie Flambé

Above is page 16 from issue 1 of Shroom Raider – only one box of narrative here, not confusing at all heh 🙂 you can click through to the *entire* first issue of Shroom Raider, where we are introduced to our mushroom-foraging citizen detective, Amanita Jones (named after Amanita muscaria).

Sam (or SCLeccentric) based the character off of me. So if you think she resembles me, that’s the intention 🙂 Of course, I’m NOWHERE *near* as cool as Amanita is. But it’s always good to have goals!

Let me know what you think in the comments! We’ll be seeing Amanita again soon enough; I just finished a beat sheet for a new comic she’s featured in – exciting! See you all next time!

 

Shroom Raider issue 1 cover image, Amanita Jones sitting atop pink-hued chair-sized mushrooms

Adventures in Writing: Comics lettering (and editing)

[361 words, 2-4 minute read]

Hi folks! SCLeccentric just released another page of Shroom Raider, and I thought I should maybe share my lettering experience? Have you lettered a comic book before? I just lettered my fourth comic book page. Getting off to a slow start, but it’s goin’!

Shroom Raider issue 1 cover image, Amanita Jones sitting atop pink-hued chair-sized mushrooms

Issue 1: Mushroom and Zombie Flambé!

I like lettering because it requires great focus and is meditative.

The joy of lettering is that it gets me into a flow state: a state in positive psychology that indicates full immersion and enjoyment. I engage my breath and try to relax, which helps hone my focus while carefully drawing those lines. MUCH easier said than done, but practice makes perfect, right?

I tried a more flowery style the first three pages, which is pretty much my normal handwriting, but it’s just too much.

My first lettering style, a more flowery sort of font.

My first attempts at lettering. Work!

The style crowds the content in my opinion; it’s a bit distracting. Thus, I began writing sans serif and using all capital letters. It makes for cleaner lines and more consistent spacing in page/box margins and between lines. You can see the flowery style on pages one through four in the link below, and page five (and the new lettering style) is below the link:

Shroom Raider pages 1-4

And page five is below. You’ll see there’s a considerable difference between the two. I like the change anyway; it’s more fun to letter the second font. Hope you like the style too! Also, I edit the script before lettering it onto the page, and I’ll elaborate on that process soon—because, when it comes to writing, comic scripts are a whole different animal.

And! If you like these pages, or comics and illustration in general, definitely visit SCLeccentric.com for some illustrated laughs, adventure and excitement! See you soon!

Hello All, Last we checked, Shroom Raider was about to be eaten by a giant catfish! Will she make it? FYI, Psilocybin means “magic” mushrooms. That catfish should be tripping for a while. For once I actually have a few pages finished, so I can post consistently. Stay tuned, we will have another page for […]

via Shroom Raider Page 5 — SCLeccentric

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(Forageable) Fungi Fridays: Hevella lacunosa*

fluted hevella, Hevella lacunosa

[250 words, 1-3 minute read]

This club-shaped fungus is called the elfin black saddle in North America, though the images I have make the Hevella lacunosa look more like the elfin black cloud 🙂 A conspicuous morel lookalike, the fluted hevella can be found under deciduous and coniferous trees.

Hevella lacunosa
Fun Fact: The root of its species name, lacunosa, is the latin noun ‘lacuna’ (lake, pool). Today, lacuna refers to a cavity or depression, or intervals. This refers to the fluted depressions and hollow stipe (stem) of the H. lacunosa.

So I tried them deep fried after reading they’re best prepared that way…and let’s just say I now understand why they are not choice. I won’t be collecting them again haha 🙂 they tasted really…mushroomy, which makes sense but doesn’t make this mushroom more desirable. I felt like I was eating fried chunks of thin gristle, but that’s probably a bit dramatic—they didn’t taste distinctive to me at all. But if you see these guys around and can cook them over heat, you don’t have to starve!

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Genus: Hevella

Species: lacunosa

Edibility: Edible, but not (my) choice

*Disclaimer: This site is provided for informational purposes only. Taylor assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequences of readers actions. Though every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, identifications may be incorrect (Taylor *is* a novice) – but that’s where community input helps! Please, feel free to correct misinformation you find (or just add your two cents) in the comments!

Happy foraging!

Fungi Fridays: Laccaria amethysteo-occidentalis*

021717_l_amethysteo-occidentalis1

[280 words, 1-3 min read]

On certain rainy days, when the conditions are right and spores happened to touch down along your trails, the brilliant Laccaria amethysteo-occidentalis can be seen popping through pine scrub and brush. These particular Laccaria are spectacular to behold after heavy rains. Bright, saturated blooms of purple shining through the mud and rain. I love being able to expect these on my rainy day hikes.

Found in the western US (in absence of L. amethystina, which is found in eastern states), the L. amethysteo-occidentalis is edible and smells delightful—to me at least! They give off a similar scent to blewits, what people often say smells like frozen orange juice. I’ve read that they are eaten in soup if eaten at all, but I rarely forage mushrooms in the Laccaria genus. Not meaty enough for (my) sustenance.

Stem is strongly grooved, and cap fits the id description to a T. These have a super distinctive cap, about 7 cm in diameter with a characteristic central depression. These ‘shrooms are much prettier to behold than they are enticing to eat. I can see why people use them in soup. Seems like they’ll break apart easily (not much use in a stir-fry).

 

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Genus: Laccaria

Species: amethysteo-occidentalis

Edibility: edible, not choice

Sources

http://www.mushroomexpert.com/laccaria_amethysteo-occidentalis.html

http://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/54893-Laccaria-amethysteo-occidentalis

 

*Disclaimer: This site is provided for informational purposes only. Taylor assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequences of readers actions. Though every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, identifications may be incorrect (Taylor *is* a novice)—but that’s where community input helps! Please, feel free to correct misinformation you find (or just add your two cents) in the comments!

Happy foraging!

Fungi Fridays: Hypholoma fasciculare*

[200 words, 1-2 min read]

020217_hypholoma_fasciculare1

Hypholoma fasciculare, or the Common Sulfur Tuft

I don’t know of any edible lookalikes for this ‘shroom, what looks like the Hypholoma fasciculare (a.k.a. the Common Sulfur Tuft). The Hypholoma capnoides, or Conifer Tuft, is questionably edible, but sources say to steer clear of it. Besides,  people report this mushroom is extremely bitter—so you probably wouldn’t like it anyway.

02032017_hypholoma_fasciculare2

They commonly grow from wood OR soil, depending on the species. Fasciculare is usually found on dead or decaying conifer stumps. Sulfur Tufts are also known as the Sulphur Tuft or Clustered Woodlover, and they often grow in bunches in absence of any other mushrooms.

 

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Genus: Hypholoma

Species: fasciculare

Edibility: inedible

Sources

http://www.mushroomexpert.com/hypholoma_fasciculare.html

http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/species/Hypholoma_fasciculare.html

 

*Disclaimer: This site is provided for informational purposes only. Taylor assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequences of readers actions. Though every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, identifications may be incorrect (Taylor *is* a novice)—but that’s where community input helps! Please, feel free to correct misinformation you find (or just add your two cents) in the comments!
Happy foraging!

Fungi Fridays: Amanita phalloides*

[690 words, 3-5 min read]

The Amanita genus is famed for its deadly mushrooms. This genus can be trouble, but there are a few edible species in it. Amanita caesarea (Caesar’s Mushroom) is a highly regarded edible, and the species Amanita hemibapha, commonly known as the Half-dyed Slender Caesar, is edible as well.

I’m thinking the depicted pale mushrooms are Amanita phalloides, commonly known as Death Caps. I didn’t get the best look at these for identification purposes, but they were beautiful from afar! Many Amanita phalloides images depict fruit with greener caps than these two depicted mushrooms, but their distinctive volvas and pale coloration are red flags to me, and they’re just too immature to know what color they’ll turn.

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Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the Fly Agaric

The beautiful (but toxic) Amanita muscaria, commonly known as Fly Agaric, is in the same genus as the phalloides. Muscaria has been traditionally used as an insecticide and sprinkled in milk to attract unsuspecting flies. It also has religious significance in Siberian culture due to hallucinogenic properties caused by ibotenic acid, muscimol, etc. and many cultures reportedly use it as an intoxicant. Apparently, humans have found many uses for this ‘shroom!

As for reported toxicity, North American deaths from Amanita muscaria compounds have been documented as recently as 2012 though—which means people are safest steering clear of this mushroom.

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Likely Amanita phalloides, the Death Cap. Related to muscaria

This is as good a time as any to consider the possibility of poisonings, as they *are* a real danger in foraging. David Fischer of Americanmushrooms.com has a logical view on the practice, and below are some of his words concerning the hallmarks of intelligent foraging, how average people regularly avoid poisonings and who qualifies as an “expert”:

“Millions of North Americans pick and eat wild mushrooms every year, without as much as a belly ache.

Are they “experts”? Yes! At least, they are experts on the edible wild mushrooms they know. Either their parents or grandparents taught them how to identify morels, or puffballs, or meadow mushrooms, or they have a good field guide and they read it… or both.

No one with a reasonable understanding of the importance of properly identifying mushrooms—with a serious awareness that some species are fatally toxic—falls victim to the Death Cap. The folks who eat Death Caps do not use field guides: they just pick the damned things and eat them. No trip to the library. No reading. No spore prints. No idea what a “partial veil” is or what “gill attachment” means.

So… Is it really dangerous to eat wild mushrooms?

How dangerous is it to drive a car? If you’re drunk or careless, it is VERY dangerous; if you’re sensible and pay attention, it is reasonably safe.

1262017_amanitamuscaria_800x455

Amanita muscaria, related to the phalloides

Consider this: Would you pick and eat an unfamiliar berry simply because it “looked good”? Of course not. Finding, identifying, preparing, and eating wild mushrooms can be a delightful pasttime—IF it is done intelligently.

Otherwise, it is a terrible “accident” waiting to happen.”

I’m so grateful for all the mushroom knowledge made available thanks to the diligent study and reporting of mycologists around the world. They make it possible to forage intelligently.

 

edit 2/3/17: I replaced all instances of “Destroying Angel” with “Death Cap”. “Destroying Angel” fungi are also poisonous, but this colloquial term usually refers to A. bisporigera, A. virosa and A. magnivelaris, NOT A. phalloides. There is a European (spring destroying angel) A. verna which resembles A. phalloides. A HUGE thanks to 1left for bringing this to my attention, whose blog is a wonderland of knowledge about wildcraft and foraging. You should check it out.

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Genus: Amanita

Species: phalloides

Edibility: inedible – highly toxic

Sources:

https://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/mar2002.html

http://americanmushrooms.com/deathcap.htm

http://www.bayareamushrooms.org/education/further_reflections_amanita_muscaria.html

*Disclaimer: This site is provided for informational purposes only. Taylor assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequences of readers actions. Though every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, identifications may be incorrect (Taylor *is* a novice) – but that’s where community input helps! Please, feel free to correct misinformation you find (or just add your two cents) in the comments!
Happy foraging!

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