May 29

Tuesday Savannah got her wisdom teeth out.  When she came out of the anesthesia she was crying.  It was just a side effect of the drugs.  She wasn’t in any pain.  She was pretty groggy, and didn’t even remember stopping at the drug store on the way home.  By the time we got home, she was back to her usual ornery self, except for not being able to talk.  She wrote on a note-pad.  We bought her some pudding cups and baby food to eat; that’s what she wanted.   The pain pills made her sick, and she urped her first meal while we were watching TV. 


This was the last day for the squabs.  They flew away, leaving behind a bucket of clothespins, twigs, and bird poop.

Wednesday I left on a field trip.  I drove from Canton, Missouri to Canton, Illinois.  There I met up with Mike Irwin, my friend and former student.  Our mission: to map the southwest edge of the distribution of Brood XIII periodical cicadas to determine the degree of overlap between these and Brood III which we (really, he) had mapped back in 1997.   Our first stop was only two miles away, where, incredibly, we found the cicadas in full chorus.  It had been 9 years since I’d heard any (the 1998 emergence of the Great Southern Brood).  It was like heaven for both of us, but then, we’re cicada freaks.  We found them at a few more places, once by using my bionic ear (parabolic microphone with amplifier).  Then we went on a long dry run.  We drove all the way up to Prophetstown, IL without finding any.  And all the way back to Peoria.  We did find them in several places in Peoria.  Naturally, we photographed them to death and collected a few.  Mostly, we were taking GPS coordinates for the mapping project.  I got some butterflies along the way.


The Hackberry Butterfly and the Pearly Eye.

Thursday we headed further west, then north to the Quad Cities.  We found the cicadas at Loud Thunder Forest Preserve, and stopped there awhile.  We found them a couple more places nearby, then none until we were much farther south near Viola.  Then we found no more all the way home.  According to the old published map, there should have been a lot more sites with cicadas.  But as we learned before, the lines on those maps lie.  We got home a bit earlier, and enjoyed pizza and beer.  We had the extraordinary convenience of staying in Mike’s Grandma’s house while she was away in Minnesota.  Thanks, Grandma! 


“The old me and the new me.”


“The flower lover.”

Meanwhile, Savannah was having pain and bleeding, and had trouble getting up in the morning, so Stacey came home early from work to take care of her.  She fed her and got her perked up again.

We had pretty much done what we wanted to accomplish, so I left Friday morning.  Mike was going to check a few more places before heading down to his Dad’s.  First we stopped at the nearby site and collected a bunch of cicadas alive, and took more photos, of course.   We had about as much fun as we can have together without fishing.  I brought the live bugs home to feed to my lizards, which really enjoyed them.  Boots ate one as well, but predictably played with his food. 

I took Savannah to her work as lifeguard, then I mowed the lawn.  She has the usual chipmunk cheeks of the wisdom tooth extraction victim.  I had to go back and give her a towel, so I decided to swim in the pool.  Might as well get some mileage out of my membership.  I asked her why she wasn’t using the umbrella over the lifeguard chair.  She was tanning. 

Saturday she was the proverbial lobster.  She was burnt in many places, and had blisters in some.  At least it took her mind off the pain in her jaws.  I stayed home and worked on some writing.  Stacey went to class.  Her paper was so good the professor had already given her an A, but he asked her to come to class as a formality.  They spent the whole time going over how to write a paper, presumably because those from most of the rest of the class were so bad. 

The robins on the downspout fledged, but a house finch has built a nest on the outside light by the front door.  Something is building in the mailbox up the tree in the back yard too.  Savannah got a babysitting job Saturday afternoon, and was gone until late.

Sunday Stacey had to run the Rose Tea at Chaddock, which is one of their big annual fundraising events.  Upon arriving, she noted that the florist had delivered two dozen carnations.  To a ROSE tea.  That and the threatening rain were the worst crises she had to deal with.   I went on a bike ride and took lots of pictures.  Savannah slept in, recovered, and went for lifeguarding duty in the afternoon.   I got mad at the bunnies eating my prairie so I got a new roll of rabbit fence and closed off the entire thing, and made it a bit bigger.


Moth mullein in yellow and white.  The syrphid fly is a bonus.


I hate multiflora rose, but it is pretty.


Two new butterflies: Large Copper and Variegated Fritillary


Red Admiral on rusty steel bridge.

Monday morning I stopped at the bank before heading out to Lowell’s when Savannah called.  She had just gotten home from spending the night at a friend’s and, surprisingly, wanted to come with me.  We started out fishing the main lake.  Savannah fished for half of one round, and actually caught a bass.  I caught a few, but Lowell was outfishing us both that day.  We had lunch in Lewistown.  When we returned we walked around looking at Lowell’s prairie and plantings.  I thought I had it tough with cottontails eating my prairie, but Lowell has deer mowing down his trees.  Savannah had a good time driving the Pug around.  She graduated to moderate level instruction, going over bridges, up and down hills, and through narrow trails.  She did great.  I had the first ever genuine allergy attack of my life.  I had uncontrollable sneezing and runny nose.  I got a nice rash from stinging nettle while fishing one of the ponds, too.   Could be worse.  A little girl from Lewistown just died from ehrlichiosis, the same tick-borne disease I got last year.  Guess I dodged a bullet there.  Anyway, I caught a couple of big bass out of the catfish pond, ending up with about 6 on the day.   Got some decent pics too.


Another new butterfly!  The Little Wood Satyr.


Bug in your face.


Blue dragonfly.

I took a nap when I got home.  Right after I woke up Nancy stopped by.  Perfect timing.  We went to her house and cut down a bunch of her boxelder maples.  They made a truckload of firewood and a LOT of brush. 


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May 22

Monday night Savannah spent at a friend’s.  They pitched a tent in the backyard and attempted to sleep there.  Their ribs and legs gave the underlying rocks considerable pains, apparently.  I picked her up Tuesday morning and we went out to Lowell’s.  She slept all the way.   My memory must be going.  I thought we had just a couple of trees to chop up and move, but it ended up being a whole trailer load.  We all got good work-outs.  About 10:00 Savannah started asking about lunch.  We finally went at 11:30.  We went fishing when we got back, but by then the wind was up so much it made fishing and boat control very difficult.  Savannah made one cast, then slept in the back of the boat.  I caught 4 bass.  Savannah slept all the way home.   And took a nap when we got there.   While we were logging and moving things about, Savannah got to drive the Pug, Lowell’s ATV.  After her first trip, she said, “I’m a pro at driving this thing!”  Later that same day…we went back to a spot where I wanted to photograph some flowers.  Savannah turned and headed down hill–straight toward a tree.  I yelled, “Brake, brake, brake!”  She managed to slow it down some, so I said, “Right, right, right!”  Too late.  We had a minor impact with the tree.  Then the challenge became backing out of that jam. 


Skippers like milkweed.


The dove eggs in the clothespin bucket hatched a while ago.  Anyone for squab?  They’re actually much bigger now, and will fledge any day.

I think the young grackles were eaten.  The cardinal babies were similarly MIA.  This is typical pre-fledgling mortality. 

Wednesday I worked on a manuscript.  Stacey was having major allergy problems, and left work after about an hour.  I found a great web page that shows how to get good macro images with my model of camera (bugmacros.com).  I had everything but the light reflector, which I constructed.  I couldn’t get it to work though.  I don’t have exactly the same macro lens.  Besides, the display on my camera is having problems.  It still takes great shots; it’s just hard to see what you’re shooting.  I’ll probably have to send it in for repairs soon.  In the evening I went in to my office for a quick errand, and went to book club.  We had a new member who had found us by our old web page.  We decided that our group probably needed a new web site.  Stay tuned, it’s coming. 

Thursday was for pets and planting.  I planted a bunch of nannyberries in the cleared area out back.  I trimmed back a little brush, and herbicided the ones that were growing back.  It’s hard to kill off mulberries and honeysuckle.  I divided a peace lily of Stacey’s.  It had a dozen babies, so I made a bunch of little pots of them.  I did a little fertilizing and watering afterward.  Savannah’s snake got out yesterday.  I’m constructing a new lid that should be more escape-proof.


This is the inflorescence of a ninebark, planted in front of the house just a few weeks ago.


A horse and buggy pass in front of the house. 

The Amish don’t really like having their pictures taken, so this is kind of uncool.  I was shooting flowers in the front yard when I heard the clippy-clop of approaching hoofbeats.  I hid behind my truck in the garage and got just one shot as they passed.  I kind of like the partial motion blur, which conveniently obscures the faces of the occupants.  This one is especially for my family in California and others who are unfamiliar with living near an Amish community.

In the afternoon I revised another manuscript and got it submitted.  This one has been rejected twice from high-end journals, so now it’s either “third time’s the charm” or “strike three, you’re out!”  I must say, the web is a wonderful thing.  In the old days, you had to print three or four copies of your paper and send it off to the editor in a massive envelope.  Usually, my figures wouldn’t come out right and I’d have to print and copy them about 5 times.  What an ordeal. 


Missouri primrose: little plant, big flower.

Coincidentally, Friday morning I got an email indicating that one of my papers had just appeared in print, and included a pdf version.  Again, there used to be a long delay before you saw a printed copy of the journal, much less received your reprints.  Here’s the citation:

Coelho, J.R., C.W. Holliday, J.M. Hastings, E. Maty, M. Swigart and A. Mendell. 2007. Thermoregulation in male western cicada killers (Sphecius grandis Say) in the Chihuahuan desert. Journal of Thermal Biology 32(5):270-275.

This is the first paper to come out of our work in Big Bend National Park.  We go back in about 5 weeks.

Saturday morning we went to the River Arts Fest in Hannibal.  There was a lot of neat stuff, but not much we really needed.  Stacey got a thing for her hair.  We had lunch at a unique local diner.  We had chocolate covered frozen cheesecake for dessert, and rolled out afterward.

Sunday I went to meditation.  Too bad I was late, as I missed Mukunda, who moved to New York about a year ago, but stopped by while passing through.  I collected some research stuff from my office, then went to see the lady whose jewelry I photographed.  I gave back her stuff and a CD of high-resolution photos.  I took some of my payment in jewelry for Stacey and Savannah. 

Monday we had our annual Memorial Day blow-out picnic at the state park.  As usual, we were blown out by the weather.  We had to pack up our stuff and go to the house of one of the families to escape the rain.  We had a good barbecue, and I took some pictures of the local flora and fauna. 


It was Savannah’s first day as a lifeguard.  She had to enforce rules and call a break because of lightning.


Eastern meadowlark.

May 18

Wednesday I cut two loads of firewood.  The rack on the north side of the house is now full.  I was taking advantage of the cool weather.  I also cut down a neighbor’s tree and an old cedar in my back yard.  After Savannah got home from school we went to Quincy.  We met Stacey at my office, where I began my first attempts to photograph this fused dichroic glass jewelry a lady wants pictures of.  It’s really neat looking stuff, but so reflective that it’s very difficult to get good images of.  We went to a going-away party for my friend Vince, who has taken a job elsewhere.  I gave him a bottle of my worst wine to express my displeasure.  It was a fun party, though.

Thursday I had to take Savannah to an orthodontist appointment early.  She got yet another set of retainers.  We had the obligatory breakfast at Hardee’s then back to school.  I ran some errands, then went back to my office in the afternoon.  I tried some different methods for photographing the jewelry.  I was really happy with the results, but the lady is not yet satisfied.  Check this out:


This is unretouched; just the lighting levels were adjusted with Photoshop.

Friday I hauled the brush from the old, nasty cedar tree I had cut down.  I didn’t bring back anything from the brush dump, but in the hauling of several loads, I picked up some freebies put out for the all-town clean-up.  It was Savannah’s last day of school.  We took naps and watched movies in the afternoon.  She went to see the high school graduation that night.


Black rat snake (juvenile, sex unknown); Andean milk snake, adult female.  Both our pets.

Saturday morning we went garage saling, but were skunked.  There was nothing worth having.  I spent the rest of the morning working on the wood furnace.  I scraped out all the crusty black stuff and gave the inside a “light coat of motor oil.”  Really.  I looked like a chimney sweep when I was done.  There’s a catch-22 in designing wood furnaces: more surface area = better heat exchange, but also more to clean.  I tested the water and topped it off.  Savannah and I rehoused the tarantula into a new, much larger aquarium.  She had quite outgrown the old fish bowl.  During the critical moment of transfer I yelled, “The lid, get the lid!”  Savannah said, “What lid?”   “The lid to the aquarium, doofus!”  Fortunately, the spider did not escape.  At one point there was a squirrel on the bird feeder.  Savannah went to the door and let out an unusual scream.  The squirrel leaped about 8 feet straight out with its tail spiraling for balance.  We died laughing.


Common grackle: pretty…but obnoxious

After dinner, Savannah and I went out to throw dummies for Kane.  Boots was posing, so she took some photos of him.



Boots, His Royal Highness


Kane in the fish pond with the dummy. 

Kane enjoyed his private bath.  It didn’t start out as a water retrieve, but he ended it that way.  He had trouble getting out. 


Kane makes the retrieve.

Sunday I went on a bike ride at Wakonda State Park.  I made frequent stops to take pictures.  I thought it would be mostly flowers and little things, but birds were the order of the day.


Actually, I got this cedar waxwing before I left home.


A dickcissel sat still long enough for this portrait.


Curiously, this bird is not called the Little Masked Booger, as it should, but the Common Yellowthroat.

In the afternoon we all went to Quincy.  Stacey had to give a tour of Chaddock.  Savannah and I stayed at my office.  I constructed a new apparatus for photographing the jewelry.  Savannah played on my computer and ate my food.  Afterward we ran a couple of errands, including a stop for frozen yogurt.  Yum.

 
I solved the reflection and background problems, and the client is now happy with the results.

Monday I stayed home.  I finished reading a book and wrote a review of it.  I worked on another manuscript that my collaborator is lead author on.  In the afternoon I washed and vacuumed out the truck and Lil Egg.  I drove down to the river at one point just to see what was going on.  A lot of people are camped down there.  I stopped and picked up some driftwood. 


May 8

Monday morning I drove into Quincy, dropped off the recycling, and stopped in at Ohio Street Originals.  They were giving away a bunch of their leftover plants.  I filled up the Lil Egg with the stuff.  I gave a bunch to a friend at work, and one to the shuttle bus driver.  I’m Johnny Freakin’ Appleseed.  It was fun.  I saved some for Lowell and Nancy, my other plant freak friends.  I went in to work for awhile.  I went to the post office to apply for a passport.  It looks like I have a good chance of going to the Galapagos Islands next December.  

Tuesday Stacey and I went in to work together.  I gave a couple of exams–it’s finals week.  I read a book that I have to review, a good one on solitary wasps.  Right up my alley.  I think my summer online courses are all ready to go.  In the afternoon I worked on setting up my classes for next fall.  Might as well get ahead.  When we got home Savannah and I took a load of brush to the brush dump.  I picked up some discarded plants (Hen and Chicks) to take to my friends, and another load of natural rocks.  Savannah helped me pick up some big ones that were too heavy to lift myself.  We unloaded them after her piano practice, and we planted a bunch of spring wildflowers that I had gotten.

 
Rose-breasted grosbeak: Female and Male

Wednesday I gave my last finals.  I turned in my grades and was done.  Woo hoo!  To top it off, a student gave me a snake she didn’t want, an Andean milk snake–very pretty.   I had book club that night.  First, I dropped off the hen-and-chicks at my friends’, and picked up some more wildflowers.  Again, it was a fun book club.  We had pizza.  I found out my friend Vince is leaving QU for another job.  He’s the best friend I have at QU, and helped me get the job there.  Kinda bums me out, but it’s what he wants. 

Thursday I went out to Lowell’s to celebrate the first day of my summer break.  We planted the wildflowers I had gotten the night before, plus a few others I had saved up for him.   We fished the main lake.  The first time around I used a new spinnerbait and caught a good but not exceptional number of bass.  The second time around I switched to a soft, white jerkbait.  I caught a couple of small bass, then made one cast up near the shore.  I saw a LARGE fish in the shallows quickly turn and suck it in.  I set the hook and the battle was on.  It was a big channel catfish.  I was using the same rig I had used on trout back in March, and it had a 4-lb test leader on it.  I figured he’d break off, especially if he got into any brush.  I loosened the drag and fought him awhile, and Lowell manned the net.  I finally brought him to the boat, and Lowell did net him.  Actually, I think it was a female, and loaded with eggs, because it was fat.  We didn’t have a functioning scale, and it was longer than the 20 inches on the livewell.  Must have been 24-25 inches and 5-6 pounds. 


Fat Cat: returned to the water to grow bigger.

The bass liked the lure too, and I ended up with 15 on the day.  After the fishing we dug up some plants for me to take home.  I photographed these Penstemon flowers.  I missed them last year, and they don’t last long.


The common name is Beardtongue, understandably.

When I got home I mowed the lawn, which was long overdue.  I was almost finished with the string trimming when it ran out of line.  I had to quit, eat dinner and get ready for my Tree Board meeting.  We approved the Official List o’ Trees, and decided to tackle a grant proposal.  And here I thought I was on vacation.  I saw the first monarch and heard the first nighthawk of the year on this day.

One thing we love about our home is the diversity and abundance of birds.  Not only do they come to our feeders, they nest all around the place.  I have put up several nesting structures that have never been used, which makes the following ironic.  One day I noticed this dove, which had built a nest on top of our plastic porch cabinet.  It built the nest in our bucket of clothespins, which was sitting on top of the cabinet.  The nest is about two feet away from our window.  

 
If you don’t make eye contact and move slowly, she doesn’t fly off the nest.
She wouldn’t sit too long for the camera, and left, revealing these two white eggs.


Grackles nest in our yew at the corner of the garage.  The nest is so deep that this is all I could get of the eggs.

 
This cardinal nest is in my neighbor’s yard.  She was verrry nervous.  These are her eggs.


Robins nest on our downspout every year, making a new nest on top of the old.


This grew up with something else I transplanted into the prairie.  I don’t know what it is yet, but I like it.

Friday I got up early and planted everything that needed planting.  We had ordered some stuff from a bulb company.  I wanted a dwarf fig so I could eat fresh figs after 20 or so years without them.  Of course, the dwarf fig was the only thing in the shipment that looked dried up and dead.  I’m trying to bring it back to life.  I finished the string trimming and got some other tasks done.  I took Savannah to the dentist in Quincy.  They cleaned 2 1/2 years worth of crud off of her teeth.  We went to Walmart and I got a haircut.  It’s buzzed pretty short now.  The stylist asked me how I liked it.  I said it was great, but my wife wouldn’t like it.  She said, “Is that her?”  I said, “No, that’s my daughter.”  Either I look really young or Savannah looks really old.  We met Stacey at the Chinese Buffet for lunch.  Savannah and I went to my office for awhile.  She studied the driver training manual, while I cleaned up the remains of the semester.   I took her to the orthodontist for new molds, as her retainer doesn’t fit.  We went back to the office to pick up the snakes and take them home for the summer. 

When we got home, we looked all over for Savannah’s birth certificate so she could go take her driver’s test.  We couldn’t find it.  She accused me of gross disorganization.  In my defense, we haven’t needed that document in 15 1/2 years.  It was 81 degrees in the house.  I succumbed and turned on the air conditioning.  This has got to be a first, that I turned it on before Stacey did.  Well, it’s brand new, and should be so efficient that it will cost much less to run than our old one.

Saturday morning we were gotten up by a phone call from a friend.  Her dog had been hit and killed by a car.  She was unable to move it.  Another job for the hard-bitten biologist.  We went over to her place and I got the stiff thing into a trash bag.  We let the kids say good bye, and Stacey helped me cover the front end with anoth
er bag.  We had had this dog over to “visit” for about a week not long ago.  What a great way to start the weekend.  We got doughnuts for breakfast, and spent the rest of the morning garage saling.  I stocked up on picture frames, while Stacey stocked up on swim suits, which are often in short supply at Chaddock.   After the requisite afternoon nap, I went outside to do various jobs, such as the biannual cleaning of the gutters.  Savannah had a friend come over.  After dinner we fired up the Chimenea, roasted marshmallows, and made s’mores. 

Sunday morning I went to graduation, the final responsibility of the year.  As usual, the student speech was better than the keynote speech.  We had a good crop of biology students, all graduating with honors.  Afterward I went to the office to pick up the final living things for the summer.  The minnows in my aquarium were difficult.  I don’t really know how many there are, and netting each additional one took more and more time.  I was down to two, I thought, and netted one.  When I went back for the last one, I saw there were still two.  So I finally netted those two, dried off my arm, and closed up the aquarium.  Then I saw one more minnow in there.  Too bad.  It will have to wait. 


A couple of weeks ago Savannah took my old cow skull to school for art class.  I was rather skeptical at first, but I like the way it turned out.  I had found it in the woods while hunting.  The story behind it is interesting: years ago, a truckload of cattle wrecked on the highway.  Many beeves died on the scene, but some ran away.  Of those, some were recaptured, others died of their injuries.  This was one of the latter.  Hence, the single horn.


Many goldfinches have descended on our thistle feeder.


Ruby-throated hummingbird jumps off the feeder.

Monday morning I got out to Lowell’s early.  I wanted to work out the new chainsaw, so I cut down a number of trees, limbed them out, and cut them into firewood until my chain jumped.  Something was wrong with the chain, so I wasn’t able to finish.  I learned some things about cutting wood in summer as opposed to winter.  Even though it was morning and not truly hot out, I got good and sweaty.  Ticks and poison ivy add a couple more layers of inconvenience.  So we did the only logical thing, and went fishing.  Once again the bass were into the soft stickbait, and we caught quite a few.  Lowell was nailing them off of the new brush piles he just put in.  We tried the catfish pond again.  Lowell caught a big bluegill.  I got a couple of big bites, but couldn’t land them.  I ended up with 13 bass on the day.  I filleted the keepers, and we went around so I could dig up more plants.  I didn’t get many photos, but I got some of this lizard, one of two I saw. 



5-lined skink.


My first pic of the Eastern Kingbird.

R.I.P. Kelly Cat, 199?-2007

Eulogy for a Feline

Monday morning I was loading the recycling into my car in the driveway.  Savannah had just left on the school bus.  My neighbor was mowing her yard, and she stopped and yelled at me, asking if we had a white and gray cat.  I said we did.  She showed me to her spruce tree, where Kelly Cat lay outstretched on the ground.  She hadn’t moved at the sound of the mower, which alerted the neighbor that something was wrong.  Kelly was still warm and soft to the touch–no rigor mortis.  I felt her all over.  There were no broken bones, not a drop of blood, no sign of trauma at all.  But she wasn’t breathing and had no heartbeat.  I put her body in a cardboard box in the basement.  I called Stacey at work to tell her.  I made sure to get home before Savannah so that I could tell her.  Tears of grief and disbelief.  She was Savannah’s favorite cat: her Baby, her Pooky-Schmooky.


June 18, 2005

Kelly cat came into our lives shortly after we moved to Illinois in 1993.  Apparently, she came with the house.  She immediately ingratiated herself to us by miscarrying her partly developed kittens on our doorstep.  I was opposed to cat ownership of any kind.  She was an outside cat at first.  Her family membership started with little things, though, like getting food from us.  That first winter, Stacey was insistent that we let her spend the night in the garage on the coldest days.  She knocked down a bunch of insulation.  She started spending more and more time in the house.  I had to admit defeat when I put a litter box in the basement.  She got into the habit of lying next to me in my easy chair, and sleeping with Savannah at night (often under the covers).  She liked to sleep between Stacey and me when she could squeeze in.  She could purr loud enough to be heard across the room.  She never became completely tame, however, always maintaining a slightly feral side.  She would disappear for two or three days at a time in the early years, presumably on hunting expeditions.  One day, we came home to find a half-eaten deer mouse on the living room floor.  I guess she had to leave evidence so we’d know she was doing her job.  She wasn’t opposed to our killing her food, as on this occasion when Savannah shot a sparrow out the back door.


January 2, 2007

She endured our many moves, and was never dumb enough to get lost (unlike Boots), but she did walk back to our old house a couple of times after we made the short move to the current house (the first time, after the tornado).   The hunting wasn’t as good in town, but she’d still manage a mouse, young rabbit or rare bird every now and then.   When we moved back into this house (the second time), Stacey was putting the China into the buffet one day.  The sliding door was open, and Kelly came in with a baby bunny and proceeded to eat it right on the dining room carpet as though it was the most normal thing in the world.  I remember the screaming.

She was spayed at some point, to prevent a repetition of our initial encounter, and endured a number of trips to the vet for shots, etc.  Most recently, we took her in for an abscess.  When the vet shaved her hip, the tracks of many old scars were evident on her skin.  She must have had quite a few battles out there.  She never could tolerate other cats.  She used to kick Boots’ butt at every opportunity, at least until he was lost and found.  After he healed up from his injuries, he became top cat.  I guess he’d had enough of her guff.  He’d chase her around or stalk her just for fun.

She started out known just as “Cat,” when we only had one.  When Boots joined the family we had to have a real name for her.  Savannah chose the moniker “Kelly Cat.”  It’s not like she ever learned it.  Yelling “CAT!” was adequate to get her off the kitchen counter.  Curiously, she would come to whistling.  We don’t really know how old she was.  She was obviously an adult when we met her, and did not grow any more, except for those fat folds of skin that hung down her sides (fat laps) in later years.  We figured she was at least two years old when we got her, so we always just assumed she was the same age as Savannah.  We had her almost 14 years, anyway.  Though she was found suspiciously close to the road, I could find no evidence that she was hit by a car.  It seems more likely that she died of some sudden event, such as a heart attack, stroke or aneurysm.


October 25, 2005

We dug a hole in the back yard, up against the woods in an area that I had cleared last week.  More tears.  Over the top I planted some cat mint, which a kindly person had given me earlier in the day when I mentioned our loss.  A cross will follow.  Later I saw the first ever Indigo Bunting come to our bird feeder.  The word must have gotten out in the bird community: the mighty huntress was dead.


Indigo Bunting, May 7, 2007

May 1

Tuesday we finally got stream team done.  I only had 4 volunteers.  Rain was predicted, and rain it did, but at least it did not thunder.  It never rained too hard, and it was hot and humid.  The mosquitoes were the worst.  Normally, we do this in March, when there are no mosquitoes out.  The river was higher than we’ve ever seen, but just doable in hip waders.  The stream didn’t score too well this time, probably because of the high flow.  We did find a huge crane fly larva though.

I think the word we used to use was…”Gnarly!”


Stephanie didn’t want to touch it.

Wednesday was the last day of Vertebrate Field Biology.  By popular demand, we went back to Lowell’s.  This time it was warm and wet, rather than cold and covered with ice.  It rained all the way there, and sprinkled periodically during our initial walk around the place, but stopped for the rest of the day.  The grass was thick with ticks, and we stopped periodically to deparasitize ourselves.  We saw a fair diversity of birds, starting with the gray catbird, which I’ve never seen while out with a class. 

I hardly ever see one of these, much less photograph one. 

We also saw a green heron, two swallow and three sparrow species. After the walk we took a break, sitting in Lowell’s basement and watching birds come to the feeder.  There we got rose-breasted grosbeak and red-headed woodpecker, which were new ones for us. 


Rose-breasted grosbeak, immature male.

Then we took a ride in the pontoon boat around the lake.   We saw the geese and their 3 goslings, and picked up the unhatched eggs from the nest.  We saw a few more new birds, yellow warbler and common yellowthroat, which I had also never seen with a class.  We got the orchard oriole and a few more. 

Brent, Angelica, Emily, Laura, Lowell, Johanna


The goose family at home.

Brent was juggling the dead eggs and they accidentally bumped each other, whereupon, apparently under the pressure of bacterially generated internal gases, they both exploded.  Fortunately, no one was wounded.  The contents looked like pale tofu.  Brent was also rather late for class.  We had to wait for him in West Quincy to catch up with us.  His sandals were ever so practical for hiking, but at least his bare legs were good for sweeping ticks from our path. 
Following this adventure, we did some aquatic vertebrate sampling (fishing).  I had prerigged several rod/reel combos for catfishing.  Turns out, the catfish pond is full of big bluegills, which we enjoyed catching.  I caught one, but Emily and Brent caught several.  Johanna caught a big bass, and Angelica had a big catfish on, but lost it at the shoreline.

Thursday night Stacey and I stayed after work.  Bill and Betty Jo Lloyd brought Savannah over so we could all go to John Wood Community College for the awards ceremony of the photography contest.  We were all pleasantly surprised that Savannah had won big time in the youth division.

“Pretty in Pink”
First Place: flowers
Best of Color

She took this one at the Butterfly House in St. Louis on a short vacation that she didn’t want to take!



“Snowscape at Wakonda”
First place: landscapes
Best of Show

She took this one on our cross-country ski outing last November.  Alternative title: “Dad peed here”


All the winners in the youth division.


The Larva with her pics and certificate.  Note the absence of braces.

She took both photos with my camera.  I cleaned them up with Photoshop a bit (slight cropping and lighting adjustment), matted and framed them.  Stacey always picks the colors of the mats.  We are all very proud of her.  Now she’s an award-winning writer and photographer like her Dad.  Must be in the genes–her Mom’s an award-winning writer too.  She won $75 for her efforts, which she put to use the next day to have her hair done for prom.

Friday I went to Kids Conservation Day at Kibbe, except that it wasn’t at Kibbe this year.  It had rained all night and was still raining.  I thought they were going to cancel it, but they moved it instead to Carthage.  My table was set up farthest away.  People must have a fear of cockroaches.  I did the usual song and dance, except that I gave each teacher a cockroach if they wanted one.  By the time it was over my feet and voice were shot.  I gotta come up with something easier next year.  I met the new caretaker for Kibbe.  He was showing a bunch of reptiles and amphibians.  He mentioned they were moving a bunch of stuff from the WIU campus to Kibbe.  There were a bunch of my old bee hives they wanted to get rid of, so I took them.  I can’t believe they fit in my car.  I had him pull out the herps so I could photograph them.


A common snapping turtle.  They never look happy.


A baby stinkpot, hatched last fall.


Savannah got out of school early to go have her hair done, and spent much of the day at a friend’s preparing herself.  Fake nails, false eyelashes–is there any part of her left that’s real? 

She stopped at the house just long enough for me to snap this picture.  She went to prom, then after-prom, home for a couple hours of sleep, then to a track meet on Saturday.  After-prom was boring, apparently.

Saturday Stacey and I went to Quincy.  It was the Dogwood Festival, but we just went to plant sales and garage sales.  We got some deals.  We skipped the parade.  At noon we went to my Division end-of-semester party, held at a cabin on the river.  It was fun.  Seems like almost everyone else has young children.  We’re the old farts now!

Sunday I stayed home and planted all the stuff we had bought on Saturday.  I hauled away the leftover brush from last week, chainsawed some small logs, and cut down a couple of my neighbor’s trees.  My new chainsaw cuts like a breeze.  So smooth, like a hot knife through butter.  At the brush dump, I picked up a couple of pieces of firewood, one small piece of OSB, and some rocks.  Natural rocks can be hard to come by, and someone had dumped a bunch down there.  I took two loads, including a few I could barely lift, but they’ll come in handy when I redo the fish pond. Stacey had gone straight from church to a house-burning.  This was practice for the volunteer fire department.  She had fun, mostly handling hose and so forth.  
In the afternoon we went to the spring piano recital.  There were some kids that were pretty good.  I video recorded all of Savannah’s.  She was quite good, considering that she almost never practices.  I wanted to post the video here, but it’s 188 Mb, exceeding my storage limit.  Here’s the still anyway.