June 21

Meanwhile back in Indiana…
Tuesday we continued with the trenching.  We dug a 150′ trench, plus a 3x3x3′ sump. I can testify that it’s dry. Really dry. It had rained overnight, which I thought might soften things up.  Not at all.  Even for the sump, it was dry all the way down. That and the abundant tree roots made it so fun, but those were expected. The single large native sandstone in the middle of our path to the sump was the real surprise!  I broke chips off the top of it with the mattocks to make room for the drain pipe.  There’s a nice, big boulder in the yard that my mother-in-law uses to feed the birds.  This one could have been the mate to it.  I think I heard on the news they were about 4 inches behind on rainfall. Not much better here in NE Missouri. 

Hayden is Tank and Deon’s 15-month old boy.  For some reason, he likes me.

We had to sleeve the 4″-diameter perf pipe with fabric to prevent silt intrusion.  This process resembled installing the largest condom in the world.  Elephant jokes were thrown about in abundance.   We got some help from the women and children on that job.  Stacey ordered up 4 tons of gravel, which we thought would be more than enough.  It was close.  It filled all the trenches and just barely coated the bottom of the sump, which we had lined with weedblock.  We wheelbarrowed the excess soil to various low spots in the yard.  That night we had dinner at Stacey’s Dad’s house, and visited with relatives.  I should mention that Stacey’s Mom made me a chocolate pie that was delicious.  She also made a butterscotch pie for Savannah. 

Savannah with Kaylee, Tank and Deon’s 4-year-old live wire.

Wednesday morning another 2 tons of rock were delivered.  This was more than enough to fill the sump, but the excess will be used on the driveway.  Tank’s friend Rob came over to help out.  To bad we didn’t call him two days earlier. 

Me, Rob and Tank.  Tank begins a 15-month tour of Iraq in July.  He’s a Blackhawk instructor pilot for the Army.  

Here are some images taken by Savannah with her little 3 Mp camera.

Stacey did more than babysit.  Here she bends to the task.

Savannah and Krystal enjoy some ice cream.  Perhaps too much.

Jarrod Nicholas: used to look like Jesus Christ, now more like the Antichrist?  No, he resembles the computer jock that he is.

We left and hit the road for Missouri.  I bought cheap Indiana gas at $2.74/gal and didn’t have to buy again all the way across Illinois.  We unpacked and relaxed at home for most of the afternoon.  Stacey went to her night class at QU, then called because she had accidentally locked the keys in the car.  I told her I was sure I had placed a spare key on the vehicle in a magnetic box, as I have done to all our vehicles.  She couldn’t find it, so I had to drive over and unlock the car.  The up side is that I am nearly certain that I heard the first Tibicen pruinosa of the season calling that night in Quincy.  Before I went to bed I turned on the back porch light and saw a raccoon on top of the bird feeder.  On his way climbing down, he was able to span the baffle with his long body.

Thursday morning I watered all my plants.  We got only about a quarter inch of rain while we were gone.  I searched the Echo for that spare key and could not find it.  Stacey is now granted absolution.  I will remedy the situation soon.  I made a sleeve of sheet metal above and below the squirrel baffle to exclude the ‘coons.  We’ll see if it works.

The perfectly parabolic and symmetrical form of the squirrel baffle has been disrupted by the raccoon activity.  Sleeves above and below should act as a deterrent.  Actually, the ‘coons bloodied themselves on the sharp metal edges while climbing it.  Back to the drawing board.

Friday I went in to work early.  I had two meetings, then went to the office for an hour or so.  I got some work done and put together the stream team gear.  Vince stopped by, surprisingly.  He was just back from a month in Pennsylvania, and was preparing for his move to Aurora.  I went to main campus to register students.  There were no problem children.  The only problem was that my Bio I class was full.  I increased the maximum, but that may not be enough before next fall.  I met some nice people from Illinois, Wisconsin and New Jersey.  I ate lunch with three women volleyball players, all taller than me.  I went back to the office and did some grading and stuff, then stopped by the Arts Faire in the park.  I talked to some of the people I knew–Steve, Wanaree, and Linda, the lady whose jewelry I photographed.  There was nothing I really wanted in the booths, so I went home. 

Saturday morning Lowell and I drove up to Clark County to do some emergency Stream Team work.  There are a couple of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) going in there, and the local team wants to get some baseline data before the hogs move in.  They aren’t yet trained to do the chemistry, so that’s what we went to do.  The first stream was the smallest I had ever sampled.  All of its measurements were good, except that it had the highest turbidity I’ve ever seen, apparently from the recent rain.  We went to the next stream, Cedar Creek, which was so low I could barely sample it.  It was also all good, but it had the lowest turbidity I’ve ever seen, as the pools of water had allowed the silt to all settle out.  The third and final stream was dry, so we didn’t sample it.  Lowell and I got lunch in Kahoka and went to a pond that I had fished 5 years or more ago.  It had huge hybrid bluegills in it at the time, and I caught two that earned me my only Missouri Master Angler Award.  We hiked back into the place, which looked like chigger central.  Fish kept nibbling our baits right away, but we couldn’t hook one for quite awhile.  When I finally did, it was a hybrid bluegill, about 4 inches long.  We caught two or three more like that and decided the big ones were all either caught or died of old age.  We’ll go back in a few years after these have grown up.

Before we left, we ran out to a red fox road kill Lowell had spotted on the way over.  I need a skull for our collection, but when we arrived, we saw that its head was squished flat.  No usable skull on that one!

Sunday morning I went out to Lowell’s.  All we wanted to do was cut up some logs we had dragged out some time ago, just to get them out of the way.  First, we took a ride in Lowell’s new Kawasaki Mule.  It was very nice.  It didn’t take long to buck the logs, but the rack filled up.  We set up another rack, but needed skinny logs to run along the bottom.  So we went out and felled a couple of trees, in the process running across a few we had felled a long time ago and forgotten about.  We dragged them all in and bucked them as well, stacking all the firewood on the new rack.  Finally, we set about the fishing.  They weren’t interested in my usual spinnerbait.  I thought a topwater might be appropriate, so I tied on a Zara Puppy.  I got some small strikes at first, then started hooking some.  It was a lot of fun.  I ended up with 8 bass, including a nice 15-incher.  Lowell was reeling them in regularly as well, and some colorful bluegills.

Monday I did mostly telecommuting–paperwork from my computer.  I cleaned the fish aquarium, packed a little, and did odd jobs around the house.  I got my camera back from the repair facility.  It said that they “recalibrated circuit”, whatever that means.  I don’t have a lot of faith that it will stay fixed.  Tuesday morning I took it out and gave it a whirl. 

Sunflower in the prairie, dayflower in the woods.

House finch nest on the front porch light.  Unhatched egg to the right and foreground of the nestling, which I suspect may be a brown-headed cowbird.  It’s already as big as a finch, but nowhere near fully developed.

I did some experimentation and finally figured out how to get my macro lens to work.  I got some decent results in the prairie.
I put this ladybug on one of my cup plants that had an aphid infestation.  Unknown metallic fly.

Savannah spent most of Monday and Tuesday at the pool, either giving swim lessons, going to swim team practice, working as lifeguard, or just goofing off.  Stacey has been going to a night class, so she leaves at 7:30 a.m. and comes home at 10. 

I leave for Big Bend on Friday, so there may not be another update for awhile.  When it comes, it’ll be a whopper.

June 12

To Saint Louis!  Lowell and I went down on Tuesday morning.  We had lunch at Red Lobster, then went to Bass Pro Shops, The Sports Authority, and army surplus store and a nursery.  We got what we needed.  Before I had left, I cut some rhubarb we have growing in the side yard. Stacey made a pie that night and it was delicious.  It had been about 20 years since I had a rhubarb pie.

Wednesday was a rocky day, in many ways.  First I rearranged all the rocks in the back yard (obtained from the brush dump weeks ago) around the little fish pond.  When I was pulling off the old rock arrangement, there was a garter snake underneath a flat stone.  He was a little perturbed by my disruption of his domain, and struck at my glove when I threatened.  He finally dove into the pond and disappeared.  About the time I finished I got a call from Nancy.  We went down to New London to pick up some rocks.  These were really cool ones, like you see in the Ozarks all the time.  “Holy Rocks”, actually limestone shot through with holes eroded by water over the centuries.  The truck was riding fairly low and didn’t handle too well, but we made it back without trouble.  It wasn’t as hard a job as I thought it was going to be.   After we unloaded the stuff we surveyed Nancy’s prairie, which has come up rather spectacularly.  I went down to the brush dump to scout around, and picked up a decent load of firewood, which I took home, cut up and stacked. 

Rose-breasted grosbeak takes off.

Savannah got her first paycheck this week.  Welcome to the working world.  She’s been spending a lot of time at the pool, and not always working.  On this day a kid fell, broke a tooth and cut her chin.  Savannah and the lifeguard on duty ran to the scene to help.  Then Savannah filled in while the lifeguard on duty and the manager dealt with the situation.

Thursday it was dreadfully warm. I ended up doing outside work, even though I didn’t want to. I wanted to revise a paper and submit it, but I had 3 girls sleeping in my basement and could not retrieve my computer without disturbing their slumber. They stayed up late and slept in late.  At least Savannah cooked breakfast when she got up, which ended up being my lunch.  I constructed a squirrel baffle for the bird feeder based on Lowell’s description. It’s a little hokey, but might work. The first trial was a success, as we watched a juvenile squirrel climb the pole about half way, look around and jump down.  He did this about six times.  I did a lot of weeding and trimming, and earned a bunch of chigger bites for it.

Purple Poppy Mallow.  Don’t remember where I bought it, but I wasn’t too impressed at the time.  I’m loving it now, though.  It spreads out and makes lots of lovely blooms.

Friday I worked on a manuscript almost all day.  I got it submitted finally.  Saturday morning I got Savannah up early and we went for a bike ride with some friends.  It wasn’t an especially long ride, but the pace was a bit fast for us.  Everyone else had road bikes, and we had mountain bikes.  The newly paved road was nice and smooth, but that provided us with no advantages.  Plus, face it, we’re a little out of shape.  There was just a profusion of red admiral butterflies all along the road.  There were a few major roadkills that made breathing difficult.  On the way back I identified a dead snake (prairie king) for the group.  When we got home Stacey made French toast for breakfast, and one of the ladies who rode with us stayed to eat.  We used to live across the alley from her in the parsonage.  So we caught up on the news.  Things have been rather dry around here lately.  I watered all our plants front and back.  There are at least four species blooming in the prairie.

Here are some previously unpublished shots from the cicada expedition:

Beardtongue (Penstemon)

Dragonfly on concrete.

This storm drenched us coming through Galesburg.  As you can probably tell, it’s moving from left to right.

Sunday morning I cleaned house and packed.  As soon as Stacey got home we drove to Indiana.  The trip was uneventful.  We met her brother Tank and his two kids at the hotel in Crawfordsville.  We’d never met little Hayden, who has spent his first 15 months of life in Germany.  We went out to dinner, and Stacey’s other brother Jarrod and sister Krystal joined us. 

Monday morning we went over to Stacey’s Mom’s house to begin the purpose of this mission: to install a drainage system around the house.  We dug a trench around the perimeter.  We thought about renting a trencher, but they were all too big and not maneuverable enough to get where we needed to go.  The ground was so dry and hard, it was hard to believe that our purpose was to drain off excess water, which seeps up through the floor when it rains heavily.  There were numerous tree roots on two sides, which added to the challenge.  Various shovels, a mattocks, axe, and various pruners were all required to get the job done.  Actually, we didn’t quite finish.  We went to Home Depot and bought perf pipe and the other bits that would be required.  Tank and I did most of the work.  All day three girls were across the street jumping on a trampoline and spraying each other with water.  If they had been about eight years older, they would have been a major distraction.

June 5

Tuesday morning I took advantage of the cool weather and went back to Nancy’s to cut down a couple more trees.  Later I took Savannah back to the oral surgeon to have her stitches taken out.  Last week the place was empty, but this time there weren’t enough chairs in the waiting room.  We had lunch with Stacey, and picked up our pictures from the contest.  I had to send my camera in for repair, so I making do with our old 2 Mb Fuji.  There were some pleasant surprises waiting on the memory card, as Savannah had taken some lovely shots of Kelly Cat back in May of 2006.  No one’s used the camera since then.

It’s a terrible admission, but I miss that stupid cat a lot. 

Savannah’s self-portrait.  She still has a bit of swelling in the cheeks, but doesn’t look like a blowfish anymore.

Wednesday morning I planted some things I had bought on sale Tuesday.  Then I dropped off the Echo at the mechanic.  He fixed the check engine light, but the A/C problem might require 3 hours to get at the potentially bad sensor.  I’ll wait on that.  I took a small load of brush to the dump, brought back a large load of wood, and cut it up.  All my racks at home are nearly full now.  A couple of the logs were about 2 feet in diameter.  They’ll have to dry a long time before I attempt to split them.

I’ve been working on a web page for our Buddhist group.  I obtained the domain name and put it up.  It’s fairly basic.  I welcome suggestions for improvement.


My camera is in for repairs, but I can draw on my bank of images for your entertainment.  Here are some flowers from Lowell’s.

Venus’ Looking Glass and Milkwort.

Rough-Fruited Cinquefoil

A mushroom in my front yard.

Thursday I worked on the dune buggy in the morning.  It ran the same as it did last year: no high end.  I tried changing the timing a few degrees one way or the other, but it didn’t help.  I posted a question on the online forum (Buggytalk).  The next candidates are vacuum advance failure and fuel pump insufficiency.  It was hot and windy.  We were supposed to get severe thunderstorms, and were under a tornado watch for much of the day.  We got out the weather radio, but all it did was keep us awake with warnings for other counties. 

Friday I went to the office.  I pinned out all the cicadas that I had collected last week, but which died in the interim.  One was a Magicicada septendecula, a rare surprise.  I printed out nice new labels for all of them, and spread the wings on three.  I put them in the drying oven to make sure they didn’t rot.  I went to main campus to register students.  I got a free lunch out of the deal.  I also got two into the Galapagos class and one into my FYE section.  Afterward I went back to my office to give an exam.  This kid had had to take an incomplete because the Sunday before finals week he caught a softball with his face. 

Here’s a fun experiment: the same perspective in different seasons.

Savannah’s prize-winning landscape from last December.  My view from the same spot in mid-May.  

Naturally sprinkled flower.

Bird spooked by car.

Saturday morning Stacey and I went to the Farmers Market and plant sale in Quincy.  They didn’t have any plants I wanted, but we bought a watermelon and some vegetables.  We saw a lot of people we knew.  We went yard saling for several hours after that, picking up lots of bargains.  At one sale I bought a tripod.  I knew from the brand name (Manfrotto) it was a good deal at $10.  When I got home I looked up the components in a catalog.  They added up to over $200.  That’s the best bargain I’ve gotten in a long time.  I also got a lighting rig for $3, and fixed its stand when I got home.  Too bad I have no camera to go with them right now.  Stacey got lots of books and some clothes for Savannah.  We ran into Steve and Wanaree at a garage sale–fellow bargain hunters.  Stacey went to have lunch with some friends, and dropped me off at the Soap Box Derby race.  It’s held on the bridge right in front of North Campus where I work.  They close off the street; it makes a perfect spot for it.   The cars were very impressive.  Many have professional paint jobs.  I had to endure a half-hour break while they hauled all the cars back to the top of the hill on big trailers.  But in the first race after that, a kid wiped out in the hay bales.  Uninjured, but embarrassed to tears he was.   Chaddock, Stacey’s workplace, sponsored two kids.  As luck would have it, I caught one in the best photo I got that day (with the little camera). 

Looks like a winner!

I learned that the memory card in this camera will only hold 8 shots at the highest quality, so I was out of business pretty quickly.  They had an old car from 1955 there, which was kind of neat. 

The interior was composed of used boards.  I’ll bet none of the current ones do.

Sunday I went out to Lowell’s.  The clouds looked rather forbidding, but we started in with some logging right away.  All we wanted to do was drag out the trees we had cut down already, but we had to cut down a few more just to get at those.   We only had a few more to got when it began to rain.  Hard.  We decided to run for it.  We took the tractor and the Pug back to the shed.  It was deafening inside, as the rain pelted the steel roof.  We couldn’t even run from there to the house without another drenching.  We waited it out.  At one point, lightning struck nearby and the lights in the shed came on for a second.  Scary.  When it let up a little, we went in the house for a while.  Naps soon overtook us.  By the time I was awakened by a tick crawling up my arm, the rain had stopped.  We went down to the lake and fished.  We saw a hen wood duck cross the lake in front of us, followed by five small ducklings.  They must have hatched out of one of the wood duck boxes Lowell had put up many years ago.   We saw a big swirl by the bank, and I began to cast in the area.  Farther down the shore something took a swipe at my spinnerbait, so I left it in the water next to the boat a second longer.  A big catfish hit it.  I only had about 8 inches of line out.  I eased up on my drag and fought it a short time before Lowell netted it.  The slippery devil was trouble to handle, and I knocked Lowell’s rod into the lake.  Good thing for the floating handle.  I put him back into the water.  I didn’t catch any bass before we went to lunch in Ewing.  Afterward we drove around in the Pug and did some minor logging jobs.

Bewhiskered booger.

In the afternoon, Stacey, Savannah and I went to an anniversary party.  I talked to a lot of people I hadn’t seen for awhile. 

Monday I went into the office to meet with a student.  It was interesting because I had seen this student play basketball, but never talked to her.   She turned out to be very sweet.  I talked to my division chair for awhile, went to main campus, then dropped off the recycling.  I met Stacey for lunch before heading home.  I got a book review submitted, but otherwise accomplished very little for the rest of the day.