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.

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