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.

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