September 29

Wednesday morning I took Savannah to the doctor, and I swore she had pink-eye.  Turned out she just had allergies.  In the afternoon I went to the QU community meeting, where we learned that everything is good in terms of enrollment, budget, etc.  We might have a new president by next summer.  That night I went to dinner at Lori’s, as usual, before book club.  We are into a great book right now (Eckart Tolle’s The Power of Now), and it’s fun to discuss. 

Thursday afternoon I left with a bunch of teachers to go to a conference in Chicago.  It was a fun group.  We had an excellent dinner, and stayed at the Radison Hotel at the O’Hare airport.  The last time I was there was to pick up Darby about 15 years ago.  Friday was the conference.  Parts were boring, but I learned things in other parts.  In the afternoon we came back.  One lady drove both ways.  What a trooper!  At one point we saw a rainbow, and there was rain falling from the clouds that never hit the ground.  I told her, “That’s called verga.”  She said, “Did I tell you what I did in the Air Force for nine years?”  “No.” “I was a meteorologist.”  Dang, am I an idiot!  We passed the big cicada killer site in Joliet.  I felt the urge to be surrounded by thousands of my favorite wasps again, but of course, they’re all dead by this time of year.

Saturday morning Stacey went to a conference in Centralia.  Unfortunately, she left behind her wallet.  She was able to use a check at a convenience store to buy gas.  Savannah and I ran some errands.  I got a filter and oil at the new (or moved) NAPA auto parts store.  I drained the oil on the Tracker and found that there was only 1.5 quarts left in it.  Seems I’d forgotten to change it for nearly a year, or 10,000 miles.   That can’t be good.  It did at least sound a lot better afterward. 

I was poking around in my prairie looking for subjects when I saw a monarch.  I hadn’t tagged one since Monday, so I ran for a net.  I tagged it.  It could be the last wild-caught one I tag.  Most of the caterpillars I collected last week are now chrisalides.  I have just about enough tags for all of them.

A ladybug.  

An assassin bug.

A wasp with long antennae, crawling through a spider web on the woodpile.

Since I figured out how to make these calendars, it’s gotten easier.  So naturally, I made a couple more.  One has all the best bald eagle photos, the other is all made of the ugliest bug pictures I have.  If you visit the web sites, you can see the unique picture used each month.                  

Sunday morning I went deer hunting out at Lowell’s.  I didn’t see any deer or turkeys, but I got a lot of Tom Sawyer read.  Lowell and I caught a number of fish on the main lake, then made a tour of all the ponds.  I ended up with about 9 bass, some of them fairly chunky.  I got some great pictures while we were out and about.  None of the dragonflies are new species for me, but the photos are better than what I had previously.
Yellow-legged Meadowhawk, male.                                                           

Eastern Amberwing, female.

12-spotted skimmer–or should it be 10-spotted?        

A leopard frog, just in case you’re tired of dragonflies.

Savannah has decided to become a cheerleader this year.  It seems she’s preadapted for it, what with all the years of karate training.  Monday was her first day of practice, and her arms are sore from holding the positions.  She is ticketed to be a flyer.  You know, the one that gets dropped on her head.

September 18

Tuesday the headline in the paper was a spill of hog manure into a stream near Hannibal.  The owner of the hog farm is one of the people who got themselves elected to the county health board in order to rescind the ordinance passed last year allowing local regulation of CAFOs.  Talk about shooting yourself in the butt.  And tomorrow we do stream team monitoring–perfect timing!

This ambush bug was hanging around our freshly blooming stonecrop plant. 

I didn’t take the photo, but I wish I had.  This was forwarded to me.  It’s in Quincy at the St. John’s Anglican Church.  Where else would you go for an anal blast?  St. John’s, of course.

Wednesday we did our stream team monitoring in ecology class.  It was hot and the water was low, but we saw a lot of different creatures: crayfish, tadpoles, minnows, mussels, frogs, spiders and even snakes.  The stream tested out OK.

This student is measuring the water clarity using a turbidity tube.  Really.  Photo by Lowell.

The whole group.   Photo by Lowell.

Friday morning I fixed the great crack in the house, shown previously in this space.  The challenges were many, having to nail some 2x4s across the rafters in the attic (moving aside boxes and blown in insulation) so that I’d have something to screw the drywall to.  The elastomeric caulk did a good job.  It filled the crack and looked just like the textured ceiling.  I was a mess at the end though, covered in insulation.  In the afternoon I went out to Lowell’s.  We did two rounds of the lake, but the fish were not in a biting mood.  I think we caught one small bass apiece.  I’ve never seen the lake so low.  Afterward I went on my first deer hunt of the year.  I was swatting mosquitos while reading Tom Sawyer and looked up to find a doe in the bean field.  She was out of range, as was her fawn, complete with spots.  A spike buck followed.  A bigger buck showed up, and started to wander away.  I followed the advice of a recent article I’d read.  I grunted a lot and worked my rattler loud and hard.  He ran away.  As Lowell said, the buck must not have read that article yet.  The doe approached the fence, and for awhile I thought she might jump it and come close enough for a shot, but not so.

Nice broadside shot at about 40 yards–too far for my current range.

I bought the biggest mice I could this time.  This is a very satisfied but uncomfortable snake.

Saturday I went down to the river to explore.  Took these photos.
The blue-faced meadowhawk.

Male carolina mantis, “Whadda YOU lookin’ at!”                      Newly eclosed milkweed bug, I think.

In wandering about, I noticed a couple of monarch caterpillars on the milkweed.  I ended up collecting about 10 of them, taking them home and setting them up in a larvarium.

In the morning I lazed about and read the Sunday paper, then went out to Wakonda State Park.  There were a lot of butterflies, including monarchs.
The sand prairie was full of these tiger beetles.                                              The monarchs were all over these sunflowers.

In the afternoon I watched the beginning and end of the Cubs game (beat Pirates 8-0); in between I picked up a load of wood from the brush dump, cut and stacked it.

And now, some shameless advertising.
I set up two new shops on CafePress.
This one sells a 2008 calendar featuring some of my best butterfly photos:

This one has my best dragonfly pics:

In each case, the you get a different species each month, identified by both common and scientific name.

Monday morning I caught six more monarchs.  I caught the first five I saw without a miss, and thought I was pretty hot.  Then I missed several, which was humbling.  In my afternoon lab, the students had to get little Daphnia out of a jar of pond scum and put them in a glass tube.  Near the end of class, one student knock over the entire jar of pond scum–into the lap of her friend.  They were cracking up.  Many feet of paper towel later, they had it mostly cleaned up.  Then she walked to the sink, and I had to tell her she had a ring of duckweed around her butt.  She looked like she had wet herself. 

Sept. 11

Tuesday Savannah’s school held a number of events to memorialize the 9-11 tragedy.  This seemed to accomplish nothing but upsetting a bunch of kids. 

The monarchs were really migrating this week, so I got all my classes involved.  Tuesday we marked 8, Wednesday 13, and Thursday 21.  I would run them down and go through all kinds of strange contortions trying to net them.  This provides the students with no end of hilarity.  I caught one with a flying leap, and another one-handed.  Wednesday I had the ecology class out in our parking lot in the afternoon.  At this time of day, the monarchs are flying strongly, and don’t stop for anything.  They often get some altitude so they can clear our building.  That makes catching them tough.  One of the students, Cameron, is a big basketball player with dreadlocks.  He’s a super nice kid, with a wonderful attitude, and he really wanted to catch one.  He worked hard at it for an hour or so, with many near misses.  Finally, he brought one in, with much celebration.  I carefully pulled it from the net.  It was a viceroy.  That’s the species that mimics the monarch.  We turned it loose, rather disappointed, but also laughing hard.  We continued, with others catching one every now and then.  Cameron catches another butterfly and brings it over to be tagged…but it’s another viceroy.  This is funny because viceroys are somewhat rare, and we’ve never caught one during tagging efforts.  Later on, he caught an actual monarch.  Cam is an awesome basketball player, but he admitted that in his youth, his baseball coach only let him in to bat in the 8th inning.

Friday I went in for meetings, meetings, meetings.  I gave a presentation in one.  After our division meeting we went into the parking lot and set off a hydraulic rocket.  The computer science guy had built this apparatus in which you use a bicycle pump to pressurize a 2-liter plastic bottle (partly filled with water), place a tennis ball on top, then release the pressure.  The bottle shoots up in the air rather impressively, and the ball goes even higher.  He said you can get it up to 200 psi (!), but never to use a baseball, which goes nearly out of sight, but is obviously dangerous on the way down.  I was most impressed by the device, which he made in his basement machine shop. 

After that I went down to the student center to give blood.  I was a little early, so when I saw a monarch on the butterfly bush outside the student center, I barehanded it, took it back to my car and tagged it.  I caught a couple more before it was my turn to be bled.  While I was filling my blood bag, a large female student went into the cubicle to have her blood tested prior to donating.  We hear a little scream.  The technician gets up and says, “It’s OK, I’m all right.”  We all laughed.  But not enough blood came out, so they had to stick her again.  A different technician volunteered.  This time it’s a loud, long scream.  We laughed again, but the real irony is that it was all in vain.  Her blood was too low in iron and she could not donate.

Savannah went to Relay for Life that night with a friend.  They stayed there way too late, got too cold, and ate too much cotton candy.  She has been sick this week, and they put her on strong antibiotics, so strong that they have certain side effects on her digestion.


Saturday morning we went to Clark County Mule Days up in Kahoka.  On the way, we got stuck behind all the tractors going to the parade.  Significant delay of game.  There was a small flea market and craft show, but we didn’t get anything.  We watched some of the mule events at the arena, like musical tires and the pantyhose race.  I thought that was pretty fun.  I want to go back another year when we can watch more of the events.  Savannah was not feeling well and Stacey had to be back in Canton, so we left after wolfing some ribeyes.

This guy won the team competition.  Here you can kind of see how the panty hose race works.

The rider is supposed to stand on the carpet square in musical tires (like musical chairs for mules), but the mule doesn’t have to cooperate.  Carpet squares are obviously safer than tires, but the name remains.

The last three left in the musical tires contest have to run to the end of the arena, pick up a carpet square, then lead their mule back to where they started.

Savannah went to bed, Stacey went on a rescue call, and I went to the QU vs. Culver football game, which was held right down the street.  A bunch of my students were there.  The lead changed back and forth many times.  Both sides were having difficulty making field goals and extra points.  I thought it might come down to the last possession, and it did.  It was tied 25-25, and we scored a field goal with about 12 seconds left.  I guess our kicker made the one that really mattered.

Stacey’s rescue call ended up being an Amish buggy rear-ended by a semi.  All were ejected.  Two of them died, including a pregnant woman.  The others were badly injured.  Only the horse was relatively unscathed.  The semi had to be towed away.  Stacey has been counseling the firefighters since then, as many were traumatized.

Savannah went to babysit some children this night.  She got back late but well rewarded.

Sunday morning Stacey went to preach, Savannah slept in, and I worked on a manuscript.  Although a decision on my manuscript was apparently reached on 23 July 2007, I received no notice of this event at that time. On 28 August I received an email “Reminder” indicating that I had only two weeks to  revise and resubmit my manuscript. The reviewers’ comments were  rather extensive and the required major revisions have taken me longer than the two weeks. Now I find that I am unable to upload the revised version, having missed the deadline by five days.  Needless to say, I’m fuming.  I sent a terse email to someone on the web site.  I spent the rest of the morning making a couple of insect net handles to go with a coupld of extra hoops I found. 

In the afternoon we went to the River Arts Fest in Quincy.  Savannah took her friend Ayah.  There was lots of food and lots of artsy stuff.  We listened to the jazz band for awhile, but we didn’t buy anything but food.  We saw a lot of our friends there, which was fun. 

Monday I found out I got an extension on my manuscript.  What a relief.  I saw monarchs flying all day Sunday, so I thought we’d have a banner day today.  But three different classes together only tagged 8.  I think the wind was blowing the wrong direction.

Sept. 8

Well, not much happened during the week.  Friday we had a meeting of the group going to the Galapagos.  The students are going to attempt some fundraisers.  On the way home I stopped in LaGrange to look for butterflies again.  There weren’t many about, but I did see one that I seldom encounter.

Checkered White.  Rare, but unspectacular.

Saturday morning was yard work time.  I started by splitting some wood, and rapidly got tired of that.  I mowed the lawn, did the string trimming, and pruned some bushes.  I got the camera out and shot some targets of opportunity. 

Another rare visitor: a red-breasted nuthatch.

Pop quiz!  See if you can be the first to tell me what this is.  Stacey and Savannah are disqualified.

Flower in the front yard.  Calladium in the back yard.

Very personal with a silver-spotted skipper.  Same with a milkweed bug.

Sunday I went out to Lowell’s.  We fished three rounds of the lake.  The cooler weather seems to have turned the fish back on.  I caught six bass.  Lowell didn’t catch as many, but he won in the species diversity category, catching bass, bluegill and crappie. 

A couple of green herons have been hanging around the lake.  Gerardia is in bloom.

The Eastern Amberwing is very common at Lake Lowell.  The Common Whitetail is so common, it’s in the name.  Thanks to a long-term loan of Dragonflies Through Binoculars, an excellent field guide, I’ve identified my entire backlog of unidentified dragonlfly photos.  Thanks, Vince!

Lowell’s trap nests have been attracting carpenter wasps for years; they’re the ones with the mud closures.  This is the first time we’ve ever seen Isodontia, which closes its nests with bits of straw.

Savannah and I went to the QU soccer game in the afternoon.  It was a good one, as there were a couple of lead changes and red cards.  I took the camera as an experiment.  It’s really hard to get good results.

I think our guy, #9, missed the header, but he sure didn’t miss the elbow.

I must be running out of ways to scare Savannah, but I can offer two vignettes of meanness.  1.  Savannah was having some chips and salsa.  I told her there was some habanero stuff in the refrigerator.  She had some of it and really suffered from the burning sensations.  A couple of days later Stacey let slip that there was a bottle of our usual Pace medium in the pantry.  My claims that I was unaware of its existence fell on deaf ears.   2.  One night I was going upstairs to get some ice cream.  Savannah said she just wanted a little.  So I put one spoonful in a small salsa bowl for her, while loading a gob into my standard bowl.  I brought these downstairs and presented her serving.  Eventually, I gave her some out of my bowl, which had been my original intention. 

Monday morning a monarch chrysalis hatched out in my lab.  I had the ecology class tag and release it.  Otherwise the day was fairly uneventful.
Here’s an Ammophila that Nancy gave me.  I released it after this pic was taken.