December 12

Tuesday I had my first final.  I had really wanted to go to the MoNEP Xmas meeting that night in St. Louis, but the roads were marginal, and I wasn’t feeling 100%, having a bit of a sore throat.  So I did some shopping and went home.  

Wednesday I gave another final.  We had no internet at North Campus, so I was limited in what I could get done.  Afterward I went to Lori’s for dinner, as usual, before book club.  We spent another night discussing our purpose as a group rather than the book.  This time I think we arrived at an idea of where we want to go from here.  Wanaree gave us all Christmas presents–a necklace with a hand-carved wooden pendant.  It has the Tibetan Om symbol on one side and the eternity knot on the other.

It’s a miracle: I’ve made something people want.  At Lowell’s prompting, I checked my CafePress account to see if anything was selling.  Turns out a lot of people are buying my calendars.  Bald eagles, dragonflies, and ugly bugs are selling the best.  I’m truly shocked.  So naturally I went to work to design some more.  Now I have one on Arizona Wildlife and another on Texas Wildlife.

Thursday I had an early final.  The sun nearly showed itself while I was driving in to work.  Must have offended the Gods.  For the second day I had no internet at my office.  This was frustrating me, as I could not finish up my classes and turn in my grades without accessing our online courseware.  After talking to our IT people a couple of times, they finally got it working by the afternoon.  I wanted to be home by then.  Instead, I was entering and calculating grades all afternoon, and ended up finishing after 5, when the registrar was already closed.   The local paper had both me (cross-country skiing) and Dustin (as the Grinch) on the front page.  This will likely be Savannah’s favorite for all time.

Stacey has had a busy week with all the Christmas stuff.  She has to coordinate a lot of pick-up, delivery, and wrapping of presents.  If that’s not bad enough, her roof leaked and flooded a room full of toys.  

Friday morning I found a freshly dead mouse on the floor of the pantry.  The pertinent question is this: did Boots kill it, or did it die from eating something in there?  Boots’s food dish is only a few feet away; therefore, I suspect he caught it in the act of stealing his goods and dealt it justice.  This is, at least, what I choose to believe.  I took Savannah to cheerleading practice in the morning, got various jobs done around the house, and took pictures of birds.  

This unassuming little dicky-bird is the Pine Siskin.  I’ve never seen it at our feeder before, much less photographed it.  

NOT a Pine Siskin.  Doesn’t come to our feeder either.

Not even a bird, but it hangs around the feeder.

In the afternoon I went in to QU and turned in my grades.  I went to our women’s basketball game, where we delivered a thorough drubbing to Robert Morris.

Saturday morning I got up early to do the Christmas Bird Count for the first time ever.  It snowed nearly the whole time.  It was a lot of fun.  Leo has done it for years.  We started at my office and drove around in our designated sector, walking only through Moorman Park.  We got pretty excited when we saw three geese and a mallard sleeping on a frozen pond there.  Then the geese got up, revealing their domestic origins.  At least we could count the mallard.  Shortly thereafter we saw about 150 Canada geese on a pond.  Early on we saw a coyote in a field, but it ran off before I could get the camera out.  We had a number of bonus birds that helped increase our species diversity: horned larks, white-throated sparrow, song sparrow, and Eurasian tree sparrow.  The latter was a life bird for Leo.  We ended up with 25.  I think European starlings and dark-eyed juncos were the most numerous.  After that I met Stacey, Savannah and Dustin at Arby’s for lunch. 

In the afternoon I took a long nap and goofed around with some animations, producing the following.  It only runs once (does not loop), so you may have to reopen this email if you missed it the first time.  The morphed version looks better, but is a pain to post.

The Fire Department had their annual soup supper fundraiser that night.  Stacey made most of the soup and was down at the church helping out.  Savannah and I went down, had our fill, and went home.  At about 6:30 there was a fire call, and they all left.  They hadn’t had a real fire call in a long time, and this was a doozy.  It was a major structure fire with a fatality.   It had been snowing all day and the roads were bad.  They had a hard time getting the trucks in and out of places, and all the water they sprayed turned to ice.  Stacey was helping fill the tankers.  They had to change hydrants because the water main broke.  She got home at midnight, cold and tired. 

She still went to church on Sunday morning, while Savannah and I stayed home to recover from the tail end of a cold.  We stayed home again on Monday, even though conditions were great for skiing.  I ran a couple of errands and photographed birds out the back window.

Carolina Wren.  Puffed up cardinal.

White-throated sparrow.  Ain’t they cute?

Monday Savannah and I both stayed home, nursed our colds and watched TV.  We didn’t accomplish much. 

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