April 22

Tuesday began with a violent thunderstorm.  It cleared off during the day, and we even did an solar energy lab.  With a panel on loan from Lowell, we measured the output under different conditions.  We played hackysack while the sun was behind clouds.  Afterward, a couple of students that are also in the plant class wanted to go photograph wildflowers.  We went out into the woods behind campus.  There were lots of spring beauties and toothwort.  A few dogtooth violets and yellow violets added to the mix.  We had fun.  I was doing odd jobs in the back yard when I noticed Kane sniffing around the fish pond.  I went over to have a look, and there was a garter snake under the netting (used to keep out leaves during winter.  I came back later with the camera.  After a couple of shots it struggled to move, but couldn’t seem to.  It was caught in the net, the openings of which were just smaller than the diameter of its body.  I cut him loose with my knife, but he immediately got back into it.  I took the net off the pond, which was due to be done anyway, cut him loose again and turned him loose in the grass.  It’s good to know we have another resident garter snake.  Last year’s was eaten by the neighbor’s mower.  Happy Birthday to my Dad, who turns 75 this day.

Unhappy garter snake, still caught in net.

Wednesday the plant class went to the farm of one of the students.  First we stopped at her Grandma’s house to look at her flowers.  She was so sweet.  Then they pulled a runt piglet out of one of the hog barns.  It made lots of cute grunting and squealing noises.

Emily fell in love with it.  Here’s a nice landscape for a change of pace.

We walked around looking for wildflowers and did see a few.  We had to cross the creek at one point.  Liz led the way, and one of her feet slipped in.  Most of us got across OK, but Johanna slipped, or actually, the bank collapsed, soaking her feet and her butt.  She was not happy. 
Brent turned over a cow patty, revealing this really cool millipede.  This flower grew at the roadside.  It’s leafy spurge, a horrible weed.

We had planned to ride Liz’s horses afterward, but the students all had to go back for physics class or other obligations.  I was not going to pass up a rare opportunity to ride horses.  In fact, I brought my boots!  She has a diversity of horses, but I was able to ride the 2-year-old Belgian, a draft horse.
Me on “Bam Bam”.  Liz takes the saddle off, providing a better sense of scale.  He’s big.

George the fainting goat.  He thinks he’s a dog. 

The goat followed us, as well as two real dogs, on the entire ride.  He was hilarious, and even pants like a dog.  His only difficulty is detour problems and getting out of the way of cars.  Bam Bam was a hoot to ride.  Yet another in my collection of unique (yet legal) experiences.  He’s so young, though, that he is spooked by little things like a deer.  He got a little frisky at one point and threw me off.  Good thing for soft muddy corn fields.  He was well behaved after that, and I even trotted him down the roadside.  Afterward I went to book club, where we had a good discussion.

Thursday morning after I let out Kane I found that the snake had gotten caught in the net by the fish pond again, and it was dead.  I felt really bad about that.  I should have completely removed the net. 
I’ve been participating in NestWatch, a nationwide effort to track bird nesting behavior.  I have three nests in the front yard: house finch, common grackle and mourning dove.  These are not terribly exciting species, but it’s still fun to do.  The grackles had one egg yesterday and three today.  I use a mechanic’s mirror to check the nests, as they’re all about 8 feet off the ground.


House finch nest.                                                                  Bleeding hearts in front yard.  Stacey’s favorite.

Friday morning I went turkey hunting out at Lowell’s.  I didn’t hear any gobbling on the property so I set up in the usual spot. I heard a couple of faint gobbles at sunrise across the road.  It read and called periodically.  It began to thunder at about 8, so I packed up and hauled everything back to the car.  I looked around for morel mushrooms, but found none in the usual spots.  A number of wildflowers were in bloom though.  I went in to talk to Lowell for awhile. 

Yellow violet.

Saturday was Canton In Bloom Day.  Stacey and I went downtown and set up our new canopy.  We were right next to Wanaree and Steve.  Stacey’s volunteers sold cakes and raffle tickets.  It was a cold, somewhat windy day.  The canopy was a bit of a challenge to set up the first time, but I really liked it once it was in place.  It held up to the wind well.  They sold all their cakes by the end of the day, and the RC Hummer and a rug were raffled off.  Stacey and I went to garage sales for awhile, and I gave my talk on butterflies at City Hall at 10.  It was well attended, with about 16 people present.  I stayed for the talk on trees by the next guy, Rodney Johns, and learned some things.
Later we listened to the live bluegrass band, The LaDue Mountain Boys, which features my friend Lew Portnoy on guitar.  I went up to the Cedar Falls School to watch the guy fire his civil war cannon, but all he did was put 22 caps in the firing mechanism and pop them off.  I was hoping to capture a big puff of smoke coming out of the barrel.  Afterward I toured the toy museum there, which was fairly impressive.  He has a huge collection.

The Coleman canopy, a tribute to Buckminster Fuller.    If you look closely, you’ll see a small puff of smoke in front of the bumper of Herbie the Love Bug.

I mowed the lawn and planted some annual flowers, zinnias and cosmos, to attract butterflies.  I pulled the netting completely off the fish pond.  By then the dead snake had rotted, and I had to yank it out of the net in pieces.  Later Kane found a piece and rolled in it repeatedly.  I had to pull him off of it, and boy did he stink.

Sunday I stayed home, as it was cold and rainy.  I did some small project
s around the house, and “homework” on the computer.  I played around with the macro lens in the yard.

Tulips closed up for the night.   Fiddleneck of growing fern. 
Virginia bluebells.                                                                         Sweetgum trees are leafing out and preparing to flower.

I learned that the tripod really helps with the big macro, presumably because it’s not image stabilized.

I pressure washed the canoe and photographed it.  Yup, it’s going up for sale.  I haven’t used it for two years.


Let me see if I can remember all the details.

Osage Canoes (of Lebanon, MO)
17-foot aluminum
Side sponsons (make it very stable)
Oar locks
Attachable seats (great for back support)
Wooden motor mount (never used)
One paddle

I ordered it in olive drab with the fantasy that I might someday use it for duck hunting.  That never happened.  Meanwhile, the paint has been flaking off of the aluminum at a steady pace.  I figured I’d just let it go until it all became plain aluminum.  It survived the tornado with a couple of dents but does not leak.  In fact, it was featured for a time on the Osage Canoes web site as “Tornado Tested.”  Asking price: $500.

Monday afternoon I took my freshman lab class out to Fall Creek, a beautiful natural area.  Many were paranoid about ticks and so forth, but we only saw one.  I kept them longer than some of them probably wanted. Pictures will follow in a special edition!

April 16

Tuesday I took the plant class to the Missouri Botanical Gardens, but that’s the subject of a special entry.  Wednesday I took the same class out to Quinsippi Island.  There weren’t too many wildflowers in bloom; it was disappointing.  There were some birds, and I saw the first bona fide butterfly and dragonfly of the season.  I guess I got pretty excited when I saw them.  When we reached the end of the point, which has a lighthouse on it, the students said there was a basketball floating in the water.  “The first of the season.”  Wiseacres.  I was able to try out my new lens (Sigma 18-200 mm zoom) anyway.

There were Great Blue Herons all over the swamps  It’s hard to tell in this image, but at high magnification it appears to be a salamander in the bird’s bill.

When we got back to North Campus I noticed there was a softball game in progress.  Some of my students are on the team.  Even though I was tired and hot, I went back to watch a bit and attempt a little sports photography.  It’s definitely not my strength, but it’s a great opportunity to play with 6.5 frames per second.  None of my students was playing, but I saw the last two at bats of a double-header.  We won them both. 
Our pitcher in the wind-up and delivery.  Note how she’s completely off the ground at left.  I found out later this is illegal.

Thursday after work I looked around the back yard and was pleasantly surprised to see some wildflowers.  I had bought and planted a bunch last year, but assumed they died during the drought last summer. 

I was trying to get this little false rue anemone and the syrphid fly just showed up.  Larger rue anemone at right.

Bellwort: Not quite open yet, but still looks cool.   Lots of violets are in the back yard, including some white ones.

Recently, Savannah wrote some poetry for her class.  Here are some samples:


I sit alone outside,
Through the rain and snow.
No one comes to see me,
and there’s nowhere else to go.
My joints hurt all day long.
I wish someone would love me.
But no one wants to love,
This old dog.

OK, that was really depressing (and not precisely accurate).


Friends can be mean,
Friends can be fun.
Friends are anything
Or anyone.
I’m writing you this,
Because I’m your friend.
When your hear is hurting,
I’ll sure to mend
Whatever there is,
A problem or need.
I’ll be your friend,
My own great deed.
You’re always there for me
At times, when I need
A smile that always shines.
This is all
It’s where I end.
Thanks for being
My faithful friend!

That was a bit more inspiring.

Here’s a couple of haiku:

Death Comes

Darkness surrounds you
You’re at the end of your string
Snuffed like a candle

I think she’s turning goth.


Sleeping all day long
Waking only to eat food
How easy life is

Should be “teenager” instead of “cat.”

Finally, an Italian Sonnet:

Summer Things

Summer is the best season of the year
It makes me feel free to do what I want
I feel alive and I’ll tell you up front
School is now out and I won’t shed a tear

I am a lifeguard and I have no fear
I want ice cream and through the fridge I hunt
It’s pool check so get out of my way runt
Teaching kids to swim gives me swimmer’s ear

I’m also on the Can-Oka swim team
Breast stroke is my favorite stroke to do
I am not good at any other stroke
I lay in the sun and soak up the beams
A lot of my friends are lifeguards too
Children annoy me but they do not choke

We think it should have ended “Children annoy me and I hope they choke”

Saturday we went to Fun City in Burlington Iowa (1FunCity.com) to celebrate our anniversary.  We took Savannah and her friend Alan.  We first went bowling.  This is curious because we could do this any time in Canton.  But the Fun City bowling alley was very nice, and smoke-free.  I bowled a 109, which could be my best ever.  It’s been two years since I bowled.  I got a few strikes, and Savannah got her first strike ever, two even.   Anyway, Alan had the highest score, and Stacey broke 50.  We decided not to do Lazer tag, the indoor water park, or the go karts.  We spent most of the rest of our time in the arcade.  I worked a game of pinball for a long while, and the kids played skee ball and other ticket-earning games.  Stacey liked the trivia game, and we did that a few times.  We had a nice dinner, and I ran into my division chair Joe Emeka and his family.

We received news that my brother-in-law Jim Mann had passed away from cancer.  It’s not easy to classify the relationship I had with Jim. I was about 13 when he married Marlene. These are formative years for me.  He was quite a bit older, and not exactly a brother. When I think about Jim, I think of all the things he taught me during those teen years. He taught me how to swim. I could sort of dog paddle before, but he taught me the semi-backstroke, which became extremely effective for me.  He taught me things I would not have learned had he not joined our family.  He used to take us out in his uncle’s boat, and I learned to water ski.. He taught me to hunt ducks, and particularly to call ducks. When duck calling; I’m always doing just an imitation of Jim. He taught me a lot about hunting and fishing. He took a bunch of us up to Eagle Lake for our first archery deer hunt. None of us killed one, but it was an unforgettable experience.

Sunday I went out to Lowell’s, mostly to fish.  It was there I remembered that it was Jim who taught me to fish for bass.  Cast out an artificial lure, reel it in, move and cast again.  This was the perfect alternative to sit-and-wait baitfishing for a hyperactive teenager.  I thought a lot about Jim while we made our way around the Lake.  A big swirl and a strike, and I had a good fish.  It’s to him I owe this lifelong pursuit.

This 15-incher went back in the lake.

Five more smaller fish would follow.  Lowell caught the first crappie of the year.

11 inches.  It was the only fish we saved for later filleting.

It was pretty cold in the morning, so we only went around twice before going inside to warm up.  We moved some wood around and looked for wildflowers.  Spring beauties were peaking, and Dutchmen’s breeches were just starting to bloom. 

Showing that Spring Beauties come in pink and white…                             …and Dutchmen wear their breeches upside-down.

Toothwort: the leaves look like those of marijuana.  We’ve never recorded it before, nor the Prothonotary warbler.  I think it looks like the bird in A Bug’s Life.

Gander getting cute.  Everybody loves a turtle.

A little water strider.  I finally got a decent shot at a mourning cloak, and it’s a specimen that’s nearly destroyed.  Must have had a hard winter.  This is typically the first butterfly of spring, though I’ve seen others.

Monday I took the Bio II class around to look at trees.  Most were not leafed out, and we had to rely on other cues.  When we got to the big honey locust, a massivley thorny tree, I told them they could have and A on the exam if they climbed it–naked.  I think one guy was ready to try.  When I got home I had gotten a new lens (150 mm Macro), and went into the back yard to try it out. 

It’s a very sharp lens, on both daffodils and dandelions.

Missouri Botanical Garden April 2008

April 15
I picked up a rental van first thing in the morning.  After a class and  meeting, I worked in my office while the students trickled in.  We made a couple of stops in town, another for gas and again in Hannibal for lunch.  We didn’t hit too much traffic except for on I-270.  We arrived at the Bot Garden at 4, and I knew they closed at 5.  We made the most of the time available. 

On the way down, Lee taught everyone how to fold these really cool paper airplanes.  Naturally, they had to try them as soon as we got out of the van.  Brent, Lee, Brian.

An artist named Niki had an installation scattered throughout the place.  Her work consisted of huge sculptures covered with mosaic tile and mirrors.  Really cool.

Lady with pots.                                                      Sitting dude.

This gigantic skull was the best.  My colleague Lee Enger makes a good scale.  Inside, mirrors make you see as though through fly’s eyes.  I think Brian is picking his nose.

I kind of like this Cyclopean Buddha.

Tulips were peaking, and they have plenty of them.

Lots of yellow!

Inside the Climatron, much was blooming in the perpetual tropical warmth and humidity, including orchids and bromeliads.  This red thing, whatever it is, is huge, about a foot wide.

This is Nepenthes, or Monkey Cups, a carnivorous plant.  I just lectured on it a week ago, but had never seen a live one.  It’s a type of pitcher plant, wherein small animals fall into the tube and die in a pool of water.

More pretty flowers in the Climatron.

I think both of these are daffodil varieties, of which there are many.

A few of us were standing around a crabapple in bloom in this lovely garden when one of the students said, “There’s a fox!”  It came running toward us, then made a hard turn.  I got the camera up as fast as I could and kept firing in burst mode.  This is the first frame.  I don’t know when I’ll ever be this close to a fox again outside of a zoo.  This one probably makes a good living on the abundant squirrels and, perhaps, a bit of garbage.  Strange to think that this is within the city limits of St. Louis.

Afterward we went to the gift shop, which is open a bit later than the gardens.  Some of us bought Lithops, a relatively rare succulent that looks like little pebbles.  We went to the Bug Store down on the corner.  I got a little coat rack made of cast iron lizards; the tails form the hooks. 

The plan was to go eat, then to make it to a talk on plants at a Nature Center down the highway.  By the time we chose a place to eat and got seated, it was clearly going to be too late to make the talk.  Most of us ate Thai food.  It was delicious but took its revenge on me later.  We caught up with the rest of the students at a hookah bar.  Lee suggested we stay a while and enjoy a smoke of the hookah.  I’m always agreeable to trying different cultural experience (bar owner was from Jordan) as long as they’re legal.  So we sat down and had a few rounds of mango flavored tobacco.  It was pleasantly fruity, at least until they readjusted the burning cake and the smoke came too hot and thick.  Gaaaaah!

We made several stops on the way home for pee breaks and gasoline.  The students played an ABC game that was kind of fun, especially considering the words they came up with for the various letters.  “T” is for tachyphyllaxis.  Man, did that van eat gas.  I think I put 80 bucks worth into it. 

April 9

Wednesday I took the plant class to South Park.  We were really hoping some wildflowers would be in bloom.  There were a couple, plus several weeds.  The first we encountered was a big patch of bloodroot, which is a lovely early bloomer.  I found a nice looking specimen and walked down to it.  I immediately noticed the odor of decomposition.  After I had taken a few pictures, I found a headless dead rat just a couple of feet away.  I finished up and got out of there, but the essence of dead rat seemed stay with me for a while.  Yuck!
Bloodroot, AKA Sanguinaria.  Henbit–one of the weeds.

A honeybee drinks from a puddle in the streambed.   Pretty blue flower of ground ivy.

I thought this was a water strider, but it’s actually two.  Spring beauties–very common and tiny wildflowers.

We had book club that night.  Not many showed, but we had a good discussion and a conveniently early adjournment.

After class on Thursday I wandered around North Campus with three of my students looking for bird nests.  We didn’t find any active ones, but we saw 5 deer running around and a mallard drake on the pond.  After a lengthy meeting on main campus I went home just in time for a tornado warning.  Savannah came home with two of her friends.  They mostly stayed in the basement.  I watched the torrential rain pour down.  We got a half inch in about 10 minutes.  It was really impressive.  The tornado warning expired, and we saw a small river of water run down through the back yard.  I went out to investigate and found that the culverts along the street were blocked with leaves so the water was backing up in the ditches.  I performed some decloggery with a snow shovel and got things running again.   We also lost electricity for a short time.  Some power lines were knocked down by the wind.

The downpour in the back yard.  Note pooling on lower right.                       The Coelho River.

Friday I stayed home.  I worked on the dog kennel a bit more, just to touch up some spots where Kane was making progress against the wire.  I brought the dune buggy from the garage of the rental house, “The Buggy Barn”, to the garage at home.  I got a lot of reading done while waiting for the people to show up.  They finally came at 2:30.  The guy had had a hard time finding a tow dolly to rent.  He almost got hit while backing into the driveway–some impatient person tried to go around while he was pulling forward.  He looked it over, started it, loaded it up, paid and took off.  I made it to the bank just in time to deposit the check.  I went down to the river to look around, and boy it was high.  The campground was closed, but the flood gates were not installed in the levy yet.  The fields were full of water in the bottoms, where I saw the first swallows of spring.  In town, there was a steel yard shed that had been picked up by the wind and laid over a fence.  When Stacey got home we went out for a nice steak dinner.

Saturday Stacey went to Iowa with a group of her seniors.  Savannah and I stayed home.  We cleaned the garage, which is apparently the only place where Kane will spend the night without barking.  We loaded up a bunch of stuff to take out to Lowell’s and drove down to the river to see the state of the flood.
When garden sheds attack!   Great Blue Heron looks cold.

At one point I had 4 girls in the house, so I surrendered the TV.  They played guitar hero and goofed around on the computer.  I set up a little softbox in Stacey’s office and attempted some studio photography on one of our daffodils.  I have by no means mastered this technique, but it’s fun to play with.

Daffy Dil.

Sunday we woke up to snow.  Again.  I do love mid-April in Northeast Missouri.  At least it didn’t stick.  I went out to Lowell’s.  We spent the morning moving logs around.  We loaded my truck with old wood and stacked some newer wood.  While driving around looking for wildflowers (which we didn’t see), we found a tree lying across a trail.  It had been marked for death by the forester.  I guess it just gave up.  So we towed it back to the shed and cut it up.  We cut down some saplings and limbed them out.  We strapped them to the rack on top of the truck.  They’ll be used for eagle perches, at least in theory.  After a hearty lunch we fished, even though it was pretty cold.  We hadn’t gotten very far when I got an unrecoverable snarl in my baitcasting reel.  I switched to the spinning outfit, which was rigged with a jerk bait.  In two rounds of the lake I caught two bass, which isn’t bad in 47 degree water.  Birds were migrating through, and a lot of swallows were careening around the lake. 

I’ve never photographed these two species before, the barn swallow and the Northern rough-winged.

Tree swallows were roosting in fish habitat.  A couple of yellow-rumped warblers were working the trees along the edge of the lake.

Every spring there’s a coot that likes Lowell’s lake.       I finally found some wildflowers, spring beauties again, while taking a pee.

When I got home Savannah and her new/old boyfriend were getting ready to leave.  I took advantage of the opportunity to let them help me unload the wood.  Stacey had decided to take Boots to work.  I still don’t know why.  I had misgivings about this.  Savannah had him on a leash in her lap.  He started acting funny on the way there.  They pulled over and he barfed on the side of the road.  I guess he was pretty car sick, and looked nearly comatose at one point.  He recovered, fortunately, and even lived through Stacey’s sermon.

Monday I was really worried about my lab, as I didn’t think there were enough flowers up for the students to study them.  Fortunately, various weeds (some of which are described above) were up in the North Campus lawn.  We easily had enough.  After dinner Stacey went to the fire department for a meeting.  Shortly thereafter she called to tell me they were taking down the rest of the big silver maple and I needed to get down there with the truck.  First, one guy climbed a ladder and cut down a large branch.  Then another guy showed up to drive a track hoe (which had recently knocked down a nearby house).  He used it to push down the remainder of the tree–away from the nearby power line.  I’ve never seen a track hoe operate up close.  It is one awesome machine.  Two firefighters ran the chainsaws while I loaded the truck.  I got nearly a full truck load before their chainsaws quit.  Stacey was busy burning a brush pile.  I took the truck home and unloaded in the dark.  My south wood racks are almost full. 

April 1

April Fool’s Day!
It was stream team day.  The river was high and turbid.  Both the water and the air were cold, but we persevered.  We weren’t at the site long before Lowell asked where I had put the ladder.  I had forgotten it.  We use an emergency fire ladder to climb down the bank of the stream.  Instead, we climbed down a fairly steep, muddy place.  One of the Katies essentially slid down on her rear.  This muddy accent was later joined by strategic wet spots where she went in over her waders.  Yup, it looked like she had peed herself.  That was as entertaining as Michaela in my chest waders.  She’s the 6′ 1″ center for the basketball team.  The waders were just a bit too small for her.  She, Katie and I were the only ones in waders, so we had to handle the net in the stream.  The water was so cold that it was painful to our arms to retrieve rocks from the bottom.  We found the usual complement of benthic bugs, and one that I haven’t identified yet.  [It turned out to be a beetle larva.]

Katie, Katie (butt still dry), Michaela (unmistakable), Johanna and Emily.  Dressing up for stream team makes you look so sexy!

Tuesday afternoon I took the plant class to the arboretum at John Wood Community College.  They have a series of short trails and trees that are numbered or identified for convenience.  The web site is here: http://www.geocities.com/svtanda/index.html.  We saw three tree species that we had not recorded before.  Wildflowers are coming up but not blooming just yet.  Mosses are sporulating, however, which is their way of reproducing. 

You can tell these are different species.  Not only do the gametophytes (lower portions) look different, but the sporophytes (pointy spears) are different colors.

There were a couple of old roofing tins beside the trail.  Under one we found a nice little snake.

The midland brown snake, Storeria dekayi, a new species for my life list.  Woo hoo!

On the drive home I saw a coyote running along the side of the highway, but I had no chance to pull over and take his picture.

Thursday was a long one.  I ate dinner in the cafeteria and sat with the parents of one of my students.  She’s a great kid, and it was a really nice conversation.  She wants to go to the Galapagos, and they had some questions about that.  I went to a meeting on the environment that the League of Women Voters was holding.  I talked for 10 minutes or so about our efforts with Stream Team and Monarch Watch.  Other speakers talked about energy efficiency and similar topics.  I was amazed that I knew so many people at the meeting, from diverse areas of my life.  Meanwhile, Kane had gotten out again and ended up spending the night in the garage.

Friday I ran a couple of errands in town.  After seeing the hole in the kennel Kane had made (in spite of my reinforcements), I got some fairly heavy wire fencing and firmly attached it to the outside of the vulnerable panel.  It took all morning.  It was a good thing I checked the brush dump because there was quite a bit of good wood in it.  I spent most of the afternoon hauling and sawing.  There were four good bales of straw down there too.  I picked them up and gave them to Nancy.  It’s been a long time since I bucked bales of hay.

I found another wetland where ducks are hanging around.  These three bachelor bluewing teal were  lurking about.

Saturday I made some additional modifications to the dog kennel.  I realized that he always gets out of the same panel because the ends of the wires are only hooked together, rather than twisted.  So I twisted them all.  Savannah and I raked out the rock area in front of the house and hauled the leaves to the woods.  We planted a few things as well.  We drove down to the school where She had seen a killdeer on her nest the previous day.  The bird kept running back to her nest as we approached.  It tried the crippled bird trick and various display behaviors.  I’ve never gotten so close to this species.  Savannah shot this image of it.

If you look closely you can see an egg right under her breast feathers.

Then, after not picking up the camera for about a year, Savannah went nuts and photographed everything in our yard–pets, plants, etc.  She took many interesting and artsy shots, but I’m partial to this self portrait.

Love that smile!  She sports a nice new haircut, but you can’t tell that here.

We went to work on the dune buggy for a little while.  I made some last-minute touch-ups to the paint and took off the license plates.  I collected all the spare parts and tools to go with it that I’d accumulated over the years because it is SOLD.

I now have a slide show that plays on my web page.  It’s a collection of 30 of my best photos, and operates through Photobucket.  

If I do this right it should show up here.

This is slick technology, and I love it.

Stacey reports on her visit to the optometrist and other topics.

Bi-focals! Yes, the word of the day is BI-FOCALS. The eye doc says I have to get ‘em. Talk about feeling old. Maybe I can start to see my books that I need to read for class. By the time I get home from work, my eyes are fried and I can barely read the tv channels and definitely not the newspaper. We had a fire call last night, at about 1:15 am. The call was for an ATV on fire, close to the house. At first, I wanted to roll back over and go to sleep, but the fire being close to the house pushed me from bed. I was too slow to make the truck (as was the assistant chief and another officer). The chief and a junior officer had three fairly green firefighters to take on the call. But it was an easy call for them to handle.

Church went well this morning. Our numbers were a bit low, but everyone was in good spirits. Ashton, one of our littlest ones, turned three last week and we had a special birthday song for her. She is a wonderful child, who knows no fears. She knows that she is wholly loved by her parents and all of us, too.

After church and lunch, Joe, Savannah, and I worked on cleaning the winter debris away from the back porch. You know how it is—in the winter the porch becomes a place where things just get put until another time when a better place can be found. So we put things away, swept out the leaves and such. I cut back the trumpet vine that has spent the last two summers taking control of one end of the porch. The humming birds love to each from the fluted, red flowers and by trimming the vines, there will be a growth spurt this year. We tie and train it over the porch rails.

Kane was up barking on and off Monday night.  I let him out and put him in the kennel at 5 Tuesday morning.  By the time I got back up again, he was out.  I put him in the garage for awhile.  When I checked, he had pushed the kennel off the concrete pad and escaped through the gap between the bottom of a panel and the ground.  I put it back and drove some rebar into the ground next to the pad so he couldn’t push it off again.  When I left for work he was pulling on the wires with his teeth.  Stacey and I both had a miserable day of fatigue.  When I got home, he was sleeping in the dog house, and the kennel was largely intact.  I won a round!  Stacey thinks he needs doggie downers.