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.

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