July 1 – Kayak fishing and pretty bugs

Monday I took the kayak out to Lowell’s.  The first experiment was getting it onto the Lil Egg.  I had to use webbing loops under the hood of the car to tie down the front.  It worked pretty well, and the straps didn’t even hum (twisting them helps).  We launched it from the dam.  Lowell took out the pontoon boat while I paddled around and fished.  They weren’t biting really well, but I did catch one bass before lunch.  After the most recent high water event, the floating dock had come down on top of a couple of posts.  Lowell got distracted working on that, and I joined in for a bit of sawing.  We did get it off of one post anyway.  I had a great time paddling around.  A lot of the birds let me get really close.  After lunch I changed into a swim suit and took almost everything off the kayak.  I paddled a short way out and then began the experiments.  It really takes a lot to flip the thing over.  I had to work at it.  Standing with both feet on one side works.  Then I got to practice flipping it upright and getting back in.  It was a blast.
The Egg Yak                                                                                        Stand-up paddling is easy ’cause this baby’s stable.
I love this expression, but Stacey says I look like Kane.                          Coming in at the end of the day.

Photos of me are all courtesy of Lowell.  At the end, I took my camera around to stalk the dragonflies.
Two damselflies, flying united.                                                                  The Blue Dasher.

When I got home I showered and went to Hannibal.  I met Stacey at her office and installed her printer.  We went to a dinner for the Red Cross annual meeting.

Tuesday I went to go feed my friends’ dogs and cats.  I rode my bike for the exercise, and the hill they live on is a killer.  Sadly, their Newfoundland Tucker wasn’t home.  He’s a favorite of mine.  I rode to La Grange afterward.  The flood muck remains all along main street, and you can see the waterline on the walls of the buildings on the East side of Main Street.  The smell was pretty nasty.  When I got home I tweaked a few things on the kayak and made straps to hang it up in the basement from the seat belts of an old VW.  That night Savannah had another swim meet, this time in Canton.  There are so few girls in her age class (15-18, the oldest group), that she seldom has many other competitors.  She did as usual, winning breast stroke and some relays.  I had planned to be a timer, but they had enough people already. 

Wednesday I started out by mowing the lawn.  Fortunately, I mowed the front lawn first because I didn’t get far through the back lawn before the mower broke down.  I wasted about an hour trying to fix it myself.  I finally gave up and called George.  He picked it up.  I had plenty of other odd jobs to keep me busy most of the day.  George called and I went down to help him with the mower.  He fixed the original problem, but uncovered a couple more.  They’re all too complicated to explain here.  Great.  I did photograph a bug I found in Kane’s water bucket.  It’s very good at playing dead, which it did for almost an entire day.

To the naked eye, it looks like a pebble.  It’s a scarab beetle.                 Here you see the underside of the head, the forelegs tucking into little channels.  It’s built like a tank.

Thursday morning I went back to George’s to work on the mower.  Though he has a welder, he didn’t want to weld it himself.  I volunteered.  He asked if I had welded before.  I said it had been a long time–a white lie.  He had a nice little MIG unit.  It was hard to see through his old mask, but I got it done.  The result was very ugly, but it held, at least for half of one mowing that I finished when I got it home.  The mower ran like it hasn’t in a long time.  New clutch, belt, sharp blade and oil change–all contributed, I’m sure.   In the afternoon I went up to help at the Fire Department cook out.  Every year they sell BBQ foods at the fireworks stand on July 3, when there’s a lot business.  I noticed that wherever I went, there was a smell of rotting garbage.  It was the first east wind we’ve had in a while, and the odor of stagnant floodwater was wafting to us from the river.  Most unpleasant.  Later I learned it’s probably fermenting/rotting grain in a ruptured silo across the river.  Reminds me a little of rotting cheese, or one of Savannah’s farts. 

Stacey was paged out early Friday morning.  Some lady had hit a deer, but had only bumped her head.  Not long after getting down to the firehouse, Stacey came right back.  There was no need for firefighters to be at that scene.  She was rather annoyed at losing sleep on her day off.  I did the chainsaw workout.  I got about a truckload of firewood from each of a couple of friends in town.  That largely topped off my wood racks and completed what I need for the winter.  While I was up at the Stookey’s I took some photos.
Interesting edible flower, wild salsify.                                                      Russet-tipped clubtail.

Little Wood-satyr, ventral and dorsal views.

I was fighting off buffalo gnats (AKA black flies, Simuliidae) while I was up there.  They are bloodsuckers, though I wasn’t bitten.  They
breed in running water, which we had a great deal of due to the flood.  Now that the flood is over, there’s a lot of standing water, the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.

I thought it might be interesting to make an accounting of the plagues we’ve gone through this year, just to see if we add up to the Biblical seven.
1.  Torrential rain (while we were on vacation)
2.  The flood
3.  The smell
4.  Buffalo gnats
5.  Mosquitoes (predicted, and already showing up)
6.  ?
7.  ??

Saturday I took Nancy out to Lowell’s.  We were going to give her the Grand Tour.  We walked all over the western half.  We saw lots of flowers and wildlife, and I took many photos.  Lowell’s bridges are out due to the high water so we rode the mule all over the eastern half.  After lunch we took her on a boat ride around the lake.  While we were at it, we cast our lures along the way.  I caught three bass, while Lowell caught a couple of bluegills, one of which was huge.  There were a couple of geese and their nearly grown offspring hanging around.
Eastern Pondhawk female                                              Halloween Pennant

Silver-spotted skipper sunning                                     Common wood-nymph, a new one for me.

Cranefly with green eyes.                                                                         Strange-looking conehead

Jewel wasp                                                                                              Carpenter wasp.

While we were poking about this wild turkey jumped up, scaring us thoroughly.  Matthew, it has your name on it!

Saturday night Stacey and I went to the Mark Twain Lake Rodeo.  It was interesting, as rodeos go.  The cowboys seemed outmatched by the livestock.  NO ONE completed a bull ride.  I thought the barrel racing was best.  Lots of the riders knocked over barrels.  The winner was a woman on a fast, agile horse that cornered incredibly well.  Even I could tell she’d be hard to beat.  One horse fell on the last barrel, dumping its rider, who picked up the bridle several feet away after she got up.  A few riders, including the rodeo queen and junior queen were disqualified when their horsed broke pattern–went the wrong way.

Sunday I took another bike ride, fed my friend’s dog and cats, and wheeled around town.  They had opened up the road through the levee so we can go down to the river.  It’s kind of a wasteland, and lots of things, especially electrical hookups in the campground, were pushed over.  Concrete bases are no match for the Mississippi.

Mullein plants all in a row.                                         A doe who loves soy beans. 

Monday morning I did pruning and trimming, resulting in a full load to take to the brush dump.  On the way back I straddled a large snake in the road.  I got out to make sure I hadn’t hit him.  It was a beautiful black rat snake.  I hustled him off the road before the next car got there.  Too bad I had no camera.  I met Stacey for lunch in Hannibal, partly to deliver something she had forgotten that morning.  We had pizza.  Afterward I wandered downtown Hannibal, went shopping, and drove up to Lover’s Leap.  I took a series of photos and stitched them into a panorama.

At left is downtown Hannibal, then the bridge, the river and Lovers’ Leap at right.  There’s a place where the fence is bent over, where people who had apparently taken stupid pills before arriving had crossed and walked out onto the precipice. 
It is absolutely sweltering here, with a temperature of 92 today and 80% humidity.  Hard to get much work done.

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