July 15 – Tree planting

Tuesday I went out to Lowell’s for an exciting day of tree planting.  We started early so it wasn’t too hot.  We planted osage orange, paw paw, blackberries, loblolly pine, false indigo and bald cypress.  The bald cypress were interesting, as I went nearly over my rubber boots in mud at the edge of the lake to plant them.  I was plunging a hole for an indigo when I heard “Uh”, splash.  I dropped the tree planter and ran.  Lowell had slipped into the catfish pond.  His expression indicated that he wasn’t wanting to swim at that time, so I gave him a hand getting out.  Fortunately, we were nearly done.  After he changed we went to lunch.  We fished during the afternoon.  Lowell caught a few.  I got some bites on the “scum frog”, but was skunked again (for the third time in a row, for those who are keeping track).  While we were driving around in the mule, we noticed the top was blown off of one of the bluebird nest boxes.  When we stopped to fix it, we found it was full of sticks.  Something had tried to build a nest in it, but not a bluebird.  We checked them all.  Five out of six had nesting material.  Most had the top off or nearly off.  One had an actual bird fly out of it.  It was one of the native sparrows, like a song or savannah sparrow, but too fast for me to tell.

Jewel wasp again–better image.                                    Wild petunia.

Wednesday I took the kayak down the Wyaconda River.  Though this will be the subject of a special entry, I will add a few observations here that don’t fit into that travelogue.  My brand new kayak is no longer pristine.  Dragging over the rocks has left some distinct scratches on the underside.  Oh well, it’s not for show.  I had left my chosen fishing rod at Lowell’s.  I used an ultralight spinning outfit that I have not employed in a long time.  I had forgotten how terrible the reel is.  Sounds like a coffee grinder.  It didn’t matter anyway, as I didn’t get a bite.  (That’s four skunks in a row, for those keeping track).  I didn’t really expect to catch anything without live bait.  At one point I passed a small tributary that was very turbid and smelled like sewage.  After thinking about it awhile, I reported it to the DNR. 
I wasn’t home long before Stacey’s pager went off.  There was a wreck right down the street.  After I put the truck away I rode my bike down there.  Check this out:

My interpretation is that the now inverted pickup truck was towing the rusty van on a dolly when something went awry, the trailer jackknifed, and the truck rolled.  We’ll see how my deductions match with the official report later.  Incidentally, no one was hurt.

Thursday I went to QU in the morning for meetings.  In the afternoon I drove Savannah and her current beau down to Louisiana (MO) for a swim meet.  It was very well organized, but not well attended.  That made it go fast, fortunately.  It looks like we will not win championships this year, as we have no boys older than 12 on the team.
Dive                                                                                                         Turn


Friday I decided to make the final push on yard work for this year.  I cut out a huge honeysuckle at the corner of the woods.  It covered about a 20-foot diameter.  Cutting it was the easy part.  Hauling the brush was the major work.  I learned one valuable thing: it’s easy to pull up even modestly sized honeysuckles in moist ground.  I hauled three loads to the brush dump and planted some trees I got from Lowell.  At one point I came in for a break, but immediately spotted a butterfly in the back yard.  I yelled, “Tiger swallowtail!” and ran to the truck for my camera.  I came in after taking 20 or so shots.  Savannah said, “What a dork.”  I’ve been trying to get a decent photo of this species for a long time.  Too bad I left the optical stabilization switched off on the lens; most of the images were too blurry.  It had a big chunk missing from a hindwing anyway.
Tiger swallowtail.                                                          Hard to resist a bee on purple coneflower.

Saturday Stacey and I drove down to Hannibal to meet a group of Americorps volunteers that was coming to do flood relief.  They seemed like a nice bunch of idealistic kids.

Sunday morning I rode my bike on the pet-feeding run.  I saw a zebra swallowtail when I arrived and gave pursuit, but lost it.  On the way I saw a lek (group of competing males) of large black wasps. 
I’m not sure what species they are yet, but there are enough to do a study.  If I find females there provisioning, I’ll know just what to do.  On the way back I wandered through the flower gardens at Culver and discovered a lek of cicada killers. And only two blocks from home.  What luck!  I took my first photos of CKs with the new camera.
Unidentified black beauty.                                                                        Perching male cicada killer.

Those in the know will recognize the pose of the male CK above as essentially identical to that of my tattoo.

After Savannah bought a new phone, I inherited her old Moto Razr.  It’s much more sophisticated than my old phone.  I can get creative with it by adding photos and sounds.  I’ve had a lot of fun making my own ringtones.  For Savannah’s ringtone, I snipped out part of an old Warren Zevon song: “Send lawyers, guns and money.  Dad, get me out of this.  Ha!”  So far, only money has been required.

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