October 29 – Hallowe’en time

Savannah got her school pictures this week.

With her hair like this she looks a bit like my sister Marlene.

Of course, she just had her hair redone, and it doesn’t look much like this anymore.  It’s darker.
Tuesday the Ecology class measured temperatures of dead grasshoppers in the sun.

Jeff bends to the task.

Thursday night Savannah and her friend dressed up for Halloween.  They both had store-bought costumes.

Firewoman Savannah.  The dread pirate Katrina.

Friday morning I went turkey hunting.  It was the last day of the season.  I walked around the Stookey’s place.  I jumped a couple of deer, but no turkeys.  Looks like I’m skunked again this year.  At least I saw these cool mushrooms.

Nice threesome.

Here are some fall colors on a maple, for my seasonally deprived friends.

In the afternoon I was working on my computer when Stacey called.  She asked me to brown some hamburger for that night’s dinner of spaghetti.  I told Savannah (who was out of school), “Mom said you are supposed to brown that hamburger in the fridge.”  She did it.  It wasn’t until much later that she realized she had been conned.  She thought it was so funny that she wasn’t even mad at me.  We went down to Hannibal for the awards presentation of the RSVP Photography Contest.  I won a few categories, but then, I probably submitted more images than anyone else.  Most of these will have appeared somewhere in this blog before.

A red-spotted purple from last summer.   Category: blooms and butterflies

An old barn on Sunflower Road.  Stacey called it “Silent Sentry,” while I call it “Hay and Decay.”  Category: farms & barns

Red Buddha.  This is the one we have at my meditation group.  Category: religion.  This was the only entrant in the category, but it is a bit ironic that an image of a Buddha should win, especially here in the Bible Belt.  All these are hanging in the art gallery of an Episcopalian Church.

You will notice that my images now bear a watermark (a copyright) in the upper lefthand corner.  I felt the need to take this measure after web statistics showed that the most frequent visitor to this blog arrives via Google image search.  In other words, people are ripping off my pics.  You will also notice, unfortunately, the smaller “uMark Lite” watermark in the lower lefthand corner resulting from the freeware application I use to stamp my images.  It cannot be helped at this time.  My blog gets 36.29 average entry views per day, but some days there are 120.  The hit rate has gone up rapidly over the past year. 

We only got a few trick-or-treaters on Halloween night.  There are no sidewalks in our neighborhood, which makes it somewhat child-unfriendly.  Savannah went to a haunted house in Hannibal and had the daylights scared out of her.

Experimenting with the big telephoto lens.  Goldfinches are showing up since I just filled our bird feeders for the first time of the season.

Saturday I had Savannah cut my hair, which had been really long.  She did a pretty good job, except for a couple of hacks out of the back.  My students seemed to like it anyway.

Sunday morning I went up to the Stookeys’ to cut a little firewood.  There was a lot more there than I thought.  I must be out of shape for this work (or I didn’t have enough for breakfast).  I ran out of steam before I was really done.  That’s OK.  It will still be there.  A mallard jumped off the pond when I got there. 

Monday I rescued a bug from Savannah’s bathroom.  It’s a member of the Reduviidae, an assassin bug.  I put it in a container until the evening, when I did some macro lens experiments.

The black background I have typically been using.

White background I tried this time.

You may vote for your preference by clicking on “Comment” below.  One of these will definitely make a future Ugly Bug Calendar, although those tiger stripes are rather attractive.

Tonight I was summoned upstairs by Savannah’s cries for help.  She had cut her ankle while shaving and was bleeding profusely.  It wasn’t a deep cut, it was just that in the bathtub, the blood could not clot.  I applied some pressure, stopped the bleeding, cleaned her up and put on a bandaid.  This is one of my Dad functions.

October 21 – Jack O’ Lantern time

For those interested parties who remain in suspense, it appears that Stacey’s juvenile snake is a yellow-bellied racer (Coluber constrictor). 

Tuesday my FYE class was interesting.  For their group project I have them write a song about bugs.  This time I first put them into groups of my choosing, had them come up with an insect name for their “band”, and decide on an insect to write a song about.  The best band name was Mangled Maggots.  Sounds like a death metal group.  They’re finding the writing harder than they thought.  One of the better songs was “Lice, lice, baby.”

The ecology lab was supposed to go fishing (or sampling aquatic vertebrates) in the afternoon.  The forecast was not very favorable, and by the morning I had really planned not to go.  I didn’t wear the right clothing or bring any fishing gear with me.  But after noon it was sunny and relatively warm.  Moreover, the students came marching in with their fishing rods and tackle boxes.  So we went.  Incredibly, our efforts were quite successful, much more so than last year.  We measured each bluegill and saved a scale to later try to determine their ages.  I caught 3 or 4, but mostly I was wrangling other people’s fish and recording data.

Shawn had a spinner that was just killing them.  He caught a 12.5″ crappie of 3 total.  Our total was 14 bluegill.  After we were done the boys wanted to fillet some of the fish.  I showed them the cleaning station and got them started, then went back to put away the data sheets and stuff.  By the time I returned they had mangled a couple of bluegill carcasses.  I showed them the Hoosier method of filleting.  They saw the advantages immediately.  They began to learn the method, and were starting to climb the learning curve, but in the interest of time, I helped out.

3 lb 14 oz bass, the fish of the day for Shawn.  Many lesser ones were also caught.

Shawn ran all the way around the pond to net Brent’s catfish.  That’s a true friend.

Students lined up in a row: Brent, Liz, Bernie.

Thursday Stacey met me after work and we went out to the brand new Sam’s Club on its opening day.  Yes, we bought into another tentacle of the Evil Empire.  OK, they did have some neat stuff at good prices.  And we had dinner there, if you call hot dog combos dinner. 

If you like instrumental rock music, you might appreciate Ozric Tentacles.  This group has two album covers in my insect art collection, but I had never listened to their stuff.  Though classified as “space rock”, I found the guitar-based tunes more rocky than spacey.  Good stuff. 

I love the saturniid moth caterpillar, and I think the stalked things are bryozoans.

If you’re a fan of Old Time Radio, you can download all 1400 episodes of CBS Radio Mystery Theater here:

It ran from 1974 to 1982.  My brother and I used to listen to them at night when I was a kid, but usually would fall asleep before the end.  I now listen to them during my commute, and they’re entertaining for more than one reason.  Today, one had some news from 1974.  President Nixon had just resigned and was subpoenaed to testify in Haldeman’s case.  They predicted the testimony could run many hours.  NOT!  He would shortly be pardoned by Ford.  I was eating this up while driving home.

Oh, if you want to download a bunch of stuff from one website, this plugin for firefox is really handy.


Thanks to my brother Matthew for finding both web sites.

Friday I went in to work, but I had no classes.  I ran some errands, including some extras to put in the Galapagos first aid kit (Dramamine, antibacterial creme, and more).   While I was at WalMart I picked up a lure similar to the one Shawn was using on Tuesday.  In the afternoon we had a faculty meeting with our new president.  He seems like a very reasonable guy.  It was storming during the meeting, and I looked out the window to see hail bouncing off the roof.  What the hail?!

Saturday Stacey and I went to a meeting in the morning to plan for a charity ATV run.  After the meeting at the coffee shop, we drove out to the venue.  I ended up going with Bill Lloyd to some of his fields where I used to hunt.  Haven’t been there for years.  In the afternoon, I worked on Stacey’s car.  I got the oil changed (first time), and finished the installation of the siren.  It works, but probably isn’t as loud as it could be.  The speaker points up toward the hood, and that’s the only place I could fit the thing.

Sunday I went out to Lowell’s for the usual turkeys and fish.  On the way I saw a nice buck along the Wyaconda River.  You don’t see those by daylight much.  I took the turkey walk, but didn’t see much but a lot of squirrels and the rear end of another deer.  I probably could have shot a couple of geese that flew over me, but I had no stamp.  We fished two rounds of the lake, but it got pretty windy.  I used the lure which had been so productive on Tuesday, but only caught five tiny bass on it.  We went up and fished the catfish pond.  Many casts yielded me one decent crappie.  Lowell was trying for catfish on smoky links, and didn’t raise a bite.  We went to town for lunch.  The little diner in Ewing is now closed on Sunday, and I guess Lowell didn’t want gas station food again, so he drove us to the diner in Durham.  Also closed.  We went back to the gas station.  They were wiped out of most regular hot food.  Lowell got the last pizza.  They were out of chicken fingers and regular chicken parts would not be out awhile.  I had potato wedges.  I started sneezing on the way home, and spent the evening congested and runny-nosed.  I recovered by the next day–must have just gotten my head too cold.

There were some nice reflections before the wind picked up.  I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now, I guess.

Monday night Savannah helped me carve Jack O’ Lanterns.  We made one for Stacey that was a surprise, since she was down at the fire department training. 

It’s based loosely on a picture of her firefighter’s helmet. 

This one’s based on a photo Lowell took of me in the kayak on his pond.

Savannah took the guts of the pumpkins, sorted out the seeds and baked the
m for snacks.  To my amazement, they turned out really well.

October 14 – Street faires

Tuesday the second 8-week session of classes began.  That meant I picked up the Galapagos class for one hour a week, for a total of 5 classes I’m teaching now, a personal record.  That’s 20 contact hours–no wonder I’m swamped!  In FYE the very first thing I did was bring the whole snake cage and drop a mouse in.  Most of them had never seen a snake eat before.  When the snake struck and wrapped itself around the mouse, the students erupted in screams.  It swallowed the whole thing right in front of them.

Wednesday I had book club, which went pretty well.  We started the new book, and it seems to resonate with most people.  On the way home I saw a near accident.  Two cars were next to each other in the two lanes in front of me.  The car on the right swerved toward the center line.  The other swerved to avoid the first car and got into repeated fishtailing pattern.  I thought they were going to end up in the median, but they finally straightened it out.  Probably needed a change of underwear at home.  There was a bright full moon out, and when I got home I got out the bazooka lens combined with the 1.4x teleconverter.  I should have gotten out the better tripod, but the results were good enough.


It’s been a week for exams, so I’ve been writing them, giving them, and grading them.  Glad that’s over for awhile.  Thursday morning I had frost on the back window of my car, and it wasn’t even supposed to frost until the NEXT night.  Our extended summer is apparently over. 

Friday I had meetings all afternoon.  Stacey’s Dad, sister and stepmom came over and we went out to dinner.  Saturday we went to the Arts Fair in Hannibal.  There were lots of booths set up along the street and lots of people, more of both than ever.  We saw many friends, some working their booths, others wandering the streets.  We didn’t buy a lot–mostly food.  Fresh roasted peanuts are REALLY good, especially when still hot.  I had a barbequed knackworst, mostly because it was free.  It was the first I ever had, and it was pretty good.  From there we went to the Pike County Colorfest in Louisiana.  It was more of the same, the main street having been blocked off and lined with booths hawking all manner of stuff.  There were a couple of booths selling Ecuadorian stuff.  It was neat, but I can get the real thing a lot cheaper in a couple of months.  I stopped at Stark’s Nursery on the way out of town, but their clearance area didn’t hold anything I wanted.

Sunday morning the relatives left for Indiana.  I went out to Lowell’s.  I walked around on my standard turkey hunt route, but saw none.  We fished one round of the lake.  It was cool and very windy, and hard to control the boat.  Lowell caught a crappie and I caught nothing.  We got off the main lake and fished all the smaller ponds.  I caught two bass.  We had lunch at Johnnie’s gas station.  The convenience store has pretty good food.  We went back and filleted all the fish we’d accumulated the last couple of weeks.  I set up my camera on Lowell’s tripod and took pictures of birds coming to his feeder.  I was playing with my controls and discovered that the ISO had been set on 125.  I had been assuming it was on auto.  This may explain some of the problems I’ve been having.  By looking at the EXIF data on my files, it appears the ISO setting has been that way since July 4.   Arrrrgggghhhh.

A few mushrooms are still hanging on.

This painted lady was trying to get its last bits of sun and food.

Goldfinch cracking seeds. 

Tufted titmouse ready to launch.

Monday was largely uneventful for me.  Stacey, however, found a baby snake at work and freaked out her colleagues by picking it up.  It was too cold to do any harm.  She brought it home in a cool whip container, but the holes in the lid were too big.  It escaped in the basement while she was looking for a new container.  She had to scrabble through the clutter in the basement to find it.  Once he warmed up, he was angry and ready for action.  So he bit her.  Fortunately, he’s too small to cause any harm.  Juvenile snakes are hard to identify.  I have to get it to my office for a definitive determination. 
Angry young snake.  Appears to be yellow-bellied racer, Coluber constrictor.

October 9 — Midterm Break

Wednesday afternoon as soon as I was done with lab I drove down to St. Louis.  I was a little late, encountering some road construction and, not surprisingly, traffic.  I met my contact and he took me to dinner at PF Chang’s.  Excellent.  I met a lady who’s family does ecotours in Costa Rica.  Sounds like a good place to take a class!  We went back to the Ethical Society of St. Louis, where I gave my presentation to the St. Louis Camera Club on the Galapagos.  It seemed to go really well.  This was my second appearance there.  I didn’t have to judge the photo contest this time, so I bugged out and hit the Bass Pro Shops on the way home.  I had some reward points to burn, and bought a shirt.  I made it home by 11:30–not bad.  I was pleased to pay $2.99/gallon for gas in Hannibal.

Thursday morning I paid $2.87/gallon.  I was filling up the truck when I guy told me it would be $2.75 the next day, and I stopped (it was 2.80).  I accomplished much deferred maintenance this day.  I mowed the lawn and put the mower down in the boat house.  I went to the bank and stopped by the river.  Pelicans are migrating through on their way south.  I experimented with the bazooka lens.  The sun was too high and bright, but I had fun.

To the Lil Egg, I changed the oil & oil filter, blew out the air filter, added battery water, vacuumed, and aired up tires.  The crabapple had an excellent year and dropped its fruit in the back yard.  I thought I’d rake them up and haul them down to the brush dump.  I grabbed a couple of 5-gallon buckets and began raking crabapples into a big row.  They filled three trash cans and six 5-gallon buckets.  It was a much bigger job than I thought. 

There were about a thousand yellowjackets feasting on rotting crabapples, and a few butterflies joined them.  I haven’t seen these all summer.  They’re great if you like punctuation.

The question mark.

The comma.

A honeybee on the back of a backlit (or is that frontlit?) flower.

Friday we dropped off the Tracker for new tires and brakes.  Savannah took the truck to school; I went to Lowell’s.  First I walked around the place turkey hunting.  I saw turkey tracks, turkey scat, and even turkey feathers.  No live turkeys.  Lowell and I fished two rounds of the lake.  I was hooking lots of fish on a crankbait, the bayou boogie.  I lost most of them, however.  I sharpened my hooks, but that didn’t help.  I think it’s just too much of a mouthful.  We went to lunch in Ewing and hit two garage sales on the way back.  Lowell bought some vinyl LPs.  We fished another round and a half.  As we pulled away from the dock I cast up into the western arm and caught the lure on a limb.  I flipped it back into the water and reeled it in.  Right next toe boat it was slammed by something big.  Catfish! It must have been 5 pounds.  I had a hard time disentangling it from the sunken tree.  Later, Lowell caught two nice crappies, and we saved them in the fish cage. 

These funny mushrooms had antlers sticking out the top.

Not an unusual mushroom, I just like the way the photo turned out.

Lowell’s bee tree.  When we discovered it a few weeks ago, it was absolutely swarming with bees, but it was too dark to get a decent pic.

Found another specimen of this unusual flower.  It’s just a spike with all these little flowers.  It has no vegetative body, kind of like a surpise lily, except it’s only 9 inches tall.

Not many turtles were out, but this one was catching some sun.  I’m trying to accumulate more turtle photos for–you guessed it–the Turtle and Tortoise Calendar.  Available soon.

This northern water snake was so pale I didn’t recognize it.  I had just been telling Lowell I hadn’t seen a snake in awhile.  This could be the last one of the season.

Saturday morning Stacey and I went to Quincy.  We stopped at my office and then went to Washington Park for the Lincoln-Douglas celebration.  The arts faire didn’t have much, and we went grocery shopping.  We got DQ for lunch and an ice cream cake for Stacey’s birthday. 

In the afternoon I went to the second meeting of our local camera club.  We named ourselves the Canton Camera Club.  Everyone (almost) showed some images of “Life on the River”.  We took two hours discussing them, and set a meeting for a month hence. 

Stacey’s pager went off at about 5 a.m.  Pick-up truck upside-down in ditch.  This was not an auspicious beginning to her birthday.  I read the paper and she returned before I left for Lowell’s.  I saw some turkeys–in a field on the drive over.  I walked the entire place and saw none there.  Lowell and I fished three rounds of the lake.  I caught eight bass on a lipless crankbait.  Lowell caught a couple of nice crappie, a bluegill and I think a few bass.  It was cool and overcast with a light breeze–fine conditions.

A green heron was hanging around the eastern arm of the lake.

A northern harrier flew by, but not very close.

More interesting mushrooms continue to spring up.  This time, the shaggymanes.

When I was leaving Lowell’s I spotted this colorful garter snake sunning itself in the road.  I shot it from many angles, and shooed it away. 

In the afternoon I set about installing a siren in Stacey’s car.  It had been a Christmas gift, but she never bugged me about putting it in.  She was pulled over by a cop on her way to the firehouse the other day.  I figured it was time for the siren.  The model is “The Wobbulator”.   The first difficulty was finding a place to mount the speaker.  It ought to go behind the grill or somewhere up front, but there’s no accessing this area on the Taurus.  I found a marginal area in the engine compartment.  It’s mostly held in with zip ties.  By far the hardest was finding a way through the firewall for the wiring.  Many vehicles have a spare grommet that you can pass a wire through.  Not so, the Taurus. In fact, it appears to have a double wall, making it difficult to get through.  After a lot of painful searching, I looked online.  The emergency brake
grommet seemed to be the spot of choice.  I got it through and mounted the switch, but then the power leads were too short to reach the battery.  They neglected to include eyelets for the battery connection as well. I’ll be finishing the job later, now that the cursing is all done. 

I’ve put a few new calendars on my CafePress Shop:

Turtles and Tortoises


Spring Wildflowers


Prairie Wildflowers


Savannah had spent Saturday evening at a bonfire/party somewhere in the countryside.  She didn’t want to eat the hotdogs, which left only s’mores and marshmallows.  She and Kelsey spent the night in our basement, but Savannah had to make frequent trips to the bathroom to barf up marshmallows.  She was looking very green around the gills when she got up in the morning.  She had some crackers and juice at my suggestion–and horked up those too.  The rest of her day was mostly low key, with one exception.  While we were having dinner I was talking to her and watched a tiny fly zoom right into her eye.  She ran for the bathroom while I was dying of laughter.  I saw it fly out of her eye again, but she says she got a black speck out of her eye.  It must have lost a leg.  Most of the fruit flies have finally left us or died off, but they’ve been replaced by larger, more annoying flies that land and crawl around all over.  It was one of these that lit in her eye.

Monday I put some spare snail shells in the saltwater aquarium.  One dropped right in front of a hermit crab, who immediately checked it out and moved in.  Another shell was big, awkward and heavy.  Two different crabs tried it on for size, but traded back for their old shells after a test drive.  I call it the Winnebago.  No one wants to haul it around.

Kayaking the South Fabius River

After doing Stream Team last Tuesday, it looked like the South Fabius was high enough to provide a nice float, but not too high to be dangerous.  I kept an eye on the river level all week, and it didn’t fall too much.  Sunday my wife had a meeting in Taylor, which was conveniently close.  We left my car at the take-out, Soulard Access, and she dropped me off at the put-in off of Route A.  I noticed that the stream was very small, but I figured it must gain volume quickly to reach the flow at our stream monitoring site.  I dragged the kayak through a lot of shallows and pulled it over some trees.  Occasionally, the sand in the stream bed got very loose, and I postholed up to my crotch.  I kept getting gravel in my sandals too.  Not fun.  The GPS showed that Grassy Creek, a tributary, would be joining the stream shortly.  I was hoping this would increase the volume a lot.  But before I reached it, I ran into a spot with high, steep muddy banks and three trees lying across the path of the stream.  The only course seemed to be to pull the kayak over one of the logs.  I stood on the log and hauled it up.  I got it most of the way over, then it turned parallel to the log.  I puzzled over it a bit, gave a big tug, and fell in.  Of course, a big hole had been scoured under the log, so my feet did not hit bottom.  The kayak had made it over the log, but my crate had tipped over.  Fortunately, everything fell in the tankwell, not into the stream.  I had practiced getting back in while out at Lowell’s.  It’s a good thing.  It was also the first time the paddle leash really came in handy.  I didn’t think I could take 10 miles of this, and was prepared to call the wife for an unscheduled take-out. I was hoping this experience would not end up as an episode of “I Shouldn’t be Alive.”  Well, at least those people DO live.  When I finally joined the tributary, I quickly realized my error.  The large stream joining to my right had to be the South Fabius River.  The stream I had started in, and struggled through, was Grassy Creek.  The crowded display of the GPS had misled me.

The put-in, which maps have confirmed is actually Grassy Creek.

It had taken so long to cover the first mile or two that I was pressed for time to finish the trip before sundown.  I paddled hard for the next four hours.  It’s a lovely stream.   There were freshwater mussel shells on nearly every gravel bar.  I picked up a live one to show my class later in the week.  This stream is actually a state reference stream, renowned for its mussel beds.  I fished a little, but couldn’t really afford to waste the time on it, especially since nothing was biting.  What I should have brought was a shotgun.  Four turkeys flew across the stream in front of me, and a couple dozen wood ducks kept flushing downstream every time I caught up with them.  Other birds I saw included kingfishers, great blue herons, turkey vultures, eastern phoebes, American crows, killdeer, and a pileated woodpecker. 

The stream has a lot of long pools with no current–nothing for it but to paddle.  These pools are interrupted by shallow rapids that scrape the bottom of the kayak, unless you get out and pull it, which you have to sometimes anyway.  There are a few places with nice limestone bluffs, but most are covered with trees.  A few people have constructed their dream homes up on the bluff.

Water like glass.

Bluffs appear here and there.

Once you pass Highway 24/61 the “signs of human use” increase, and the stream is littered with old cars and their parts, especially tires.  In this stretch, there are some interesting places where it’s shallow enough to see the bottom, but deep enough to float.  Where the North Fabius joins the South, the South has a huge shallow sand bar all the way across, which requires dragging the boat along.  It’s not far from there to the Soulard access.  It has a launch ramp that’s hard to see from the upstream side.  As soon as I stopped there, the mosquitoes ate me alive.

Kayak on a sandbar in the sunset.

When you come to a fork in the river, take it.  Left: South Fabius; Right: North Fabius.  Note the setting sun.

Stream flow data are available here:
The discharge rate should probably be over 50 and under 300 to effectively float this stream.  It is 12.5 miles, and takes about 5 hours of steady paddling.  It would be somewhat shorter if a better put-in was used, such as the bridge just downstream of Route A.

September 30–Stream team

Tuesday afternoon I took the Ecology class out to do Stream Team.  We had delayed one week due to high water.  Not only was the water down to reasonable levels, but the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day.  Apparently, the recent floods had scoured the stream pretty thoroughly.  There wasn’t much algae, and there weren’t many invertebrates.  We did get a couple of cute little crayfish. 

Teamers at the stream.

Group photo: me, Brent, Shawn, Liz, Jeff, Celie, Bernadette
(Stream Team photos by Lowell)

Wednesday I won a random drawing at work for a homecoming hoodie.  I got it in Savannah’s size.  She loves it.  I went to Lori’s for dinner, but since I was a bit early, I prowled her flower garden with my camera.

This is the entrance to Lori’s house.  A large vine has grown over it during the summer.  Kinda looks like a hobbit home.

Best honey bee I’ve gotten in awhile.

I thought the fuzzies on these tobacco flowers looked neat when backlit.

Male mosquitoes drink nectar.  For this I am thankful.

This little fly appears to be a wasp mimic.

Book club was good.  We are now meeting in the Unitarian Church, which is a very nice facility.  We finished off the current book and decided to read Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth next.  I’ve already read it.  This was an Oprah book and they did podcasts that are downloadable from the web.  I’ve been listening to them in the car.  There are some great insights in it.

Friday I went out to Lowell’s.  It’s the fall turkey season, so I walked around the whole place.  I didn’t see any turkeys, but there were plenty of squirrels.  Stacey called me at one point.  I couldn’t get the phone off speaker mode.  While I was talking to her a deer walked up the gully in front of me.  Lowell and I fished two rounds of the lake.  I eventually found that the bass would bite a lipless crankbait, and I broke in the $1 rod I had picked up at a garage sale last week.  I had glued on a new tip top earlier in the week.  While I was trying to get my lure unstuck from a limb, Lowell was dangling his jig in the water and caught a big fish.  I thought it was a bass, but when it surfaced, revealed itself as a crappie.  At 14.5 inches, it was as big a crappie as I’ve ever caught, or even seen. 
The happy Birthday Boy.

The proof.

That was a good birthday present for Lowell, who turned 70 that day.  While we were fishing we saw a woodcock on the shore, and it walked back into the woods–very unusual.  We went to town for lunch and ate well.  We stopped at a garage sale on the way back.  I bought a picture frame and some neoprene.  We did another turn of the lake.  I tried out some new Berkeley Gulp bait, and caught a few bass on it, but not the crappie I was hoping to entice.  I ended up with 6 bass. 

Painted turtles were out soaking up the sun. 

Lowell’s cosmos are still blooming.

I walked around the woods one more time looking for turkeys.  There were mushrooms everywhere, but most were old and beginning to decay.  I was cutting through the woods on my way back and spotted a bright object in the leaf litter.  It was a coral fungus.  I’ve seen them in pictures, but never in real life.  That was nearly as good as a turkey.  There were two others nearby.

It really does look like a coral formation.  You just never know what you’re going to se out at Lowell’s.

This mushroom was exactly the size, shape and coloration of a pancake.

Lowell came to our house at 5 and we went to dinner in Quincy.  We both had a beer to celebrate his birthday, and we all shared desserts.  Yum! 

Ron composed one of his poems in celebration of Lowell’s 70th.




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Would you believe an eagle landed on my deck


I, of course, exclaimed, “What the heck!”


He asked if I knew today was a big deal


I told him like any other day it does feel


And then I realized it was a day to remember


For there is a guy in Mo I, of course, call


That again passed a major milestone for sure


And is now in a rarified atmosphere


Yes, he made the big 7-0


And like a 20 year old is still on the go


So, Happy Lowellday, you young guy


And celebrate with the limit being the sky


I only hope that you stay out of jail


Because I have no money for your bail


Other than that go raise some heck


And tell me how to get this eagle off my deck


Happy Lowellday,

Your buddy,

Ron (Feb 3, 2008)


Saturday morning Stacey had to go in to work for awhile, but Savannah and I went downtown to be in the homecoming parade.  Our friend, Keri Cottrell, is running for state office, and we marched along with her float.  Savannah threw candy while I handed out note pads.  It was kinda fun.  I made sure to give notepads to all my friends along the route, including Lowell, who took our pictures.

The Keri float.

Savannah and I work the route.

Afterwards we went to Keri’s mom’s house for lunch, and Stacey met us there upon her return from work.  I had a nice afternoon nap before working on some projects.  I drilled holes in a perfectly good boat.  It’s kind of scary, but the kayak really needed more tie down cleats.  I only had one, and tieing a stringer, anchor, and paddle leash to one doesn’t work too well.  After long consideration I chose the spots and installed one on each side aft of the seat but within easy reach of the cockpit.  Fortunately, I didn’t screw it up.

I was dinkin’ around in the back yard and decided to take some photos.

The Virginia ctenucha.

The locust borer, Megacyllene robiniae.

American Beatyberry

Sea oats.

Sunday morning I finished mounting all the prints I had made up.  I’ve at least made a dent in my large pile of frames.  I mounted an actual piece of papyrus with a painting of queen Nefertari.  Our friends brought it back from Egypt last year. 

In the afternoon Stacey had a meeting in Taylor so I had her shuttle me.  We left the Lil Egg at Soulard Access, which is near the mouth of the Fabius River.  Then she dropped me at the put-in at Route A.  This is the subject of a special entry.