Christmas 2008

I returned to find a few minor catastrophes had occurred in my absence, as usual.  First, some of my grades had not posted properly on QU’s computer system.  This problem had cause much consternation in the Registrar’s office, understandably, as they had to figure out things like academic probations and suspensions.  I went in to the office first thing Monday morning and posted my grades properly.  I also met with Kristen Liesen for a debriefing.  She’s the one to thank for dealing with the tour agency and working out our travel details.  The second catastrophe was the ice storm that seemed to hit our yard worse than any of our neighbors.  We had a lot of limbs down in the back yard, so much so that Stacey could not get to the wood furnace.  I don’t worry too much about her when I’m gone, as she has an army of firefighters at her disposal.  Aaron came up and chainsawed a path to the wood furnace.  Over the course of days, I chainsawed some more and hauled many loads to the brush dump.  There was probably a year’s worth of firewood in the brush dump, but I didn’t have time to cut it or the room to store it.  The third tragedy was that Kane had a big hematoma in his ear.  I took him to the vet, but it was already healing.  He’ll probably end up with a crinkly cauliflower ear. 


There’s a wood furnace behind there somewhere.  Photo by Stacey.

For Christmas we stayed home, opened our presents, and ate really well.  Stacey cooked the traditional prime rib.  I got a game processing kit from Savannah so I can cut up the next deer more easily.  Stacey got me some movies and books.  She had already given me the underwater camera, which I really enjoyed using in the Galapagos (and my students were very jealous).  I  had brought back some stuff from Ecuador for Stacey and Savannah.  We watched movies and played some new video games.  The sun was shining in the back yard.  I gave the long lens a work out.

Female white-throated sparrow, I think.

Dark-eyed Junco.                                                                                  Male Northern Cardinal with seed on tongue.

Male cardinal on bird feeder.

One bit of good news was that I saw an eagle using one of the perches we had placed down by the river.  We added branches to them this year, and it seems to have worked.  Next, my goal is to photograph one in use. 

Friday morning Stacey had a fire call.  It was the nursing home, which could have been a really bad situation.  It turned out that the sprinkler system had frozen and broken, flooding some rooms, collapsing ceilings and soaking insulation.  That ate her whole morning.  I was looking at Savannah’s tires and found some rocks between the rim and tire.  I still don’t know how that happens, but I couldn’t get them all out.  I took it to the tire shop.  I spend the rest of the morning hauling brush and pulling out pine boughs.  It was a warm day, and I wanted the living branches to be able to lift off the ground without the impediment of overlying dead ones.  I was filthy and beat before it was over.  I spent the rest of the day working on my blog and stuff.  

In the middle of the night it started raining like mad.  It had been unusually warm all day, and nearly all the ice had melted.  I had not, however, anticipated tornado watches and warnings.  The chatter on Stacey’s pager indicated that storm spotters were out.  The storm ultimately passed, but it was hard to sleep through all that, especially since I had to get up and move Kane from the basement to the garage at 1 A.M.  It rained hard most of Saturday.  We hung around the house and watched movies.  Everything melted down and the yard was muddy.  After sunset, however, it cooled down and began to snow.  Everything was frozen over again!

Sunday morning I scraped the ice from Stacey’s car window’s and those of my truck.  She went to do a pulpit fill preaching job.  It was at a church she used to preach at 9 years ago, so there were some fun reunions.  The sun was shining so I went down to the river to shoot eagles.  The water was covered with slabs of ice moving downstream, and not many eagles were around.  I ran into Lew.  We went and got doughnuts and went to his place to BS for a few hours.  I still learn a lot of photography from him.  Afterward I went to the brush dump, emptied my ashes, and thence to the riverfront.  The water had opened up some and the eagles were on the move.  This was the first time I was really able to give the bazooka a workout on eagles.  I ended up with 500 frames.  As usual, most were crappy and I deleted them.  There were a few interesting ones.

Coming in for a landing!                                                                     Filleting lessons.  I love the visible fish eye.

Yay, I caught a fish.

You will NOT steal it from me.

Ha!  Got away clean.

This one was tearing up a fish very near me.  I cropped the image to get a head shot.  Bits of fish still clinging to the beak are a bit distracting, however.

Sunday afternoon Savannah and I watched the Return of the King, completing the Lord of the Rings trilogy over the break.  It’s something of a holiday tradition.  She still cries at the end.

Monday we all went to Quincy.  Our first stop was the hospital annex, where Savannah had to submit to a drug test, a requirement of her new job.  And she couldn’t pee.  We waited over an hour while she drank water and continually failed to produce.  We gave up and left her there while we ran errands.  We picked her up when she was done and went to TGI Friday’s for lunch.  I was overstuffed.  A quick trip to the mall and a few more errands, then we went home.  I went down to the river and tried shooting eagles, but the light was too low already.  In the evening Jeff and Joe came over for a meeting.  We were planning a benefit for one of the firefighters.  They ended up staying until almost 11 while we told stories and BSed.  Consequently, I didn’t get this blog out. 

Tuesday morning I chainsawed more dead limbs.  Stacey helped me
load brush and I hauled two loads to the brush dump.  I took some time down at the river for more eagle photography.  They weren’t that active, but I did get a shot that I’ve been wanting for years.

The highly coveted eagle poo shot!

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