March 18 – R.I.P. Kane

Tuesday was St. Patrick’s Day.  Quincy seems nuts about it.  Some bars open at 5 A.M., and people actually go to them.  I went to a St. Pat’s party at my friends’ place.  They’re really into it, and have a party every year.  One couple from India was in attendance and they wondered what the heck all the fuss was about.  Hard to explain that one. 

In the afternoon we had our scuba class.  It was all classroom and booklearning, but it was fun and I learned a lot.  He had some great underwater video.  I knew most of the students in the class, one way or another. 

Wednesday I had the 8 A.M. lab.  The students took a quiz, then I asked them where they wanted to go.  One said, “To bed.”  I think they stayed up too late.  We just walked around North Campus and the neighboring park.  It was slow at first, but in a patch of woods in the park we saw a variety of birds, including some new ones for this class:  hairy woodpecker and song sparrow.  We actually used the BirdJam software on the iPod in the field to identify the sparrow, which was pretty cool.  On the way back we saw a bluebird box that had a bird hanging around it.  I can use that one for camera fodder.  We were almost back to the classroom, on the bridge on 18th, when a Cooper’s hawk flew over.  That was a nice bonus. 
Some of the Environmental Club members wandered in.  We took the remaining seeds, soil and large supply of pots donated by my friends (Thanks, Nancy, Lowell and Leo) and filled the green house with hopeful plantings.
That night we received our Nintendo Wii, which Stacey had ordered, bundled with the Wii Fit.  I unpacked it and set it up.  Goodbye VCR!  We hadn’t used that in living memory.  The game consoles now fill its hallowed space.  Coincidentally, we received a box with new batteries and memory upgrades for our laptops.  I installed those too.  They run a lot better, and it beats buying new computers.

Thursday was fairly routine, except that I gave a couple of make-up exams and went to a meeting at main campus.  At one point I heard a loud explosion and about jumped out of my chair.  It was our chemist, once again, doing the hydrogen/oxygen-filled barrel explosion.   He only does it once a year, and it gets me every time.  I went back to the bluebird house we had seen the day before, this time with camera in hand.  On the way I flushed a cottontail from a brush pile by a ditch.  The bluebird was nowhere to be seen.  On the way back I heard something in the ditch, and assumed it was the aforementioned bunny.  To my surprise, what came out was, in fact, a woodchuck.  I pulled out the camera as fast as I dared and walked along the opposite side of the ditch as it ran south.  Out of the many shots I took, one actually turned out OK.

I think he saw his shadow–and ran like hell to get away from me.

Friday morning I took Kane in to the vet.  He had been limping on his left foreleg, and it’s been getting so bad that he wouldn’t put any weight on it.  He also would spend all day lying in his dog house, presumably because it hurt too much to move.  The vet said he had lost another two pounds since we had been there last, just a month or so ago.  He was down to 55 lb from 79 a few years ago.  She was amazed that he was 13 years old.  It turned out there was nothing wrong with his foot, to my surprise, but his shoulder was so bad she couldn’t move it at all.  He either had a bone tumor or extremely severe arthritis.  In any case he was in a lot of pain and was likely to stay that way for the rest of his life, which wasn’t likely to be long.  He would continue to atrophy and lose weight because of his inactivity.  I decided the best thing would be to put him down.  The vet agreed.  I said my goodbyes, shed a few tears, and left him there.  It was a hard thing to do.   For the first time in about 15 years, we are dogless.  (No, I don’t want another dog.  Don’t offer me one, please).

This is one of the last photos I have of Kane.

Here he is with a brace of buffleheads.  Those were younger years for both of us.

Savannah and I went to Hannibal.  She had her eyes examined and picked out some new glasses.  Stacey met us and we all went to lunch.  We went to Stacey’s office, where I gave a talk on the Galapagos.  People actually showed up.  It went pretty well.  It was the first time I’ve given a lecture in front of Stacey and Savannah.  After we came home I did yard work while Savannah took a nap before going to work at Orscheln’s.  Stacey went to fire training that night.  Meanwhile, our Canton High School girls basketball team was playing in the state championship game.  They took second, which is great.  It’s been an amazing season.

Saturday I got up early and drove to St. Louis for the biannual MONEP seminar.  They bring in nationally known photographers for this.  It wasn’t the best ever, but I did learn some good things.  Afterward I stopped at a nearby pet store to buy Elodea, then went to the Cheesecake Factory to meet one of my former students.  I haven’t seen him in about 5 years.  He’s doing well, working for a chemical company.  It was a long drive home, but at least I made it before bedtime.

Sunday it rained, which put me out of my plans to either fish or take a bike ride.  I stayed home and got some work done, but mostly goofed off.  We all took a round on the Wii.  Most of the exercises are not that strenuous, but I actually got sore from some of them.  And they are generally fun. 

Monday I had to drive home during the lunch hour because I had forgotten the dang Elodea at home.  I’ve never had to do that before.  I guess it was worth it because my lab worked very well.  Stacey had a fire dept. meeting that night and Savannah had a date.  I was home alone.  I keep having nagging urges to let the dog out in the morning and let him in at night.  It’s hard to break old habits. 

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