June 23 – It’s Like a Heat Wave…

Tuesday I did yet another dirty job of the summer–scraping the sooty crud from the inside of the wood furnace.  Since this is essentially bathing in carcinogens, I wore a face mask, goggles, hat and gloves.  The scraping goes pretty quickly.  This is the third year, so I have it down now.  Coating the inside with motor oil (to prevent rust) is always a treat.  When done, I was about as filthy as I ever get.  To the shower!  I threw my shirt and the mask away.  I hung around the house waiting for the door company and the mechanic to call.  Our internet was down, so I played a lot of video games and accomplished very little.  It’s been hot as heck out, so I was fine staying indoors.  Savannah worked at the pool all afternoon, and came home pretty tired.  They finally finished my truck at quarter to five.  I had Savannah drive me down to get it.  This is the second A/C unit that I’ve had to replace in that vehicle, which I hardly ever drive. 

Wednesday I cleaned up from the storm. There were a lot of small branches down, especially in my neighbor’s yard.  She’s on vacation.  I cut up a black locust branch that fell down.  One stick fell in the old dog kennel and put a hole right in the middle of the new tarp I had hung over the lawn mower.  Clearly, God wants me to have a wet ass.  I hauled the branches down to the brush dump and brought back some firewood.  Savannah helped by chopping limbs with the machete.  I went back for another load later, and found several hollow logs.  I saved these for my fall Environmental Science class.  One had an old bird’s nest in it, under which I found a huge beetle grub.

I love the way you can see the tracheae radiating out from the last spiracle.  Later the gecko ate it.

I chainsawed the rest of the logs, took them home and stacked them.  It was way stinkin’ hot.  In the afternoon the dude came to fix our sliding glass door, which has felt like it was rolling on gravel for about a year.  Turns out the rollers were just gummed up with stuff, specifically, cat hair.  MR. BOOTS!  As if I needed another reason to dislike that cat.  He barfed on my side of the bed the other day–a big, double barf with a mouse in each one.
I did yet another dirty job too, repainting the nerf bars on my truck.  They were getting pretty rusty.  I didn’t know, though, that they had rusted all the way through in a couple of places.  I pulled out the angle grinder, which I hadn’t used in a couple of years, and attached the wire wheel.  I got through most of one nerf bar before the angle grinder crapped out.  The housing cracked.  “Chicago Industrial.  Made in China.”  Shoulda known.  I did the other side with a scraper, wire brush and steel wool.  I taped off everything that could be hit by overspray, primed and painted both sides.  It turned out pretty well.  I’ll probably keep them until they fall off.
In the evening we went to a swim meet.  It was the first we have attended this year.  Savannah nearly won the 100 freestyle.  I was shocked.  She’s never even threatened in that race before.  She led much of the way and lost by a whisker at the end.  In breast stroke, she was dominant, as usual.  I was trying out this little video camera I borrowed and filmed the race.  I whipped up a little video and uploaded it to YouTube.  I already posted it on Facebook, but for those who aren’t connected with that, you can find it here:

Savannah’s Race

Friday morning I went out into the backyard with my telephoto lens and extension tubes.  It gives you the magnification plus the ability to get close–like a giant macro lens.  I’d heard some guys talking about it at the last MoNEP meeting, and thought I’d give it a try.  It works, but it’s all manual focus, and vibration is a big problem.  I had to use the 10-s timer to get decent results. 

Great shot of an ugly fly.

Long-legged fly (not a mosquito).

I thought I really had something with this blue mosquito on a yellow flower.  I never quite got the combination of angle and focus I wanted though.

I went down to the brush dump to photograph the swallows that were coming in to gather mud.  First I was shooting from the window of my car, but later found I could hide behind a branch and get pretty close. 

Here’s mud in your eye!  Or beak.

After that I drove down by the river.  There was a great blue heron standing on the big concrete piling, and it didn’t fly away when I pulled up.  It was backlit, so I adjusted the exposure compensation to get the subject brighter. 

Northern water snake, not happy to see me.                                   GBH, panting and looking very hot.

After lunch I went out to the house of the lady who offered to donate her prairie garden to us.  After a look around, I found there wasn’t much of it left.  I dug up what was useful and put it in the truck.  She had a small pond that was loaded with dragonflies.  I took about a hundred photos, but since I had  the exposure compensation too high, most of them didn’t come out. 

On a hot day, everyone’s obelisking.

When I got home I went back down to the brush dump and brought home a few more logs I had seen there. It was still really hot out.  I’m getting close to filling all the racks I need to get through next winter.
I took a shower and hid indoors for the rest of the day.

Friday I loaded all the plants in the truck and went to North Campus.  The lawn area I had sprayed with Round-Up was pretty dead.  Leo was there and we spread the plants out more or less where we wanted them to be.  I used the long-handled bulb planter to plunge the appropriate number of holes around the pots.  It was getting warm quickly.  We sweated like madmen.  Good thing there’s a drinking fountain right inside.  Laura and Brian (AKA Mojo) showed up and we commenced with the planting.  It went pretty quickly.  Just our luck, we chose a day when there was a massive emergence of Japanese beetles.  They were more interested in sex than they were in eating my plants.  After we had it all planted (probably 150 plants), I got out the hose and hooked it up to the outdoor faucet.  They had given me a handle to open the special valve, but the faucet side was stripped out.  We filled buckets from the sink in my office and hauled them out to water all the plants.  That was a pain.  Brian got the faucet working with a pair of pliers, but we were nearly done by then, and our hose was too short.  Afterward I went with Laura and Brian to Panera for lunch.  It was good.  Hy-Vee had their plants at 40% off.  I picked up a couple of butterfly bushes and wildflowers.  When I got home I unpacked, put the truck away, and crashed.
Saturday we went to a few garage sales, but didn’t buy much.  We
did the grocery shopping and went home. 
Sunday morning it was nice and cool.  I sat out on the back porch, drank coffee and read the newspaper.  Quite pleasant.  Stacey and I went to Quincy.  Our first stop was the Midsummer Arts Faire.  There were some good booths this year.  I bought Stacey a necklace with a snake.  We ate lunch at Hy Vee, then went to Best Buy to get a new TV for the bedroom.  The last one is not quite dead, but somewhat demon haunted.  After you turn it off, it turns itself back on.  Creepy.  Savannah now has that one in her room.  We got a 26″ flat screen.  HD is a new thing for us.  Very nice.  We stopped at North Campus and watered the prairie.  It needed it.  Actually, Stacey did most of the watering while I caught as many of the Japanese beetles as I could.  It was not only pest control, it was food for our geckos, which love them. 

Monday I did office work at home.  Exams written, reports filed.  Check.  I vacuumed all the vehicles out and checked oil.  The girls saw a mouse in the basement last night.  I have now set traps.  This just proves that Boots is useless.

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