October 30 – Halloween town

Thursday I took the environmental class out in the rain.  Most of us wore rubber boots, but one student was so inspired that she put on the chest waders.  What a sight.  We collected some dirt, humus and leaves to put in the Berlese funnels.  We went in when it started pouring.  I picked up some pizza for dinner, but they screwed up our order.  We got an extra pizza out of it, and I took that to Savannah at work. 

Friday I did different things in the office in the morning.  In the afternoon we met with some administrators to gripe about various problems at North Campus.  The president had some great suggestions.  Afterward I ran errands.  I picked up the motorcycle battery, which they had neglected to hydrate and charge.  That gave me time to look around at the helmet selection.  I picked up Savannah’s senior pictures.  I talked with the photographer a bit.  When he told me he used to have a studio out by Staples, I realized he had photographed me almost 10 years ago.  It’s the one where I’m wearing the bug lab coat and holding some cockroaches.  I stopped by the Jade Orchid and talked to Wanaree for awhile.  That night I carved the pumpkin.  I had printed out a photo of one of the jackrabbits from Arizona and transferred the pattern to the pumpkin.  I got the idea from my brother Mike to use a Dremel tool to cut into the pumpkin skin to create the image.  Then I took the guts out and cut a hole in the back to insert a bright fluorescent bulb inside.  Ta Da!  The Jack O’Rabbit.  Savannah went out to see the Paranormal movie  She was so scared she threatened to sleep in our bed with us.

Saturday I was running errands around Canton and saw a guy with a nice little buck in the back of his truck.  Then on our way to St. Louis I saw another strapped to a hitch haul.  The bucks must be on the move!  Stacey and I went to pick up my print at Powder Valley Conservation Area.  We stopped at Olive Garden for lunch.  We hadn’t eaten at one for a couple of years at least.  We stopped at a Farmer’s market and picked up some veggies, then went on the the Global Foods Market, which has stuff from all over the world.  We bought figs, dates, and some other stuff.  It’s fun just to walk up and down the aisles.  I was particularly amused by the canned bullheads and gouramis.  We stopped at Bass Pro Shop and I bought a reel on clearance.  Stacey went to Gordman’s, which is kind of like TJ Maxx.  She bought an assortment of stuff, mostly gifts.  We got home just after sunset.  We turned on the outside light, but I guess the trick-or-treaters were mostly done.  The LaCounts did stop by and visited a little, but we gave up after they left.  Savannah was at work most of the day, except for the hour she spent getting her costume and make-up together for her–surprise–cat costume.  I went down to Orscheln’s and took her picture. 

Sunday morning I got up to go to Lowell’s, but not too early since the sun rises so late.  I got up into stand number 2, one of my favorites.  It wasn’t long before a little spike buck came up from the east, jumped the fence and walked behind me.   Shortly after that, a forked horn walked up on my west and approached the fence.  The spike walked up to the other side of the fence, using a sidling step, which I assume was an aggressive posture.  The forkie responded with pawing the ground, kicking up leaves.  They snorted at each other a couple of times.  It was hilarious to watch.  The spike walked away and the forked horn jumped the fence and followed him.  A couple of does wandered out in front of me, maybe 40 yards out, then wandered away.  Later an 8-point buck walked up to where the forked horn had been, paused a bit, and jumped the fence.  He followed about the same path through the woods.  He was legal, but too far away, and not as big as I’d like.  I got some photos, though it was still a bit dark.  Some time later another doe walked across the woods in front.  It sure was a day for deer.  I also saw a variety of birds, including a hawk (sharp-shinned?) flying through the trees.  When things slowed down I went to the house to see Lowell.  We went out to look for my lost arrows, as I had brought my metal detector out.  The weeds are just too deep out there.  We didn’t find any.  It rained so much last week that the lake was very high.  The water was up above the dock where the pontoon boat is moored.  I wanted to fish to test out my new reel.  I climbed down to the other dock, also mostly underwater, and took the canoe out to the pontoon, untied it, and ran it ashore.  We got our fishing gear and fished two rounds of the lake.  I tied a black and red spinner on to the old rod with the new reel.  I caught a nice bass on the first round.  It looked long, and had a big mouth, but only weighed two pounds.  I guess it was kind of thin.  I was impressed with the new reel (Bass Pro Rick Clunn baitcaster).  My casts were long, and I never got a backlash, even in all the wind.  It has a very smooth action.  I like it better than my Pflueger, which cost me a lot more.  It was pretty windy out, and we went in.  We went to Durham for lunch and stuffed ourselves on roast beef plates.  On the way home I noticed how flooded the rivers and streams are.  It’s going to take them awhile to go down. 

That night we went to dinner to celebrate Savannah’s 18th birthday at Best Buffet, her favorite.  Afterward we went to QU to see the guitar ensemble.  It was pretty good.  A couple of my students were in it, including Shawn Murr, who’s in a lot of my classes.

Monday I had the ecology class.  First I gave them an exam, then I took them fishing.  Lowell was the gracious host, as he had rigged up a bunch of rods before we even arrived.  It was a good, clear day, but it got cold later.  The bluegills were biting well, and we ended with 12, even though only five students and myself were fishing.  I only caught three small bass, but the students caught some big bull bluegills.  We got enough data that we should be able to construct something of an age distribution from the scale samples we took.  We gave the fish to Shawn, who was willing to fillet and eat them. 

Photos from this and a few past episodes are here:


October 25 – mammal invasion

Thursday we were supposed to plant the big bluestems in the prairie.  Unfortunately, it was raining so hard I could not reasonably make the students go out.  Instead, we planted some seeds in pots in the greenhouse.  Our thanks go out to Leo, who had dropped off the seeds that morning.  He saved the day. 

Friday I went in to Quincy and ran errands all over.  I ordered a new battery at the motorcycle shop and got some mice for the snakes.  I bought some waders for our next stream team outing.  Many times the water is too high for knee boots (which we have in abundance).  I stopped by Ann’s office and had a good talk.  I had lunch at the Hawk’s Hangout and went back to the office.  We had a General Assembly meeting, at which I learned a few interesting things, and I went home. 

Saturday morning I started cleaning the garage, which has suffered a few years of accumulation and neglect.  I didn’t get very far, but I threw out a lot of stuff.  I did a little yard work as well.  The recent rain had cause a few large segments of the whomping willow to fall.  Soon it will all be down and I won’t have to fell it.  One of Nancy’s monarch pupae had hatched, and I tagged and released the female.  At least I got one tagged this year.  I missed the season while I was away.  I revised some of my calendars for the upcoming season, so if you want butterfly, dragonfly or Arizona calendars, they feature all new photos.  Meanwhile, Savannah was sick and taking the ACT.  She returned in a rather poor mood.  She brightened up a bit when Lowell and I went to Orscheln’s to take her a new laptop.  It was an early graduation present from Lowell.  I think she was shocked with disbelief.   We are still enduring the onslaught of Asian lady beetles.  I vacuumed up about a thousand in the basement.  Stacey and I went to a dinner at Lake of the Oaks where she gave a talk about RSVP.  Some people asked about the new Canton R-V fire station down the road.  The Lake community is part of a different fire district.  Some guy kept asking questions and going around in circles.  I think the gist of his argument was, why should he pay more for fire service that’s closer.  Duh.  So your house doesn’t burn down.  We saw a big buck cross the road and jump a fence on the way home.  I should have hit him with the Taurus.  I may never have a chance like that again.

Sunday morning I was reading the paper and drinking my coffee when I heard a noise like snap, thud, thud.  I checked the broom closet and there was a mouse caught.  It wasn’t quite dead so I put it in a snake cage.  Even though it had just had two mice two days ago, he ate it.  What a trooper!  I heard some more noises, and upon checking the basement, found another of my traps had yielded fruit.  Or mouse.  This one was quite alive, and I put it in a cage (until a snake has room for more).   I continued working on the garage.  I got a little farther and it’s starting to look better.  While I was out picking up pine cones I found a dead mole in the middle of the yard.  Another monarch hatched out, but it had fallen to the bottom of the jar and had deformed wings.  I put it outside to see if it could straighten itself out.  I checked on it later while I was shooting my bow, and found that the woodchuck burrow had been dug out.  Dang it!  I thought I had won that battle.  I guess I won the battle, but not the war.  When I see him again, I’ll try using more fire power (to the extent that I can get away with it in town).  Stacey was cooking dinner for the crew working on the fire house when, naturally, her pager went off and she had to leave on a fire call.

Mole carcass.  Now that’s what I call a forelimb evolved for digging.

Monday the Ecology class went to Main Campus to get some leaves.  I don’t think we could have done this lab a day later, as the leaves were falling off the branches as we were cutting them.  In fact, the first dogwood we went to had almost no leaves left on it.  And then my stinkin’ scanner wouldn’t work, and that was my high-tech upgrade to an old-fashioned lab.  Instead, we photographed the leaves with a digital camera and measured their perimeter and area on a computer. 

Tuesday morning I went to Main Campus to run some errands.  While I was there, I did some volunteer Moodle coaching for some of the staff.  I went to our graphics designer to get some new business cards, but she was gone for the day.  I’ve never needed to see her before, and the one day I remember to drop by, she’s not there.  In environmental science we finally planted the big bluestems that we had dug out at Lowell’s last week.  We put on our stream team boots because of the mud.  We broadcast seeded some other stuff, and hoed out some sow thistle that had sprung up around our butterfly bush.  This last effort was accompanied by numerous “ho” puns. 

October 14 – Back to work

Tuesday I went in to the office and did actual work.  I got some lectures done, and am largely prepared for next week.  I also ran some errands, including getting a mattress for the antique sofa bed.  That night I had a Canton Camera Club meeting.  The usual people showed up, and we had a great time at the Mexican restaurant.  I showed nearly a hundred photos from Ruby.  Most of the others had something to show, and many were quite good. 

Wednesday I really didn’t feel like going to the office.  I stayed home and did dishes (our dishwasher is temporarily out).  I cleaned up the sofa bed and tried out the mattress.  It’s 4 inches too wide, which I knew, but it works, and it was a deal.  It’s fairly comfortable too.  I went to Orscheln’s to get some springs to replace some missing ones.  I went out to photograph an old barn, as I thought the fall colors would complement it, but the right kinds of vegetation were not really present.  I took a few anyway.  I loaded the dehydrator with the jerky Savannah and I had prepared on Sunday.  I cleaned all the snake and lizard cages, and the cockroach cage, which I moved into the basement.  They had all summer in the garage and they only produced two babies.  I don’t know why the population is crashing. 

Thursday I stayed home and did lots of odd jobs.   I finished off the report on the research we did in Ruby.  About mid-morning I was outside dinking around and noticed I had not put out the trash can with the deer bits in it.  The truck had already come by our house, but it still had  to come back and do the other side of the street.  I hung around until the truck came.  Stacey called while I was waiting.  Then right when the truck was pulling up a guy that was at Stacey’s meeting called to ask me to give a talk to his group.  Meanwhile, I was dragging the trash can across the street, trying to talk to this guy, and trying to indicate to the trash man what I was doing.  I had to have th guy call me back.  The irony is that hardly ever does anyone call me. 

Friday morning I got up early and went out to Lowell’s.  It was doing something between fog and drizzle–frizzle, I guess.  I sat in the same stand as last time.  I saw the same cat again, but coming from a different direction.  It was pretty dark at first, and I couldn’t have shot, even though it was legal time.  Once again I had a 10 mph wind from the north, but I was prepared for cold.  I even had hot coffee.  I rattled for awhile, but never saw a deer from the stand.  I got down at about 9 and walked around.  At least it was quiet, as everything was wet.  I searched about and found one of my lost arrows.  I think it was the one that killed the deer, as it had some hair on the broadhead.  I saw a couple of deer on the west side, but they saw me first.  I went in and warmed up, talked to Lowell for awhile and went home.  I saw that one of my friends was asking on Facebook for volunteers to help roof his house.  After lunch I went over and shoveled shingles for a few hours.  It was backbreaking work, but we got a lot done.  I had to go, as my in-laws were coming to visit.  I got home just before they arrived.  When Stacey got home, we went out to dinner.  She had bought an air bed that we set up later.  We are finally able to have overnight guests!  We only put that off about five years.

Saturday we went to the Hannibal Folk Life Festival.  We seem to do this every year, as it is a weekend that Rhonda has off, and that’s when they come to visit.  We hardly buy anything there, except junk food.  Let’s see: kettle corn, fried pork rinds, homemade root beer, pork sandwich, roasted peanuts.  I think that covers it.  We did, as usual, see some of our friends there.  Afterward we went to Sawyer’s Creek, a tiny theme park with gift shops.  It’s been closed for about two years, and they were selling off the inventory of the gift shops.  We didn’t buy anything there.  Oh, if you want to own Sawyer’s Creek, you can probably get it for about a million dollars.  It goes up for auction soon.  It appeared to be in pretty good shape.  That afternoon I did little jobs around the house.  Stacey and I raked up the crabapples, which are getting fairly rotten.  I practiced shooting my bow, and tested some of my broadheads, with results as follows:  three-blade mechanical, low and right; two-blade mechanical, left; old Muzzy 4-blade I found 10 years ago, dead on. 

Sunday I raked up the rest of the crabapples and took them to the brush dump.  There was some wood in it, but I didn’t feel like pulling it out, and I have nowhere to store it.  Joe LaCount came over and we changed the serpentine belt on the Lil Egg.  It was a minor challenge.  I took him down and showed him the Honda 70.  He used to work on them, surprisingly.  I spent some more time photographing butterflies in the back yard.  There must have been at least 15 commas, all foraging on the decaying crabapples.  Stacey wants to get rid of that tree, as it is a pain to rake up the fruit, but it’s good for the wildlife, and gives me a chance for some late season butterfly photography.  There was also a rare mourning cloak, a red-spotted purple, and a couple of red admirals.  I think I saw more butterflies there than I did all summer. 

Monday we caught another mouse.  It sure makes me wonder why we even have a cat.  He catches plenty of rodents–outdoors.  It also was the beginning of ladybug season.  Every year at this time, buildings are invaded by Asian lady beetles, Harmonia axiridis.  Ours were coming in mostly through the basement door.  I taped off the seams with masking tape, and set up Savannah’s sticky light trap.  It seems to be working.  It was my first day back to live teaching after 5 months off.  A friend said, “It’s like going to jail.”  It wasn’t that bad, in part because I love my job.  And I did miss my students.  Another friend said that there are only 8 weeks until the next break.  That’s quite an up side!  My classes are very small (4 in one and 5 in another).  For ecology lab we went out and marked 50 grasshoppers, then released them.  That’s always a fun exercise.  One of my former students, in his fourth year of medical school, came to talk to our current students that night.  I learned a whole lot about getting into med school. 

Tuesday I took the environmental science class out to Lowell’s.  We did a little walking tour and dug up some big bluestem.  We’ll plant them in the North Campus prairie on Thursday.  I left from my office to go to St. Louis for a MONEP meeting.  The speaker was really good.  He’s taking photos in Forest Park every day for a year.  Both his pics and commentary were quite good.  I showed some of my Ruby pics in the show and share.  They went over pretty well.

Wednesday I slept in a little, and had ecology class again.  We went out to catch as many grasshoppers as possible.  We did pretty well, but partly because the Bio 150 class was helping us.  I did some office work and went home. 

Here’s a poem Ron wrote in honor of my deer kill.  I think Lowell put him up to it.


Run, Bambi, run 

Stay hidden and out of the sun 

Don’t forget to tell mom and dad 

Or your day c
ould be very sad

Because the Great White Hunter is roaming around 

And rumor has it he’ll even shoot at a sound 

So walk softly and carry a big stick 

And when you see him, hit him a lick 

You ask what is his name 

It’s Captain Coelho of fishing and hunting fame 

If you’re lucky, as he’s going up the tree 

One of the steps will break free 

And he’ll fall on the ground with a real thump 

Then rush over and with your stick, give him a bump 

Run, Bambi, run whatever you do 

And don’t forget to stay out of his view 

Your Buddy,

Joe’s Fishing Mentor

This week’s photos are here:


October 6 – Deer down

Tuesday I went to the Kiwanis meeting at noon with Stacey.  The lunch is normally the part I look forward to, but this time it was meat loaf.  What luck!  Not a favorite of either of us.  Anyway, it was a good meeting.  In the afternoon I went to the office and took care of a few small things.  I then had a meeting at main campus with my division and an HLC representative–the organization that accredits us as a University.  That went pretty well too.  When I got home, I noted that the woodchuck had not yet dug himself out. 

Wednesday morning I went in to QU again to hear the result of the HLC visit.  We were accredited for another 10 years.  There was much rejoicing.  I went to my office for a bit.  I talked to some students I haven’t seen since last year.  I picked up Lowell and we ate at the diner in Ewing.  Lowell is now a 1/45th owner of the building.  It’s not much of an investment, just a way to make sure that the diner stays in business.  We fished two rounds of the lake.  It was sunny but windy.  It was tough fishing.  I caught two small bass on a Rat-L-Trap, while Lowell caught one bluegill.  Lowell had to go to Quincy, so I stayed and read the paper and took a brief nap.  I changed into camos and went out to sit in deer stand number two.  I was just about done reading the last article in American Entomologist when I noticed a deer walking down the fence line toward me.  I put the magazine under my rear and watched.  It was a small buck with four points on each side, which made him a legal shooter.  He had just a basket rack though, nothing impressive at all.  He continued straight toward me, stopping to nibble on plants.  At one point a cow mooed in the distance. He kind of cocked his head and listened, then kept going.  It was so cool to seem him that close.  Too bad I couldn’t pull out the camera.  After he passed me I stood up and drew.  I whistled him to a stop and fired an arrow.  He ducked and ran a short distance while the arrow went over his shoulder.  He stopped about 30 yards out, then continued moseying on.  I don’t think he ever knew I was there.  I wasn’t too broken up about missing.  I’d rather shoot a bigger buck.  It was just fun to see one, which doesn’t often happen.

Thursday it rained all day.  I stayed in and worked up a report of our data from Ruby.  There’s a lot of stuff there, but it all hangs together fairly well.  I also scanned all the old photos my sister had given me while I was out in California.  I can’t believe I was ever that skinny, or had such bad hair or clothing.  The most interesting among them were the class photos from Byron Elementary School.  I have kindergarten and grades 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8.  I went through them and wrote down the names of all the classmates I could remember.  I actually did get most of them, but there are still a few unknowns, even in the 8th grade.  I don’t recall accomplishing much more than that, except forgetting to put the trash out. 

Friday I rearranged the plants in the house and vacuumed up all the fern leaves.  I went outside and filled up two out of three woodchuck burrows.  He never dug himself out, so I’m declaring myself the winner.  The third hole is under a wood pile that I will have to burn first.  I went down to the boat house and got the Honda Mini Trail 70 started.  It didn’t want to run without the choke.  The battery is pretty much shot too.  I made two trips to Orscheln’s to get shims to install the Harley mirrors on it that Mike gave me.  All I really need to finish the project is a new headlight and a tail light lens.  I spent the afternoon working on another research project–non-insect arthropods in popular music.  When Stacey got home we went to Primo’s for pizza.

Saturday morning I went in to QU for a Discovery Day.  I set up my display boards and my laptop with a looping presentation of photos.  I got only one student who was interested in biology, but that’s normal.  I got to talk to some students and friends anyway.  And we had free lunch.  I went to Lowell’s afterward.  It was pretty cold, but it wasn’t supposed to rain.  We went around to all the deer stands and measured off 20 yards in different directions and marked trees.  We had done this about three years ago, but many of the reflective markers were gone, and he had put up a new stand since then.  So now I have good range estimation from every stand.  We went inside for awhile, and I must admit I took a little nap.  Lowell had to go off to a function, and I went out to stand 3A and climbed up in it.  First I saw something white walking toward me.  I thought it was a deer at first.  It turned out to be a house cat!  A little while later I saw a deer run from the bean field into the end of a line of trees.  If it followed the trees down, it would go right past me.  So I stood up and got ready, but it didn’t show.   As I was growing colder, and implementing every spare item of clothing I had, I saw a fawn walking down the trail by the lake, maybe 25 yards away.  I drew my bow, but it stopped behind a tree and I couldn’t shoot.  I let down my draw, and eventually it walked out into the open about 30 yards out.  I shot.  My arrow made a spiral like a corkscrew and landed nowhere near the deer, which ran away.  What the hell?  I thought maybe it was a bad arrow.  Later I saw a big doe out in the bean field, but she never got any closer than about 40 yards, then she walked back into the trees.  I started to shiver, and that’s where I draw the line.  After I couldn’t take it any more, I climbed down, although there was maybe an hour of shooting light left.  I picked up the arrow I had shot, and there didn’t appear to be anything wrong with it.  I first thought that my bow was out of tune, but upon further reflection, it may be that my broadheads are not aerodynamic.  As I walked past the catfish pond I saw a fawn (perhaps the same one) in the field.  I sneaked toward it while hiding behind a peach tree.  It didn’t move, and I stepped out and shot.  I got the spiral effect again, and a clean miss.  The deer moved a few feet and kept eating. I shot again.  Bigger spiral.  I probably should have stopped at that point, as taking haphazard shots is moderately irresponsible, but this had to be the stupidest deer in the world.  He walked another five feet and stood broadside.  I nocked another arrow and stood up.  He looked straight at me and didn’t run away!  I aimed for the heart/lung region and fired again.  He ran off into the woods and I just assumed I had missed again.  But then I heard a lot of thrashing around in the woods there, and when I walked over to where he had been standing, there was significant blood.  Son of a gun, I had hit him.  I walked to the edge of the woods where he had gone in and I parted the bushes.  I could see him lying there on the forest floor.  Dang.  I walked up and found it had a big hole in the throat.  The arrow had passed right through, cutting carotid arteries and trachea.  There was blood all over the ground.  I tagged him and gutted him, using the new knife I had gotten for Christmas last year.  I dragged him out to the trail, then decided that it would be a lot easier with an ATV, even though it was a small deer–a button buck, it turned out.  I got Lowell’s Mule out of the shed, picked up the deer with it, and took it to my car.  I laid a big trash bag in the trunk, put the deer on top and drove home.  Now that we got rid of the basketball goal, I had to hang the deer from a tree in the back yard. 

I spent all of Sunday butchering the deer.  Fortunat
ely, Savannah was there helping me, even if sometimes it was just moral support and wisecracks.  It was all really good meat, being a young animal and having no wounds in the edible parts. 

Monday I went in to Quincy.  I got some new mechanical broadheads at WalMart.  They were really cheap, but they should fly better than the big fixed-blade ones I have been using.  I should have learned this lesson already.  A few years ago I had penetration problems shooting mechanical broadheads from my longbow.  I also went to Home Depot and bought a new handle for the sliding glass door.  While I was driving down Broadway I was behind this car I’ve seen before.  It’s an old, crappy Chevy Cavalier that looks like it was painted by throwing buckets of green paint on it.  I’m surpised it hasn’t been ticketed for paint on the license plate and tail lights.  What cracks me up, though, is written in the back window: Practice Safe Sex, Go F*&% Yourself.  And right after that, I saw on another car a bumper sticker that read, “I’m only speeding because I have to poop.”  I met Stacey at Hy-Vee and we had Chinese food.  It was her birthday.  She’s that magical age, a number that is the answer to the meaning of life, if you subscribe to Douglas Adams’ version of things in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  I went to the office and met with a prospective student, a tall kid who’s a basketball recruit.  I started work on my lectures for next week.  When I got home I took a nap then installed the new door handle.  I kept filing and grinding the new latch to fit the old door, then just decided to use the old latch.  That worked out better. 

Photos for this week’s entry (with captions!) are here:
Be forewarned there are gory dead deer images.

October 3 – How much wood would a woodchuck chuck?

Wednesday when I got home I got most of the truck unpacked.  Stacey and I went out to dinner.  Thursday I mostly unpacked all the boxes and bags that I had transferred into the house.  I got the motorcycle unloaded and stowed in the boat house.  It wouldn’t start though.  Friday I went in to the office.  I unloaded the truck there too, and actually got a lot of stuff stowed away before our division meeting.  After that I went through my pile of mail.  There was surprisingly little of importance.  I went to the pet store to get mice and crickets, then on to the cell phone place.  I waited forever for the technician, only to have him tell me they don’t do repairs on moisture damage.  I only had a little of the Pacific Ocean in there.  I had put the phone in my dehydrator for two days.  Everything worked except the display.  And now it was a worthless piece of crap.  Great.  My only good fortune was that he had a used one (41 seconds of talk time used) of the same model–third generation Razr.  So I ponied up the dough and bought it.  We took Lowell out for dinner in honor of his birthday (a day early). 

Saturday morning Stacey and I went to the Barry Apple Festival.  It was fairly cold, low 50s, but we were ready for that.  We were not ready for how small and relatively uninteresting it was.  We drove an hour to get there and only spent about 30 minutes.  We bought a funnel cake and left.  I took a brief nap and dove in to the yard work.  I covered all the wood piles with plastic or tarps.  I secured them reasonably well, but only the next wind storm will tell me where the weak points are.  In the process, I found that there were actually three woodchuck burrows around the house.  Great.  He has a network.  I picked up the fallen sticks in the yard and collected all the pine cones for tinder.  I set up the live trap on the back porch, as I had brought it back from my lab.  I potted up some of the plants I’d brought from Arizona.  While pulling out pots, I was stung by a paper wasp.  What a treat!

In the morning I found I’d caught a small opossum in the live trap, not the targeted woodchuck.  I took it, and a small collection of sticks, to the brush dump.  I took some photos after I turned him loose.  I picked up some bricks and a good natural stone while I was there.  I drove along the riverfront and found they had paved the road through the campground and redid a culvert by the launch ramp.  Also, they’re adding on to the tire shop downtown.  I went to QU for lunch with the Board of Trustees, which I’ve not done before.  It was interesting, but not a big deal.  I met a couple of the trustees.  I went to my office and dropped off some of the plants.  From there I went straight to Lowell’s.  He was out mowing, so I changed into hunting clothes.  I drove his Mule out to find him, and we went fishing.  I caught two bass total on a slug-go, and lost many more.  Lowell caught three nice crappie, a couple of bluegill and a good bass.  I went out and sat in a treestand.  There was a big covey of quail when I got there.  That’s a good sign.  I saw almost nothing but squirrels all night.  Just after sunset I did see a deer running through the field on the other side of the fence.  When I quit and walked in I got a shot at a cottontail by Lowell’s shed, but it was a clean miss.  Lowell showed me his new hot tub, all nicely enclosed by a greenhouse and equipped with a 4-speaker stereo.  Nice.  It looked very inviting, but I was more hungry than cold.  I got home just in time for Stacey’s hamburgers.  Perfect!

There was nothing in the trap in the morning, but later I saw the woodchuck in the back yard.  I stuck the BB gun out the sliding glass door and fired, but it sounded like there was no BB in it.  The woodchuck ran back toward the burrow, but didn’t go down.  I reloaded while he moved out into the weeds again.  He couldn’t have been more than 6 feet away when I shot him in the back of the head.  He emitted a squealing grunt and ran down the hole.  I put a few shovels full of dirt in the entrance.  I’ll know he’s still alive if he digs out.  I did lots of odd jobs around the house, including book keeping.  After the afternoon nap I went to practice shooting my bow in the back yard.  My accuracy went up quite a bit in just two practice sessions.  I notice that there were some butterflies feeding on the fallen crab apples.  I got out the camera with the long lens and monopod.  While I was out shooting away my neighbor came out.  We talked about butterflies and various things.  She asked if I had seen the “critter” running around our back yards.  I said, yes, I’d seen the woodchuck.  I never mentioned that I had just shot it, as she seemed to think it was cute.  I guess he’s been eating the crab apples. 
I took Savannah down to give blood.  I knew I wouldn’t qualify because of my trip to Ecuador.  Savannah came back all in a huff because she was rejected.  It seems they’ve changed their criteria again.  At her height, they need her to be 15 pounds heavier.  She’s definitely not interested in gaining 15 pounds.

Photos to accompany this week’s entry are located here:

I have found that this is a much easier way to provide the images, as uploading directly to the blog is really quite tedious.


Some people didn’t get the link to the Ruby, Arizona photos in my last entry, so here it is again:


Now, back to the chronicle of my swing through California.


Dave and I climbed the “C hill” part way, and I photographed Sceloporus orcutti, which was my objective.  It’s a pretty lizard that only occurs in that part of the country.  I think the common name is granite spiny lizard. We went to the UCR bookstore and I got a T shirt.  Dave drove past a gate and parked totally illegally while I was there.  We ate at the Sub Station, which was an old tradition. We stopped and visited Evelyn Carillo, who I haven’t seen in 25years.  She was a part of our group in college, and had been on a lot of bike rides and hikes with us.  Life has taken her many places, but she ended up back in Redlandsjust a few block’s away from Dave’s.  She’s a professional photographer now, and we had a lot to talk about. 




That afternoon Dave and I went to the Sand Sports Show in Orange County.  There were lots of rails, dune buggies and ATVs.  There were some nice Manxes there,like my old one.  The best vehicle in my opinion was the one painted with a Nightmare Before Christmas theme.  I bought a hydration pack for a really good price.



Dave and I loaded up kayaks and went to Dana Point for kayak fishing (in salt water!).  Itwas kind of windy, so I would paddle to the upwind side and drift along ajetty, using large anchovy live baits.  I caught 4 juvenile white sea bass and one sculpin.  Too bad the sea bass weren’t grown up, as they are big, tasty fish.  There were pelicans and seagulls everywhere,and if you’re bait came to the surface they were right on it.  I did end up catching a juvenile seagull.  We saw a few sea lions, and when the tide went out the little crabs came out to play on the jetty.  Chris and Zack had been at Boca Chica Beach and met us at Dana Point, then we went to dinner at Islands.  Fine burgers indeed.  Salt water fishing from a kayak was a dream come true.  Thanks, Dave!


9/20/09 The journey north. 

I helped Dave unload the kayaks and gear, and I hit the road.  There was no traffic, being Sunday.  I had lunch at Taco Bell in Buttonwillow, and called Grandma Ruth to let her know I was coming.  She said my cousin Mike Borba was there.&
I was looking forward to seeing him.  We used to hunt and fish together in Colorado.  I stopped in Newman to see Grandma Ruth, but Mike had had to leave.  He had to get some deer to a processor’s before they spoiled. I showed Grandma some pics on the iPod. She actually knows a lot of animals. I continued on to the ranch to see Dad. We had dinner at La Fuente (not El Fuego, as Dad said) with Mike and Racin.  Back at the ranch I picked figs,and talked to Kristen and DJ.  I went outto stay at Mike and Cindy’s.



I slept in some and hung around the house.  I was feeling kind of sick with a case of theruns.  I thought was just having the revenge of the Mexican food.  I had a nap and felt better in the afternoon.



I went out to the ranch and got the Honda Trail 70 started in less than 10 kicks after two years of inactivity.  I went with Marlene & Dad to Costco &Chili’s.  When we walked into Costco I felt pretty cold.  I said, “Marlene, do you feel cold?”  She said, “No.”  I said, “Then I have a fever.”  She touched me and said I was burning up.  I was shivering in Chili’s and had to go outside and warm up in the 100 degree heat.  I only ate one chicken tender.  We went back to the ranch.  Mike came and washed his pick-up.  He and I pulled out the safe.  The combination was locked inside (by one of my other brothers).  After consulting my Dad and sister, we decided to crack it.  It took us less than five minutes. We drove the pins out of the hinges and pried off the door with crowbars.  Sentry makes crappy safes. We had to do it.  It would have cost $225 to have a locksmith open it, and you can get a new, perhaps less crappy safe for that.  Inside was the combination and various other potential valuables.  My goal was the title to the Honda 70, which we found.



I think this is the day I just stayed home and did nearly nothing all day.  Actually, I processed al ot of the photos from Ruby, and worked on a presentation of it.



I was feeling a bit better, and went out to Lunch withMarlene.  We did some shopping afterward.  I didn’t even buy anything atREI, though they have many things I covet.



I had decided to go for a bike ride in the morning.  As I was getting ready in the driveway I heard the phone ring.  I unlocked the door and ran in the house.  The dog was barking like mad and I was trying to figure out which button to push on the phone, and finally got to talk to Mark. I took the bike ride on the canal path in Oakley.  This was particularly interesting because whenI was a kid you could get arrested for even going near the canal.  I had pizza lunch with brother Mark.  In the afternoon I went out to the ranch  Dad and I made a run for car parts .  Mike and I loaded the Trail 70 into the backof the truck, which was more difficult and hotter than I’d imagined.  We went back to Mike’s for barbecued chickendinner.  That evening Melissa took me to the Wild Idol in Byron for a night out.  This bar has been there in various incarnations since I was a child, and probably long before.  Four of her crazy friends joinedus there.  Well, maybe just two of themwere crazy.  I’d met some of them on Facebook before, but it was nice to meet them in person.  They’re always playing shennanigans on each other and taking goofy pictures.  The band was pretty good in the classic rock genre. I ran into the lead singer during a break, just before we left.  I told him they were rocking hard that night.  He thanked me and asked if I had won the lottery, being there with five young ladies.  I said, “Yes, this is my harem.  They’re all mine.”  But then I admitted they were my niece and her friends.  I drove home, as I was stone sober and Melissa was not.



In the morning I finished uploading photos, and set up aFacebook account for Mike.  We readied for the planned big barbecue at Marlene’s. I set up a bunch of artifacts from Ruby in the back yard, including my bitchin’ boxes of bugs.  Mike made his famous ribs in a barrel.  We ate and swam and ate some more.  I hadn’t seen my niece Andrea in years; her brother Colin was there too.  Andrea is gorgeous and Colin is a fine young man.  My nephew Tim had a new girlfriend(Kelly).  There was much drooling and commentary over Marlene’s new Camaro, which she had picked up the night before.  It’s red and very nice.  We went inside for dessert and while everyone was eating it I gave a presentation of various photos from Ruby.  It seemed to go over pretty well, even though we couldn’t get ideal screen resolution with the TV.  We had one last swim, packed up and went backto Mike’s. 



Cindy made waffles for breakfast.  Mike and I worked on my pick-up truck, and amended many minor maintenance issues. Marlene came over and she let us drive her new Camaro.  There’s nothing quite like a new sports car.  Later Mike and I took his 1927 Ford Model T for a drive.  We stopped at my Uncle Evo’s and all three of his sons were there. We had a nice chat.  We went on to the ranch and saw Dad, Kristen and Jordan. I picked a few figs and we looked at some of the old stuff in the barns.  I drove the ’27 back to Mike’s, which was pretty fun.  I repacked the back of mytruck so I could see out the back w
indow again. Dad, Marlene, and Melissa came over for a little rewarmed ribdinner.  We drank some of my wine.  Later we got in the hot tub for a soaking.



Finished packing, said goodbye and hit the road about 8a.m.  Most of the day was noneventful and quite boring.  I made good time, about like usual, as this is the third year in a row I’ve made this drive.  I didn’t have Savannah along to help this time,though.  I did see a pair of chukar flush from the road.  It’s the first time I’ve seen them in the wild.  A rock flew upfrom an RV and chipped my windshield, which is only a couple of months old.  The universe still finds ways toaggravate me.  Mike called me in the evening, which helped break the boredom. I spent the night in Salina, Utah. 



Utah, Colorado,Kansas.  Colors in aspens, snow on the peaks.  The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile was the highlight of the day.  Otherwise, it was Dull. Night in Salina, KS.



More awful Kansas.  I decided that the wicked witches were from the East and the West because that is the longest axis of Kansas, and a chore to drive through.  Finally, Kansas City and into Missouri.  The final miles went by fast and were completely uneventful.  I got home at2:30 p.m.  The trip was 4688 miles total, and2033 from California. 

Photos from the California leg are here:


Again, there are no captions there, as there are on Facebook.

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