November 24 – Thanksgiving

Wednesday I found out I had placed a couple of images in another photography contest. The National Insect Photo Salon is sponsored by the Entomological Society of America and receives many international entries.  My photo of a Spangled Skimmer, a dragonfly, took the medal for Best by an ESA member.  I took this one in Shaw nature reserve last summer, and this is one of highest honors one of my pics has earned.  My photo of an American Rubyspot, a damselfly, took an honorable mention. I took this one with my old Panasonic while kayaking the Wyaconda with Bob and Jamie last summer.

From NewBlogPics

Spangled skimmer, Libellula cyanea

From NewBlogPics

American Rubyspot, Hetaerina americana

If you click on them, you’ll be taken to my Picasa web album, where they are much larger and more impressive.

Tuesday we had a short lab in environmental science.  I hung around the office until 5, when Lowell showed up and we went to the basketball games.  The women’s game was a nail biter.  We led most of the game, and it was obvious we were the better team.  The other team got ahead near the end, but we tied it, then won on free throws with 2 seconds remaining.  The men’s game was a blowout (in our favor), and not that exciting, so we left at half time. 

Wednesday Stacey and I had the day off.  I changed the oil on three of our vehicles.  I was going nuts trying to get the new oil filter on the Taurus, at least until I discovered they had given me the wrong one.  The NAPA store is just down the street, and I exchanged it.  The proper one went on in a snap.  I also fired up the wood furnace for the season.  Now I’ll be enslaved to it for the next four months.  At least the house is warm and toasty.  Stacey did some sewing and worked on fire reports.  We took the dog on lots of little walks.  We did a little grocery shopping for Thanksgiving. 

Thursday I spent much of the morning mounting and framing prints.   Later we prepped for TG day.   Lowell came over in the afternoon and we had a fairly standard Thanksgiving dinner–turkey, dressing, corn, rolls, noodles, deviled eggs, sweet potatoes.  Stacey made pumpkin pie and Savannah made a butterscotch pie.  Afterward I took some of the leftovers and, against my better judgment, put them down the garbage disposal.  Moments later the sink was clogged.  I tried plunging it, which often works, but not this time. 

Friday morning I took everything out from under the kitchen sink.  I’ve done this routine before.  I ran in a hose from outside and hooked up the drain king.  Unfortunately, it wouldn’t work.  The plumber changed the arrangement of pipes last time, and I couldn’t get the drain king to build up pressure.  I can’t get a snake down it either.  Time to call the plumber again!  There has to be some kind of regular maintenance we can do on this thing.  It has been a problem forever. 

Saturday morning the plumber came and ran is drain machine down the pipe.  It’s basically an electric drill with a snake on it.  It did the job fairly quickly.  He recommended never putting anything down the garbage disposal and scraping all dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.  In the afternoon I went out to Lowell’s for some fishing.  It was an unusually warm day.  I used the usual black and red spinnerbait.  We did three rounds of the lake, and I ended up with four bass, including a nice 15.5 incher.  Lowell was using smaller lures and trying to pick up crappie, but had no luck.

Sunday I had great intentions but ended up not accomplishing much.  Stacey and Savannah went shopping in Quincy.  I stayed home and entertained the dog.

Gretchen seems to grow bigger before our eyes.  She goes through cycles of play and sleep that are almost predictable.  A few quirks we have noticed: she almost never wags her tail.  Sometimes during play she’ll wag it slowly back and forth if she’s anticipating your throwing a ball or something.  She also rarely barks.  Most commonly, she’ll let loose a few on the neighbor’s dogs.  One night she thought she saw something in the back yard and she gave a sustained round of barking.  Still, they were kind of muffled.  She barked with her mouth closed.  What got her riled the most was the neighbor mowing the law.  She has a cute growl and bark.  Fortunately, she doesn’t use them often.  Savannah gave Gretchen a bath on Saturday, then we dressed her in a faux reindeer costume.  She hated it, but we still got some pictures.  Click through to see more acts of cruelty.

From NewBlogPics

November 20 – Gretchen takes over

Tuesday night we went to take our family Christmas portrait photos.  We went to Snapshot Photography in Quincy, the same place Savannah had her senior photos taken.  We took the dog, of course.  Afterward I went to my camera club meeting.   Some people had some great fall color photos.  I didn’t even bring any.

Thursday morning I took Gretchen to the vet for her first check up.  She was all good.  She had a little bump on her shoulder, but the vet said it was probably just a vaccination reaction.  They all loved her so much they gave her a free toy, some food, and a heartworm pill.  I reluctantly left her at home and drove in to work.  After my classes, I ate a disgusting dinner at Hardee’s and hung around my office until my talk, which was supposed to start at 6.  No one showed up, so I checked the press release, which said it was at 7.  That, and the fact that they had screwed up the press release even after I had rewritten it, had me pretty miffed.  So I had an extra hour to burn at the office.  The talk went pretty well in spite of that, and I had questions afterward that ran an extra half hour.  It’s the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species.  My talk was more or less commemorative, and I summarized the evolutionary process and tied in some studies from my own work.

Meanwhile, Savannah was at work and Stacey was home with the dog.  As time has gone on, Gretchen has become more and more comfortable in our home.  This means she runs around like a maniac, and has begun to chew on everything in sight.  She hasn’t destroyed anything yet, but she does drag things around.  She’s the holy terror.  Or the holy terrier.  By the time I got home she was tired out and slept in my lap.  The housetraining is going very well.  She always potties when we go outside, and she’s only had a few accidents in the house. Crate training has improved greatly since we put the crate in our room.  She can see me, and if she starts to whine I can calm her down with a few words.  I had a great session of fetch with her in the kitchen.  Sorry this is turning into a dog blog, but we’re all fairly obsessed with her right now.  Intrinsic cuteness goes a long way!

In the Senior Class voting, Savannah won “Best Hair.”  We’re so proud.  I think.  One of her friends one Best Car, another Biggest Geek, and yet another, Worst Car.

Friday I had no classes, and just one noon meeting.  In the morning I hung around the house.  I went in for the meeting, which didn’t amount to much.  At least I got a free lunch.  I picked up the proofs for our family photos and stopped by the Jade Orchid.  Wanaree asked if Savannah would like to be the greeter at an art show.  I think she’s going to do it. 

Saturday afternoon I went out to Lowell’s to hunt.  Lowell dropped me off at my stand with the Mule, and we saw a hawk fly across the meadow carrying a squirrel.  After I got up in the stand I saw the hawk about 20 feet away, behind a tree eating the squirrel.  I had my old Panasonic on hand, but intervening twigs made photography difficult.  It would have made a great shot if I had had clear shooting.

From NewBlogPics

 That  was my entertainment for the evening, as I did not see a deer.  I read some until shooting light was over.  Talked to Lowell a bit and went home.  That night Gretchen had the itchies.  We think she had an allergic reaction to something, maybe the shampoo or the heartworm pill, but she could not sit still.  It finally wore off, and she got a good night’s sleep.  She certainly has become the Holy Terrier.  Although as affectionate and lovable as ever, she wants to chew on everything and goes through some rather hyperactive periods.  Fortunately, we are equipped with a massive assemblage of dog toys.  I went out to the old kennel and found some things left over from the previous generation of dogs.  She likes them all.

Savannah went to Quincy with a friend  to get her tragus pierced.  On the way they saw a guy drive off the road (erratically) and on to the median.  She called 911, but the operator was pretty crabby with her.  On the way back, they saw the car on the opposite side of the road in a ditch full of water, and lots of signs had been taken out. 

Sunday we all went to Sam’s Club in Quincy.  I had some photos printed, and we stocked up on some groceries.  I had intended to mount my prints in the afternoon, but I didn’t get much of anything accomplished.  I did straighten out my hunting/fishing room. 

Monday was a fairly typical day at work.  We had a high of 60 degrees, which we aren’t likely to see until next April or so.  I took the Ecology class out  to do a tree lab.  That was easy and fast, so I was able to go home a little early.  Savannah had gotten there first, and cleaned up the dog pee and walked Gretchen already.  The dog has already fallen from Savannah’s favor.  I had a little work to do outside, so I walked her again.  She was, shall we say, productive. 

November 11 – Gretchen moves in

When I got home Tuesday Savannah said there was a bad smell in the laundry room.  I found a dead mouse in the trap in the broom closet and threw it out.  Still, some odor lingered.  When Stacey got home, Savannah told her to sniff the broom closet, as she had sprayed some special stuff there.  It was a dirty trick.  We looked online for scholarships for Portuguese Americans.  We found a few, but they were all east coast or west coast.  Sadly for Savannah, there are apparently no national or midwestern scholarships for those of our heritage.

Wednesday I drove the truck into work and dropped off the recycling.  I had lots of student in and out for advising and registration.  I took the Ecology class out for stream team.  It was the latest in the fall we’ve ever done it.  Fortunately, it was an incredibly warm and sunny day.  The water was kind of high, and we didn’t find too many invertebrates, but everything tested OK.  Recent floods have taken their toll on the stream. 

Thursday we went around and measured the CO2 levels of a lot of different places in Environmental Science class.  We calibrated the meter first, but it still gave us some wonky readings.  It can’t be 0 ppm outside.  We had an Environmental Club meeting in the afternoon, and we got some new recruits.  We watered the plants in the green house and put the recycling out for the first time of the year.

Friday I had no classes and no meetings (for once).  I stayed home.  I worked on data analysis all morning, making all new maps for the cicada killer biogeography study.  I looked at the elevation data and found some interesting trends.  By lunch time my eyes were fried from staring at the computer.  Stacey came home and we went grocery shopping.  This is where things got interesting.  I dropped her off at the grocery store.  There was a little white dog running loose there, and she picked it up.  After admonishing her that we were not keeping any such dog, I went down to Orscheln’s to pick up some hardware.  When I got back to County Market, Stacey was still outside holding the dog, instead of inside buying groceries as she was supposed to.  She had called the City to send a cop to pick up the dog, but we ended up taking it home “temporarily” until we could get the grocery shopping done.  This dog had no street smarts, and we didn’t want it to get hit.  We kept it in the cat crate while we were gone.  When we got back Stacey gave it a bath, as it was pretty dirty.  It’s hard to tell, but it looked like it had been outdoors for a couple of days.  It was well groomed and not emaciated, but it’s claws were overgrown and it had a nice case of fleas.  Turns out it was a West Highland Terrier, and everything the web sites say about this breed seems to be true of this one.  It seemed to have a fine disposition–playful but not hyperactive, friendly but not smothering.  small but athletic.  It wasn’t long before she had completely won us over.  We decided to call her Morgan.  We were keeping her unless we found the owners.  I am a complete sucker. 

We kept the dog in the laundry room all night because we weren’t sure what she might do while unsupervised.  She whined for awhile until Stacey shushed her.  Then she was quiet the rest of the night.  I got up early for the deer season opener.  It wasn’t too cold anyway.  I sat in stand #3A, which is one of my favorites.  I didn’t see much, except for more squirrels than have appeared all year so far..  Four turkeys flew down from the big oak by the lake at sunrise.  At 7:30 a little buck came down Lowell’s ATV road.  I glassed it to see if it was legal.  It was, but still too small for my goals.  I let it go on up the hill behind the catfish pond.  He never knew I was there.  I’m sure his death would have been a great shock to him.  I was impressed with how quietly he moved, considering the whole forest floor is covered in dry leaves.  I hardly heard a thing.  A few minutes later he ran down the edge of the woods toward stand #2, where I knew John Wilcox was hunting.  I heard lots of shooting in the area, and suspected that John had already harvested a buck.  I heard shooting from across the lake dam.  Later I saw the guy hauling his deer up the hill in the bucket of his tractor.  I got down at about 10:00 and walked around the east portion of the place.  I ran into the turkeys again.  By the fence I saw a couple of deer in the adjacent field.  I reached for my binoculars and lost my grip on my gun.  As I grabbed for it, the middle finger on my right hand caught the sharp edge of the scope mount and cut the heck out of me.  I dropped the gun anyway (on thick grass, fortunately).  I dripped blood all the way back to Lowell’s house, where we patched it up with a standard band-aid.  It turned out that John HAD seen that same buck, as hit came by his stand just before 8.  He didn’t shoot it either.  The only other thing he saw was a doe.  The guys weren’t going out to lunch, so I went home. 

While I was up on the deer stand I got a text from Stacey.  The original owners of the little white dog came and repossessed her.  I was distraught.  Stacey and Savannah were absolutely crushed.  It had run away from home because of the loud noise of sighting in guns.  It was only a few miles to County Market from her house.  So I thought, heck with that.  We’ll get our own darn dog.  I could not believe myself.  Stacey has wanted another dog for awhile, but I didn’t.  This dog had sold me on “Westies.” 

Sunday morning we drove to St. Louis to the Posh Puppies Shelter.  They get dogs from a three-state area.  There was a powerful kennel smell when we walked in the door, but everything looked clean.  They have one greeting room, and we had to wait our turn to visit with dogs.  We looked at a 3-year-old Westie first, but the poor thing had no socialization, and was not at all built like Morgan.  Next we looked at a white miniature schnauzer puppy, as we wanted to stay with a terrier.  Gretchen really lit up the room and played with the ball a lot.  We decided we didn’t need to see any more.  We had to wait again while they bathed her.  We completed the papers, paid the adoption fee, and drove all the way back home again (2.5 hours).  We had brought a crate, but she traveled in our laps quite well, sleeping most of the time.  So we burned a whole day just to get a dog, but it was worth it.  She’s just adorable.  It’s been a day and a half and she has not peed in the house yet.  I’m going to try to embed an image here.

From NewBlogPics

Monday I went to work.  It rained all day.  I was trying to find out what happened to the waxworms that I had ordered a month ago.  I found on the web site that the guy’s wife had been looting the accounts and not filling the orders.  Dang.  He’s trying to get things straightened out.  For lab we identified all the grasshoppers we had caught.  They’d been in the refrigerator for a month.  As the students were sorting them, one moved a little.  Gradually, it came back to life.  A student took it home for a pet.  It must have been only a half inch long.  At one point one of our escaped mice was noticed under the pop vending machine.  I tried to catch it but it crawled up into the machine.  Later a student brought me a sticky trap with the mouse on it.  I pulled it off and put it in a cage with her brothers and sisters.  I got out of the office as soon as I was able so I could go home and play with the dog. 

As usual, more photos can be found here:

November 5 – Sweet 18

Thursday I took the environmental class out to Lowell’s.  We all squeezed into the Taurus–6 people total.  We put up some bird boxes and built up some rabbitats by cutting down saplings, mostly the invasive exotic autumn olive.  It was Savannah’s 18th birthday.  She had to go to school and work, but at least she didn’t have chemistry.  I went to visit her at work for a little while.  She was serving an Amish gentleman, her favorite thing (not).  Her friends brought her Subway for lunch and a birthday cake at school.  So it was a good day overall.

Friday I went in to the office.  I had my picture taken for a piece I wrote that will go out to some alumni.  Then I was showing some of my Ruby pics to our PR guy, and he seemed to think they would look good in our hallway display cases.  When I got back to my office I put together a dozen good ones and wrote captions for them.  I wrote a narrative to go with it and sent it all to him.  I went to a meeting on main campus.  I had to defend some changes I wanted made to our curriculum.  I managed to make the others see things my way.  From there I went straight to Lowell’s, changed and climbed a tree.  I took a couple of shots at a squirrel.  The first was so close I thought I hit him, but he jumped up on a little cedar log.  The second hit the log.  It’s a good thing I used an old beater broadhead because it’s permanently buried in that log.  I heard one deer, at least the distinctive snort and sound of hoofbeats.  It must have smelled me.  The wind was swirling and gusty.  I did see a doe just after sunset.  She walked in from the east and disappeared over the ridge.  I also saw a turkey fly up into a tree to roost.  For the first time ever, I used a scent lure for deer.  It was “Active Scrape”, a mix of urine from does and bucks.  It absolutely reeks.  It didn’t bring in the big bucks this time.   At least it was on sale.

Savannah’s funny/creepy story of the night.  She accidentally hugged a lesbian.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  She just didn’t know the lady was a lesbian at the time. 

Saturday I finished cleaning out the garage.  I mowed the front lawn and raked the leaves.  I tried in vain to start the Honda 70 again, I installed a battery maintainer on it and another on the lawn mower.  I took the metal detector to Nancy’s to look for a boundary marker.  At one point the detector went off strongly.  She got a shovel.  I said, “If it’s a silver dollar, I’m keeping it.”  I turned over a shovel full of dirt and extracted a prize.  I held it up in triumph, a square of aluminum foil, shouting, “We win!”  We never did find the boundary post.  There was a nice garter snake sunning on a rock by her pond.  I collected some grasshoppers for lizard food.  Stacey and I went out to dinner at the local Mexican Restaurant. 

Sunday I got up early and went out to Lowell’s.  I sat in one of my favorite trees, but didn’t see a deer all morning.  When I got down, I took a little saw and cut the segment of cedar log that contained the broadhead I had shot on Friday.  It was fairly impressive penetration.  Lowell and I went fishing, after, that is, using planks to get to the pontoon boat dock.  The lake is still very high.  I caught five bass and Lowell caught two, though he caught the biggest one.  The average fish size is definitely bigger that just a few years ago.  We went to LaBelle for lunch and ended up having the same thing–a big hamburger. 

Monday morning when I got to my office I saw a little, white mouse walking down the hallway.  It zipped under the door into my lab.  I caught it by hand and put it in a nearby cage.  After I got settled I was working at my computer when I felt something crawling on my ankles.  It was another mouse!  I caught that one with an insect net and put it in with the other.  They were my colleague’s mice for her class.  When I got back to my desk, I still had the occasional sensation of crawling on my feet.  I’m not afraid of mice or anything, but that’s creepy!  After class I went to Hannibal for the open house at Douglass where Stacey works.  On the way there was a really cool sunset, but it was gone before I could pull over anywhere to shoot it.  There was food and some friends, and I learned something of the history of the agency.

I found out that I had placed a photo in a competition I had entered, the 2009 Mississippi Valley Salon of Photography.  I had submitted 12 and had one accepted.  That’s not bad for an international competition.  I was surprised it was not the bat photo that got in, it was the hawk with the bullfrog.  All the photos accepted are shown in galleries at the links below.  When you have some time, or want to waste some time at work when no one is watching, and you want to see some very nice photos, take a look. 

Open/generalcolor section

Theme(Monochrome or Monochrome with one color) section

Open/generalnature section

This week’s blog photos, plus some from the recent past, are here: