February 17 – Ember returns

As reported in last week’s missive, our Tokay gecko had disappeared and we had given up on finding her.  Tuesday night Stacey found a bit of residue on the bedroom floor which I identified as fresh lizard poo.  We pulled out her dresser and there was Ember the gecko hiding behind it on the wall.  I got some leather gloves and quickly had her in hand.  She emitted a strange vocalization, as geckos will, and bit into a fold in the glove.  I wasn’t able to remove her from it, her grip was so tight, without excessive force, so I just put her and the glove in a plastic box until later.  I got out the whole terrarium and put it all back together, adding an extra lid to prevent another escape.  We got her back in the aquarium and she returned to her usual hide–a fake plastic rock.  Wednesday I got some crickets from the pet store.  She ate them with much vigor.  Ember is back!

While I was out of town last week I got a message that the optometrist’s office wanted to talk to me, but their message was fairly vague.  I called back on Wednesday, and they didn’t know what the message was about.  Later they called back when they figured it out.  They had made two pairs of my glasses by accident.  They didn’t have a use for the extra pair, so they would cut me a deal on it.  I bargained with them a little and got a spare pair of glasses for really cheap. 

Savannah was elected to the homecoming court.  I went to the basketball games Friday night to see the announcement of the queen.  It was between the girls and boys games.  Savannah won second runner up.  We are very proud of her.  I don’t know of anyone in either family that was so honore, except for my late mother who was both junior and senior queen for the Festa do Spiritu Santu in Oakdale.  Stacey made it just in time to see the presentation.  I saw both basketball games.  Our girls came back from a 15 point deficit to win by 11 or so.  Our boys lost by 1. 

From Winter 2010

Announcement of the homecoming court.  Joey Martz escorts Savannah.

From Winter 2010

Savannah and her boyfriend Matt, ready for the dance.

From Winter 2010

Savannah solo.

One day I stopped by the river to shoot eagles.  They’re not very cooperative these days because it’s too warm.

From Winter 2010

Male and female common mergansers.

From Winter 2010

One eagle gave me a look.

Another lost and found story:  I’ve been using a borrowed phone since Canton Eagle Day, when I lost mine.  I thought I might have left it in the lock house where I gave my talks.   Larry the Lockmaster performed an all-out search, but did not turn it up.  He wrote, “I know exactly where mine is.  It is in the river under Number 14 roller gate on the dam.  I am thinking the catfish and carp are making calls on it without my knowledge.  It flew out of my pocket on New Years day.”   Saturday I found mine out by the wood pile.  For those keeping score, this is exactly where Stacey said it would be.  It was under a piece of bark, and could only be seen from a certain angle.  Good thing I was taking Gretchen for a walk over there.  It was wet but still fully functional, and I went down to Capps to give them back their borrowed phone.

Sunday it snowed hard most of the day.  We woke Monday morning to about 10 inches on the ground.  I brushed off the cars, shoveled the walk, part of the driveway and the approach to the mailbox.  I took some snowscape photos in the back yard. 

From Winter 2010

Rabbit fence.

From Winter 2010

Chain link fence.

From Winter 2010

Sweetgum tree.  Click through for a bunch more snowscapes.

From Winter 2010

Curious cardinal.  Click through for a few more birds.

Stacey had called me about a wreck on the highway.  When it was my turn to make the commute, I was ready. 

From Winter 2010

Who in the heck hauls their boat early in the morning on the snowiest day of the year?

February 12 – Orchid show

Tuesday afternoon I had a late meeting at main campus, but miraculously hit green lights all the way down Broadway out of Quincy.  I picked up Stacey at home and we went to the Smokehouse to meet the camera club for dinner.  Afterward we walked two doors down to the art gallery for our meeting.  Dan led a primer on Photoshop and we had a nice show and share. 

Wednesday afternoon I took my Environmental Science class to Harris Corp.  A friend works there and has implemented many changes that have saved energy, waste and water.  I was impressed with the diversity of their efforts.  Also, it’s not often I get to see the inside of a factory.  They make radio and TV transmitters.  They look like kind of like oversized refrigerators, and each one is worth half a million dollars.

Thursday morning the sun was shining, and I drove down to the riverfront for a few minutes to photograph eagles.  One flew in front of me and landed in a smaller tree.  I pulled up next to it and got some good close-ups.  On the way to work there was a sparkly rime frost on all the trees and bushes.  It’s really too bad I didn’t have time to stop and take pics.  It still made for a lovely drive.  After my classes were over I graded some papers, then left for St. Louis.  I stopped right before getting on the interstate to photograph a hawk in a tree.  She was very cooperative.  Too bad the sun wasn’t shining.  Somewhere along the way I saw an opossum wandering around on the side of the road.  Not a good sign in broad daylight–probably a roadkill about to happen.  I got to the hotel right on time, and many of our crew were already there.  Our consultant had not yet arrived, having been snowed in at Washington DC.   They decided to go to a fancy Italian restaurant, and I was OK with that.  Feeling adventurous, I had sphaghettini for the first time.  Since it was pasta with four different types of marine invertebrates, I knew I’d like it.  I was expecting the calamari to be in rings from the tentacles of a larger cephalopod.  Instead, there were entire, small octopi in there.  They were yummy.  We rolled ourselves out of there (Trattoria Marcella?), went back to the hotel and crashed.

From Winter 2010

Eagle eye.

From Winter 2010

Hawk watch.  I parked in a highly illegal fashion to get this.

Friday morning we started bright and early interviewing candidates for the VPAA position.  The proceedings are more-or-less confidential, but I think I can say they went very well.  We were served breakfast and lunch in our conference room, which was very convenient.  We finished in midafternoon, and I had time to run to Bass Pro Shops.  So I did.  It was only a few minutes away.  I got another Rick Clunn baitcasting reel, as I really like the one I have, and they were still on clearance.  I think I’ll sell my Pflueger on eBay or something.   When I got back to the hotel, we decided to go eat dinner at the Ameristar Casino, which is right across the street from Bass Pro.  It took a little longer getting there this time because there was a major crunchberry on I-70.  We ended up at the seafood place, where I had a combination sea food pan roast, which is really a soup.  It was delicious, and with more invertebrates! 

Saturday morning we interviewed three more candidates.  Things went well again, and we had no trouble narrowing the pool.  After we wrapped up, I drove to the Missouri Botanical Garden.  I wouldn’t normally go there in the winter, but they are having their special orchid display.  It costs a little more, but it was worth it.  The variety is amazing.  I had some trouble with my flash, but found ways to compensate.  Lots of people were photographing the flowers.  After the orchid fest I went into the Climatron to see the tropical species.  My camera was cold from the walk there, and the lenses fogged up immediately.  It was a while before I could take anything at all.  There was some good stuff in bloom, and I went to the temperate greenhouse afterward.  I love their little section with carnivorous plants.  I took a brief walk through the rose garden/house and hit the road.  There were lots of deer in the fields adjacent to the highway.  It was dusk.  It’s been a long, cold winter, and there’s snow on the ground.  Those deer must be hungry.  Stacey, Savannah and Gretchen were happy to see me when I got home. 

From Winter 2010

Orchids: click through to see more.

From Winter 2010

Rose.  Click through to see other flowers.

Sunday morning we exchanged Valentine’s day gifts.  Stacey made muffins for breakfast, then it was time for cleaning.  Sadly, our Tokay gecko, Ember, disappeared from her terrarium about a week ago.  I noticed that the crickets I was throwing in were not being eaten.  When I checked her shelter, it was empty.  She must have finally figured out how to push the lid open.  My faulty assumption was that since she never had, she never would.  We did a thorough search of the bedroom, but turned up nothing.  I’m sure we’ll find her dried up in some nook or cranny one day.  I took her cage down, cleaned it up and stored it.  We moved one of the snakes out into the dining room to make more space in our bedroom. 

Monday morning Stacey and I ran errands.  We replaced batteries in some of the SCBAs at the fire dept.  The sun was shining, and we went down to the riverfront.  The eagles weren’t too cooperative, but a couple flew by and I got a decent shot or two.  We had lunch at the Mexican place.

From Winter 2010


February 8 – Snowpocalypse

Saturday was Canton Eagle Day, and I went down to the lock house at the lock and dam to set up for my talks.  They had remodeled since the flood, and there was a calendar and frame screwed to the wall where we normally project the images.  I got by during the first talk with some textured paper that the lockman had taped together and hung on the wall.  Charlie showed up with an old silver screen that I used after that.  We didn’t have a huge turnout, but the Gonnerman’s showed up and kept me company during a long lull.  Savannah came near the end, and Stacey brought us lunch.  As we were wrapping things up, Brock (the game warden) got a call on an injured eagle.  He said I could come along to find it.  Rescue Rangers!  I changed clothes at home and he picked me up–he lives two houses away.  We went down to Taylor and looked hard at the field where it was supposed to be.  No bird.  The eagle rescue was a wild goose chase.  We talked about fishing and stuff. 

Sunday morning I couldn’t find my cell phone.  It wasn’t around the house or in Brock’s truck.  It’s still MIA.  We did the grocery shopping, got jobs done around the house and watched the Superbowl.  Being Hoosiers, at least in part, we rooted for the Colts.  I worked on the old canister filter and got it running properly.  I packed it with fresh charcoal, rinsed it and took it to work on Monday.  I used it to filter the water in my lab aquarium, which had killed 36 fish last week.  I got 24 more at noon, and they did much better.  At least they didn’t die immediately, and they were still alive when I left that afternoon.  Two succumbed to the lab exercise itself, as two groups of students dropped their flasks on the floor, breaking them.

It’s been a poor week for photography,and I don’t have any images to show this week.  It’s been mostly overcast and snowing.  One interesting thing is that Gretchen is turning into a sled dog.  I hook her lead onto a belt loop when I’m working outside.  I load the ice fishing sled with firewood and drag it around the house to the wood furnace.  She helps pull, adding about 2 pounds of added thrust.