November 22, 2012 – Thanksgiving is cancelled!

We’ve had quite a lovely fall, with perhaps the best foliage colors in years.  I hope it’s over though because I’ve already raked the leaves.  There were a few other nice accompaniments with them. 

From October 2012
I caught this wasp in flight while out with my class at Lowell’s.  
There was a bloom of various mushrooms after some rains.  I took one from the back yard and did some macro photos of the gills.  To see what the whole ‘shroom looks like, click through to the album.  
In my last blog, I described the tribulations caused by mice in the air cleaner of our RV.  Here’s my solution:
From October 2012

I folded a piece of hardware cloth, cut to size, into the air intake.  It probably would have stayed in place by tension alone, but I glued it with silicone caulk to be sure.  

I photographed a bunch of gravestones for Stacey, as she was giving a talk on their symbology.  There were some good fall colors at the time, and I took advantage of the view from the bluff.
From October 2012

The Mississippi River as seen from Riverside Cemetery, Hannibal, MO.

One of my students found this mushroom next to our building at North Campus.  
From October 2012

This is the dune stinkhorn, Phallus hadriani.  Yes, that’s really the genus.  And it does stink–note the flies on its left side.  It emerges from a bulb-like structure called the volva (again, really), which you can see by clicking through.  

In the Entomology class we did the Berlese funnel technique to sample soil microinvertebrates.  One student noticed a layer of them floating on the surface of the alcohol solution that they fall into.  It looked really neat, and I took my macro lens and extension tubes to shoot them.
The sample includes springtails, mites, and beetle larvae.  This is certainly not the most beautiful image I’ve ever produced, but I love it.  Guess I’m smitten by invertebrates.

One day I was getting into Quincy early so I drove by Quinsippi Island to look for wildlife.  As I crossed the bridge I saw something swimming toward me.  
I thought it was a goose at first, but was glad to identify it as a beaver.  I stopped right on the one-lane bridge, but there was no other traffic.  This is the adult; there was a juvenile with it, but it dove out of sight.  I don’t get many images of mammals, and this is a new one.  Beavers are nocturnal and, hence, seldom seen during the day.  This was a lucky moment.  They swam under the bridge and disappeared.

We had planned to go camping over Thanksgiving break, but Stacey had her surgery scheduled for that time.  We decided to go an earlier weekend to Cuivre River State Park, as I had heard about how great it was, and it’s only a couple of hours away.  The weather was warm enough, especially for November.  Unfortunately, their policy is to turn off the water on November 1.  We were fine with shore power and a full tank of fresh water.  The campgrounds weren’t very full, though it seemed everyone else there had a dog, too.  Ours were rather interested in all the deer in the park when we came in at night.  We went on a long hike on the first morning.  I must say my map navigation skills were deficient (as was their trail marking), and we didn’t end up going exactly where we wanted.  The dogs enjoyed it, but there wasn’t much wildlife, and no wildflowers, of course.  When we got back, we found a number of ticks crawling on Gretchen’s head.  We wondered how many must have been on Big Guy that we could never see.  We picked off the little biters, but the next day I found several embedded in her belly.  

Our camp at Cuivre River State Park, From November 2012

Unlike our local state park, it is not possible to camp adjacent to the lake.  We were a good half mile away, and once the RV was leveled and plugged in, I didn’t want to move it.  So even though I had figured out a way to haul one of our kayaks, I didn’t use it.  It would have been uncomfortable fishing in that wind anyway.  

From November 2012

One end is secured to the cargo hauler, the other to the ladder.  It only increased our clearance by about 6 inches.  The forecast was for storms on Sunday.  We packed up and headed for home before the weather hit, and got most of our stuff unloaded before it began to rain.  The worst part was that the weather got a lot colder, and I really needed to winterize the plumbing system.  I didn’t have time on the first night, and just turned the heater on low to keep things from freezing.  The next day I blew out all the water and filled the system with antifreeze.  

I’ve been playing with the macro lens/extension tube system again.  I have an old copy stand in my office that I can mount it on and get very good control over positioning and lighting.  

From November 2012
Here’s a planarian leftover from one of my labs.  When this lab was done, I asked the class “How were the planaria able to regenerate new heads and tails without even being fed?”  One student, pointing to the cross on the wall said, “Baby Jesus!”  For those who don’t know, I teach at a Franciscan university where there is a San Damiano cross on the wall of every classroom.  

Stacey has now had her surgery, which stems from way back last summer.  We used to take the dogs out on leads before we had the fence installed in the back yard.  One day, Big Guy saw a squirrel and gave a mighty yank.  That tore a muscle in Stacey’s shoulder.  After seeing a doctor and going through physical therapy, it was clear that she was not getting better.  They have reattached her supraspinatus, and fixed the origin in place with a screw for good measure.  I have enjoyed waiting on her during her recovery.  As she is unable to cook, and my repertoire consists of spaghetti and variations of burritos, we will go to the only open local restaurant for dinner, which is why this blog is entitled, “Thanksgiving is cancelled!”