July 18, 2013 — Heat wave

Much of the recent past was spent on home improvements and completing deferred maintenance on the house, which didn’t leave much time for fun.  But when my brother  Mike and sister Marlene arrived from California, the fun began.  We started with a tour of Lock and Dam 19 in Keokuk, which was celebrating its 100-year anniversary.  It was a rare opportunity to see its inner workings.  We went to Primo’s here in Canton for lunch, where Mike was rather taken with their sandwiches.  

The next few days were mostly occupied with fireworks.  On the 2nd, we went to the nursing home grounds to see their fireworks.  On the 3rd we bought a huge batch of our own to light off.  Note that all these types of things are illegal in California.  When we were gathering our things to go to the LaCounts and set off our fireworks.  I said we needed to put some beer in a cooler.  Mike said, “You mean we can get drunk and light fireworks too?”  I said, “Welcome to Missouri.”  It was a good time.  I bought all the insect-themed fireworks I could find and filmed them for a possible paper to write on cultural entomology.  On the 4th of July we went to the Illinois Veteran’s Home to see the big Quincy fireworks.  The park band was playing when we arrived.  I cracked a smile when they played John Phillips Sousa’s “The Liberty Bell”, the theme to Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  
Stacey and Savannah took Marlene on a shopping expedition to Quincy, while Mike and I went out to Lowell’s.  We toured around the place in the UTV, and, using the chainsaw, I dropped some dead oak trees in the lake for fish habitat.  Mike filmed some of these.  I need to post them somewhere.  Over the course of the week, Mike and I accomplished many projects.  We put new tires and chain on the Honda 70, and got it running again.  There is still a bedeviling headlight problem.  We changed the oil on the Minnie Winnie.  We salvaged a seat from one of Lowell’s old mowers and put it on mine (which was also Lowell’s, come to think of it).  And in our bonus time (see below) we fixed the fence where the tree had fallen on it a couple of months ago.
We went to Hannibal on the 5th, while they were having Tom Sawyer Days.  I’d never been to that event, and there was quite a craft show.  We looked at all the downtown shops and went on the evening riverboat cruise.  We had a nice dinner, and my colleague Steve Parke was playing trumpet with Ben Bumbry and the Messengers.  
Saturday we went to St. Louis to see the Arch and other sights before their plane was to depart.  There was a big Fair happening in the Arch grounds.  We stood in line, but the Arch “ride” actually sold out.  I stayed out while everyone else went in to see the gift shop.  I saw a new band playing that I now like, Scarlet Tanager.  Named after a bird–you have to like that.  At some point Stacey learned about the plane crash in San Francisco.  As that was the airport that Mike & Marlene were flying into, we figured there would be implications. We went to the Budweiser plant and while on the tour we found that their flight was cancelled.  To make a long story short, we ended up having dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack and drove back to Canton.  We found productive things to do with our time, including one last trip to Orscheln’s Farm & Home, which has become another favorite of Mike’s.
Stacey’s patient phone work got them booked on another flight, so it was back to St. Louis again.  This time we made the arch tour, although it was almost certainly made more interesting by the presence of 1000 (or so it seemed) children in that confined space.  We had lunch at a nice barbecue place and i dropped them off at the airport.  Ultimately, they did get a late flight out.
Seeing the sights.
The following week brought us the Lewis County Fair.  Stacey and I went and got some of Jayme’s famous lemon shake-ups.  We watched the cowboy shoot out, which, thanks to perfect high overcast light, I got some great shots of.  
Cowboy shoot out.
My prairie is in full bloom and I’ve had a lovely time photographing yard bugs. We’ve had gazillions of bumblebees visiting our Monarda. Sadly, the honeybee colony in our hollow black locust has absconded.  At least I was present to see the swarm form and take some photo and video.  We do have a single monarch caterpillar munching on our milkweeds in the front yard.  He’s provided many minor mysteries as he moves from plant to plant and we lose him then find him again.  We let the milkweeds grow there mostly for monarch food.  The pleasant-smelling blossoms and lush vegetation are a bonus.  I still have a wasp farm in the back yard.  I spotted a carpenter wasp with a caterpillar in a bush outside our window.  It should be the last image in the slide show below.
I had a great day fishing out at Lowell’s, catching about 10 largemouth bass, a crappie and a bluegill in a few hours.  We saw a fox cross the road on our way to lunch.  And on the way there I hit a meadowlark, or, rather, it flew into my car.  Later that night Savannah found it still lodged in the grill!  

Wildlife

I’ve been spending most of this past week preparing for my research expedition.  The RV is prepped and packed.  The current plan is to go to the BugGuide.net meetings near Green Valley Arizona, visit an old friend in Tucson, spend three weeks or so in Ruby doing wasp research, then swing through California on my way back.  Details will follow, but not for awhile.  
This time I’m embedding slide shows in this blog.  You probably need to have the current flash player installed.  If they don’t play, you should be able to click through and see each image gallery.

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