Archive for June, 2009

Lingering lake languor

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009


Those blistering hot Midwest days (which we managed to miss whilst in New York) may have earned complaints from the locals, but they did at least one good thing. They made the water in our lake deliciously warm — and I can tell you this from first-hand experience.

When Libby and I went out to Roundrock on Sunday, one of the things on our agenda was to swim in our lake. It would be our first swim this year, so we were eager to have the chance. We had a few other things on our agenda, and we managed to start one and complete another (the completed one was to have lunch), and then we turned our attention to getting in the lake and swimming for as long as we could stand it.

There was no need to ease ourselves into the water, no need to dab water on our shoulders to ease the transition. This water was warm, warm, warm, and we could wade right into it until we were deep enuf to fall the rest of the way. Wonderful! Only by kicking hard could we stir up any cool water from below. The thermocline was below five feet, and the water at the very surface was actually hot.

When we finally managed to pull ourselves from the water and become terrestrial creatures again, more than three hours had passed. Three languid hours.

What did we do with our three waterborne hours? We solved one mystery, discovered another, and spent a half hour just watching a heron patrol the shallow waters.

You may remember that I speculated that the glass chunk I have placed atop an underwater stump in the deeper water must have fallen off finally because we had not seen it the entire spring. We thought that when we finally got to swim, we’d paddle over to where we guessed the stump would be and confirm that the notch I had cut in it to receive the glass was empty. After some educated guessing about where the stump was, Libby finally came upon it, and the mystery was solved. Only it wasn’t the solution we expected. The chunk o’glass was still in the stump, right where we’d left it so many years ago. It was the lake level that was higher than we were accustomed to seeing. The lake has simply stayed deep enuf consistently enuf for us to not be able to see the glass. That was a happy surprise.

The other mystery was the whereabouts of Peregrine. This old log has been floating about the lake for years. It’s always a little adventure of mine to see where it has ended up each time we visit. Peregrine tends toward the southern shore, though when last seen it was on the northern side, down by Isla de Peligro. At the time it was on dry land because the lake had receded some. Despite swimming and wading along the entire watered shoreline, we did not find Peregrine. Libby wondered if it might have gone over the spillway finally. I didn’t see any evidence of that, though I also did not walk down in the pecan acre below the dam. My guess is that it floated even farther up the lake (when there was even more water in it) and then found itself high and dry when the water receded. Another speculation Libby offered was that the thing has finally become waterlogged and rests on the bottom somewhere. My guess is that it will turn up eventually.

Missouri calendar:

  • Bats bear young this month.

Fire orange

Monday, June 29th, 2009


I took this photo more than two weeks ago, and I never seem to have the chance to make a post about it. I felt certain that on yesterday’s trip to Roundrock this beautiful orange flower would be all gone, but it wasn’t. It was still a burning orange on the edge of the pecan plantation.

I especially like the gradations in the blooms shown in this photo.

Missouri calendar:

  • Eastern bluebirds begin third (last) nesting.

Sunday rooftop edition

Sunday, June 28th, 2009


I mentioned in one of my New York posts last week that my daughter lives in a third-floor walk-up apartment and that the climb up those stairs several times a day was killing me. Well, I was sorely mistaken. It’s actually a fourth-floor walk up. Plus there’s the stoop. It’s only equivalent to four steps, but still . . . it all adds up to 51 steps from the sidewalk to their door, and the higher you go in that stairwell, the hotter it gets! Add another 17 steps, and you can go on the roof, which we did.

From that rooftop, though, you can see the view above. It was a hazy day when we finally managed to muster the energy to push up those last 17 steps, but this view to the west showed not only the Brooklyn skyline, but a bit of Manhattan beyond it. That’s the famed Empire State Building emerging from the mists that you see there.


Turns out it was hot back in the Midwest while we were away. I’m told it never broke into the triple digits in Kansas City, but it certainly flirted with the idea. Aside from the occasional smattering of rain, our stay in New York was pleasant, with temps barely inching into the 80s and a cool breeze blowing constantly. I understand that it is now a bit hotter there, but coincidentally, the hot temps of June in the Midwest seem to have given way to more seasonal and moderate weather, just in time for our return. Nice. (With any luck, we’re down at Roundrock as you’re reading this. With a bit more luck, we’re swimming in our lake for the first time this season.)


Today is the deadline for the next edition of the Festival of the Trees, being hosted at the beginning of its fourth year at TGAW. Send your links to vicky (at) tgaw (dot) com by the end of the day.

Plenty of folks have stepped up over the years to host the Festival. You can see a complete list over at the coordinating blog site, and I’d love to add your blog to this wall of heroes. If you’re interested in being a host, just let me or Dave know.


Down the block from my daughter’s apartment is the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company. I encourage you to visit that site and poke around until you uncover the real super power they deal in! Let me know what you think.


I know you have been wondering how Crusher is doing now that he’s a New Yorker. He seems to have taken well to apartment living. He still has all of the energy he had back in his Oregon puppyhood, but even a four-room apartment is plenty of space for the little guy. Here he is in a more relaxed moment:


Missouri calendar:

  • Dog-day cicadas begin to sing.

Daisy, daisy

Saturday, June 27th, 2009


Looks pleasant, doesn’t it? Those white dots are dozens of daisies. The were covering the emergency spillway of the dam at Roundrock. That’s the spillway which is eroding, apart from the section of the dam itself that is eroding.

I’m not sure where the daisies are finding their nourishment. When I walk in that area, all that crunches under my boots is sharp gravel. We had tried to seed some grass in the area to help keep down the erosion, but the grass never took while the erosion did.

Maybe the daisies are some sort of cosmic compensation for all of the trouble I’m having with the dam.

Missouri calendar:

  • Cricket frog breeding is at its peak.

A few scenes from New York

Friday, June 26th, 2009


We should be returning from our New York trip today, but I thought I’d share a few more photos with you. Oddly, I didn’t take a lot of pix. I’m not sure why. The one you see above is from the Temple of Dendur in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Temple was moved from Egypt when the flooding behind the Aswan Dam threatened to engulf it. (Thus unlike much ancient art on display in Western museums, this was not stolen.) Like most of the other walls in New York, the sandstone walls of this Egyptian temple included a bit of graffiti. I suppose that contributes to its historical heritage, but like most of the sidewalks in New York, its floor was also spotted with discarded chewing gum. What’s the deal with that?

Guarding the temple, or perhaps just showing what the temple might have seen when it was on the banks of the Nile, is this crocodile.


Our daughter and most excellent son-in-law live far from the Temple, in Brooklyn on Long Island. They have an apartment in the Park Slope section, and it seems like a lively, family-focused place. There are blocks and blocks of old brownstones, and shops and restaurants by the hundreds within easy walking distance from their corner. (I learned when walking some of those long blocks where the “Slope” part of the name came from.) I was especially taken by the roots of this old tree on one historic block.


The sidewalk along here was made from great slabs of slate, and it must have been there for decades. It’s a bit more slippery than concrete, but it sure is appealing.

We had quite pleasant temperatures while in New York, though it rained and misted a bit more than I would have liked. Now we return to the scorching heat that has been hanging around the Midwest. Roundrock on Sunday?

Missouri calendar:

  • Watch for northern water snakes basking near water.

Adam’s Mark ~ re-revisited

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Adam's Mark

This post is an anachronism. I wrote it on May 15, 2011, but scheduled it to post on this back date. I hope I’m not confusing people with these back-dated posts.

While we were in the wet acre below the dam planting some buttonbush (in what looked like might be nice soil but was actually just a veneer of dirt atop unyielding gravel) I took the time to walk over the the locust tree where #2 son Adam had cut a mark. I’ve been casually watching the progress of the tree as it addresses this wound over the years. You see above where things stand as of May 2011.

Adam has said that if he had known I was going to make his handiwork a regular feature of this blog, he might have made a more special mark. You can see my original post about it here and a subsequent post here.

Regarding #2 son, he was married two weeks ago to his lovely wife Nina at a wonderful Persian ceremony here in Kansas City. Nina’s family is originally from Iran, and the ceremony was in three languages: Arabic, Farsi, and English. They return today (again, May 15, 2011) from their two-week honeymoon in Greece, and this coming weekend they will both be graduated from the University of Kansas School of Medicine as doctors. Then, alas, they will move to Portland, Oregon where they will begin their residencies. I say alas not because there is anything wrong with Portland but because they will be far away from Libby and me.

Adam’s Mark ~ revisited

Thursday, June 25th, 2009


Last winter, when #2 Son Adam joined us on our annual walk along the fence line, he paused at a locust tree and cut off a low-hanging branch that was in the hiking path. He then cut a plus sign into the scar, saying that in the years to come, he would bring his son (yeah, like he’s ever going to give me a grandchild!) to see the mark he made. I imagined that the scar would grow over and eventually disappear, so I liked the urgency of such a tradition.

You can see his original handiwork here, and after half a year, there isn’t much change. I guess I shouldn’t expect too much in that time, especially given that half of that time was not even in the tree’s active growing season.

And so now I have a tradition too. I will revisit this site throughout the year to mark the progress of the healing of the tree. My reports will give me a chance to mention Adam’s name in this blog, which he likes.

The fresh bit of nasty thorn you see below was growing from the trunk only a couple of inches from the scar. I don’t know if that is a response to the cutting or if these malevolent things just grown seemingly randomly from the tree.


Also, I am dense. You may remember this post from about that same time as the original post about Adam’s Mark. I marveled at finding an actual walnut on the ground and noted that there were no walnut trees in the area. In fact, there is a nice specimen of a walnut tree about ten steps from the locust tree above. I suppose I may have missed it back in December because it was without leaves. It just shows how far I have to go to be a decent woodsman.

Update May 15, 2011: For my original post on this subject, go here. For a subsequent post, to here.

Missouri calendar:

  • Smoketrees bloom on southwestern Missouri glades.

Wordless Wednesday ~ 6.24.2009

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009


Missouri calendar:

  • Spiny softshell turtles lay eggs on sandbars and gravelbars.

Big Apple

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009


Three days in the Big Apple and we’re still alive. We arrived on Saturday afternoon and had to fight our way out of the airport traffic, but fortunately, we had a pair of recent New York transplants to drive us through the maze of roads to the hotel. Here is our room:

leblue1The decor is tres modern and sleek. You can see the blue tone to everything. It’s crisp, and it is all scrupulously clean, but we honestly could not figure out how to start the air conditioner and had to call the desk. (Turns out we were turning on the heater all along.) We really haven’t figured out the the huge flat panel television yet either.

Here are the facilities:

leblue2That frosted glass sliding door gives you all the privacy you need (or are going to get at least). The shower is a clear glass cube, but since we’ve been married for nearly 30 years, it didn’t both Libby or me much at all.

On Sunday we went into Manhattan and visited the Guggenheim Museum, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The exhibit was about . . . Frank Lloyd Wright, which was fascinating to me, but it all seemed a little coincidental. The spiraling structure of the Guggenheim was mostly the experience though.

After the museum we walked about a bit in Central Park and then later in Greenwich Village. By the end of the day we were back in Brooklyn for a Father’s Day dinner at a very nice restaurant just down the block from the kids’ apartment (a third fourth floor walk up — it’s killing me to climb that two and three times a day – but it really is getting easier each time). Sometime in the last few days I had my first Yuengling beer (can’t get them in my part of the country).

With all of the walking and stair climbing we’re doing — it seems like at every subway transfer we have to go up to the next platform — it will take us weeks when we get back home to return to the shape we were in before we left.

Missouri calendar:

  • Female coyotes wean pups.

Some pecans thrive; some don’t

Monday, June 22nd, 2009


Cattails aren’t the only thing thriving in the wet acre below the dam. There are also plants we set their intentionally that are doing well.

I know I’ve mentioned the pecan trees here on the blog a few times, but now that they’ve sorted themselves out — those that survived versus those that didn’t — I guess I just don’t find that much to post about them. We planted 50 (actually 49) of them in the sharp gravel of the “soil” there, organizing them in a nice grid pattern. Then we learned the water dynamics of the acre. The side closest to the dam and along the southern side (where the form stream bed flowed) is constantly wet. The northern side has better soil (washed down from the hillside) and holds water better. The pecans in those areas have hung on; some have thrived.

In the center of the acre, however, circumstances are not so benevolent. Just about every one we planted (and replanted) there has died. The ground (gravel) is dry and unloving. Maybe there is something about grid planting it does not like. Even the grasses that have taken over most of the acre, are meager in the center.

The tree you see above is nearly as tall as I am, which has become a sort of standard for my judgment of success. This one rises on the south side, where the ground is reliably wet. There are a few others in the grid that are doing nearly as well, but the remaining survivors are still a little uncertain about the whole enterprise.

Missouri calendar:

  • Prickly pear cactus blooms.
  • Canada goose molt is at its peak.