Archive for July, 2009

Skywatch Friday – Shade, Soy, Sky

Friday, July 31st, 2009


My neighbor’s hundred-acre field to the north is planted with soybeans this year. Last year he had corn. Before that he’s had wheat, grass, and even horses. (One of us will have to repair that break in the fence if he’s ever going to put livestock in there again.)

It’s easy to look across his field and believe that this is where the sky meets the ground.

Skywatch Friday

Missouri calendar:

  • The Missouri Natural Events Calendar is blank for today.


Thursday, July 30th, 2009


This is Sabatia angularis, commonly known as rosepink. It was blooming all over the place in the open areas of Roundrock when we last visited. Although common in parts of the great state of Missouri, it is not listed as being so in Roundrock’s neighborhood. But finding it everywhere I looked (relatively speaking) suggests maybe some authorities need updating.

In my part of the world it is not common to find a pink blooming flower at this time of the year. Most blooms run the range from yellow to orange about now.

This plant is supposed to self seed readily, and it may bloom through September. If I thought I had any chance with them, I might try to collect some seeds from them and try to propagate them in that wasteland that was left behind where my old deck used to be and my new porch doesn’t cover.

Missouri calendar:

  • Watch for young hummingbirds at feeders.

Dam visitor

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009


I think you can see in this photo the markings in the grass where someone on an ATV drove across the dam. We sometimes come to our woods to find this to be the state of things. In our absence, someone had visited the lake, probably to have a look at it, and left tracks in the tall grass on the dam.

At first we thought it might have been left by the man who will do the repair work to the dam. He’s waiting until the ground is more dry before he brings his heavy machinery in. (Also, see the dead tree still across the dam? If he had come, taking that out was one of his tasks.) The man who will repair the dam wouldn’t have come all the way to our woods on an ATV; he would have come in his big old truck, so I don’t think this is evidence of him.

More likely it is from my neighbor Dave, who has a nice lake and cabin in the valley we must cross to get into our woods. We’ve met him a few times on our road. Often he’s escorting guests to see our lake. Apparently our lake is something of a local tourist attraction.

I don’t really mind the visitors. They help keep the road open, and they certainly made walking across the dam easier on this particular morning.

Missouri calendar:

  • Mink kits travel with their mothers along streams.

They’ve finished my deck

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

I came home from work one day last week, and this is what I found:


Here it is, the completed deck on the back of my house in suburbia. I’ve given you this different angle view mostly so you can see that the decking itself is dark green. Our fence (in the background) has been stained and restained green over the years, so this complements that look. We had to wait for the last step to be put in before they could complete the railing. They had miscalculated the amount of plastic decking material needed and ran out before the job ended.

Now it’s complete, though we still need to decide what to do about all that exposed wood. We’ll stain it (as several of you suggested) but we can’t decide on the color. We’ll see how it goes.

Also note the pair of comfy chairs sitting there. We have yet to sit in them for stuporous periods because the mosquitos are abroad in the land, but the day will soon come.

We had four estimates made for tearing out the old deck and building this new porch. We finally chose the company that made the most suggestions and had the most ideas for solutions. Among the four contractors we got all sorts of conflicting information about city codes, particularly about the railing going down the steps. One insisted that the city requires railing on both sides of the steps. Another said that since the total rise was less than some stated number of inches, no railing was needed at all. The contractor we chose said that if we ran the stair treads up to the side of the house — as you see above — that we would not need a rail there. The city inspector seemed to agree with him.

Next up: the old sandbox. When we moved here 22+ years ago, we had a 12×12 sandbox made for the kids. It’s bounded on two sides by house foundation and on the other two by a sidewalk. The kids had a tremendous time there over the years, but now it is mostly serving the neighborhood cats. We’re thinking of laying flagstones on it and making it a sort of patio.

Happy Anniversary, Amber and Aaron!

Missouri calendar:

  • Wild plums ripen.
  • Southern Delta Aquarid meteor shower peaks; moon interferes.

Reaching for the sky

Monday, July 27th, 2009


My shortleaf pines have really taken off this year! I wish this photo could show you better. That’s a line of three that are among the tallest. The closest one is taller than I am, and the farthest one is even taller. There is one not in the picture that is now twelve feet tall at least! I need to put wider fences (in diameter) around some of them.

It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago I was sticking twigs in the ground less than a foot tall. Now I have these gangly adolescents. Of course they’re in really good soil (for the Ozarks), and they’re protected from marauding interlopers of all sorts. And they seem to be getting sufficient water from my neighbor’s leaky pond.

Even so, there are some that didn’t survive and some that have barely grown five inches in those years. I don’t know how to account for that, but I’m not complaining.

The pines are thriving. The pecans are showing some real growth. Even the forsaken beautyberries are bouncing back. It’s almost as though all of my stewardship is finally making a difference.

Missouri calendar:

  • Warblers begin to gain weight for energy during migration.

Sunday ruminations

Sunday, July 26th, 2009


This is Rumination Rock (actually a very small part of it), on the north shore of the lake at Roundrock. I’ve been adding bits of glass to this spot for years, thinking that the critters will find them and carry them off. So far I don’t think that’s happened. Some of the earliest glass bits I left there have disappeared, but I think they have simply washed off the rock during strong rains and gotten lost in the duff below it.


You still have a couple of days to send your contributions for the next Festival of the Trees, being hosted this time around by Trees, Plants and more. Be sure to send your tree-ish links to ringsofsilver09 (at) gmail (dot) com. You can also use the handy contact form. The deadline for submissions is July 28.

The time is drawing closer for you to be a host of the Festival. It’s easy to do (it must be — I did it twice!), and Dave and I will help you as much as you need. If you’re interested, just let me know. Otherwise, I may have to come after you!


Sorry about the technical problems earlier in the week with the blog. For some reason mysterious to me, the sidebar disappeared for a couple of day. My crack technical team got on it, though, and fixed the problem. (Turned out it was some faulty HTML code I had written. I really should leave that to the experts.)


Once a month a group of people I used to work with several careers ago meet to have dinner and conversation. At least one of them is a regular reader of Roundrock Journal, and she noted in one of my earlier posts that I donate books to the little library in the county seat near my Ozark woods. When the group met last week, she presented me with several grocery bags of books to add to the contribution. Thanks, Donna!


Lovely weather and a free weekend. Is Pablo out in the woods? Nope. He spent the weekend in suburbia, doing chores in the yard (mostly the aftermath of the building of the new back porch, but it did require some chainsaw work, so there’s that anyway).


Round Rock Express

Missouri calendar:

  • Blazing star blooms on prairies and roadsides.

Saturday Matinee – Our Cabin in the Woods

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Cabin at the end of the road @ Yahoo! Video

We’ve wanted to have a cabin in our woods for a long time. Now we do. Isn’t the smoke curling from the chimney inviting? I was even able to park the Prolechariot nearby. I was hoping to catch the fleeting image of a blue-tailed skink in this little vignette, but it wasn’t to be.

Now when you come to visit, you’ll have a cozy place to stay.

Missouri calendar:

  • Squirrels bear summer litters.

Skywatch Friday – July 24, 2009

Friday, July 24th, 2009


When we got to our Ozarks woods last Sunday, the sky was a pure blue vault overhead. It was gloriously cool for the middle of summer in the middle of the U.S., but as the day progressed, big fluffy clouds crept in, making it all more picturesque.

This view is from the shady tarp. I’ve been clearing the trees in front of it so we can have a clear view of the sparkling lake below, but I happened to cast my eyes skyward and saw this nicely framed shot.

Skywatch Friday

Missouri calendar:

  • The Missouri Natural Events Calendar is blank for today.

Here’s a beauty

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009


If you look closely at the picture above, you will see a bit of orange at the center of this featured plant. That should tell you that this is something that Pablo planted deliberately this spring. (If I had planted it in an earlier spring, that orange would be faded.) But what is it?

Well, you could forage though all of my springtime posts to see what Pablo ordered from the Missouri Department of Conservation, or I could just tell you.

We’ll start with this. We planted 25 of them, and Libby remarked at the time that the twigs we received looked dried out and dead. On subsequent visits when we checked our plantings, the few leaves that had come out at the end of the sticks had dried and fallen off. Eventually, we stopped visiting the dessicated twigs and vowed never to order that plant again.

On our latest trip to Roundrock, we decided to see how our wild plum plantings were doing. Having been planted at the same time, they had started out great, and we were looking for encouragement. To get the plums, we had to pass these plants. This was the first one I saw, and I dismissed it as just some random weed coming up where we had made our hopeful planting.  Yet nearby where we had planted another, this same plant was coming up. In fact, in all of the places we could find where we had planted this, this same plant was growing from the ground.

Even Pablo can figure this one out. The plants we had stuck in the ground with so much hope and whispered kind words to had not died. They were simply sprouting from their roots, looking happy and pleased to be in our woods.

It’s almost anticlimactic now to tell you that these are the beautyberries we had planted. They’ve done so well that I intend to order more next year, assuming they’re on offer.

As for the plums, well, they’re all still alive, but something is eating the leaves. I don’t know what can be done about that. We can’t fumigate the whole forest. But hope lingers.

Missouri calendar:

  • Wild black cherries ripen.

Falling, fallen

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009


Yes, that leaning tree is my handiwork. Before I cut it, I studied it, judging how it leaned and what breaks there were in the forest trees around it. There was space between two trees downhill, and given the weight on that side of the tree, I intended to bring it down right between those two. So I figured I had it all worked out and began my careful cut.

When I saw the tree start to fall — just in the direction I intended — I stepped away and watched it teeter then sweep toward the ground.

Only to be caught by the limbs of its brethren. They were laughing at me.

I really expected the weight of the tree to push through the interfering branches, but I misjudged, the tree hung up, and I was frustrated.

So I studied the matter some. I took a break and had some lunch. Then I allowed myself to drift into a post-lunch stupor. I watched for signs of the returning dogs to swim in the lake (they didn’t come). And I studied the semi-fallen tree some more.

I considered trying to cut off some of the trunk, thinking that might make it fall, but I feared I would simply get my chainsaw pinched in it. I wondered if I could tie a rope around the trunk and then try to pull it free. That seemed impossible, and I wasn’t too keen on the idea of roping a half-fallen tree to the Prolechariot. So I was puzzled.

Then I realized I could rely on my super powers. I put both hands on the sloping trunk and gave it a push. It pushed back. But I kept pushing, timing it to give more oomph to the downward wobble. Soon I heard some of the branches holding the tree release their grip. Then more did. Finally they all gave up, and the tree fell the rest of the way to the ground. As you see here:


And behold! What is behind it but the shelter tarp. We’re trying a little experiment, opening up some avenues in the trees that intersect at the tarp. We’re hoping that this will create more breezes through the shady tarp when we’re resting and ruminating there.

After all of the effort I expended bringing down that tree, I was ready for a cool breeze blowing past a comfy chair. One with me in it.

Missouri calendar:

  • May apple fruits ripen and fall on ground.