Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Relatives Visit

There were four, two men and two women. Two were twice my size, one vertically and one horizontally. They paraded in with tons of hiking boots and flip-flops, sleeping bags, clothes, Easter baskets, personal electronics, and gifts for me of an Elvis mug and a marvelous egg-shaped motion-sensor night light truly needed in the bathroom. Moving their stuff from the van into my house and getting settled took a full 20 minutes. They arrived hungry.

I love hosting them every Easter. My possessions vanished beneath theirs and a ton of wet towels because everyone shampooed and showered daily in my half-bath, the only bath there is, so I got in there before 6 a.m. or after 10:30 p.m. My Missouri provided beautiful weather, flowering trees, and birds. We ate barbecue, Steak 'n' Shake, frozen yogurt, homemade pot roast with mashed potatoes and gravy, Chinese buffet, Trader Joe's mac 'n' cheese, dyed Easter eggs, chocolate cake, a truckload of bagged snacks, and for Easter dinner came yet another person for a truly full 1100-square-foot house that rocked with fun. My brother-in-law read aloud from an inspirational book called Jacob the Baker and I rolled on the floor laughing to bust a gut.

They flung themselves out on carpets and snored. They relaxed and read or scrolled through their Facebook or strolled around the property or sat around the firebowl. They freaked when they saw ticks on them. (I showed them what to do.) We visited antique malls, Walmart, Trader Joe's (they'd never been to one), the farm store to see live chicks and baby bunnies, the Methodist church, and a state park.

The morning they packed and departed they granted my special request to vacuum the vacated rooms, and cheerfully did so in a few minutes, saving me 2 hours of my life, and with those hours I laundered all the towels and ate all the foil-covered little chocolate eggs they had brought.

And how was your Easter?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Don't Look at These Dead Snakes

The fireplace's grille has been taped shut since 2013 because snakes were being born in the hearth, harmless blacksnakes and Prairie Ringneck Snakes, but every April into August, the (non-working) fireplace was more and more like a nightclub with snakes coming and going, and finally the situation breached my tolerance level. Averse to the "duct-tape" look, I taped aluminum foil onto the grille trying to discourage further breeding in the fireplace, and added more layers of clear tape as it came unstuck.

This week I peeled away all the tape because it looked ugly and my Easter guests would spend lots of time in the living room. I think six snakes are visible in the photo; there were a number of smaller ones, maybe 12 in all.

Tape isn't an ideal solution. The snakes die of dehydration. In July 2014 I found a live snake stuck to a loose strand of tape, clearly suffering, and videotaped its rescue in a post. In fact this blog has several snake appreciation posts. I like snakes, but they really do better outdoors, and some of my  guests who if they saw live snakes sidewinding through the house would never be my friend again.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Weirdest, Strangest Night Noise

Please listen and if you know what it is, tell me! It was about 10:00 p.m. This is a one-minute excerpt but it lasted several minutes. There is nothing to see--just to hear. Owls? Birds? Murder?

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Cat Sitter

No pets are allowed on the Divine property, the better to preserve our wildlife, but sometimes I like up close and personal, especially with exceptionally fine cats such as those I cat sat for this past weekend: Hermann, Rufus, and Mimi (pictured).

They filled life with surprises. I opened the bedroom door after waking, and ginger cat Rufus was there waiting for me--and raced me downstairs to the kitchen where each morning we caught the suburban sunrise from the exceptionally fine eastern-facing window.

suburban sunrise
The house is on a hilltop and it is very different for me to see houses below, to sit in an armchair (which I don't have) beneath a good lamp (which I don't have), with a cat perched on the armrest or in my lap, making a continuous bubbling sound, to enjoy life and simple reading and writing as if on a vacation--because I wasn't driven to do 200 things at once, as I am at home--and some inter-species communication, mutual curiosity, and unconditional love.

Domestic animals rule, too!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Don Robinson on the Rocks

Hiked this morning at Don Robinson State Park, with all its raw-looking, yellow-orange must-be-iron-in-there sandstone rock cuts. I'd taken some wildflower photos and then propped myself up to rest against a rock cut that exposed alternating layers of sandstone and limestone, like cake, and saw some of the yellow rocks freckled with black.

Closer inspection showed the freckles to be what looked like tiny plant fossils. (Photographed with a magnifying lens; actual size, 3cm.) Amazed and excited, I looked harder. Most of these enchanting fernlike things were pressed into a single layer of the rock. Five miles away at my place we don't have this type of sandstone and we don't have these.
The dark lines like black pepper are the "fossil" layers.
But, surprise--they are not plants! They are dendrites, deposits of manganese oxide, that have fooled a whole bunch of people, including me now, into thinking they are plant fossils. Internet says, "They form as water rich in manganese and iron flows along tiny cracks between layers of limestone and other rock types." I don't know about the manganese, but the rock there has iron and limestone, so if this is Wednesday it must be dendrites.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Lonely Jensen's Point

The day didn't know itself what it wanted: cloudy, uncertain, and so was I, trying to find Jensen's Point in Pacific, until I read that this reclaimed historic site's little park is next to the Red Cedar Inn, the red-and-white Route 66 old restaurant nobody can miss. Unfortunately the Red Cedar Inn isn't operating; everyone who sees it wishes it were.

I had Jensen's Point to myself. On private land for 25 years, and falling to pieces, Jensen's Point was finally bought and restored by the City of Pacific, absolutely ruining it as a teenage  drinking and make-out lair and shelter for vagrants.  It re-opened in 2016. Many stone steps lead up the bluff to this stone structure at the top, built in 1939 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, honoring Lars Peter Jensen, the first manager of Shaw's Arboretum in Gray Summit. He held the job for 18 years. The Missouri Botanical Gardens' Gardenway Association hoped people would take Route 66 from St. Louis to Gray Summit and see the Arboretum, now called Shaw Nature Reserve.
It's a useless structure except for its quaintness and view of distant hills toward the west, and toward the south, the trains that made Pacific what it is, between the mighty and temperamental Meramec River on one side and old Route 66 on the other.