Thursday, May 24, 2018

Every Storm is Different

It's May; spring storms are many, but I've learned from my up-close-and-personal point of view about how very differently nature cooks up each storm, no two alike. This one started overhead, with cumuli. Others approach from a distance, gray as a dull knife blade, on the western horizon. That usually means a storm lasting one day. Blue-gray means a thunderstorm, much more intense. South-western horizon, the very dark gray looks bad on radar but often peters out before it gets to foothill country. North-western horizon, cold, spattering rain. Greenish-gray, very serious conditions are approaching; unplug electronics, batten hatches. A storm coming into this part of Missouri from the east is very unnatural, usually the backlash of a Gulf or southern hurricane, and the wild animals get frantic.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Blocked Bridge on the LaBarque

Bridge over Doc Sargent Road
I've seen Roman aqueducts; they're very cool and they still work. This one on LaBarque Creek is more basic. I enjoy sidling down the sandy creek banks and hunting the fascinating fossils near this bridge on Doc Sargent Road. This area was once the shore of the great inland ocean, so the fossils are of marine plants. Imagine a time when plants, only plants, ruled the Earth! Was there love? Oh, there had to be! The rocks pictured below are from my latest hunt. Fortunately, fossils on rocks almost always lie fossil-side-up, making hunting a little simpler.

Yet this was the first time I actually  saw how one of the bridge's two ducts was clogged near to its "ceiling" with sand. Now I fully understand why in 2015 and 2017 the LaBarque, usually not much more than a stream, rose so quickly and forcefully over its banks and the adjacent road.

Seeing new and huge deposits of sand choking the creek, after those floods, did bother me, but it seems that Nature took care of them. This, though, I can't see a solution to.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Bluebird in the Chickadee's Nest

On 28 April 2018 I photographed an anomaly in the bluebird box: One bluebird egg, and the others, much smaller, white with copper spots. Bluebirds had built the nest -- I watched them. But after one egg (usually they lay five) the bluebirds split the scene or were evicted and a black-capped chickadee took over. I confirmed it was a chickadee when I saw the mom flee the box as I approached, and bluebirds don't have downy white feathers to line their nests with.

I check the bluebird box about every three weeks to make sure all is healthy and clean. (I've found snakes in there, bees, a bat, etc.) I thought, surely the chickadee mother would ignore the bluebird egg or starve the bluebird baby, or peck it to death,  if it survived. But on 19 May I opened the box again, thinking I'd surely find at least one dead baby bird, and maybe all of them, considering. I found a nest full of life.

Here's the egg photo, what it looked like three weeks ago. We might have lost some baby chickadees, but gained a bluebird:

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Must . . . Quit . . .Exercising

I find in the past two years I don't recover from workouts as I once did, and believing I was just lazy and "exercise is energizing" I stepped it up to six workouts a week, becoming, cumulatively, so achy and exhausted I lived on Tylenols and coffee, lost any ambition and couldn't think straight. I cut workouts back to two per week, tried to sleep more. Still enough tiredness and pain to fog my brain, with even the gentlest exertions! "Eat more protein," they said, so I did. No change. All relevant tests turn up negative. There is naught to do but quit, at least until I've recovered.

This happened before; I thought it was mental stress only. It took two months of full-time lying on the carpet to recover. Then I returned to exercising. Again, depletion. Last summer was without exercise except for targeted physical therapy. I got slenderer! My energy returned -- I even felt creative! Then I began exercising again: within a few months, crippling depletion.

Is it possible that after 40 years there is an end to exercise -- for me? I've been working out and belonging to gyms since I was 24: weights, hiking, treadmill, ballet, biking (okay, only 50 miles max), raking, pruning, running (time was when the bones could take it), yoga, Pilates, aerobics, tae kwon do, spinning, the works. Didn't hate it at all! Would love to go back to ballet barre and yoga classes! Others 20 years older than myself exercise for six classes per week and feel fine.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Jailed Lizard

This lizard, God knows how, ended up trapped between the layers of screen on the porch door's lower half, layers reinforced over time as dogs and squirrels clawed the screen and tore it, inspiring the stapling on of new and stronger barriers. And for several days the lizard hung there, unmoving. It was there so long I thought it must have died with nothing to eat and no water. But in case it needed water, I did trickle some water over the lizard. It stayed as it was.

Surely it is dead, I said to myself, and resigned myself to watching its body dehydrate whenever I sat on the porch.

Then one day -- a full week later -- it had changed position. Could it still be alive?

Consider the lizard, equipped for dry and difficult conditions. It stands to reason that of course it was still alive! But it had no way out.

I pried off a patch of screen about an inch square and attempted to prod the lizard toward it. It reacted, but wouldn't go.

I bet, I said to myself, if I leave it alone it will find its way out after serving eight days in prison. And so it was, the same day.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Rural Missouri Handbag Restoration

My leather tote purses, so tailored and trim, after two years' use were stretched and flabby, although otherwise they were like new, and stretched-out leather can't be fixed. One can buy "purse shapers" of clear acrylic for $32 a pop, but only for high-end bags; mine, from Dooney & Burke, are mid-range. They are not very stylish but respectable and can withstand hours on gravelly car mats and fast-food-joint floors, and serve as foot-rests in planes and pillows in buses and look none the worse for wear.

One might try to firm up flaccid purses by measuring them and then lining their interiors with custom-cut cardboard, foamboard, or plastic, and I tried all those this morning before surrendering the purses to eBay to sell at a tremendous loss, sorry because they were favorites just right for me -- that's why I had two, identical except for color -- both still completely functional, but lumpy, limp and bad for business. In the garage I looked around for other possibilities and saw -- clean, empty egg cartons. Light and durable.

I save as many cartons as I can for a local chicken farmer. They measure 12", the same as the purse. What if I. . .? Oh no, Divine, that is crazy. Egg cartons to restore your purses' shapeliness! Whoever heard of that? How Midwestern can you get!? What if someone saw them?

Oh, heck, I said, and pushed the egg carton sidewise down into the boneless purse, and instantly the purse filled out, stood erect on its four metal feet, and looked practically new. I can't believe this, I said; I don't have to chuck those purses. Instead of looking like flabby depressing torsos, they will look businesslike and smart -- and I fixed them free, with egg cartons? Not even duct tape? Points for creativity!

There's a little less space in the purses, but it's no problem. Little vitamin packs, safety pins, earrings, postage stamps, coins and so on fit in the egg dimples -- right in the carton!
Problem solved for exactly $0.00.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Hello, I'm Visiting

The first few days of the month of May sometimes bring this special guest to my feeder. I first saw, this morning, Mrs. Oriole, who is mouse-brown where her mate, pictured here -- and about to fly away and follow her --  is Cadillac black. They don't live here. They are just passing through (to Baltimore?), bringing startled awe and pleasure wherever they go. I'm amazed I got a snap good enough to share. What gorgeous works of art birds are. They fly, too!