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Saturday, April 30, 2016

April 2016

One morning after letting the dogs out for their first run of the day, I caught Indigo coming in with half a young squirrel in her mouth.  Later I came in the front door and spotted an unfamiliar toy on the antique couch.  Upon closer inspection, it appeared to be an entire young squirrel, quite dead. So that totals approximately one and one-half dead squirrels in the house.  I disposed of them quickly, but several questions were immediately raised.  1.  Where was the other half squirrel?  Living half-squirrels are rare in nature.  2.  Who killed these juvenile squirrels?  While the Sisters of Chaos are very fond of barking at and chasing our backyard squirrels, they have never caught one, and do not display sufficient aggression and prey drive needed to kill one.

The answer to #1 may have been revealed, as Indigo refused to eat for 24 hours, then produced a nasty, runny poo out back. Her appetite has rebounded, fortunately.

Around the same time period, I saw Indigo stalking something around the edge of the prairie.  I went in for a closer look, and saw one of our resident garter snakes.  She seemed interested when it was on the other side of the fence, but afraid when it got too close.  Isabel was similarly interested.  I know these snakes are criss-crossing the yard all the time, yet I've never seen the dogs attack one.  In fact, they ignored the last one I saw, though it was right in front of their noses.  Now that I've moved the chainlink fence around, the dogs can't jump into the prairie, and it will have a chance to grow back.  A couple of weeks later I rescued a snake that they had at bay in front of the willow tree.  It was holding them back by gaping and striking.

I finished off the Doggie Cam project.  I kept it on Isabel for a walk that we all took on the Canton North Levee.  It worked well, except that the sisters were yoked, and the yoke would catch the camera when they crossed each other.

I spent one weekend working on our rental property.  Though it's sold, it did not pass FHA inspection.  While replacing some electrical outlets with the GFCI type, I learned that a year of college physics provides the illusion that one understands electricity, but it is no subsitute for the training of an electrician.  I didn't shock myself, but much cursing was required to complete the project.  I also had to scrape, prime and paint the soffits.  It wasn't that bad a job, but it happened to be quite windy out, which added to the challenge.  It would be worth it when it sold.  We closed on it April 18.

The 19th was the 25th anniversary of our wedding.  We went to a concert in Quincy on the Sunday before.  We bought very expensive steaks for a nice dinner at home, and we went to see the Mariachi Band at the local Mexican restaurant later in the week.  We are still discussing getting matching tattoos.  It was a low-key but well savored anniversary.

Stacey's Dad and his wife Rhonda came out to visit one weekend.  We showed them around a bit, and picked up our niece Shilo at the train station in Quincy so they could haul her back to Indiana.  We hadn't seen her in a couple of years.

We camped out at the State Park again.  We took some nice walks with the dogs and I did a long training ride.  While we were gone, a rabbit made a nest in the back yard and moved her young into it.  This is the same yard where four schnauzers play.  The dogs found it immediately upon our return.  Savannah saved one of them, but I think one of the neighborhood cats got it overnight.

I did the Dogwood Parade in Quincy with my kennel club.  I had made costumes for the dogs but ended up not using them because it rained almost the entire time.  We just walked it and got wet.  It was still kind of fun to do.  Isabel was well behaved, and Indigo was a friend to all the kids.

The Instructables.com web site ran a contest for the month of April.  Those submitting 4 featured instructables during the month would be entered to win a GoPro.  I had one done about midway through the month, and that was a start.  I wrote 4 more because one was not featured (they have to be pretty good for that) and just made it on the 29th. They were all dog-related, the last being Ride 'em Cowboy Dog Costumes  I figure my odds are pretty good because it's not that easy to get even one featured.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

March 2016

Camping at Wakonda State Park was our RV shakedown cruise.  We took the first weekend of my spring break.  We didn't find anything major wrong with the motorhome this time, though we did head home a day early because of the threat of rain (which never actually appeared).  We walked the dogs a lot, and had the entire park largely to ourselves.  I took a couple of long skateboard trips with the sisters.  One I recorded with the helmet cam.  Not much interesting happened, but I need to edit it down to the best bits to make it worth watching.  Savannah came over for a bike ride.  We saw the huge flock of snow geese on Agate lake.  When they saw us they got up and moved to the other side of the lake.  One morning I had to get up early to walk the dogs and I a nice sunrise was in progress.  The sunset the night before had been disappointing, so I got the camera out and shot the heck out of it.  Some geese even flew by to add interest to my images.  I put one of the images on my CafePress site so people can buy a poster of it if they want.  Our realtor came out and we signed the contract on our rental house.  Yay!  It is sold.

We had the Sisters groomed, and this time I had the groomer do them in a style more like the official show pattern, except that they were clipped, not hand-stripped, of course.  We had let them go a long time.  Their hair doesn't grow very fast, but they were looking more scruffy than I'd ever seen them.  I love their new look.

We walked the St. Patrick's Day parade in Quincy with the Kennel Club.  I had them pull me on the skateboard.  Some of the children found it amusing.  One boy said, "Can you do a flip?"  I said, "Absolutely not."  I was happy to get through the parade without falling down.  It rained on us a bit, but not too badly.

Since we came home a day early, I was able to work on the RV and put it away fairly quickly.  I rearranged the stuff in the big garage at our Jamison place so I could fit my truck in it.  With a bit of time on my hands, I was able to finish off my Bar Jump instructable.  It was very quickly picked up and featured on the front page of the Instructables.com web site.  I have a lot of fun putting these together.  I've done four in the dog agility genre.  I bought a 55-gallon drum so I can make the chute obstacle next.  Once I had the bar jump done I put it in the back yard and photographed all the dogs jumping it.

I made a bracket for attaching my action camera to a dog.  Isabel has been the only camera dog so far.  I'm writing an instructable on it, but haven't quite finished it off.

We had planned to go camping over Easter break, but there was a lot of rain in the forecast and we canceled.  It turned out only one day was rainy.  You just can't second guess the weather.

My Plant Field Biology class is in full swing, and we have been lucky to enjoy an early spring.  Warm weather has coaxed a lot of wildflowers out ahead of schedule.  We had one nice outing to Siloam Springs State Park, where my friends Jan and Mark guided us and pointed out several new species.

I was interviewed by the local TV news about monarch butterflies.  I never saw the segment.  Hope I didn't say anything stupid. There is a brief story online here.

I published a paper this past month in Journal of Thermal Biology.  The study came from work we did in Ruby back in 2009.  We still have a lot of data from that time.  I believe you can watch the 5-minute slide presentation that I made for the paper, as well as read the abstract and highlights here.

I finally finished editing the video of Miss Kitty running through the snow while I cross-country skied.