Dear Bob, here are some photos of my life here on the campus of Concordia Seminary. I love kids, working with the grounds crew, swimming, playing with my dog friends, and especially my own family people.
Today, light rain or no rain, the huge old Oak in our back yard is coming down. It has become messy, losing limbs and it is right over the main power lines. Ameren is here to drop the line until they're done which means no power for some time today. The tree bucket truck barely squeezed through.
The seminary campus always has a pair of hawks who sit way up high on the radio tower or camouflaged in trees. They will sit quietly until they see some prey and then swoop down on it. At the moment there are young hawks in a nest somewhere, we are fairly certain the nest in up in a tall pine behind the Sieck classroom building. But the parent hawks range around the entire campus looking for the best meals to feed the young. And squirrels and normal birds and rabbits are high on their list. We have very few rabbits around right now which tells us they've been eaten. The blue jays and other birds are aware of what's going on and they spend a good part of the day absolutely screaming in rage when a hawk is near. The squirrels, on the other hand, are always plentiful and are fairly easy for a hawk to catch. Which means the squirrel numbers are diminishing.
Nature isn't always pretty.
Yesterday Dale and I were standing on our driveway when all of a sudden a huge hawk flew out from under the small overhang above our back kitchen door. He swooped over our heads and ended up in the tree across the street where he sat and scared a smaller bird who refused to leave that tree and screamed and screamed. I have to give that small bird credit for courage, he was most likely protecting his own family.
As it happened I had my camera with me because we'd just come back from an event at the library. And, this morning as I went out to take a picture of the back door overhang, that same hawk shot out from under there just as I walked outside. I think I'll be using the front door for a while.
And even more disconcerting, as I walked to take a picture I almost stumbled over the carcass of a squirrel who'd been eaten and picked almost clean except for the fur and bones. That hawk is busy. This is gross, but here it is.
Got a call early yesterday morning from our Collinsville next door neighbor who told me our street was filling up with water. He thought we had a water main break but couldn't tell if the break was in front of our house or down the street. But, water was bubbling up pretty fast from our curb and the water was running over the sidewalk at the end of the block. We're up higher than those houses near the corner so water flows down, not up hill, so most likely the break was in front of our house.
We had no idea if the break was on our property or city property, but certainly hoped it was not ours since we had our line replaced a couple of years ago. Our neighbor John called the city and was told someone would be out when they got into work. Dale had to be over in Collinsville to officiate at a funeral so he left right away to see what was going on and check our basement for water. No water in the basement.
While he was at the house a water department person arrived and after a very brief check knew it was the city's line because the road surface was spongy from water. And he was right. Thankfully. The water guys did a great job, thorough and efficient. They had to cut a wide rectangle in the street to get at the problem, fixed the line and filled in the hole. All in fairly good time all things considered. There was a boil order and at this point I don't know if it has been lifted.
Hopefully the gravel fill will be topped with a permanent surface at some point. We thank the water department for their work.
Came across some gardening advice in the Post Dispatch today. This advice was for people wanting to graft a fruit tree and were told to soak some scion wood in water for wrapping around the graft. I've never heard of scion wood and would have no idea where to get it. So I looked up grafting a fruit tree and found: "Budding is a form of grafting in which a single bud is used as the scion rather than a section of stem."
Well, that didn't help. Maybe look up the definition of scion. The first answer was a Toyota model. The next was: "a person who was born into a rich, famous, or important family." Not getting anywhere here. So I googled scion gardening and found:
A scion is a section of stem often with buds, which is grafted onto the rootstock of another plant. You can graft several varieties of the same type of fruit onto one tree, effectively having a one-tree orchard."
Case solved.We almost never get to eat any of the fruit because the squirrels get them first. And sometimes students pick them before they're ripe and unlike tomatoes, apples and pears don't ripen after they're picked.
On Fox2 this morning the news people were reporting on a CNN report on a new study which found that people who live alongside busy highways are more prone to developing dementia. "Researchers found that people living within 50 meters (164 feet) of such a road had a 7% greater risk of developing dementia while People living more than 200 meters from a major road weren't seen to have any increase in risk."
The reasons for this are couched with the word "could" because the cause is probably not known and not studied. "Previous research has suggested that exposure to air pollution and traffic noise could increase nerve degeneration within the brain. One study found that certain particles common to air pollution could enter the brains of people who breathe them in."
This will certainly not help home sales in these areas.
After the Rose parade had ended and we were all back at our hotel in Monrovia, settling down to rest and watch a little football, Katie texted that she and Charlie were thinking about taking a walk through a local canyon park ten minutes away. And, would I like to go along. Well, okay, I thought, it may be a nice experience.
So we got over there in ten minutes and found ourselves much to my surprise, driving up and up, curving round and round, up and up on a narrow two lane road, until we finally parked and I realized this was not just a nice park-like place but one of the San Gabriel mountains. Now you may think as I did when looking at the San Garbriel mountains that they are a mere speck compared to the Rockies. But height is height and our ears were popping and the views were eye popping.
When we got out of the car we saw this sign and then Katie began reading from a list she had of all the wildlife to be aware of. Bears, Coyotes, rattlesnakes, lions and tigers and bears oh my.
What are we getting into? There was the hope that the cooler weather would keep rattlesnakes curled up in a warm hole, but other than that, oh boy.
We had four of the five grandsons with us and they jumped out of the car and were running and laughing and picking up big tree limbs to battle each other with and ultimately use as walking sticks. Walking sticks that were also used to smack parts of the landscape. Boys are boys. We sat them down for 3 seconds and took a picture.
Then the plan was to hike to near the top where there was supposed to be a pretty waterfall. Christian told me I get an award for being the most adventurous gramma. Hmmm
The path up loomed before us.
They all charged ahead and I slowly followed until I realized that dirt and rock path leaned way too much toward the drop off which had no safety fence or rail at all. Honestly I had my heavy camera and no matter which shoulder I slung it on, I felt myself tilting toward that drop off. Common sense prevailed over my desire to get the "most adventurous gramma" award and back I went to the halfway point. The rest kept on going and going and going,slapping trees and rocks with those sticks until they got to the waterfall.
It was peaceful where I was and I wiled away the time watching out for bears and snakes.
It was beautiful though, I'd bet after dark when the city lights came on it would have been quite a sight. I am disappointed in myself for quitting, but if you'd felt the tilt to the edge, you might give me the "most cautious gramma" award. And I'd take that.
We've had banana trees growing in one of the campus small quads. This is about the third or fourth year for them and they grew huge, maybe 20 feet tall and two of them had big bunches of bananas this year. The other day 3 of our students had the job of removing them so that they over winter in the power house. This is a big job.
These big trees send out babies during the growing season so that for each huge tree there will come several new ones at the base. The guys dig up the root area and drop the tree. The roots are very shallow.
Here are some of the bananas which are now sitting on a table in our house with the hope that they will ripen.
When that was finished they turned their attention to helping Gayle remove the fish from the pond so that they too can over winter in the power house.
Gayle has the uncanny ability to catch fish by hand, but the others needed nets and buckets.
All the fish were caught and are now safely swimming in their winter home. Even some tiny baby fish were found and captured.
This has been a year of unforeseen things, some call 2016 crazy, some just want this year to finally end. But one of those oddities about this year has been an almost monthly appearance of Super Moons. A Super Moon is one which approaches closest to the earth during its orbit. This results in us seeing a huge moon, compared to normal orbits.
We've had a bunch of these lately but on November 14th, we're in for a super Super Moon. The last time the moon got as close to earth as it will be in ten days was in 1948 and it won't happen again til 2034. News reports tell us this moon may be record breaking in its size and brightness.
If the sky is clear, it should show up everywhere in the world.
An astronomy site, Slooh.com calls this moon the "mega beaver moon". According to the Old Farmers Almanac, the November moon was named the beaver moon partly because, “for both the colonists and the Algonquin tribes, this was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs.”
This picture is hilarious, it may as well be a raccoon rather than a beaver.
Yesterday a Washington DC park policeman shot himself in the foot trying to fend off a raccoon which was attacking him. This happened in a community garden near Rock Creek Park and a fellow police officer was able to shoot and kill the animal.