According pumpkin farmers in Illinois, this is a banner year thanks to a wet spring and dry warm summer. If you've been in grocery stores in September you probably would have noticed huge pumpkins selling for 5 dollars which is a big change from the last couple of years when pumpkins were closer to ten dollars. And the bumper crop is the reason they're so reasonably priced.
I had to laugh, however, because Schnuck's raised their pumpkin prices from 5 dollars during September to 8 or 9 dollars as soon as we got to October 1. Halloween coming means more people wanting pumpkins so why not get as much as you can for them. Not very nice, though.
We tried growing pumpkins on the campus this year and we also had a good crop of small pumpkins planted from seed, many of which were the pie pumpkins. We wanted numbers for this first effort rather than size.
Here's one of the baskets we put in the seminary food bank for families with kids.
Pumpkins by the table. Pumpkins by the chair. Pumpkins by the door. Pumpkins everywhere!
"Aldi Supermarkets said it is pulling red grapes from its St Louis area stores after a black widow spider was found in a red grape container."
The headline to this story is somewhat misleading: St. Louis County Grocer Pulls Food from Shelves After Finding Deadly Spider
Later in the story there's this: "Experts at the St Louis Zoo say the widow’s bite is venomous and can make humans sick but is not lethal." In any event, the Black Widow spider has worked its way into bags of grapes coming from vineyards in California where they like to nestle in and make webs. Advice from this story is if you see a Black Widow in your produce or anywhere else, don't handle it but capture it and put it in a container.
Which leads to an unanswered question: "How do you capture a spider and get it into a container without handling it?"
Now's the time to get at your lawn. It's amazing to look at the Popular Mechanics site because you might expect to see stories on, well, mechanical things like car engines and stuff. But PM is a wealth of information on all sorts of things including lawn care. Take some time on the lawn now and next spring you'll be amazed at how good it looks.
The answer isn't tree roots. "Wastewater officials across the country have been trying to spread the message that not just anything can go down the toilet, and they have recently taken aim at wipes." Yes the omnipresent 'wipes'. Wipes are everywhere and used for everything these days. Everything from babies to cleaning bacteria off of kitchen counters to cosmetic removal.
And more often than not they're being flushed down toilets which is causing a huge back-up. These wipes do not break down as toilet tissue does and for that matter kleenex doesn't really loose it's shape either.
We should rethink how we dispose of the wipes to save ourselves the headache of sewer backups. I do draw the line at believing one other item the story claims is flushed down toilets and that is kitty litter. If you flush kitty litter you may just deserve the arrival of Router Rooter.
The Post Dispatch has a story on unusual items used in St. Louis gardens and the most unusual has to be bowling balls. At least two local homeowners are adding bowling balls to their yards and not to make fun of or shake my head in wonder at this, I'd be curious about how hard it would be to remove all of these balls when the time came to sell the house. And what would you do with them if you were to remove them.
This story fits the category of "one more thing to worry about". Federal health investigators confirmed that ticks in the state carry a new virus that infected two farmers from St. Joseph.
Named the Heartland Virus after a St. Joseph hospital where the virus was first recognized, causes low white blood cell counts, fever, chills, body aches, nausea and diarrhea. Missouri leads the nation in tick-related diseases, including ehrlichiosis, tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, said Dr. Ericka Hayes, an infectious disease specialist at Washington University. Preventive measures for tick bites include tucking pants into socks, wearing long sleeves and using bug repellent with DEET. Always check the body for ticks after walking through grass or woods.
Sometime during the past school year the decision was made to turn what had been a scenic, but unused, spot on the Concordia Seminary campus into an amphitheater. What had been there was a set of very old stone steps and a lower area floored with unwalkable stones. The steps were saved and the treacherous stones were taken out as were a couple of old tree stumps. The project was entirely student driven and constructed from start to finish, some saw the project through from beginning to end, others left us after graduating or heading to vicarages. The early hope was to have this finished by graduation, but with a winter of snow and a spring of rain, it was an impossible goal. But now it is complete just in time for the visit from LCMS convention attendees. Here is a look at how the process took place beginning in February and ending in July.
As always the photos look better when clicked to see the detail.
The bobcat was in use for the whole project, the construction manager was soon to be second year student, Mark Harriss, who came to us with bobcat and construction experience. All the stone work was done by student Matthew Douglas who came to us with a family background in masonry.
First the big tree stumps came out.
Then came the grading of the soil, done by Mark. There was lots of grading through all the months of work.
Part of the grading work involved sculping out tiers for the stonework and the bobcat was used to bring in all the stone so that Matthew could set them in place.
Stones were set in the approximate spots
Matthew then went to work and he made great progress
He used a masontry adhesive to attach one to another which also involved having to cut to size.
The other students carried the heavy pieces but also moved gravel into the tiers as a base.
Things went great until the March and April and May rains came. There was a long layoff because of the muddy surface.
Just before graduation all the stonework was finished, but not the ground around it. The sides needed more grading, the tiers needed sod. But, the area in front of the new amphitheater was given some sod so that it looked green for graduation.
Then the second week of July saw the final grading, drainage pipe and sodding.
And watering. This was the hottest week of the summer so far.
It is a now a beautiful spot waiting for students and others to use for classes or study or casual conversation.
A huge word of thanks to all the students who put in all the hard labor to make something beautiful and which will be used by students for years to come.