October and November

                                                                                              Au paturage - Dupre

October 17

Last evening we saw a series of Monarch butterflies headed south-south-west for their annual migration to Mexico. This morning a spotted several more and this bodes well because for the last few autumns we have not seen so many.  I just hope there is enough habitat for them when the get to the over-wintering location in Mexico. Also, we were privileged to have a number of blue birds, red birds, mockingbirds and one last humming bird around the porch where were sitting. Whenever, we have visits from the bluebirds they are always accompanied by small brown sparrows, marked with a white streak under their eyes; a symbiotic relationship I do not understand. Also, the Mexican petunias, heavenly blue morning glories, and pansies are decorating the place very well for mid-October.

The mythology students are taking their midterm exam today. I began teaching in 1963, so this makes over half a century in the field of education. I wonder how much longer..... The best compliment I ever received came last semester when a student who was asked to evaluate my online course wrote: "The only thing wrong with this course is that it is over."

The cornbread I cooked this morning came out so well Victoria took a picture. She turned it upside down, but Kansans don't intuitively know much about cornbread protocal. She has learned that washing the bread skillet is a cardinal sin.

Also, I made a pineapple galette; it is short on looks, but should be tasty.





October 26, Victoria's birthday. She received a dozen red roses, a card from the cat and she will have a king crab leg dinner tonight. Her main gift is a donation to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, which I will make via computer later today.

This morning, just after six, the sky was clear and I could see Orion in his westward move across the sky with several planets in his entourage. Indian Summer - warm days, cool nights, and a profusion of confused wasps that began hibernation in early October then reemerged with the warm weather. Over the last few weeks we must have killed a hundred that emerge from one spot beneath the eves of the front  porch. I have only been stung once, but am about to run out of bug spray and the war is not over. Other guys at morning coffee are also complaining about wasps taking over their homes. On other autumns, harmless but stinky Lady Bugs have gathered by the thousands, especially in Victoria's free-standing office by the pool. But I think the worst invasion is from gnats. Gnats swarm and are suicidal; they try to end it all by flying into your eyes, ears, nose, or glass of wine. Also, October crickets are a bit of a nuisance; they find a way into the bedroom, then play cricket violin in the wee hours of the night. Victoria's autumn nemesis is the refuge seeking Wolf Spider. She strategically places sticky spider traps near the entrance of the three doors to the cabin, then each morning runs her traps. "I caught a big one last night. Would you dispose of the corpse?" 

October 28, and a cool front arrived with a bit of rain. The bugs have settled down; hopefully for the season. And so it goes.

November 4

A Faulkner expert told me The Sound and the Fury was his best novel, but that expert was from northern Missouri and another friend who attended Yale and was from N.Y. also made the same claim some years ago which made me suspicious because  two guys neither from the south like the same book, so I asked another man who is from the south and who wrote his dissertation on Faulkner for his pick and he said Go Down, Moses which  made me go back and reread that book and I came across a description of a woman with a roan tooth and I had to go to the Faulkner homepage and look that up.


Also, if you read much Faulkner your sentences soon run together.

There was a big discussion the next day about the roan tooth among the old guys at the coffee room at the bank. Strawberry roan horses, roan cattle, and other animals with streaks of color were mentioned - about all we could agree on was "multicolored".

November 12

Lying in the dentist chair with your mouth wide open and having someone poke around with a metal instrument is no fun at all, then the dental receptionist came into the room and said, "Your wife is on the 'phone". I am informed that the septic tank is backed up, and suddenly the dental chair is not such a bad place to be.

At the septic tank:

The first guy to show up looks like Don Knotts and seems to know less about sewer problems than I do. He has one technique: dig. He locates a pipe coming from the house, digs, pokes a hole in it and water comes out. "No good there". Then he digs up the lid to the septic tank and discovers the tank is full of....guess what. Then he decides I should dig at the end of the lateral line leading away from the tank. I get the tractor and, assuming the line is stopped up at the end, dig with the bucket and  break the line....nothing comes  out. Don Knotts say you will have to get a plumber. I ask, "You are not a plumber?"  "No, we just do sewer lines." No charge, he says "I didn't do nothing." He suggests Daniel Brown. I call Daniel Brown and talk to his wife, then she give me another number to call. Dan Brown's son answers and says they are on their way to fix a broken water line and will call later. Finally Daniel Brown calls and is uninterested in my problem until he learns that my father taught him in high school. "Now I place you."  He will come out next week he says.

We call Texarkana and book a room at a motel, no staying here for the night, but then I am able to get a guy to come out: "I'll be there in an hour." This guy is a Roma that cleans septic tanks. He backs his truck to the tank, pumps and cleans the tank in about three hours, then says I should get somebody to unstop the line leading out from the tank.  The Roma's truck is on empty, so I have to give him enough gas to get him to Mineral Springs, the nearest gas station. We don't have to stay in a motel in Texarkana is the good news, the booking fee  is nonrefundable is the bad news. Motel: $122, Roma: $275.

 Next the man that actually installed the septic tank calls wanting to borrow my log splitter. Leonard agrees to fix the line and take away the log splitter. He will be at my  place around 10 AM  on Saturday. At 12:30 I realize I have not opened the gate to the property. Assuming I have locked out the help, I drive to his place and find him working on his truck. "We'll be on up pretty soon, I had to fix the truck lights."

It is now 2PM and no Leonard. The question is: does he need the log splitter bad enough to fix the sewer line.

4PM and yes, he showed with side-kick Billy the Orphan and within 15 minutes they repaired the sewer line and drove off  with the log splitter. Case Closed....well almost, weeks later and they have not returned the log splitter..the case may be reopened.

November 21

David Brooks, the NY Times columnist, has had my undivided attention for years; his arguments are reasonable, supported by relevant facts, and backed by sound research, yet he is at the core - compassionate. The other night on the PBS News Hour, he demonstrated yet another facet of his personality. He was debating the immigration problem with a wild eyed liberal who was almost frothing at the mouth over some antidotal case which he felt national immigration policy should be based. Rather than try to argue with a person who clearly has a closed mind,  Brooks just gave him what I call the "frog look"; as if to say, "there is no use refuting somebody crooking". I will practice the frog look the next time I encounter such a person.

After a cold spell and a few rainy days the sun has come out and the day is balmy. While putting the finishing touches on the window I made and installed in the tea house ladybirds began swarming. The front of the house was quickly covered, the barn is almost covered, and ladybirds are crawling down my neck. Other than a foul smell, they are harmless aphid eaters and display interesting colors and patterns.

ladybugs Coccinellidae are known colloquially as ladybirds in Britain, Ireland, and some parts of the southern United States. AKA ladybugs  in northern USA. 

While my partner is on vacation I am assigned the job of feeding his young bull and in doing so I just encountered my partner's father who is assigned the job putting out hay for the cattle. While we were chatting by my golf course, I noticed ladybirds walking about the dashboard. I asked if his place was also infested with the little creatures. He said yes and that his daughter-in-law had read that the federal government was dropping ladybirds from airplanes to combat pine bark beetles. I shall investigate that piece of information.



Thanksgiving 2015

ducj pie
Thanksgiving and Victoria whipped up a Peking duck (or is that now  Beijing duck) and I did a pecan pie from pecans gathered in the yard.