Today was Pastor Appreciation Day at our church. I know that I certainly appreciate the pastor, and would even go so far as to say he’s the best one I’ve ever had. Brian lined up four people to take the pulpit today so Cliff (the pastor!) could sit back and enjoy the service. Two of the speakers were “Youth Speakers” – and one of those was my son David. So – Hooray David! He did a great job and a lot of people commented on his talk afterwards (all positive). His sermonette was a little on the short side, but I think that was OK, because the church service ran over by a few minutes. It would be safe to say that David put the ette in sermonette.

After church we went home and had a bite to eat. Then David, Beth, and I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. I was looking forward to seeing the leaves there reflected on the water, but we were too late! All the deciduous trees around the pond have dropped them already. Booo. The leaves are still mostly on the other trees. Maybe because these are at the edge of the pond they are more subjected to wind or something. I just hope the leaves hand around for at least one more week, because that’s when we’re going on a backpacking trip in Lincoln. They are certainly gorgeous right now though.

When we got home from Sandogardy, I took a nap. Then we had another bite to eat and shuffled back to the church for night two of The Amazing Adventure. David came with us this time, and he really seemed to enjoy it (he really likes Doug Batchelor).

Today Va had to substitute teach. Well, I guess she didn’t have to, but somebody did! She asked me to bring her some lunch, and I was happy to do that. After I dropped it off, I thought it would be best to leave, so as to not be disruptive. As I was driving away, I thought of the “secret park” a quarter mile up the road from the church. Here it is:

I call it a secret park because there are no indications on the highway that there’s a park there at all. It just looks like another entrance to the quarry between it and my church. But if you turn down the gravel driveway, there’s a parking lot. And then a trail leads from there to an pondish body of water off the Soucook River. I think it was put there by a developer as an artificial wetland. I haven’t been there in a while, so I turned and hiked down to the oxbow. I had never walked the entire distance back to the river, but today I did. As soon as I got to the river, I saw a fine specimen of Smilax rotundifolia (aka Common Green Briar). I used to see this stuff all the time in VA, KY, and IN, and if you can find the new shoots, they are quite tasty. But I had never seen any here in NH until today. My books indicate that it should grow here, but I was beginning to think them wrong. Guess not!

After work, I met Ken at the church so we could finally get the basketball goal mounted on that post. But we failed, and decided we needed a new approach. Basically, we’re going to ditch the fiberglass backboard and fashion a new one from pressure treated plywood. The problem is that the post and the backboard were not made for one another, so the holes do not line up. We tried using some 2×6 as an intermediary, but it resisted our every effort. The decision was not too hard to make. The backboard is cracked in one spot and mildewed all over. It would have needed a coat of paint. So if we’re going to paint something, why not paint a chunk-o-plywood and line the holes up properly? Maybe next week…

Not a whole lot going on here today. Saturday night on the way home from the Harvest Party, we stopped at Wally World to get a replacement bulb for the headlight of Va’s car. And tonight (drum roll please), I put it in. It’s supposed to be easy, but they had it tucked in way behind the battery, so I could either see it, or touch it with one hand, but not simultaneously. I unbolted the battery to scoot it aside. I did NOT unhook it though, as that would very probably have killed the radio (that’s a security feature I could live without!).

My original plan was to connect the ground lead to the chassis with a jumper cable and unhook that, but Va had taken my car to the grocery store. My toolbox was in the trunk of my car too. However, I found a deep metric socket set in the basement that I had forgotten I owned. That was all I needed to move the battery. Once I had it scooted aside, I was able to disconnect the socket and pop out the bulb. The new one went easily in its place, and I reconnected it. Bingo. A $5.00 car repair for the books.

I had forgotten about one thing that happened yesterday when I was writing about capturing the frog. I caught a frog, and as I was coming towards the house, Beth met me in the yard. I wanted to put it in a big plastic tub that was next to the house in the backyard. It was already full of water from earlier this summer when Beth had half a dozen frogs interned there. When I got to the tub, I found a dead chipmunk doing the side crawl (without the crawl part). I handed the net+frog to Beth, grabbed the shovel, and dug a shallow grave. Then I interred the chipmunk.

With chippy out of the picture, I decided to dump the tub and fetch some fresh pond water. By the time I had replaced the water, the frog had escaped from Beth, and she hadn’t noticed. So we had to catch another. It didn’t take too long. He (or she!) served our purpose, and has already been released back to the frog pond.

In other news, the Pathfinders had a huge picture in the Concord Monitor today! Yay, we’re famous now! But not famous enough to make the online edition, I suppose. Our picture took up half a page, and we were in there for doing our food drive last week. We collected over two hundred cans and gobs of other non-perishables.

Note: I edited this to correct some info. The “frog spawn” turns out to be a Bryozoan, possibly Pectinatella magnifica. It’s an animal similar to coral!

When I woke up from my nap today, I took David, Beth, and Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. It was pushing 80 degrees, or it may have been in the 80’s for all I know. It was perfect swimming weather though, so we all brought our swimming trunks (except for Penny).

Along the way I took pictures of the flowers that were in bloom. I was looking for some fringed loosestrife in particular but didn’t see any until we were on the way back. When we got to the pond, Beth swam, David got on the swings, and I took Penny around while I looked for my aquatic flowers for the Bloom Clock. Away from the swimming area a bit, I waded out into the Pickerelweed so I could get a shot of some Nymphaea odorata. I didn’t see any last time I was there, so I thought it was all done for the season. But there it was. Before I got to it though, I saw these huge brain-looking masses under the water. It was frog spawn, probably from Rana clamitans, but I’m not totally sure. I had never seen wads of frog spawn this huge though. I talked David into wading out there with me so I could lift one out for a photo. I didn’t think I could lift it out and take the picture, and David was happy to oblige:


Not Frog Spawn, but a Bryozoan

Holy cow! That is huge! There were a few that were maybe 50% bigger than this one, but I’d have had to wade through more brains to get to them, and they were in deeper water. But this one was one of the biggest out there. Cool. My hands were pretty slimy when I put it back, but I was able to wash them off to my satisfaction in the pond.

When we turned around to wade back to the shore, Penny was there with the look. That is, the one she gives when she wants us to throw one of her toys, or a stick, or kick a ball that she has brought to us. She had brought us a stick and laid it on the surface of the water, and was expecting us to throw it. So we did!

On my walk yesterday I found several new plants. Here’s what they were:
Conyza canadensis, Verbena urticifolia , Potentilla norvegica, Prenanthes sp., Leontodon autumnalis, and Lespedeza capitata. I guess I could post some pix I took of them, but I don’t feel like it. My neck-ache is back. I had this same pain a little while back just before we went on our camping trip, and I was dreading what I feared sleeping on the ground was going to do to it. To my surprise, my back felt much better the first morning, and I felt completely back-to-normal when we returned home. Maybe another campout would fix it again, but I don’t have one planned all that soon. I do plan to go backpacking with Beth at the end of this month. I’m going to take a day or two off work and we’ll go to Lincoln and see how far she can go.

The other day Beth asked me how puzzles are made. “Jigsaw puzzles?” I asked. “No, the kind you put together to make a picture.” OK, so that IS a jigsaw puzzle. I think I already posted about this, so I’ll just summarize today’s progress – I made another cut. But my neck/back pain was quickly moving into my arms, so I threw it in without much progress

I checked out the frog pond tonight, and there were half a dozen green frogs hanging out there like they always do. Green frogs sometimes let out a little bark before they leap into the water, and I’ve been trying to capture that. My camera can record a sound memo, so I turn it on every time I walk up to the pond. Nothing yet, but I’ll keep doing that until one barks into my microphone.

I read today that if you drive 75 MPH vs 65 MPH over an eight mile stretch, you will save yourself 59 seconds of time. That’s not very much. A while back I started driving 55 on the Interstate when there’s not much traffic (i.e., when people can easily pass me). My gas mileage went from 33 MPG to 36MPG. I did the math and found that the speed difference costs me 73 seconds on my drive home. I can live with that.

Dennis and I went to Subway for lunch today. Just as we arrived, another co-worker, Marco, arrived from the other direction. As we were waiting in line, the woman behind him pointed out that there was some sort of beetle on his collar. He was having difficulting finding it and she did not want to touch it. Ew! So I plucked it off his shirt.

Hmmm, what am I going to do with this? My plan was to release it outside, but I the Subway people were making my sandwich, and I needed to let them know what I wanted on it. So I dropped the beetle on the front of my shirt. He hung out there until we left the restaurant, and then I snatched him (or her? Let’s assume him!) off and carried him in my hand back to the office. I put him down on my guest chair and took a few pictures. This is the best one of the lot:



Last night as I was helping David with his science experiment we decided to soak a chunk of quartz in a muriatic acid bath to simulate chemical erosion. Outside. On the deck. I poured some acid in the beaker for him (the rock was already in place) and then got to thinking about the possibility of rain. I suggested that he cover the beaker with some aluminum foil to keep the rain out. Here’s what it looked like when I got home from work today:

Muriatic acid in a beaker covered with foil

Muriatic acid in a beaker covered with foil

Whoduh thunk it? The acid evaporated and burned a hole clean through the foil! luckily, it did not rain.

On the water erosion front, we had great success. Here’s a picture of his water-eroded chalk next to an uneroded piece.

Eroded chalk

Eroded chalk

I stomped around the property a bit this evening and took a few photos. Here are the best ones:

<i>Rana sylvatica</i> (Wood Frog)

Rana sylvatica (Wood Frog)

<i>Monotropa unifloar</i> (Indian Pipe)

Monotropa unifloar (Indian Pipe)

<i>Lotus corniculatus</i> (Birdsfoot Trefoil)

Lotus corniculatus (Birdsfoot Trefoil)

<i>Rana clamitans</i> (Green Frog)

Rana clamitans (Green Frog)

Some of them do not peg the suck meter! Yay!