Friday, October 31, 2014

Final Flower for the Day Morning Glory Mystery 10-31-14

Since we are expecting a freeze to 20 degrees tonight this will be the final flower for the day for this year. We will end with a mystery. As I have reported before, this healthy morning glory has flourished. About two weeks ago some of the blossoms which have been a rich blue have transformed into a rich pink color. Some have been half pink and half blue and others have been completely pink.
Can anyone explain this phenomenon? What determines  color in morning glories? 

I have enjoyed sending you the Flower for the Day. I will continue posting on my Blog which is usually about nature or something else of interest to me. Please let me know if you wish to be taken off the list.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Going Home - Schools October2

Recently I returned to La Grange, Illinois for my 60th high school reunion. I drove around my hometown heedful of the fact that "you 
can never go home". This, of course is corollary to the Heraclitus saying that "you  never step in the same river twice".  Despite the expected differences I drove around the town to places that have shaped my life.
La Grange is a village 13 miles west of Chicago. It is at the crossroad of La Grange Road (US 45) and Ogden Avenue (US 34) on the Burlington Route which goes  between Chicago and Denver. Fourteen thousand years ago the land under La Grange sat on the western shore of Lake Chicago, the predecessor to Lake Michigan. The shoreline is delineated by Bluff Avenue where the land goes gradually downhill on the east side of the village. La Grange was founded by businessman F.D. Cossitt in 1879. My mother graduated from Cossitt Elementary School in 1915.

My elementary school, grades kindergarten through fifth grade, was the Ogden Avenue School which is still going strong. William Butler Ogden was the first Mayor of Chicago. When it opened in 1910 Ogden School replaced two previous schools. They were: Poets Corner (1885) at  La Grange Road and Oak Avenue, and the North School (1893) on Kensington between Bell and Ogden Avenue. What I remember about Ogden was that it was "old and solid' like its Principle Nettie J. McKinnon. It had a gymnasium with a very low ceiling and a large playground behind. I could walk or ride my bike to school and crossing Ogden Avenue was a challenge. I remember taking naps in kindergarten on a hand hooked rug from home. In first grade a big kid named Rod playing kick ball broke my wrist with a ball that came so fast I couldn't move. I was standing near second base and I remember Miss Stevens, my first grade teacher, came right over because I was pale and in shock. A policeman drove me home and I had to wear a cast for six weeks. The class rooms had attached cloak rooms where sometimes we students were sent if we acted up. On the corner to the west was Turks Store where we could buy penny candy after school. My favorite was a strip of paper with chocolate drops that you had to bite off the paper. On the way home at the southeast corner of Ogden and Brainard was a wondrous store - Stuliks -  which had rock gardens of flowers and fish and birds. There were canaries and parrots and the unmistakable smell of their droppings. Nettie McKinnon could best be described as a "force".When she walked down the hall (she was as wide as she was tall and wore grandmother long dress clothes) the hall became instantly quiet and frozen in time. This was caused by a mixture of fear and awe.
One day on the way home when I was in fifth grade I was riding my bike on the right edge of Ogden Avenue - a definite no no.  When I passed Brainard Avenue I swerved to the left to cross to the other side without looking behind me. The next instant I was on the ground having clipped the back right side of a speeding car that I never saw. It happened so fast that I did not have time to be afraid but  I was brought to reality by the frightened look on the face of the driver who thought he had killed me. I realized how unthinking and lucky  I had been. Even now I can remember what a close call it was and how fast it happened. There were no injuries at all but no thanks to me. I was so embarrassed that I don't think I ever told anyone. I was much more careful after that and I never rode on Ogden again. Everytime I have a close shave
and there have been more than a few I think how lucky I have been to still be hanging around.
Nettie Mckinnon sponsored a program where we students would sell magazine subscriptions and the proceeds would be used to purchase a painting or other work of art which would become part of the schools permanent collection. My brother David was invited to accompany Nettie on a trip to an art gallery in downtown Chicago where that years purchase was chosen. As I remember the gift painting from our class (1949) was a small original painting of George Washington by the American artist, Gilbert Stuart. The collection resides currently in a gallery at the Park Junior High school.

After fifth grade we attended the Oak Avenue School for sixth, seventh , and eighth grades. Also in District 102, Oak School was built in1928 to relieve overcrowding at Ogden. Nettie McKinnon was the Principle at both schools. I played on the Lightweight Basketball team and we beat Cossitt twice. Mr. Seibel, the coach, was also the Industrial Arts teacher and taught me anything I know about using tools and making things. My favorite memory was that when I was in eighth grade I got to raise the flag every morning and take it down in the afternoon.

In 1888 Lyons Township High School became the sixth Illinois high school organized under a new law permitting townships to form high school districts.  The vote was 380 for and 328 against. 
Secondary school education was not high on the list of community needs. In 1890 the school moved into its new building at Brainard and Cossitt. I the 1920's the district 204 high school drawing area was slimmed downward to include La Grange, Western Springs, Hodgkins, Brookfield, La Grange Highlands, Indian Park, Countryside, La Grange Park and Westchester. When I attended the school there were 2 buildings, 2 athletic fields and 3 apartment buildings on 66 acres. When I graduated in 1954 my class size was 415 and the school population was 2,010. Currently there are two campuses with the juniors and seniors attending school in the original  building. When I went to LT there was a junior college (LTJC) which met on certain parts of the third floor. It had several names : Tick Tock Tech - referring to its near proximity to the clock; Upstairs Tech, and "The College in the Clouds". It merged with the College of DuPage in 1967.
My high school years were magical. We lived on Dover Street just two small blocks across the tracks so it was a 10 minute walk to school. Day and night at home I could hear the bell tower clock. The Saturday afternoon football games were exciting with coach Chuck Bennett and successful teams led by Leon McCrae and Dean McKown. We won the state basketball championships in 1953 with a fast breaking undefeated team led by Nat Smith, Joe McCrea, and our classes  Ted Caiazza, and Chuck Sedgewick. During our time in school LT won the State Track Championships under the leadership my neighbor Coach Russ Deason an extraordinary three times. I was captain of the tennis team and our team won the District. My partner Gay Messick  and I lost in the state semifinals in 3 sets to the eventual winners. At the Gilbert Park courts one afternoon we beat Evanston High School breaking their four year dual meet record without a loss. I was taking interesting courses like Latin and German and doing well academically. My senior year I was co-editor of the Tabulae with Annette Wylie and Helen Long. The many afternoons after school were certainly more fun than work. Socially I had all the same issues facing adolescent boys and girls that everyone had to address. I had a small loyal group of close friends, more on the academic side than the athletic or popular side. We loved going to the Corral on the week-ends. Beginning to drive at age 14 enlarged our sphere - we were able to drive to away football games, on dates, and to Hamburger Heaven in Elmhurst. I thought I was pretty grown up until I got to College - but that's another story. What stands out most clearly now, 60 years later, was the extraordinary support we got from family, and teachers, and mentors but most of all from our fellow classmates. It is no surprise since the school was set up to produce success and which it consistently delivered.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Family Visits

While I was in my home town, La Grange Illinois, for my 60th High School reunion  I was able to have breakfast with my niece Allison Strutz and  her husband Kevin  and their three youngest children: Nathan, Hannah, and Alyssa. They are a wonderful family and I was so pleased to see how were doing. Their mother (my sister Melissa) would have been so proud. (10-4-14)


Here are my niece Kimberly and my nephew Rob (children of my older brother Bob) who stopped by our house while they were driving a car to Rochester Minnesota for Rob's daughter Kristy who is a freshman at the Mayo Clinic Medical School. We had a great time catching up on family activities and news. (10-12-14)


Friday, October 24, 2014

Flower for the Day Dahlias 10-24-14

The dahlias in all their glory are ready for Halloween. In the living room window Spot approves.

Our Halloween flag shows its faded maturity.

 Happy Fall to everyone.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Flower for the Day Confused Azalea 10-23-14

Behind the gnome garden are several white azalea bushes. One has been confused by the current weather and has been blooming for a week. Its a nice surprise for this time of year.

Strangers at the Barn - a horse's eye view 10-18-14

Well we had just come into our barn after a beautiful day of grazing when a group of folks that were all dressed up came by and started taking pictures of themselves and the barn and us. I have to admit they did pay a lot of attention to us even in the midst of taking their pictures. The two in the middle had eyes only for each other.

After a while  my partner got bored and went to his stall but I was interested in watching the shenanigans of the young couple messing around with something they called a "garter". Frankly I  was in love with the two solid ladies in their brown dresses who were watching. They were having a fun time. It is special for us to live in this red barn and be able to oversee all the goings on.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Show and Tell 10-14-14

I'm taking a class at Washington University's Life Long Learning Institute on Saul Bellow's book, Humboldt's Gift. Bellow was a Chicago writer who won the Nobel Prize for literature. Ironically the book concerns Chicago and Princeton and one of the most significant events in the story is when Ike defeats Adlai Stephenson in the 1952 Presidential race. In 1952 I was a sophomore at Lyons Township High School of La Grange and my brother David was a sophomore at Princeton. In August of 1952 a friend of Davids from Princeton and Moberly, Missouri stayed with us in La Grange while he "covered" the Republican National Convention for his Moberly newspaper. Dwight Eisenhauer had been wooed by both parties but finally chose the Republican Party and was nominated by the liberal wing of that party. "Mobe" got us tickets to the final night where Ike was nominated to the thunderous roar of a packed Chicago Stadium. He had beaten out Ohio Senator Robert Taft in an old fashioned convention where all the states voted in alphabetical order and the outcome was not previously decided. I'll never forget when Ike was presented and all the lights went off except for spotlights on this seemingly small balding man in a drab blue suit with his arms raised high. It was beyond exciting.
At the end of the evening I collected some of the campaign signs from that evening and for some unknown reason I have them still having either stored them or moved them with me where ever I have gone. For this current class at Washington U I proudly 'showed' my signs and 'told' my story.

Ike ran against Illinois Democratic Senator Adlai Stephenson who was from Chicago and was also a Princeton grad. In Bellow's novel,
Stephenson's landslide loss to Ike helped throw poet Von Humboldt Fleisher into a lethal downhill slide.

A major promise of Ike's campaign was to end the Korean war and "bring our boys home". He was able to end the war in about 6 months. 


I can still remember the drama and energy and the sense being a part of history. I'm sure that is why I have been unable to let go of these signs.


The class enjoyed my presentation and one of my classmates offered that she had been there at the Chicago Stadium that night too for Ike's acceptance speech.



It is hard for me to realize that it was over 62 years ago.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

FFTD Bonus The biggest cock at Innsbrook 10-21-14


Last weekend we noticed that there were chickens at the farmhouse near our Lake House.There were also several roosters who were enjoying their ear piercing "cock-a-doodle-do" calls. This is the biggest of the bunch. Great fun since they're not next door.

Mystery Spider Possibilities

This is not a satisfactory image of this dead and dried out spider but it was so large I wanted to find out what it was. Several thought it was a tarantula which it is not. There were two (including an entymologist) who thought it was a wolf spider (lycosidae) and it well may be. Another person thought it was a fishing spider (pisauridae) -
Apparently fishing spiders have two rows of eyes while wolf spiders have three rows of eyes. If fishing spiders live in Missouri then that is possibly what this is but it is difficult to tell because of the poor quality of the image close-up. Perhaps the aquatic insects and small fish in Lake Aspen are resting more easily.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Return of Amaryllis

Amaryllis made a comeback this weekend at the Lake house. You may
remember she lost her body in a storm  at Wildwood several years ago.
She is sitting in Jan's special chair surrounded by pyracantha and acorns -
a most auspicious return.


FFTD Bonus Mystery Spider 10-20-14

I found this large spider at the lake house. Can anyone identify it?

Flower for the Day Gaillardia 10-20-14

I put down almost a pound of wildflower seeds in my new garden at the lake house. Gaillardia (blanket flower) and bachelor buttons were about the only flowers to bloom. Although I pulled the weeds out and layered over composted cow manure what I got was weeds.We'll see what happens next year. Only the gaillardia is still blooming.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

FFTD Bonus: Who Doesn't Love A Swimming Hole? 10-15-14

  WHO DOESN'T LOVE A SWIMMING HOLE?                             

There is romance in the idea of going to a swimming hole on a hot summer day. I think of Tom and Huck and a leaning old tree with a rope swing for jumping into the warm muddy water and a carefree afternoon. Just south of St Louis Missouri in Reynolds County is a magical swimming hole well known to locals and non-locals alike. It is Johnson Shut-Ins in the shallows of the East Fork of the Black River and its magnetic pull attracts children of all ages. 
About 1.5 billion years ago magma (a mixture of molten rock, gases and solids) was extruded from below the earth's surface near Ironton Misouri. Cooled and solidified magma became, by definition, igneous rock. The base of Johnson Shut-ins is an igneous rock called rhyolite which is silica rich and is made up of the quartz and two forms of feldspar, which are major constituent minerals that make up the earth's crust. Shallow seas later covered the rhyolite depositing sedimentary rock and sand. Uplift and erosion exposed this volcanic rock. The water in the East Fork of the Black River became confined or shut-in to a narrow channel.
Through the years water, sand, gravel and weather have caused channels, and chutes and potholes in the erosion resistant rhyolite forming the multiple natural swimming holes that make up Johnson Shut-Ins.
Midsummer this year we took off from Kirkwood Missouri for the hour and a half drive south to Reynolds County. We did stop at a Wallmart and grampa purchased creek shoes for everyone - Gordon, Blake, Adam, and Will Sessions who were visiting from Denver on vacation. Luckily they only cost about $5 a pair these days.
The area around Johnson Shut-Ins has been restored after the 2005 flood damage and the swimming area itself appears largely unchanged. The camp grounds (Johnson Shut-Ins State Park) have been rebuilt and the parking lot expanded. One bonus is a new building with a section to change into your swimming suits.
IAt the upper reaches of the shut-ins there is a comfortable chest high pond for relaxing. As you descend the shut-ins it gets slippery with some sharp edges -hence the need for the creek shoes. The rhyolite has been sandpapered smooth through the thousands of years. Add to that water and occasional green algae and footing can be a challenge. There are multiple small waterfalls and pools as well as the channels of the river itself. 

The day was hot and sunny and the water clear and cool but not cold - just right. The slippery footing made it perfect for monkeys of all ages. 

It is great fun to slide down small waterfalls.

Most of the pools are shallow -  

which makes it easy to check out the large potholes.

There are several deep pools which allow for a ten foot jump off the cliff in classic swimming hole fashion. Here is Will in the air.

And as expected Adam is hamming it up.

At the lower end of the shut-ins are many waterfalls and pools.

At the bottom is a deeper swimming lake. I wonder whose finger that is. We spent the whole afternoon and nobody wanted to drive home. Another nice bonus for this swimming hole - its free - with no entrance or parking fee.

For those who want to stay longer, they can camp at  Johnson Shut-Ins State Park 

or they can drive to the Dragon-Fly-In B&B which is just south of Ironton, Missouri. 

Innkeeper and friend, Linda McHenry does a superb job of making guests feel at home. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

FFTD Bonus Suburban Deer Herd 10-13-14

After the five turkeys and the red tailed hawk dropped by this small herd of white tail deer sauntered through our nature preserve this weekend.

Flower for the Day Dahlia 10-13-14

Despite the weight of the heavy fall weather the dahlias continue to bloom.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

FFTD Bonus Red Tailed Hawk 10-9-14

It is cool. It is raining. Fall is here. And right after the turkeys left ourresident red tailed hawk came to rest on his favorite perch - part of Russel Filippelo's Master's Project.

FFTD Bonus Five young Toms come 'a callin' 10-9-14

Five young wild Tom Turkeys came by for breakfast in the wildflower gardens this morning. Wild turkeys (Meleagris gallapovo -Linneas 1758) are native to the Americas and are among the largest native birds. These young turkeys are without a wattle yet and were very busy scratching 
the ground for food. 

They moved gradually up the hill.

I was able to circle around to the front and move ahead of them sliding behind the trees. They were much more interested in feeding than in my feeble efforts to get close. I don't expect them to last too long around here if that continues.

They are awkwardly beautiful.

They just continued to move slowly as they fed,

and just disappeared regally at the far side of the Frank Lloyd Wright meadow.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

FFTD Bonus: Elephant Rocks

Years ago our family would drive south from St. Louis to Elephant Rocks, a magical state Park one-half mile west of Graniteville, Missouri. We would scamper around the huge granite boulders breaking up into teams to play hide and seek "war games". After cooking hot dogs on the grill for lunch we would go for a swim in a quarry lake and come back home after dark. Often Jan's sisters family would join us for the fun.
Geologically the area is called a "tor" and consists of rounded weathered granite boulders sitting on bedrock granite. It is formed from an outcropping of granite in the St. Francois Mountains which is in a range of Pre Cambrian igneous rock rising over the Ozark Plateau.
It was formed by volcanic and intrusive activity 1.485 billion years ago. Compare this with the Appalchians formed 460 million years ago
and the Rocky Mountains formed 140 million years ago. These mountains have never been submerged existing as an island archipelago
in the Paleozoic seas. Alkaline granite here was formed in the Proterozoic period 1500 million years ago from a dome of molten magma.
Vertical fractures formed in the stone with cooling. The overlying strata were removed through erosion exposing the granite dome. Weather and erosion expanded the fracture joints and produced the rounded boulders of crystalline red granite or tors. The granite has been commercially quarried here since 1869.

It was interesting to see the changes in the many years since we were last here. It is now a more formalized state park with rules to decrease the freedoms we loved in the past. Trees are now growing from cracks in the granite but the amazing boulders cannot be ruined by the intrusion of the state. The tors are still huge and the opportunity for play is exciting still. The large quarry lake is off limits
to all I suspect except the locals.


In early July this year we came with Gordon and sons Blake, Adam, and Will who were all suitably impressed. They clambered around, over, under and between the rocks with abandon.

With his diminutive size Will could go anywhere in the granite labyrinth.

Blake was more into climbing the elevations.

Adam was everywhere.

About noon we decided it was time to go in search of lunch which we found surprisingly in a grocery store deli in Ironton.