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Archive for May, 2009

We went floating twice this weekend.   It was perfect.   The sun was out, the sky was blue,  

Wait.  Isn’t that a Beatles’ song?

So, anyway, on Saturday a whole bunch of us floated four miles from the campground down to Williams Ford.  The water was over the slab when we got there.

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Then on Sunday we went floating again.   Before we went, I was out watering the Hosta Dell and found that the bees were enjoying the swamp milkweed.  This one is a carpenter bee.

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This time we actually enticed our husbands into floating with us.   I had the idea that somewhere during the day the opportunity to portray my new “more svelte” self (as requested by az) would provide itself.

I took this image reflected in a mirror that sits out on the deck at Jeri’s place.  The sun was behind me, the mirror was pollen laden, and I think the misty look of the linen dress (from azahar’s designs, by the way)  I am sporting makes a pretty good image.  I really like the way the sun reflects off the mirror onto my face, and the fact that you can see me holding the camera for this self portrait.

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The next two are much more graphic, and taken by my own dear spouse.  I decided to edit out my face somewhat, as I don’t really need it plastered all over the internet.   But I thought I would give a tasteful response to Nursemyra’s corset Fridays.   This is as close to underwear as I ever get.

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Please be kind.   I could be more svelte than this, and have been in the past.  But I think I’m doing pretty good for nearly 56 years old.

Now, to a completely different subject.   The river.

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I shall leave you with a picture that deserves a thousand words, at least.   I promise that tomorrow I shall endeavor to relate the story behind this deconstructed mail box.

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You’ll like it, I promise.   Meanwhile, y’all have a nice week.

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I picked this bouquet on the way into the house after I walked Ruby tonight.   Clockwise from the left:  Cathedral bells (also sometimes called clustered bellflower), coral bells, lance leafed coreopsis, white bleeding heart, valerian.

I think this qualifies as another bouquet you can only have if you have a garden.

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A while ago I did a post about an epiphany that I had regarding diet and weight loss.   At that point in time, somehow I was motivated to take control of my food intake.    

In addition to getting serious about limiting my caloric intake, I also upped the daily walk with Ruby to four miles.   Believe me, the first time we went four miles rather than our usual 2.5, she was highly indignant, not comprehending the need, etc.    She got over it.   

The dog has slimmed down and hardened up considerably under the new exercise regimen.

I am happy to report that since that post at the beginning of April, I have lost 12.5 pounds.   It has been such a seemingly effortless drop that I am no longer just aiming for 175.   I’ll take it a pound at a time and see what happens.  

As an interesting side-effect, once Jim realized I was extremely serious about my need to take some more pressure off my knees and hips, he got on board with the program and has been producing meals that help me achieve my caloric goal.    

Apparently, it has helped him do the same, because he has also dropped some of that winter fat that had accumulated.    

It’s all good.

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I believe that I may have mentioned previously that we are graced with a typical small town newspaper, complete with proof-reading by SpellCheck.  The editors love to put all of the police blotter on the front page, as if this will be a come-on for prospective home-owners looking for a place to retire or relocate.  

This evening I was enthralled by the headline in our local “newspaper”:   WOMAN CHARGED IN SWORD ATTACK.   The article has this intriguing lead-off:

A Lebanon woman is accused of attacking her neighbor with a sword Saturday evening at the motel where they both reside.

It is actually worth checking out the newspaper’s article containing the full details of this incident.  I particularly like the precision of detail given by the victim as he describes how his attacker “approached him and tried to punch him with her left fist.   In self-defense, he struck back with his right fist. . .”  

You should bear in mind that the Red Fox Motel and its inhabitants are our direct neighbors at the back line of our property.   It used to be a state of the art motel along historic Route 66, but now has devolved to dive-dom, possibly even slumdom.   

However, that was not my favorite article tonight.   The following report was on the back page of the paper.   I would love to provide you with a link, but unfortunately our little paper’s website only lists the front page articles, the obituaries and the local school sports news.  So, I am providing you with an exact copy, with all errors intact, of my very favorite article from the Lebanon Daily Record so far this year.

TRUCKS, SISTERS COLLIDE  — Woman charged with misdemeanor assault

From LDR staff

     A Lebanon woman is accused of smashing her husband’s truck into his twin brother’s truck, causing it to hit her sister’s car, then getting out and attacking her sister early Sunday morning.

     Raquel Lynn Dampier, 25, is charged with a Class A misdemeanor assault, according to the Laclede County Prosecuting Attorney’s office.

     At about 2:20 a.m. Sunday, police were dispatched to the 800 block of North Adams Avenue afer receiving a report of a fight between several people, according to a probable cause statement from the Lebanon Police Department.

     Police arrived on the scene to find three vehicles had been involved in a collision, and three people were in the street, arguing.

     Her husband told police he and his sister-in-law had been outside the house trying to find a way in because she had lost her key when they heard the truck coming fast down the street.

     Dampier provided police with a written statement, saying she came around the corner of Adams and Curry, she saw the 1998 Dodge Ram pickup truck her husband had been driving parked out in front of the residence where she lives with her sister.

     Seeing the truck there infuriated her, so she rammed the rear end with the 1995 Ford F150 pickup she was driving, causing the Ram to hit her sister’s 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier, she told police in her written statement.

     After the crash, Dampier got out of the truck and ran over to where her sister and husband were standing, her sister told police.   Dampier accused her sister of have (sic) an extra martital (sic) affair with her husband and attacked her, the sister said.

     Dampier allegedly pulled out handfuls of her sister’s  hair and punched her in the face several times, the probable cause statement said. 

     Dampier told police she only struck back after her sister attacked her first.

     The three had stopped fighting by the time police arrived.

      Dampier wrote in her statement that at one point in the fight, her husband held her down so her sister could kick her, but no evidence she was kicked was visible to police, according to the report.  

Whew.   Take acouple of deep breaths and a moment to digest all that.   I am fascinated by the typos and grammatical errors that creep into the narrative at the most seamy part of the scenario, almost as if the reporter was so carried away by the story that (s)he could not focus on the technical part of writing.

“Just your ordinary Ozarks disfunctional family,” was Jim’s comment.    I am intrigued by the scene so poignantly presented.   There is a whole novel contained in that oh-too-short vignette.  The first of many questions that come to mind is “What about the husband’s twin brother?”

Do you suppose any alcohol was involved?

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As I mentioned last night, a post about what can be found in my river bag seemed like a good idea.   It was particularly easy to put the pictures together since the whole mess was completely damp after yesterday’s rainy day on the river, so I had the bag completely exploded all over.   As I was eyeing the pile of stuff on the kitchen counter, it occurred to me that it is hard to believe that all that stuff actually fits in the bag.    

When I decided I needed to put together a river bag, it was because I was so envious of Jeri’s river bag.   It seemed like a magical entity from which all sorts of useful and essential items emerged at various points of time, which she always referred to as “the accoutrements of finer living.”  Since I knew that I wasn’t always going to be floating with Jeri, and that a properly appointed river bag can be used for other activities as well, such as hiking in the back country or traveling off the beaten path somewhere, I decided I needed to put together my own bag.   

The first order of business was to find a bag, and the first one I acquired worked pretty well except it was too deep and things got lost in the bottom of it, and it also wasn’t really big enough for my purposes.   I finally found what amounts to the perfect bag at Bass Pro Shop, in the hunting section.   This bag is a shooting bag, and it is designed to hold your lunch and all the things you might need for a nice morning hunting turkeys or squirrels out in the woods.

It has a large center compartment on a belt that is designed to strap around your waist.   As you can see, there are also two beverage holders.  The strap is perfect for attaching the bag to the canoe by looping it around a thwart.   It would not do to have your source of all emergency supplies sink to the bottom of the river if you happened to flip your canoe.

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See the front flap with the duck head?  If you flip that open, you find a very useful compartment full of little pockets with velcro closures.  That is the section of the bag I use as a first aid kit.

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Now, a photograph of everything that is in the bag on a daily basis.

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At the top of the photo is my container of sunscreen and my waterproof binoculars.    I had an extremely nice set of small binoculars for birdwatching, but they were not waterproof and after I flipped my canoe they completely filled with water.   Jim took them apart and dried out all the lenses and prisms, and then put it all back together again, but the alignment of the optics was never the same after that.   He bought me a set of waterproof ones for my birthday shortly after I ruined the original set.

Just below the sunscreen on the left is a pair of plastic bags that look sort of non descript.   They contain some of the most important equipment I take with me.

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There is a bag that always contains dried fruit of some sort and nuts.  Right now it is sporting apricots and pecans.  The three tubes are minature bubble wands with bubble mixture.   I got them at one of my clients’ wedding, and I find the bubbles to be invaluable for calm sunny days when floating down a long pool.

Continuing on with the inventory, next to that are a pair of little jars, one has Carmex lip balm, the other a supply of my very own personal hand made first aid salve.   The tangled up black cord next to them is attached to a signalling whistle.   Moving over to the far left you see the bag with an emergency rain cape in it.    Right next to it are a few Halls cough drops.   Sometimes nothing but a nice cough drop will do.  Continuing across on the same level, there  is a jar of tea tree oil, and one with nu-skin next to it.   The small white jar is full of aspirin and ibuprofen.   Just above the jars (with a blue handle) is a small ball point pen. Then there is a container with toothpicks, a lid opener for aluminum cans (red handle), a corkscrew with a knife and a can opener attached, a square container of dental floss, the whistle, a compass, a quartz crystal from Arkansas, a box of matches and a small empty zip lock bag in which I put my camera battery when I take my camera.  Back to the left again, and in a plastic bag, there are sterile bandages, and bandaids in several sizes.  On top of that bag is the tape for attaching the sterile bandages, and a blister packet of dye free benadryl.  Just below it is a blister pack of immodium (anti diarrheal).  Moving on across, there is a packet of alka seltzer, a needle in a piece of cloth with some tweezers behind it, a set of nail clippers, a small brush for getting in between your teeth, and several packets of emergen-C electrolyte powder.   Last on the left is a plastic bag that contains toilet paper, a folded up piece of newspaper for starting fires, and a small laminated notebook with a stub of pencil in it.   Lastly, in front is a black stretchy ankle brace.

Here is the bag with the first aid supplies partly loaded into the front flap area.

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Zip up the sides, and the sterile bandages and ankle brace fold neatly into it.

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All the rest of the stuff goes into the large main pocket.  Note that there is enough room left over I can get my camera (packed neatly in a quart ziplock freezer bag for water security) in there when I want to take it along.  My sunglasses stick down in there handily also.

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What it does not have right now and should have is the emergency space blanket and a flashlight.   I usually transfer my tiny LED flashlight from my purse to the river bag when I’m using it.   I gave the space blanket to Jesse and have not replaced it yet.

What it ought to have in a blue sky world is a PDA loaded with the Complete Oxford English Dictionary, the Complete Audubon Bird Guide, the wildlife and plant identification data base from the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Audubon Guide to North American Wild Flowers, and the Encyclopedia Britannica.   What it will never have is a cell phone of any sort because most of the time there is no cell phone service down under the bluffs along the river so it is pointless to have one along anyway and besides, when I am floating I don’t really want to talk on the phone.  Or twit.  Or whatever that thing is everybody is doing so frantically nowadays.

The one fly in my ointment of this perfectly satisfactory bag is it is not waterproof.   It is slightly water resistant, but when the canoe flips the bag gets wet, which is why everything that could be harmed by immersion is in waterproof containers, like my fancy binoculars should have been.    

That is a pretty well appointed river bag, has stood me in good stead not only on the rivers of Missouri but in the high country of Colorado and the urban and back country all over the world.  A word to the wise:   This is the sort of bag that you should put into your checked baggage.   This little collection is guaranteed to give airport sercurity personnel heartburn.

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Well, I can’t sleep so I might as well write a bit.   The reason I can’t sleep is two-fold.   One part involves the indigestion I have gotten because of all the junk I ate on the river.   The other thing that is keeping me up is the fact I chose to drink some coffee at about 10 p.m. because I felt that later wakefulness would be better than falling asleep at the wheel on the drive home.   Goodness knows I wasn’t going to get any help staying awake from my snoring husband, who had spent the afternoon involved in a deep philosophical discussion about politics and how much it sucks to get old.

Now, Jeri and I decided yesterday that we were floating today come hell or high water, and there was some pretty reasonable water out there.   The weather guessers opined that we had a 40% chance of scattered showers.  Other people planning to float today had travelled as far as from Kansas City or thereabouts, and they weren’t about to let some silly chance of rain turn them back.   As we were loading out the canoes and kayaks, making sure every vessel was equipped with floatation and trashbags and paddles, it began to sprinkle.  I observed a very dark bottomed cloud hovering over us and thought that it might actually rain on us for a bit.   Other people in the group also made the exact same observation.

No sooner had we all gotten on the river and around the first bend, the  dark cloud began to sprinkle on us gently.   It was beautiful.   We still were in the sunshine, and the light glittering through all the sparkling raindrops was positively ethereal.   We were surrounded by birdsong, the river was quite full of water and chuckled busily underneath us.   We sort of enjoyed getting damp, because all of us were prepared fully for a nice sunny day.   There were diaphanous coverups, cutoff tshirts, bathing suits.   And it wasn’t the least bit cold, upper sixties in temperature, not a breath of wind.   That made the gentle rain even more magical, because the drops fell so straight.   I floated past tree swallows that had recently fledged, all perched in a row on a sycamore skeleton at the edge of the river bank.   They were preening and fluttering their wings in the falling rain, taking a charming impromptu shower.

After a while, we all started talking about how nice it would be if the sun would come out.   It was very frustrating, floating along in the incessant rain, slowly becoming drenched to the skin while off in the distance on both the east and west banks you could see blue sky and sun on the tree covered hills.   If you turned and look back up river, the sky was grey and sodden, and that was the weather we were enjoying.   Gradually, the rain got heavier and heavier.   I discovered that I was actually warmer if I took of my white shirt which I usually use as a sun-block.  

The weather teased us, rain lightening up for a time to just gentle droplets making laces of ripples all over the otherwise glassy surface of the river.   The steady rain was starting to run off the fields from little side gullies — just a little bit.   We played with the music-making holes in the bluffs, rocking our canoes to make ripples to make the percussion of the water and stone happen.   After a while, we all started getting cold.   The relentless rain, even though fairly warm, was sucking the heat out of our bodies.   We stopped for lunch and ate all kinds of stuff:  I had homemade scones and leftover chicken and a small container with olives, marinated artichoke hearts and marinated sun-dried tomatoes, but there was plenty of other stuff to share as well and I ate it all: chips, nuts, more chips, no beer, though.  I drew the line at the alcoholic empty calories.  As we were pulling into the gravel bar where we were planning to eat, one of our company dumped their canoe and lost a shoe as well as a paddle (which was recovered) along with all their beer and their cooler.   There were insane young men with us who decided that they were swimming because that was what you do on a float and persisted in diving into the swimming holes at every gravel bar.   It wasn’t really very crazy behavior; they were already soaked to the skin with rain.  Why not enjoy the rush of throwing yourself into the river?   

Anyway, despite the fact that we were all gradually approaching hypothermia, we had to pretty much plug on.  We were way too far downriver to want to turn back.  I had my river bag with me, which I will have to someday inventory for you.   (Note to self:   possible blog post)   Suffice it to say that amongst all the other highly useful objects in that bag, I have an emergency rain poncho.   This is a piece of plastic sheet with proper arm holes and even a hood that folds up into a packet the size of a pack of cards.   As soon as I remembered that I had that, I put it on and immediately started the process of warming up.   That was when I really started to enjoy the float.

Once warm, I could relax a little bit.  I started looking around, and the light out there was stunning.   I decided clear back at home that because of the threat of rain I wasn’t going to take a camera with me.   Maybe I was having a premonition.   I suppose I need one that is waterproof.   Anyway, because of this lack of camera, I have no photographic representation of what was unfolding before my eyes, but it was wonderfully beautiful.    

Let’s see.   How to begin.  Try to picture a broad smooth expanse of river water, unfolding in front of you.   Today there is enough water that most of the rocks and logs are covered.   Everywhere the woods are green, in every imaginable shade of green from chartreuse to almost blue-green and bright brassy grassy greens.   The greens are punctuated with greens and browns.  The trees mound up above the shrubs that line the banks in thick array.   Every once in a while as we dallied along we would pass through a wafted drift of rose scent from the multiflora roses garlanding the high banks.   If you closed your eyes and concentrated, you could hear at least fifteen different species of birds singing and chirping twittering and and buzzing away around you.   All of this bird song is overlaying a white noise pattern of the rain on the river surface, the leaves, and the larger drops pattering into the water from where they accumulated on the overhanging sycamores, walnuts, oaks, redbuds and . . .

Imagine all that riot of green reflected in the water before you.    It is almost a perfect reflection because despite the rain that has now been falling steadily for about three hours, there is not a bit of wind.   So the water is glassy smooth, but all over the surface there is a lacy pattern of ripples interlocking and reflecting off each other, tiny pools of movement caused by the gently falling rain.    So the reflection of the woods wavers gently in the the waters, which appear to be green until you finally look down past the reflections and see how clear the river water really is.   Sometimes you can see a turtle swimming up next to you, curious about this odd log floating along above him.   As soon as they realize you are people, they duck back down into the greeny depths.

Off in the distance the sun was shining on the hills, which turned brightly golden, looking very warm to all us chilled people.   This golden light, refracted by all the rain still falling where we were , shone in a beautiful path right down the center of the river before me, illuminating the whole scene in some sort of unearthly peaceful light.   I just floated along in the current, gently correcting my vector once in a while, and tried to take that picture deep into my memory.  I sang and invocation, calling in the directions.   It seemed so right to do it there, in the midst of all the elements.

We really had a very wonderful day.   And shortly after the golden lit promise from down stream of us, the sun came out where we were and everyone stopped on a gravel bar and dried off and warmed up.   We floated in the late afternoon sunlight the rest of the way down to the take out, where a sumptuous repast of smoked pork shoulder and black beans awaited us, prepared by Jim for our replenishment.   Everyone agreed a good time was had by all.

One particularly favorite moment for me was when I was ahead of the group of 10 canoes, leading the way around the twists and turns and scoping out the snags ahead of us so that perhaps we could prevent any further dumping of canoes.   As the “scout” I was responsible for trying to spot hazards before anyone got entangled in them.   Suddenly as I paddled strongly around a little twist and neatly avoided a large sycamore which had fallen in the last flood, I suddenly felt a connection to a Mohawk ancestor somewhere as he was paddling in some North American river with the Voyageurs.   I was strong, I could read the river, I was deeply connected to it all the way through the fabric of my canoe, which I sometimes feel like I am actually wearing.   Anyway, it was powerful medicine, that feeling of connection to a deep ancestral past.   Makes me sort of buy that “genetic memory” thing I’ve read about.

Well, I believe the caffeine is finally wearing off, so I believe I’ll hit the rack.   Someone said something about floating again tomorrow as I was pouring my husband into the car and departing for home.    I think I’ll wait to decide that until after I’ve slept for at least 6 hours and see what the weather is doing.   I’m not sure I really want to float in the rain again.   It was beautiful, and I actually did enjoy it (especially after I put the rain cape on), but it is very tiring to be cold and eight miles is a long float in any conditions.

Good night.

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It’s been a wild few hours at The Havens.   It started when I walked Ruby last night, in the gloaming of the twilight or whatever.   It was after dinner, the sun was going down and I slathered on pennyroyal repellent oil and we went over to the Coleman Conservation Area and walked four miles.   During the course of that time, the sun painted the bottoms of the cumulus clouds pale peachy gold as they blossomed in the active afternoon heated atmosphere and boiled up just in time to catch the last rays of the sun as it disappeared behind the hills to the west.   

It is such a magical time of day.   The conservation area has a huge field on it, grass punctuated by old water oaks about an eighth of a mile wide and fully one quarter mile long.   As the light fades behind me in the west, the field of waving grass slowly fades from brilliant green to a dusky gray topped with silver fringes where the dew has fallen on the tillered grasses.    Down below the grassheads, there are thousands of shasta daisies blooming, making drifts of white speckles throughout the field.   Just as the last robin squawks itself to sleep, the land bathes itself in blacks and greys and silvers where there were myriad shades of green under the blazing noonlight.  

That is the moment that the fireflies finally awaken from their slumbers at the bases of the clumps of grass where they were hoping to be hidden from all the bug-eating birds that hunt the meadow.   As the shadows deepen at the edges of the woods, hundreds of fireflies magically appear floating above the tops of the grass, flashing intermittently as they warm up their wings for the nights foraging along the edges of the fields.   Apparently these mysterious insects have not been studied sufficiently to say what they eat as adults, most articles I have read say they probably eat pollen or nectar.   If so, then the blossoming grasses must be like a huge farmers market for them, and when they get tired of that pollen glut they can alight on a nearby daisy and drink some nectar.   All the while they flash their signals to each other, as completely random a light show as could be imagined.   

While I was musing over how magical that field was I had a sudden flashback to my days as a quarter of a century old woman in Fairbanks, Alaska; days when I was still limber enough to go out and run or cross country ski for miles and miles and then make love all night.   I used to have my husband drop me off at the corner of the Univerisity property where the ski trails come within yards of Goldstream Road.   I’d hop out of the car and run the trails in to work at my lab in the Bioscience Building on the West Ridge.   It was there I learned the value of mosquitoes.   As long as you continued running, you could stay ahead of the swarm of approximately sixteen billion starving mosquitoes that were whining along behind you as fast as they could fly.   If you got winded and had to slow down, you would be slowed even farther as you lost your focus while you were slapping the back of your neck or flapping your tshirt to get them off your back.  It didn’t take long to realize that it was much better to die running than to walk any longer.   Those bugs were a great motivator.

Last night as I was admiring the sun coloring the clouds in all different shades of pink and orange and yellow, I was reminded of those days on running the ski trails in Fairbanks because of the swarm of Ozarks Mosquitoes that were harrying us along the east edge of the field.   They weren’t so bad in the woods, so I rotated my loops between field and woods and talked myself into completing the walk despite the many bites I was getting.   Fortunately, I don’t react badly to mosquito bites so I wasn’t too worried.   

There was a moment there where I contemplated how I was rather sanguine about letting the mosquitoes bite me so I could get a better bead on them, and contrasted that to many places in the world where letting a mosquito bite you is like committing suicide by malaria or west Nile virus.   That reminded me of the afternoon I spent in the labyrinth pulling the weeds and cutting the grass around the rocks of the inner circle.   I am sorry to report that there were a few rocks there that I could not identify as I was pulling the weeds from around them, and I am also sad to report that the rock from north Germany, which was a lovely piece of amber I collected my very own self at the tailings pile of the gravel pit near the village where my college roommate lives, is missing.   I’m afraid an errant rabbit, dog, cat, or bird may have kicked it and who knows where it is lying.   Regardless, it is still in the labyrinth somewhere.

So, I picked strawberries this morning, bright and early while the birds were still trying to get all their fledglings oriented, eating sunflower seeds and bathing, and discovered a box turtle about 6 inches long lying amongst the strawberry plants.   We transported him to the far side of the labyrinth, and I picked 3 cups of ripe strawberries while Jim went out and exterminated asparagus beetle larvae.   Then we came in the house and I made waffles with fresh strawberry topping for breakfast and now I intend to get organized and go floating.

Hope you all have a great weekend.   Catch you later.

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