Monday, June 30, 2008

Potential Cashew Sighting

At least a few times a week after work, I stop by the swamp where I let Cashew go. I must have been there like 20 times and have not had any success. I've seen a bunch of cool other things and lately I get to munch on blueberries and huckleberries. BTW, the berries are in full steam. See these berries below there were just out of my reach. Today the swamp looked really really dry. I didn't have too much luck finding much of anything until I spotted a little painted turtle and noticed it's shell was different. Could that be Cashew??? It quickly went under leaving only its head out. I must have had like 2 seconds to see the turtle fully out. It then hung out under water for like 20 minutes. I moved around a bit and called out her name. I was about to give up when I noticed the head was gone. Then I saw it a few more feet farther away. It was swimming on the surface but not fully out. But again, the shell seemed abnormally bumpy....bumpy enough to be Cashew. So I really think it was Cashew and it was only like 20 feet away from the release point. I'm just glad to see that she's adapted to being wild.

I was pretty groggy this morning eating my breakfast in front of the tv when I saw this news story flash on the screen for like 15 seconds. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me. A man in Florida saves a black bear from drowning!!! That's what the pictures showed and all I could hear. It's true, but I missed the critical part of the bear being tranquilized and then running into the Gulf of Mexico as it became groggier and groggier. That's a man who loves his work.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


I continued my search for Cashew this weekend. No luck so far but I've seen a bunch of smaller painted turtles so she has some good company. The blueberries and huckleberries are ripe so I sampled a bunch. Yum! The swamp azaleas are blooming and are quite fragrant.
The day lilies are also blooming. Once they get started in a spot, the can take over the whole place and form a sea of lilies.

The muskrats have been quite visible although from a distance or for such a short time a good shot is impossible. It's comical to see them jump into a mud pit and watch the bog quake and shimmy when they are burrowing through.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hopefully back to our regularly scheduled programming

My water heater literally just got installed like an hour ago. I am still flushing out the air in the pipes and the paranoia will last for at least a day. The basement is still a sloppy mess, but hopefully tomorrow I'll be all settled in and life will be back to normal.

I also discovered that the mice have broken their traps and have eaten all the peanut butter and have been able to escape from each trap. So I'll need to buy some new traps.

I tried to find Cashew again this weekend. I did see a bunch of similar sized painted turtles, but I don't think any of them were her. At least she has some friends and possible love connex. In my haste, I forgot to bring my real camera so I was stuck with the camera phone. I decided to hit the other hot turtle spots in the area since the weather was nice. Actually one spot I usually only see frogs and snakes, but this time I saw a muskrat mom and her baby! They were right by the boardwalk and I guess cleaning themselves. I struggled to get a good shot and I slowly manuevered closer but mom took off. She dove right into the muck and baby followed later and I got a better shot of her. I really can't say that they are particularly cute....kind of like big water rats .

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thursday water heater update

The good news is that the plumber came this morning. He was able to freeze the pipes and change out the busted valves. Cold and hot water has been restored. Other good news is that the bill was under $400....I was expecting something around the $1,000 range based on my prior plumbing price-gouging experience. It goes without saying other good news is that the dishwasher is going and I'm fully showered.

The bad news is that the water heater installation people won't be coming back until Monday morning and the leak from the water heater has intensified. It went from one drop every 15 minutes to 2 drops every 30 seconds. This is the scene post mop up and after the dehumidifier going full blast for an hour. I shoved a top of a plastic bin to try to catch most of the water. I've already decided to work from home tomorrow. I really don't have that much work to do and since I have the luxury, I should take advantage of it. Besides, I would be preoccupied with the thought that my basement is flooded if I went into work. I'll be mostly homebound for the weekend to keep flood watch and on mop duty. I may have to shut the water heater off and drain it if things get real bad.

I did find a couple tragi-comic plumbing story that will definitely get a laugh or at a minimum a smile out of you. Here's another story of plumbing story of despair. The morale of these tales is to first locate your main water valves, make sure they work fully, have recommendations of good plumbers, have a plan B, and don't bite off more than you can chew.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

No indoor water. No problem

That's what my dad thinks. They tried to install the new water heater today, but the valves that shut off the water wouldn't close all the way. Now the valves are completely shot and only a dribble of cold water comes out. I also thought the water heater was leaking more since the puddle grew by 4 times. But since my dad unplugged the dehumidifier, that made the puddle worse. Dehumidifier is now plugged back in and will be going non-stop. Puddle has shrunk to its original dimension. The plumber has been called to replace the valves, but no appointment has been made. The plumber did say that he should be able to freeze the pipes and avoid having to dig to shut the water off for the entire condo building. I'm sure the condo board would just love that! The outside faucet still works so my dad thinks I'm good to go. Life as normal in his mixed up world where it's perfectedly acceptable to use a leaf blower to "dust" the kitchen. Except that faucet requires a trip around the building, all the garages, through the mud, and crashing through very overgrown landscaped bushes that are also wet with rain. It's not a viable option for obtaining a large amount of water and I wouldn't drink, brush my teeth, or cook with it. I have a pot underneath the bathroom sink collecting as much water as possible. It's taken me a couple hours and I might have like 2 to 3 gallons. Tonight and all work day tomorrow, I'll be running the tap in the bathtub and trying to fill up as much as possible. Hopefully my dad understands that this needs to be dealt with ASAP and sometime next week is not ok. We'll just see about that.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I had my father come take a look at the leaking water heater on Monday. I thought that he would do a more thorough investigation since I have no idea what I'm doing. But it turns out he put minimal effort into it and just ordered a new one. Hopefully it's the one I picked out and that the installation is a success tomorrow. My dad also didn't seem concerned about a new one fitting but I'm worried since the model I have is a short one. We'll see!
No field work is scheduled for this week for some reason. So I'm posting some random pics I took in the spring. I was trying to capture the way the light flowers look in the moonlight. But alas, you'll mostly have to use your imagination. The fireflies are out. I just noticed them this weekend. Summer sure is here.
I was going through my closet trying to get rid of things when I noticed a great shadow on the window screen. Again the pic does not justice to the short lived window screen mural.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Just what I needed

Sorry no pics for this super exciting post. Last call turtle search was completely fruitless. Just some green frogs twanging away. I then got a call from my boss who needed me to make a quick stop at a site before coming back to the office. I needed to take a couple pics of a wetland/not quite a stream. Well it was mosquito town. Head net was busted out but that didn't stop them from devouring my arms and rest of my body. I had been to this site many times before and this was the first time I noticed the so-called spring bear poop in at least 3 spots. Luckily it looked not so fresh but I call it spring bear poop since it has the consistency of cow pies.

This weekend is choke full of activities and events so I've been running around like crazy. But I still have to check my mouse traps in the basement twice a day and I noticed some water under the water heater. It got bigger today and I could actually see a drop come from the bottom and I felt a small hole in the water heater bottom. I really didn't have time to deal with this so I just cranked up the dehumidifier and hoped for the best. My dad is coming over tomorrow to investigate and potentially look into new water heaters. Luckily I still have all my info from the last incident.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Turtle Last Call

Work has not been so exciting on account of the heat wave and the plethora of office time. The heat broke two nights ago and I got to spend the day outside. The day was pretty much uneventful except for this box turtle my coworker found. It's amazing how they can complete shut themselves inside.
This weekend marks the end of the super rare turtle search for this year. Nesting season starts so that's when we have to stay out to avoid disturbing the eggs. Besides it's been so hot and the vegetation is very dense it makes it difficult to search anyway. But I'm motivating most of my co-workers for a final turtle search bright and early tomorrow morning. Everyone is going....even birdman who is not a fan of insanely competitive. Now these two sites we are going to aren't amazing, but we were given access by the state so I feel like we have to really make an effort. That way the state will give us more great sites next year to search. Plus its actually a group bonding experience. Makes you wonder when the most competitive person doesn't want to go.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hot enough for you!

Say that in a smirky old man voice. Even before this mini heat wave we are in, field work was generally boring aside from the discovery of a baby woodpecker nest. Sorry kids. No good photos. I discovered that the flash on my new work camera doesn't work at all. I just have a pic of a dark hole in a tree. No peeping baby woodpecker pics.

To recap our local weather, it's been 90+ degrees fahrenheit each day since saturday. Tomorrow will be more of the same. I got home and the temperature outside was 95 degrees at 6 pm. Plus add in the humidity. Thankfully what makes my place so cold in the winter keeps my place reasonable during the summer even without the air conditioner on. But rest assured, it's going full blast now.

Even with this ridic weather, I attempted to go turtling early saturday morning to my local wetland. After parking in a questionable spot (I thought I was going to get the cops called on me and I'll leave it at that) and hiking over a quarter mile in, I arrived at the location. I was immediately disappointed. It was a sea of cattails and this invasive grass (which i am also quite allergic to). There was a lot of water and the smell that surfaced with each step was something beyond my no human has stepped here in 100 years. Then I found the floating bog section. That's the area where you don't step on solid ground but are rather walking on a floating mat of vegetation. I half circled around the perimeter and it was total frog nation. So that was a good sign. Then I heard something big fall into the water. I heard a gurgling noise and the vegetation was roughly moved around. Must have been a large snapping turtle. There was no way I could get to it quickly considering I was tentatively walking on the floating part. I gave up pretty quickly and decided that it will have to wait until next year for a real attack. I decided to try to visit Cashew and by 9:30 am most turtles were already in the mud since it was so hot.

So by this time tomorrow night, we should be fully engulfed in some t-storms that will hopefully bring us some relief.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Mousecapades spring 2008 edition

It was premature to think my mousecapades were really over in February since presents were sporadically left onto top of my air ducts in the basement. I upped the bait to caramel popcorn, peanut butter twix, and some other goodies. I could see that there was interest but no one took the bait. I finally bit the bullet and got peanut butter. I placed a dollop in each trap (that's have-a-heart traps since I'm a softie like that) at the very end of the trap. Again, there was a lot of interest around the traps. So I cleaned and washed each trap and placed a dollop of peanut butter at the end of the entrance ramp and a small dot on the ramp itself. Bam! Two mice the next morning. Bam bam bam. three mice in two traps the following morning. So far this past month, I've caught 8 mice including two juveniles. My grand total is 20 mice. I've found a new spot for their release that I'm very sure is too far to run back. I may just get lucky enough to get a photo of one of them since I'm a mouse expert now.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Close but no cigar

Super rare turtle quest continues. I went turtling after Cashew's release even though it was getting pretty hot out. I got a pretty rare unexpected turtle within the first 5 minutes of my arrival. She was big and feisty. She was too big for any of my measuring tools and she started flailing about when I tried to measure her. It made it real tough to take notes, take photos, measure her, and hold her. I had nothing of interest after that but I just got more info on the super rare turtles that may be near my place. This weekend I'll head up an expedition which will probably entail crossing a river and filling my boots with water.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Independence Day for Cashew

Today was Cashew's big release. I fed her a bunch of extra times the past couple days in preparation. I was accompanied by my mother and it was a perfect day for her first day in big real world. She's come a long way. When I first got her in September, her shell was just barely an inch long. Today, her shell is about 3.3 inches long.
I was hoping to drop her onto this bunched sedge. Unfortunately I missed and she landed upside down in the water! She sat motionless for several minutes. I knew she was in shock but I couldn't get her out since I released her off a boardwalk with an array of barriers on the railing. I had to lay on my belly with my arm extended and she fell about a foot down. She's fallen farther at home onto a hard surface and was perfectly fine. So I knew she wasn't hurt but rather alarmed at what she's fallen into. We were going to look for a branch to push her onto the bunched sedge. By the time we got back, she was gone. We periodically came back to check the area but there was no sign of her. I went home and off turtling for the rare turtles. When I came back I still couldn't find her but most of the turtles were no longer basking since it was so hot out.
I'll go check on her after work this week to see if I can spot her. The area isn't that large and its full of other types of turtles including several just like her. She's come a long way and it's sad that I won't have a critter to take care of. But something tells me that by fall, I may have another baby to foster.