Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 31, 2014

And, another month shot to hell.  Another month of nothing but work. 

I have been spending the greatest amount of my "free time" this last month at my prairie restoration site.  This time of year the amount of work is mind numbing as it is a race against the calendar to control some invasive species before they set seed.  It is a never ending cycle of mixing spray, loading the Jeep, dispersing spray over vast areas, going home and then starting over again. 

There is so much work to be done at Hickory Creek Barrens that it is starting to be overwhelming to say the least.  Once in awhile, you get a "reward" for all your hard work when you see an important and uncommon native plant making a comeback.  This year, after the site was burned, we found a nice population of Shooting Star and a very exciting population of Wood Betony. 

Also, I finally got in my first butterfly monitoring route for the season.  The spring has been wet, cold, overcast, raining and just plain not conducive for monitoring.  Went out Memorial Day weekend on Sunday.  The weather was perfect, but there were very few butterflies to be found.  It is always tough to tell what kind of a season one will have, but it is not off to a good start. 

On Sunday, May 18th I finally got together with my two sisters and my brother.  We met up at Horsetail Lake in the Cook County Forest Preserves.  Another beautiful day, sunny and not too hot.  It was a casual get together and pic nic and an opportunity to get caught up.  Joan, Laura and Stef will be leaving for Germany soon on a trip that I could not go on mainly because of work.  I get little to no time off of work and that is grating on my nerves.  There is no one that does any of my job when I am not at work and even being off a day, the pile of work is astounding.  I am exhausted after so many years of that and it is starting to really grate on my nerves.

Also over the Memorial Day weekend, I spent a lot of time in the garden.  Last year I never really got much done and the garden showed it.  Last fall I started to nuke some of the plantings that were really getting carried away so that I could freshen things up a bit this spring.  I just bought a bunch of new prairie plants to add into the garden to replace all of those "way too many" plants I removed.  I also made sure that this year I actually got the vegetable garden planted.  Last year was really hit and miss and my vegetable garden was probably the worst it has ever been. 

We got flooding rains for a good part of the spring, and now that everything is getting big and could use a drink, there really hasn't been any rain.  I has sprinkled a bit and looked like rain, but never really rained much. 

After I get back from the restoration site later today, I hope to have enough energy (though I doubt it) to get some of the prairie plants I purchased last night at the FPDWC native plant sale into the ground.  If I don't get them planted, I will have to do that tomorrow.

I have also been working feverishly on the Rebel Legion/Nar Shaddaa Base display for the Joliet Library Star Wars Day.  I had to make a new Jedi belt for the one costume I am planning to display because I will probably be wearing my belt.  I have also been making signage and gathering together some of the massive quantity of items that I plan to set up.  I will have Friday, June 6th off as an actual vacation day to do the display set up at the Joliet Historical Society.  The next day is the Joliet Library Star Wars Day event....likely to be exhausting as always.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

May 11, 2014

Well, this time a whole month has not gone by in between entries here.  I would like to keep that up but know that is unlikely!

On May 4th (May the 4th Be With You) I really had to do something Star Wars!  I had the opportunity to do an event in Orland Hills, so that was nicely close to home.  One of my fellow Rebels and an employee of the Walmart in Orland set up a fundraiser in conjunction with Walmart's overall fundraising effort for Children's Miracle Network.

I loaded up Artoo and we joined several other members in the front of the store taking photos with customers for a donation.

We had a great response and filled up our donation jar quickly.  The donation jar had to be emptied and we filled it again.  At the end of the day we had collected nearly $600.00 in donations!  Not too shabby for a bunch of

I have also been doing a LOT of work at my restoration site.  I worked there on Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday night and yesterday.  This time of year is really a "beat the clock" sort of thing.  Getting garlic mustard sprayed before it sets seed is a huge job.  While out spraying garlic mustard, I have also been spraying seedlings of honeysuckle and buckthorn and tons of other invasive species as one tries to get them while the plants are still small.  We had some warm weather this week so plants are really taking off fast after a sleepy spring.  I still have not gotten out for my first butterfly monitoring route of this season yet.  Like last year it has been to cold, too windy, or too overcast most days.

With the warm weather and rain this week (the garage flooded again on Friday) the garden is also taking off and so are the weeds!  Earlier this past week I had finally decided that it was time for the Korean boxwoods to go.  I planted them about 15 years ago fully expecting that they would have died long ago as they are not winter hardy.

They were extremely cheap, so I didn't really care if they lasted.  They got so big that for the past years I have had to trim and shape them.  They made it through some very tough winters but this years polar vortex was too much for them.  I am sure that they would have recovered, but they looked terrible and that was a good enough reason for me to finally cut them down.  I took the chainsaw to them and then ran them through the chipper to use as mulch.

The vegetable garden is doing better this year than last year.  I had terrible germination of both beets and carrots last year.  This year the seeds are up...a little too up as a lot of thinning will be necessary.  The snap and snow peas are also up as well as lettuce.  My tomato and pepper plants are not doing well though and neither is the cucumber seed I started.  Sometimes I just wonder.

Today for a change I am staying home and getting some housecleaning and work done around the house.  I did pack a nice, large box of clothing and other things for the Morning Star Mission re-sale shop and finally delivered that this past week.  I may go out to Lowe's today to pick up a few (stress few) annuals and possibly some vegetable plants to make up for what mine are definitely lacking!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May 4, 2014

Ok, I say this every time I post.....where has the time gone?  It it May the 4th....and
May the 4th Be With You!

The last month has been uber busy, as always.

I have done LOTS of workdays, sometimes back to back Saturday and Sunday.  Huge workdays where I chainsawed to keep over 100 people busy and the usual small workdays.  I even had a Tuesday workday for the "Usual Suspects" with a lunch afterward.  The Tuesday workday was one of the first of the garlic mustard spraying season and we had a good number of "Suspects" comb a large area of HCB with tank and backpack sprayers.  After several hours of spraying, we all headed back to my house for lunch of my crock pot pulled pork and various other side dishes.  Yesterday I was back spraying as the weather of rain in the forecast just about every day put a real kink in the spraying works. 

I also helped do another burn at Lily Cache Prairie on 4-8-14.  The last time we burned the South Unit and this time we burned the North Unit.  The North Unit went faster and burned completely.  After the burn we went back to my favorite BBQ place nearby called Baby Back Blues. It was a little warmer for this burn, but not as bad as some others. 

On 4-11-14 I was called in the AM to assist when the FPDWC decided to burn Hickory Creek Barrens.  That day the weather was much warmer and that is usually a problem for me as I tire quickly in the warm temperatures.  That burn went fairly quickly also and a good portion of the preserve got a much needed clean out.  There were several areas that I would have liked to see burned, but either it was not in the plan for the day or the areas simply didn't catch because of too much water. 

I stayed behind to monitor burning piles and what not after the crew left and got a surprise on the east end as one of the runners on the trail told me about a fire advancing toward the trail.  I knew that the fire would not go anywhere, but people tend to get a little crazy when they see woods I used my feet to make a fire line and then stamped out the flames as they got small when they hit that line.

I put together a RFT helmet for a friend doing that costume.  It went pretty smooth.  I tend to be more nervous and critical when I make things for others rather than for myself.  I recycled my Hoth Commander costume to another member and that costume got finished and approved and debuted at C2E2.

I had intended to go to C2E2 only on Saturday, but as usual, many other things came into play and flushed my plan down the toilet.  The main thing was that Saturday of C2E2 was also the big Comcast Community Workday at Whalon Lake and my chainsaw services were needed for that.  So, I ended up going to C2E2 on Friday and Sunday. 

On Friday I got down to McCormick Place REALLY early as we were asked to appear on the CBS 2 Morning News which starts at 5:00 AM.  I ended up getting downtown at around 4:00 AM and made my way to meet up with the rest.  Suffice it to say it was an interesting morning.  The live tapings for the the news ended at 7:00 AM and then I had many hours to kill before the Con opened at 11:00 AM. 

Surprisingly, things went pretty fast.  I wore my Endor Commando costume and participated in the "Meet the Rebel Legion" panel that was given.

I returned to C2E2 on Sunday and was supposed to do the "Running of the Hoods".  Unfortunately, one of the other Hoods didn't make it and the 3rd Hood had already done it on Saturday, so I didn't get a chance to run with my ice cream maker.  I really felt bad about missing that as it looked like the Saturday Hoods had a great time of it.  I wore my X-Wing Pilot on Sunday in case we actually did do the Running of the Hoods. 

I have been doing a little work in the yard, but not much.  I did sow the carrot, beet and turnip seeds in the vegetable garden and they are up.  I also mowed the lawn for the first time and planted a bunch of milkweed plants that I had ordered awhile back.  The milkweeds are an effort to attract more Monarch butterflies to my yard and give them some additional larval food sources.