Seriously? July was the last time I posted here? I guess I have been busier than usual.
Well, where to begin?
The Monarch project:
I guess I will begin with the Monarch project. At the last post I was still raising and releasing generation 3 monarchs. Around the end of July I started to collect 4th generation eggs and caterpillars and raised all of those with pretty good success. I had a few cats die and one that was infested with a parasite, but overall the health of the generation 4 monarchs was very good. On August 26th I tagged my first 4th generation monarch and released it for its' trip to Mexico. From that first one on 8-26 I released 38 more with the last one released on September 29th. I learned a lot this season with the monarchs and got some great photos to share in Powerpoint presentations etc. I scanned my tag datasheets and mailed them in to Monarch Watch. Now I just sit and wait to see if any of my monarchs are found.
One thing I also did for the monarch project (besides all of the work on the publications and plants this spring) was to purchase a microscope so I could test the adult monarchs I raised for a disease called OE. I was grateful that I found no OE on the first 20 monarchs I raised, so I then stopped testing the rest of the adults I raised.
Well, the vegetable garden this year was another exercise in futility. Spring rains and flooding gave way to rabbits eating everything in sight and things just didn't seem to take off this year. I did raise enough tomatoes for 6 jars of "Whimpy Ass Salsa" and recently had enough to can a couple pints of just plain tomatoes. I pickled about 7 pints of beets and that was pretty much about it. The cucumbers produced enough only to eat. The peppers produced enough to freeze some and use some fresh. Everything else was pretty much a disaster. I plan to pull up the remaining vegetable garden plants today and bag them.
The flower garden was ok this year too. Again the rabbits ate so much of the native plants that I had put in the last two years that some things just did not have the ability to come back. It seemed that the rabbits especially loved all of the milkweed I planted this year for the monarchs. It was to the point where I was not sure I would have any milkweed left. The rabbits damaged started to diminish a little toward the middle of the summer and with putting protection around some, I managed to get some of the milkweed to survive. What did do VERY well was the cardinal flower and the great blue lobelia. They both set seed last year and I got some new plants come up and bloom. Some of the great blue lobelia is blooming still.
I have already cleaned up a lot of the garden already and today plan to put much of the rest of it "to bed". I am leaving some of the blooming annuals out simply for color and will leave them till frost finally kills them. I also did some trimming of the spicebush out front and removed one of the "Red Prince" wiegela.
I spent the entire Labor Day weekend laboring. I decided to paint the kitchen and living room (except for the walls that were green) white. It took me literally all weekend. I did a few other things like helping Paul spray phragmites and reed canary grass at Hickory Creek Junction but mostly the entire rest of the weekend was spent prepping, painting and cleaning up. It is gonna be a damn long time before I paint again. I HATE painting and wish I could afford to pay someone to do that.
I started to look at new flooring for the kitchen, but found I really can't afford that right now.
Another thing that has been constantly on my mind is retirement. I am exhausted from my job as I feel totally stressed every day and really have not had a good vacation in probably a decade. I am making the same amount of money that I was making in 1991 - so that is not good either. I am working harder for really less money and the only way out is to retire. I read a bunch of books on retirement and ended up more confused than ever. I decided to see a retirement planner, one that someone I knew personally also knew. I am still trying to formulate a game plan on retirement, but the planner stated that I did do a reasonable job of my finances.
Star Wars stuff:
I really cut back on my costume appearances this year, but still managed to do a few.
On 8-22-15 I exhibited at the Mokena/Southland Maker Faire. I had seen some information on Maker Faires the last couple years and thought they looked very interesting. Doing Star Wars costuming IS making stuff, so I applied to be an exhibitor and the folks who ran the Faire were very enthusiastic to have my SW stuff there. So, after work the night before I brought a ton of costume pieces and display tools and what not for things like leatherworking, and molding and casting.
The next day was spent at the booth all day. A few of my fellow Star Wars costumers came and suited up as well. We were very well received and one of the guys who was running the Faire told me that he had been doing an exit poll and asking people what their favorite exhibit was and over 50% replied that they liked the Star Wars exhibit best.
I costumed the Christ Children's Hospital event on Friday 8-28-15. As in previous visits, we went on the floors to visit the kids.
Yesterday Artoo and I were joined by Steve M. and his grandson and we costumed the "Star Wars Reads" day at the Mokena Public Library. It was very laid back and the time passed quickly.
As far as costumes, I did complete the dark brown linen Jedi costume and have been at work making an Episode 7 X-Wing Pilot costume. I was lucky to be able to get the exact boots, gloves, and belt used in the movie. I am now struggling through the making of the flak vest. There is a whole lot to be made but I am glad to have the pieces that I do have.
I have also been doing endless workdays for the FPDWC with big ones like National Public Lands Day, 2 Sharefest workdays and a large Tuesday workday with 160 students from St. Ignatius High School. The weather for all of those workdays was pretty warm, so I felt exhausted after each one of them.
Upcoming in the next few weeks is Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and my 50th grammar school graduation reunion.