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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: Autumn brings critters and chores

September 27, 2012 | 10:00 a.m. CDT
Missourian reader John Hall shares this picture of his dog, Skye, stretching out on his deck.

John Hall frequently photographs his mid-Missouri surroundings, and he has been sharing his images with the Missourian for several years.

Leading off the photos are four that were found on a compact disc that obviously hadn't been used since March of 2010. On that disc were some surprises, including images of Miss Daisy. She was the English cocker spaniel who passed away in early August of that year, and not a day has passed that three members of the human family and three of the English cocker spaniel breed haven't thought of her.

Stretched out in the sun on the back deck, is Skye. He is the widower of Miss Daisy (they got married, but she never changed her name). I'm not sure, but he's pretty close to joining his wife in the place where good dogs go.

It seems like the cardinals in my backyard and those in St. Louis, that perform before thousands, are doing better these days. Both species have had only a so-so summer.

A longtime member of the family, the Christmas cactus, was moved outside for the summer. My wife said she didn't care if it croaked. It endured the hot summer and thrived. Not being able to perform euthanasia, even on a plant, I brought it inside, albeit briefly, over the weekend. It seems that an arachnid liked it a whole lot better than my wife does.

After taking it back outside, I sprayed it with some insect repellant and it (the arachnid) took off. The cactus then got to come back inside where it will spend the rest of the fall, winter and early spring before being tossed out to fend for itself next summer.

With fall comes all manner of clean up. Early this week I felt a surge of renewed vigor, which lasted about 15 minutes. Before your eyes, from left to right is a blower, weed eater, sidewalk edger, riding mower and push mower. My first goal was to run the edger. Over its 12 year life, it always started on the first yank of the cord. I yanked it about 5,200 times that morning and the best performance I got from it was a couple of coughs. Then, it was off to plan two —  run the riding mower. It wouldn't start, and it had to be jumped with cables to my wife's car. She didn't see me do it, or I'd have been in trouble. The mower started, but I couldn't stop it for the next 1.5 hours or else I would have had to hook it back up to the car battery.

After mowing, it was time to run the weed eater. You're ahead of me: It didn't start either. So, the next task was to run the hand mower. Miracles of miracles, it started. And, to finish off, the blower worked as well. At least 40 percent of the labor saving devices started without a problem, 40percent never started and 20percent took off after a bit of coaxing. I guess that pretty well summarizes life.

Meanwhile, back in the garage is the bane of my wife's existence. In those 28 plastic tubs shown are pristine editions of the Sporting News, many of them dating to the mid-1940s through the late 1970s. Also in that mix are Sports Illustrated editions dating to the first one ever printed. The only ones missing are the swimsuit editions, which one unnamed member of the family laid claim to when I inherited that library. To show that he is fair, he took every edition that had Pete Rose on the cover as well. I can understand him taking one of those batches, but the other batch he took puzzles me. Guess which one puzzles me.

Tuesday held promise of being a rare rainy day, but it was more bluff than bluster. It only sprinkled when I wanted to go outside. I strapped the old crummy, creepy camera (that's because I'm being courted by a bigger and better model) to the big 800mm lens and set up shop underneath the deck. From there, I was able to see the zinnia patch and butterfly bushes about 30 feet away.

The rest of the photos in this batch are of a couple of moths, doing what moths do on an early fall afternoon. If you want a great definition of redundant, then the final 24 photos (see the gallery) fill the bill.

(If you can't see the slideshow embedded below, click here to view it on Flickr.)

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how.