I consider painting (as in walls, not art) to be one of the most boring jobs in the world. Five years ago I painted a LOT in preparation for a major zoo inspection and it turned me off of the task probably forever. Right now we're prepping for another inspection and I'm once again painting more than I would like (but not even close to as much as last time.) The inspection prep is all good- it makes the zoo look great and it even gives some sense of accomplishment, but it is both physically and mentally exhausting. Add the work exhaustion to the mental anguish of losing Duncan and I really needed to do something fun this weekend. Something fun but relaxing...
Logan agreed to come birding with me, but he wanted to attend the neighbor boy's baseball game first. The game was at 8:30am, so I used my early morning and went to a migratory bird walk at Forest Park Nature Center. I guess I'm always surprised and a little disappointed that I know more than the naturalists that guide these tours. Including the guide, there were only 5 of us and two of us were better birders than the guide. The other 2 were a mom and her ~12-yr-old son who was working on a boy scout badge. He needed to see and identify 20 species, so we all helped him ID cardinals and robins and brown-headed cowbirds. Oh, and chickadees and nuthatches and woodpeckers and wild turkeys. It was alright, but we spent an hour and a half walking maybe a quarter of a mile and saw zero warblers. The most exciting birds of the tour were indigo buntings and an eastern phoebe. The buntings are always pretty, but seriously? Yawn.
Logan and I loaded up his bike and set out for Banner Marsh. The water levels were really low and we saw little other than Canada geese and mute swans. The goslings and cygnets were adorable, but I was hoping for more. We moved on to Emiquon. Again, the water levels were down, but at Emiquon it was a good thing. The black-necked stilts were EVERYWHERE. Not that I would ever do this, but the stilts were so close I could have thrown a rock and hit them. I also saw American golden plovers and dunlin. Logan rode around a little, but even with a nice breeze, the sun was beating down and the heat was getting to him. I was thinking about walking through the woods by the Spoon River, but they were all flooded. The river itself was pretty high. What in the world? Why were the water levels at Banner and Emiquon so low and the river so high? Okay. We moved on to Chautauqua and got to see the osprey nest and found some orchard orioles, but there was absolutely nothing on or near the water other than a few coots. We drove through Sand Ridge forest and saw basically no birds. It was hot and the sun was beating down. We had planned to look for snakes at Spring Lake, but decided to skip it and go to a couple of animal shelters instead.
I had never been to the new TAPS facility in Pekin. It is really nice! They had the usual selection of huge, uncontrollable barking dogs and a few small dogs that were all marked "Not good with children." We moved on to PAWS in Peoria and were again disappointed. I was surprised at the number of Chihuahuas. Between the two places there were at least 6. There was a wiener dog we really liked, but it was relinquished because it wasn't good with other pets. I reminded Logan how many times we went to PAWS before we found Duncan, but that was more depressing than helpful. Part of me is considering a puppy from a breeder. My logical side knows a puppy is an insane amount of work and will destroy all of our shoes and furniture. My stupid side wants a puppy. A coworker wants me to take his "best dog in the world" golden retriever that his daughter is allergic to and he doesn't have time for. Maybe, but I really fell in love with the idea of having a small dog. Basically, we just want Duncan back, but that isn't going to happen. The one thing we all agree on is that we want a dog in our lives. Too bad it isn't easy.
Well, time to get ready for work and what will be a tough week of painting and pulling weeds and cleaning like a maniac. The inspection starts a week from Tuesday. In 12 days it will be completely over. We will all make it through. I am just thrilled it is at the end of May this time rather than mid-July. The last inspection pretty much ruined my summer. This time it will be over before summer even starts!