Friday-- August 1, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
Two bells before 0900 hrs this morning... Rick Lodish came to fish and Ellen Kennedy came to take away a broken paddle for use as a gag gift for a colleague
at work. This is also the day of the Katie Holdridge birthday party starting at 1800 hrs. This is a large party, and they certainly lucked out with this weather.
Another call was made yesterday to Sgt. Kevin McGovern at the Park Police to follow up on their research into putting a telephone call box at the base of
the iron bridge, but I was told he was not in (which I did not believe) and since this was the second time, it seems clear I am getting the run around.
Saturday-- August 2, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
Rocky the racoon made another appearance last evening to a crowd of
party goers. He
appears to have taken up residence in the large maple tree as you come
up the walkway
and turn towards the house hear the porch. If you look up you can see a
John Matthews has recovered two aluminium ladders from the river. One
has wooden decking
on one side, and as it seems to have been used as a ramp previously, it
is now in service
as a walkway going up to the area under the workshop, where one had to
rocks in lieu of steps. The other ladder section John tried to fashion
as a ladder on
the swimming raft. Another ingenious method was devised to attach it to
the side, but
in fact is turned out to be unworkable because of the way the raft
tilted when all the
weight of a person as cantilevered over the side.
The Sunday caretakers will be Phyllis Olfky for the early shift and
James and Dianne
Mehlinger for the late shift.
Monday-- August 4, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
The large light globe beneath the working fan upstairs is missing...
perhaps broken during
the Sunday substitute shift. And the cracked corn was spread all over
the porch, no doubt
mischief of Rocky the racoon.
Tuesday-- August 5, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
The Koblitz family visited today. Currently living in Berlin, they were
married on the
Island 15 years ago, a Japanese ceremony, you may have seen the picture
in the clubroom. At the same time they planted the sycamore tree that
is between the
mulberry tree and the canoe shed. It was barely 4 feet at the time, and
you should note
the height now to see how happy it is.
Wednesday-- August 6, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
The beaver have been actively gnawing our trees again. This is
surprising considering how
much succulent green growth there is. You may notice that one of the
large maples on the
way to the swimming float has the tell tale marks on the trunk. And
while inspecting the
perimeter of the grassy area beyond the volley ball court, I noticed a
break in the tree
line, and sure enough, there is a stump where a tree was. Hard to tell
how long it has
been gone... as in other cases the entire tree was gone, leaving no
evidence to notice.
Thursday-- August 7, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
It was a long night. Rocky the racoon visited the garbage can on the
screen porch again...
although there was nothing in it. I guess he just liked the aroma. I
hung out with him
for a while, me standing over the can looking down and trying to make
he mainly ignoring me. I did wonder if he planned to sleep there, but
it was midnight
by this time so I left the light on and went to bed.
But not for long! He romped and played in the men's locker room all
night, making gosh
awful sounds. At one point I got up, turned the light on, and went in
to the kitchen.
Barney (the large white cat) was sitting at alert looking nervously at
the kitty door
opening in to the men's locker room. So I blockaded it so I would not
have to worry
about strange noises inside the quarters. No good... the racket caused
(the small cat) wanting to come in was worse. It sure sounded like
things were getting
thrown around, but this morning everything looked normal.
More sounds of heavy equipment on the towpath this morning, so I went
over and walked
about a quarter mile upriver and sure enough, they are completely
resurfacing the towpath
with a bull dozer. There is a truck going by every 15 minutes, and they
are working there
way downriver. By tomorrow they should be to the iron bridge.
Friday-- August 8, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
The work crew on the towpath is moving fast... started early and laid
new hard pack down
by the bridge before 1100 hrs. They seem to be doing a good and
Any members coming to the Island should wander through the men's locker
room and take
note of the work Tryon Wells has put in to get on top of the long
situation. You will notice there is now a locker assignment list on the
under Official Club Business, and that it is full of holes and mystery.
identified all lockers as to presumed current status, and put notices on
the door of
each one asking that Members confirm or deny by notifying the Caretaker.
with me when coming aboard to see the master list.
Saturday-- August 9, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
A great cooperative effort was made to make the swimming raft fully
functional. Earlier in
the year John Stapko had brought his chain saw down and done a wonderful
job cutting up the
worst of the log fall and log carcasses left by the floods of last year.
One large log was
cut through only partially, and with Victor Crook's help it was moved to
the swimming float
where, with the help of about eight Members and guests of the crook and
it was attached to the swimming raft on the side opposite John Matthews'
Anyone using the ladder will now tilt the log on the other side out of
the water to where it
will lose its buoyancy and function as a counter weight.
The substitute caretakers for Sunday will be Eric Simpson for the early
shift and Harry
Schwartz for the late shift.
Monday-- August 11, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
The river is at 2.78 feet on the Little Falls gauge and the temperature
is 78 degrees.
Essentially, Sycamore is more an Island in a lake than a river at this
The Island was certainly well used this weekend, with over 43 people
here on Sunday and over
60 people here on Saturday. Of course on Saturday the Membrino family
had a party, but that
only accounted for about 25 people.
Tuesday-- August 12, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
Jerome Cramer came down yesterday afternoon with son Andrew and friend
for a little fishing.
They were enthused following Sunday's success fishing where in they
caught a total of 11
fish... son Andrew getting three bass of about a pound and a half. This
was done fishing
the Virginia shore where the dusky shadows fell across the water.
Monday's foray was also
successful, the highlight being an 18 inch catfish.
Last night was also peak time for the Persiod meteor shower.
Unfortunately, although the
moon had set, the city lights were too much for anything to be seen...
meaning not even
one sighting between midnight and 0100 hrs. What was seen were large
shadows flying upriver,
most likely from size and configuration to be blue herons flying to
Now is the time to make plans for the 1900 hrs picnic tomorrow night
before the Monthly meeting. It is becoming a regular fun event.
Wednesday-- August 13, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
Do not forget that a picnic will proceed tonight's Monthly Meeting, so
come at 1900 hrs
and the grill will be cooking.
The upriver end of the Island is covered with wildflowers. I hope
someone will come
down and tell me what types they are while they are in bloom.
This morning the power kept going out, and hearing sounds of people
working on the path,
I went to investigate. Turned out to be a Asplundi crew working under
contract to Pepco,
and at their request I was only too thrilled to bring them to the Island
to take down all
branches that would put our electricity supply at risk. Knowing that
they have cleared
branches all the way up the hill is a good feeling. They did point out
the marker that
says that Pepco has not inspected our on Island utility pole since 1980,
but all looks well.
Thursday-- August 14, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
Last night's pre-Meeting picnic was again much fun. So much so that
Eichbaum rang the bell. it was not heard even though we were all sitting
at the tables
near the water. Not even by Holly, who has a trained ear. Fortunately
he has a loud
voice. Unfortunately it is a thought lesson on the vagaries sound
Some of the flowering plants at the upriver end of the island are
covered with monarch
butterflies... probably some sort of milkweed. One thing about the
drought, it makes
walking the island easy. Where once one might have had to scrunch
sideways through a
path, now the same plants have been so diminished in size through lack
of moisture that
these narrow paths are now wide boulevards.
Friday-- August 15, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
I noticed on the USGS weekly graph (Three clicks away on our web page
links) that on Wednesday
mid-day the water level briefly dropped to 2.70 feet at Little Falls and
that the water flow
plummeted to just over 1000 cubic feet per second. Certainly this is a
record since I have
been here and I note it to establish a benchmark for future records.
Sometime today Betty Burchell and Johnna Robinson are going to the Lock
10 area to investigate
the legend that during the last century there was a river ford used
during low water. There
is a road that goes out to Swainson's Island, and on that island
indications of man made
foundations for a road embankment. Stay tuned.
Peter Winkler called to say that he had a very positive experience with
Remar, the Christian
outreach organization recommended to us by John Krasny as good folks to
know... and to come
pick up our trash after the Spring Workfest. You will recall that that
huge pile of metal,
old toilets, and other assorted junk left near the dock after the
Workfest, and the
wonderful job Remar did in removing it. Peter asked for their number at
Meeting, promises a report, and is now singing their praises. Need odd
or removal... take note.
Saturday-- August 16, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
Presumably you are all aware of the weatherpersons' predictions that
this will be the hottest,
most humid, nastiest weekend so far this year. The first refugees
aboard this morning have
confirmed that this is true for those of you so unfortunate as to live
"up the hill" in the
real world. But do not despair... should you feel compelled to leave
the sanctity of air
conditioning, your Island awaits with a promise to be several degrees
cooler and downright
pleasant out of doors.
Dead leaves clutter the water... John Krasny has suggested this is a
result of the drought
and recent winds further drying out plants and trees that are stressed
and dying. Especially
on the hill by the path, he notes dying foliage.
The weekend caretakers will be Maria Stenzel for the early shift and
Madeleine and Bob Oakley
for the late shift..
Monday-- August 18, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
It was terribly decadent... watching a movie on a Saturday afternoon...
but it was
heralded as the worst weekend of the year both heat and humidity wise.
So when we heard
the bell, and saw a strange, wet person pulling the ferry toward a
waiting party at the
towpath landing... there was immediate guilt. Had we not heard the bell
??!! Had they
been forced to swim over and get it ??!! The Caretaker's Wife was
crestfallen. We had
failed in our duty. So it was with heavy tread that I went to greet the
and apologize. How happy and relieved I was to learn that John and
Miriam Crook had come
down with son Victor, who in turn decided to "practice Navy seal
technique" and swim over
to the Island to retrieve the ferry.
Several folks escaped from what the caretaker and his Wife refer to as
"that nasty world
up the hill" or "up on top" to come swim Saturday. What a pleasant
surprise when Harry
and Marinda Schwartz showed up with two inflated inner tubes to
contribute to the Island.
Harry related that when he thought about the likely request and
appropriation process, he
thought "what the Hell" and just went out to buy them. A third and
larger inner tube will
come down on Harry's next trip down. Kudos to Harry for thoughtfulness
On Sunday the Island was crowded when a storm blew through, catching the
caretaker midway on the ferry and a half dozen canoes out on the water.
What a mess. There
was a great gathering of refugees on the screen porch and surely new
friends were made.
Although the Sunday substitute caretaker did a heroic job for some time
while soaking wet, he
did leave an hour early with many canoeists out. The rain was not a
passing thunderstorm, but
continued steadily. Returning canoeists saw the ferry tied up at the
towpath according to
correct protocol, but came to the Island first to knock irately on the
It was thus proven that many members do not know the combination to the
lock and thus do
not read the Islander, where all information about such a situation was
Tuesday-- August 19, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
Ahhh... Mondays are such a trial for the Caretaker. Especially because
those Sundays when "unsupervised Members" are allowed to run amuck on
Island. Mondays are for retrieving expensive but wet volley balls from
taking hot dogs and plastic out of the "Burn Only" can, re-ordering the
chaos of the
life preservers and paddles in the men's locker room, trying to figure
out why the
balance log was untied from the swimming raft after two days of the
of eight people to affix, or wondering why nothing can be found in the
much patient reorganization.
The Caretaker has considered giving up his one day off to make sure that
not having "too much fun," but this has only provoked the Caretaker's
Wife to make
puzzling comments about anal neurosis and control freak behavior. She
has even made
so bold as to suggest that it is not the Caretaker's Island at all...
but in fact the
Member's Island. Of course, deep down the Caretaker knows this, and
this summer has
been a trial of coming to terms with this, but that does not mean that
he does not
fantisize about an Island where all children under 18 must be on a
leash, all substitute
caretakers must take a two year training course, and the Island is rid
of that worst and
most uncontrolled of pestilences... the Guest.
Wednesday-- August 20, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
Yesterday Renee Dunham was one of the few visitors on a cool, cloudy
day. Too cool
even for me to be jumping in the river for my morning swim. That is two
days in a
row... in August. So I asked her to check out the swimming raft, where
as though on Sunday someone had untied the log used as a counterweight
to the ladder.
When she came in later in the day she reported that in fact someone had
untied it, it
had not come loose, but that they had retied it to the ladder itself.
I thanked her, and said that I would swim out later to re-affix it, but
she said not
to worry, that she had done that herself, and even tested it. I
hesitate to report
this after crowing about how it took 8 of us to do a proper job the
If you check out the Little Falls graph on the web page (last option
conditions) you will notice that for the last week the river flow has
been below half
of median daily stream flow for the yearly average. Of course, if you
check out the
second graph on that USGS site, you will notice the sharp spike in river
with today's rains.
I should also report that today's rains have left the upstairs kitchen
floor near the
doorway quite wet. Previously there has been some slight drip splash
to the Captain), but this is now serious wet... more than I have ever
10 minutes with a mop. Of course, this rain has been serious and
prolonged all day,
But this roof leak will require some action.
Thursday-- August 21, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
George Malusky called this morning about river conditions for fishing,
and in passing
described being on the river last Sunday afternoon when the storm front
with the torrential rains. You will recall that the temperature fell
about 30 degrees
in 30 minutes. And with the cooler rains, George laughingly describes
having to dunk
his T-shirt in the warmer water and putting it on to warm up, on what
before a record breaking day of 105 degrees. At first they thought it
was just a
passing thunderstorm, but "that thunderstorm came through 5 times." Why
stay on the river three hours in near constant rain? "It was
the storm it seemed every time we put a hook in we got a strike. All
could not keep count. There was something about the changing river
had them in a feeding frenzy... perhaps the changing barometric
a storm cell came that had lightning, common sense prevailed, and they
the canoe shed.
Friday-- August 22, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
Whitney Pinger came aboard yesterday with three children to collect
monarch butterfly eggs.
The up river end of the island is covered with milkweed, and
consequently with monarch and
swallowtail butterflies. Tagging along was a real education for me... I
other things that there are two different kinds of milkweed... regular
(w/o any discernible
flowers) and meadow milkweed... now topped with clusters of very pale
pink flowers. I was
shown how to find and collect the eggs, and briefed on the time line
between putting the
leaf with egg into the jar and watching the butterfly fly away. This
sounds like a great
exercise for children of all ages.
There is a dead racoon on MacArthur, about 70 yards up river from the
Sycamore store, that
looks to be about the size of our Rocky. Hopefully it is a sibling
instead. Stay tuned,
we will hopefully report another live Rocky sighting.
The light bulb in the heated bath room in the men's locker room was
bound in the toilet?!?!
Closer inspection of the fixture above revealed that it had corroded
completely and the
bulb had just dropped. There has previously been similar trouble with
that same fixture,
but we thought the problem had been solved. Perplexingly, water is
dripping (very, very
slowly) from the fixture, but the top of the enclosure where the wiring
enters the fixture
is dry. This bathroom has been sealed until further notice, and a
warning sign put up, in
the hope that Captain Matthews can shed light on this phenomena when he
returns from a
family reunion this Sunday.
Monday-- August 25, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
Yes folks... you Caretaker was off Sat and Sun... and lazy on Mon, but
guilt and responsibility
have forced him to the keyboard
Today's high drama was life and death on the porch. I spent a most
interesting hour watching
a bee and the spider whose web he became entangled in. The bee put up a
game fight, able to
keep the spider at bay because his ovipositor with stinger was not
entangled and could be
brought to bear any time the spider approached. But the spider was able
to get one wing
thoroughly tied up. I never saw the coup de grace that put the bee to
sleep, and can only
wonder if the spider was actually able to inject the venom into the wing
and not the body.
Anyone walking the beaver paths will notice that the small adjacent
island on the up river
towpath side can now be reached by foot... another consequence of the
low water. If you
have ever wondered just what hidden treasures lay hidden and unreachable
there... now is
Jay and Fern Ingersoll report a nurse tree in the water above Rupert's
Island. By this
they mean a tree trunk in the water old and decayed enough to provide a
rich but isolated
habitat for several types of plant life. They especially recommend
finding it to appreciate
the cardinal flower in bloom.
And finally, I have been asked about the uncut clump of weeds on the
lawn beyond the canoe
shed near where the path to the bottom of the Island begins. Originally
this was not cut because it was the site of one of the embedded iron anchors for the old
canoe shed. Arturo
has long since cut and removed the dangerous metal... but I have left it
as a reminder of
what the lawn would look like in its natural and uncut state.
Tuesday-- August 26, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
The great glory of the river is that it assumes a different character during different times of the day. Some would say it is at its most charming during those hours in which
people are not around. Especially after dark. For instance, the
Caretaker had often
wondered about the "skimmers," those spider like insects that can be
seen scooting across
the surface of the water. One can imagine how they must be constantly
on the move to avoid
lurking fish looking for lunch. But what happens to them after dark?
Consider that when
the river is actually high enough to have a fast current, they must have
to work hard just
to keep from being swept down river. And what do they do after dark?
They must have to
sleep or rest sometime. But on one moon lit evening, while
investigating the zillions of
circular ripples on river, it could be seen that the surface was covered
un-sleeping and un-ceasing in their efforts to scoot up river and keep
from becoming fish
One evening after dark, on a moonless night, the Caretaker and his Wife
were canoeing and
noticed literally hundreds of "things" swimming on the surface. Big
things! Obviously not skimmers! They were everywhere! Because it was
dark it was difficult
to tell just what kind of critters these were... but there were a lot of
some quite close to the canoe. When the flashlight was deployed, the
most amazing sight
was revealed. Catfish!! Catfish everywhere!!! They were swimming side
ways, their bodies
partially out of the water... their mouths wide open... scooping the
surface of the water...
obviously surface feeding. Upon reflection it makes sense, when one
considers that the
ambient sky glow must make the surface of the river a lighted plane
contrasting to the dark
below. The entire surface of the river was covered in ripples, between
the catfish, the
skimmers, and emerging bugs. Of course, this beauty must remain the
One can only imagine the chaos and lack of privacy that would ensue
should those Members
who are fisher persons find out.
Wednesday-- August 27, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
Today was notable for the first circumlocution of the Island by swimmers that I am aware of. John and Miriam Crook came down and actually swam the circumference of the Island. They reported being surprised at the rockiness up river, of the extensive and shallow mud banks down river, and that the depth in the slough between the Island and the towpath was at least eight feet in many places even at this time of near record low water levels.
Because timing is everything, and because nieces, nephews, and significant others of our families (5 in all) will be visiting us this weekend, today was baking day for the Caretaker's Wife, and this means the Guinard and Veuthey families were met at the
ferry with chocolate cookies. Later, and a cookie party took place in the upstairs kitchen with Ann Kip, Renee Dunham, John Matthews, John Krasny, et. al. So come on down... you could get lucky.
Thursday-- August 28, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
The fish are biting!! Rich Lodish caught three small mouth bass over 18 inches, among the many other small fish. And even John Matthews hooked a "big one" yesterday. Since everyone practices "catch and release," your caretaker has interviewed most passing fisher persons this year about whether or not they are catching any fish that show signs of having been previously caught. In all, there has been only one fish reported that might have had another hook in its mouth.
As earlier reported, relatives will be visiting us this weekend... not so much for the holiday as for the birthday of the Caretaker's wife, which is Friday. Tom and Mary Edsall have volunteered to come down Friday afternoon and serve as substitute ferry persons so
that the Caretaker may give this auspicious occasion the attention it deserves.
Friday-- August 29, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
August has become the month of the spider. You will notice longish poles by many of the doors downstairs. These are to poke through the doors before they are entered the first time of the day... since each night all large openings are covered again with web. Which
king of the Scots took his inspiration from a spider who would never give up... Robert Bruce perhaps?? Tryon Wells first proclaimed this as the time of spiders, when the large spiders with the large webs became ascendant all over the Island, and a new kind of large
spider protecting a large egg cache would appear. Sure enough, within days they appeared everywhere.
Susan Young has identified the large plants with purplish flowers as ironweed. There is a clump by the swimming float which is beautiful when viewed by swimmers from the water. They also flourish at the up river end of the Island in the area designated by the Caretaker's
Wife as Butterfly Lane... near the milkweeds.
The birdseed storage on the screen porch has been visited recently by rascalish critters of undetermined species. At first I suspected Members... known to be sloppy about things around the island... not in the least because there is a cover that must be removed. On Wednesday morning there was some slight scattering, as though someone had made a mess dipping into it and then left the top off. But Thursday morning it scattered as though by an explosion. It was easy to envision a troop of squirrels getting down to some serious
partying. Half of it was gone, so there must have been a lot of them. I have spoken to the cats about dereliction of duty, but now realize that Barney's recent squeamishness about going out at night without us may be related to some other animals visitations to the porch. Do racoons eat birdseed?? So with the remainder I left a trap... balancing the container precariously on the edge of the table over the metal garbage can... no way to tamper with it quietly. Stay tuned.
Saturday -- August 30, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
The Sunday caretakers will be Peter and Debra Friedmann for the early shift and John Krasny for the late shift.
Sooo... I can now report that the "birdseed critter alarm/trap" did not work. Worse still...the remaining birdseed was stored away in a large coffee can that was tightly sealed with the plastic fitted top provided for re-sealing... until it was found on the screen porch floor,
open, with the remaining contents strewn upon the floor. Certainly hints that the perpetrator has nimble fingers or paws or beaks.