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 large cavity there.

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 navigate slippery 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 hanging upstairs 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 conversation, and 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 by Madelyn (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 professional job.

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 neglected locker situation. You will notice there is now a locker assignment list on the home page under Official Club Business, and that it is full of holes and mystery. Tryon has 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. Please check 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 Delaplane families it was attached to the swimming raft on the side opposite John Matthews' ladder arrangement. 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 time.

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 Rupert's Island.

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 when President 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 waves.

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 the Monthly Meeting, promises a report, and is now singing their praises. Need odd jobs, moving, 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 returning ferry 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 and initiative.

On Sunday the Island was crowded when a storm blew through, catching the Sunday substitute 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 Caretaker's door. 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 published just last month.

Tuesday-- August 19, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
Ahhh... Mondays are such a trial for the Caretaker. Especially because they follow those Sundays when "unsupervised Members" are allowed to run amuck on the Caretaker's Island. Mondays are for retrieving expensive but wet volley balls from brambles, 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 combined efforts of eight people to affix, or wondering why nothing can be found in the workshop after much patient reorganization.

The Caretaker has considered giving up his one day off to make sure that Members are 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 it looked 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. Go figure??? 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 first time.

If you check out the Little Falls graph on the web page (last option under river 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 level associated 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 (duly reported to the Captain), but this is now serious wet... more than I have ever seen.... talking 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 came through 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 was minutes 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 did they stay on the river three hours in near constant rain? "It was incredible... during the storm it seemed every time we put a hook in we got a strike. All kinds. We could not keep count. There was something about the changing river conditions that had them in a feeding frenzy... perhaps the changing barometric pressure." Finally a storm cell came that had lightning, common sense prevailed, and they headed for 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 learned among 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 your chance.

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 with skimmers... un-sleeping and un-ceasing in their efforts to scoot up river and keep from becoming fish dinner.

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! Splashy 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 loud splashes... 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 Caretaker's secret. 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.