Rambling through central Illinois, hoping for rain.
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The boring Midwest life increasingly looks appealing. We have water to drink, but no hurricanes or worries about rising sea levels. We have invasive Japanese beetles, but no pythons or anacondas. Our big toothy predator is the coyote, no alligators and only occasional bears and mountain lions. … That being said, enough with the red dog. My vehicles are filthy. … And a Princeton group has a solution for another problem in The Prairie State. New Illinois Inc. seeks a new state separate from Chicago and urban Cook County. Writes co-founder G.H. Merritt, “Illinois is a corrupt, failed state. Illinois gives power to favored people, groups, and municipalities – notably Chicago and Cook County – which means it’s not fulfilling its responsibilities to the rest of its citizens.” Yes, the odds of a new state are miniscule. And yes, downstate Illinois relies heavily on the taxes paid by Chicago and its suburbs. But it’s fun to ponder a world without Chicago telling the rest of us what to do.
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The hose had just turned on when nearby bushes started filling. The sound of water gushing into a birdbath must travel. By the time I got inside to the kitchen window, sparrows were everywhere. Then finches joined the splash fest, along with a grumpy starling and several bees. They looked so happy it was impossible not to smile. But our recent dry weather also creates problems. As often happens this time of year during extended dry spells, there are reports of deer dying in fields and near water sources, with the likely cause a bug-based sickness called epizootic hemorrhagic disease. Vultures circling overhead have me worried: Is that why no bucks have shown up on camera in a few weeks? … Despite the lack of rain, we are still officially listed as “abnormally dry” and 51 percent of Illinois’ topsoil has adequate moisture, though 38 percent is short and 11 percent is very short. The western U.S. has it much worse. Ranchers in the Great Plains are selling off herds and crops there have withered and died. Sad stories abound. We are fortunate. Our crops got timely rain and are drying nicely, though through Sunday, just 13 percent of corn was in the bin – well behind the 29 percent average. No worry. Harvest should continue full force for the forseeable future, with minimal chance of rain ahead. As for me, I will keep the birdbath full.
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The black-and-white tomcat in my neighborhood can read and fight. Last week we mentioned how he was important to my sleep. Well, he must have read the paper or was told of my views. Because Saturday, while I was collecting prairie seeds at home, the big tom sauntered into view. He gave me the stink eye, then headed into our bushes to an area of loose dirt. Within moments, the area stunk to high heavens. Hmmm. As cold as it has been, windows are staying shut. Less noise comes into the house. Hey cat. Don’t push your luck. … Speaking of that last column, after complaining about our gas cans, they started leaking even worse. Can gas cans read too? … Incidentally, a replacement gas can spout arrived, but was the wrong size and won’t work. Ahh, the joys of online shopping. … Even online buys that fit often come with quirks. A black skull cap ordered off the Internet arrived recently with an eye-catching label that reads, “Made in Ukraine.” That got my Spidey sense tingling. My bet: Some savvy Asian manufacturer is slapping “Made in Ukraine” labels on products to dupe Americans who are gaga over all things Ukrainian.
Contact Jeff Lampe at (309) 231-6040 or email@example.com