2012.05.09 Cats, bugs and crayfish

Written by David Green.

water beetleBy DAVID GREEN

Did you notice a cat story on the front page a couple of weeks ago? Of course you did. It was the lead article with the top-of-the-fold photograph.

It was the story of Fayette’s town cat, Jeb, and his lackadaisical manner of crossing U.S. 20.

I didn’t have any other good front-page photos for that issue, so Jeb went on the front. Then I waited for the teasing to begin.

I figured a lot of people would give me a hard time about placing a fluffy cat story on the front page, but that wasn’t the case. Jeb’s tale turned out to be one of the most talked-about stories I’ve had in a long time. I’m still hearing comments.

I heard that I should have had more photos from Gary at the Buckboard Bar and Grille because he has one of a sticky plastic spoon adhering to Jeb’s tail.

I had a call from someone at a neighboring paper who was jealous of the Jeb story. She wishes they had a town cat to write about.

And so it went. What I thought was going to be a risky move proved to be good small-town journalism.

At least that’s how it went until I spoke with my daughter, Maddie, in New Zealand last week. She was in an area with internet service and was catching up on recent Observers. 

Her response was simple and direct. In a somewhat disbelieving voice she said: “You put a cat on the front page.”

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In other animal news, John Speelman pedaled to the Observer office Friday morning to present me with a mystery bug in a jar. My guess is that it was an old peanut butter jar.

As far as the insect was concerned, I recognized it as a beetle, but I had never seen such a thing before. It was sleek and enormous—nearly two inches long. 

Peter Fallot stopped in and noticed how it resembled polished wood. The wing coverings fit together so perfectly that it was difficult to discern where they split in half. 

I asked Mr. Google about “big brown beetle” and soon learned it was giant black water beetle. Sleek for moving easily through the water. Hairy filaments on the back of the legs for propulsion through a pond. Perfect design, but the mystery is why it was hanging out in the Speelman yard.

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Animals made the news 20 years ago, too. I’ll fill the remainder of this space with a tale from the past.

Another allergy sucker has bit the gravel in Ben’s aquarium. That’s two down in the span of about two weeks.

The aquarium became a part of our family a couple of Christmases ago. It seems like forever, but I really can’t complain about such quiet, undemanding pets. Give them a few flakes of that stinky food twice a day and they’ll pretty much mind their own business.

Of course there’s an occasional episode of cannibalism, and a monthly incident of dirty fish gravel in the bathtub during cleaning, but overall we’ve all fared together quite well. At least they’re doing better than some in the past. I have foggy memories of trying to scoop up goldfish from the floor many years ago. Once they get loose, it’s hard to bring them back.

I think it was Ben who first thought a particular fish in his aquarium was called an allergy sucker. To prevent embarrassment at school, I told him it was actually called an algae sucker. Rosanna and Maddy still use the original name and it’s too funny to correct them.

I now hear there’s some good news to report. It wasn’t the big-lipped allergy sucker that died. It was something else. Something like a sword-tailed carp sucker.

Animals haven’t fared very well at our house this spring. Ben brought home a crayfish from Lake Hudson but it escaped from its new home and he found it half a block away a couple of days later. It seemed to be suffering from a terminal lack of water.

He refurbished his crawdad home to make it escape-proof and won approval to steal another from the park. We caught one, brought it home and it was gone the next morning. Probably a sea gull took that one. We never found a trace.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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