Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Pond Hair

Pond Hair
Originally uploaded by Corbie.
The pond at work is so choked with Duckweed, Elodia, and Bullfrogs that the native plants and animals have nowhere to go. Somebody even saw a Bullfrog eating a small Garter snake last week. There are at least two non-native species of turtles hanging around as well, arrogantly basking in the sun like they own the place.

For the last two afternoons, I've taken a group of campers down there to help clean things up a bit. I've gone into the pond both days, although campers only came in today. We spent a lot of time pushing all of the muck over to the wall where the pond meets the road, so that our accomplices on the road, using nets and a rake, could haul Duckweed and Elodia out onto the asphalt, throwing back any aquatic insects or Crayfish tangled up in the mess. We did catch a couple of frogs and some tadpoles as well, but didn't take them with us. I still have the ones from last summer living in a tank in the backyard because I'm too soft-hearted to kill them outright. I've been thinking about finding out if the Water Monitor will eat them. I bet he would, but I'm not sure if it would be good for him. We'll see, I guess.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Monday, June 26, 2006

It's ironic that last week, when I was teaching a reptile camp, we saw no snakes in the wild, while today, on the same trails but at my other summer camp job, we found two. The first one was the same Rattlesnake that we all kept seeing a month ago. It has moved away from its little section of wood to the inviting dark space beneath a rusted old steel barrel. It rattled at us. The second was a large Ringneck snake that looked like it had just eaten or was about to lay eggs. It pooped on me.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Willow, addressing the father of a small boy at the park:

"Can I pet him?"

Saturday, June 24, 2006

No Mean Feet

No Mean Feet
Originally uploaded by Corbie.
The idea of going to the beach every week is a great one. I'd even settle for every other week. The evening we chose to go was hot on this side of the hill, but on the beach side it was foggy and cool. It didn't matter. In fact, it felt really good. The girls had little spasms of joy as they splashed in the sea foam. The boys spent a lot of time digging a hole. I spent a lot of time running after the girls. Jen and M mostly stuck to the beach blanket. I'm glad we live near the ocean. It's past time to start taking advantage of that fact. There's nothing quite like looking out to sea and imagining the distances and depths involved. There still is mystery in the world.

Also very mysterious was the fact that I went to an interview for the job I already have, and the interviewers were two of my coworkers. It's just one more bureaucratic hoop that all of us full time/part year employees must hop through in the mad rush for guaranteed work and benefits. They should free up more money for our program so that all of the employees can have benefits. But this is the real world, so the lumbering behemoth of bureaucracy must first take its toll.

A week of reptile camp is behind me, and a week back at my accustomed site awaits. I'll be jumping back and forth between summer camp programs for the next few weeks, just to keep things interesting (actually, in the spirit of total disclosure, I work as many weeks as I can at the one with the bigger paycheck, and fill in the gaps with the other one). They're both great programs, unlike a certain other program we spotted this week. We had been wondering for awhile now who had been building the ugly, dangerous shelters out of Redwood branches in one of the groves used by both programs. It turns out it was a third entity, and the kids in the group couldn't have been much older than six or seven. The rangers have been alerted.

Right now it's hot, and likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future. More beach time is definitely needed.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Teaching About Turtles

Teaching About Turtles
Originally uploaded by Corbie.
Summer has arrived right on schedule, with hot, sticky weather. At 10:15 pm, as I write, it's still warm enough to be uncomfortable. In the other room, Willow is going to sleep for the first time without a diaper. Fingers crossed...

We found a pretty impressive turtle down at the pond today. Even more impressive was the fact that when I stepped into the pond after it, its only reaction was to tuck its head into its shell. Every other time I've tried to get closer to a turtle, it has slipped into the water before the dust has settled from my first step towards it. Maybe this one was newly released. It sure wasn't a native turtle. People think that they can drop their damned pets anywhere. At any rate, I'm pretty sure that it's a Painted Turtle, which is supposed to live on the East Coast.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of showing recordists William and Sherri around up near work. Being from Toronto, they hadn't gotten to experience the Redwoods before. Willow and Sophie came along to, and soon tired us out with their incessant requests to be swung between us as we walked. I showed them the little nest that had contained eggs a week or so ago, only to find it full of tiny little baby birds. Later, the Skink that I'd thought was gravid on the last visit proved me right - it was now sitting next to a little clutch of eggs. Nice to be out there in the woods with friends.
After all of this, we went back home where Jen had whipped up some chili. We got to hang out for a short little time before William and Sherri had to get to the airport. This time I remembered that Canadian flights are in the domestic terminal.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Nurse With Wound shows this weekend at the Great American Music Hall were both quite excellent. Jen and I both went on Friday night. We left Willow safely ensconced at the house of Baby O, which meant that for perhaps the first time ever we could stay out as late as we wanted to. We chose to park in the parking garage across the street rather than circle for half an hour looking for street parking. We probably would have spent an amount equal to the garage fee on gas if we had decided to try our luck on the streets.
The venue itself was packed with friends, both local and out of state (and country, for that matter). It was good to see Dax out and about, as well as friends from the east coast, Chicago, Seattle, Texas... and probably other places I'm forgetting at the moment. The merchandise table was stuffed with cds, vinyl, cassettes, shirts, and a nice show-only poster. The audience was on the older side (mostly thirty and forty somethings - I didn't really notice this until a friend pointed it out on Saturday).
Friday's opener was a curious character (actually a street performer from Santa Cruz) calling himself the Great Morgani. With his costume on, he resembled nothing so much as a giant, multicolored sea anenome. His accordian was costumed as well, making it indistinguishable from the rest of him. How he managed to play it with all of the bristling appendages flopping this way and that, I'll probably never know, but play it he did, including a french waltz version of "Stairway to Heaven" which was met with great approval from the audience. In fact, he was called back for an encore. Poor guy had a deal of trouble navigating the stage under all of the costumery, but fortunately he succeeded.
Nurse for the evening consisted of Steven Stapleton, Colin Potter, Matt Waldron, Richard Faulhaber, Stan Reed, Frieda Abtan, and Andrew Liles, with brief visual help from recordists William and Sherri, who unfortunately had a slight misunderstanding with the backstage security guards that limited the amount of time they were out on the main floor. Salt Marie Celeste provided the musical backbone for the evening, with everybody adding sound on top of it. Colin later said that they had discussed making it minimal, but seven people being minimal ends up not being minimal. At times it became downright deafening, with the entrancing visuals provided by Frieda and the hypnotic waves of sound sucking the audience into another world. Towards the end, William and Sherri appeared dressed as passengers from the ill-fated Marie Celeste. A seemingly indeterminate amount of time later (Vic, who had been watching the projector and timing it said it was actually about 65 minutes) things came to a halt under waves of applause. I think Colin's exact words at that point were, "thank you. You're very kind, and most likely deaf."
Afterwards, Jen and I, accompanied by William, Sherri, Matt, and Steve, ended up at a twenty four hour grocery store where, chicken, bread, and yummy cinnamon rolls were purchased. We ended up getting home around three - to a house with no kids, I might add. That was kind of strange, actually.
On Saturday, with nobody to watch Willow, I ended up going by myself. I picked up the recordists and helped them transfer their masks and little table to the venue. Once there, we discovered that Dawn and Nils were there as part of The Sun and Moon Ensemble, a local puppet troupe featuring very large puppets (go look on my Flickr page to see what I mean). They put puppets together and went through some moves while Nurse soundchecked. Nurse for the evening was minus Stan and Frieda (although Frieda's visual were still in place) and plus Moe! Staiano and Lana (although Lana only made a brief appearance on electric washboard near the end of the evening).
When things got started, the Sun and Moon Ensemble swept in from all sides and soon large puppets were gyrating through the audience and into a cleared area in front of the stage. Dawn was in there somewhere as one of the mermaid creatures (or sea hags...) and Nils made an appearance as a strange, stick-wielding monkey. Afterwards, Moe! did a record breaking set (literally) during which he played 78 vinyl like drums, reducing them to shards. It's interesting that so many different tones can be produced from a handful of records. As the pieces got smaller, higher tones were produced.
The Nurse set for the evening was no longer pinned down by Salt Marie Celeste. Moe! melded in nicely, and was actually more restrained than he usually is. William, Sherri sat at a small table center stage, and Greg sat in front of them, all with the recordist-produced masks in place. William and Sherri turned out a number of surreal little poems during the set, and Greg delivered them to random audience members. At least one of them has shown up on Flickr already. The combined effect of the music and visuals again was both humorous and slightly disturbing (in the best possible way). It's amazing how effective cardboard masks can be. The music really clicked as well, with little rhythmic bits sometimes emerging from the swirling sound and then submerging again, and other unidentifed noises weaving their way through the mix. A Truly stunning evening, to say the least. Hopefully there are more to come. Steve, Colin, Andrew, and Matt are doing a non-Nurse With Wound set in Portland tomorrow night, which should be great as well.
There was an after party, but I decided to go home and sleep instead since I had told Stan I'd show up for his set on KFJC the following day. Stan and his two compatriats record under the subtle monicker of The Broken Penis Orchestra, and on Sunday I briefly became a member (pun intended, of course). Their instruments are their record collections, so I brought along as much of mine as I could stuff into an old Amoeba records bag and joined them at KFJC. Three of us spun discs and Stan, with his bank of effects pedals and other equipment, altered the sounds on the fly. A particularly nice juxtoposition was a song about sodomy (from the Meet the Feebles soundtrack) played directly before an exerpt from a Jerry Falwell speech. Heh. I'll have to hear a recording of the event sometime.

Today I was back up in the woods teaching a science camp about reptiles. I've got fourteen kids, including a boy diagnosed with something called "general anxiety disorder." That's a new one for me. He did okay though, and has an aide along to help out. Camp is over at 1 pm every day, and the time just flew. One of the girls took notes the entire time. Why can't kids at science school do that?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

I'll blog about my weekend later, so for now you'll just have to peruse this snippet of it that has appeared on YouTube.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Willow seems to have inherited my childhood fear of clowns. We actually had to leave the school talent show that Alex is appearing in because one of the early acts featured a kid dressed up as a clown. I'm home with Willow now, and everybody else is still at the school. I had to carry her all the way here too. Poor girl.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Evening Falls

Evening Falls
Originally uploaded by Corbie.
The right light, or the right absence of light, can really make a room look much more interesting than it really is. Cleaner too.

I did actually do some cleaning in our room this weekend - I pulled everything out from under the bed and vacuumed. What is under the bed?, you ask. Well, now that the dust and random objects lost by the kids have been removed, there are giftwrapping supplies and boxes and boxes of cassettes. Vinyl in the linen closet, cassettes under the bed, cds everywhere else...

We all went to pick Jen up at the San Jose airport on Monday, and we're glad that she's back, even though the boys griped about their gifts a bit. A couple of hours later, I went to SFO to greet a couple of Canadian recordists who are here to participate in the Nurse With Wound shows at the Great American Music Hall this coming weekend. My brother (who relies on public transportation and the pity of the vehicled) was there as well, since they're staying with him this week. After walking the length of the domestic and international terminals (why the hell do flights from Canada always disembark at a gate somewhere in the domestic terminal?? More importantly, why the hell do I always forget this?), we drove over the Bay Bridge and spent way too much time in a coffee shop in Berkeley talking delirously about the usual random things that the sleep-deprived go on about. I got home well after two in the morning and then got up again several hours later to go help set up summer camp.

The first item on my "to do" list ended up being the removal of all of the accumulated aluminum cans from the last several months. This involved sorting out all of the non-aluminum stuff that had gotten mixed in, bagging everything, and heaving the dripping sacks into my car. Fifteen minutes later I discovered that the recycling center had apparently been recycled, and is now a construction yard well on its way to becoming a business park. A quick stop home and a hurried perusal of the phone book sent me on a mission to a more distant recycling center, where my quest ended in success. I even had a pleasant conversation with an old man who said he made about a thousand bucks a month gathering bits of metal from the side of the road. I wish more people would consider this line of work, because some of the local freeways look like they're halfway to becoming landfills.
From there, I went and got a couple of new tires put on my car, since I'd been driving on one of those irritating little spares for the better part of a week now (sudden flat tire last week sometime). The rest of my duties this week have been varied and even less interesting. Let it suffice to say that summer camp will indeed happen again this year.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Jen's been gone since Thursday afternoon, visiting family in Texas. Luckily, my work schedule is flexible this time of year, since outdoor school has ended and summer camp is yet to begin. Willow and I have been hanging out together, and she has been really sweet. She misses her mom, but hasn't made a big issue out of it. The bigger kids have been back and forth between here and their dad's place. Thursday, after Jen left, I went down and re-took the test for the permanent position (same job + benefits and guaranteed work every week) at work. It's kind of funny having to take a test for a job I already have. Gotta get benefits though. Pretty much all of my non-permanent coworkers were also there to take the test, much to the dismay of the one applicant who didn't already work with us. Thankfully, Jen's sister Cate came and watched three of the kids while I was doing this, while Sophie went home with a friend after her last day of preschool.

Alex had a recorder concert Friday morning at school. He and his classmates went through a handful of songs a couple of times (the second time to accomodate late parents) and, wonder of wonders, the girls actually sat through it without too much protest. Of course, I promised them they could play on the playground later if they were quiet.

Okay, Sophie is trying to drag me away from the computer for some reason now. It seems the girls are arguing...

Back again - the older kids have gone to their dad's again. Nate took the new Godzilla movie with him. Willow just came into the room to show me a freshly created playdough snake.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Willow, talking about her brothers:

"They stooopid. They got peeenises!"

Sophie, at random while going to school:

"What happens if a bug crawls in your butt?"

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Somebody in the neighborhood owns a rooster. I just heard it again. I think the poor thing must be from a different time zone though, because it's crowing after 10 pm.

We survived our visit to the Cheeze Hole today. Willow still adamantly refuses to go anywhere near the side of the establishment where the Big Rat hangs out. She elected instead to go on every single one of the mechanical mirasma rides in the toddler area - you know, the ones that rock unsuspecting toddlers back and forth and resemble airplanes or vehicles operated by popular (hardly ever synonymous with "high quality") children's TV characters. Sophie got some loot and later, a stomach ache. I think we're safe from the Cheeze Hole for awhile now.

On Friday, I dug a big hole alongside one of the trails at work. There is probably a young Redwood tree in it now, ceremonially planted to honor a teacher with close connections to our school. I couldn't say for sure though, since I was at the Cheeze Hole today. I do remember that while I was digging the hole, I was thinking about how I was taking part in something that might still be around over two thousand years from now. Redwoods can live a long time. Of course, a lot of other things can happen in two thousand years... We'll just have to wait and see.

That said, we mustn't forget that everything we do has repercussions.

Friday, June 02, 2006

It's almost summer camp season. Next week I'm working one night program, attending a center orientation for my second summer camp job, and probably doing some more site maintainence work. This weekend we're celebrating Sophie's 5th birthday with yet another trip to Chucky's Empire of Cheese. Willow, now that Cheese time is imminent, has remembered that she's scared of the Rat.

One of my coworkers is going on a little hike this summer. Read about it here.