Thursday, August 24, 2006

Walking into the kitchen earlier and smelling smoke, I noticed that something cooking in the microwave still had 76 minutes left to cook. Taking it out, I discovered a blackened hash brown on a partially melted plastic plate.

Willow. The one time she decides to not eat a hash brown frozen (her usual preference) I'm out of the room.

Later, after I've made everybody sit in the backyard for a bit to avoid breathing in the smoke, the fan I've put on the table to clear the air vibrates off the edge and breaks on the floor.

Now we're out one plastic plate and one fan, all because, as Sophie put it, "Willow made a black hash brown!"
Now that my car is back in our driveway (still not fixed), I can divulge the contents of my scrapbook page (refer to a couple of posts ago for the story behind it). This is an undated, handwritten remembrance of childhood, which would have been lost forever in a landfill if not for the dumpster diving of Chicken John.

California and Lake Stevens

The earliest memories of my life are so vague that I sometimes think they have been imagined after I'd been told about it. One is being very very sick and being carried off the train by Daddy. Another, playing with a little boy in a wagon "Logo" & a little girl in California. There was an orange tree too that I remember.

Then Lake Stevens. Robert and Betty. I used to go early & get breakfast over at Betty's with her sometimes. We used to catch grasshoppers in the long grass in front of her house and name them. We rowed in the boat and swam. We used to play games but they would run away and make me "it" because I was littlest & would cry.

There was little William Stack Bridge & Mr. Hally's dogs. And the cabin in the woods of Jasper & Bob that was the delight of our soul. On the way to the cabin there was a huge burnt stump grown over with "twin flowers." There was our mail box hidden in the rafters of the wood shed & in Larson's big wood pile. There was Anna Drew and paper dolls "Dolly Dingle" paper dolls & our throne in the woods & raspberry stalks to chew, and old Captain Larson's and the Allens. My first bycicle (sic) and the fall when Jasper & I were riding in the freshness of the early morning. School - going to school when dew covered (illegible) were along the fence - beautiful.
There were excursions to Big 4 or "Camp Glacier". There were visits to the big house in Everett elaborate meals prepared by the (illegible) & games with Uncle Jasper and ice cream at the store. Occasionally snow - the deep snow. Jumping out of the wood shed window. Snowshoes made of planer ends. Mother's pink satin dress and my chopped finger. Miss Copps. Admiring little boys. flowers on my desk. Daddy away. Ice on the lake - the mill burned down. Mr. Ecklund petting me - taking me home in his car. Little Clare Groger. Bertha and William. Fab old "Dimples". The swing - "Isn't she cute" and my anger. Rides with Dr. Allen. Dr. Harris in Arlington. The episode of the fruit from Allen's Aunt Margaret. The Stock Bridge farm - the Stockbridges & Round-a Roadles!

There you have it. I love reading about childhood, especially when video games and TV are not mentioned. I like the stream of consciousness feel to this as well. Back in those days, kids played outside and were no doubt more actively engaged in the world around them than many kids are today. It's sad to think that many of the current generation will grow up to find that they don't really remember much of their childhoods because of the time they spent having virtual experiences rather than real ones. The video games and TV shows just don't stick in our heads like actual life does.

Of course, as I type, I can hear the kids watching a movie in the other room. Guilty! Bee leaving bonnet now...

Speaking of kids, Willow is having an "opposite" day today. She stood on the toilet and later peed on the walkway.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Blue Light

Blue Light
Originally uploaded by Corbie.
I'm glad I already had a ticket for the Silver Mt. Zion and Carla Bozulich show at the Great American Music Hall last night, or I probably wouldn't have gone because: A) it was sold out, and B), I would have felt irresponsible spending money on fun since there are all sorts of things we need, as opposed to want.

As it was, it was an excellent show. On the way to the venue I saw a guy, in lieu of the usual sort of hip hop medallion, wearing a genuine school clock on a chain around his neck - you know, the big, clunky 12" diameter ones. It made me laugh out loud.

Carla Bozulich started things out singing and sometimes playing guitar with keyboard, cello, and drums, in addition to another guitarist, accompanying her. The first few songs were decent, including one I overheard somebody saying was a Low cover (must be on one of their cds I don't own). Then, the keyboardist started a funereal organ dirge, sounding for all the world like Paul Chain, and Carla got some tall guy (audience member? co-conspiritor?) to carry her down off the stage, and then proceeded to sing the remainder of the song while making her way through the audience. After regaining the stage and finishing the song, the band was joined by Bonfire Madigan for the title track from the new cd, Evangelista.
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band was up next, and put on a stunning show. Their instrumentation consisted of two guitarists (sometimes three, when the drummer switched instruments), drums, upright bass, cello, and two violinists. The vocals, often thin and wavering, are a bit of an acquired taste, but one I've acquired. Everybody else sang backing vocals (hence the "Tra-La-La part of their name) to much better effect than can be heard on their studio recordings. They even did a couple of new songs, "a million people died to make this sound," and "Blind, blind, blind," which took up about a half hour of their stage time since most of their songs clock in at about fifteen minutes. They played for nearly two hours, with the sound ebbing and flowing from delicate violin plucks to full bore assault on the eardrums and back again.

This morning, of course, was the only morning this week that I had to go to work. Work consisted of going to the Office of Education all-staff inservice at The Flint Center in Cupertino. Our school was nominated for an award for our astronomy program, but we didn't win. Oh, well. At least the keynote speaker was energetic and amusing, punctuating his powerpoint presentation with cartoons hilariously relevent to the room full of educators and support staff.

Jen's out getting the girls haircuts right now. The boys got theirs earlier today. Tomorrow the three bigger kids go to school. Summer is gone.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Faun Fables at 12 Galaxies, 8/18/06

For the first time in quite awhile I managed to see two different shows in one night. On Friday, Matt and I went up to San Francisco to catch an early Kristin Hersh show at the Makeout Room (Greg met us there and managed to get us on the quest list, which in times of low funds is much appreciated). She rasped out a bunch of old favorites, including a couple of traditional songs, in the form of "The Cuckoo" and "Wayfaring Stranger," as well. Only one new song was performed. As she always does, she told funny little stories in between songs. Of special interest was the fact that she has just returned from Iceland, because after we left this show we walked around the corner to 12 Galaxies to see Faun Fables, who are leaving for Iceland on Monday.
At 12 Galaxies, Loop!station opened the show with Cello and voice, both looped and layered so that it sounded like several cellists and several vocalists were performing at once. Very nice. If I'd had the money, I would have bought their three cds like Matt did.
After Loopstation, we were treated to a recital of a T.S. Eliot poem, which was accompanied by a performance by a trapeze artist. The whole show, MCed by the versatile Chicken John (once a member of G.G. Allen's band) was billed as a memorial for someone named Margaret Rucker. She turned out to be present in the form of a tattered scrapbook that Chicken John had pulled from a dumpster fifteen years ago. It seems that the scrapbook, along with Margaret Rucker's other possessions, had been unceremoniously disposed of, and would have disappeared forever into a landfill if not for the fact that Chicken John, for reasons unrevealed to us, roots through dumpsters. He even went so far as to prepare a short powerpoint presentation covering the highlights of the scrapbook clippings. Mrs. Rucker was revealed to be a poet, survivor of a nasty accident, and later on the widow of a suicide. At the end of the presentation, the scrapbook was passed around and audience members were encouraged to take pieces of it home. Margaret Rucker has literally been rescued from the dustbin of history.
After this, Baby Dee appeared dressed as a bee and riding an old iron tricycle. She ascended the candlelit stairs to the stage and started out with a couple of Tiger Lillies-esque songs on the accordian before settling down behind her harp. She included her version of Idemaea, as heard on the latest Current 93 cd.
Faun Fables this time around featured, in addition to Dawn and Nils, Ari Fellows-Mannion (Loretta Lynch), Camilla Lincoln (Whoreshoes) on backing vocals, and upright bassists Jason Walker (Mandrake). The sang beautiful new songs, including a Scottish folk song about fishermen, and a few old songs, which were bolstered by the upright bass and backing vocals. In the picture, you can see the clueless guy who insisted on standing at the front even though the five or six rows behind him were all seated, ignoring the shouted chorus of "down in front!" from behind him. He finally sat down when the guy sitting directly behind him bought him a beer. He got rewarded for being a jerk, but at least he sat down.
I ended up driving back by myself because Matt was going home with Dawn and Nils. I was a bit stressed out due to the fact that, before the shows, while we were looking for parking, my battery light blinked on a few times. I contemplated asking Matt if I could borrow his cellphone, but elected not to. I got on the freeway and made it about fifteen or twenty miles before my lights dimmed and the car threatened to stall. Taking the nearest exit, I managed to find a 24 hour gas station before the car died. Then it was a comedy of getting piles of quarters from the attendant and calling from a payphone. AAA proved useless since I only get five miles of free towing and I was thirty miles from home (after the five free miles, the price jumps up to ten dollars a mile - you do the math). Jen's insurance wouldn't help because it doesn't cover my car. Finally, I called Jen and she had to drive up and rescue me, leaving my car behind. As of now, after being ripped of eight ways to Sunday by the service crew at the gas station, we've elected to not have them put in an alternator (the diagnostic fee, new battery, and radiator hose cost more than double what they should have) and waiting until we have the funds to purchase one and install it ourselves. In the meantime, we're going to try and get by with one vehicle. Wish us luck.
Funny sidenote: They mechanic called while I was out doing parties yesterday and got Jen on the phone. As mechanics often do, he assumed that since she's a woman she would know next to nothing about cars, only becoming nice once she proved him wrong. Why is it that auto service places only treat you fairly if they think there's a possibility of you being a repeat customer and/or if you exhibit some knowledge of car repair? Because they're assholes, that's why. Anyway, we're gritting our teeth, forking over too much money, picking up the car tomorrow, and driving it home with a good battery and bad alternator. It will sit in the driveway for awhile.

To top it all off, I lost half the tip money from the parties I did yesterday. It probably fell out of my overstuffed poickets when I went to retrieve something. Shit.

We ended the day on a good note though, going up to a friend's birthday party in Redwood city. Despite being tired, Willow, Jen, and I had a great time socializing, listening to the live music (a latin jazz band), eating the middle eastern food and wonderful exotic cheeses, and basically just unwinding.

Oh, and summer camp is over too. We watched the last bus go down the hill on Friday. I'm off work most of next week, so it's time to do some Autumn cleaning around here. That's the plan anyway.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Quiet Contemplation

Quiet Contemplation
Originally uploaded by Corbie.
The beach does indeed put us all in a better mood. The steady pulse of the surf punctuated by the calls of seagulls provides a serene backdrop that our cluttered house can never match. The girls spent time taking their chances on the fringes of the surf, screaming and running from the sheets of foamy water rushing towards them. Jen and the boys stayed further from the water this time, hanging out on a beach blanket. Willow and I went tidepooling, finding a bunch of mussels and a few small anemones. Ascending darkness coupled with falling temperatures ended our stay.

I hadn't been to Natural Bridges since I was a kid. I remembered there being two wave weathered rock bridges then. Now there is only one, the more fragile of the two having fallen sometime during the late eighties or early nineties (I think). Perhaps it should now be referred to as Natural Bridge.

We're gearing up for Autumn here. Jen has turned her attention towards getting school supplies for the kids. Summer camp ends this Friday, to be replaced by outdoor school in a couple of weeks. As usual, I'm looking for ways to plug the gaps in my work schedule. I'll miss the summer camp kids. Many of them have been with us for multiple weeks. A lot of them I remember from last year. There's a real feeling of community at camp. I'm sure a lot of them will be camp counselors in a few years. Perhaps they'll be staff someday. This kind of environment is really good for kids if they're open to it.

I do have moments when I think it's kind of funny that I'm leading team building activities for these kids. When I was young I was not a team player. I still don't really see myself that way. I have always been a bit of a loner with an anti-authoritarian bent. Maybe it's my job to help the kids who also feel this way. The socialization process can be so complex for kids who are told that they must be part of a team when their personalities run counter to this kind of thinking. It is good to have teamwork skills, of course, but I can definitely relate to people who have no use for them...

But I ramble...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Looking Out

Looking Out
Originally uploaded by Corbie.
Greg has done a few Neighborhood Public Radio shifts before, but Saturday marked the first time that all three of us (Greg, Matt, and I, operating under the Oneiromantic Ambiguity Collective moniker) have gotten together to do a broadcast together. Sometime before the event, Greg, using sound culled from past improvisations, put together a backing track for us to read over, and read over it we did, with varying degrees of success, to a theoretical internet audience, a possible radio audience, and a nonplussed live audience consisting of pedestrians (and one small pig, trailing a leash) strolling past outside the old movie ticket booth temporarily serving as the radio station. Check out the NPR website here.
The stories we read (two each), were old, dating back to the mid to late nineties. When trying to decide what to read, I noticed that most of the stories I considered were all from the middle of our most productive period of writing. I don't care for the early ones, and in my opinion the more recent ones are lacking something as well. The whole experience made me want to go back to writing fiction. It's been awhile, and I think my writing style has changed a bit thanks in part to this blog. Only one way to find out, of course...

Looking at the newspaper coverage of the latest averted terrorist attack makes me think that reality is still managing to compete quite well with fiction in terms of excitement and ironic humor (lets not forget utter stupidity, insanity, and tragedy - they're always very much in evidence too). Some might say that the terrorists have scored a minor victory here because at the moment it is against the law to bring a Christian bible on board a commercial airplane. Of course the Koran is equally against the rules, as are all books and just about everything else. Don't want anybody to receive a papercut, do we?. I wonder if you can get a bigger papercut from the Bible or the Koran? I wouldn't know. I do plan to read both someday, just to see what the fuss is about, but at the moment neither of them grace the bedside table. I just wish that people would stop using these books (both of them) to justify all of the killing and hatred. It's making the rest of the Christians and Muslims look bad.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Day Is Done

The Day Is Done
Originally uploaded by Corbie.
Here's a shot of cars leaving the lower field at work after the wholesome family barbeque/campfire program that happens every Thursday, during which decidedly uhwholesome raffle prizes are given away. This week's prizes included a six foot fake tree with a doll stuck to the top of it (Julia Butterfly was referenced) and a talking E.T. doll.

As usual, after the dust from the leaving vehicles settled, we took the campers on a night hike. The moon was bright enough that I had to shield my eyes when coming out from under the trees. My group this week consisted mostly of seven year olds, with a trio of younger kids and a couple who were older. A lot of them wanted their mommies when faced with the darkness of the forest, but they all made it through in the end. They were all in bed by eleven, only to be awakened at five in the morning when the sprinklers unexpectedly came on, drenching many of the sleepers. I slept through it somehow, unmoistened. My coworkers managed to avert disaster by fumbling around in the dark and disabling the sprinkler controls. I don't regret being a heavy sleeper in this instance.

Next week is the last week of summer camp. More hideous raffle prizes await.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

One of the campers this week, a seven year old girl, just told me, "my daddy just went to war." Being israeli, she was talking about the current conflict between Israel and Lebanon. World events just sweep people along, sometimes pulling them apart and taking them away. I hope her dad makes it through, and it's sad thinking that he might not. It's sad thinking about the countless of other little kids who have said the same thing over the years. It doesn't matter which side of the conflict you're on, or which conflict it is - the loss of life is unacceptable.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Snake Bracelet

Snake Bracelet
Originally uploaded by Corbie.
A local journalist and photographer stopped by camp today to do a story on the lodge construction project. Apparently they'd been informed that all of our buildings had been demolished and that we were running a camp in the rubble. When this turned out not to be true, they attached themselves to me for awhile. First, the photographer took lots of pictures of the cockroach cuddling activity I was leading (okay, we weren't really cuddling them - we were holding hissing cockroaches) and then they accompanied the large group I was leading down to the pond. On the way, I almost stepped on a Gopher snake sitting in the middle of the trail. I picked it up and was instantly mobbed by twenty or so kids who wanted to touch it. Since it was newly caught and not happy, I didn't let them. Despite the fact that it didn't want to pose, the photographer and I both took pictures of it before letting it slide back into the grass. When we finally made it to the pond, we continued the perpetual task of scooping out duckweed and Bullfrog tadpoles. More photographs were taken. I'm interested in seeing the article that comes out of all this. If it ends up being online somewhere, I'll link to it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Where The Main Office Used To Be

Where The Main Office Used To Be
Originally uploaded by Corbie.
This is the sight that greets me at work in the morning. At the beginning of last week this view was obstructed by the main office. Today it's an unsightly dirt lot. At some undetermined point in the future it will be the site of the new lodge.

As one can see, it was cloudy today, with temperatures below normal. I approve.

This photo was taken with a new camera. We took the old Nikon in to get it repaired this weekend. The guy behind the counter took one look at it and asked, "have you considered getting a new camera?" It turned out that for ten dollars above the cost of getting the camera repaired, we could buy a new, much better (twice the megapixels) one. It sure is nice to take pictures that don't have flaws caused by a dirty lens. It's also nice to have a camera that doesn't flash the "lens error" message whenever it's turned on. Simple pleasures...

With our new cameras in tow, we took Willow to the county fair this weekend. Matt came along as well, so Willow had three adults to boss around. She loved the pony ride and the merry-go-round, but was much less certain about the petting zoo. The goats and sheep, animals of satan that they are, scared her. She was even a bit uncertain about the rat-sized piglets who tried to eat my fingers and pick my pockets.

While the piglets failed to get anything from my pockets, the fair vendors were much more successful. The price and lack of quality of the food was outrageous. The rides were all at least three dollars, with some being much more expensive. Willow had a great time though, even stopping to peruse the hot tubs on display inside one of the main buildings. She even requested that I take pictures of them. Despite the draining of our limited funds, it was worth it to see Willow have a good time. It's a good thing the other kids were at their dad's place or we'd have spent hundreds of dollars.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

As of a few days ago, I've been blogging for four years now. I never really had a plan for this site, but sometimes it's more interesting to see how things develop on their own.

Right now I'm at work. I'll be spending the night tonight, camping out on the lower field with a whole bunch of summer campers. Maybe this time I'll put a tarp over my sleeping bag so I don't wake up covered with dew. Actually, last week it was dew and a small tick crawling along my leg, which I promptly flicked off into the dirt (the tick, not the dew).

We did another critter hunt today, where I caught several of the same lizards for the second time this week, and we saw the same Rattlesnake again. It must be getting used to our visits by now. Hopefully we'll be able to get the camera fixed this weekend so I can take worthwhile pictures for the remainder of the summer. That's the plan anyway.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I brought home a can of worms for the worm bin today, and installed the wriggly little critters in their new abode. Less in the landfill, more for the soil.

At work this morning our group was accompanied by a camera crew who were shooting segments for onee of our fundraising groups. They were more interested in seeing outdoor school, as opposed to summer camp, activities so I taught a couple of mini-lessons on animal classification and weathering. We found a salamander nymph too. They filmed at least one other group and did some interviews with campers as well. When it's all edited together it will be posted on a web site somewhere. Link to follow at that time.

Oh, I forgot to mention that we saw a Bullfrog eating a Crayfish a couple of days ago. That's another first for me. Those damn Bullfrogs will eat anything, won't they?

I took Nate out to get some monster movies last night because he's been pestering us to get him some. I picked up Tremors because it's good monster fun, and Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes and The Mummy because they were really cheap used videos. Nate's watched them all and given them the thumbs up. I forgot about all of the cussing in Tremors though, mainly because the last time I watched it I wasn't thinking about whether it would be appropriate for children or not. As a parent, I find that I watch films in a much different way than I used to. Everything now goes through the, "is it okay for kids?" filter. The verdict on these three films: yes, sort of. Monster movies are cool.