Thursday, September 28, 2006


Originally uploaded by Corbie.
The days remain dry and dusty, even under the Redwoods.

I took a couple of my fellow field instructors up to look at the Rattlesnake family yesterday, only to find that they weren't in their usual place. This minor mystery was soon solved when we heard some rustling sounds in the nearby bushes, which soon proved to have been made by a man with a nice camera and a couple of homemade snake sticks - one a hook for turning over boards and logs, and the other a grabber for moving Rattlesnakes. He told us that he'd just finished photographing the Rattlesnakes, and that they'd all crawled back into their holes.

And all along I thought I was the only one doing this!

At any rate, we all introduced ourselves and then talked reptiles for awhile, sharing stories about local finds. He's seen both Sharp-tailed snakes and Night snakes, which are the two local snakes I've yet to come across. Apparently I haven't been looking far enough up the hill or far enough up the peninsula. He also told me about this website, which I think I'll have to start visiting regularly.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Find The Coyote

Find The Coyote
Originally uploaded by Corbie.
My first week of outdoor school for the season has come and gone. Jen's birthday, likewise, is now in the past for another year. We planned to go out and celebrate it today, but plans fell through. Perhaps this weekend...

Yesterday was a Coyote day. According to various Native American legends, Coyote is a trickster, not to be trusted, so if I was superstitious I could read all sorts of stuff into this. They aren't often seen (by me, anyway) during the day, so it was really surprising to see two. I spotted the first one on my way to work while turning onto the little road leading up to camp. It vanished into the undergrowth before I got much more than a glimpse. The second one was just hanging out at the reservoir. The reservoir is at the top of a .6 mile hill, and as usual I solo-hiked the campers up this stretch (to avoid having to listen to them complain about how steep the trail is). This means that I got to the top about five minutes in advance of the first kid. I got a chance to look at the Coyote through binoculars and take some bad pictures of it while it eyed the waterfowl just out of reach floating out in the reservoir. The first two kids to finish their solo hike got to see it too, but it left before the rest made it up the hill. Later, when we walked along the reservoir, we found a deer leg with the thighbone split so some predator could get at the marrow. We saw a Great Blue Heron too, and soon after came upon the remains of a less fortunate Great Blue Heron. I'm not sure if this was the work of a Coyote or Mountain Lion. There have been reports of a Mountain Lion in the area. One of the other instructors found some Lion pawprints much closer to camp this week too.

The trails are all very dusty right now. Walking down them with twenty fifth-graders makes it look like we're caught in a dust storm. Rain seems to have left the forecast for next week as well. At least all this dust makes it easy to see animal tracks. Judging from the tracks I've seen, there must be hundreds of Raccoons living nearby.

On a completely unrelated note, if you like gloomy literature, check out this site. I've only read one of Laszlo Krasznahorkai's books, but will read more as they are translated from Hungarian.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mother And Child

Mother And Child
Originally uploaded by Corbie.
Jen is back home, still feeling lightheaded and tired. Apparently whatever is wrong poses no immediate danger to her. They do want her to come back in a month to check her out again.

Jen is good at perplexing doctors.

It's great to have her home again.

With Willow sleeping over at a friend's house for a second day in a row, and the three older kids dropped of at school by their dad (and all with scheduled playdates afterwards) I started the Fall season of outdoor school. It's been about three months since I last did this, but I slipped right back into the groove, although I must say a portion of my mental energy was spent worrying about Jen.
The construction of the new lodge created steady background noise, so I spent less time near the buildings. This is going to be the case for at least the next year or so.
The coolest thing about today (other than Jen coming home, that is) was the Rattlesnake - the one I always check on. She had babies! There were two visible, coiled up next to her, and probably more out of sight somewhere. Willow and I saw her on Saturday, and she looked a lot thinner than usual then, so she probably had the babies (Rattlesnakes give birth - they don't lay eggs) over the weekend sometime. The mother doesn't care for them in any way, so seeing the young nearby is an indication that the births were very recent.

The kids in my group took lots of pictures. It was a good way to start the week. Definitely something you don't see every day.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Originally uploaded by Corbie.
I've been trying to keep Willow busy while Jen is in the hospital. Here she is eating a piece of corn freshly picked from a corn plant in the garden at work - a plant that I planted in soil that I had a hand in creating via kitchen scraps, worms, bacteria, and other friendly decomposers. It's some of the best corn I've tasted. Willow liked it too.

She has been coming to work with me all weekend, helping me with my temporary position as site supervisor. A group of teenagers with a reputation for rowdiness rented the site from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. I did witness a bit of rowdiness and a fair amount of loudness, but no lasting damage was done to the site. It helped that they had competent leaders watching over them. Willow ran around and looked cute, playing with hula hoops and eating chocolate. Earlier today though, she developed an imaginary friend named Steve. Unlike most imaginary friends, Steve is hopelessly trapped in an elevator somewhere. Willow misses him. I asked her if it was something she dreamed and she said yes, so I'm sure she's subconsciously processing Jen being gone. In the young, The veil between reality and dreams is so thin. That's part of what makes little kids so cool.

Jen is doing well, and is really looking forward to leaving the hospital. Sometime tomorrow, after the test that she's been waiting for, we'll know more about what's going on with her (of course, now that I've typed that there will be another delay...). Thanks to everybody who has helped out and/or left kind thoughts on Jen's blog. It's during times like this that I really feel I live in a community (even if it's a far flung one).

Earlier,as I was walking past the emergency room on my way to visit Jen, I was trying to put into words what kind of aura the hospital has, and I don't mean in some sort of new-agey mystical sort of way. As we go through life, we develop impressions of people and things based on past experience. The feeling I get from hospitals is one of stalled time, an interruption in the flow of reality. I get a distinct feeling of unreality everytime we end up there. I think of all the people in the rooms, and how their lives have been altered, their plans put on hold, their perceptions changed...

Maybe the veil between worlds is thin for all of us.

Friday, September 15, 2006

They're going to do one more test on Jen sometime today, and she should be home this afternoon. Thank you to Anonymous for your kind comment.

With mysterious ailments on my mind, I noticed this story about toxic dumping and subsequent riots in Ivory Coast. This is yet one more example of corporations assuming that they can do whatever they want to the poor. If this isn't environmental racism, it's definitely environmental classism. The poor always get the shaft, and Ivory Coast, the last time I checked, is one of the poorest countries on the planet. I'm glad they're fighting back. If I was there, I'd riot too. It's a shame though that this is pretty much the only recourse for them. It's bad enough that people without money (either individually or collectively) are treated as second class citizens, but to endure illegally dumped toxic waste is the ultimate insult.

Of course most of us are aware that this sort of thing happens all of the time in the U.S. too. Not only does our lifestyle cause problems at home, but all over the rest of the world as well. It's often more subtle (but not always) than what is happening in Ivory Coast, but you don't have to dig deeply to find a multitude of environmental insults. With that in mind, I recently discovered a reference to this man in James Bishop Jr.'s biography of Edward Abbey, Epitaph for a Desert Anarchist. He's one of my new heroes.

Anyway, we're all walking cesspools of toxins. Every time we eat and every time we breathe we're taking more of them in. I don't advocate violent revolution, but it would be great if each and every one of us spent time fixing the problem. The System is broken. The System is a sewer system. The waste never really goes "away," it just cycles its merry way back into the soil and into the air and into the water and into our bodies, forever and ever, no matter how much money somebody behind a big desk made from it.

Long live the Fox!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Jen has been at the hospital since about 10:30 AM, and is staying overnight. Shortly after ten this morning, she started feeling dizzy. After the dizziness failed to subside, we decided to go get it checked out. They're still checking it out. Her EKG is a bit abnormal, and there has also been some talk that it might be caused by an inner ear infection, but they're still awaiting the results of some other tests. These things take time at busy county hospitals. Lots of time.

Fingers crossed that she'll be back home tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Talk about people completely missing the message. Steve Irwin would have been absolutely stunned by this. Do some people actually believe that the Stingrays got together and planned his death? Even if, as I suspect, some wrongheaded individuals merely think they are protecting others from some imaginary Stingray menace, this is still ridiculous. If you really want to honor this man, go donate some time or money to a wildlife organization. Clean some oil from a seabird. Thwart some construction and save a habitat or two. Spay and neuter your pets so they don't breed and decimate local wildlife populations.

Do not, I repeat, do not, go out and "protect" people by killing animals you perceive as "dangerous!" With that kind of logic, you'd have to become a mass murderer because people have long been the most dangerous animals on the planet. Think about it.


I haven't been on here as much lately because Jen has been using the computer for work. The extra income is really saving our butts. That said, I've picked up some more extra hours here and there, so things are a bit less dire for us. I'm going to be selling some records on eBay as well. I'm curious to see what how much money, if any, that brings in.

Summer has thrown another handful of hot days at us too, like a parting shot before disappearing until next year. It's early yet today, but the sky is pale blue and still. You'd never know that it's hurricane season.

Monday, September 11, 2006

So it's been five years since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Five years since the re-crowning 0f the Empire State Building as the tallest building in New York, like how tall or how big something is really matters (unfortunately for a large number of people it does - yeah, I'm talking to you, Hummer drivers!). Less has changed than we thought it would in those first few hours after the attacks. A whole new generation of conspiracy theories were born. Who knows? - maybe some of them are true. Our government certainly has come up with a series of whopping lies since then, using the events of that one day to justify a whole slew of actions. More people have died, and continue to die, as a result of this than did in the original attack.

Symbols and grand ideals continue to rule the airwaves. Human beings continue to die. People continue to hate. Everytime somebody dies, somebody somewhere hates a little more. It's twisting us all into little knots so tightly tugged that they're just going to remain tied until doomsday.

None of this is new other than the fact that we keep becoming more efficient at killing. I came across an old bumper sticker in a drawer the other day that reads, "efficiency = death." Boy does it ever, in so many ways...

I know that there are decent people out there. Millions of them, I'm sure. It's just that there voices are lost under all of the blustering and inane babble of the puppets with their prepared speeches.

The world has grown too small. Everything happens too fast. We're running out of space to escape to when the walls close in. We are billions, and so many of us are all alone

The more of us there are on this planet, the less human each individual becomes. It's as if we've passed the carrying capacity of caring. I really do feel that it's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets any better.

Being vulnerable like only a parent can be, that makes me really sad.

Bastards! I leave you with a couple of quotes from Edward Abbey, who died fifteen years before the attacks, but whose words live on:

Men love their ideas more than their lives. And the more preposterous the idea, the more eager they are to die for it. And to kill for it.


Society is like a stew. If you don't keep it stirred up, you get a lot of scum on top.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Labor Day is behind us but summer seems to linger. After a week of maintainence work, I'm now in the middle of inservice week - setting up for outdoor school and attending meetings that range in subjects from teaching strategies to pandemic awareness. Something like a major outbreak of West Nile Virus or Bird Flu could wreak havoc on us. Not to mention bedbugs or headlice. I think if something really nasty makes itself known, I'm staying home. Of course, I may be staying home a lot this month anyway due to my continuing lack of "permanent" status. I'm still not sure how much of the rest of September I'll be working. This is stressful. It's bad enough not having benefits, but the lack of guaranteed work makes matters worse. Lets see how the next (possibly as early as later this month) hiring for a permanent position goes. There are still people ahead of me in line (meaning that they've been there longer) though.

Money stress aside, things are going okay. The boys are now avid bike riders. Sophie is still an avid tantrum thrower. Willow is still eating things frozen when they ought to be cooked. Jen is hard at work with her writing jobs, and I went and started a new blog focusing on music reviews. Check it out here. There's not much there yet, but I plan on adding to it regularly.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Flickering Tongue

Flickering Tongue
Originally uploaded by Corbie.
It is really a shock to read about the death of Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter. He is survived by his wife, Terri, and their two children, Bindi Sue, 8, and Bob, 3 in December. It seemed to me that he led a charmed life, deftly handling creatures that most people would run from and never sustaining serious injuries. Until now, of course - I've only just read the article up on Yahoo, but it seems a Stingray stung him in the heart.

I've often joked that he had my dream job. His passion for his work and his skill at handling dangerous animals has always impressed me, not to mention his commitment to saving wildlife and wilderness. I'll bet he was a bit of an adrenalin junkie though. There is something exciting about getting close to dangerous animals, especially when it's only your skill keeping you safe. I don't take chances like he did, but I'll admit that it's always a thrill coming across our local venomous reptile, the Western Rattlesnake. I even took Jen and the kids up to see the one pictured here (we also spotted a Yellowjacket nest and some Mountain Lion scat) on Thursday after work. It has now been in the same place for over two months, under a piece of corrugated metal siding stuck in the dirt, and in a perfect place for safe viewing. The thrill is still there though, despite the fact that I see the same snake on nearly a weekly basis. Willow at least was pretty excited about it and has been telling everybody that she saw it. It makes me think of Steve Irwin's kids. The excitement is gone for them, and the enormity of the tragedy is no doubt still sinking in. My heart goes out to them.

R.I.P. Steve Irwin.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Above the Valley

Above the Valley
Originally uploaded by Corbie.
Everybody is back in school now. Sophie now goes to the same school as the boys, but starts her day later than they do. Willow started preschool and seems to like it. She definitely doesn't have a problem with Jen and I leaving when we drop her off. We've both been dropping her off (with Sophie along for the ride as well) because my car is still dead in the driveway and I start work around the corner from Willow's school (although Jen will tell you that my definition of "around the corner" differs from hers).

We hope to get my car fixed next weekend. Public transportation around here sucks, and the road I would have to take were I to bike to work has been the scene of many cyclist fatalities over the years.

The picture of Nate was taken in the nearby hills. We've been trying to engage in more one-on-one time with the kids, especially the boys since Willow gets a lot already and Jen gets time with Sophie due to school schedules. I took Nate on a hike looking for tarantulas, but tarantula season doesn't start in earnest for another month, so we didn't find any. We had a great time anyway. Here he can be seen looking out over the valley, which only looks good from a distance. The hills smell a lot better too, and we both came home smelling of them.

I got some unexpected and much needed extra work this past week in the form of random maintainence work at the school. They've broken ground and are in the process of digging various trenches and shoving vast quantities of dirt around the site, so our various painting and mending jobs were done to the tune of beeping and clunking of heavy construction equipment. It's a shame they ripped out the blackberry bushes to put in a sewer pipe though.
Our last task yesterday was to unbolt or saw off everything connecting the large banana slug-visaged water tanks to the ground in preparation for their removal. The site is going to look barren without them.

Willow has just wandered in and needs attention. Bye.