Sunday, March 25, 2007
The work week flew by again, slightly marred by the usual snafu during the set-up for the astronomy program at our second site. After a power cable was found and a password became known, the only thing we had to deal with was a laptop with a dead screen. We got around that by attaching it to a projector and projecting the image onto a movie screen. That's what we were trying to do anyway, since the whole point of the struggle was to show the campers our astronomy slide show.
On Thursday night, Matt and I went up to a bar called Amnesia to see Faun Fables, who were excellent. Black Bird Stitches and Mandrake opened the show. Also excellent. A show review may show up on my other site.
Then, on Saturday, Jen and I, accompanied by Matt, all went to see Sleepytime Gorilla Museum at Slim's, also in S.F. We even went out for Ethiopian food before the show. Our getting to go out together is such a rarity that it had me smiling all night. The food and the show helped too, as both were excellent. Again, a show review is pending.
And finally, a quote from Willow, who when asked where the video remote was, replied, "the 'mote is buried in the cemetery!"
Thursday, March 15, 2007
This is a Vole, not to be confused with a fat mouse. I find a lot of them under boards and scraps of sheet metal around our school. This particular Vole has carved out a veritable warren of runs underneath a pile of boards in our education garden. They usually run away before I can photograph them.
I got an e-mail via Flickr today from a guy named Colin who works at a non-profit organization in England. He wants to use my Vole photos for an educational display they're doing. If only the Vole knew that it was destined to become an international celebrity. Not that it would care. Check out the website here.
We went on our so-called "all day" hike today. I say "so called" because in reality it's only about five and a half hours. We used an hour or so of that time to hike up to Lake Ranch Reservoir, where we explored a bit. As we started out on a quick excursion to the far end of the reservoir, there was a loud noise from the woods on the far shore, followed by a puff of smoke. We all agreed it sounded like a gunshot. I quickly turned around and got the kids away from there.
On the trail down, we learned from a passing hiker that some teenagers were shooting a gun (32 caliber, he said) and that a small fire had been set. I radioed it in to our hub host (camp coordinator), but since we were so far from camp it took me several tries to break through the wall of static that always seems to plague us on longer excursions. He, in turn, called the park rangers, who sped past us in their trucks ten or fifteen minutes later. One ranger stopped to check in with me and confirm the story before speeding away.
And that's all I know. In real life, we don't always get to hear the end of the story. Sorry. Maybe I'll find out more later.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Inspired by the Spring-like weather, we went up to Hidden Villa and wandered around the farm for awhile yesterday. Then we followed the creek trail, where Willow got to meet a horse and throw sticks into the water.
My main hiking goal was to go up the trail where the Coast Horned Lizards can sometimes be spotted. We saw none, but then again they usually don't come out until April. We did find a small Rattlesnake, which both Jen and I walked right past. It was a startled exclamation from Matt that called our attention to it. The frightened little snake quickly crawled off into the bushes. There were lots of wildflowers blooming too, including Indian Warrior and Hound's Tongue, to name a couple that I recognized. Banana Slugs and mushrooms of various colors were also to be seen.
Willow's favorite part of the trip was our visit to the cow enclosure. It's a treat to watch her interact with natural surroundings. We'll visit there again soon.
Click on the picture to see more.
The new week, minus the hour that was taken from us early Sunday morning, started with a new batch of kids at work. I have an high functioning autistic kid in my group, as well as one who doesn't speak English very well. Every week has its challenges. The autistic kid seems a little jumpy around the local wildlife. We've already come across a lot of animals, including a mouse, Ringneck snake, skinks, various salamanders, a Tree frog, one of the pond's Red-eared sliders, and a number of smaller critters. Spring has indeed come early.
I've written a few pages of my novel, which in some ways parallels my working life, but in other ways very obviously doesn't. I've also put together a (very) rough outline of how it's all going to fit together. I don't really have any illusions of finishing it by the end of the month, but I'll have something to show at least. I'm also trying to figure out what I'm going to do for a performance Greg is putting together for the end of the month.
Oh, and read the Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, if you have the time (which I don't, but I read it anyway). It's good.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Despite predicted rain (which never manifested), it has been like Spring around here this week. The reptiles, including Alligator lizards, Western Skinks, Western Fence lizards, Garter snakes, and Ringneck snakes, have been out in force. Lots of amphibians too. Pictured here is a Garter snake investigating its surroundings with a flick of its tongue.
I tried something new on the night hike this week. Last weekend, I bought a black light pen (which was supposed to be used for writing and reading "invisible" messages) to replace the portable black light that broke last season. On the night hike, I turned it on and played the beam across the trail as we walked. The millipedes, which reflect black light like scorpions do (they glow a jade green color) stood out from their surroundings like little, many-legged, greenish stars. We didn't see any scorpions though. Maybe next week.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
I'm also committed to writing a novel this month. Whether or not I'll have anything worthwhile to show for it come April remains to be seen.
I mention these things here so I can't quietly back out.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Piccheti Pond, known to us at work simply as "the pond," hasn't been a pond since last Winter. Right now it is a concave meadow. Sadly, it is now home to quite a number of gravid California Newts. I witnessed a number of them emerging from holes under the dry grass out in what should have been the middle of the pond. Unless the rainy season kicks into high gear, there will be no pond for any of the local amphibians (there are also Western Toads and Pacific Tree Frogs nearby) to lay their eggs in. Yet another of nature's little tragedies. Perhaps some of the amphibians will find their way down to some other body of water. There are creeks and a reservoir nearby.
I took my group of kids up there today, and they had a good time exploring. We got to hang out for awhile with one of the other field classes. The area with the newts had a constant crowd of kids around it.
On the way back to camp, I saw a Coyote. About half of my group got to see it before it vanished in the trees up the slope.