Sunday, March 30, 2008

...Gone Tomorrow

...Gone Tomorrow, originally uploaded by Corbie.

I got rid of two things over the last couple of days - my car and my hair.

The car has been sitting, undriven, out front ever since it starting running rough around six months ago. I parked it on the street until some bored representative of the local police department chalked the tires and left a note saying that I had 72 hours to move it. This meant I had to give up the driveway space I'd been parking the van in. Not to mention the fact that we've been paying insurance on a car that nobody has been driving. Chalk it up to procrastination on my part. Anyway, I finally got in touch with a charity and donated the damn thing. It was a little sad to see it go. I spent a lot of time adding character to that car, in the form of stickers, corrosion, busted out lights, and that unique smell every older car achieves (a combination of a decade of spilled drinks and food, coupled with who knows what else...). Granted, not everybody liked that smell. I'd used the car for over six years of paper delivery too, during which time it virtually became a part of me. It was comfortable, despite the steering wheel being so worn through that you had to grip the metal where the rubber sagged off (not fun on hot days), and despite the shininess of the driver's seat where the fabric had been buffed smooth by my butt.

Now it's gone, and we can write it off on next year's taxes. Too bad it didn't happen in time to help us with this year's taxes.

As for my hair - I'd been thinking about getting cut for awhile, but not taking action. It took Jen making the appointment (to coincide with hers) to get me down there. It has been, after all, nearly 20 years since I last got it even so much as trimmed, so all of a sudden having my hair end before it touches my shoulders is a big step.
I've had long hair ever since I could get away with it. Why? I think it was a combination of my musical idols having long hair, and just thinking it looked cool. Over the years, it just became habit (in a do-nothing sort of way). It's been braided by hundreds of kids in that time, and I've probably used up way more than my share of shampoo and conditioner. People would sometimes ask why I had it long, to which I would reply, "think of the money I've saved on haircuts." I'm still getting used to the fact that I don't have to (in fact, can't) put it back in a ponytail. I think I like it. I think...

As for the shorn hair, I'm donating it to Locks of Love. I'm all about giving things to charity this week, it seems.

Currently listening to: Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band "13 Blues for Thirteen Moons"

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Making A Wish

Making A Wish, originally uploaded by Corbie.

Willow finally got her birthday party, nearly a month after her actual birthday. A while back, she had been invited to a party at "the jumpy house place" and had been impressed enough to want her party there too. Of course, the Jumpy House Place costs about double what other party-oriented destinations do, but money means nothing to the preschool set, so we forlornly forked over the dough and spent an hour or so bouncing up and down on large, inflatable play structures, which actually ended up being a lot of fun. Willow's paternal grandparents came along (but didn't bounce), as did her siblings and some friends from preschool (who did bounce). The bouncing was followed by pizza, soda, and cake. Then, once all of the kids were properly sugared up, the party ended and everybody went home to no doubt continue bouncing in less bounce-friendly domestic environments.

The night before this, I went with my mom to see the latest Central Works play, Wakefield (based on a Nathaniel Hawthorne short story that I have yet to read). Greg, as usual, did the sound. The play concerns a husband who returns home after a 20 year disappearance, much to the outraged disbelief of his wife, a disbelief which grows exponentially when it turns out he'd been living two blocks away all that time, with no real explanation as to why. This is definitely a story for anybody who has heard the call of the open road and taken it, regardless of the consequences. Of course, it also deals with that all too human quality of procrastination - in particular the kind that makes it harder and harder to do something, like phoning somebody, the longer it is delayed. I know exactly what that feels like. In a strange way, it also made me think about that woman who was in the news recently for sitting on the toilet for two years, saying, "maybe I'll get off tomorrow," while her boyfriend just adjusted to the strangeness and enabled her to remain perched on that most undignified of thrones by feeding her.

I'd say go see the play, but its run has ended. So, go see the next play, which should be up and running in July/August.

On Easter, the kids participated in multiple egg hunts, the first at home, the second at the Unitarian church that Jen has been going to lately, and the third at a friend's house. Willow says that she wants to help hide them next time. At this third party, a number of kids were playing "rock band", which is basically karaoke with points. Kids play guitar and drums, and of course, sing karaoke-style. The guitar and drums are electronic mock-ups upon which you must finger the correct chords or hit the right drum at the right time, as indicated on the tv screen. If everybody messes up, the song "fails" and the virtual audience on the screen throws things at the virtual band. So much for enhancing self-esteem. I joined in after awhile, singing Black Sabbath's "Paranoid," Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) the Reaper," and "Should I Stay or Should I Go," by The Clash. Loudly. Alex played "guitar" most of the time. The Drummers came and went, in true Spinal Tap fashion.

On Tuesday morning, I took Willow to the Children's Discovery Museum, with all of my pets in tow (excluding the iguana, who is agoraphobic). They had asked me to do this a couple of months ago, as part of a Green Week - a celebration of biodiversity and other things "green." It ended up being a popular event, with my table being quite mobbed for most of the three and a half hours that I was there. While I was managing the table and letting kids touch spiders and snakes, Willow played nearby. This was the first time I'd let her go off on her own, and she did a great job of checking in every so often. I even gave her money to go buy something at the cafeteria, and she dutifully brought me the change. It helped of course that about half of the museum staff knows her.

And here it is, almost the weekend again. The week at work has been chugging along smoothly, with a couple of coyote sightings to liven things up. As I got there on Monday night, I saw a number of deer near the main office being watched by a rather small coyote, who of course ran away when spotted himself. Apparently, the watchers don't like being watched. The other coyote was hanging out by the boys' bathroom, and inspired at least one person to put nature's call on hold.

Still waiting, after all of these years, to see a Mountain Lion.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The View from Above

The View from Above, originally uploaded by Corbie.

I got a rare chance to take out a field class last Wednesday, which was a lot of fun, but I sure felt the effects of losing a couple of precious hours of morning sleep. This was exacerbated by me having a nasty cold/sinus infection/eye infection. Being sick and tired really drains me. I blame the eye infection squarely on Willow, because the infected eye was the one she sneezed on last week. The cold and sinus problems have hit everybody in the family except Alex. At least I missed out on the fever part of it.

As for the field class, I had the kids pretend that everything they saw was brand new to them, and had them come up with new names for everything. It was pretty easy in some cases, because some of the animals we found were indeed new to the kids. They probably had the hardest time naming the one in the picture here. One kid decided that it should be called, "The Snake that Might Kill You." This is an apt name, but he still used the word "Snake," which I was trying to have the kids avoid doing. This particular snake did in fact recently kill something, as is evidenced by the large lump in its body in the lower right hand corner of the photo. There's probably a partially digested vole in there, but we'll never know for sure.

This coming week, I get to teach another lesson, although it will be in a classroom. I'll have to bring my own snakes for this one.

We're all feeling pretty much better now. There's nothing like getting a couple nights of good sleep to put things to rights. I even got to sit down and watch a couple of horror movies last night while Jen was out seeing Margaret Cho in San Francisco. I can't remember the last time I actually watched two movies in a row (not counting kid movies, which the kids will sometimes watch two or more times in a row). The horror movies came courtesy of the local video store having a going out of business sale. Right now all of the dvds are 70% off and falling. I plan to go back when they're even cheaper and get more. Jen keeps reminding me that space is at a premium around here, but the cheap movies are calling me...

I'll sign off with a quote from Willow. While she was sitting on the couch yesterday, she looked up at me with a thoughtful little face and asked, "how do boys poop?"

She's becoming such an inquisitive little girl.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Now, Jen, Willow, and Nate are all sick. Alex is away at camp (at our second site, so I don't see him when I go to work, although I plan to swing by and visit him on the way in tonight). With Nate and Willow home in the mornings while Sophie is at school, I can actually sleep a bit. Nate and Willow keep each other amused, without the fighting that usually ensues when Sophie is around. So, in a way, it has been pretty peaceful around here this week.

I've been feeling this indefinable compulsion to spend less time at the computer, which, coupled with a strange nostalgia for a time when the world was uncluttered with the frenetic instantaneousness of the computer age, might find me away from the computer for stretches of time. I find I get more done around here when I'm not sitting in front of the screen. This is nothing new, really, and I'm sure it will be a passing thing, but I'm going to embrace the feeling while it lasts.

Current reading: "The Attempted Rescue," by Robert Aickman (which may explain the above compulsion, since this is an autobiographical account of Aickman's childhood during the first half of the last century - quite fascinating, and more than a bit unsettling as well, like his stories).

Current listening: Stille Volk "Maudat"

Saturday, March 01, 2008


Nightsnake, originally uploaded by Corbie.

The kids didn't have school yesterday (except for Willow, who only had it in the morning), and since the weather was warm, I thought it would be a good idea to get up into the hills for a hike. For once, everybody agreed. With their two friends who were over at the time, that made it a total of six kids going on the hike with me, and for once, there was a minimum of fighting/arguing. True, Sophie got a little whiny at times, and wanted to be carried a lot, but then again she is just getting over being sick, and doesn't weigh much anyway.

In the three and a half hours that we were there, we saw a couple of wild turkeys, some dog walkers, a few hikers and joggers, a herd of cows (introduced to the edges of the park to keep the grass down, thus preventing fire hazards during high summer), and a Nightsnake. This last discovery absolutely thrilled me, because I'd been wanting to find a Nightsnake for years. I've lived in this area almost all of my life, and while I knew Nightsnakes were supposed to live in the vicinity, I'd never come across one before. This may in part be due to the fact that they're nocturnal, pretty well camouflaged, and relatively small (although they can get over two feet in length). This one was under a log, or perhaps inside it, because when I rolled the log over, it was upside down, like it had fallen out of the log. All I saw at first was what looked like a bit of white ribbon, since it was belly up and their bellies are cream-colored. I picked it up and turned it over. The snake was pretty cold, so at first it didn't move much. I called the kids over, and we all took turns holding it. Nightsnakes are mildly venomous, but are not considered dangerous to humans. I don't think this one was big enough to puncture skin even if it wanted to bite. I love their eyes too. The have little vertical, "cat eye" pupils, which are common among nocturnal animals.

I took a lot of photos because the screen on my camera is cracked (possibly due to the below freezing temperatures we encountered on our Shasta trip last weekend), and it's hard to tell whether or not the photos are good ones. I figured if I took a lot, at least a few of them would be decent. I think it's about time for a new camera.