Monday, October 18, 2010

The first real rain of the season hit yesterday, and we spent a lot of time walking in it and waiting for the puddles to get deep enough to jump in. Willow was amazed that the pumpkin patch was still open despite the weather. I went to the park with Sophie and Willow, and after finding an old tennis ball, we played "monkey in the middle" on the rain slick basketball court. This was after we played a game where we pretended that our reflections were upside-down people underneath the cement. That made the girls laugh uncontrollably. Sophie spent a good deal of time stomping on hers, because that's the kind of girl Sophie is.

It's good to have an injection of Autumn energy. More rain is forecast for the coming weekend too. Let's hope it pours.

Currently listening to: Lo'Jo "Fils de Zamal"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

During lunch today, as we ate vegetable stir fry with fake beef, Jeanine and I simultaneously wondered aloud if producing more unusual varieties of mock meat would be scandalous. For instance, would there be a furor over mock dog? What about house cat flavored soy product? And for all of the culinary adventurers out there, should vegetarian substitutes for endangered species be made available? Siberian Tiger patties? (I must insert here that I hold a very dim view of people sick enough to actually eat the real thing - that's not really culinary adventure, but more of a species-ist power trip). People have eaten mammoth too, although I'm not sure if any of the scientists involved in that particular tasting are still with us. And sure, food companies would have to hire as taste consultants people who had eaten the real animals in question, but it is possible, isn't it? I'm tired of fake beef, pork, and chicken. I'd like to try some fake muskrat, or perhaps fake penguin. Why do food companies have to be so unimaginative? They could probably just make up weird flavors too, and dispense with consultants altogether, for the simple reason that most people wouldn't know dog meat from wildebeest meat, or condor steaks from polar bear jerky.

That said, we vegetarians already seem to have more options than people who stick to meat. I've been vegetarian for over half my life, and have seen the whole "meat substitute" end of the food spectrum go from one miserable make-it-yourself powdered hamburger substitute to a huge range of vegetarian products, made out of everything from mushrooms to soy to wheat and beyond. There is even one vegan cheese that actually melts like real cheese. If they can make it taste just a little more convincing, I might actually go vegan.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sometimes I feel that I concentrate more on the icing than the cake. A lot of my energy is directed towards entertaining myself, whether it be with music, film, novels, excursions, or otherwise. Not that there is anything wrong with entertainment, of course, but I often get the feeling that I should be planning more for the future, both for me and for my daughter, or at the very least, be giving these kinds of things more thought than I do. Part of this lack of planning comes from my dislike of dealing with financial institutions, bureaucrats, and paperwork, and truth be told, my dislike of phones.

I've built a comfortable little world here in the present, but I'm not sure it's a self-sustaining one. I do have thoughts of home-ownership, job advancement, and the rest of that kind of thing, but for some reason, it has never been a priority. I feel like I sacrifice the future for the present, and wonder if that's really any worse than sacrificing the present for the future. The present is now, while the future is always uncertain. I think I should strive for some middle ground at least, but at the moment lack the inspiration and impetus to do so. Instead, I'll simply write about it, and remember that it is always a good thing to be prepared for any eventuality.

As for the present, the school year is well underway. We're in the middle of the fifth week of science camp for the season, and there is an unusually small group of kids at camp this week, just 108 kids and four teachers. It's almost like not working. I did get one week in the field a couple of weeks ago, and it was a nice change. It was also the hottest week of the season so far, although we've been having record-breaking warm temperatures this week as well. Perhaps it is the warm weather that has inspired Jerusalem Crickets to interrupt each night time talk I've done so far this week. The kids, for the most part, were excited by their presence, with some even wanting to hold them.

I've not been spending any time and energy looking for a classroom position lately. Job prospects in that area seem rather grim at the moment, and I'm actually having second thoughts about going the classroom route. I'd love to have a classroom, but I want to find one that is right for me, not one chosen out of any sort of desperation. In other words, I'm going to be picky while I can afford to be, keeping in mind that I only have a certain amount of time to clear my preliminary teaching credential, this last being the only real pressure on me at the moment. I think I'll step up my attempts in this direction at the start of the new year.

For the time being, I'm enjoying my daytime freedom with the icing, reading novels and listening to music. This past weekend, Jeanine and I went on a 14 mile hike through Rancho San Antonio, passing Deer Hollow Farm (where we went on our first walk together) and following the trails all the way to Hidden Villa (where I had my first taste of working with kids outdoors). We spent around 6 hours hiking, sharing the trail with quail, rabbits (more than 30 of them, I think), Whiptails, Chipmunks, deer, an unfortunately crippled Wood Rat, and a small Gopher snake. It was sad to see the Wood Rat, covered in flies and with a mangled left hind leg, hopping disconsolately along the side of the trail, as if it were imploring some airborne predator to come take it away. Such is the cycle of life though. We all cycle through the beauty, the bliss, and the suffering, hoping all the while that the beauty and bliss will trump any misery sent our way. I'm sure that the rat has since gone on to provide a blissful meal for some opportunistic predator, an event which would also serve to end its suffering.

As for Jeanine and I, we suffered a bit from blisters, but those will pass. Maybe we need better hiking shoes. Perhaps I should plan to get some.

Monday, October 04, 2010

This is the first day this year to really feel like Autumn. The sky is a mottled gray and there is a chill in the air, which of course has given me a blast of energy.

September vanished in a blink, with the last week of it breaking temperature records across the Bay Area. I spent the week in the field, hiking with kids from 5 different local private Catholic schools. We dripped sweat, but had a great time anyway. I even tried out a new way of teaching about the rock cycle, grouping the kids into trios and having them act out parts of the rock cycle while the rest of the group got to guess which part. I think I'll keep doing that one. This week, I'm back in the hub at night, keeping watch over sleeping public school kids.

We went to the zoo over the weekend; Willow and I, and Jeanine and her daughter. We checked out the new Pancake Tortoises and all of the old favorites like the Flying Foxes and Alligators.

Not sure where I was going with this post. I think I just felt the need to check in here. It's also because of the weather, I think. My posting has been haphazard of late, for no reason other than I haven't been in much of a reflective mood. Maybe it's because I'm happy. Maybe I've just gotten out of the habit of writing every day. My schedule once made that easy, and I never managed to work it back into my schedule once things changed. I've lately been experimenting with writing when I don't actually feel like doing it, and have had a certain amount of success in producing results that, while not groundbreaking, aren't complete crap either.

Hopefully I'll have more to say before October vanishes too.