Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jeanine and I have now started keeping track of miles we've walked. I've walked over 18 miles since Friday morning. Jeanine came along for slightly over 10 of those (the walk to the hills and back), Willow for about 5, and Sophie for 3.

On Saturday, I discovered a neat little park, called Guadalupe Oak Grove, nestled in the middle of suburbia. We were walking through TJ Martin Park, which is a long strip of land which follows an easement through which the overhead power lines run. As we stopped at a playground, I noticed a gate through which a pathway led, and beyond the gate an impressive patch of oak woodland, all shadows and sun-dappled grass. After some playing along the banks of a nearby creek, I convinced the girls to go back and pass through the gate into the woods. Inside, it felt like we had been transported back in time to an era before the west was paved. In addition to oak trees, there were grassy hillsides that completely shut out any hint of the suburbs that surrounded us. The illusion would have been shattered if we'd climbed the hills, but we stayed on the wide pathway which meandered beneath the classically gnarled wooden fingers of the oak trees, admiring the thick grasses and occasional patches of Spring flowers. Paradise can be reached on foot.

Currently listening to: Natural Snow Buildings "The Centauri Agent" (click on the link in you want to download this release for absolutely free from the nice people at Vulpiano Records)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I can now report that it takes nearly an hour and a half to walk to the hills from my front door. Jeanine and I have been walking a lot lately, partially because it's Spring and partially because walking is good for you. I sometimes forget how much more one sees when walking - all of the minute details of Spring would have been invisible and inaudible to us if we'd driven to the hills today. We especially wouldn't have noticed all of the birds and flowers. There was a vast cloud of seagulls conversing loudly high above us, circling as if looking for the sea. Up in the hills, the crows joined the chorus. Hummingbirds were everywhere, and on the way back we jaw a violently blue little bird sitting alongside the football field at a nearby high school. As near as we could figure, it was a Western Bluebird. Neither of us had seen one before. We ended up walking close to 10 miles, taking a different way back to form a loop. In the hills, we saw a kid looking for snakes, who may or may not have been intending to scare us away from his snake hunting grounds by informing us that he'd seen rattlesnakes. Silly kid. When we looked under logs (or actually what looks like the remains of old telephone poles), All we found was a slightly confused vole. All of the logs looked like they'd been repeatedly turned over and not put back. Narrow strips of dead grass or bare dirt told the tale. I wish people would put things back the way they found them. The kid was still poking around under rocks when we left. Hopefully he put them all back after he was done.

Now, the relatively clear sky has mostly given way to a white, cottony blanket of clouds. The birds are still singing.

Currently listening to: Natural Snow Buildings "The Snowbringer Cult"

Sunday, April 10, 2011

It sounds like a dream. I was surrounded by a bunch of elderly women who seemed to know only one word in English. "Ball", they said as they looked down at me. Fortunately, given the situation, I know that this was a request, and better yet, a request that I could fulfill with colorful balloons. Today, the day after, my fingers still hurt a bit from making balloon balls at the party Jeanine and I worked yesterday. The birthday boy, being only one year old, probably didn't even realize that all of the fuss was for him. Come to think of it though, all of the fuss was actually for the relatives. The needs of one-year-olds are simple, and big family parties aren't included among them. Apparently though, the needs of octogenarians are a bit more mystifying. They all wanted balloon balls. What they planned to do with these colorful, inflated balls is even more of a mystery.

Earlier, and to the north a bit, I was hired to watch a jump house for a few hours, which gave me more time to reflect on the needs of the very young. I love watching the absolute glee on the faces of toddlers as they bounce up and down. If all adults could figure out how to reattain this simple, guileless joy, the world would be a much better place. To bad we have to mess things up by getting older and less innocent.

Today, we're heading up to a party in Concord, and then on to The Independent in San Francisco for the last Sleepytime Gorilla Museum show ever.

Currently listening to: Sleepytime Gorilla Museum "In Glorious Times"

Thursday, April 07, 2011

I can see a dead Redwood tree out my window, and I wonder what toxin it sucked up from the ground or out of the surrounding air. I often look at the sad trees lining the freeways, with dry spindly branches festooned with trash and coated by dust, and wonder how long it will be before they're gone. The other day, while out getting the mail, I noticed a sad little rat sitting by the mailboxes, so sick with poison that it didn't move when I retrieved my junk mail and dumped it in the nearby recycling container. It got me thinking about how many other species we poison, either intentionally or inadvertently. Creatures like rats are drawn to our garbage, and I've always wondered why people get so upset about rats in the dumpsters. It's not like we're using that stuff. Might as well let the rats take what they can. Sure, there is the disease factor, but people are much more likely to catch diseases from rats who hang out by the mailboxes than from the unpoisoned rats tunneling through the dumpsters.

Currently listening to: Eleni Karaindrou "Ulysses' Gaze" soundtrack

Monday, April 04, 2011

The weather has become mild and blue, and birdsong pours through the window. The hillsides are rainbowed with flowers and the ponds resound with the pick up lines of amphibians. I guess Spring is here.

I've gone on several walks in the hills over the last few days, once with Jeanine, once with Willow, and once by myself. Jeanine and I found a letterbox, rescued a rattlesnake (it was small, and stuck in a deep junction box), and were serenaded by toads at a pond that was a meadow the last time we passed it. Willow and I found another letterbox, visited the farm animals, and saw a chipmunk. On both of these hikes there were countless rabbits and quail dining alongside the trails. Poppies dotted the meadows. Jeanine and I saw a small Gopher snake inching across the trail, looking like it was on the trail of something. On my solo hike, I found a much larger Gopher snake under a log, looking like it wasn't on the trail of anything. I do so love finding snakes. All of this walking has infused me with a new sense of well-being, making me think that I didn't get out enough this Winter. Right now everything is beautiful. I want to lie on my back in a meadow and let the world busy itself around me.

Currently listening to: Hannah Marcus "Desert Farmers"