Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Number 12

Willow is now 12. She chose to eat at Spaghetti Factory for her birthday dinner, and we followed that up with a cake baked by Jeanine. Dexter the cat wanted some too.

Next year, she'll be a teenager. It's a joy to watch her growing up, but hard to believe it's happening so fast.

...said every parent everywhere.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

New Fence

The new fence went up today. I had to get up in the middle of the day to pay the builder, but that didn't take long and soon I was back in slumberland. While I was up, he pointed out the extra board he'd installed across the bottom of the gateway on the side of the house. "So the chickens won't be able to dig under," he said. It's nice to employ a fence builder who takes the chickens into account. He has chickens himself, as well as cows, and actually gave us precedence over another project (someone who'd hired him first) because he was mindful that the chickens needed to be allowed out of the coop in order to continue their habitual ravaging of the yard.

The chickens went right back to pooping and scattering dirt and dust everywhere. Their current favorite spot to take dirt baths is right outside the back window, and they really made a mess out there today.

It has been a cold, clear week so far. At camp, the kids have been easy. A Ceanothus Silk Moth was hanging out by the kitchen door last night. They are big enough that I spotted it from around 40 feet away.

Tomorrow is Willow's birthday. She is turning 12. Eva's birthday is Thursday. She'll be 14. Presents will be dispensed and cake consumed.

Monday, February 23, 2015


The broken fence went down this morning, and the new one will go up tomorrow. It's weird being able to look directly into the duplex complex behind us, and into the neighbors' yard next door. It reminds me of houses out east, where people aren't so in love with fences. Of course, without our fence, the chickens would get out and stuff in our yard would disappear. Not that there's much out there to entice the neighborhood criminals, but one never knows.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wok Wok

Recently, every evening at twilight, a succession of seagull-sized birds have taken to flying westward over our house, emitting laconic "wok wok" sounds. For awhile, we didn't have any idea what kind of birds they were. It didn't click for me until the other night, when we walked past a nearby field attached to a local school. As we approached, I remembered that we used to see Black-crowned Night-Herons standing on the grass there, no doubt finding yummy things to eat in the turf. Sure enough, there was one there, and as we watched, it flew off. It had the same pale belly as the wok wok birds, so when we got home, I did a quick bit of internet research, and sure enough, Black-crowned Night-Herons go "wok wok". Mystery solved.

Here's the link, with sound clips.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Summer in February

After calling in sick last Monday, I managed to be healthy enough to go to work for the rest of the week, but just barely. The fever went away, but the achiness and congestion did not. It's a good thing that it was a relatively easy week, with very few problems of any kind. There was one kid with diabetes, which meant there was a need for extra vigilance, but he was responsible and charming. Even the weather was mild. By the weekend, it felt like Summer, with temperatures in the high seventies. I went to Almaden Quicksilver County Park with Willow, and the air smelled heavy and green, like Spring. The trails were bursting with joggers and hikers, and there were even some basking lizards.

Yesterday, Jeanine and I took Eva and her friends to San Francisco. I spent money at Amoeba, and then we killed time while the girls wandered around on Haight St. On the way back toward the freeway, we stopped at Corona Heights, near the Randall Museum, and climbed the hill overlooking the city. By then, the San Francisco microclimate had kicked in and a chilly wind blew fog across the landscape. Nice.

Eva had her new camera with her. I neglected to bring mine, so here are some phone pictures. It kind of bothers me that I've become the kind of person who takes pictures with his phone, but when that's all I have with me, that's what happens.

At home, we finally got somebody to come give us an estimate on replacing our fence. It's not cheap, especially since we've decided to replace the back fence too, since it's looking tired and beginning to lean in the middle. We still have to coordinate with the neighbors (and since they're renters, that means coordinating with their landlord) since, legally, they get to pay for half of the side fence replacement.

Good fences make good neighbors, or so it is said. Last night, around 1:30 or so, somebody outside was repeatedly shouting "you motherfucker!", and I sleepily figured it was some altercation between people residing in (or visiting) the house on the corner (because this is usually the case), but this morning, thanks to a Nextdoor Westside (which is a neighborhood community social network) post, I found out that the woman across the street had interrupted a couple of people breaking into her jeep. She motherfuckered them into submission, I guess. I probably would have done the same.

Monday, February 09, 2015

An Ill Wind

At some point last week, some germs jumped from one of the 32 sick kids we sent home and invaded me. I've got a cough and a fever now, plus intermittent headaches and chills. I called in sick to work earlier, and Papa Bear, who is usually the night host at our other site, is covering for me. That means, if I'm better tomorrow, I'll be working at the site Papa Bear usually supervises, and he'll continue working at the one I usually manage. Nothing like a bit of change to keep the pot of life stirred up.

There was a good storm this weekend. On Friday, we drove over the hill in the pouring rain to see Murder By Death play at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz. Saturday, it cleared up a bit, and I went on a walk that included visits to the post office, the book store, and a coffee shop. Sunday, I started feeling crappy, so I stayed home. At some point over the weekend, the wind blew down our fence, so the chickens have been cooped up (literally) for a couple of days now.

Jeanine set the wheels in motion to get an estimate on a new fence. I'm sure the chickens will be happy about that.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Plague Camp, Week Two

By 7:00 AM, three more kids had fevers. The first one came in around 4:00, while I was watching an un-subtitled version of Aleksei German's "Hard To Be A God" on YouTube (I'd love to see a subtitled version of this, since my Russian is nonexistent), and the other two made themselves around wake-up time. As of this morning, 11 or 12 kids had gone home, or were waiting to be picked up. I wonder what the total will have risen to by the time I get to work tonight.

It's grey, raw, and windy today. This is what daybreak looked like this morning:

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Sickness, Wind, and More Eggs

A bunch of kids went home sick today, with the same symptoms that afflicted the sick kids last week: fevers, headaches, and vomiting. Tonight, the wind has picked up a bit. I can hear it howling around the eaves, masking the distant susurration of agitated trees. The vents are clattering and clanking, and I'm sure that cabin doors will bang open and closed in conjunction with the heavier gusts.

At home, Mrs. Charles has started laying again, so now we have two chickens providing us with breakfast.

Midnight approaches, meaning that I have to go wake up an incontinent camper. So far this week, he hasn't actually had to get up and use the bathroom. I can't be complacent though. If I skip a night, that will be when the floodgates open and I'll have to fire up the laundry machine.

Rain is still in the forecast for Friday. This is good.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

My Keyboard, The Butt Warmer

This week, there are fewer kids at camp (by about 40), and so far, there has been less sickness. One kid with a fever was waiting to get picked up when I got there last night, and earlier, somebody had vomited in the amphitheater, but with the exception of competing Great Horned and Screech owls calling over a soundbed of frogs, the night was quiet.

The sunrise revealed a few clouds, pleasantly painted orange. Once again, the forecast calls for rain. Will it actually happen? We'll find out at the end of the week.

At home, Dexter took over the computer for awhile.

Nearby, the dragons, freshly cleaned, wished they could hang out on the keyboard too. After all, everybody knows that the keys are nice and warm.