Sunday, October 25, 2015

Another Week in the Field

This week, I became temporarily diurnal. Our machine needs oil, at least as far as scheduling goes. This means that I occasionally get desperate, last-minute messages about trading in my night supervisor hat for a field instructor one. Not that I mind, although I think scheduling difficulties are generally stressful for all involved.

My group this week included the usual spectrum of students, and we spent some quality time out on the trails. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. At the Friday meeting, we found out that our old dining hall is going to be demolished soon, and other facilities changes are in the offing.

Thursday, as I often do, I took my group up to Lake Ranch Reservoir. The sky was mostly blue, but it's obvious that Autumn is here, both from the slightly cooler temperatures and the drifts of colorful leaves decorating the trails. Everything is dusty and dry, and the water level in the reservoir is lower than ever.

One of the kids found a dead bat. I'm not sure which species it is.

At home, after getting back late from a night up in the city (to be detailed soon on my music blog), I went out to close up the chicken coop and saw this little guy looking down from the back fence.

I wonder if he was pondering a possible chicken dinner. We saw him again the next night as he investigated the front "lawn" (in quotes because, due to the drought, it's not actually a lawn at the moment).

Brian the kitten has decided that he likes books. As I type, he is on another rampage.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Killing and Biting, Plus A Kitten

Over the last week, we have had a few days of almost-rain, with just enough water falling from the sky to pit the dust, giving it a cratered appearance somewhat like the surface of the moon. The temperature has been vacillating back and forth between unseasonably hot and crisply autumnal. Autumn is, after all, a transitional season, although it remains to be seen what kind of winter we'll transition to this year. The possible impacts of the current El Nino have been in the news, but it's all just talk until the effects are actually felt.

A couple of noteworthy events, both of which I found out about second hand due to my nocturnal schedule, have happened at work over the last couple of weeks. I found out early last week (or was it the week before?) that one of my coworkers found a dead Mountain Lion over by the creek. He initially reported that it had been shot, which is worrying, because that means that somebody was wandering around with a gun in the hills above camp. If a ranger or somebody else official had shot it (which wouldn't have been any better), the carcass would have been removed. The Santa Cruz Puma Project people were called in to investigate, and they reported that, no, it hadn't been shot. It had been killed by another Mountain Lion. Mountain Lions are very territorial, so this does happen occasionally.

Last Wednesday, one of the night hike groups heard a Mountain Lion, so it was probably the voice of the killer.

The other noteworthy event happened the same Wednesday, to a kid in the same group. Down by the pond, this kid started hassling a small snake, reportedly poking at it until it bit him. Unfortunately for the kid, he picked the wrong snake to hassle, so for the first time in our history, a camper got bitten by a rattlesnake. The incident was handled well, with an immediate 911 call being made. The camper got one vial of antivenin and reportedly will have no lasting repercussions from his little misadventure. From what I heard, the fellow members of his field class weren't surprised at his lapse of judgement, and didn't want to send him get well cards.

There is also a nest of rattlesnakes under a boulder near our front gate. I'm in the field again this week (another last minute staffing snafu - I awoke to an e-mail and a voice message this morning), so I'll check the area out at some point.

My own work weeks have been very routine, with nothing much of interest happening. I get to work, hang out with my swing shift friends, Weasel and Tiger Lily, and then share space with our security guard, Apple Juice, until it's time to wake the kids up. I've been waking the kids up with some poorly-played trombone music, although I bought a kazoo horn for a dollar at the Clown Club auction on Thursday, so on Friday morning I discovered that yes, it is possible to wake up 150 kids with a kazoo. What fun!

At home, we have a new resident. His name is Brian. He looks like this:

A friend of Jeanine's found Brain abandoned at a campsite. He was originally going to be part of a trade because Jeanine was trying to give away our young roosters. As it ended up, somebody else took the roosters but we got the kitten anyway. We have one possible rooster left. it's just androgynous enough that we can't tell the gender. If it starts crowing, it's going to have to move.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Weekend Whips By

The weekend is already almost over. I watched Willow play three soccer games and one softball game. Her soccer team won one, tied one, and lost one, and I'm not sure what the final score at the softball game was. It's always a pleasure to watch her do things she likes and does well. I've said it before: I'm not a spectator sports fan, and I'm not sure what the big deal is with watching highly paid athletes play, but I love watching my daughter play because it is not only fun for her, but good for her in multiple ways.

I sometimes get overly scornful toward sports fans, but I guess if one applies entertainment preferences to Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences, it makes sense that the more physically and socially (and less emotionally, intellectually, artistically...) oriented people in the population would gravitate toward events where physical and social skills are needed. Of course, if you look at professional athletes, the news is rife with examples of poor social graces amongst the sporting elite (ie: a lot of them are spoiled babies). This is yet another reason I'd much rather watch my daughter play. These games are just training for war anyway, at least war as it used to be fought, where things like physical skill and teamwork made a bigger difference.

Eva has started her annual gig working for Deadtime Dreams. Here is how she went to work yesterday:

On a completely different note, here's a nice picture of Venus, taken at camp toward the end of the week.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

The forecast for today called for possible thunderstorms, but I'm looking out the window at an expanse of blue sky, with a few white, fluffy clouds around the fringes. Yesterday, it actually rained a bit, making the roads slick enough to bring cars together in expensive ways. It occurred to me that there are probably a lot of drivers in California who had never driven in the rain before yesterday.

Then, yesterday evening, we got yet another spectacular sunset.

We've been getting a lot of those lately though.

So far, only one of the Safeway chicks is crowing. Jeanine has named him "Pot Pie". He sleeps in a cat carrier in the garage so he won't wake up the neighborhood every morning. Anybody want a rooster? Maybe two or three roosters?

The nights at work this week have been relatively easy, with the exception of Tuesday night when a kid decorated his sleeping bag and mattress with his dinner. That's when I found that the washing machine still isn't working. I've also been waking up too early every afternoon, which means I'm operating on about five hours of sleep each day, instead of my preferred eight. Coffee is my friend.