Sunday, January 31, 2016

Photo Excursion

We spent a windy Sunday driving and walking around Mountain View, taking pictures of places we used to live. Jeanine was born in Mountain View, and I lived in two houses and two apartments there (not at the same time - that would be weird). I got the idea to photograph all of my old addresses after deciding that my writing challenge for February would be to share a random memory each day. I figured that having photographs to go along with some of the posts would be fun. Plus, I was curious to see if any of my previous dwellings looked any different. Of course, now that I've taken these pictures with the intention of writing about them, the memories I'll be sharing are no longer quite random. Also, they're most likely to be of interest to nobody but myself, but I'm writing this for me, not you, so too bad.

We wandered through the downtown area too, stopping in a book store and eating at the crepe place across the street. Downtown Mountain View has a bit of an edge over downtown Campbell (which is our nearest downtown area of any note) because it has two book stores instead of one.

The photo above was taken on the way back. The sky to the north was quite striking this evening.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Skate Party

Months after her last game of the season, Willow finally had her end-of-season soccer party, which included skating at Downtown Ice and receiving a couple of trophies (one for the season, and one for the tournament).

Now, she says her feet hurt, so she's sitting on the couch and watching bad TV while scrolling around on her iPod.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Incomplete Explanation

Sometimes, I get to work and discover abandoned notes written by kids who got caught doing something they shouldn't have been doing. Usually, the notes are apologies, but this one seems to be a mere explanation. Perhaps he was leading up to an apology, but never got a chance to get to that point. I have no idea why this was left unfinished.

Just another of life's little mysteries.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Divine Sunrise

I take too many photos of sunrises and sunsets, but in my defense, each one is different. I've always been drawn toward landscapes and skyscapes, and the evidence is in the photos I choose to share here. Very few of the photos I've posted this month (or last month) have people in them.

Last night, while I was reading Algernon Blackwood's "Pan's Garden" (the book that I pulled a bunch of pressed flowers and leaves from awhile back), I discovered that I'd missed one interesting thing:

It makes me wonder about the past owner(s) of this book. The spaces between the pages have proven to be a cornucopia of strangeness. Taking my cue from Jeanine's quick tracking down of the last quote I'd found wedged in the book, I did a quick online search for this one and discovered this site of quotes by an interesting historical personage known as Father Divine. The Wikipedia entry for Father Divine reveals that cult leader Jim Jones once claimed to be Divine's reincarnation, despite the fact that Jones was 34 years old when Divine died.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Music For Cats

As I was walking around camp last night, I was listening to Cat Power. Turning around suddenly, I discovered that our resident feral cat was following me. The only conclusion possible here is that he wanted to let me know he approved of my musical choice.

Or, he may have wanted me to feed him. Cats tend to think with their stomachs.

Other than that, the night was uneventful. A raccoon was hanging out near the walk-in freezers, and later,a mouse darted across the hub. The kids slept. In the morning, a string of planets was visible, laid out across the sky like some sort of cosmic beaded necklace.

Our new gate has been installed, but the finishing touch of an electronic entry system still remains undone. The old gate is still in place as well.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Corvid Points

Looking to the west this morning, I saw this:

This was my view to the east:

The kids this week are the low-maintenance type, so my night was easy. I walked a couple of miles around camp, and got a little farther in Algernon Blackwood's "Pan's Garden". Life is good.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Back On the Night Shift

This is the campfire currently burning down to ash and memories out in the middle of camp. The campers are in bed, the night is cold, and the moon commands the sky.

I wish I could have gotten a photo of the moonrise earlier. It was huge and orange, but partially veiled by dark clouds, making it look eaten away, like a hastily abandoned peach. The photo wouldn't have been as good as the real thing anyway.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Simply Walking

Today's photo was taken during a walk through the neighborhood. These days, Jeanine can't stray too far from home because she needs to stay close by to help her mom, which means that if we want to go on a walk together, it has to be pretty local. No hiking in the hills for us for the time being, at least not together.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Short Hike

I went on a quick hike at Almaden Quicksilver park this afternoon. Everything was moist and green. By the end of the hike, I was kind of moist too, since it had started raining. The air smelled of freshly-minted oxygen, and the light rain just made things better.

The robins were out in force, and I saw a couple of deer grazing near my chosen entrance. There were a couple of possible Mountain Lion tracks in the mud too, although I'm not 100% sure. I thought I detected a claw mark in front of one of the toe pads, which would indicate canine rather than feline. Other than that one possible claw mark, it looked like Mountain Lion to me.

My Camera Rises From the Dead, Sort Of...

Right after I uploaded the last post, I discovered that Jeanine's camera was having lens issues, which inspired me to once again fiddle with my dead camera, whereupon I found that it had come back to life. The image screen was kind of foggy looking, and I wasn't quite sure if the problem lay in the screen or the lens. Not having a better option, I took it to the show. The pictures came out crappy, so the lens still has some moisture inside it somewhere. At least the camera works though. I'll have to see what I can do about the lens.

The show was excellent. Venom, Inc. are two thirds of the band Venom, plus Tony Dolan (aka Demolition Man) from the band Atomkraft. Venom was my favorite band when I was in the 8th or 9th grade. I became a fan of Atomkraft around then too. I'll do a more detailed write-up on my music blog.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Approaching Twilight

I took this picture at home, so it doesn't count toward this month's daily challenge of taking a photo somewhere besides home. Hopefully I'll have another photo later, after we return from seeing Venom, Inc. It might be after midnight though. I'll be borrowing Jeanine's little point and shoot camera for the job, since my smaller camera didn't survive its plunge into the creek a week ago. I guess that immersing moist electronics in a bag of rice doesn't always work. It's a shame.

The quote above was found between the pages of the same Algernon Blackwood book that contained the pressed flowers & leaves I posted about last month. I just missed it the first time. I went back for another look because I'm reading it next, and I didn't want to end up fumbling through it for errant, dessicated flora in the middle of the night. Now, I have a small bag full of the former in-between contents of the book, and the book itself is ready to be read.

I find this quote strangely prescient, since it deftly describes the danger of the kind of selfish, small-picture thinking that permeates our society at every level. I'm not saying I agree with nationalism, because I definitely don't, but the idea that our failure to see the big picture will be our undoing is one that I wish more people would understand. My big picture extends to the whole world though, not just one country, whether it be ours or another.

Soon after I posted this picture on Facebook, Jeanine saw it, googled it, and discovered its source: the December 14th, 1922 edition of the New York Times. I can't access the whole article without being a subscriber though, so the context is still unknown to me. See the link here.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


The unfortunate thing about train tracks is that the traveler has limited options. The destinations are predetermined, and deviating from the set path is always disastrous.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Sunset On the American Dream

I often wonder if our current social climate has reached its nadir, or if we have farther to fall. If we haven't reached our nadir, that means there is someone even more vapid than Sarah Palin waiting in the wings. That's a scary thought. It also means there is someone more narcissistic and crude than Donald Trump our there somewhere. Don't even get me started on the people who take either of them seriously, or on Palin's trainwreck of a family. Shudder. The thought of either of them holding power of any kind makes me want to retch.

To help alleviate the suffering of being exposed to their idiocy, here's a nice picture of a sunset.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Wet Wash

It's a relief to finally have a properly rainy January. While up at camp checking on the nature lab animals today, I was happy to see that a number of dry washes are currently far from dry. Take the one below, for example.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Same Creek, Different Day

I'm off work this week due to our main site being closed. I could have worked our other site, but chose not to. Jeanine and I walked a different stretch of the Los Gatos Creek Trail today, starting at the same place but heading northeast instead of southwest.

We saw some fish carts:

A grumpy Cooper's Hawk:

And trees full of robins, not to mention some crows chasing away another hawk. It alighted at the top of a distant tree and stayed there, like some sort of Christmas tree topper.

On the way back, we stopped at Jamba Juice, and as we descended the steps back to the creek trail, politely declined an offer to smoke weed with a couple of elderly homeless people.

Oh yeah, and we bumped into a teacher who recognized me from camp. That kind of thing happens a lot.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Winter Walk

We wandered along the Los Gatos Creek trail this afternoon, under gray skies and past feral cats who were chowing down on the food that some well-meaning but misdirected soul had placed trailside within spitting distance of the sign warning people against this particular activity.

One of the cats looked like Dexter.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Cats

Willow and I decided to go to downtown Los Gatos today (okay, I decided and Willow reluctantly agreed) to do some aimless wandering. After finally finding parking, we meandered down to the Forbes Mill Museum (Los Gatos used to be called Forbestown, way back when), where we found that, despite the posted hours which claimed otherwise, it was closed.

Then, we ventured down a short stretch of the creek trail (really just passing under the road we'd just been on), so
Willow could complain that her shoes were getting muddy. She's practicing for when she becomes a teenager in shortly over a month.

Our next stop was the pizza place where her brothers work. Neither of them were there, but the cashier recognized me from camp because she'd volunteered there six years ago. She wrote "Crow" (my camp name) on the order slip. We wolfed down some pizza and headed up the street to Powell's Sweet Shop, only to find it closed for remodeling. Damn.

Our next stop was a coffee shop. The cashier recognized me from camp because she'd volunteered there four years ago. She wrote "Crow" on the order slip. Willow decided that she didn't want anything, not even the yummy looking vegan chocolate cupcakes. I think she is an alien.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Uncharted Territory

After the campers had gone home and the Friday meeting was filed in the dustbin of history, I went on a brief adventure with Otter, Jellyfish, and Kestrel. Otter had this idea that if we followed the remnants of an old logging road westward, we'd meet up with Todd Creek downstream from where we always take the campers. We quickly discovered that the logging road (if that's what it was) eventually eroded away to nothing, so we slid downhill through spongy logs and sodden duff to find the creek. It was beautiful, and other than the occasional piece of human generated detritus, pristine.

I ended up dropping one of my cameras in the water. Right now, it's in a bag of rice to draw out the moisture. Hopefully, it will survive the brief submersion it suffered due to my lack of diligence.

Back at camp, a work crew was installing a new gate across our front entrance. In life, the only constant is change.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Fungi Fun

I took the kids on a six and a half mile hike today. At least that's what my Fitbit tells me. The expected newts were not out on the trails. Maybe it was too cold for them. Toward the middle of the hike, the temperature seemed to drop (maybe because we'd stopped hiking uphill for awhile), and toward the end, it started raining. By the time I left work, it was pelting the ground pretty hard.

There is a lot of Witch's Butter out at the moment. It's edible, but everybody I know who has tried it says it's completely tasteless. It's quite pretty though. Poking around on Wikipedia, I notice that Witch's Butter is sometimes confused with a fungus called Golden Ear. That's the thing about fungi. There is often confusion, so picking and eating them can (and sometimes does) lead to death. I don't know if Golden Ear is edible or not. The fungi in the picture below might actually be Golden Ear. Golden Ear parasitises a pathogenic plant fungus called Stereum hirsutum. I'm not sure if the other fungus in the picture is S. hirsutum or not. More research is needed. I really don't know a whole lot about fungi.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Todd Creek

It has been a few months since I last hiked up Todd Creek, and as expected, it now boasts enough water to actually resemble a creek. The recent storms are to be thanked.

Between the afternoon hike and the night hike, I stopped by a coffee shop on the way to get Willow. As I approached the door, an older gentleman sitting at one of the outside tables was looking at me like I'd just made his day. As I got closer, he said, "Do you know who you look like? You look just like Michael Bolton! Do you have the Youtube? Look him up!"

I'm doing that right now, and I look absolutely nothing like him. I think this is the video the man mentioned. Whatever. Still, it seemed to make him happy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Where Ladybugs Gather

The ladybugs are clustering together for warmth in a couple of locations near camp. This is the meadow contingent. When I showed her the picture, Jeanine asked if I'd ever put my hands in them to feel the warmth at the center of the cluster. I've never tried that. When I'm with kids, I try to model respect by keeping the hassling of wildlife to a minimum, but I might have to try sticking my hand in anyway.

Either way, finding large clusters of wintering insects is always a treat.

Monday, January 11, 2016


I took better photos today than the one below, but it's not every day that I see a coyote marching up the middle of the road. It's a smallish, rather starved looking specimen, and it was in the road investigating some roadkill. When I drove up, it languidly walked up the road ahead of me before finally disappearing into the Redwoods to my left.

I rarely get good photos of coyotes or bobcats, usually because they don't stick around long enough for me to aim my camera. In this case, I just clicked off some quick shots while inching along in my car, which isn't the wisest way to take pictures and unsurprisingly doesn't result in the best photos.

Sunday, January 10, 2016


It appears that I'm working a daytime shift this week. The powers that be have decreed that all work-related e-mails be sent to our official work e-mail addresses, but for some reason, my password doesn't work, so I'm not privy to any information sent to that inbox. It's a good think that I went to the Primitive Skills workshop yesterday, during which my coworker, Kestrel, informed me that I was working as a field instructor this week. I'd better see about getting my password reset. Of course, I'm operating on the assumption that e-mail was sent to that account. For all I know, I was supposed to get the information by osmosis.

Sometime yesterday, the door to the chicken coop blew closed, so when I went out to shut it for the night, I found that it was already shut and the chickens weren't inside. After a little sleuthing, I discovered them all crammed into the old coop, which is big enough to fit 2 or 3 chickens, not 6. It was like a chicken clown car when they came out, although I had to reach in and grab about half of them because chickens aren't good at navigating after dark.

Today's photo is another view of the local "creek", taken from a different overpass. The buildings on the left are part of a new local housing development. The developers are really cramming them in these days. There is space for shops on the ground floor at the front, but I'm sure that the undoubtedly high rent will prevent anything interesting from appearing there.

At least last week's rain left a few puddles.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Primitive Skills

Today, I went to a Primitive Skills Workshop held at the Bowhunters Unlimited archery range in Cupertino. One of our regular summer volunteers, Falcon, was on hand to teach arrow and bow making, and the workshop also included lessons on flintknapping, fun with atlatls and bows, fire making, and a presentation on general survival skills. A couple of my other coworkers showed up too, but not, surprisingly, the coworker who informed me of the event.

I continue to be amazed at Falcon's general woodworking knowledge. When I got there, he was carving a bowl, and hours later, when I left, he was in the middle of an arrow making demonstration.

In between, I wandered from station to station, taking several turns hucking atlatl darts at targets. Here's my coworker, Kestrel, doing the same:

The guy running the flintknapping station patiently showed his audience how to properly work with obsidian, chert, and glass (and maybe others). At one point, he pulled out a beaver jawbone with a gold tooth, and told a tall tale about how it got that way. I'm thinking of asking him to come up and share his knowledge with the Trailblazers campers this summer. That would be fun. He's associated with this website, which I will explore in greater depth later.

I also met a guy named Douglas, who is an organizer for a group called Middle Earth Rangers of the Bay Area. Given my recent obsessive plow through S.M. Stirling's Emberverse series, which featured a similar group of Tolkien-obsessed young people, I'm giving some thought to checking out what they do.

Friday, January 08, 2016


As I was coming home from work this morning, the atmosphere and clouds conspired with the sun to beautify my commute. It's a nice way to end the week. Seemingly oblivious, other drivers inched their way forward. I always enjoy seeing the long lines of people caught in traffic on their way to work, because I'm not one of them. I'm on my way home to go to bed while they're still rubbing the sleep out of their eyes as they gear themselves up for a work day.

Even though I've probably taken hundreds of pictures of colorful skyscapes, I somehow can't resist.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Early Morning Sky

This is what the sky looked like this morning, shortly before I woke up the 130 sleeping campers with some well-timed but poorly executed trombone blasts.

It has been a relatively uneventful week. The rain has stopped for now, leaving water droplets trembling on bare branches and puddles waiting for the unwary.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016


The rain is still falling. Somebody left a bowl of fruit out overnight. If I'd noticed it earlier, I would have brought it in. This is what the bowl looked like this morning. Anybody want to bob for apples?

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

The Second of the Storms

On my first shift back at work after the holidays, it rained all night. It was a cold, steady rain with occasional gusts of wind rattling the vents and doors. We have around 130 kids at camp this week, all from the same school. For the most part, they slept through the deluge. I killed the time through the small hours by reading and listening to music.

I took my Canon to work and snapped a few photos of glistening cement. Raindrops on the lens left some interesting visual artifacts.

I still have a persistent cough which is accompanied by the usual runny nose and slight headache, but this too shall pass.

Outside, as I type, crows sit on the power lines, probably working out how to power their handheld devices. Crows don't miss a trick.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Evening Light

A little rain has fallen, with more on the horizon. Jeanine and I went for an early evening walk today, watching some promising clouds rolling across the sky. Despite the fact that it wasn't even 5:00 yet, the streetlights were blinking on.

At home, Brian meowed up in the rafters until Eva got tired of listening to him and got him down.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Water, Water Nowhere

I walked with Willow down the street to the creek, although I guess "creek" isn't really the right word. "Drainage ditch" is a better description. Some life manages to exist in the cracks and crevices, but it's still a concrete channel created to control water flow. Right now, there is no water. Perhaps the three storms looming in the forecast will change that over the course of week. One can hope.

On the way there and back, we passed a few abandoned Christmas trees, placed haphazardly in the gutter. Tomorrow, the kids are back in school, and I go back to work. Jeanine gets to take it easy for awhile, since January is a slow month in the birthday party world.

Saturday, January 02, 2016


I've decided that the pictures that I post here this month must somehow tie with the season. I might have to get creative to take 31 Winter-themed photos, but the one below would work even if it didn't have the word "Winter" on it. Winter is, after all, the season of death and dormancy.

After getting chicken feed today, Jeanine and I wandered through one of the local cemeteries under gray skies. Rain is in the forecast.

Friday, January 01, 2016


I spent the morning and afternoon hanging out at camp, supervising the meditation group as they packed up and checked out. Sometime in the afternoon, the temperature dropped and the clouds moved in.

As I left, I noticed that despite the signs, somebody had parked along our driveway inside the gate . As I'm supposed to do, I closed the gate behind me as I left. It's not locked, but I'm sure it will give the owner of the SUV a bad moment. People should read the damned signs.

Oh, Happy New Year.

This month, I'm going to continue posting a daily photo, although now it has to be taken somewhere besides home. This one was taken inside our nature lab at camp. It's a cow.