Sunday, November 27, 2016

Week Off With No Car

It has rained a couple of times this week, but I don't pay as much attention to the weather when I'm not out in it. I've had the week off due to the Thanksgiving holiday, and I've spent an inordinate amount of time inside, mostly because, on Tuesday, my car stopped functioning. After waiting around 2 and a half hours for the tow truck, getting my car towed to the nearest service station, getting told the next day that it was a fuel pump problem that was under warranty from the dealer, waiting another hour and change (this time with Jeanine) for another tow truck to get my car towed to the dealer, and finally hearing from the dealer that they'd ordered a pump from Tennessee (was the really the closest one?) and that my car probably wouldn't be ready until Wednesday or Thursday of next week, I've more or less adjusted to the sudden lack of mobility that being a one car family entails.

Greg came down for Thanksgiving, which we celebrated on Friday instead of Thursday due to Willow being a two family kid and Friday working better for Greg anyway. Jeanine did all of the cooking, and I did all of the driving (using Jeanine's car, of course) to get Willow and Greg. Dinner was yummy. Jeanine pressure cooked an imitation meat roast with stuffing for the vegetarians (Greg and I), while everybody else (including Eva and her friend Michelle) ate more meaty fare.

On Friday morning, I went with Jeanine to the San Jose Harvest Festival, which has become sort of a tradition. The guy she buys her tie-dyed dresses from is always at the festival. I figure that, despite it being "buy nothing day", it's okay to buy things directly from the people who make them. I ended up buying a flute from this guy and a couple of candles.

I've been listening to a lot of records, both trying to catch up on music I haven't listened to and continuing my quest to re-listen to everything I own. At this rate, it's going to take awhile. I also finished reading a book called "White Trash", which is a 400 year history of class problems in the U.S. It didn't tell me much I didn't already know, but it shaded in the blank areas a bit and reminded me that there have always been assholes in the world. Too bad not everybody reads history, because I don't think Trump would have been elected if more people did. As they've done for more that 400 years, people like Trump prey on the uneducated poor with promises that most of us can see for the lies they are. It's interesting to me that he is already backing away from some of his more outrageous statements, and people actually seem surprised by this. Are memories really that short? During the election, his whole persona was calculated to get racists, rednecks, and frustrated idiots to like him, and it worked perfectly.

I go back to work on Tuesday. I'm still not sure how I'm going to get home the first couple of work days this week, because Jeanine is working in the evening. I've got at least a couple of options though.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Autumn Beauty

It was chilly this week, with jackets and hats helping matters a bit. Unusually, I had at least one teacher accompany our group on every hike. Sometimes there were as many as three. Part of the reason for this was that I had at least one student who needed extra support. Naturally, this student ended up being one of my favorites. I'm always drawn to people who are different in some way.

Strangely enough, we found four different species of snakes this week (Garter, Gopher, Ringneck, and of course, Rattlesnake). The Gopher snake was sharing a hiding spot with a toad. Over the weekend, a Sharp-tailed snake was discovered in the kitchen. That's only the second time we've found one of those around camp.

One of the campers in my group found a rattlesnake rattle in the meadow. That doesn't happen very often.

Here are a few photos from the week.

The last two photos above are actually from the previous week, but they very well could have been from this week because I visited the same spots. This week, we had a wild leaf battle, with kids picking up armloads of Big Leaf maple leaves and tossing them at each other. They had a blast.

The photos below were taken using my phone. Once upon a time, I vowed not to become one of those people who takes pictures with his phone, but sometimes it's the closest thing within reach. Despite my dislike for the whole "convenience over quality" mindset, I sometimes succumb.

Now, I have a week off. What to do?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

More Recent Photos

My laptop is old and cranky, not to mention mostly full, which means that I often put off offloading photos from my cameras onto my groaning hard drive. Over the last few days, I haven't felt quite 100%, meaning I've spent more time in front of my computer and less time being active. The upshot of all of this inactivity is that I've finally gone through the recent photos I've taken. I don't consider myself a photographer. I've got friends who are way more careful in their framing and manipulating than I am. I merely document things of interest. Due to this, I tend to have low standards when it comes to choosing which photos are acceptable.

Here are some photos from the day (Halloween, to be exact) that Jellyfish and I walked the entirety of the Steven's Creek trail, including the part that, unbeknownst to us, isn't actually connected to the rest. We walked around 15 miles, if I remember correctly. Lots of birds. Plus, a bonus Google bike in the poison oak. Plus, a fishy smell where the trail meets the bay.

Here is a picture of Sophie, taken at Willow's party a couple of weekends ago.

And the moon...

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Traumatic Week

It has been a traumatic week, with Trump (or President Pussy Grabber, as my co-worker, Acorn, calls him) winning the election and Leonard Cohen dying. I feel like I live in a bubble within a bubble, working where I do within the state of California, but across the nation, including locally, there are various signs that the bottom-of-the barrel Trump supporters are ramping up their childish intimidation tactics toward those who disagree with them (or don't have the right color skin, correct religion, or just happen to be different in some way). That's not to say that elements of the left have been much better, with rioting, looting, and destruction. What a mess. In short, the politicians (including Trump - he's really no different than the establishment politicians, except for the whole lack of experience thing)are doing what they always do, and the imperfect system benefits those at the top. Right now though, there is a riffraff rampage on both sides of the aisle, or so the media would have us believe.

Does any of this really affect me? Being a white male, and being cognizant of the whole white privilege (not to mention male privilege) thing, I realize that I can hide in plain sight. So, no, it doesn't affect me physically. Emotionally though, it's troubling. All of the things I believe in are at risk.

At work, despite the trauma, things are going well. This week was humid and warmish. Last weekend, Willow had a 13th/14th birthday party camp out celebration on the field at camp. We set up a couple of tents, and small group of Willow's friends (some from camp, and some from school), along with Sophie, had a pizza dinner, went on a night hike, roasted marshmallows, slept on the field in the tents, had a breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes cooked on a camp stove, played a game called sprout ball on the front lawn, and then went on a hike. They also did a rather intense sharing circle inside the big tent while I listened to music in the newly purchased smaller tent. I'm glad that Willow seems to crave conversations with depth. That's always a good sign.

During the week, Willow was sick. She is better now, but sitting out today's soccer game. I feel like I'm coming down with something too, and the symptoms make me think it's the same cold that Willow had.

Finally, here are some photos from my work week. Out on the trails, the reptiles have gradually been replaced by amphibians, mushrooms, banana slugs, and the like. We did find a tiny garter snake and the usual rattlesnakes though. The Big Leaf maple trees are dropping their giant, yellow leaves like they can't wait to get rid of them. One of my favorite moments of the week was running around with the kids and attempting to catch leaves as they fell. Thankfully, nobody collided, which is always a possibility when a bunch of kids are running around while looking up.

When national politics is traumatic, it makes me doubly thankful that my job is therapeutic.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Verbosity and Photos to Combat a Long Period of Silence

Suddenly, it's November. Halloween has come and gone. Willow went out with her friends, so I didn't see her that night. We forgot to buy pumpkins, but Jeanine purchased this cool little projector a few weeks ago, and it more than made up for our oversight. In short, we projected little loops of zombies, ghosts, and other holiday-standard images onto the window facing the driveway. I easily found an appropriate soundtrack somewhere in the depths of my record collection (Vagina Dentata Organ's "Music for Hashasins", if you must know), and away we went. Jeanine counted somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 trick-or-treaters. Every one of them got a balloon wand along with candy.

We've gotten enough rain to dampen the dust on the trails at camp. I've completed the October walking challenge run by my employer, the county office of education, and even though it was a step challenge, I notice that I walked more than 300 miles in October. That might be a personal best. Our team(s) didn't win, but if everybody had walked as much as me (or my overachieving friend and coworker, Jellyfish), we would have won easily.

Here are a bunch of recent photos taken at camp.

Yeah, I know... More spiders and snakes. The Argiope spiders are everywhere right now, and their webs are twinkling with moisture. I love Autumn.

I set up my trailcam in the garden for the first time in a couple of weeks, and I didn't get the expected fox. Instead, I got this:

Raccoons are such clowns.