Thursday, August 18, 2016

i stepped out.

yeah, i was posting pretty regularly.

and then alla sudden i decided to go camping for a couple of weeks.

my campsite is very, very beautiful.

here is a view from it yesterday morning.

Friday, August 12, 2016

unsolicited advice

yesterday i was on my way into the waterman building and i saw a young woman struggling up a few small stairs on crutches.

"are you new to those things?"
"it shows, doesn't it?", she said.

i told her that as a kid i had spent a lot of time on crutches and i showed her how to hold them in one hand and use the handrail to make stairs easier.

"wow." she said. "thanks."

Thursday, August 11, 2016


a couple of weeks ago apparently it was motling season for some spiders out on the res.

the first one i noticed was up at the outhouse.

"wow, that's a big spider", i said to myself.

then "a big dead spider.."

then "wow. it's just the molted exoskeleton!" so i picked it up to look at it.

originally i assumed it was some kind of wolf spider, but then when i was trying to identify it, i learned that the first thing you do identifying spiders (aside from safety considerations like "is it dangerous?" because all spiders are venomous to a degree, but few are deadly to humans)

uh, anyway..

i learned that the first thing you check for is eye configuration, and this spider could not have been any of the wold spiders based on that, but it might have been a nursery spider of some sort.

i learn things all the time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


the listing on the venture challenge is Build your own musical instrument and play it outside. a rubber band tissue box guitar like we used to make when i was a kid would have done just fine, i guess. but the best way to do the challenge, i think, is to do things in a new way, and maybe learn something.

i had every intention of making a little whistle from willow twigs or knotweed stems or something while i was out camping, because camping represents for me an excellent  way to practice crafts that only leave a mess in my living room.

but then i was cutting up some firewood and i had a maple sapling i found down and dried and when i clunked pieces together i noticed they had a pleasing timbre.

so i thought maybe i could make a few pitched bars and maybe make a woodchime to hang in some trees and that would be nice.

and then while i was doing THAT i noticed that i could pitch the bars pretty accurately so then i thought i might make some kind of hangin xylophone with a pentatonic scale. why not? it's only five bars, right?

so THEN while i was working on pitching those bars (which i had to learn how to do by trial and error) i started getting notes that were NOT in my pentatonic scale, but they were in the diatonic major scale, so the next thing i knew i was only a bar or two short of a full octave and a sixth, which is the standard range of the classroom instruments used in the orff-schulwerk.

and then i noticed that placed on the ground they were more resonant than hanging, so i revised my plan and found a half hollow log that i could cut and modify to make a resonating chamber for the bars.

by the time two weeks was up and i had to go home, it was pretty decent, although i had not yet solved the problem of how to hold the bars in place and not dampen their resonance.

anyway, here are some pictures. i am disappointed with the video, because for reasons i cannot explain the the sound quality strips all the nice resonance from the sound of the bars and all you get it the clicking. this may be because of the positioning of the camera, or that the stool i had it propped on had a dampening effect, but either way i do not have a satisfactory recording of how this thing sounded.

i left it in the woods, of course i did.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

hoover and beelzebub

at my last campsite, my first visitors were chipmunks. i thought that was maybe going to be a problem.

and then the red squirrels showed up.

red squirrels are little assholes.

here is my conversation with the chipmunk:

hi! whatcha doin'? 
i'm carving.
is that food? do you have food? OMG you know how much i like food. 
no, it is not food.
are ya sure you're not having food? 
pretty sure, yep.
do ya mind if i just check? 
help yourself.
i'll just hop up here and look if that's ok with you. 
not in my lap, ok, that's weird.
ok, NOW do ya have food? 
no. i am reading.
are ya sure? 
yep, reading. no food.
imma just hang out with you here for a while, ok? 
in case there's gonna be food. 
that is food.
yes it is. it is MY food.
hey, wait! just because YOU'RE done eating that corncob doesn't mean all the food is gone. 
you are welcome to it.

and here is the red squirrel:

ha, you little  SOB, i moved the food and hung it up.

this conversation was truncated because suddenly the squirrel heard another squirrel a hundred feet away or so and had to run off and fight it. while it was gone, the chipmunk came back and ate whatever crumbs had been dropped.

so clearly, the chipmunk is the animal you WANT cleaning up your dropped bits, because the chipmunk just politely takes what there is and doesn't chew through your bags.

so by day three the chipmunks and i had a partnership. i timed my food prep (which usually involved some spilled oatmeal flakes or food fragments left on foil) to coincide with when the squirrels were off trying to kill each other. the chipmunk would come in like a little vacuum and clean up the site so nothing was left for the squirrel, whom i had named beelzebub.


Monday, August 08, 2016

should have looked there first

i am learning to juggle. of course becuase "juggle three pinecones" is on the list.

sure. i'll spend four months learning to juggle.

i can almost do it, too, except juggling pinecones presents its own set of difficulties, and i was practicing doing that when i dropped my cones.

no biggie, right? you pick them up.

only sometimes they bounce in directions you don't expect and are behind things, or they roll under furniture.

so i spent a half hour looking for this one pinecone and it had apparently vanished. i looked in the closet, under the sofa, behind the desk, and a few places it would have been nearly impossible for the pinecone to have gone.

and then i found it.


Sunday, August 07, 2016


it wouldn't be the first time i wrote a note to a park ranger, so i feel a little ambivalent about writing a thank-you note to a park ranger because it happens to be on the list.

but ok. so i wrote to the park manager at niquette bay state park, which is one of our lovelier and lesser-known state parks because i have very much enjoyed her work in that park.

then, just because, i wrote to chad the floating ranger out of little river state park. "floating ranger" is not meant as it often does that he floats from park to park or job to job, but that he is the ranger ON THE WATER, in a boat. floating.

he helps keep the reservoir safe and clean.


there you have it.


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