This afternoon I put on my shorts and a poly running shirt, lowered a ladder into the dark abyss one of my six, 12′-tall, 5200-gallon water tanks and climbed in. I also brought in a hose and a scrub brush on a long stick.
I’ll tell you about it in more detail, but note that my primary purpose here is to describe yet another way in which the country life is pushing me toward the city.
When I turn on the kitchen faucet or a garden hose, the water that most of you take for granted got there through a long and complicated process. The kitchen tap starts as creek water pumped into the the two left-most tanks (they’re numbered “Tank 1″ and “Tank 2″) during the winter when the creek is flushed out and running clear. Then I chlorinate the life out of it and gravity feed it from the tanks to the house and shower. Since the tank lids are vented, the chlorine volatizes and is not so bad by the time it reaches the tap. I need to install a countertop filter or whole-house filter at some point, but no one has gotten sick yet.
I’m in the process of installing new kitchen windows. For the last few years there have been some ugly recycled windows in the holes, put there mostly because I was tired of looking at “hippie window”, the clear PVC sheeting often used around here as a temporary measure until real windows can be installed. I got the used windows at Urban Ore in Berkeley and tacked them in as-is, lead paint, flaking glazing putty and all. I thought they’d be there six months at most.
When I was a kid, one of my favorite shows was Mutual Of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom with naturalist Marlin Perkins. As a suburban but nature-loving kid, I was fascinated by the crew’s adventures doing what, in retrospect, amounted to going out and aggressively harassing wild animals in exotic places. Look, for example, at most of these “classic” clips from the original show.
While I wasn’t exactly wrestling anacondas into submission at my place today, I did encounter a rather odd selection of wildlife for one day. First was a Northwest Ringneck snake, whose belly coloration is the same as the survey paint I was using. I posted the photo with the spraycan on Facebook, claiming that I’d painted the snake. I was hoping to get some outraged comments, but I’ve got too many wildlife-geek friends and they busted me right away.
(most likely) Northwest Ringneck snake Diadophis punctatus occidentalis
Last Friday I drove the four and a half hours over Hwy 299 to meet with friends old and new to hike up Mt. Lassen, the southernmost of the Cascade volcanoes. We’d been planning this trip for a while, having cancelled it back in 2010 due to thundershowers that dropped several inches of rain on the area on the day we had planned to go.
Mt. Lassen from the parking lot at dusk. It’s higher up there than it looks.
I spent the afternoon filming this week’s Chalkupy event on the Plaza in downtown Oakland. I mounted my HVX200 on a monopod strapped to the ladder and filmed the entire process in one continuous take. I’ll eventually make a speeded … Continue reading →
I’ve had the incredible privilege to raft or kayak many wilderness rivers, including some of the most amazing runs in the Western United States. From a nine-day trip on Alaska’s Copper River, complete with icebergs, glaciers, wolves and grizzly bears, to a couple three-week trips on the Colorado River through Grand Canyon, these adventures have been the best times of my life.
Somewhere along the way, I seem to have absorbed the notion that river trips had to involve wilderness or whitewater to be worthwhile. Read why this is silly
Getting it all together at the put-in on Saturday morning.
This weekend I had the pleasure of two days of rafting on the Klamath River, a few hours north of where I live. Klamath Riverkeeper held a benefit float and party on Saturday and then six of us put together an impromptu trip on Sunday. There are few things more conducive to unwinding than floating a river and it wasn’t till I got off the water Sunday afternoon that I realized how much better I felt compared to the last few weeks. Read the rest
Several weeks ago, I ran into a long-time activist comrade at the Lakeview School sit-in in Oakland. Lakeview is one of five schools slated to be closed due to budget cuts, so parents, teachers and community members staged an occupation of the grounds. The day began with a march from Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza in downtown Oakland and ended with a rally at the school. Hanging out at the rally, my friend introduced me to Naomi Pitcairn who in turn told me about the project her group, Fresh Juice Party, does: Chalkupy.
I’d seen some of the images that had been chalked on the Plaza via online photographs, but wasn’t aware that it was a regular project. Turns out they’ve been doing it every Friday at the Plaza for months. The concept is brilliant in both its simplicity and replicability. A design is produced digitally and then overlaid with a grid scaled to the actual pattern of the pavers in the Plaza. Once on site, the grid is laid out on the ground, allowing a perfect reproduction of even large, detailed designs. A .pdf explaining the entire process is on Fresh Juice Party’s site.
Chalkupations are participatory, political and ephemeral. Like the planned, ritual destruction of Tibetan Buddhist sand mandalas, the weekly power-washing of the Plaza by City workers destroys the work, but creates a new blank canvas in its place. Unlike certain *cough* *Banksy* *cough* street artists whose work has become so valuable that walls are dismantled by wealthy art collectors wanting it for their galleries, Chalkupy’s work is unlikely to ever be fetishized. If people want some of it, they are free to create it themselves to their heart’s content.
When I showed up about 2:30 pm Friday, the pattern had been mostly laid out and the first areas were being chalked in. I immediately jumped in, stopping occasionally to livetweet photos and comments. I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking.
(PS, it’s come to my attention that not everyone automatically makes the connection between Chalkupy and the Occupy movement, hence mispronouncing it “Chalk-UPPY” and not “CHALK-u-pie”. The former kinda works, but it’s the latter that is correct.)