Archive for the ‘outdoors’ Category

Last weekend we went to the Water Lily & Lotus Cultural Festival at the Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens. It’s a neat hidden gem in the city, and if you go at the right time, you’ll see the lilies and lotus in full bloom:
lotus
The aquatic gardens are also my “territory” in the annual winter bird counts in December. It’s actually easier to see birds there in the winter, since there’s no leaves concealing them.
Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens
The taller, more dramatic lotus plants were almost done with their blossoms, but a few stragglers aimed to please:
Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens
And yesterday on my bike ride I got to see a polo match. There is a polo field just south of the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall. I had never seen horses on it until yesterday! They say they play every Thursday.
Polo Field
It was a busy week otherwise. Had a phone interview with a major wildlife federation that I’d really like to work for. Another in-person interview next week with an oceans-related organization that also sounds like a good fit. Cross yer fingers!

I’ve set up a GoFundMe account if you’d like to support over 15 years of jimbo.info without ads or pop-ups. I could use the support in this time of job instability, and here’s your opportunity to say thanks! There are some job opportunities coming up but the first interview isn’t until the 21st, so August might be tough.

Knowing the week of the Fourth of July would be slow on the job front, I scheduled a trip to Portland to visit the friends I made there, and my brother. I planned it during a hot week, thinking there would be respite in the Pacific Northwest. Not so – they’ve been experiencing record temperatures and drought, and it’s really dry there:
Dry Oregon
Brittle lawns would crunch under your footsteps, and the locals were cranky. It was hot, but at least it wasn’t humid. They could use some rain badly though.

I got to go on a nice hike that ended in a dip in a pond, and it was good to be back hiking on the mountain trails:
Hike
The views were fantastic of course:
Mt. Hood
I left Portland about a year and a half ago, and my mind has been kept busy just getting by in DC. I don’t think I thought back on my time in Oregon – I haven’t had the time to think about it. As the plane landed a lot of feelings flooded in that I had been ignoring. It was a lot like visiting an ex that you liked a lot, but it didn’t work out. That said, my friends there say the job market has been improving. It seems I picked the absolute worst time to pack up and move in 2012.

On the fourth I went to the local beach, and made some furry friends:
Furry Friends
Didn’t do much with fireworks. There was a ban on them as it was so dry.

At the end of my trip I visited my brother, who lives up the Columbia Gorge in a small town. We took a hike in Oneota Gorge, which is more of a stream than a trail. It was good to be in the cool stream that hot week:
Oneota Gorge
It was a great trip, and I’m still keeping my eye on the Pacific Northwest.

No, I haven’t been despondent, I’ve just been adjusting to the new job. I’m 2 1/2 months into it and I’m in that phase of a new job where all the new info is frying my brain and when I get home all I wanna do is stare at the wall and drool. But hey, at least I’m busy, gettin’ paid, and have responsibility at work.

Winter was forever this year. It started freezing much earlier in November, and didn’t quit until this week. Even the birds are late. When I heard woodcock could be spotted at Kenilworth Park in DC I didn’t believe it. I thought the bird was more of a northern species. But yesterday when I was walking to work this guy just landed right in front of me:
Woodcock
I think he was just taking a break. They’re not used to being seen, as their camouflage is so good in their usual environment. And they are generally of the wrong shape to be flying such long distances. It’s hard out there for a woodcock. Anyway, it’s funny because me and Dana had planned on going to Kenilworth to hear their peent and watch their sky dance that evening. Our timing was perfect. We heard at least 6 birds doing their unique spring mating call after sunset.
Anacostia Front
Rugby had started weeks ago when it was still snowing. I wasn’t up for it and now I’m a bit behind. Plus I never know when I’m going to get out of work, and am simply mentally not up for it after a mentally trying day. I’m getting my exercise in, but I think I’m out for the spring. I need some me time at this point with my new job.

I hadn’t been home to Wisconsin in the winter for many years. I prefer to visit in the summer when you can do things outside like bike and fish. Although it was mid-November, temperatures were already in the single digits:
ice and houseboats
On the campus where I had my job interview, the students were riding about on their bikes in those temperatures unaffected, wearing neoprene facemasks. Hardcore kids.

The interview went well I think. The interview committee had good poker faces though, so it was hard to tell what they thought. I have TWO job interviews in DC today. The first one is for communications stuff supporting a DHS program (with a lovely short commute from home), the second is to be the spokesperson for a nearby county deer management program which would be challenging and interesting. So something ought to come out of this soon we hope. Two. Fucking. Years. Of un- or under-employment. It’s been ridiculous.

Anyway, mom’s dog Andy was cute, and he loved his squeaky burger and fries:
Andy and his burger and fries
Andy is probably a lot more well-behaved than the spoiled vermin owned by our favorite swamp hag.

Since there wasn’t much to do, I went down to the river’s edge and took artsy photos:
strings of lights
I found a hardware store where you could get the tools needed to make Scandinavian treats like sandbakkelse and krumkake:

I ate cheese curds every day. On the last day of my trip we found the place in LaCrosse with the largest cheese curds ever, possibly of this whole world:

Of course the eating does not end, as Thanksgiving approaches. I plan on eating even more.

Getting back to rugby has been fun, a great way to socialize, and it restores a much-needed sense of normalcy to my life after these past two years of upheaval. However me olde body does not recover like it used to. Even a mere practice has me physically wrecked for days. After this season (yeah I keep saying that every year) I will certainly question my continued participation in the sport. Still, we managed to smile for a moment a few weeks ago during play:

This summer’s weather has been remarkably cool. With the exception of a week or two here and there, it’s been really pleasant. But cooler temps are on the way, as evidenced by that fall smell that we encountered on our hike in the Monongahela National Forest of West Virginia this past weekend. We didn’t see any bears, but there were plenty of otters on the trail:

It rained Saturday morning but that’s about it. They say it’s gonna be a cold winter this year.

I have a new roommate. The other one was great but he followed his girlfriend to NYC. Strangely, this new one was my roommate when I lived upstairs, so I know we get along. BUT he seems to have gathered a tremendous amount of stuff this time around. Either that or the first time he never intended to stay for long. He’s still unpacking and I don’t know where it’s all going to go. I hope he has a toaster because I left mine in Portland somewhere.

I went to the premiere of “Love Is Strange,” starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina. I know a few of the producers and was contacted by the director for consulting regarding a very brief scene in which Cheyenne Jackson is playing Dungeons & Dragons. It’s a good movie and you should go see it.

I’ve been so busy on the job hunt and travelling, I didn’t realize I hadn’t been biking or going to the gym as much as I usually do. On Labor Day I got to the gym and a long bike ride, and it felt real good. I also got caught in a rainstorm, but there was a rainbow afterwards, even though congress does not deserve a rainbow:

I forgot to mention I’ve gotten back to rugby. Of course I first had to get health insurance, as it would be stupid to play rugby without it. I went through the DC health exchange (“Obamacare”) and I must say that process really sucked. It took about 2 1/2 days to process my application, and that was with a specialist trained in holding people’s hands through the process. That and the website sucked. I mean, I just finished a webmaster gig so I know a few things, and found out I had to log-in or log-out on this or that screen, or clear the browser cache before this screen worked. Extremely user unfriendly website. And what if I was a struggling mother working 3 part-time jobs? I wouldn’t have the time to navigate this system that takes almost three days to process.

Anyway, rugby has been good. I’m slower than I used to be, but my body is still intact. Getting back to rugby has given me a sense of normalcy and practices offer two hours where I’m not obsessing over my career recovery. And the guys are nice to look at, of course.

I went back to Wisconsin for my 25th class reunion. It was a lot of socializing and remembering faces I hadn’t seen in a while but a lot of fun. A few of us went up the Brady’s Bluff trail at Trempealeau State Park. It was hot that day (for Wisconsin) but a great view of the upper Mississippi River. That’s Minnesota across the river:

I helped my brother a little building his new garage. I mostly held things in place and let him do the hammering and nail placement.

Then off to my family reunion. Even more faces and names I couldn’t place right away, since the last family reunion I’d been to was 20 years ago or so. Someone brought a photo album where I could see pictures of ancestors Homer had traced for me a while back. I took some hasty photos to put names to faces. Most of the males on that side had excellent mustaches, like my great-grandfather Michael:

I finally learned why my father’s dad’s nickname was “Pumpy.” We would always say “We’re going to Grampa Pumpy’s house” when he was alive. It turned out he got that name because he worked for his father’s drilling and pumping business and often ran the pump, thus the name “Pumpy.”

The week before I arrived there was another giant swarm of mayflies, which is a fairly unique occurrence in that area once a year. By the time I got to Wisconsin there were only a few swarming here and there, but you can see more of the amazing peak swarming in this article.

Then it was back to the job hunt in DC. My roommate moved out so I had to cover August rent myself, which was tough considering my last contract job ended in June. I have a few possibilities in the works, and also had a phone interview which I think went well. Although it’s a slow time in DC as many are on vacation and hiring is slow.

Hey there – it’s been a while. I’ve been hangin’ out with my beardy bros from the Washington Nationals baseball team.
bearditude
That’s Jayson Werth on the left and Bryce Harper on the right.

In June I went on a hike with a bud to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. It was where lots of ironwork machinery was made during the Civil War. Today lots of people like to go tubing in the summer:
Harper's Ferry
My latest contract ended, the work on a website migration complete. I had no jobs set up so I said “fuck it” and went to Provincetown for 9 days. Normally I’m ready to go home after about 5 days, but the plane ticket price was cheapest for that range of days and my housing was free, so I was there for quite a while. I hit the tail end of the “circuit week” theme days, and my roomates tended to not eat much during that time. But then we segued into “Bear Week” and the fridge was suddenly packed with food.

There were lots of beards. I was partial to the one on the left, for he made good quiche and wore only briefs for much of the time around the house:
Bear Week attendees
I did a lot of sunning on the beach, a nice bike ride, and lots of cocktails at the Boatslip. Bear Week was kind of crazy, and in the future should I go again I will choose a less popular week, despite the amount of fur.

My next trip at the end of July will be to head back to Wisconsin for my 25th class reunion. My brother will have a new garage built and it will be interesting to see what’s been done.

Hello again. Been workin’ hard but have adjusted to the new job, just in time for it to end by the close of June. It is a contract position, and while it’s been good revisiting web content management and managing people (I think I’m good at it!) I am told we will likely be done with the web migration by the end of June.

While I have been looking for and applying to jobs this whole time, the push begins again in earnest. Still looking for long-term/permanent public affairs/communications employment, preferably for the government, preferably for a science- natural resources- or ag-based organization. So your help is appreciated dear readers – leads are always received graciously. It has been a rocky and fruitless job situation since September 2012 and I could really use some good news and developments.

Last month I actually had a phone interview for a job I was genetically engineered for: performing public affairs work for a sage grouse conservation program in Oregon. But despite two follow-up emails I have not heard anything back from them. As I recall Portlanders avoid conflict, so bad news is probably not going to be received at all.

We have had some heavy rains in the Mid-Atlantic, and the Potomac has been swollen:flotsam and jetsam
A few weeks ago “ten million ‘real’ Americans” gathered on the National Mall to protest Obama/Benghazi/buttsex or something. I only counted about ten teabagger loons. And for the record I’m tired of hearing these people dictate who “real” Americans are. Teabaggers STFU and go home.
TenMillionMurcans
On the Saturday before Memorial Day, we went for a bike ride along the Potomac River. The shad were running, and we observed herons eating them from this platform (which I think is a flow measurement station):
Flow Station
Under a nearby bridge, me and Bubbles contemplated the meaning of ‘BE’ and the flag of the District of Columbia:
DC Flag, and BE
I celebrated Memoral Day by sleeping in, going to the gym, and another bike ride. I took a picture of John S. Logan in Logan Circle. The dude founded Memorial Day:

I’m going to a Nationals baseball game tomorrow. Sadly woofy Bryce Harper is not playing these days, but super-beardy Jayson Werth will be playing.

Suddenly spring arrived. I went for a hike with friends on the Billy Goat Trail at Great Falls in Virginia. There was a gun show:

I spotted a bald eagle and a baby snapping turtle.

Later that month, we went to the National Arboretum to see the azaleas in bloom:

Bubbles and me. Photo by GURL.


This weekend, a friend with a vineyard asked us to help plant vines:
I dig alone. Photo by GURL.
I carried the vines on my head:

I did not plant the vines as the Overseer preferred, so I soon changed to watering the plants rather than planting them:

As the sun set and we completed the project, we squinted in unison:

There were cute Jack Russel terriers present: