Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Well, its my first winter in Iowa. Everyone Iowan told me to dread the snow. I told them to not worry about me because,
"aww, schucks. I've driven in Illinois winters for years. It can't be THAT bad."
You can't compare a Chicago winter to a rural Iowa winter. And this snow and ice and sleet has humbled me. On Tuesday morning we had a storm come in from Nebraska, Tuesday night a storm blew in from Illinois (or vice versa). When those two storms met in the middle they fought a mighty fight. The winds blew a powerful 45 mph, about as fast as a thouroughbred horse. The snow came down and down and down eventually laying twelve inches of powder. Then the wind and the snow worked together to make tremendous white mountains and drifts. Sadly, it was not packing snow and no snowmen were made.
It was a fantastic feat of nature.
The snow locked me indoors and i got the day off work...paid. Porch cat tried to beg her way into our home by sitting on the window sill by the t.v and meowing...when she slipped off the edge of the sill and disappeared from my view I felt sorry for her. I let her inside and she slept happily by the space heater all day. I could feel kittens in her tummy, spinal chords and heads, it was kind of gross.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
While i ran across the lawn
You bumbled in the clovers
You played matchmaker
Among the pretty flowers.
For such a tiny, buzzing thing,
Hardly even there.
Into my arch, i felt a sting
Into my skin so bare.
And with that sting that felt like fire
Burning up my shin
I cussed and screamed and cursed that bee
My foot became its pyre.
I stumbled forth
And landed on the stairs.
I clutched my foot
To look at it
And half the bee was there.
A tiny pulsing abdomen
pumped venom in my skin.
And i knew that bee would never buzz
or ever fly again.
Now I walk on aching arch
With steroids as my pills.
To dull the pain,
From a bee whose guts were spilled.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
In Chicago they band together,
roving packs of angry, canine youths.
They roll into the suburbs
and disturb my mother's neighbors.
Only to be chased away from emptied garbage cans,
by the River Forest Police.
In Iowa you solo roll,
trot along the four-lane highway.
Dead smells seduce
your olfactory sense.
You cadaver dog. Eat what you find.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Every night possums haunt our backyard. We have at least four living under the porch. All night long they will clank through my cans, eat my garbage, woo my pregnant cat, and cause general disarray. Some might say,
"Jane, why don't you just throw away your garbage? Then the possums won't come over all the time."
and to them I say, we have no garbage pickup where I live. We have to burn all the paper waste and drive the rest of the trash to the dump...so garbage is on the back burner for awhile. I have better things to do and the garbage will continue to sit behind the cellar door where only the tiniest of possums can get into the stinky bags...the little ones aren't thaaat messy. And, to tell you the truth, I like being able to look out my bedroom window and see a clumsy possum knocking my stuff over. They remind me of me...loud, uncoordinated, messy, and opportunistic. I see myself in those little creatures... so they can live under my porch and eat my garbage, I don't care. At least if they're under my porch it'll be harder to hit them with my car.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, things keep running in front of my car. Today a Virginia oppossum ran in front of my car and I hit the poor thing. I tried to swerve to miss him and nearly drove my car off the dirt road. But I clipped him.
I wanted to make sure he was dead so he didn't have to suffer further. I drove back to check. He was lying in the road, very still. Then he looked at me, wide-eyed. I could see blood was pouring out of him. He was alive and struggling to get to the side of the road. I didn't want him to suffer anymore, he could have lived like that for awhile...
So I backed up my car, took aim, and put him out of his misery. It was terrible and I feel horrible.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
My family came to visit me the other day. Here's what happened :
1. we shot pumpkins and made them explode.
2. we ate chinese food at the chinese place next to the adult xxx theatre in Ottumwa. I didn't eat the egg drop soup
3. we saw strippers taking a smoke break. how did we know they were strippers? fur coats, platform shows, and no pants, thats how.
4. we almost hit a raccon and a possum.
But my favorite event happened while we were driving to the gas station. As we were winding down the dirt road my mom said,
"Hey, guys, look at the sweet Brittaney on the side of the road! What is he doing there, the little scamp?"
The dog pops his head up to look at us while we drive by. His face is covered in blood. The dog sees us and promply shoves his head back into the abdomen of a deer carcass and continues to munch on deer chittlins (deer intestines).
(photo of the brittaney made possible by www.dailypuppy.com)
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
My love affair with the cow began in Canada when I met this happy little fellow. I had never seen a baby cow up close and personal until this very moment in 2005. It was at a winery that specialized in Ice Wines...ice wine is made from grapes that are allowed to freeze on the vine. The wine is very sweet and thick and, in my opinion, disgusting. The winery also specialized in petting zoos and had a variety of furry headed chickens, fly covered pigs, and a couple of scabby eared goats.
This baby cow said, "maaaaaaaa mooooooooo," and I was in love. I ran over to the calf and pet it's chin. The calf stretched out it's neck, I pretended to kiss it's face, and then this photograph was taken by one of my shit-head friends. Then we ate some sandwiches, fed a cat some potato chips, bought some shitty wine, and went on our merry way to Toronto.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
1. spitting out teeth
2. eating my teeth
3. pulling out my own teeth and spitting them into my hand.
4. teeth falling out in chunks.
5. the dog sniffing my tooth chunks.
Ugh. Need I say more? Everyone worries about their teeth because they make us look good and we need them to chew...and live when it comes down to it. A tooth infection could kill you. Cavities hurt, root canals are worst and don't get me started on the wisdom teeth...I call them caveman teeth.
I chipped my front tooth today while biting tape. I'm an idiot. a total idiot. The chip is sharp but at least it's small. Still, its big enough to ruin my day.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
But my career as a dairy farmer ended on an interesting note. I've heard of mutant cows being born in Cher-noble (spelled fo-net-ick-cul-ey) after nuclear disaster...but not in lovely Iowa. I heard that a mutant cow was delivered by c-section the night before my shift and that the mutant was still in the straw. So I popped over to take a look.
The mama just stood there and looked at me. She had a three foot long scar down her side that looked like a zipper. And next to her was a calf with a fully developed head, grarled and awkward front legs that hooked like a cane, and after the pelvic area began the cow stopped developing. It was just tiny, ridgid bones with some skin covering them.
It was very haunting. I didn't take a picture out because of that.
*I work at the farm again...feeding cows and cleaning afterbirth, and I love it. 10-10-2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Today was a big day for ol' Jane, I saw the American Gothic house that resides in my new town, Eldon.
Eldon, Iowa is a small town. It's quaint and a little delapidated...but not too bad overall. There are brown road signs through out the town that lead you all the way to the house that Grant Wood painted all those years ago.
Seeing as "American Gothic" could concievably be the most recognizable American painting in the world I thought it would be larger then life. Huge, well-lit, and just incredible. I don't know why I thought this...but I did.
We pulled into the parking lot and far off in the distance I saw a little white house with people posing in overalls in the front yard. Was this humble home really it? And it was.
I would liken seeing the American Gothic House to seeing the Mona Lisa for the first time.
"Isn't it supposed to be bigger?"
I wasn't dissappointed by the experience, I was enthralled by it. Seeing that window at the top of the house and recognizing it from Wood's painting was great. But I suppose that the beauty of the midwest is found in its simple, corn covered landscape...and Grant was able to capture that simple, down home, charactoristic in his painting.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
This has been a summer of firsts. This bluegill is one of them. Most kids have a photograph of themselves with the first fish they caught...but not me. I was deathly afraid of fish as a small child.
You may wonder why. Its not that special but very traumatic. My dad used to take my brothers and I to a lake house somewhere in Michigan when we were people puppies. There, I found a fossil at the beach with a fish in it and my dad told me it was older then Jesus. That blew my little mind. I began to think fish had special powers. Kids aren't smart and I began to fear them. I knew there was something wrong with fish and I knew they would hurt me if they got the chance.
My dad would take us out in a canoe to catch bluegill as an afternoon activity. Whenever I saw that little red and white bobber begin to bob in the water i would sweat. I knew that a horrible fish was on the line and would soon be flopping on our canoe bottom...until my dad hit it in the head with an oar.
Dad also took it upon himself to show me that a bluegill was nothing to be scared of. God only knows why he decided that cutting of its head in front of me would help me get rid of my fish phobia. He even picked up the bluegill's head to show me while I screamed uncontrolably...the decapitated fish bit his finger and wouldn't let go. Horrible. blood.
But like I said, this has been a summer of first. I am no longer afraid of bluegills, if anything the bluegills should be afraid of me because of my dad. I caught this guy in the photo, held him in my hand and let him go back home without chopping off his head. And there was nothing to fear.
Since then I've caught a catfish, a true triumph. and thank goodness for baby bluegills, if the photographed bluegill had been any larger I may have thrown it into the bike lane. Baby steps. Baby steps.
Now that Fall has arrived my little frog buddies are all probably going to start hybernating or die. This is a sad fact of life for lil' ol me because I've had a fun summer learning about frogs, toads, and their kit n' kin.
So, here's to the changing of the seasons, hybernation, and metamorphesis. Good luck to all my little frog, toad and tadpole buddies this winter. You'll make it though, it's not like you haven't done this before.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Life in DeKalb wasn't always sweet for me. I used to live in a boarding house bedroom with a bathroom I shared with a young lady who was very fond of Narnia. I shared the kitchen with a wall-eyed serial killer (I assume) who cooked beans in the microwave at 6pm everyday. I walked the boarding house halls with a man that had hands attatched to his shoulders. It was a strange place. Lots of kitchen fires.
Then I got my sweet apartment, I traveled to Utah to collect bones. I went to Graduate school and finally got good at painting (see www.janeryder.com). I got to work with great artists, professors and colleagues. I played in the lagoon, drank at the annex...and now I have to go.
Is this deer sad looking? Oh deer. I'm going to miss DeKalb.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
*The first Bullfrog I've ever caught. Isn't he handsome?
When I was Nine I thought it would be easy to catch a frog. I wanted to catch a frog really badly. I asked my dad to finance my excursion. He bought me all the necessary equipment for frog catching; nets, tubs, buckets, frog stuff. Then dad took me and my brothers to the pond we frequented.
I tried out my new equipment at the pond but couldn't scoop up a floating turd even if I tried. I was just too uncoordinated and fat. But I was an observant fat kid and noticed that when the frogs jumped out of the water I couldn't even tell they were there...they were camouflaged! No wonder I, a fat uncoordinated kid, couldn't catch them. I would have to wait till puberty ended. Then I would be coordinated...and hopefully not fat.
Now I am officially a woman and have started to catch bullfrogs. I notice them because I've learned their tricks....camouflage and fine jumping legs. I've caught about six. One must have weighed half a pound and screamed when I picked him up, it was a very surprising noise.
The trick to catching them is to walk very quietly along the edge of the water and then you'll notice some eyes poking out of sludge or bubbles rising to the surface of the water. Drop the net on top of the animal, put your hands on top of the animal (animal is still inside net of course), and place the animal in a container and photograph them. But always let em' go after you're done and always make sure your hands are free of soap or chemicals seeing as frog skin absorbs everything.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
*this is an angry crayfish video.
I decided that I am not ready to write a post about tadpoles today. Tadpoles are complex and strange creatures, they go through many physical changes in a short amount of time. They also look like little swimming faces. It takes time to write about tadpoles. I want to do the tadpole justice as a creature...they have soft tummies and are adorable.
However, crayfish are funny lil' mudbugs that want to pinch you. and they deserve some talking time too. As you can see in my video*, this Chimney Crayfish is an angry fellow. If you look close, you can tell he wants me arrested. If you see holes that look like putt-putt golf holes* (usually in sets of three, two seen in the photo) near the banks of a pond a chimney crayfish is nearby. They live in the little holes their job is to eat dead things. I'm sure it was sanitary to pick up mister pinchers.
I've found bigger crayfish, dead ones too. Crayfish are known for their inability to live in polluted waters...however, the "Rusty Crayfish," which was introduced into Illinois as catfish bait, is changing many ecosystems and pushing out native crayfish populations.
Damn. Poor Crayfish.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
This is probably the last post that will specifically deal with goose poop. But like I promised in my last post, "I am going to post some pictures I took of goose poop," here it is, just for you. If you count, seven geese could have made this pile but it was made by one Goose...and its sitting on a large leaf, astounding! Talking about the abundant feces at the lagoon helps me deal, psychologically, with the fact that I have to walk through them while I catch bull frogs and collect my specimens to photograph.
And now, an unoffensive photo of flowers to cleanse the pallet and provoke thought about it's placement next to the feces. Can you tell I went to (f)art school? Because I did. And I don't just sit around all day talking about goose shit, I research ecosystems and make paintings about their complexity. I have been witness to all of the grit, blood, guts, dirt, and growth in each painting. By getting my hands on a net and that net into the water, I can begin to understand how a rather complex ecosystem (the lagoon) works and make art that is well informed as well as well crafted (my art at www.janeryder.com, up on sunday!). That flower needs poop, rotten plants, and dead animals in it's soil to thrive. Thus making a pile of shit just as important as a beautiful flowering plant.
Check out the shit I've found. I'm no scientist, I read field guides, so feel free to correct me. I'll be writing specific blogs about most of these creatures complete with photos. But it won't be boring. It'll be cool and informative. I promise.
1. woodhouse toad
2. fowlers toad
3. toad tadpole
4. mad tom Catfish
5. young channel catfish
6. bullfrogs of all shapes and sizes and one that SCREAMED when I picked it up.
7. bullfrog tadpoles in all their stages of life
8. paper shell clam
9. knob shell clam
10. young bluegills (they are panfish and totally cool looking)
11. Red fin Shiner fish
13. eastern crayfish young.
15. softshell turtle
16. Woodchuck families, they also scream.
17. a muskrat or a GIANT rat.
18. a racoons dinner.
This blog is going to get better and i'll leave youthe thought of my next topic...the mother fucking tadpole.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I’ve lived the lagoon for three years and have enjoyed it as a place to sit and watch the ducks and geese eat pond scum on many an occasion. But when you look at the lagoon, from a bench or a sidewalk, it doesn’t look or smell like a place that would harbor abundant life. The only life I noticed were the seventy-five Canada geese that shat at least three pounds or digested pond sludge a day each. and the only smell I noticed was the two hundred and twenty-five pounds of greased goose shit that would float on the lagoon's poopy banks, sit lifelessly on it's grass. Touched by children, sat on by the elderly. It was a messy place
Perhaps... I exaggerate the amount feces produced by a Canada Goose... but not by much. The poop is green, white, and shaped like one of those hockey puck-like snake fireworks but after it’s burned out. That horrific stuff had to pollute the pond. It made the shore of the pond area look like a brownish, muddy wasteland, and the top of the water look like an oil slick, as illustrated in the photograph*. I thought the lagoon water would smother all forms of life except, of course, for the magnificent and shit filled Canada Goose.
That was why I was shocked when I saw a fucking beaver swimming in the water one night. A beaver is a large, brown, rodent with a waffle for a tail, it is known for it's affinity for wood and architechture. Its brown color is apparently camolflodge for its latrine like habitat.
Anyways, this beaver made me believe there had to be other creatures living in that disgusting puddle. I had to find them...
*by the way, this beautiful photograph was taken by mister Anthony Topper from flickr.com, I believe in giving credit where credit is doo (doo, ha) and this is a brilliant photo, I will post some pictures of goose poop tommorrow for you to look at and I believe they may impress you)
Monday, July 13, 2009
Anyways, I've got some stories. And I'll tell em' to you later.