rik-rat corn pile

Friday, July 31, 2009

a transition.

I am about to drive to Iowa. To honor my transition from Illinois Resident to Iowa Resident I have chosen a photo from the lagoon that speaks to this transition. Its a bullfrog that is about to lose it's tail and become a mini-adult.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Blue Gill Puppy and my Fearlessness.

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.

Farewell Frogs. this was written in october.

This is a bullfrog tadpole that has started to grow its legs. Isn't it a horrible little monster but pretty neat at the same time? It takes a bullfrog tadpole two years to fully develop from its larval stage into a full fledged frog. That's a long grow-time for a tadpole, especially when everything wants to eat you. This guy has already survived a winter. That is an impressive feat.

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

Goodbye Dekalb. A Land of Corn. Our Patron Saint of Barbed wire.

Seth and I are in the process of moving out of our apartment. We are moving to Iowa. I've lived in DeKalb for three years. I've lived in this wonderful apartment for two wonderful years. This apartment has been my studio and my refuge. Its been my personal gallery, I'm the curator. My showcase piece being the Mallard Duck flying majestically in the center of a blue sky. I bought it off the wall at Sterling Family Restraunt. Tangent, back on track...

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

Frog Blog.

*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

fun crab dance.

This is my pet mini-claw crab. He loves to dance for his girlfriend who chose to remain on the other side of the aquarium while I shot this music video.

chimney sweepin' crayfish.

*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

let me explain the importance of a good dung pile.

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
12.Chimney Crayfish
13. eastern crayfish young.
14.snapping turtle
15. softshell turtle
16. Woodchuck families, they also scream.
17. a muskrat or a GIANT rat.
18. a racoons dinner.
19. beaver

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

Goose shit. and beavers.

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

Welcome to the Lagoon.

It's stinky, its covered in goose shit, and at one point there was a six foot alligator living in it's muggy water. It's Dekalb, Illinois and we're at the lagoon. I'm Jane Ryder and I've been sifting through the muck n' mire to discover that all that is covered in goose shit is not necessarily shitty. The unexpectedly abundant life in the lagoon has made me into it's Lewis...or its Clark. Or it's something.

Anyways, I've got some stories. And I'll tell em' to you later.