01 August 2019

Hit a bit of a rough patch this week – my crunchy back blew out and my beloved, sticker-covered ‘09 Macbook appears to be on its way out. For my back, it could have been my dumb decision not to ask for help while wrestling a chest freezer out of my lab or being a little over enthusiastic with the back-bending-upside-down-backwards yoga positions – but in the end, I bent down to pick up a test tube I had dropped and ended up stuck on the floor. The sheep slaughtering, yoga teaching, reserve manager tried to stretch me out (on the lab floor) to help fix it leaving me feeling like the wind got knocked out of me and sweating in pain. But I think it worked. I’ve been stretching it out, took some very strong muscle relaxers that made my lips go numb, and have tried to give it rest – though I’m really bad at staying still. It’s still tight but I can run again and maybe start returning to yoga next week. For my Mac, perhaps its age is catching up to it like me or it ate too much sand since we’ve arrived. It’s been getting stuck on the start up screen – the diagnosis is something about a volume free block count being incorrect and that the disk needs to be repaired. I’m finding I am on my own as far as IT support out here so any other Mac users that have advice for a blue screen of death at startup or how to repair a hard drive/disk utility problem remotely, I’m all ears (assuming it stays functional to post this). Today it decided to just start up okay but it does keep freezing.

I’ve inherited a bug net for my room and a tent. I was told that the tent had a small hole in it that could be duct taped but last night I found that a whole sidewall is separated from the floor. I duct taped it anyway and am hoping it’s enough to keep out whatever weird bugs there are out here. Oh also, it’s a “junior adventure series 200” tent so I’m a little crunched up in it. She definitely oversold it before passing it off but it was free and I’ll make the most of it. I’d like to start camping around the reserve on the weekends when I know I won’t have bloods the next day – which is only for sure Sundays. We have jackals here, which are like coyotes but smaller, and they howl at night so I’m excited to hear them away from the farmhouse. The reserve is split up into zones and “the far side” is an area where no one really goes since there aren’t any meerkat groups out there – so that will be my first overnight destination. “The far side” extends to the border of our property and I believe that the land next to us is grazed by horses, so that would be pretty cool if I saw them. The bug net adds some aesthetic to my room – I really love my room, it may be my favorite one so far (besides my van obviously). It’s nearing the season of bugs, which I’ve been being reminded of by the sweet whining of mosquitoes as I try to fall asleep. I successfully secured the net with a wad of duct tape though failed at keeping bugs out of it last night. I’ll get the hang of it.

With camping out in mind, after finishing up in the lab I’ve been scouting out places along the riverbed and have found some pretty great little dunes to camp on. The sunsets have been amazing this week. Typically I go alone and bring a notebook or sketchpad, but we’ve also had a sundowners this week where we all hiked up “dune to nowhere” with some beers and snacks. It reminds me of evenings at Golden Gardens with the Seattle crew, except without water and mountains – still quite a crew here though too. The other night I thought I heard warthogs. I crossed over the next dune to check it out and found wildebeest, hartebeest, springbok, and a gemsbok all grazing together. The wildebeest were doing the snorting. I’ve never seen them all hanging out together, and with the sky turning into Trix yogurt (how any pink and purple sunset looks to me) it felt surreal. Though it’s been cold at night and in the mornings, the sun heats everything up enough during the day for my favorite temperature right at sunset. The air is still and there is one last pulse of warmth as the sun sinks.

I won’t be able to use the tent this weekend since I am on dinner duty Saturday night. I’ve never cooked for 30+ people and the friend I made the cake with (refer to a previous post about the passion fruit cake disaster) is my partner for it, so we’re doomed. We decided to make curry – jalfrezi and korma (a mild and spicy version). Today I will make a sign and post it above the kitchen counter for a weigh in on which proportions to make of each flavor.

The mole rat lab is turning over with new volunteers so right now many of the people I’ve gotten to know and have shared 10 Block with have left or are leaving. Change is constant here. Next week we will start getting in the new volunteers but in the meantime I am the only one on the North side of the 10 block building (out of 4 rooms). I’ve taken to rearranging some of the skulls and bone artwork and have really enjoyed extra hot showers with so few people around. For both the meerkat and mole rat projects, volunteer recruitment ramps up through September so it will be getting busy.

A slow, dying computer has not made it easy to keep progress with setting up a project in Chile – it’s been super annoying as I’m constantly behind on emails and updating drafts. But there is still progress and while our ideas have branched out more than focused in on one objective, I feel like it’s going well. The October deadline doesn’t seem so far off now though.

Yesterday I climbed to the summit of the reserve – a whole 50 feet up our fire tower. Air was pretty thin up there.

One thought on “01 August 2019

  1. As always, I was so happy to receive yoir latest post and enjoyed reading it. We have one thing in common now as my computer also died recently. I am trying to limp along & keep up with things on my phone, but I am really a novice. Just so happy I could read your post altho’ I was unable to see the pics. I’ve also been printing out all your posts but unable to now.


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