Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Spring Equinox Full Moon

I'd been keeping an eye on the eastern hills, which glowed red in the sunset, but the moment of the day's end slipped by unremarked during dinner.  (Equinox Quiche, both of which have Q's in them.)

We were distracted by dinner and video games, so we missed the full moon rising during the first evening of Spring. 
 Mark wisely suggested taking photos in the front driveway, which is not as netted against the sky by power and phone lines.
 I fiddled around with various automatic and manual settings to get different types of shots.  If the shutter speed was 1/60th of a second, I got clear lunar features, but no clouds.  If it was 1/2 of a second, the clouds came through, but haze and lunar glare made the moon look like a sunset.
At some point Mark accused me of not actually looking at the moon -- I had, but he had a point, and I straightened up from hunching over the camera and stared and stared and stared.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Rituals and Emergency Preparedness

These snowdrops were blooming around the corner, so I used the macro setting on the camera to take this photograph of them.

The Equinox and Full Moon are in about 36 hours (Wednesday).  I thought that it might be nice to have a picnic dinner out on our lawn or deck, but the forecast is for mostly cloudy with a chance of rain. 

Which is good; I'm sure we need the rain.  But I'm not quite in the space where I want to do something semi-celebratory in the overcast and cold. 

On a more practical side, I was thinking that one action I might incorporate into the eight solar stations would be to renew emergency water and food supplies and consume supplies before they go bad.  (Yes, there was an earthquake awareness training at work today....)  Since you're only supposed to keep water for six months, a water container secured around Halloween would be used around May Day.  I can see how ritual water would be used... I have to think more about ritually eating emergency snacks. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Artsy Cat Shots

 I took some photos of the cats the other day.  Smokey's photos came out looking odd, and quite a few of Cicero came out out-of-focus.  But I got a few artsy cat shots.

Story prompt:  if you found the right link in a fence, what would it show you? 
 Story prompt:  the humans didn't know what was lurking under the deck.
Story prompt:  In my past life, I was a priest of Isis in Egypt, during the Fourth Dynasty.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Final Days of Winter

Sunday felt like Spring had come a few days early.  The ground is still wet from the rain and snow of earlier weeks, but the sun was out and the grass was dry enough for mowing.

The Equinox will be in three days, and the full moon is just three hours afterward.

In a few weeks, the sun will set north of west, and the tilting shadows of  evening will be replaced by the side-swipe of shade from the southwest corner of the house. 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Andre Norton and Dreams

I just finished a new (to me at least) Andre Norton novel, "Scent of Magic," (written in 1998).  It was a fun, light read, and it reminded me of "Catseye" (1961).   I was reading for fun, but I was also lightly paying attention to how she jumped from point-of-view within chapters.   I think if I were going to do a homage or pastiche, I'd need to write about a young person, who is a member of a family/clan that has fallen from grace/privilege, working in an oppressive work place, who discovers and is aided by really smart animals, becomes the protege of someone with Old Knowledge, and is drawn into a centuries-old struggle between otherworldly Good and ancient Evil.   Extra points for blending tech, telepathy, and magic.

I think a side effect of reading for pleasure is that I'm remembering my dreams more.  Since I build pictures in my head as I read, I'm guessing that part of my brain is primed and ready for more when I sleep.  I dreamt Mark and I were trying to have a conjugal moment, but continued instances of no privacy -- one involving a after-show parade of 1920's flappers straight from a theatrical review -- prevented us.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Moon and Orion (Again)

 We got home just as the last of the blue left the evening sky.  The moon was between Orion and Taurus.  I managed to get a wide shot with Sirius in the lower left-hand corner and the Moon on the other side of Orion on the upper-right.
 I played around with various settings.  I hadn't realized how much haze the camera was picking up, and I wish we'd gotten home a little earlier because the bluer sky would have compensated.  The best shots seemed to be with the Moon Setting.  When I tried manual settings, the shutter speed was too fast.
I tried to get a shot of the Moon and the constellation of Taurus, but the pictures didn't come out with the V of the bull showing up so well.  I think the camera's auto-focus works best when the moon is half full.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Moon and Aldebaran

 After I came home from writing Tuesday night, I saw that the Moon and Aldebaran were out. 
 Rain had been forecast, so I was a little surprised to be able to see them.  Instead of going to bed, I grabbed the camera and took pictures of them.
 Of course, the clouds rolled in.  This isn't always a bad thing, as they can add some interesting effects (and moonbows!). 
Tomorrow night, if it is clear, I'll see if I can get the Moon and Orion in the same photo.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Orion and the Moon

When I was an undergraduate, I could always tell how late I'd stayed up by how far up in the sky Orion was.  I knew that I'd stayed out way too late if he was on the left-hand side of the rooftop.  It was a little like having an older brother looking down at me (and sometimes shaking his head) as I unlocked the front porch.
 The sky has cleared. and I've been able to take pictures of the stars and the moon.  I'm guessing this will change soon.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Lingering Snow

I haven't been writing or exercising much because my back is still out of whack from snow shoveling last week.  It's probably a pulled muscle, and I'm crossing my fingers that I'll recover completely in another week or so. 

In family news, we went to a freshman orientation at the local high school.  It has about the same population as my old high school, so it didn't feel to weird to me, at least.  The child seems mildly excited about it, and we saw a number of kids he knows, so it won't be like he's going to school in a foreign country or anything.

Weather wise it's been cold, which means that the snow that fell last week is still lingering on the north sides of buildings and in mounds in parking lots.  There was about two hours' worth of snow yesterday, but it really didn't stick to anything.  There was a snow rainbow during this, which we decided should be called a snowbow (not to be confused with an obscure wind instrument).  This is good for the snowpack, and has improved the drought outlook for the coming summer.

Monday, March 04, 2019

Kitties Sleeping

 Before Cicero became part of our household, Smokey used to sleep with Mark and me.  Ever since that day about two and a half years ago when Smokey hissed and ran out of the bedroom, we've felt a little sad that the 16 pound older cat was displaced so quickly by a 4 pound kitten.

Okay... um, yeah, Cicero is a descended from barn cats and has no sense of boundaries.  

And, Smokey has been known on occasion to do a sumo-ninja move by rolling with a Cicero pounce, resulting with Cicero landing on his side instead of on Smokey like he had planned.

 Fast forward to this week, where I discovered them sleeping and actually touching.

And, of course, as soon as I typed this, Cicero went up to Smokey, who was on the bed, and started biting him.  Sigh.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Anatomy Lesson

Oregon Snow Week

Last Monday I pulled something in my lower back shoveling snow out of the driveway.  Let me tell you, it is humbling and annoying to not be able to put on one's own socks.  The muscles in my left hip decided they wanted to help my back muscles, and their contribution was to seize up my hip and make everything spasm if I tried to do anything approaching lifting my left knee.  Luckily, rest and drugs have restored most of my flexibility, and I can now do things like tie my own shoes and get into and out of cars (or out of bed) without the use of a cane.  I'm afraid The Child may have learned some new swear words. 

Eugene has been functionally shut down by 13 inches of snow for most of the last week.  Luckily, we didn't lose power, but lots of people in the area did.  The local school district had snow days every day but Friday.  The University shut down Monday and Wednesday, and opened last Tuesday and Thursday.  I learned that, even though there's no clutch in the car, I still drive a bit with my left leg (ouch!) and that potholes in the road really do transmit vibrations through the car's frame.

Today (3/3) the snows has mostly melted off of the streets and sidewalks, but anywhere were that is shaded still has snow.   The small hills of snow in store parking lots remind me of my winters in Minnesota decades ago.

On the writing front:  I got a two day rejection.   Between not being able to sit in one position for any length of time and the roads being too icy for travel, I haven't gotten any actual writing in.  I have been reading for pleasure as much as a speculative fiction writer can.

On the gym front:  Arg.  I'm pretty sure that I should hold off on the rowing exercises for another week.  And the cable core twists.   I guess I'll have extra time for the ellipticals.

A big shout out to Mark for having to deal with an invalid. 

Monday, February 25, 2019

Snow Day!

Today Eugene got about thirteen inches of snow.

It's rare for us to get even an inch, so many services--including the schools and universities--shut down.

The snowfall started Sunday afternoon, and the weather service was predicting anywhere from four to eight inches accumulation, so we weren't too surprised when we opened the blinds and there was snow everywhere.

I got up early and walked about through the snowstorm taking pictures.  At first we only had maybe eight inches, but the snow kept falling and falling and by noon or so we were up to thirteen.

In the middle of the morning it was still snowing, and various birds were out.  A large flock of crows landed in the trees across the street.  I thought maybe I'd get a photo like one taken a year or two ago in Portland where there were something like a hundred black crows in the white snowy branches of a tree.  But today's crows weren't as numerous.

The cats liked the theory of playing in the snow, but the actual practice was something else.  I think mostly it was too deep for them (although I did see Cicero's brother, Spencer, when I first set out)

Later in the afternoon, Mark and went for a walk.  The snow at our house was wet, and water flowed on the street underneath it.     

Our neighbors across the street were shoveling out their car. 

Our neighbors up the street were building an igloo. 

We passed about four different groups of kids with sleds on as many different slopes.

I thought this mound of snow on a concrete post looked like a helmet or skull....

In addition to the snow day, I was chuffed when I got an early-morning message from an author I've admired since the late eighties, who had written a cool poem using a comment I'd made as the prompt (the comment is the poem's epigraph), and wanted to e-mail me a copy.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Weekend Update

Oh let's see... I've been good about going to the gym this week, and I've done the usual routine.   For some reason, I didn't feel sore from techno dancing until Monday, so I think I get extra virtue points going to the gym then.

Writing has been going slowly.  Tuesday I managed to sit and write a bit during my writing night.  I'm thinking the cute lounge will work out.   Today (Saturday) has been a file system cleaning day, which means moving draft copies of stories into their one Scrivener files, and moving various automatic backups out of Dropbox space to speed up syncing with my mobile.

Writing has also been frustrating, in that I got two story rejections.  Of the form-letter, "there were many strong stories submitted" variety.   I suppose that I shouldn't be horrifically surprised:  one market I've never managed to get a story into, and the other market had a theme I probably didn't quite hit.   I know that I shouldn't take story rejections personally, but I do.