Friday, February 29, 2008

My Lucky Day & the Downy Woodpecker

Yesterday, this little guy was at the suet feeder that hangs from the oak tree in the front yard. Usually, the least little noise makes the downy woodpeckers fly away. I opened the front door before I realized he was there. He didn't seem to notice. So I got my camera. My next problem was the storm door, which makes noise when it opens. I slowly opened it, holding my breath with each squeak. Since the feeder is directly across the walkway from the front door, I had to hold the door open with my foot to attempt a shot. It was then that I realized the afternoon sun made it almost impossible to see in the little camera screen. I took many shots in the hopes that some of them would be good ones. I couldn't believe that he stayed there. He was happy eating the suet and I was happy I got a couple of good photos. I'd say it was my lucky day!!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Seven Weird Facts About Me

My new blogging buddy, Mike at rambling stuff tagged me for a "Seven Weird or Random Facts About Me" meme. I had fun writing it - I hope you enjoy it!

1) I don't have a middle name.
2) When I was seven years old, I was bitten on the hand by a scotty dog.
3) When I was twelve, I was bitten on the hand by a monkey.
4) I like pie and coffee. I only drink one cup of coffee a day in the morning. Therefore, on those rare occasions when I have pie, I have it for breakfast with my coffee. (Cold apple pie and coffee is my favorite.)
5) St Patrick's Day is my favorite holiday.
6) My favorite song is Nessun Dorma sung by Luciano Pavarotti. It is so beautiful it brings me to tears.
7) Now for the really weird: I had a favorite deep pink blouse that I wore until it was no longer wearable. Finally, I saw a blouse in a catalog that was exactly the same, so I bought it. When it arrived, I was very disappointed because it was burnt orange. I also bought a new pink scarf to wear with the blouse, but it didn't really match the burnt orange so I never wore them together. One day, I was wearing the burnt orange blouse, when both my daughter and grandaughter suggested that I should wear my new pink scarf with it. I asked them if they really thought it would match. They were positive it would look very nice. There was a tiny bit of an orange color in the scarf, so I took their advice. Once I put the scarf on and looked down, I was amazed to discover that my blouse looked pink to me! I later asked my daughter and grandaughter to tell me what color the blouse was. They each said pink, of course. I had no idea they had never seen it as burnt orange. Now here is where it gets even weirder. On the hanger, the blouse looks burnt orange to me unless I hang the scarf on it - then it looks pink!!

I am supposed to tag seven people. If you would like to do this meme, consider yourself tagged. Please let me know when you have posted it so I can read it! Have fun! :-)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Beautiful Eclipse!

The full lunar eclipse last night was a beauty! Unfortunately, my pictures are not very good. I had hoped to set up my telescope to photograph it, but my yard is still covered in ice. Enough of my whining. I'm lucky that I had a clear sky and do have some photos to remind me of this spectacular eclipse.

Even at this point in the eclipse, the moon shown brightly on the snow. I didn't need a flashlight to see my yard, but most of the stars in the sky were already invisible in the bright glow.

As the earth's shadow almost covered the moon, the sky filled with stars! At this point, it looked as though the moon might remain gray to grayish brown.

Just as suddenly as the sky filled with stars, the moon transformed from her normal gray attire to her stunning copper finery.

Totality ends as a sliver of light creeps across her edge.

The stars hide again behind the moonlight. The copper has faded. Soon the shadow will be gone completely leaving the well named Snow Moon reigning over the night sky. I hope you were able to enjoy this eclipse, too.

Would you like to see some lovely photos of the moon? Visit
Renie's "Shooting the Moon! In her shots, a tree frames the moon making for the most beautiful effects!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Total Lunar Eclipse Feb 20-21

Total eclipse of October 2004, when the Red Sox won the World Series!

(I intended to publish this days ago, but my computer had problems. That will be the subject of my next post! LOL)

Get ready for a total lunar eclipse! The entire eclipse will be visible to most of the Western Hemisphere. It will begin during the evening of Wednesday the 20th for North and South America. Observers in Western Europe and West Africa will see it during the early morning hours of Thursday the 21st.

Below I have listed the North American times in which the different parts of the eclipse will occur. I left out the penumbra stages since that is not readily visible to the casual observer. I have included a link to the European Space Agency website where you will find their time tables listed at the end of this post.

Partial Eclipse begins 8:43 PM EST, 7:43 PM CST, 6:43 PM MST, and 5:43 PM PST
Total Eclipse begins . 10:00 PM EST, 9:00 PM CST, 8:00 PM MST, and 7:00 PM PST
Mid Eclipse begins ... 10:26 PM EST, 9:26 PM CST, 8:26 PM MST, and 7:26 PM PST
Total Eclipse ends ... 10:52 PM EST, 9:52 PM CST, 8:52 PM MST, and 7:52 PM PST
Partial Eclipse ends ..12:09 AM EST, 11:09 PM CST, 10:09 PM MST, and 9:09 PM PST

Unlike the last lunar eclipse on August 28, 2007 that began low on the horizon, this eclipse will find the moon high in the sky and perfect for observing the entire event. An added bonus this time will be the very bright "star" just northeast of the moon - the planet Saturn. Close by to the northwest will be the bright star Regulus. Saturn will shine at the largest and brightest it will appear all year. Whether you gaze at this pretty trio with your unaided eyes, binoculars or a telescope, it will be a spectacular sight.

The next total lunar eclipse visible to North and South America won't occur again until December 20 - 21 of 2010! I wish all the observers clear skies and decent temperatures!

Timetable from the European Space Agency

My report on the August 2007 lunar eclipse

See an animation of the eclipse here

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Screen Capture Meme and Synchronicity

Mary at Mary's Writing Nook posted this unusal meme. She was tagged by Hootin Anni

I thought I would give it a try. It happens that my screen shot is related to a post I intend to make, hopefully by tomorrow, about the upcoming lunar eclipse. As fate would have it, I came across another meme at Michele's Writing the Cyber Highway that also relates to my article. This meme turned out to be even more of an example of synchronicity in kind of a eerie way. It involves grabbing the nearest book, turning to page 123 and copying a few sentences. Since I've begun researching my article, my nearest book is "Observer's Handbook 2008", which contains 324 pages covering all kinds of astronomy information, charts, graphs, and articles. Here is the eerie part - page 123 has a chart that lists the upcoming lunar eclipse!! Check out Michele's meme - it's fun!

Here's my screen shot:

Rules and How-tos for this meme:

1. Capture a picture of your computer’s desktop.
2. Post it on your blog along with a link to who tagged you.
3. Tag some people.

Here’s how you can do a screen capture:

1. View desktop and press the Print Scrn key (located in the upper right corner of your keyboard on the same row as the F12 key).
2. Open a graphics program (like Picture Manager, Paint, or Photoshop) and do a Paste (CTRL + V).
3. If you wish, you can “edit” the image, before saving it, but it is best that no icons be deleted before the screen capture so as to add to the element of fun.

I only had one problem doing this. While following the directions, I put Mary's instructions up on my screen after I had pushed the Print Scrn key and I ended up with Mary's blog instead of my desktop. Keep the instructions on the taskbar!! LOL

Thanks, Mary, this was fun!

Friday, February 8, 2008

A Lovely Blessings Award!

My dear friend Renie at Renie Burghardt's World has given me this lovely Blessings Award. We have been friends for about nine years! We first met while at Suite101 when I wrote about New Hamsphire and she wrote Nature Sketches. After the first article I read, I was hooked. Just as with Renie's writing here, her articles back then were filled with wonderful stories and observations about nature and the world around us as well as inspirational and uplifting stories from her own life. It was impossible to not be friends with this wonderful lady! Renie is one of the blessings in my life. I'm lucky to have so many blessings - among them my family, a safe home, the birds during the day and the stars in the heavens at night.

Now it is my pleasure to pass this lovely award on to three wonderful people.

First to another dear old friend I met at Suite101, Mary at Mary's Writing Nook. Her friendship is a blessing in my life. At Suite 101, I learned about Canada in all its beauty and rich history and quickly became fast friends with the author, Mary. She is the most giving person I know and she uses her curiosity and life experiences to educate her readers, always in the most interesting way.

Next, I would like to pass on this award to a new friend who is a blessing in my life, Michele at Writing the Cyber Highway When Michele visited my blog for the first time, I knew from her kindness and her signature, "smiles" that she was a special person. Writing can be a lonely endeavor - but not with Michele around. She is very supportive and filled with great ideas to get the muse going!

Last but not least, I would like to pass on this award to a new friend who is a blessing in my life, Grandy at Functional Shmunctional Grandy has a grand sense of humor. She always finds the humor in any situation and uses her writing talent to pass on the laughter!

I am thankful for all these wonderful friends. :-)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Finally, Deer in the Daylight!

In my December 9th post I told you about deer visiting the yard late one afternoon. I was disappointed that I wasn't able to get a decent photo due to the early sunset that left us almost in twilight. Dave installed a sensor with a bell that would ring in the house to alert us if the deer returned to the back yard.

I thought I would surely get an opportunity to take a good photo. But the days were still growing shorter. The deer would arrive at dusk, midnight, and before dawn. Usually, there were three: two larger ones and a small one. Using the nighttime binoculars, we watched the three. Occasionaly, there would be more. We never saw a "herd" because they visited late at night and in the wee hours of the morning. It could be that a couple of small groups visit throughout the night. Sometimes there are tracks coming from the driveway as well as from the woods. The high number of tracks leave no doubt that there were many more than our regular three!

Yesterday afternoon, my grandson, Zach, was in his room doing homework. Suddenly, he came running down the hallway shouting to us to go to the kitchen window - there were six deer in the woods heading towards the pond. (Since he placed his desk facing a wall, how he saw the deer while doing his homework is a mystery for another day. LOL) My son, Kevin, was here at the time, as was Keely. We all watched three of the deer walk to the far side of the pond and cross it; the other three remained in the woods. It didn't take the three long to find the deer feed buried by the new snowfall the night before. Finally, I got some fairly decent photos of the deer!

While I'm very happy with my photos,which are still a bit dark, if you want to see some excellent photos of deer, visit Renie Burghardt's World In addition to the deer in the side bar, scroll down to see the delightful photo of a deer "scratching an itch"!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

My Journey to Choose a Candidate

This is not a political commentary although it is about politics. Rather it is about my journey to choose a candidate. Never has my decision touched me so deeply nor has it ever been so difficult.

Tuesday, January 8th was a historic day. Listed on the New Hampshire primary ballot were the names of the two leading candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination for president - a woman named Hillary Clinton and a black man named Barack Obama. Another name, Bill Richardson, of Hispanic heritage was also listed and in fourth place in the polls. The list of all the candidates was long and impressive. Of special interest to me were Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd. I can't remember a time when the the choices were so good and so varied. I can't remember a time when I felt the country would be in good hands regardless of which candidate ultimately made it to the White House.

In my heart, I wanted desperately to see America break one of the barriers that keeps us divided. I grew up in a culture and a family that told me I wasn't as good, smart or capable because I was a girl. The working world confirmed that stereotype. Like many women in my generation, I rebelled against it. US Senator Hillary Clinton's status as a serious contender for the presidency was a dream come true.

My culture, family, and work experience constantly reminded me that being black in America, also meant not as good, as smart or as capable. More horrendous stereotypes were perpetuated in American society. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was and is one of my heroes. US Senator Barack Obama's status as a serious contender for the presidency was a dream come true.

Hispanics have not escaped the labels of not as good, smart or capable, either. Alas, more bigotry and ignorance reared it's ugly head here in the land of the free. Gov. Bill Richardson's status as a serious contender for the presidency was a dream come true.

You may be thinking that the choice should have been easy. I'm a white woman who has dreamed since childhood that a woman would rise to the presidency. But it wasn't that easy. Careful thought and consideration are a must when choosing a leader. The United States is at critcal point in its history. Seldom has the need for the right leader been more urgent.

Therefore, the process of choosing was an arduous one. I set my heart aside while I examined each of the candidates. They shared many views. The process of winnowing the field often came down to one view that I felt strongly about. Within a few weeks, my field had been narrowed to Clinton, Obama and Biden. Senator Biden just didn't have the support necessary to keep him competitive. In a way, I felt this great senator is still needed in the Senate.

Finally, I was left with Clinton and Obama. They are both good, smart and capable! Either as president would be a dream come true.

However, I was extremely disappointed in a vote on a resolution that Clinton had made a few months earlier. It weighed heavily on my mind. But the most basic question seemed to me to be what does this country need more than anything? We need a leader who can unite us and inspire us. When I say us, I mean all of us. We need a new direction, a new vision. We need someone who can restore our standing in the world community. We need a leader who will give it to us straight, who will tell us that we need to pitch in to rebuild this nation. A leader we can believe in. My questions reminded me of the speaker who gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention on July 27, 2004. I had not felt so motivated and inspired since I was a kid listening to President Kennedy's inaugural address. That evening I told my husband that I had just listened to an incredible speech by the man who would be the first black president of the United States. That sentiment was echoed by many others the following day.

Finally, my heart and my mind were in agreement; I had my answer. I cast my vote in the New Hampshire primary for Senator Barack Obama.

A great historic moment awaits us during the August 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado as the party nominates either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton to be its candidate for president of the United States. I hope with all my heart and mind that it will be Senator Obama but I will enthusiastically support Senator Clinton if she is the nominee. It is with great joy and hope that I await that final historic moment when one of them is sworn in to be President of the United States.

Keynote Address by Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, 07/27/04

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