Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More stars

This morning I saw a shooting star slice westward through Gemini's legs. Nice.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009


The stars were bright and beautiful when I went out at 5:30 this morning. On mornings when they are bright I search my memory for the names of stars and constellations. I was reasonably good at identifying them when I was in my late teens, but I've forgotten most of them now.


Orion is always immediately recognizable wherever it is in the sky, as are the Pleiades close by.  It's sort of odd that I have a harder time with the Big Dipper; that's because light pollution and trees are always worse in that direction.


Two bright stars really caught my attention this morning. One, as I looked at it, had a tellingly reddish tinge, and I wondered if it was a red giant. Usually I can see the red in Mars on nights that it's visible and identify it by its color and brightness. This time, though, I didn't recognize this particular "star" as Mars, but it was Mars anyway. This I found when I looked up a star chart on my computer afterward.


The other star was Sirius. I had wondered if it was; as the brightest star in the sky, it's very noticeable. At first I thought it might be Venus, but it wasn't bright enough for that and I didn't think it was in the right place. Then I thought perhaps it was Jupiter. Once again, the Internet cleared it up for me later on.


I'll be taking a star map with me next time.


Monday, September 28, 2009


I just returned from a lunchtime sketch excursion to E.P. Sawyer Park. This time I decided to try the black sumi ink that I don't use often.  It's a beautiful day out, windy and cool but with warm sunshine.


I used a whittle-down stem to draw with (I'd have used a brush, too, but I accidentally left them at home) on a small piece of paper.  It was looking pretty nice, I think, but I pushed it a little too far and it got sort of ugly.  It was a good experiment, though.


It's my plan to take some acrylics over during lunch break this week to do a little painting.


Pan's shadow

Here's a Web site that I find a little too engrossing. There are some amazing images here from the ongoing Cassini mission to Saturn. This photo is of the 17-mile-wide moon Pan casting its shadow across Saturn's rings during Saturn's recent equinox. ( )


Monday, September 21, 2009


I'm just putting things up from my backlog of garden photos. I think this is from [Mark checks the computer file data] July 31, 11:26 a.m.


I took this tonight. The asters and the butterfly bush, both the same shade of purple, really looked nice at dusk.


This first photograph is the pumpkin I recently realized had developed at the back of my garden under the tall grass. you can see the mostly dead vine it grew from; I suspect that, like a lot of fruit, the deteriorating health of the plant hastened the ripening of the pumpkin. It is now mostly orange. I haven't closely inspected the pumpkin itself for disease. For all I know, the underside may be rotten. Who knows, though? I might be able to carve it for Halloween! These two itty bitty ones are the volunteers that grew in the back corner of the yard where I used to have the compost pile. They are absolute darlings, if you don't mind me sounding totally gay. The very bottom of each has a clearly defined green spot. I included the spoon in the photos for size comparison, not because anyone (not even me) will attempt to eat them.

Pumpkin blossoms

I occasionally pick some squash or pumpkin flowers to eat, or at least I do when they are available. Now I don’t have many flowers to pick since most of my plants have died. This photo is from a month or so ago. It’s best to dip them in milk and then in flour, but I think I put these in a plastic container full of flour and seasoning and shook them to coat them. The results weren’t pretty: the shaking tore up the delicate flowers. They still tasted pretty good after being fried in oil, although I made them a little too salty. This is a recipe I’m still perfecting.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Biscuit on a stick

I found recipes for campfire bread (my people call it bannock), so I made up some dough. I roasted it on a stick over the fire. It was better than it looked. A little.

Labor Day weekend camping trip

Assembling the tent
Marshmallows were a hit with the girls, although I was very apprehensive about letting them too near the fire.

The last morning was quite foggy.


Here's some news from Saturday that I missed until this afternoon:

I hope more like him step up. How many people have been credited with saving hundreds of millions of human lives?

Monday, September 14, 2009


I've hardly done any metal detecting for a few months. Here is some stuff I found late spring/early summer, and which had been sitting in a big bowl until I cleaned it off and took a picture a couple of weeks ago. There is nothing of real value. No, I didn't find the balls with the detector, I just found them while I was detecting. Same for the little plastic bear head at upper left. I don't know what the thing that looks like a padlock (next to Jesus) is.

A turtle, if I recall correctly

I took this photo a couple of weeks ago. Jill drew this on the porch, and I liked it.


Yesterday afternoon I spent a few hours doing some long-overdue yard work. I mowed and then used the weed-whacker, and as I cut around the vegetable garden I found, hidden under some tall grass by the fence--


A pumpkin! It's as big as a badly over-inflated football and is still mostly green.


The vine supporting it is barely alive, but it looks like I might have a pumpkin for the front porch after all.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

House drawing experiment

This was my first attempt at a black-ink house drawing with a watercolor overlay. It came out OK. I have very little experience with watercolors, but I really want to play with them some more. I like the look overall.

Black walnut ink drawing

Here is another walnut ink drawing; this is the only one I made on our camping trip last week. I did this at the picnic table at our camp site while everyone else was out doing other stuff. It's about 8 x 11 and drawn with twigs and a small brush.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Near-failure with bread

The night before last I mixed up some bread dough, and the girls helped me knead it (they had a lot of fun with it; Jill provided a constant loud narration of all her actions, as if she were showing an auditorium full of students the proper method).


The dough came out fine, but I left it sitting on the counter to rise for a little too long. We were done kneading it around 7:30, and I didn't put it into the over until nearly 24 hours later. Now I realize what's causing a problem I've had with some of my bread and pizza dough. It's over-fermented.


The bread is edible, it just has a slightly bitter edge to it.  We tried some while it was still warm, and Kim thought it had a little bit of a taste or smell like wine.  I detected an odor of beer.  It's not awful by any means, but my daughters didn't much care for it and I'll do my best to shorten the rising time from now on.


Thursday, September 10, 2009


I just don't feel like putting anything on my blog without pictures, but it's been ten days, so I guess I better put up something just to maintain my image of freshness.


I just got back from getting my allergy shots.  The nurse who gave them to me is pretty nice, but she makes my arms sore. I feel like someone punched me. The shots don't hurt when I'm getting them, but I sure feel stiff afterward.


Last night I had a dream related to the movie "The Car," which I saw on TV about 25 years ago.  It's a really bad movie about this demonic car that runs people over and is terrorizing a small town. In the dream, it was directed by Franco Zeffirelli, but it was real, and the car was stalking me and my family.


My garden is neglected, which it is every year at this time.  The pumpkins and squash are nearly dead from powdery mildew or other diseases; I will be very surprised if I have any pumpkins to harvest. I might get a couple more summer squash before the plants keel over.


The tomatoes, though, are still running nuts.  I have lots of cherry tomatoes that I haven't had time to pick, but I can't send the girls out after them because the mosquitoes are so horrendous. I have ten big tomatoes on the kitchen counter. I might have to dry some again to store for the winter.


We went camping last weekend from Friday evening until Monday.  We had a great time, and the girls loved their first camping trip. It was nice spending time with friends, and we got a lot of help from Ed and Loraine, who loaned us some vital equipment for outdoor comfort (most notably, a great tent).