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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sailing Against The Wind

Last week we had some thunderstorms roll through the area.  It was much stronger just across the border in Kentucky but we got some very decent winds and a bit of rain.

As I brought in some things from outside, I started thinking about a time we were in even stronger winds... like 50 MPH winds!

It was during our Panama Canal cruise in '08.  As we were coming up the Pacific side a warning was issued about the wind and being up on the deck.

So of course we went up to check it out!

The wind was so strong it was ripping the tops off the waves and lifting the resulting mist high up into the air.  So high that it was making rainbows everywhere!

The chopping sea was breaking against the ship and it really gave us a buffeting.  Up at the top of the photo you can see the 'mist' coming up.  That mist is called "spindrift".  

The deck hands were securing loose things like deck chairs as fast as they could.

And a net was put over the swimming pools to break the waves caused by the lurching ship.

Himself had to brace to be able to stand in it!

He nearly lost his glasses too.

I enjoyed having it blow directly into my face.  Kinda like the feeling of riding on a motorcycle... but no bugs!

This little girl was having a blast running into the wind.  It would actually lift her a tiny bit.

If you're wondering how high those spindrifts came up the boat, here is a picture of sea salt on the rail.  We were 10 stories up from the water line.

That's some wind!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Look At The Sky: August (Meteor Month!)

The Solar System in AUGUST 2015:

Mercury - Now in evening skies throughout this month and will remain fairly steady in terms of elevation/altitude above the western horizon, but appearing to move southward as the month progresses - in LEO.

Venus -  Our brightest planet is not favorably placed this month and will be hidden by solar glare throughout the early and middle days of this month; it will move from the evening sky into the morning sky around August 20 and hence will become our "Morning Star" for many months to come throughout the remainder of 2015 - in CANCER

Mars - Mars is now low in northeastern skies at sunrise, rising about 5 a.m. local time in mid-month; the tiny (less than 4 arc seconds!) orb will be difficult to spot in morning dawn twilight but will rise earlier as the month progresses  - In GEMINI

Jupiter -  Now in conjunction with the sun and not viewable by eye nor telescope!   In LEO.

Saturn - With its magnificent ring system tilted almost their maximum for earth-viewing, Saturn is high overhead in evening dusk and is in dark skies by 9 p.m. local time; however, by that time the planet has progressed far into low southwest skies.  By month's end, Saturn will be very low in SW skies and more difficult to view .  - in LIBRA.

METEOR SHOWERS:  Observe when the moon does not interfere and attempt to observe AFTER midnight for most meteors to be seen!  August offers some of the best observing conditions for meteors....the skies are typically quite clear, the cooling night air suggests that fall nights await and fill you with observing inspiration, and August holds five wonderful showers, one of which is the "granddaddy" of all predictable and dependable meteor observing outings.

The 2015 Perseids:  An excellent year for this normally reliable shower.  The famous PERSEID Meteor Storm will pass across the Earth's orbit once again this year in early August, and this year is very favorable for meteors to be seen because there will be no moonlight throughout the night!   Some meteors may be seen during early hours of days other than actually on the date of peak.  The sighting of fainter members of this shower will be easy this year on peak day, but expect brighter ones to begin to streak across our skies even in the first week of August....if you can trace their origin back to the constellation of Perseus, then what you are seeing are indeed Perseid meteors.   As with most meteor showers, the later you stay up (...yawn...), the more meteors you likely will see, particularly this year with very dark skies if you can venture away from city lights.  Begin watching the evening of August 10, and continue until the early morning hours of August 14 for your reward.  I recommend observing WEST of overhead around midnight, although only the brightest meteors will  be seen from this famous shower throughout the evening and morning because of the strong moonlight.

However, do not wait for August 12-13....this is a long duration shower and meteors will be easily seen during the first week of the month when skies are not hampered by the moon, particularly before moonrise late in the morning hours.

In 1992 Comet Swift-Tuttle, the parent object that spawns the Perseid meteoroid cloud, shed a great amount of dust in its wake and now sets the stage for intense activity as the earth passes through that debris; this will be the second year that the Earth has passed directly through this possible debris cloud.

Note that Comet Swift-Tuttle's (P/1862) one-revolution trail from 1862 will pass inside the Earth’s orbit this year. At the time of Perseids (the annual meteor shower associated with this comet (evening hours, local time, of August 12).  If there were a closer approach of this comet to the earth, a spectacular meteor storm would be expected...but with these conditions and no prior such close approaches to compare to, it is uncertain what kind of a shower this will give for 2015, just as it was for 2009 when the predictions were higher than actually were meteors seen.  Because of similar conditions, but with the earth passing directly through the major debris pocket of the comet, perhaps the best meteor shower of history will occur with the Perseids at some time in the near future....but it will not be 2015.

This is a long duration shower, with many (as many as two dozen per hour) being seen from August 9 through the 20th; during the PEAK, expect to see at least 60 or more (perhaps double that number!) around 2 a.m., streaming from the constellation of Perseus, high in the northeastern sky.  Best views are afforded by positioning your feet to the EAST and facing directly overhead. 

AND YES....there ARE other meteor showers in August!

August 1 - Capricornid Meteors.  The moon will full in our skies on the date of this meteor shower,  so you should expect a less-than-sensational show from this one.  Wait until after twilight ends (about 1.5 hours after sunset) in the early evening to begin serious skywatching.   Remains of comet Honda-Mrkos-Padusakova, about 35 meteors per hour - MANY which are bright fireballs! - can be expected in the morning hours; nearly due south of overhead about midnight.
August 6 - Southern Aquarid Meteors - look on the meridian, southern skies about 11 p.m. local time for only a few meteors, perhaps 7-8 per hour.  This is a curious shower, comprised of two peaks:  this one, and another on about August 21-23.  Note that meteors from this (these?) showers are not seen yearly and observations are badly needed to fill in the missing gaps about our knowledge of them.  Some years no meteors are seen, but since the late 1800's when this double shower was noted and later confirmed, there have been distinct radiants (the "northern" and "southern") seen throughout many years.  Observations of this shower are badly needed and this might be a wonderful year in terms of absence of moonlight (moon is last quarter and will rise after midnight)
August 20 - Kappa Cygnid Meteors - This is a fair year  for these meteors to be seen to their fullest.  The first quarter moon, setting about midnight.,  will be absent from the sky after that time and will not interfere with sightings of these meteors.  Typically many of these meteors are seen along with Perseid meteors, leaving very fine trains of smoke in their wakes!  The Cygnid (and the Andromedids, below) will be nearly overhead by 2 a.m.

August 31 - Andromedid Meteors - there will be a nearly full moon during the peak of this shower, so chances of seeing a good display are poor. In 1885, 13,000 Andromedids were seen per hour, all fragments of a now-disentigrated BIELA's Comet.  Very unpredictable, this meteor shower needs observations during such excellent times as unexpectedly occured in 2005. The shower radiant will be nearly directly overhead for mid-northern latitudes about midnight.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Lighthouse at Port Townsend, Washington.

This is a "wish I were there" photo.

I wish I were there is Little Bird and Little Hoss.

A great play beach, a nature center, and a short hike down to a sea glass beach.

Scotty... beam us over!!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

National Lasagna Day! (Recipe)

A holiday for lasagna... now that is something I can appreciate!

Last weekend we had friends over for supper and I decided that lasagna would be perfect for our meal.  It was a big hit.  Besides being delicious, it is SO easy to make because it is 'semi' homemade.

I was given the base for this recipe 33 years ago.  I say 'base' because it was very, very simple: noodles, jar sauce, sliced cheese.  Tasty enough...but not enough.  You know what I mean?

So I ramped it up!  It's now one of my favorite "company" dishes.

Hot (and drippy) out of the oven.

OK, there is the secret to my lasagna... Ragu Mushroom sauce.

Layering in the sauce.  Gotta have three thick layers.


Teri's Six Pound Lasagna

24 ounce jar of Ragu Mushroom Sauce
36 ounces of large curd cottage cheese (small curd is OK)
1 pound of fresh mushrooms, sliced and sauteed
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tsp cornstarch
 3 lb bagged LOW MOISTURE shredded mozzarella (important!)
1 lb block fresh mozzarella - sliced
15 lasagna noodles, cooked.

9x13 inch baking dish/cake pan
(this makes a lot of lasagna... think leftovers!)

Pour Ragu sauce into large mixing bowl.  Remove enough to make a paste with the cornstarch, add this back into the sauce for thickening.  Mix in beaten eggs, then cottage cheese and mushrooms.

Next step is the start of three layers...
Place a layer of noodles in pan -- then add a third of the sauce -- then cover with the shredded mozzarella.


On the top layer, use the fresh Mozzarella.  I like the Polly-O brand.  The shredded melts in a way you can see the shreds still and using the softer fresh gives a nice appearance.

Place in 375* F oven.  I would highly suggest putting the baking dish on top of a cookie sheet; it has a tendency to really bubble and make a huge mess.  (Remember the first photo?  LOL)

Bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until top is at the brownness you'd like.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Travel Trinkets: First Nations Girl with Puppy

We spent Christmas of 1998 visiting friends in Ontario, Canada.  On Boxing Day (26 December) we ladies made a shopping trip into Ottawa.  It was such a lovely day.

On of the shops we went to sold only products made in Canada.  Many things were hand-crafted.  That is where I found this darling figure of a First Nations girl with her husky puppy.  As soon as I saw it, I knew it must come home with me!

Don't you love her sweet face?  And the puppy is pretty cute too!

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

All Available Boats

I came across this video about a little known part of the 911 attack.  How the boats of every type answered the Coast Guard call:  All available boats!

When I visited NYC in '03 I went to a museum/memorial on the east side of Manhattan at one of the docks.  It was incredible.

Rain Barrel Non-Workshop

The beginning of the month, the local newspaper announced the city Street Department was having a workshop on how to build a rain barrel.  

It sounded really good:  "Anyone interested in building and using their own rain barrel..." and "During the workshop, the CRC will go through the process of building a rain barrel step by step. All necessary materials will be provided and each registered attendee will be able to complete a rain barrel and take it home the same day."

The 'workshop' cost $40 "per barrel which will pay for all needed materials."  It was scheduled to be one and a half hours long.

I was excited.  You see, I have FOUR barrels behind my shed and I'd like to make 3 of them into rain barrels.  So I thought $40 for a class to learn and then take home a finished rain barrel was a pretty good deal.  And since the cost was for materials, Himself and I could work together on one barrel.

Then we showed up to the site.  There were a bunch of tables set up for 4 people per table... and not a rain barrel 'kit' in sight, just 2 finished ones at the front of the room.  Hmmmmmm...  Then some guy from a governmental agency starting talking about water sheds and all sorts of things besides rain barrels. 

When he finally got to rain barrels, it was 'well, ummm, you drill here... shove in there...shouldn't leak but...and it's done!"

Excuse me??  Someone else asked, "Do you have written instructions?"

He said... (and I am serious...) "Oh, there are all sorts of instructions on the Internet you can look up."

Say what?!?!

Then he announced the completed rain barrels were out on a truck in the parking lot.  

We went out with the rest of the crowd to get our crudely made rain barrel.  They didn't even clean up the edges.  No workshop what-so-ever, not even a hand-out!  If they had even done a good demonstration that would have been worth something.

So I'm back to Square One -- look up rain barrel DIY on Pinterest.  (Except I'm out $40... )  

Here's the instructions I had collected on Pinterest: 

I'll try making my own this fall when it is not so hot!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Stylish Camera Strap

 I did a quick restyle on my camera strap the other day.  You see, I am sensitive to the rubbery/spongy side of a commercial strap.  Contact dermatitis in just a few minutes that takes days to go away!  Ugh.

So I decided it was past time to make a strap cover!

I had dug out some scarves for another project and this is one I really like.  I'm so glad that it didn't work for my first project!

It is a square scarf.  I started with a corner in the center of the camera strap and just started wrapping.  After each loop you'll have to adjust it a bit so it lays nicely.  Keep going until you have it completely wrapped.

I took some matching embroidery floss from my stash and made several wraps around the end to secure it.  I like the corners showing but you can just as easily tuck them up for a more finished look.

Finally I did some wraps at the center.  You could do wraps centered on each side but I like the looser flowing look that three tied areas give.

It is so very comfortable, plus you can change up the look quickly by wrapping another scarf right over the top for a fast change up.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Travel Trinkets: A Basket Tote

My second trip outside the US was a day trip to Nuevo Larado, Mexico in 1995.

Himself had just graduated military paramedic school in San Antonio, TX and I decided to fly down for his graduation.  Then we could ride home together.  Sometime between deciding to go down and actually getting there, I decided that we needed to make a trip to Mexico.

So off we went!

You know, I don't really remember much about where we went in Nuevo Larado.  God blessed us with a really cool taxi driver who took us to a 'mercado' area and after showing us around a bit, offered to be back to pick us up in a few hours.

We had a blast exploring and shopping.  I did a lot of shopping.... a whole lot of shopping (Christmas was taken care of in that one trip!).  It seemed that most of the vendors did not have bags to carry your purchases either.  Poor Himself was having a tough time toting all of it for me.

So when I saw someone selling all sorts of baskets that his family was making right there, I quickly bargained for this one.  I think I paid a couple of dollars for it.  It's a nice size... about 12" high and about 15" wide at the top.  Except for a couple blankets, all my trinkets and gifts fit easily inside this newest trinket.  

True to his word, our taxi driver was at the designated place at the time, and dropped us off at the border control gate.  A quick visit with the officers and we were on our way back to San Antonio.

I've used this basket for many things through the years.  Currently it is my 'mending' basket.

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