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Friday, July 1, 2016

Look At The Sky: July

The Planets for July:
Mercury - tiny but bright (-0.2 magnitude) shines alongside bright Venus in low western twilight skies this mid-month and will be very difficult to view.  On the 29th, look for Mercury very close to the bright star REGULUS in Taurus and viewable favorably in less bright skies  - in CANCER-TAURUS

Venus - our brightest planet in quite close to tiny Mercury at mid-month in evening bright twilight, setting while the sky is still bright in the west . Note that this brilliantly white planet will rise ever-so-higher throughout the remainder of the summer, making for a beautiful "evening star" late in 2016 - in CANCER

Mars - still at a fairly large angular size (14"), Mars is favorably placed for imaging and viewing throughout the nights; at midmonth, the Red Planet sets shortly after 1 a.m., but for evening star parties and very good early night viewing, Mars is a great target this summer - in LIBRA

Jupiter - dominating the early evening skies, this will be our showcase "star party object" for July; the bright and yellow orb will set nearly due west at MIDNIGHT at midmonth and will be very well placed in high declinations for northern viewers - in LEO-VIRGO

Saturn - appearing as a very brilliant yellow star, Saturn is slightly east of MARS and very high in the sky throughout the night, not setting until shortly after 3 a.m. local time.  This is a very favorable time to see the ringed planet high in northern skies, with its rings tilted near maximum toward Earth. - in OPHIUCHUS

Uranus - distant planet Uranus rises about 2 a.m. local time and shines at magnitude 5.9, bright enough to spot in good binoculars if one knows where to look; use a good planetarium sky program or GO TO telescope to locate this distant world; by sunrise will be high in the east and will show a faint, blue disk in large telescopes - in PISCES

Neptune - look for faint Neptune in large telescopes at midmonth very, very close to the bright star Lambda Aquarii (mag. 3.7); it will be quite close to this star all month, thereby making it a bit easier to spot this distant world.  Nearly overhead about an hour before dawn. - in AQUARIUS

Pluto - at magnitude 14.1, our most distant planet ( is a planet) is very low in southern skies, setting about 4:30 a.m. local time; only 12 inch and larger telescopes can spot this world visually. - in SAGITTARIUS

Observe when the moon does not interfere and attempt to observe AFTER midnight for most meteors to be seen!  For July, there is a scant THREE meteor showers for the entire warm and inviting month.  However, as with a months and times during the year, observers should always be aware that new sporadic meteor showers can occur at anytime from seemingly unknown sources and radiants.

Note always observe meteors reclining with your feet in the direction of the meteor radiant.  Attempt to observe when the moon is not in the sky (see Daily Calendar below).

July 16 - Omicron Draconids - very high in northern skies.  Found in 1971 and few meteors seen since.  These are slow-moving meteors; the nearly full moon will dominate the skies throughout the night this year, so the faintest meteors that possibly are associated with this cloud might not be seen this year.  This is a circumpolar meteor shower for the northern hemisphere, circling high in northern polar regions and will be up all night.   This is possibly a swarm of debris particles from a long-dead comet that has simply "run out" of material or has been perturbed by the gravity of another object (i.e., Jupiter) and no longer passes through the orbit of the Earth.

July 28 - Delta Aquarids (South) - rises about 8 p.m. and overhead about 2 a.m.  The moon is last quarter for this meteor shower and thus is a problem this year, so this is a fair year for this shower;  normally you should expect perhaps 8-15 per hour; face south and look for meteors overhead and begin your observing about 11 p.m. on the 27th and continue into the dawn of the morning of the 28th.

July 23-30 - Capricornids - From comet Honda-Mrkos-Padjusakova, these are bright yellow meteors with many fireballs!  This is a fair year for these meteors to be seen and enjoyed, since the moon will be quarter but diminishing toward the end of the month; thus improving conditions  from July 28-31 for the duration of this activity; the radiant for these meteors is very low in SE sky at dark and south of overhead for mid-northern latitudes by midnight; best chance for the best meteors will be after about 1:30 a.m. local time when the dark side of the earth will be turning directly into the path of the meteor stream.  Even in moonlight this can be a spectacular shower, so this year - this year, expect the fainter meteors to be seen.!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A New Generation At The Old Swimming Hole

As a teen, I'd often go to Washington State Park and swim in Big River.  Sometimes it would be with a bunch of friends, sometimes with my little sister, and sometime I'd go by myself.  Good times!

This last trip home Himself and I took Sis's kids swimming.  

It's a good swimming hole.  Moving water teeming with healthy aquatic life.  

Who needs a pricey Turkish fish pedicure when you have Missouri minnows?  Just kidding!  They don't bite.

Heading out for 'deep' water.

Ready... set... 


Three... two... one...

...and SPLASH!


What a fun time we had.  We'll definitely being heading back for another swim on our next visit.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Six Wonderful Years

Who knew that best buddies could come in such small packages?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Pieces of a Life

A couple weeks ago I went to the estate sale of a lady who used to be in a church group I belonged to.  I guess you would call it an estate sale, since the family was dispersing her household but Ms Dorothy is still alive and kicking at 102!  However she hasn't lived in her home for many years and it was just time...

Ms Dorothy is one of those ladies who would just make you smile.  Tiny in stature, she was as tough as nails, no nonsense yet with a gentle heart.  You could find her easily in a crowd as she always was stylishly dressed with a hat.  When she could no longer drive, her son would pick her up for church.  She rode along in the back seat, sitting up straight and looking ahead.  We'd tease that her son was "driving Miss Dorothy".  (Seriously tho.. there was a LOT of resemblance between Ms Dorothy and Miss Daisy!)

She worked as a hospital volunteer well into her 80s.  Her place was the nursery; first doing nursing procedures then as she aged, her job was to love the babies.  

From that came her own special ministry.  She told of how sometimes families didn't have any sort of layette for their new child.  So she made sure every child that needed had a 'onsie' or a sleeper, socks, a cap, a blanket appropriate to the weather, and a tiny New Testament.  Our mission group made sure she stayed supplied.  She would never announce that she needed anything to the group but would stop by me (I was President of the group) and 'mention' she was 'getting short on XXX'.  I would then during the meeting ask her 'how it was going'... THEN she would tell the group what she needed.  She didn't mind very gently used items but would admonish the group, "Don't give me anything you wouldn't have put on your own children!"

We had visited Dorothy many times in her home, so it was very surreal to be walking around poking through her things.  Soon tho we were smiling as memories came.

This is what I brought home.

Little odds and ends.  The round pin next to the dragonfly is a Sunday School pin.

She values education and was very well read.

That is an old book...

She has so many Bibles, commentaries, and Christian books.

Himself went through every Bible there.  He ended up finding some fairly important family items  which he handed over to her daughter-in-law.

And he came home with this Bible of hers.  The illustrations are really interesting.

It feels kind of nice to have a few of her things.  I hope I wear her hats with the same sass she did!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day!

Rockin' the baby sittin'!!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cool Mornings...Busy Days

The first 10 days of June has had some incredibly cool mornings and low humidity evenings.  We've been taking advantage of that every chance we could (whenever something else was not planned).  We've gotten a lot done outside.  This work was to set up a framework that we can build upon with multiple small projects.

Here's a bit of it (we've also been working in the shed, but I'm not ready to show that yet).

Our garage entry area.  It was a mess... let's leave it at that, OK?  We cleared and cleaned and did a few projects.  We've also dealt with the weedy driveway issue since this photo was taken.

One of those projects was this screening of the AC unit.  Those things are just ugly and ours could win the ugly contest.  Seriously... why don't the makers of those things put a bit of style to them?

I got the fence pickets at ReStore for about .50c each.  The big 4x4s came back from my Dad's stash and the 2x4 are from my stash.  The pots of blueberry bushes are sitting on a huge, heavy piece of slab wood...that is sitting on huge 'L' braces attached to the 4x4s.  Between the weight of the wood and the pots, it's not going anywhere.

Still have to pretty it up with a rock border.

The other project was to make a walkway from the back door to the patio.

Himself leveled in the stepping blocks and then went back to add in the roof tarp (BEST weed block ever!).  Then he had to fine tune the block leveling.

Several bags of egg rock and it was ready to go.

Our under-the-deck patio and wee garden.

You can barely see it... there is black chicken wire around the garden.

Doesn't it blend in great from a distance?

The large pots on the left are my 'nursery'; trees and raspberry bushes to be planted later.

On the table are my bonsai in training.

North side of the patio in the lowest (#3) terrace.  As you can see, it was a hot weedy mess.  Himself has taken it personal and is clearing it out.

After: (View looking down from deck)  He's cleared out about a 10' wide area.  He moved the 2 surviving rhubarb plants into the bed with the spearmint.  It gets just a bit of direct sun and the plants seem to like that.

Now up to the front of the house.

Court yard.  Not much different than last year's set up.

Looking the other way (#1 terrace).  Cleaned up of leaves and sticks.  Also moved a bunch of roof tarps that will go into #2 terrace area.  Then this fall (or when it's too dry for mowing) our yard guy will fill #2 terrace with gravel.

The driveway has also been cleaned out.

Left view from the court yard.

We added that huge bird bath (given to us by a friend).  Most of the area from the bird bath down had no gravel.  Yard guy dumped in the gravel (here and several other areas).  Himself then had the chore of spreading it.  This is large gravel (2-4 inches) and doesn't move easy.

And the right view of the court yard.

Heading down the sidewalk to the front door.

We added that 4' wide strip of gravel to tie the herb bed walkway to the main sidewalk.
(Still working on the herb bed...95% done).

Front door.

Yes... another bird bath.  We have 4 of them.

Those hibiscus on either side of the door have a story.

On a WalMart trip, we walked past a couple of pallets of large plants marked 75% off.  Well that's worth a look!  They had been moved from the 50% off area.  There were several VERY thirsty hibiscus but they were still in pretty good shape.   

Original price: $20.98.  Alrighty then!

When I got up to pay for them, the cashier said she couldn't do the extra off.  I told her they were 75% and that was the price they'll be.

She had to call someone.

"Someone" came and told me she'd give me "a couple dollars off".  I smiled and said "No, they are now 75% off.  Got them off the last pallet."  Her reply... "Well, that's what 'Susie' has been giving."

With my smile now gone, I told her, "That is incorrect math.  75% off of $20.98 should come to the price of $5.25 for the plants."  She actually argued!  I was just getting ready to demand the store manager when she huffed and rang them out.


I got them home and filled a big tub with water.  I plunged them in and let them sit overnight.

Next morning...HAPPY hibiscus!

Aren't those peach colored flowers beautiful?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Social Weeding

Himself and I recently attended a Team Red, White, and Blue non-athletic event (the group does a huge amount of athletic things that just doesn't float our 50-something year old boats... if you know what I mean).

Nope, this event was right up our alley.

We went out to a local organic farm/homestead and helped the gentleman with his weeding.

Yep, we weeded.  Even tho we have our own yard full of weeds.

Just look at these lettuces!!





Hungry yet?

As we weeded, we talked.

Real conversation.  No smart phones needed.

The only tweeting was the barn swallows swooping overhead.

Before we knew it, and hour and a half had passed.  Time to head home.

Headed home with some wonderful produce!
(Chard, onions, beets)

Fire and Cloud Homestead
3371 Ridge Road
Cedar Hill, TN