Sunday, July 26, 2015

SnapShots: Two Cute

(Snapshot: an informal photograph that is taken quickly, a quick view, or a small amount of information.)

Coral, The Cupcake Camper ~

I almost forgot.

There was one more fun find during our Los Olivos trip. We parked right next to it: a beautifully restored vintage pink and silver Shasta Travel Trailer, more affectionately known as a "canned ham" style trailer. The Shasta travel trailer is owned by Enjoy Cupcakes and her name is Coral.

Fun Fur Found: A bird nest made with Goaty Boy fiber ~

Sunday, July 19, 2015


It's raining. I know. Crazy, right?  We're seeing the remnants of Tropical Storm Dolores in the form of thunder, lightning, and rain.

Last night I was frequently awakened by brighter than bright flashes of lightning. (Oddly, The Man didn't seem to notice or more likely chose not to wake up and discuss it with me.) In the midst of a pretty good period of frequent flashes I took my point-and-shoot camera out on the front porch.

Coincidentally, yesterday I roasted a whole chicken with sides of fingerling potatoes, roasted broccoli, and TJ Cornbread stuffing. And today we'll be eating the delicious leftovers. I can't think of a more festive way to celebrate our gift of rain. It's like Christmas in July.

                 Baa Baa Humbugs

Friday, July 17, 2015

Under the Stars

Last night the Flare Fan Club got together again. It was a perfect night for being outside: cool and clear. A perfect night for sky-gazing: very dark, a New Moon, that is, no moon at all, not even a sliver.

I was a little late to the gathering (I must have missed the memo) since I was happily knitting and watching The Anatomy of Knitting video/podcast on my iPad till Z. showed up and asked me if I wanted to see satellites. Heck Ya.

Whoa, it was dark as I made my way out to the Vista. The Man had turned off the motion-sensored lights and it took several minutes for my eyes to adjust to the darkness.

After a while, The Man disappeared for a little bit and showed up again with our Therm-a-Rest camping pads. He laid them down in the middle of the driveway. I disappeared for a little bit and showed up again with pillows and blankets. We all settled down for a more comfortable night of star-gazing, the dogs piled on top of us as well.

Again, we spotted shooting stars, satellites, several flares - some quite bright, qualitatively measured by our "wow-WOW!" scale. (We saw a single WOW! flare.) This time around we could easily make out the Milky Way and with binoculars we could see individual star clusters. The Boy commented how we were lucky to see all of this for free. (Wryly, The Man spoke my thoughts: Well, we did have to buy this wonderful place . . . .)

When it was way past our bedtime The Man and I creakily got up from laying on the ground. The dogs headed towards the garage but The Boy commented how great it would be to sleep under the stars. His lucky day night, The Man agreed.

The dogs and I headed off to our soft beds as the guys settled into their sleeping bags in the middle of the driveway.

This morning the dogs and I walked out to the Vista to find The Man sipping his coffee. He said he had been up since dawn. Too early for the dogs it seems since they opted to sleep in rather than follow him back outdoors.

The Boy went back to sleep after receiving sloppy wake-up kisses from Mele.

During the wee hours the guys were awakened by the coyotes yipping and yapping for a long time. I'm pretty sure I know what the excited coyote chatter was about. The critters were probably commenting about the tasty morsels - the pigs in a blanket - up on the hill. Yum.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Flare Fan Club

Satellite flare, also known as satellite glint, is the phenomenon caused by the reflective surfaces on satellites (such as antennas or solar panels) reflecting sunlight directly onto the Earth below and appearing as a brief, bright "flare".     Wikipedia

Last weekend The Man, Z, and I spent two nights out on the Vista.  After a quick dinner of take-out, Sylvester's Burgers one night and Bravo Pizza (with a big healthy salad) the next night, we were outside, from dusk to way past our bedtime gazing up at the night sky. The dogs came by every once in a while for nose nudges reminding us that it was also past their bedtime.

The Boy brought over his telescope; the same one that we had been hearing about for a couple of years. We were skeptical but Z reassured us that it worked. Really.

Surprise, it worked like a charm. Our natural world got a little bigger with the inclusion of the moons of Jupiter, Venus in a crescent shape, the rings of Saturn, the craters of the Moon, and satellite flares.

Venus and Jupiter

Orange moon rising

Man, oh, man, satellite flares, Irridium flares, satellite glint, whatever you want to call them. We call them awesome.

The three of us got pretty good at spotting flares - six eyes scanning the sky - and we were in the right place at the right time to see one literally light up the sky. It was unbelievably bright. No way you could have missed it. Lucky we have no near neighbors as the sighting caused quite a bit of surprised and excited hoots and hollers. YeeHaw.

Here's the thing I want to know: How could we have lived half of our lives, ahem, The Man and I, and not have known about this spectacular phenomenon? Me, understandable but The Man? He's the geeky, science guy and even he was unaware of what was happening right above our heads all these years. And I'm thinking of all those missed opportunities, the dark places we've traveled to via VW camper, RV, or Pelican - The Man's ocean-cruisin' fishing boat. Over the years we've been to plenty of isolated - perfect for stargazing - dark places.

But at least we know about satellite glint now. We're in the club, the Flare Fan Club.

Besides, we've got the cool kid in our club.

Z's Andy Warhol sneakers and Rebuild-a-Bike summer project

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Night Moves

We weren't searching for some pie in the sky summit
Workin' on our night moves in the summertime
In the sweet summertime     (Bob Seger, songwriter, 1976)

It has been a great week to be outside in the early evening dusk.

Okay, so it's also been very hot from triple-digit days and not much cooling at night.  And, due to subtropical humidity, the air makes you feel like you've been wrapped in a blanket, a warm soggy one.

But I gotta say the low clouds helped to create spectacular sunsets and the evening sky has been ablaze with color.

June 27, 2015   Saturday, 8:42 pm - 8:45 pm


And if sunsets weren't great enough we're also in the midst of a Celestial Event! A grand convergence of two planets, Venus-Jupiter Conjunction, two planets currently so close together and aligned they look like they could collide. Or kiss.

June 30, 2015   Tuesday, 9:02 pm - 9:06 pm

But wait, there's more. It happened by accident a week ago. Jerry and Z were over for Redbox movie night ("American Sniper") after a failed attempt to see Jurassic World at the local theater for $6 Tuesday. Apparently our North County neighbors also had the same idea and the lobby was packed with people and we were all standing in one long line that went out the door. (At least we stood in A/C Wonderland.) The Man has zero tolerance for crowds (and crowded movie theaters) and I could see him starting to fidget. When Jerry and Z showed up it didn't take much coaxing to relocate movie night to our house ("Hey guys, I made homemade vanilla ice cream with Oreo cookies mixed in. Want to come over to our house?")

So, anyway, the guys watched the movie while I puttered amongst my crafting and in between I poured drinks (root beer and wine), passed out popcorn with mochi crunch, and dished out ono-licious ice cream.

Before Jerry and Z took off we stood outside in the driveway and admired the Vista view of the night sky. Brian pointed out Scorpio and I found the Big Dipper. We spotted a couple of man-made satellites moving across the sky. My attention was elsewhere when the guys spotted a star getting brighter and brighter and then blink out. It unnerved The Man, he couldn't figure out what it was or what just happened. I think it creeped him out.

A few days later he sent an email to Jan (which I've ganked here):

Mystery in the Sky - Solved!

The other night when Jerry and Z were at our house (for “Movie Night") we saw a very unusual sight in the night time sky.  Turns out what we saw was an “Iridium Flare”.  It’s caused by the sun reflecting off a satellite antenna.  If the Z man wants more information he can check out:

Reflections from Space: Spot Iridium Flares

Amazingly, these things are predictable.  Once I figure out how to do that I’ll have Z up here for a viewing.  Pretty amazing.

Cool Beans! The night sky is awesomely amazing.