The Little Vase That Was

It’s been a quiet six years on this blog! We’re quite alive although life, as it’s prone to do, got in the way of posting about our adventures. This post isn’t intended to catch the reader up on happenings but rather to test out our continued ability to post.

It’s finished! This was my first time turning an open segmented piece in two parts and then glueing them together. This made it easier to access the inside but it complicated the overall process and made it more like making two pieces simultaneously. The finished piece consists of maple and walnut, 12 segments/row, approximately 15 inches tall by 8 inches wide (37cm x 21cm). Continue reading “The Little Vase That Was”

Time Machine

“If the pure and elevated pleasure to be derived from the possession and use of a good telescope were generally known, I am certain that no instrument of science would be more commonly found in the homes of intelligent people.” —Garrett Serviss (1901) Pleasures of the Telescope

Scope Nights Forecast The forecast for tonight and the following four nights calls for rain and clouds. After a dry summer and a drier autumn, what caused the sudden switch to wet weather? Why did we go straight from drought to downpour? Continue reading “Time Machine”

The Geminids

Bryan was determined to see some good meteors this year. DETERMINED. Our Orionids had been rained out, and our Leonids had been somewhat spoiled by the experience of driving around for an hour looking for a nonexistent viewing spot and then lying on the concrete in front of a dark fire station hoping not to get run over. The Geminids, though – they looked promising. A new moon and clear skies were going to line up perfectly. Some astronomers even predicted the co-occurrence¬†of another, more minor meteor shower! 2012 12 14 Geminids Graphic Bryan planned carefully. He invited our friends Cliff and Mitch and their kids, and he packed a stove and hot chocolate mix and air mattresses and lots of blankets. We had our good binoculars, and Mitch brought his telescope. We met at Williams Junction, where highways 9 and 10 meet west of Little Rock, and drove a caravan to Flatside Pinnacle. The parking area there is nice and flat, the glow of Little Rock is blocked by the mountain, and the skies to the west are dark over the wilderness area. This time, we weren’t disappointed. We snuggled into our blankets and watched dozens of meteors streak across the sky. Most radiated from Gemini as it rose, of course. But there were a good handful angled perpendicular to those, was that the second shower or just random other bits of space dust? Some streaks were faint but many were big and slow and really impressively bright. Some even trailed glowing stuff behind them. The rest of us took turns dozing, but Bryan stayed up all night and watched. Just before we packed up our things to head home, about two-thirty in the morning, we saw a meteor so bright it lit our upturned faces and cast shadows behind us. Here we are, friends, on a big rock we call home. Sometimes we need reminding that ours is not the only rock out there.

Mama’s Little Coonass

wpid3021-20121201-Mandy-Gun-Collage Mandy’s been deer hunting several times this autumn with our friend Jarion. At first we thought she was interested in hunting just because she likes to try new stuff, and we supported that, as we always try to do. We figure that, as parents, part of our job is to let Mandy nose around and do lots of different things so that she’ll have the opportunity to figure out what she really enjoys. We were a little surprised to find that, after getting up early to sit soddenly in the cold rain for a morning or two, she still really wanted to hunt. We scratched our heads a little at that, but Jarion was a very good sport about being willing to continue taking her along, so we continued to make time for her to go . “It’s not called deer SHOOTING,” they said. “It’s called deer HUNTING.” Continue reading “Mama’s Little Coonass”

The Leonids

Bryan and I decided that, since the Orionids meteor shower last month had been such a disappointment, we’d try to watch the Leonids this month. Mandy’s schedule precluded a camping trip, but he and I got up at three in the morning to drive out to the overlook on Highway 5. We overshot and ended up in Crows instead. When we turned around to look for the overlook again, we found that it had been removed. (Do they ever do that? Apparently.) The other close-by spots had too much light. We ended up lying on the concrete in front of Salem Fire Station Number 4. We’d forgotten pillows. There was way more traffic on the road than we’d expected, and I kept thinking someone would pull into the fire station and hit me, lying there on the driveway in my sleeping bag. But the meteors were beautiful, as they always are, big streaks of fire across the sky that light up the air they pass through and make it glow. I love meteor showers. Sometimes we forget, I think, that we’re just tiny people in a big, big universe. When we watch for meteors, we come to understand again that we’re just crashing through space along with all the other rocks. It’s humbling and amazing at the same time. Also: cold. I don’t think I woke up fully until sometime during my second cup of coffee, halfway through breakfast at Waffle House.


Bryan’s grandparents know he likes old camera gear, so as they’ve been cleaning out their attics and closets these past few years, they’ve passed their Brownies and other old cameras along to us. One from his Grandma Schambach came to us with a roll of film still inside; we sent it off to be processed and got these gifts from his family’s past. Is this Metairie forty years ago? Where is this? Is this a photograph of a family member’s house? Is it the view from a great-uncle’s window, or from the top of a factory where his grandfather worked? Continue reading “History”

Transit of Venus

We have no telescope. But Bryan didn’t want to miss the transit of Venus across the sun, so he did a little research on the interwebs and came up with a way for us to watch safely. He put a tripod in the driveway and mounted the binoculars on it. Then he fixed up a light stand with a piece of corrugated plastic clipped to it, and situated it so that the too-bright sun image from the binos would hit it. Hooray! The transit of Venus projected safely onto white plastic. Pretty clever, if you ask me. As an added bonus, we were able to see sunspots too!


Bryan got me a Mother’s Day present, but he couldn’t bear to wait until May to give it to me. It’s a slackline! It’s a lot like a truck tiedown strap, made of heavy yellow synthetic webbing with a burly buckle to pull it tight. It’s supposed to be looped around a tree at each end and tightened to take out as much sag and wiggle as possible. And we’re supposed to walk on it. Slackline contests are popular with climbers, and I can see why – it’s fun. But also really, really hard. The first time my foot pushed down on the line, it waggled uncontrollably back and forth. I looked down, feeling a little betrayed- what was wrong with my foot and ankle, that they were behaving so unpredictably? I tried looking forward, but it didn’t help. I actually grabbed my knee and calf, hoping to steady my foot, but it continued flailing back and forth wildly. Bryan took a turn, then Mitch, then Monkey and Nick. I think they all thought ‘oh, I can do a ton better than that.’ But we were all equally awful at it. Finally, after some practice, we got better. ‘Better’ meaning “can sort of stand on one foot for about two seconds.” Maybe by Mother’s Day I’ll actually be able to walk on the damn thing.

Diamond Bear

Diamond Bear Brewery doesn’t have more than three or four employees, so when it’s time to bottle they call in their part-timers and put out an email asking for volunteers to help with the bottling line. I’ve been on the email list for about a year, but they almost always bottle on weekday afternoons, which makes it hard for us to participate. But this week they put out a call for volunteers for Friday evening, and Bryan and I snapped up the first two spots. The bottling was rescheduled for Sunday afternoon at one, which was also fine. Continue reading “Diamond Bear”