A Rainbow Connection

Friday morning rainbow surprise

When last I wrote, a week ago, I was nearly finished with a puzzle of a wizard riding a dragon defending a castle. I finished it Monday afternoon. I corresponded briefly with my daughter about the process to preserve the puzzle as a poster so I could hang it in our Purple Room. Yes, my house is like the game Clue. I have a Blue Room (aka Family Entertainment Room), a Green Room (aka my daughter’s former bedroom and now my home office) and a Purple Room (formerly my son’s bedroom, but when he moved to the basement, my daughter commandeered it). I’ll let you guess which rooms were painted by my daughter and which were painted by me.

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Puzzling Times

A puzzle of fantasy tropes including a wizard with a staff blasting something with magic while riding a dragon and protecting a castle with a comet and a moon thrown in for good measure.

I had to end my post yesterday rather abruptly to run my Saturday morning errands. During my jaunt around Leavenworth, I stopped in at Wal-Mart for the second time in a week, which is very unusual as I avoid shopping at Wal-Mart. If I can’t get it at Dillons, my only other option in Leavenworth/Lansing is Wal-Mart, outside of places like Dollar General and large pharmacy chains like Walgreens or CVS. K-Mart/Sears closed over a year ago and is now a very large U-Haul dealer next door to Home Depot.

This week they demolished the Payless Shoe Source store that previously resided in the same plot of land as K-Mart. And the biggest development project of the year is wrapping up. Quik Trip is nearly ready to open where the Leavenworth Co-Op was for decades on the northwest corner of Eisenhower and Main Street (US-73/K-7). I’m not looking forward to the traffic headaches that configuration is going to cause especially in the mid-afternoon when all the people on Post head home (to Lansing from Fort Leavenworth).

The other large roadwork improvement project that was causing me inconvenience completed last week as well. My alternate route to Dillons using 4-H Road to DeSoto is now open and the northern half of DeSoto now sports a middle turn lane and wide sidewalks. The intersection of Eisenhower and Desoto (on the south) and Shrine Park Road (on the north) also got a complete makeover including left turn lanes and signals for all directions and right turns lanes in some directions. Traffic should flow better in the mornings and evenings now.

But back to my second trip to Wal-Mart.

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Summer Arrives

Summer Arrives

A Day Early and Sunshine Short

The last two to three weeks have felt more like Summer than today does. Yesterday, we had the first cloudy slightly rainy day since May and right now, outside my window, the clouds have come down to Earth. I’m not complaining, really! I needed a break from sunshine, humidity and mid-90s temperatures. But enough about the weather.

The flowers and plants I planted earlier in the Spring continue to bloom. I’m a terrible tender though and frequently forget to water early in the morning. When your commute is a matter of seconds from ‘home’ to ‘office,’ you (meaning I) tend to dive right into work. Despite evidence to the contrary, I remain extremely busy with projects and support for my employer, who is thankfully returning furloughed employees now. I even have plans to return to the office for a half day late next week; mostly because my laptop has decided to take an involuntary vacation so it needs a more permanent and reliable replacement. That and I have a major upgrade to perform so being on site means no risk of power or internet outages in the home office.

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Almost Summer

Where did May go? So much happened in May between work, home and family that the entire month slipped away without any kind of post here. June is starting at at the same “full speed ahead” tempo. I don’t know when I will have time to write any of it up and some of what’s going on in my life I’m reluctant to share in a public forum. Don’t be alarmed. None of it is ‘bad’ per se, just private.

With the weather becoming brighter, warmer and more summer like, Terry and I are spending evenings outside. Thunderstorms are forecast for later this week so perhaps I’ll spend that rainy afternoon and evening writing a post.

Stay well and take care.

Mid-Afternoon May Day Surprise

May first is our wedding anniversary. This past Friday was our thirty-fourth. I took a day off from working at home and turned it into a three day weekend.

Before Terry went upstairs for a nap shortly after noon, he warned me to answer the door if the door bell rang. Since I had no where else to be, I stayed in the living room, watching obscure dramas I stumbled across via the Tubi channel on our Roku. As foretold by Terry, sometime around two or three o’clock the doorbell rang and I receive a beautiful bouquet from a local flower shop with a note that brought tears to my eyes and warmed my heart.

Click photo to see rest of album.

Next year, our thirty-fifth, we hope to spend a weekend in a remote location, preferably a dark sky site, so we can enjoy some star gazing and some peace and quiet. I’m hoping for a Flint Hills cabin or camping site myself. But we’ll see. We have a year to plan.

Gardening Baby Steps

I started writing this post last Monday. Now six days later, on Sunday, I’m composing this first sentence. I got only so far as to think of a title for the post. I’ll be inside most of today as the ‘good weather’ of the past week has finally reversed (as so often happens during springtime on the Great Plains). As I look out my home office window, the trees and lawns wax verdant. My mail box flower garden sports a single red Dahlia bloom while the Gazanias sleep in.

Sunday morning view out my home office window (looking southeast down Fawn Valley)

My front yard drama I’ll cover in a separate post that will become a review, possibly scathing, of a local lawn and landscape company. But I will not mar this post with dark brooding thoughts.

Over the past few days, I’ve planted a Dahlia, four Gazanias and sixteen moss roses (also known as Portaluca). I bought a bag of mulch but I had so many moss roses I’m not sure I can squeeze in the mulch between all these plants. All of this in half my flower garden on the south side of my mail box. The north side is still dominated by my two robust day lily plants. I had two on the south side but that bed was damaged sometime in the last year or two and I’ve lost one of the day lilies and the remaining one is small and stressed. At the end of this year, I’ll probably completely redo this flower bed, put in new soil and find some different perennials, leaving some space for annuals to switch out next year.

Click on photo of the Gazania to see my Flowers and Herbs photo album, updated frequently with new photos.
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An Hour Before Midnight, Lion Spotted

The weather forecast for today predicted over an eighty percent chance of rain so I either needed to make my observation before midnight or wait a couple of days for cloudless skies. Fifteen minutes before my Mythgard Academy class started last night (at nine o’clock Central Time), I decided to make my first observation. I set the timer on my smartwatch for ten minutes and hung outside while my neighbors to the north decided a fire in their firepit was warranted (not helping my light pollution survey one bit). My neighbor to the south also appeared to have search lights trained on my backyard so adjusting my eyes for optimal viewing already had steep hills to climb. I somewhat patiently waited for the timer to count down.

Meanwhile, I found Venus immediately, very high and extremely bright in the west. Next, both Procyon and Sirius shown brightly in the upper and lower southwest. Even though the sun had set over an hour ago, the western sky still seemed dimly luminescent and I detected a very slight haze obscuring the fainter stars. My timer buzzed and I began sketching out the brightest stars and the only constellation I could identify – Orion – sinking slowly into the southwestern horizon. To the north I could just barely make out Polaris but could not find the Big or Little Dipper (mostly because the trees are starting to leaf out).

Almost directly overhead but still on the eastern side of the zenith, I could barely make out a sickle, an asterism that can be found in the constellation Leo (see diagram below). I had checked the Sky and Telescope Interactive Star Chart before stepping outside so I knew where to crane my neck in the hopes of spotting the lion. In addition to the sickle, I could also make out, barely, the triangle of stars that form the lion’s rear and tail. I could not tell where Leo ended and Virgo began as the stars were so faint I gave up.

I returned to my computer, logged into the Webinar and while I waited for it to start, I verified my sketch against the star chart. I had found Leo, but only by the very brightest of it’s stars (which aren’t that bright when you compare them to Sirius, Vega or Procyon). Fast forward two hours, where I found myself nodding off and decided I’d consumed enough First Age elven antics for one session and bailed out of the webinar (I can always watch the last 15-30 minutes via YouTube later).

I went back outside and noticed immediately the haze had disappeared. The air was crisper and I didn’t even need to wait the full ten minutes before I could clearly see the constellation Leo, now slightly west of top-dead-center overhead. My northern neighbors were still enjoying their outdoor fire but my southern neighbors had toned down the search lights to just one very bright LED porch light.

I returned inside and recorded both of my observations via the Globe at Night web site. I plan to repeat my observations each night weather permitting until the middle of next week.

How did your observations go?

Astronomical Activity and Dark Sky Awareness – the Case of the Hidden Lion

Tonight and for the next few nights, you can participate in a survey of your night sky and increase awareness of dark skies (and the converse of light pollution). While we are sheltering at home, we have vastly reduced the amount of air pollution, but have we given thought to the loss of our dark skies while we hunker down, sheltering at home? No? Well, here’s your chance to pitch in and save our night skies!


The Case of the Hidden Lion

Can you find the constellation Leo (for Northern latitudes)? For the next week, take a few minutes out of your late evening and follow these simple instructions to locate the missing lion in your night sky.

Five Easy Star Hunting Steps

  1. Use the Globe at Night website to help find your constellation in the night sky.
  2. Use the Globe at Night website to find the latitude and longitude of the location where you are making your observation.
  3. Go outside more than an hour after sunset (8-10 pm local time). The Moon should not be up. Let your eyes become used to the dark for 10 minutes before your first observation.
  4. Match your observation to one of 7 magnitude charts and note the amount of cloud cover.
  5. Report the date, time, location (latitude/longitude), the chart you chose, and the amount of cloud cover at the time of observation. Make more observations from other locations, if possible. Compare your observation to thousands around the world!:
April 2020 Campaign – Find Leo After Sunset all this week!

I’ll be making my observations either tomorrow or Friday evening around 10 o’clock Central time. I’m just one degree shy of forty degrees north latitude. We’re in the last quarter of the moon, with the new moon occurring on the 23rd so this is the best opportunity to find that missing lion!

Times for Sunset and Moonrise for Kansas City, KS:

April 16, 2020
Moonrise: 3:55am
Twi A: 5:05am
Twi N: 5:40am
Twi: 6:13am
Sunrise: 6:41am
Solar noon: 1:19pm
Moonset: 1:59pm
Sunset: 7:57pm
Twi: 8:25pm
Twi N: 8:58pm
Twi A: 9:32pm
Day len: 13h 16′
April 17, 2020
Moonrise: 4:29am
Twi A: 5:03am
Twi N: 5:38am
Twi: 6:11am
Sunrise: 6:39am
Solar noon: 1:18pm
Moonset: 2:59pm
Sunset: 7:58pm
Twi: 8:26pm
Twi N: 8:59pm
Twi A: 9:34pm
Day len: 13h 19′

Throwback Thursday Family Film Print Photos

My new desk arrived this morning, earlier than I expected. I returned to the spare bedroom yesterday evening to continue my decluttering and organizing. I spent way too much time on a box full of old print photos all over twenty five years old.

None of the photos I found were taken before we moved back north from the Wichita area to the Kansas City area. Once we relocated, I switched from taking photos to taking video in VHS-C format, at least for the next ten or fifteen years, until both our kids were in college. So all the sports, concerts and family vacations are locked up on video tape that I haven’t converted to a more current digital media format.

I selected a dozen photos from the dozens I sifted through and snapped quick digital versions of them using my smartphone. I can scan these with our multifunction printer device once I get my new office setup this weekend. But for the purposes of this post, I felt this method would suffice.

Terry (on the right) and me (taken at a wedding where he was a groomsman in August 1985)
Click the photo to see the other eleven photos in this throwback photo album.
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Whimsical Wednesday

I made my weekly jaunt to Dillons to partake in my Seniors Moment (aka the senior’s discount granted by virtue of my spouse being over 60 – but now that I think about it I think I’m eligible now anyways as of last October because I’m officially over 55). Anyway, as I was discarding some empty water bottles from the van into the recycle bin, I noticed our cherry tree blooming. Just a few days ago it didn’t show any evidence of buds but now they are all over the limbs.

I also found my old hummingbird feeder and a package of the nectar concentrate mix yesterday. I cleaned everything thoroughly, mixed up a small batch and placed the feeder outside my upper patio door, which I sit near in my current home office setup. I haven’t seen a hummingbird yet, but it’s only been twenty-four hours. I’ll need to switch out the nectar today as it got up to the mid-80s and was very sunny yesterday and will be so again today. My back patios are not in the shade so the nectar will go bad quite quickly. Once I move upstairs to the spare bedroom, that won’t be a problem, if I hang the feeder outside the upper east facing window.

While on my first conference call of the day, I heard strange noises coming from my front yard including on my roof. I surmised, since I could not get up and check, that the lawn service had arrived that we contracted last week to power wash the house, refresh the landscape mulch, haul in some dirt to fill in under our huge black oak tree and seed that portion of the front lawn. The finished the house scrubbing within an hour or so and will be back this afternoon to complete the rest of the work.

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