All Hallow’s Eve

Balrogs, Dragons and Ravens, oh my!

While visiting my daughter last weekend, (see previous post), we spent part of Saturday visiting the Museum of Flight, and the rest of the day carving pumpkins, something I hadn’t done in decades. The last time I did this as a kid, was in the mid to late 70s when my grandmother spent a couple of weeks with my brother and I in October while my mom and dad were away on a trip. We did the more traditional carving of a face – eyes, nose and a mouth with jagged teeth.

Rachelle adding the finishing touches to her dragon carving Sunday morning.

Skip ahead a decade and a half in the mid 90s after I’d spawned two children of my own, both of whom were vastly more artistic than I ever dreamed of being. My daughter especially has always been good at 3D art. Thus her dragon is center stage in the photo above. My Balrog isn’t too shabby but not nearly as frightening as I’d hoped. Nic’s Raven is his nod to Poe, nevermore!

The kittens are not phased by the Balrog-to-be.

Happy Hallowe’en everyone!

Monochrome Mania

A friend and work colleague of mine who also happens to be a photographer started posting snapshots in her Facebook feed last week.  The challenge was to take a photo a day from your life with no people featured in them and provide no explanation.  Oh, and they must be black and white photos.

This intrigued me as my first camera back in the early or mid 70s had been a small inexpensive fixed lens camera that used small rolls of black and white film.  My dad had a dark room at home but I don’t think we ever developed film that I shot in my camera, at least not until I was much older and part of the yearbook staff in high school.

I decided to revisit my youth and took up the challenge.  I also happened to be on vacation this week so I had plenty of time to think of what sites in and around my home would lend themselves to good black and white photography.

Here’s the seven I posted daily on my Twitter and Facebook feed:

Day 1 Day 2
Day 3 Day 4
Day 5 Day 6
Day 7

And here are all the photos I took in the last week that I used as the pool of photos to choose from:

Autumn 2017

Autumn Arrives and Adventures in Astronomical Observing

Autumn arrived mid-week here in the Heart of America, but you wouldn’t have known it by looking at the weather forecast:  Mid 90s and moderately high humidity.  Also with the change of the seasons, I retired my FitBit Charge (or rather it retired itself by falling apart) and upgraded to a Samsung Gear Fit2.  The new fitness tracker is spurring me on to be more active, although my sleep pattern hasn’t improved much. I can safely blame work (10 pm to 4 am conference call on a Saturday night/Sunday morning) and astronomy, which requires, well, dark skies, for my reduced snooze time.

Speaking of astronomy, I’ve upgraded, finally after two years of paralysis analysis, from the Meade ETX 90, gifted to me by my father in October 2010 (also, unsurprisingly the birth of this blog site), to an Orion SkyQuest XX14G.  Continue reading “Autumn Arrives and Adventures in Astronomical Observing”

The Autumn Equinox is Here! Wait, What’s the Autumn Equinox?


I’m a Libra so this is naturally my favorite day of the year.

I feel so balanced today.

Have a great day!

Posted from WordPress for Android via my Samsung smartphone. Please excuse any misspellings. Ciao, Jon

Autumn Evening Colors, Pink Sunrises and Royal Blue Days

Last night after grabbing a quick dinner and running some errands, my husband and I made a quick trip through Mount Muncie Cemetery just before sunset.  I took several snapshots with my smartphone, and liked this one the best:

Fall colors at Muncie CemeteryThis morning, after commuting in the pre-dawn darkness and parking almost underground, I emerged to find this pink sunrise greeting me on this fabulous Friday morning:

20141017_072039And in honor of the World Series bound Royals (first game is here in Kansas City next Tuesday evening) enjoy this snapshot from one of my many lunch walks around the Country Club Plaza, where all the fountains are overflowing with Royal blue:

20141015_120842Have a great weekend everyone!

My Least Favorite Day of the Year, Yet the Last Day of My Favorite Month and Season

I dread the last day of October, probably about as much as I look forward to the second day of October (being my natal day).  All Hallow’s Eve, commonly compressed to Halloween (or Hallowe’en as I prefer to render it), leaves me cold and exasperated, at least as it’s hyped by the media and the movies.

Case in point:  My husband and I slummed to the Lifetime Movie Network late yesterday afternoon in search of a non-horror movie to watch.  In all the years we’ve been cable and now satellite television subscribers, we rarely (if ever) watched that particular channel.

I can expect to be invaded by children just a few minutes after I arrive home from work this evening.  The City of Lansing stated the official hours for the invasion on their website and Facebook page to be between six and nine o’clock.  Usually, the teenagers (and sometimes a few college students) trickle through past that time, but they can have the most interesting costumes.  My daughter, a senior at UNT in Denton, Texas, dressed up as Flo (of Progressive fame) this year, even performing her Opera On Tap selection in it.

I don’t have many fond memories from childhood of Halloween.  Since I grew up in the country, a half-mile from my nearest neighbor, I can count on one hand the times I trick-or-treated, because my mom had to drive us into town (Leavenworth was 10-15 miles away from where we lived).  At least our local church held an annual fall festival for the children, which I did enjoy.

I do remember watching ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown‘ annually.  I wonder if I’ve already missed the broadcast?  Or do they even both to re-broadcast these old classic animated holiday specials from the 60s?  A quick check at confirms my theory that either I’ve missed it or it wasn’t aired at all this year.  Oh, well, I guess I could watch it on my laptop through Hulu or some other similar site.

The true horror story haunting my sleepless nights concerns my large oak tree in my front yard.  Even though I’ve raked ten bags worth of leaves and acorn shells, the oak tree still sports nearly all of it’s mostly green foliage.  I’m looking forward to the windy day forecast for tomorrow, which I hope will strip the branches bare and I can finally put the nail in the coffin of that particular tedious autumn chore.

Autumn Reveries

I am so tired I literally cannot see well as I write this blog entry.  I felt the need to preserve my tiredness for posterity by sharing the highlights of the first whirlwind weekend of October 2011, which coincidentally corresponds to my birthday.

I planned earlier in the week (still in September) to attend the Friday opening night showing of Courageous with my hubby.  Since I ended up driving the van for the workday commute last Friday, I got home early, around 5:15 pm.  While changing out of my work clothes, I received a call from my uncle, who is visiting Winfield, Kansas for events surrounding Homecoming at his alma mater, Southwestern College.  I’ll spare you the details from the thirty minute conversation and instead refer you to last month’s post about interfamily technical support.  I dispensed what help I could and we headed south to the Legends, making a quick stop at Subway for a bit of supper.

With a good fifteen or twenty minutes to spare, we were surprised to learn the movie was nearly sold out and we ended up seated in the second row of theater eight.   While Terry and I thought the movie was good, we did not think it was as great as Fireproof or even Facing the Giants. It suffered from scrambled subplots, sprawl and heavy handed preaching at the expense of good story. There were a few laugh-out-loud moments. While the theatre was packed, but you could tell you were ‘preaching to the choir’ from the composition of the audience.

Saturday, the first of October, we had planned to board the dogs and head south to Wichita to visit Terry’s life-long friends after the recent death of several family members, with the intention of attending the memorial dinner Sunday evening.  As noon approached (and the cutoff for dropping off the dogs at the kennel), we learned one of the family members thought they had the flu, and since neither Terry nor I have received this year’s flu shot yet, we opted to do a marathon trip on Sunday rather than expose Terry to potential viruses.   I canceled the boarding and Terry canceled the lodging, which left us with time on our hands.

Terry wanted to take me out for a birthday dinner, since my actual birthday would be spent driving to and from Wichita to attend a funeral.  I struggled for an hour trying to find someplace relatively close to dine at, finally deciding to try Stone Canyon Pizza in downtown Parkville, Missouri.  We drove through a beautiful fall later afternoon along K-5 and Missouri 45 only to discover upon arriving in Parkville that the city was overrun with an Octoberfest and locating a parking spot close enough for Terry became a pipe dream.  The backup plan became Zona Rosa and we eventually ate at Abuelos, a Mexican restaurant (not my first choice for cuisine, since I despise cheese, but they were convenient and not overly crowded and we got front door parking on a Saturday evening).

Terry suggested that we drop by High Noon Saloon to listen to Southern Reign.  We arrived shortly after the first set completed, spoke to the band members briefly, then found a table and enjoyed the next two sets.  I surprised myself by ordering a hot chocolate as my first drink, since the door to the Saloon was propped open and the temperature kept falling quickly as the night progressed.  I must admit that hot chocolate proved to be one of the best, if not the best ones I’ve ever drank.

I spent most of Sunday morning recording DVDs from the DVR (same way I spent Saturday afternoon once we decided not to drive to Wichita).  I even sneaked a watch (without the hubby) of the season finale of Doctor Who (more on that later in the week) and the latest Star Wars: the Clone Wars.  Terry woke up before noon and we hit the road by one o’clock.  Having forgotten that Kansas recently raised the speed limit on Interstates from 70 mph to 75 mph, we made record time down the turnpike, savoring the autumn beauty of the Flint Hills.

Many friends and family attended the memorial service and dinner, including half of the decedent’s high school Class of 57 (all eight of whom drove up from Oklahoma on Sunday and planned to return that night).  Of the two hymns we sung a capella, I loved singing In the Garden, which had been my great-grandmother’s favorite hymn.  I received several complements on my singing, even though I haven’t sung regularly in months and tried to keep my volume as soft as I could without sacrificing pitch and phrasing.  The dinner, provided by the host restaurant (Yaya’s Euro Bistro) proved delicious and soon afterward the guests began to depart.  We tarried long enough to briefly speak with our grieving friends, then hit the road north, shortly after eight o’clock.

I drove the first leg of the trip, stopping briefly at the Matfield Greene Service Center to get some water for Terry.  His poor digestive system needed some heart burn relief via Alkz Seltzer.  I spied a couple of interesting paintings of sunflowers, my favorite being the one below:

I continued driving north and took a brief side trip to Emporia for my one birthday treat of the day:  ice cream from Braums.   Terry drove while I enjoyed my butter pecan waffle cone, returning to the turnpike.  The clear skies shone with brilliant stars, such that I even asked wistfully if Terry could drive without the headlights just so I could enjoy such pristine dark skies.  He ignored me and kept driving safely.  Soon after finishing the cone, I fell asleep.  I drug myself out of my dreams after we crossed over the Kaw River east of Lawrence and stayed awake until we pulled into the driveway at a quarter past eleven.  I stumbled upstairs and crashed into bed, but failed to fall back asleep until after midnight.

After such a jam packed weekend, I dreaded the five o’clock alarm that would set me off on further adventures, this time for my employer, with a business trip to the Windy City aka Chicago (a misnomer if you consider the factual data that points to Dodge City as the windiest city in the States).  In fact, I’m finishing up this blog post in my hotel room after a long day of work and travel.  I’m so looking forward to more than five hours of sleep.