Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sisters at Dusk

The elusive Mercury is out for the next few days, right after dusk.  I've only seen it four times.  Copernicus allegedly never saw it (though this month's Sky and Telescope begs to differ).  Should be easy to find too, because of its proximity to Venus: draw a line between the sun and Venus and Mercury will be there.  Pretty, pretty, pretty.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Halo Round the Moon

The worst bit first: we broke camp in sleet and freezing rain as our eldest had a nuclear level meltdown inside the tent (she didn't want to get dressed because it was too cold; in her defense it was pretty frikkin cold).  So cold that lil Hucky and I had to go into the car and put our hands right next to the heater several times just to keep them from going numb.  We had to shake a layer of slush off the tent before we could fold it.  With the eldest finally calmed and our soaked tent and sleeping bags packed, we departed camp like wet, bedraggled dogs.

The other bits are mostly good and in no particular order.  Climbing with the youngest as she told me about her new friend, an invisible polar bear named Botticelli.  Chicken fillets and burgers and brats cooked over a campfire.  The girls earning their Junior Ranger badges.  A glorious halo around the waxing gibbous moon the night before we left.  Coffee percolated over a fire.  Learning to belay the girls on the rock climbing wall at the Y the day before we left.  Watching the first 5 Harry Potter movies.

Still, glad to be home.  The cats missed us.  We missed them.  And the warm and comfortable familiarity of our beds as well.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

At the Bottom of the Ocean

10 days off.

We were going to go to Crack Cave (insert drug joke here) for the equinox.  There is a set of Indian pictographs there that are illuminated through a crack in the cave wall at sunrise on the morning of the equinox.

Forecast: rain and snow. We'll hike instead.

So.  Onto part two.  We've got a motel room in Monticello, Utah (sunny and warm all week!), so we can take a couple day trips into the Needles section of the Canyonlands, and let the girls swim for hours in the motel pool in the mornings and evenings (they'd swim all day, every day of the vacation if it were up to them).

Then, the raison d'ĂȘtre of the trip: three days camping at Arches National Park.  Scrambling around on rocks and cliffs and canyons and valleys all day long.  Paying the girls a quarter for every lizard they find.  Thinking about how a million years ago this red and grey rock was all at the bottom of an ancient ocean, and imagining great prehistoric fish swimming lazily over your head.  And at the end of the day, building a cozy campfire, eating supper, watching the night sky descend, the stars slowly reveal themselves.  Sirius.  Capella.  Aldebaran.

See you in two weeks.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Okay.  New day, new week, new attitude.  Back on the horse.  I'll sell this thing yet.  And if I don't I'll sell the next one.

What turned my mood around: work.  This weekend was warm and sunny, and since our yard was looking rather Tom Joad-ish, we attacked the lawn for the first time since moving in.  Tore down the goldfish pond that was in the middle of the back yard, so now we have enough room for whiffle ball (we are still accepting names for the stadium, by the way).  Raked out the dirt so it was level.  Used the bricks to make the beginnings of a raised bed for flowers in front of the house.  Built a compost heap, and half-filled it with raked grass and leaves.  Created a large heap of trash to take to the dump in the near future.  I love going to the dump. 

That night the lil hux made a homemade pizza with the girls, and we ate outside on the back patio as the sun set, with a fire going in the clay stove for warmth.  A lovely end to a good day.

I'd post a picture, but I was too tired to take one.

Next step: planting drought-resistant xeriscape grass.  Fun.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


So.  Not much forward progress on getting an agent for the novel.  It has admittedly been only a couple of months.  And there are lots of feelers still out there.  Still.  I fear I am writing in a vacuum, with no one reading my novels but a small circle of friends.

That said, a new novel is slowly rearing its head.  I'll take the characters out for a test drive in a short story soon.

Got a flash fiction posted a few weeks back, here.  Not my best work.

At least the short stories are getting a little attention. 

Below, a hole in the moon.  Really.  It's about 200 feet wide.  The theory is, a hollow lava tube got punctured by a meteorite.

That, or space worms.

Picture taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter,  I grabbed it from Bad Astronomy.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Godzilla Haiku

I had a real post in mind, using my own words, my own thoughts, but then this website came along and my mind went blank.  Godzilla Haiku, by SamuraiFrog.  Loving Godzilla 17 syllables at a time.   

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Primordial Goo

That this is a five story high blood red waterfall oozing out of a glacier isn't even the strangest bit.

The strangest bit is what the blood red goo is made of.  It is an ancient community of microbes, sealed off from the rest of the world by ice for the last two million years.  "Evolving independently of the rest of the living world, these microbes existed without heat, light, or oxygen, and are essentially the definition of 'primordial ooze.'"  A high iron content is what lends it the blood red color.  That, or, you know, loathsome blood-devouring demons lurking under the crust of the Earth.  You make the call.

The gunk is coming out of the Taylor Glacier in Antarctica.  The photo, and the accompanying facts, are from my new favorite web site, Atlas Obscura.

Monday, March 1, 2010


We recently put two photographs up on our living room wall, both circa 1890 or so, of my great-great-great grandparents.  My Dad gave them to me; he's sort of the family historian.  He and I were driving with the girls somewhere one day, and he told us this story:

Their great-great-great-great grandpa, William Walbridge Wood, was traveling with his wife Louisa (that's them pictured above), some time in the 1860s, and when they stopped to water their horses found a 6 year old girl sitting in a chair at the bottom of a cistern (a basin used to catch rain-water).   She was sitting down there because she was being punished.  Not by her parents - they had left town on a train, said they'd return, never did - but by whoever it was that was raising her.  William and Louisa took the girl with them, and raised her as their own.  Her name was Bessie.

It is maddening incomplete, but that's what I love about this story: the huge gaps in it, the details that will never be known.  What was Bessie being punished for?  Who were the people raising her?  Were they abusive, or merely strict, to punish her by having her sit in a cistern?  William was 59 at the time, and Lousisa, as a Choctaw woman, had suffered greatly on the hellish Trail of Tears years before.  What was their motivation in taking her, in raising her?

It makes me wonder about what odd scraps of story will cling to my own family 150 years from now, when my great-great-great grandchildren are driving in their flying cars, telling their kids about how strange and primitive life was back in 2010.  What questions will they be asking about us?  What stories will define us in their eyes?  What will be lost?  What will remain?