Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Night Sky

I have always been enchanted by the night sky.  When I was a child, I was captivated as I looked up at the sky at night and picked out the planets, stars, and even a satellite or two.  I even learned how to locate a lot of the constellations.

I grew up among the city lights, so it was a wonderful treat to run away to the country where there were no invasive, intruding streetlights.  When my family would go camping in the mountains or at the beach, the sky was always unobstructed and dark.  At night, my Dad would point out different highlights in the sky such as Polaris, the North Star, and Orion.

Years later, these memories of the night sky fed an interest in astronomy that led me to further my education by borrowing books from the public library, searching Internet, and purchasing several books to soak up the information like a sponge.  I live in rural central Oklahoma and have beautiful dark night skies, perfect for viewing the planets, stars, and constellations.  I eventually purchased a telescope and then became reacquainted with the celestial friends of my childhood.

The winter constellations, the Pleiades (the little fuzz-ball), the Hyades (the v-shaped pattern), and Orion (with the yardstick), rising in the eastern sky on winter evenings are my favorites.  I welcome them back every year and so look forward to seeing them rise every night.  It is like greeting old friends again.

After I became fairly familiar with the night skies again, I held "star parties" and invited friends over to view the night skies.  A couple of other friends also had telescopes.  They would bring them over so there were three or four telescopes for viewing.  Sometimes there would be 10 or 15 people that would come to enjoy what the skies had to offer. 

During the summer because it did not get dark until late, the star parties did not get underway until around 10:00 p.m.  Some people would stay as late as 3:00 or 4:00 a.m., depending on how clear the skies remained.  During the winter, of course, things would get underway much earlier with the exception of the meteor shower parties.  Since the height of a meteor shower usually does not occur until just before sunrise, people would not start to arrive until around 4:00 a.m.  As you might imagine, the attendance was much smaller for these parties.  Also, no telescopes were needed.  Folks would bring their own chairs or sleeping bags to put on the ground.  I use a folding Coleman cot because it is so much easier to lie flat and stare up at the sky rather than try to hold my head back and stare up and wait for a meteor to streak across the sky.  Besides, during the winter it is cold outside in central Oklahoma, and I can always throw a sleeping bag on top of the cot and cover with a blanket if I need it.

One very cold November winter morning I was outside by myself waiting for the Leonid meteor shower to explode across the dark sky.  I was lying on the cot snuggled all cozy warm in the sleeping bag with a pillow and blanket.  Nothing was happening.  I must have closed my eyes.  All of a sudden, I heard a band of coyotes yapping and howling not too far away!  I opened my eyes -- where was I?  Oh dear!!  I must have fallen asleep in my little warm cocoon.  The yapping sounds were getting closer.  I quickly unzipped the side of the sleeping bag and took off running toward the house.  No way was I going to be an early morning snack!!  I was bummed not only because I had fallen asleep, but mostly because I had missed the whole meteor shower.  Fortunately, there is always next year!!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Maggie, the sweetest dog ever!!

My favorite for today is my dog, Maggie, a German Shepherd and Black Labrador mix.  She will be 6 years old in January of 2016.  She joined our family in March of 2006 when she was about 3 months old.  My husband saw someone literally push her and her two siblings out of a car door at the convenience store about 4 miles from our house in rural central Oklahoma and then take off and leave.  Two other good souls took the two remaining puppies.  I hope they are enjoying as good of a life as Maggie does every day.

Maggie has grown from the little 15 pound black bundle of fur to a beautiful 107 pound dog that still think she is a little puppy that can sit in my lap.  She is a beautiful soul and absolutely dedicated to me.  Anytime I step out of the front door and she happens to be nearby, she goes on alert and quickly scans the front yard for any hazards and will run the perimeter to make sure there are no intruders or dangers lurking close by.  Even though she stays indoors overnight, she enjoys staying outside during the day and spends her afternoons lying on the front porch or in the yard keeping a watch on everything.

Today Maggie went to the vet for her annual checkup and immunizations.  She never likes going to the vet and does not handle it very well.  I scheduled the appointment for today because the lady vet was supposed to be working.  Well, for some reason the guy vet was there.  Maggie is intimidated by him and was terrified.  I had to put a muzzle on her in order for the vet to get close enough to give her the immunizations.  Fortunately, no one was injured, everyone left as friends, and we will be invited back next week to take three of our cats for their annual checkups.

Tonight as I was sitting on the loveseat in the living room getting ready to start this post, I smelled the acrid scent of a skunk.  Immediately I looked around for Maggie.  She was nowhere to be found.  I ran to the back door and called her -- no Maggie.  The smell of skunk permeated the air so thick, it was as though I was literally swimming through the odor.  I quickly came back inside and went into the garage and out through the garage door calling her.  The smell was not as strong on this side of the house.  Hopefully she was over here and had not just had an encounter with the skunk -- please, oh please!!  I called her name a few times.  It is hard to see a black dog in the dark.  Finally I heard a rustle and here she comes, running up the drive into the garage and along with her the scent of a skunk -- crap!!  I take a look at her face.  Her eyes are not weepy and she is not drooling which is a good sign.  Hopefully she did not take a direct hit from the skunk and just walked through the spray.  But man, does she stink!!  She came inside the house and I checked her over real good to be sure she was okay and had not been in a tussle with the skunk.  Fortunately, she was okay just stinky.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Hello from Oklahoma, USA!!  My blog discusses everyday happenings in my life in rural central Oklahoma.  If you check it out, you will see that I have not been too diligent with it over the last several months.  I hope to correct that for the purposes of this challenge and write about one of my favorite things each day.

For the Intentional Blogging Challenge, I have decided to discuss one of my favorite things each day. 

Today's topic is strawberries. 

I have not thought about strawberries for a while even though they are one of my favorites.  I used to have lip balm that was strawberry-flavored which I used for many years.  My favorite scented candle is still Yankee Candle's Sweet Strawberry, even though it is getting more and more difficult to obtain.  Strawberry is such a refreshing, uplifting scent.  It always makes me feel better when I inhale its fragrance. 

Strawberries are only available for a short time every year, so when you can find them fresh you need to seize the opportunity, which brings me to my post for today.  I stopped by the local market on the way home tonight to pick up a gallon of milk and a few other items.  As I was looking for the green peppers, I happen to see a plastic container full of ripe red strawberries sitting on the shelf in the cooler.  Immediately I reached for it thinking I would buy it.  I could already imagine the delicious, sweet strawberries with a little sugar sprinkled on them sliced in a bowl with a little whipped cream over some shortbread.  Immediately my mouth started watering.  I lifted the container closer to my nose and got a whiff of the sweet smell of the strawberries.  What a wonderful aroma!!

I started turning the container over checking each strawberry for bad spots or mold.  So many times in the past there always seems to be one strawberry in the middle that is bad or the side NOT facing out is rotten.  First container had a strike out -- fuzzy spot on the side of one strawberry.  One container down, three more to go.  Next container had several strawberries that were partially green -- no go.  Next container had a big fuzzy one in the center of the container.  My hopes are beginning to deflate.  What started out as a hopeful adventure is quickly becoming a depressing state!!  By the time I get to the final container, I have to accept the fact that I will not be having strawberries for an after-dinner delight tonight.  The final container had several strawberries with black spots on them.  Dang!!  I place the contained back in the cooler and push my cart on down the aisle feeling sorry for myself.

As I pass by the frozen food section, I see a pint-size container of frozen strawberry topping.  For a split second, I almost reached for it.  At least there would not be a fuzzy strawberry in it, but somehow it is just not the same.  I kept pushing my cart on to the checkout.  The only strawberries I will have tonight will be in my dreams!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Today is the first day of the "Intentional Blogging Challenge" by Jeff Goins for the month of October.  The challenge is to submit a post to your blog every day of the month.  This will be an effort for me.  As you can see, I have not posted for quite a while.  I may decide on a theme to do and blog about a particular item each day -- more about that later today!!  Stay tuned!!