Nothing Could Have Prepared Me For This Day

Today’s Facebook ‘wall’ is plastered with various news blips on the topic of the cuts happening here in Alberta. I’ve made those posts.  But, rather than deleting them, I’m going to take a moment to consider what this day has actually been and been about.  Only moments ago, I brushed my teeth.  I stepped out onto the back deck and looked up at the moon.  I am taking pause and thinking about my day…my actual day…not about that veneer, that public explosion that happens for us if we dig too deep into the chaos that is today in the news.

My morning began like this.

I sat down, with coffee, and pin pointed the Barrow in Furness address where Mary Eleanor Haddow, my great grandmother, was born in the early 1800s.  I then scrolled Instagram, up on the red couch, while stroking Max’s head redundantly for almost a half hour.  I dreamed about making one more trip to England so that I might visit such places and walk Blackfriar’s road and travel, again, to France to stand at my Great Grandfather’s resting place in Etaples and maybe even get myself to Ortona, Italy.

I went to my computer station, in order to print out this map and while cropping it, my sister and I exchanged a few messages with one another.  She sent me a photograph of her and her three pup companions and I sent her a photograph of me and Max.  I love yous were shared.

I decided that Max’s injury had been quiet enough for a few days that I would take him to the river.  The air was so mild and the light, so beautiful.  We took our time; it was more a stroll than a walk, but it was so incredible.I really felt huge gratitude as the day opened up to me.

I dropped Max back to the car and then went for a last look to see if I could sight any of the coyotes.  I spotted several deer across the river, but no coyotes.  And then, the magic of friendship was enjoyed, as I saw Jeff making his observations along the pathway.  As is pretty usual, we ended up talking about cameras and such.  Today I learned about the Polaroid Cube and the Zoom Audio Recorder.

Lunch consisted of a lovely little Greek Salad at home.

After doing just a few things around the house and checking in on all things political (lol), I made a quick stop at the Dollarama Store to pick up some small canvas boards.  I felt a need to paint some poppies with my grandson before Remembrance Day.  There was a bit of a wait for him to wake up from his nap, so over two cups of hot tea, I had a nice visit with Linda and Erin.

Then, this.

I decided to stop at the river, again, on my way home, just to see if I could make any eagle sightings.  At the edge of the Bow, everything  was wildly alive, although the colour was muted which contributed to the magic of everything.  A loud cacophony of sound filled the air as hundreds of Canada Geese found their way to the river.  I was overcome.  And there, in the midst of the geese, one eagle flew assertively in and out of their crowds.  It was amazing.  I managed to capture a brief moment.  But, let’s face it,  no images were going to be focused because the light just wasn’t there.  I didn’t know what to do with my feelings about the scope and beauty in that moment, so as has become habit, I snapped photographs.

I spotted brilliant white southeast on the river, and so, took a quick peek through my camera’s viewfinder to identify the white birds and happily discovered the presence of Swans or Snow Geese, interspersed with the Canada Geese.  A quick and fuzzy snap and I was off and rushing to the location where I enjoyed watching them making their disappearance around the point and onto the river.  Darkness was settling over everything, apart from soft pink directly west.  I headed back.

 

As I pulled out of the parking lot, I saw Doug and Shirley Anne’s car, stopped, opened my window and together, we marveled at the wonder we had just seen.  The three of us felt very blessed and it was just so nice to know that I had shared the magic with friends.

Upon my return home, my son and I headed out to the Saigon Royal Restaurant for a steaming pot of Jasmine Tea and a big bowl of Pho.  I started watching for a text message from my Dad who, I knew, was on the road from Ottawa to Belleville, earlier in the day.  He promised he would text, but I convinced myself that he would struggle with that as per usual and that he is well and safe and enjoying the traditions of the Mistletoe Market this weekend.

At home, Max and I walked the neighbourhood circle and then James and I watched some cop shows on his big screen.

Just a short while ago, I stepped out on the deck and snapped a few photographs of the moon.  While I didn’t capture them, there were three soft rings of colour surrounding her tonight.  Those colours and the lovely still air remind me of the beauty that is ours.  I am grateful.  And one never knows what a single day might bring.

Big Moon

Moon walking…cello…Morag…notes reaching up into the sky…river sounds…dry grass under foot…cold nose…trumpet…owl answering again and again…quiet voices…clouds lit up from behind…stars, bright against the dark sky…openings between the clouds…peace…music energized by sensory intake…drums…spirit…stories…engagement…mystery…community…Fish Creek Park.

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Meeting John McKee

Time spent in Comox was about a lot of things, not the least of which was coming to the realization that when your life collides with another life, it’s a tremendous thing to really open up to that experience.  REALLY getting to know a person, teaches you just how amazing human beings are.  I marvel at the unique gift of each person.  I know that sounds cliche, but it is true.

Grace took Cayley and me up to meet John McKee late one night so that we might look through one of his telescopes at the moon.  I was so much in awe of the crisp image and detail on the surface of the moon that I cried…but there was so much more to this story.  We rotated through one turn after another, gazing through this powerful backyard telescope.  The rest of the time, we leaned back in lawn chairs and watched the shooting stars dart across the sky.  In fact, this was the night of my first bat-in-flight experience as well.

I have no doubt that I will be writing about John again, but consider this an introduction. John, a former air force man, is an astronomer who intensely studies the universe and so can speak eloquently about all matters of the sky…and when you’re finished that, you can get into his reading list and beyond.  In his day, he consistently attended the seven-day party at 1,800 meters above sea level in the mountains near Osoyoos to star gaze with other enthusiasts and to consider his life an adventure is an understatement!

His home was stacked from top to bottom with objects of his affection, items that he’s collected and constructed, both.  As well as turning wood and doing fine leather work, designing and building boats, constructing his own home, he, in 17 years,  built 32 telescopes for people across Canada.  I was very fortunate in that I had opportunity to use and adjust one of these.

The telescopes that John McKee builds are reflecting telescopes.  In future posts, I will write about the methods of his construction as well as the effectiveness of this type of scope.  He DID reference an Italian monk, Niccolo Zucchi of 1616, who made the first reflector, but never mastered the right shape for the mirror and could never figure out how to look at the image properly.  As my readers know, it took Isaac newton to take the reflector idea and perfect the telescope in 1670.

I asked John if a book had been written about his life and work and he quickly responded in the negative. (Before I left, John passed me a duplicate copy of an article that was written by Ryan Stuart about his star-gazing and was published in the Comox Valley InFocus Magazine August/September 2006). I have written to Ryan Stuart to talk to him more about his interview with John.  This meeting caused me to ponder how many brilliant people I have yet to meet…people who are enthusiastically exploring their passion regardless of any sort of notoriety. It also caused me to fill up with gratitude for the brilliant people who are already in my life and who fill me to the brim on a regular basis. In a future post, I will share some of the books on John’s list.  The Lost Continent of Mu by James Churchward would be a start. You just might want to join me in learning history that might have slipped past you somehow during your formal education.

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Sister-in-law Grace and daughter, Cayley…in a time warp.

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John and Grace

?????????? ?????????? DSC_0131 DSC_0130 ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? Careful documentation and storage, allows for John to access books/records and past editions of astronomy magazines and space program archives with ease.

?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? DSC_0121 ?????????? ??????????Based on these photographs, can my readers even begin to imagine the stories that were being fired out during the few hours of our visit? Now John and I are phone buddies.  Great morning coffees happen and will happen over chats about the stars.

Night Skies and Bats

The evening air was so refreshing tonight and the atmosphere very mystical.  Tree branches were being blown by a bluster of wind.  The sky was still slowly turning from blue to black, with a waxing crescent moon to the southwest.  Stars were visible in each of the windows between the clouds.  With such a bright backdrop, light etched the edges of the surrounding clouds.  In the wide open field I stood, gazing upward, taking it all in.  Every now and then, lightning flashed…but tonight, no bats.

For about a week, I was taking Max out to this open field in the dark of night. My head seemed to be dive-bombed by bats on each of these occasions.  It was so mysterious to me.  Darting away, again and again, I’d hear that distinctive call, and as if to be on roller coasters, they would speed across the navy sky, changing direction at will.  Amazing stuff.  On the first night of this phenomena, I didn’t feel at ease with the experience, but on following nights I took it all in.  Nature provides many gifts if we are present to her.

This short video shows the type of experience I enjoyed.

This next one helps to identify a bat’s sounds.  When there are several around you at once, the sound, of course, is amplified.

I was thinking that, as well as all of the other action we need to take to be good stewards of our communities and the world, we might also make the effort to be conscious of light trespassing…more and more there is a horrendous amount of light pollution.  It would be an awesome thing to do to think about your neighbours and turn off your lights.

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An astronomy update for August can be heard on Calgary Eye-Opener, here.

Chasing the Moon

Since losing Mom on the thirty first of May, I have thought about writing again.  On days since, the ‘doings’ of each day seem slower…the taking of steps…the opening up the chest to breath.  Every single thing looks different because she is no longer here, but more importantly, every thing looks different because she was here.  Katherine Mary, Mom, our beautiful Kay, impacted everything.

Disheartened and overflowing with grief, Dad and I watch Storage Wars and the play offs and news from home (beautiful Alberta and the devastation of so much property and the heart ache of so many displaced families).  We sometimes fight for a turn at the sink.  We drive to Napanee for eggs benedict.  We try to get through hymns at church, without crying.

A short while ago, I stepped out onto Bridge Street in the dark of night.  The air, cooling, still felt heavy with humidity.  The only sound was that of my own foot steps, Max brushing up against my legs as we walked together under large silhouettes of trees.  We walked east for quite some time…then south…no moon.  I knew it was there.  And the stars were out.  The clouds of the day time had pulled back just in time for me to witness the SUPER moon, an event shared on a variety of sites the past few days.  But where was this moon?

We back-tracked to our starting place and then began in the opposite direction…west…then north…nothing…so, I decided to stand still.  Looking up again, I doubted myself.  I began to dismiss the possibility of this beautiful moon appearing at all.  Wrong date registered in my mind?  I stood still…doubting…but present.  I was suddenly aware of the white wooden fence I was leaning against.  I liked the air…a light scent of flowers mingled with green.  Looking up, I saw a lighter shade of dark…and following that, suddenly noticed the brilliant white shapes almost shimmering behind the rustling leaves of a giant maple.   We walked slowly in that direction where eventually, we came upon an opening between two grand trees and there it was…the most perfect moon I have ever witnessed, resting in the converging arms of the two giants.  I stood there for some time, filled with more peace than I have felt in weeks.

I don’t always see that moon in the night sky, but it is there.   When the beautiful river becomes a raging angry beast and the rain pours down, I can not see the sun…but it is there.  That song that I wished to share with my mother this morning, my mother WAS that song.

12:00 a.m. Moon Gazing

May 6 12:00 a.m. 

Moon-gazing at midnight…watching layers of cloud whiz past the perfect white globe.  Photos are grainy-but capture the mystery and beauty of the moment.

My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living. Anais Nin