Nope, not I, even though Ottawa’s nighttime skies have been overcast for the last two night times, completely obscuring the aurora display from an unusually strong solar storm. (I mean, come on: We had rain last night. Rain!) Considering the knowledge and the specialist equipment often needed to even see, much less fully appreciate, astronomical events, the auroras by contrast are an equal-opportunity event.

“For most people here on planet Earth, they won’t have to do anything,” said Rob Steenburgh, a scientist with NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

Yup, you basically just need to stay up, show up, and look up. And the sky needs to stay out of the way.

“That’s really the gift from space weather: the aurora,” Steenburgh said. He and his colleagues said the best views may come from phone cameras, which are better at capturing light than the naked eye.

Snap a picture of the sky, and “there might be actually a nice little treat there for you,” said Mike Bettwy, operations chief for the prediction center.

My phone camera is better at picking up light than my eye even just when photographing sunsets, so I guess this doesn’t surprise me, but it’s good to be reminded. Go ahead: Take your best shot, literally.

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Another Look

All I can see is the yellow that carpets the median for, well, as far as I can see. From this place in space I can’t see the scrubby, spready, jaggedy leaves that I know are certainly there. Likewise, from this moment in time, I can’t see the seed heads that I know are certainly coming; seed heads that can be lovely, briefly, and one by one . . .

Close-up of dandelion seed head, almost in cross-section.

. . . but that are ugly in abundance.

Dandelions in seed in early June

And an abundance of dandelions is what we have, pretty much everywhere, thanks in part to a 15-year-old provincial ban on using dandelion spray for “cosmetic purposes” in Ontario.  This ban has had limited effect in our house–my cosmetics routine rarely included dandelion spray–but the effect in our neighbourhood has been marked. Every year the medians and boulevards and sports fields and grassy verges beside walking paths and front lawns all get a little bit yellower. This shouldn’t come as a surprise.

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The Squirrellest Month

Winter’s frost? Who cares?
The challenge is to survive
spring’s depredations.

As a squirrel wobbles in the breeze atop a mere twiglet at the tip-top of my magnolia tree, I don’t even lunge for the klaxon or the slingshot by the back door. It is what it is: Maybe some blossoms will survive; maybe not. I’m done fighting rodentia irresistiblia–irresistible in the sense of a force that cannot be stopped, not in the sense of a temptation too attractive to resist–although I’m not quite done complaining about them.

Still, the universe graciously rewards even baby steps toward acceptance. A mere half hour south of town, in a protected courtyard where sun-warmed brick walls create a welcoming micro-climate, I come upon two magnolia trees in full unbothered-by-squirrels bloom.

They are, maybe, a bit past their prime (as am I, perhaps), but are lovely nonetheless (as, oh, never mind). Although it can’t be literally true that it’s always spring somewhere, some days it feels like that.

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Maybe Perhaps

Opinions vary on tulips. I know, I know, I can hear your gasps of disbelief from here. And yet opinions vary: Not everyone appreciates tulips. Some people find them boring. Like, OK but over-rated, maybe? Like, too “one note,” perhaps? Maybe. Perhaps.

It’s certainly not their subtlety or complexity that I look forward to: My aesthetic tastes are simple. (Uninformed, maybe? Uneducated, perhaps?) Their splash of colour across an otherwise brown, grubby landscape reliably lifts my heart: a harbinger of better days to come, maybe; a reminder, perhaps, that today isn’t all that bad.

I plant tulips in cold autumn soil where they wait through even worse, and just when reason says I should give up, Boom! Colour everywhere.

Maybe the other things I try to plant in what seems like unreceptive soil–in the world, in my community, in my own self–are like the tulips? Perhaps they, too, will eventually blossom when the time is right?

Maybe. Perhaps.

Can’t you just see it? Boom! Colour everywhere.

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Celestial and Planetary Events

How did you spend the 2024 total solar eclipse? We spent it on a deck in Myrtle Beach, following the local action on a tablet so as not to risk our eyesight. As you can see from the ambient sunlight, there wasn’t much local action, even close to the peak.


But the moon had more in store for us that week. Just two days later we sat on the same deck after dark as Venus winked at us (that bright pinprick, lower left) and the new moon held water. Counter-intuitively to me, that’s supposed to mean that we would have rain in a few days.

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Posted in Appreciating Deeply, Laughing Frequently, Photos of Built Stuff, Photos of Flora | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Except Me

Why does everyone here
know everyone else
except me?

To be clear, me was being excepted from the everyone-here who knew everyone-else, not the everyone-else being known. Although I guess if everyone truly knew everyone, then everyone-here was the same as everyone-else and so me was being excepted from both groups.

Oh, never mind. I knew what he meant and I expect you do, too.

Everyone here obviously knows everyone else,
but I don’t know anyone and no one knows me.
Why do all these people know each other
and I don’t?

And, perhaps more succinctly . . .

Why am I the only outsider?

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Posted in Day-to-Day Encounters, Feeling Clearly, Relationships and Behaviour, Thinking Broadly | Tagged | 8 Comments

On the Scoreboard

Curling commentary: It’s just such a trove of life wisdom, innit?

Maybe not every week, but it was exactly that a few weeks ago when Estonia (that well-known curling powerhouse?) was playing Canada (that other, and maybe even-better-known, curling powerhouse) in Women’s World Curling. Canada stole points (that is, they scored without having the advantage of last rock) in each of the first two ends: 3 and 4 points, respectively. I can’t claim that’s unprecedented, but it would be exceedingly rare at this level of curling. For perspective, teams work through an entire end to score at least two points when they have last rock, but are often held to just one point by the machinations of the other team. Indeed, games are often determined by a single point, so a lead of seven points qualifies as comfortable.

As this blow-out was developing, Joanne Courtney–who used to play for the same Canadian team that was dominating on-ice play, and who is now a commentator for TSN–said something along these lines:

At this point Estonia has to adjust their objective
[from winning, Ed.’s note]
to just getting on the scoreboard.

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More Trees . . .

More specifically, more reflections of trees in vehicles. Because you can never have too many.

Amirite or amirite or amirite?
Rite? Rite? Rite?
Ned Ryerson (Bing!)

I do sort of wish that the vehicle manufacturers had omitted the brake light and the model number, respectively, from the middle of my photographic palette, but we all have our trials and tribulations. Amirite?

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Look Up

Look up.
Waaay up.

If this brings to mind the view panning up from the Friendly Giant’s boots, you might be as high in age as he was (supposed to be) in feet and inches. I don’t know why they never filmed that view like this. Maybe they didn’t yet have a wide-angle lens on their phone cameras.

Anyway, in the absence of giant humans, friendly or otherwise, it’s fun to look more-or-less straight up the trunk of giant trees: a Carolina pine, in the photo above; a Phoenix palm tree, in the one below.

Just a minute. What’s that light standard doing, photo-bombing my masterpiece? Let’s try again.

Better, although ideally I’d have more of the trunk at the bottom and less of the (presumed) cottonwood peaking in from the right.

I’ve made decent progress on thinking about where I’m standing before I tap the screen. I’ve made some progress on accepting the results afterwards: There just is not always a place to stand and a lens angle to choose that will recreate what I see, dagnab it, in a photo that you can see.


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