Let’s start out with this —
I’d just got back from an early morning bike ride, about, oh, 6:30 or 7 AM, and the sun was just hitting the gardens in the backyard when I snapped this one with the iPhone. The colors were so intense it looked like it was glowing. I absolutely love those ‘dinner plate’ dahlias. It’s always worth taking a look for things on sale after the spring planting rush is over. I picked these up for half the price they were at the start of the spring season.
When I was farming, thistles were a noxious weed that needed to be controlled. Now I think they’re one of the prettiest looking plants we have. Just look at those flowers. The structure, the color, everything about them is just stunning.
Then there are these goofy things – MrsGF cleaned out the flower beds along the south side of the garage the other week, taking almost everything out, and a few days later we noticed what looked like small asparagus stalks poking up through the soil. The weirdest looking things, just slender stalks with a bulbous end and the nastiest color you could think of. Sort of looked like zombie asparagus. Then we remembered these things had popped up a few years ago and surprised the heck out of us then. We didn’t plant these and we have no idea where they came from, but holy cow the flowers are stunning!
People sometimes ask us why we have huge sunflowers growing along the side of the house. Here’s why –
Goldfinches absolutely love these things and they swarm them as the flowers begin to fade and the seeds begin to develop. They are an absolute riot to watch, squabbling and leaping around, flitting around, hanging from the plants upside down like little acrobats. They don’t seem to notice that we’re standing on the other side of the window watching them. We’ll have a dozen or more of the little goofs working over the flowers at one time this time of year.
This is the time of year when all the work we put in on the gardens really begins to pay off. The bell peppers are beautiful this year. We have ’em tucked into a corner facing the south and west where the garage is built onto the house and they love it there. It’s warm and sunny and as long as we remember to keep them well watered they (and the wax beans planted near them) have been thriving. We go through a lot of sweet bell peppers around here. Everyone loves them. Most will end up diced and frozen, but we eat a lot of them fresh in salads, ingredients in sauces, stir fry, etc.
Youngest Son and I had nothing else to do Saturday so we went to the Manitowoc county fair. Both of us don’t care about rides or that stuff, we’re more interested in A) weird food, and B) the exhibits. I get ridiculous sense of satisfaction to see how much better my produce and flowers look than the prize winners do. Petty of me, true, but it’s still satisfying.
Anyway, goats have become a big thing around here in the last ten or fifteen years. You almost never would see goats around here before then. Now there are more goat exhibitors than than sheep and pigs. I have to admit they’re fun. They’re charming and curious and don’t seem afraid of anything, and they all seem to have this ridiculous, goofy attitude about them.
For a while llamas and then alpacas were “the next big thing” that were going to make people tons of money. They didn’t, of course. None of these fads ever pan out. We’ve gone through bison, emu, llamas, alpacas and elk as “the next big thing” since, oh, the 1980s. (Emus are nasty. Think of a giant chicken, taller than you are, with a bad attitude. An emu would gleefully kill you and dance on your corpse if it thought it could get away with it.) There are still people in some parts of the state who think emus are going to be financially successful if only they could get a foot in the door with their emu products. You’ll still find gas stations and farmers markets where people are trying to sell emu jerky (shudder), emu oil which is useful for – well, hell, I don’t know what the hell emu oil is good for. Lubricating emus? Emu meat (tastes like chicken?) and I don’t know what all else.
Eldest son and his girlfriend took a short vacation way up along Lake Superior where the air is clear and there are no lights, and asked if they could take the big 11″ Celestron telescope along. I was glad to let them have it. The poor thing has been sitting under its cover in the closet for an embarrassingly long time. I love the scope but the thing is huge and heavy (the tube assembly weighs around 60 lbs). It’s almost impossible for me to lug it up and down the stairs and maneuver it through the doors to get it outside. And when I do get it outside the air quality here has gotten so bad and we now have so much light pollution from streetlights, houses and businesses that it hardly pays to even bother taking it out at all.
Anyway he sent me a text message telling me the scope has been working very well and he sent along the photo above. Very glad they like it. I hated seeing it sit unused. I was thinking of donating it to the school district I used to work at for their new STEM center. That’s what I did with my big camera drone when I got tired of playing with it. If ES is having fun with it, he’s more than welcome to keep it. Otherwise I may donate it to the science program at the high school.
And that’s about it for this time.
6 thoughts on “Pics & Stuff”
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The local astronomy club has visitor nights where they all set up their scopes and point them at different things and then the public can walk along the row of them and look at various cool space objects. I love going to it. They are so generous with their time and tools.
It’s quite remarkable how an “amateur” scope can see so clearly. Of course some of these enthusiasts have spent more on the scope than their cars, but still. They are nearly all better than the 100+ year old giant telescope we have at our local observatory. Technology is always improving.
I picture a time when every smart phone has a telescope feature that is better than those scopes the astronomy clubbers are using. 🙂
There’s a group up in Appleton (I think) that does something similar. I’ve never gone to one because the location is almost an 80 mile round trip for me. We do love showing off the wonders of the sky, though 🙂 Just about every amateur astronomer I ‘ve ever met enjoys showing people what’s up there.
You’re right about the lines between “amateur” and professional getting blurred in astronomy. The stuff the amateur astronomers are doing now, some of them, anyway, isn’t what you can really call “amateur” any more. Amateur class equipment has gotten so good, as have amateur astronomers themselves, that they’re doing actual scientific research, publishing in scientific journals, partnering with “real” astronomers to do research, etc. The problem is that professional astronomy has focused more and more of its resources on the big, showy “super telescopes” and those have very busy schedules. An astronomer can wait for months, even a year or more to get time on one of the monster scopes. But amateur scopes and imaging equipment is so good now that it’s actually better than what the pros were using just a couple of decades ago. So some of the pros are partnering with more advanced amateurs to do research that they wouldn’t be able to do any other way.
If you’re interested in astronomy, check out https://www.syfy.com/tags/bad-astronomy. It’s a great blog about astronomy, space exploration, etc. with lots of jaw dropping photography.
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I love bad astronomy. I used to follow him religiously. Although I haven’t read it in quite awhile. You remind me to go check him out again. 🙂
That’s one of my favorites. Very readable and informative.
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