Astronomy Picture of the Day

Monday, March 30, 2009

Traveling journal

Today I got a traveling journal in the mail from Mrs. Robert's 3rd grade student David Roach from Farmersville, Ohio. It came from my nephew Danny in Texas.
So it is noteworthy on my travelogue that I refer to traveling journals as well.
It had been all over the country and had entries by Danny, my sister Nancy and friend Margo.
It turns out I am the last destination before being sent back to David Roach for the next step which is some sort of homework assignment.
I included a 2008 Fish and Game calender, a picture of a Morgan horse and an old National Geographic map of New England with some history of the settlement.
I left out the sky high taxes and urban sprawl and refuse to comment on global w*rming which is a bad word to those of us just coming out of a treacherous winter.
Oh yes, and the clash between the flatlanders, the natives and the in betweens. I preferred to focus on wildlife and historical progress.
We did not have a postcard of Vermont-I have plenty of anywhere but Vermont.
I did reference my blog that I hope Mrs. Roberts doesn't mind. I think it is generally clean in nature and I post local pictures here.
It was fun to see the different comments and what people focused on representing their part of the country.
I mentioned the 400th anniversary this year of Samuel deChamplain's discovery of Lake Champlain. Also maple sap is running.
I hope the journal becomes a treasured record of life all over the US in 2009.
bon voyage

Friday, March 27, 2009

Details that keep you up.

Twinkle Twinkle little Space shuttle and station
Trailing one after another in the night sky,
9:02 PM said our morning weather man Roger Hill
who goes into great details about the local weather and beyond.
In the morning the details are like a snooze alarm and once done, we cannot stall the day's beginning any longer.
This morning he mentioned we would be able to see the shuttle and space station tonight at 9:02 PM. The sun has set but the space orbiters are high enough to be lit by the sun. I jumped up tonight about 9 PM saying let's go see them.
The weather was nice and much milder today. The air is dry and the stars were bright with no moonlight. Brilliant.
Did Roger say East to West? or West to East?
We scanned both horizons.
Then in the west-northwest sky came the first bright soundless light looking closer than perhaps I thought it should have looked. Then the second orbiter.
Now was the shuttle first? or the station?
We didn't get lost in the details.
The memory of breathing fresh spring air and seeing the stars and orbiting humans was a pleasant reward. Feeling like we are standing still forgetting we too are on a satellite and we don't even have to remember which direction we are going towards.
I guess the same details that give me an option for a nap in the morning kept me out stargazing tonight.
Have you gazed at Orion lately?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Captain Standing

Captain Standing
This picture a little deceptive since taken from above Captain's head while he is sit-standing. You know how cats hind legs have the feet and ankle and backwards knee. Captain learned to sit on his haunches and wave his paws attempting high five when he is in the mood. Otherwise he has taken to mournful howling until we either pet him or feed him. He likes to sing along to Outlaw Country on Satellite radio.
He is the Captain quite simply because he is in charge.
His full name Captain Blakely Quebec. I thought he might be a reincarnated French ship's captain and the other cats are the crew.
How did the Captain manage to lay about all day in sunny windows while we slave to keep the lights on in dimly lit offices with bad air? Cats just kind of sit back and watch, a least effort equals gains kind of thing.
Stay still where you are for a minute and take stock.
Captain's going for a nap.
Monkton, Vermont. Spring has been colder than Hades

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Carol Frost

Here is another dark poem since this first day of spring was so stinginingly chilly.
Carol Frost was Robert's son who committed suicide after burning all his poetry. It sort of takes your breath away, the story of a man in the shadows of a famous poet, indeed one of the most favorite of our time.
First draft
By Mary E. Gerdt

Carol Frost’s poems
Were lost in a fire
Of his own making
A funeral pyre
Of all his Dad loved and all he would be.
Carol said take this, and then said take me.
Leaving his father to wonder on cold and warm nights,
When the leaves were falling, or the rain turned to ice,

What his son had written, he tried to recall
The ones his son shared,
That’s all after all,
That was left of the poems of the son of the man
Who was famous in life and tenfold in death.

What goes through man’s mind whose son took his own life?
Could the words that he wrote cushion the strife?
Could he say, I am better at the end of the day,
When he remembered poor Carol, alone and astray.

Did he wonder if there was a path he could take
Less travelled or not
To avoid the mistake
He surely thought happened
When Carol was sad.
Was it all because of his famous Dad.

Did Carol wonder how he never could be
As great as his Dad and waited not to see
And never shared the poems that told
Of his father and family.

Did Robert wonder and cry to himself
And stood tall to others but inside he was dark.
In a small recess in a part of his brain
He recalled Carol’s actions again and again.

Late at night when the wind howled and he was feeling the pain,
Carol’s face would appear as a dream again
And again.

Haunting his sleepless nights with a fear,
Robert suffered plenty
With Carol not here.

The poems were elusive as Robert’s road not travelled
The road he had taken, caused the family to unravel.
Famous poet, though the world loved him greatly,
Wanted only the love of his son

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Shard Villa

Shard Villa.
photo by Don Shall
see his awesome photostream

This was a place I toured when I first started my long term care state job. It has an amazing feel to me. Murals of Greek gods on the walls, elegant woodwork, antiques, views and gardens.Getting to know some of the staff, they are wonderful and caring with Deb and Pam at the helm. My office mates have had relatives and caregivers in their family who went there.It had an incredible feeling to it as I went through the old mansion. When I heard last fall the board was threatening to close this story came to me after I looked more into who Columbus Smith was. He really was a lawyer who spent many many years in a complicated estate fight in England. He went back and forth many times. Then he built Shard Villa with the proceeds. After the tragic death of their children, he and his wife turned to elder care and shared their house.It must have been quiet and lonely before the elders came. I worried what would happen if there were no more elders there again.The lawyers will be testing the willed wishes of the Smith's in Probate court. Stay tuned!

Shard Villa
by Mary Gerdt

Sometimes I wonder how a human life can span a short time and still have ripple effects across the future times.
How a bump or an interruption or a simple decision can take us in a new direction, sometimes unaware of where we are going and perhaps oblivious that the turn took us somewhere, anywhere at all.
And how we can feel so connected to a person’s purpose that we feel we know the founder of the purpose. That is how heroes are made.

Columbus Smith is my hero. A man long gone but the more I read, (very little is readily available to me), the more I feel a kindred spirit so to speak.
He advocated for people’s property which we did for ourselves. He was more successful, perhaps? Or did he lose a great deal as well in the process?
We turned gray too with a long drawn out court case. Did he deal with liars and thieves, too?
Was he better versed in law? A better advocate?

But now, nearly a hundred years since he walked about the earth, the board members at his famous mansion are about to displace 15 residents who had a promise and a vision they would die here, in the mansion. That is as Columbus and his wife wanted. They were pioneers of long term care before Medicare, before LTC was a buzz word. Before corporations created facilities to invest in healthcare. When his forward thinking vision was really a simple prescription. A country setting, a castle like home and fresh foods, fresh air and a promise of perpetuity which settled the minds of residents.
How could I imagine they feel?
I suppose a bit like my father who felt displaced from his home when entering an elder apartment.
Unlike my father, many probably chose to live here. Indeed I had hoped if ever given the chance to live there I might have chosen Shard Villa. As much for the gardens, views and elegance as anything. But also for the caring staff and feeling of permanence.
No lawyer has managed to loosen the grips of Columbus Smith’s legacy.
Until now.
Will they be successful at their argument with probate court? This couple who lost their children, grief stricken and hoping perhaps through philanthropy, that they would recoup some of their profound losses by giving to the countless elders who have found sanctuary in this mansion.
Do the ghosts smile a little now when someone eats a nice meal, gets a back rub, laughs or has their hand held as they die, knowing this was the legacy they left?
Will the ghosts wonder when the elders all are moved out, tears in their eyes as they pack their little bags of clothes and have to adjust to a new home. How permanent could that feel?
Will the ghosts wail and mourn that the legal work that turned Smith’s hair white were used against what he thought would be a permanent endowment?
Will the ghosts just recede into the woodwork and give up the fight that gave them a home too?
Will Columbus Smith feel the pain of the displaced and be powerless to even throw a glass against the wall?
Or is the broken glass story a premonition?
The shattered shards of crystal elusive to the listener. The sound of broken glass echoing in the home and when you look you cannot find the broken pieces.
Only a warning that the crystal is a fragile piece and makes a terrible racket when broken.
Like a fragile crystal, Shard Villa will soon be in pieces and all we will hear is the crashing of a crystal goblet. When we look for the pieces, the people who lived here, they, like the elusive haunting broken glass will be gone.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fire in the Mountain

Fire in the Mountain

This is for my Dad Dick.
The tallest man in my world.
I wanted to write something for you Dad who is the tallest man I know. I remember reaching up for your hand and how your soft skin feels and smells on my cheek.
rambling thought: (Now I have come to hypothesize we do smell each other's scent which I believe is actually DNA.
When Carol said acids break apart the DNA, I thought, skins have acids that free DNA so we do smell each other. Do I smell Dad's DNA and say, ah, centuries of me....)
Dad knows I go off and ramble sometimes and he is always there to point out the realities of life from one who has traveled to the other side of the planet.
He was close to my age when we went on a family vacation which was reported to be much more wonderful than it really was although I wouldn't trade some moments for all the gold in China.
I have a hard time thinking how I would have managed with 7 kids.
We went to a hillbilly theme park which was not Disney world by any means. More my style though with sweets and treats and rides and skits.
We begged to get on the Fire in the Mountain roller coaster.
It looked innocent enough. It was in a cave which made it more attractive.
We all got on and I sat with Dad separated by a safety belt.
The roller coaster started and your heart starts thumping. You look at each other for reassurrance, fists tightening on the saftey bar which sudddenly feels flimsy. Can we stop?
Breathing gets faster, deeper, and suddenly we were off through the cave of fires and radical curves, jolts, bends and bangs. I worried about Dad's head with the low black ceilings.
He worried about me and would I fly out and we hung on to each other for dear life.
I heard the sibling screams and the thrill was excitingly enjoyable and dreadful at the same time. The safety belt rubbed a spot raw on my right arm that I looked at for a long time late at night in my bedroom where I could be alone.
How Dad saved my life hanging onto me and also gave us the gift of experience. No matter how much he sputtered on that vacation, I am sure he too felt a purpose in the world as he recalled hanging onto his baby daughter to keep her from spinning off into the darkness.
Thanks Dad, I hope you can read this before your lights go out and the music stops entirely.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dealing with Human Pain

I promise to be not quite so dark as soon as the days get lighter.
But today we waited by the phone at State government wondering where and who the axe would fall upon. Trying to do our job as usual and inside wanting to scream. This raw poem came to me quickly as I recalled my being Riffed from the hospital 12 years ago. My heart went out to the victims and survivors.
I have been joined by friends who know the MS monster. It feels good to have followers and Fred is trying to figure out how to follow. I guess you have to be a blogger to be an official follower.
This poem speaks to working through hardship and ultimately acceptance of inevitable human pain.
Have a great day in your corner of the universe.

After Awhile
first draft
by Mary E. Gerdt

After Awhile

After Awhile,
Things will be better,

Time will have passed,
Regrets will have faded,

Sorrows will dry after
The crying,

You will feel better,
Not like your dying.

After while,
When your back home

And safe in your place
Where you can roam,

And be one with nature,
Feel carefree again,

After awhile,
When we are older,

And we are settled,
And we are bolder,

We’ll reach for the sky,
Like we did before,

We’ll lose all our fear,
That closes the door.

After awhile,
The sorrow will fade,

That tugs at our heart strings,
That God alone made,

To keep us as humans, not a machine,
Who is hurt by a word, or an unkind deed.

Who heals when times get better and then,
Who bleeds and cries when losing a friend.

No mechanical device, we are flesh and blood,
And tears that we cry,
Rain down from above,
And fall from our faces down to the ground,
And wash off the fairies who watch us and frown,
Sad at all of our earthly emotions,
They stay close at hand when you’re feeling so lonely.

Never think you are alone in the middle of the night,
Or think your small world is causing a fright,
Open up and see the rest of the world
Is on your doorstep and ready to right,

All the bad ills and bad feelings you have,
May you see a world not so bad.
When you are feeling fear and evil intentions,
Look at a flower and its simple invention,

It is not so simple after all,
The flower can lift spirits after a fall,
The scent takes us to places long gone,
With the passing of time,
After while,
Sorrow will be done.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Seed Order

The seed order was one of my first subjects when I started this original blog.
I typed and typed and it all went to somewhere and was lost forever, never been able to retrieve.
This time the blog is easier to use and a little more permanent.
We spent a few weeks perusing the Fedco catalog and were sucked in to the buy 25$ and get 25$ free at Gurney's.
Still spent a little over 100$ for vegetables and flower seeds that will yield thousands worth of food. Food has gone up in price, down in value and our produce we hope will prosper for us and the farmstand.
As the last of the snow melts in our valley yard (not up in the mountains), we hurry to get off the order for seeds the fruit of which we will harvest in 6 months or less.
We are grateful for our bounty last year and hope you have a great yield from your tomato or other food plants.
Always grow some flowers for ocular stimulation. Savor the color and shape, the variation of shades of color, the texture, the design, the fragrance, the lingering on your mind.
From Northwest Monkton, we can rest easier after the seed order goes in.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Virtual Global Travel

Since this is a travelogue, I wanted to share my trip this past weekend.
No, we did not "go anywhere" although I want to remind you we are always going somewhere. This self contained, rock aka spaceship we travel on goes careening through space while we sit and wonder where we are going.
Our precision meteorologist, Roger Hill referred us to a great free program
Google earth
And now I can say I have seen the alps, traveled the roads, went under the ocean and down the streets of Rome without getting out of my pajamas.
What a place!
I remember spinning the globe in the school library and thinking about places like Tibet, the Alps, and the mountains I never saw as a child.
Now there is a picture and a story to each place with the click of a mouse.
Nasa astronauts downloaded pictures from space, and on and on.....
So my prescription for your winter blues is to take a virtual trip.
Make a cup of hot cocoa, sit at your flat screen and fly away.
Don't be shy, go to Katmandu and then relax on the french riviera. Check out antartica in the morning and Australia Great Barrier Reef in the PM.
(and you wonder why you didn't take a trip around the world with all the money that was robbed from your retirement account.)
When I looked where I think my ancestors came from in Germany, it was flat as a pancake. HMMM...looked like Illinois.
Today is Town Meeting day and we will go vote later.
I chose to stay at home to work on the jigsaw of the Alpine ski lift
and dream...
Best wishes on your side of the planet.