Astronomy Picture of the Day

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Image du jour

the torn and tattered
lands atop our
we started when
this butterfly
was way down south.
What a resourceful creature
who freely flies between ideal climates,
gives birth never to know
their offspring.
This butterfly lived I hope
a blessed life
coming north to find
the zinnias

Friday, November 27, 2009

Socialized Medicines

Socialized Medicines...
I guess that is what the Eye doctor was referring to...
My eye doctor who couldn't diagnose my ms but could treat the optic neuritis thus maximally preserving my eyesight. He was informative as ever telling me
all about the latest while he was teaching a med student.
He said that in England, avonex is not covered for ms. Now I am stunned. They do cover "statins"...hey that's cholestrol lowering meds, right?
He keeps talking away and I can't get over avonex not being covered by an entire Government...?
That they think if you have more exacerabations and faster disease progression that that somehow saves money?
Oh the questions that raises.
Also the ignorance of bureaucratic controlling arms that presume to know the they think it is high cholestrol??
Maybe they figure since it is a shot they can call it icky or awful or inconvenient or too expensive.
Not that studies show it is effective to prevent disease progression.
11/27/09***after posting this, Lisa Emrich, is MS and RA info specialist corrected as you will see in the comments. Look to the groups she lists as advocates for sensible treatment in England. Thanks Lisa!!

My vision is 99 percent better after having had a run of iv steroids 4 years ago. I wondered if I lived in England, would my vision still have that blurry blotch?

Would I be taking a statin and when would I begin to fall?

Have a great black friday.
re gifting is recycling with a rebate of the money you didn't spend.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Week

Thanksgiving Week in the US where we see symbols of turkey, harvest, abundance and the food shelf.
Feeding the hungry new children of the depression that has blanketed our fair country.
The difference between this depression and the 1930 depression is that back then people knew how to cope with it.
Our grandparents were resourceful and had gardens, took in boarders, bartered and scrimped, hoarded, shared with family. There were poor farms and overseers of the poor before welfare, Medicaid and community action agencies.
These new generations are dependent on the electronic "necessities" even taking a priority over food and basics.
Maslow's hierarchy turned upside down.
Everyone wanting the transformative qualities of higher intellectual functioning and reasoning all while
ignoring the basics: food,water, air, and fire.
I sincerely hope that whatever you celebrate at harvest time is a joyful experience. Herrad shared her stuffing recipe and I am thankful as it came just before we go to town to buy the trimmings.
And even if all you can afford is a silent prayer for those less fortunate, give it a try.
Do you sometimes look at the crowds and see faces from black and white photos like those of the "great depression?"
Do you wake up in the middle of the night disoriented from the cruelty, jealosy and cold hearted behavior of humans?
Give thanks, my friend, you are not alone.
I think about my grandfather Carl, "Kelly", whom I only know through the light in my Mother's eyes when she said "Dad", whom she lost in 1930.
I often wondered what were his nightmares as he saw first the days leading up the the depression, The roaring 20's and in the aftermath the pit of a fallen market, hungry children, jobless despair.
The night he clutched his chest and looked one last time into Fanny's eyes, was he praying for her and her two children and all he was unable to help?
He will always be a tall strapping man. He has never aged beyond that day when he left the material world.
He was my grandfather, and I look to his memories for understanding of the depression that hit his granddaughter with a modern day version of Grapes of Wrath.
Oh to have a few minutes with him,

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Garlic went in today

The garlic went in today, about 100 "toes".
We soaked them in a solution of 1 tablespoon baking soda to 1 quart water for a few hours. Fred saw that somewhere for preventing that black stuff on the garlic. We'll see how it works.
A friend gave us a few varieties but I lost track and in they went.
Later we will have to cover them up.
A few of the artichokes plants and a bunch of little plants are still hanging in there despite frosts as low as the upper teens. Bitter on the hill and when the sky is perfect clear like tonight.
Nice day today, milder than most of the summer.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Sock Sale

We traveled to Northfield, Vermont today for the cabot hosiery sock sale.
Also champion t-shirt, etc. sale.
The prices are higher, lines shorter, we did not get as many but are satisfied with what we got. I couldn't even get near the $1 shot socks bins where whole shoppers seem suspended upside down, sock diving. No, I thought, they need them more than I do.
Had a great lunch at Sarducci's in Montpelier. A fabulous menu of hardcore Italian delights. We got to visit with friends on the second Saturday of deer hunting season. Local merchants find ways to lure the "deer camp widows" who are eager to shop for the upcoming materialistically demanding holiday of your ethnic/belief choice.
It was a beautiful day driving over the Green Mountains even though Fred had to drive, I got a treat of looking at the tops of green mountains sans the green leaves. Infinite shades of brown, gray, and splotches of evergreens. The granite walls by the interstate even look colder after the leaves have fallen. A warm day in November. We will take all we can get.
Have a great day in your corner of the world.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

If Wishes Were Horses

My Mom always said, If wishes were horses, we would all ride like Kings.
Indeed, this is why I use the greeting "Best Wishes".
Figuring we would all like to be King if we could and ride around
spreading nothing, keeping all and being in charge.
If I were King, would I give my horse to the man who could not walk or
to the woman who wanted to see her Mother again.
If I were King would I invite subjects to the palace or
Would I have trouble accepting my differences and decide to dress as a
peasant and walk amongst the normal people?
Or would I hole up in the palace, riches at my feet, counting them ad infinitum, wasting precious time when
The palace gardener dusts off his clothes and shoes, picks up his basket of food and heads home to a loving wife and family.
I saw a shooting star tonight coming home.
I made a wish.
Mary Gerdt

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Notes on the Levon Helm concert post

I wanted to add a few author's notes to my previous post on the Levon Helm concert last Sunday night.

First, there is no film allowed in the studio.Hence the title,
no film festival. Festival because it was like a very tiny mature small scale Woodstock festival without the body odor, acid and baby births. It was like a middle aged baby boomer rave where we somehow were swept in by some power of the universe. I still wanted to mention the brass and winds section of Levon's band.
I took Tuba in school and always longed for the tunes I heard from Levon's Tuba Meister. I apologize for not knowing everyone's names. The trumpet, sax playing fantastic.Oh yes, and the piano/organ impressive. And the guitar player, bass player, oh, they all were great.
How did I know Levon was mouthing words? His neck veins weren't popping out. Also he follows orders or he would not have put out his 2 latest albums. By the way if you are a singer, you will want to protect your precious throat strings. Don't fray or stress them. Levon is a good role model for working with a voice coach to save his throat strings.
We ordered The Midnight Ramble Phot book by Paul Raia. It is supposed to come soon.
Now let me tell you a little of the times I turned to The band, then Levon.
High school-just getting exposed. Donna and I saw The Last Waltz. Flunked out of engineering school and just before nursing school I went from Illinios to the Catskills with friend Judy. It was a wonderful trip. She had a boombox. What did I play over and over again on those long stretches? The Band Stage fright.
Katie and Suzie died a couple years later. My roommate and friends. Patty took her albums for safe keeping. She made me 2 tapes, The Band and the Dead. Over the years we played those tapes to dull rags. In the 90's we saw The Band at a local barn. So close up I got nervous. We ended up out on the patio with friends enjoying that familiar music and lyrics. A few years ago we got The new DVD release of the Last Waltz and I was so sad when I heard Rick and Richard were gone. I ached for the truth. I couldn't believe it. I searched and found Levon's book This Wheel's on Fire and we both read it. What a revelation. So well written. So revealing. So honest.
Explaining Levon's talents came from his journeys to and through different music genres.
Most recently stumbling onto his Midnight Rambles and how I came to write about this extraodinary man.
So yes, it is about me too and the effect music has in our lives.
It is also about how entertainers have to have an audience and I hope we were a welcome audience.
And we hope to see the Ramble again and strengthen our lives.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The No Film Festival

The No Film Festival
by mary e. gerdt. monkton vermont

"the trials of the world are all heaven's pearls" Electric Dirt Levon Helm Band

Angels were singing last night in Woodstock and they brought us a gift for having a hard year
and recent stress. My vision of heaven is Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble.
We were blessed to have tickets and yes that is a religious statement.
Because Levon's church is a healing place. We pray for Levon's healing and for his beloved soulmate Sandy, Amy and family and friends/staff. After paying the taxes on the farm
we realized there is more to life than death and taxes which are certain, however we do
control our destiny. Saturday morning Fred asked me to a special ramble like he said 25 years ago after I told him to.Yes was all I could say then and now.
We were more than pleasantly surprised again at the professional caring staff, the relaxed atmosphere, the musicians extraordinaire.
There was a band at the beginning who I enjoyed but I don't have their name. Wonderful sound.
Then proceeded the following fabulous bands filled with joy of music and dedication to a grueling, demanding rewarding lifestyle. Look them up. They are great!
Guy Forsyth. Part magician, part carnival barker, all musician and director of a tight group. He enthusiastically shares the stage with Carolyn Wonderland with her extreme vocal ranges, mastery of amazing guitar licks eerily reminiscent of Janis Joplin and Stevie Ray Vaughn. She seemed surprised at the audiences roars. Janis and SRV are back I marvelled. And so music goes. The techniques and styles handed off so that it may never be lost.
Waylon Payne has a touching voice and natural skill at playing. Hubert Sumlin showed us his masterful sweet style and those beautiful notes and humor.
Kris Kristofferson entered the room and we had already been saturated with seriously fine music.
He shared his life of music and allowed us to see how his simple complex melodies shaped us.
We saw he and his wife communicating silently as couples do, and share a moment like a song he wrote for his children. I got teary. That song will outlive us all and we are truly honored we saw the unplugged Kris Kristofferson.
Last but certainly not least is the man who brought the southern rambles to the New York scene. He fused all the genres he immersed himself in. Most of all to us, he allowed us to have a glimpse at his barn of memories.
I have trouble remembering all the songs and sets. I have no trouble remembering the feeling when that talented man with a cape began to walk through the crowd and the cheers started on one end of the barn and went clear through. The roar was therapeutic. We knew what was coming. We had seen and heard Levon before, and we knew we would never be the same.
Levon and Amy Helm, Theresa Williams and Larry Campbell and all the rest of the band who are each a master and together a heaven's choir. Levon voice comes through again in his looks, glances. mouthing words and his feeling on the drums. We bought awhile ago the 2 DVD set available at
On one DVD, Little Sammy sang because Levon could not sing-doctor's orders. The second was Levon singing again. They both show equal superior clean raw talent.
Is it my imagination that he beats those drums with even more expression when denied voice? It feels that way. I saw the drumsticks quiver above the skins and his hands seemed still. Voice or not, He is always a joy to watch and listen to and the rest of the band complements each other in perfect synergy.
Thanks Levon, you are a great human being.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Sentimental journey

We are close to our 25 year anniversary of marriage.
We have traveled to many scary and happy places and places we don't even remember anymore.
25 plus trips around the sun with my husband.
Silver anniversary.
Irony too as we have been drained of our silver by the tax man. Ready for a tea party in North west Monkton!
So when the email came Friday night, urgent midnight ramble, short notice, discounted tickets, we set our trauma to the side where it belongs and ordered the tickets.
A Spontaneous, desparately needed distraction.
We remember our first ramble, Levon Helm's birthday which was the most amazing few hours I have ever spent.
Tonight we will treat ourselves again.
Life is short. Taxes paid up another year.
We are going to the RAMBLE!!!!!
and yes, you will hear all about it!
Mary Gerdt

Friday, November 13, 2009

MS and the Moons

MS and the Moons

I look at the Hubble/astronomy link every day (below). I really liked seeing the Martian moon (above), imagining the streaks were roads but my realistic side saw they really looked liked long scorch marks.

The big crater in a crater. Insult to injury.

So many little nicks, direct hits by rocks and rubble, some even disturbing its orbit, setting it off course.

One of those asteroids or other space rubble may even have knocked the theoretical atmosphere off this cute little moon.

Or was it always a cold looking irregular shaped rock?

What does MS have to do with Martian moons?

When I saw my MRI for the first time, I almost passed out. My neck lesion lit up light a Christmas tree bulb, leading to what had been more than a decade long search for the truth.

But my brain really scared me. Like swiss cheese, I saw. Disbelief looked at the Doctor who was numb to seeing this. These lesions had been there all the time but never explained. I had always heard my tests were normal.

I thought about that as I saw the moon with all its scars.

The moon reminds me of the vision of those pockmarks on my brain that don’t seem to affect anything but does the damage still remain?

Have I lost my atmosphere that can burn down the rocks coming at me?

Do I ever feel out there?

Oh Mary, come back to Earth.

p.s. they found water on our moon. Watch the moon real estate futures market now…

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Look into the eyes of Columbus

Look into the eyes of Columbus.
He will tell you the answers.
Thanks Deb,
Best wishes Mary

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More Oils from The Betsy Gerdt Collection

Sam sent images of 2 more of Mom's paintings.
Remember the Edwardsville of the 1960's.

Main Street

double click to enlarge.

Vanzo's Menu

I hope you enjoy this walk into the past
Thanks Sam!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Morning Star

I woke up this dark night unable to sleep and
Looked out the window. The sky a perfect clear.
The star or planet I don't care it's name,
Shined at me as if nodding, waves of light called twinkling.
Brandi's eyes twinkled to me yesterday and
Reminded me of how Uncle Jay's eyes twinkled.
B.B.King's eyes twinkled from far away in a full auditorium of people.
My Mom and her aunts and cousins and friends twinkled.
Fred's eyes twinkle.
So do mine.
Do we all contain the twinkling light of that extraterristial beacon I saw this morning and other sleepless mornings?
Maybe so.
This morning I preferred the company of my companion star or planet while most of the rest of the humans slept.
Feeling under the weather today.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Sprachlos is one German word I use instead of the English "speechless".

In fact Speechless implies "less speech".

When in fact Sprachlos is the absence of speech.

No speech.

That slack jawed look when your chin drops and you breathe faster and your chest heaves up and down in agonizing sighs.

Your eyes fall to the floor, your posture slacks.

You are beaten down. You cannot even talk.

You are Sprachlos.

You do not believe what you just heard.

When you stop speaking it is in the spirit of denial.

Ego protective.

This couldn't, wouldn't, shouldn’t have happened.

Preposterous, outrageous, outlandish, sickening,

The feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Is sprachlos physical? Psychological?

Can more than one person be affected?

Does anyone react when they see the signs?

What do you say when you begin to speak again?

German proverb: Be Silent. Or say something better than silence.

I am sprachlos.

Mary Gerdt

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Long Nights, Beaver Moon

Long Nights Beaver Moon
by Mary E. Gerdt

Long nights, cloudy mist
beavers chew
and gnaw their
chosen trees.

Long nights, light through
Sounds are scarier
Cold is deeper
Can you hear the beavers chew?

Long Nights, Full Moon
Beaver moon
See the spikes
they leave?

Long nights
Splashing tails
They return to their homes
and talk about the moon.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Stick season

It is Stick Season in Vermont
Where we go without our famous green colors until next spring in April or May.
This picture is of our old truck
that went to a new home.
Many of the old vehicles being scrapped
due to the high price of metal.
Perhaps that will make this a rare photo someday.
best wishes.mary