Astronomy Picture of the Day

Friday, May 28, 2010

Starling Morning

The starlings got up early,
and the sun did too,
the days are getting longer,
 the starling has his brood.
The summer barely started,
 we got a cold cold wind
And the starlings make their noises
some would call a din.

But listen to the starling song, a sweet
and mournful song
They sing a song for their place on earth
Who could say they are wrong.

Starlings are not the most beautiful bird,
some would say they are ugly
But ugly birds can sing a song
and how could that ever be wrong,
Beauty is in our head and hearts.

The starlings sings again.

Thursday, May 27, 2010



Light Echoes From Red Supergiant Star V838 Monocerotis – September 2002

Mono is a virus that has been implicated in MS.
It is also a constellation.
Here is the Hubble (our Hubble for all you Americans) photo that I snagged from my daily Hubble dose.
Was it my bad case of Mono in college that scarred my immune system or my nervous system to cause MS about 30 years later?
The studies I am on seek to figure some of that out. I hope the connections will be made and mysteries solved soon so that others may have an easier road to follow.
Meanwhile I gaze at the stars and wonder at what it all means.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


"Kundalini" My Mom said to me as we talked about the benefits of gardening.
Mom is nearly 85, now, without the internet in an assisted living. Look it up, she said.
How did she pull that word from her head? Sharp as a tack Mom is and a wealth of information.
I knew when I dug in the dirt I just felt better. Was it the sun? The freedom? The accomplishment?
Or Kundalini?

Sometimes we have signs all around us, almost screaming if you really take a good look.
Yet we may ignore it using human filtering, mechanisms of denial, cognitive patterns of thought making a screen.

Pay attention, I want to say.
When Mom says Kundalini, look it up.
I did and still thinking about a figure 8 image (like the infinity sign) at the base of my spine.
Or is it a coiled snake?
Energy goes up the spine and down, from the earth. Balance is good.

There's a lot more on google and many ways to explain. Look it up.

For me, Kundalini verifies by me doing the Wii this winter, I have better balance and flexibility for gardening.
Oh, yes, that is where we have been since Saturday.
We finally have a beautiful long hot weather and now feeling the push to get the plants out, seeds in and get my hands in the dirt for some of that good old fashioned, Mother prescribed Kundalini.

The early sun of near solstice woke me up and I have felt the need to post.
The lawn mowed,we watered the garlic and shallots, ate fresh asparagus and a year old spaghetti squash on the grill, listened to the songbirds and got in touch with kundalini.

There, all better.
Thanks Mom.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Captain is home

Here is Captain, our cat in charge.
He is sitting up here and I took the pic from above (ahile ago).
He came home Thursday and we have been busy "making of him" and
feeding him and he laid down in a bed
of freshly cut spring catnip.
It was a test of our love for Captain to have the I-131 treatment.
He did quite well and back to his old self.
Once again showing even a stray feral kitten,
can grow up to be a prominent family member.
We all missed him on his 11 day stay at the cat hospital.
But the other two Tom cats were a little peeved when
the big boy came home.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Swallows

Well, we are back to work at the grind and finally actually mowed the lawn last night,
at least most of the tallest grass.

Here is a pic of a couple of swallows from 2006. They line up on the
power lines behind our house, chattering and preening, then lunging, swirling in
air currents and making all kinds of noises.
They have nests in our back shed.
They have had it rough since they got back
since we have had spells too cold for bugs.
One swallow swirled completely around my head 360 degrees.
I think they fly best in the spring most daring, most acrobatic.
They looked healthier this year.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble & Company

Last night,
Fred and I gave each other a special birthday present this year. OK, my birthday was 2 months ago and his is next month, but we said we wanted to do something special, unique, rare and that we both enjoy.
We decided to go back to the most amazing musical experience either of us ever had. Levon Helm's Midnight Rambles.
The next decision was the show with Carolyn Wonderland and Levon or Levon's birthday party. We felt the time ticking to buy the tickets. A growing number of music lovers are discovering this special genre. My blog promotes Levon's shows although if I have tickets I can be more open about how you should, in your lifetime, attend these rare concert experiences.
We decided on the Carolyn Wonderland and Levon Ramble.
We have been listening to CW's music and really appreciate her extreme range in notes, styles and feelings.
Last November we saw Carolyn Wonderland at the Ramble. She played with the masterful Guy Forsyth and band members.
As time went on we found out Guy Forsyth was performing too. Perfectly complementary with CW's voice, instrumentals.
We headed out Saturday morning. Down the long Champlain valley to the ferry at Ticonderoga. Then through the mountain pass to the thruway past Paradox. Down the thruway to Saugerties and meandering through to Woodstock below Overlook Mountain.
We were early in line and greeted by the always stellar staff and chatted with others in line about past shows, strategies to get the dough for tickets. Ebay sell stuff and buy Ramble tickets? Leave it to kids and resourceful adults to think up that one.
Convert your unused collectibles into a musical cleansing, a revival, renewal, healing. What cost redemption?
We energetically watched the sound checks, scanning the stage, fascinated by gadgets in focus, unlike big venues.
The web of wires and electronic things connected to the behind the scenes people, archiving live shows of extreme quality, talent, in one word: life.
Next, Carolyn Wonderland, Guy Forsyth and band step up.
Can I say they are a wonder each alone and together a synergistic powerhouse of sights and sounds.
They both use all the reaches possible with their respective voices and instruments of choice. If that was not enough, they write touching, funny, sometimes sarcastic music with a message resonating with each and everyone. Carolyn's voice is special, unique, masterful.
Her melodical mastery gives way to her amazing guitar playing and the trumpet, too. Carolyn writes both mournful and upbeat lyrics with variable speed from strolling to full speed. Guy played guitar, harmonica, was it a mandolin or a uke or what, and the most amazing saw playing I have ever heard and seen. Guy's lyrics, singing style catalogue, physical presence on stage makes the whole experience more fun to follow.
Last year a carnival barker and this year a common man singing Guantanomo Bay.
"Walk on" one of my favorites.
We picked up some CD's.
available at

Next, Levon's band members set up during the break. Fred went out for CD's. A lightness is already palpable. The first bands jarring our collective bodies into a musical bliss. Humans in a wooden barn, resonating. Now anticipating. We knew what was next. As I said before, we knew we would never be the same.

Then the pinnacle moment we were waiting for, the powerful man, drummer, singer, mandolin player, conductor, with the gentle soul, the self giving persona, the performer, the father, the historian of musical genre.
Levon Helm steps on stage. The audience reponds with a roar, a whooping and hollering, at once ready to take the journey through the music with him, their Shaman guide.
We feel a healing coming on and each song, a word on the set list we can read from overhead, is so much more than a word.
We enjoy once again Amy Helm, Theresa Williams, Larry Campbell, Jim Wieder, Howard Johnson, Brian Mitchell, et al (if i do not mention a name it is because I am sleep deprived and it is getting late. Each musician is top notch to play in the barn! We need to mow!) 
Then we have deja vu. Special guest Donald Fagen is here! We enjoy a new version of Shakedown Street, an old dead tune. Katie is on my mind as she would have had an incredible time at the ramble. Tennessess Jed, Calvary, the Weight with the first verse by CW.
So many tunes.
Unlike the Nashville reviews I read, I want to say that Levon Helm played every tune I loved. The Ramble never leaves me longing for one more signature tune.
The Ramble is about being a unique live concert with fantastic musical talents and redeeming your feelings of worth by getting healed in Levon's Church with the heaven's choir. I don't know how he does it, but he does. And we are grateful.
Keep in touch with Levon's travels in my margin or at

What a great gift!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Robert Frost Country, Part 2

Robert Frost Country, Part 2

It nagged at me all day. I wanted to describe Ripton but I really only talked about one road. Just that seldom travelled road in Robert Frost's time.Still seldom travelled compared to the roads through the seemingly endless valley floors next to the lake. Those areas were all ocean bottom.
So back to Ripton.
It has sharp elevations, wonderful streams, the Green Mountain Forest.
It has all economic groups but one may not be easily distinguished from the other. A blend of many people who survive harsher winters than we valley people. More isolation is possible which is why most views are from a road. Also more people know you are there than you might imagine. That is good too. Boundaries defined. Mutual acceptance.
His mail went to East Middlebury post office back then. The poetry flowed up and down the mountain. I know there is more but it will have to wait. It has been a long week and time to go hear the redwinged blackbirds sing.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Robert Frost Country

The Middlebury area where I work is really the epicenter of Robert Frost culture when he was most famous.
He did live in many places but this is one you feel he is very connected to as well as the place connected with him and images became trademarks, local lore and a backdrop for the best poetry.
So today the Travelogue goes up the mountain to Ripton. I get vertigo so the 15% grades are a challenge but with enough leaves on the trees and some deep breathing I made the ascent and descent without a hitch.
I really imagined How Robert (did friends call him Rob, Bob?) went up and down the same way. There are few roads on a mountain. This follows the river which I could see can get really wild.
The road crew is paving today, on the impossible 15% grade and I marvelled at the angle.
Someday I will return to Ripton to see his farmhouse. For now, I am satisfied I travelled the less travelled road Robert did, and perhaps I am all the better for it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Master of MS and letter to editor published

Master of MS.

I found this in my inbox and got excited just beginning to read. They are on twitter and facebook so you will get updates.

Also link to letter to the editor of The Addison Eagle, the only paper so far to print.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Captain's Club Rad

Captain's Club Rad

Monday at 9 am, Captain (below left)

went for radioactive iodine treatment for hyperthyroidism.
He was admitted for 7-10 days of
isolation because of the radiation
We have been able to watch him
via cage camera and we can interact with
the staff at the cat hospital.
Today I emailed the staff for more food rations since Captain loves to eat.
They have been wonderful.
The other cats miss him as well.
The more I read the more I am glad we
opted for this treament for him.
Best wishes to Captain.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ignorance or Arrogance?

Ignorance or Arrogance?
What was the root of their motivations?

We may forgive the ignorant soul,
Unknowing, uneducated, innocent one.

But the Arrogant one,
Who breaks all the rules,
Dares you to challenge them
Ignores you when you do or
Argues you are the devil, or evil or dumb.

Playground tactics every one.
I grew up on the asphalt turf
Running on sidewalks
Skinning elbows and knees.
I have been called every name the neighborhood could dish out
to make my face red.

I came out here to the country airs,
Life without cares,
Soft green grass, cool sunshine, mountain breeze.
And there are those kids on the playground again.

No matter what I gave or
Stayed out of the way,
The kids will soon find me
and try to take myself away.

Here in the natural beautiful hills,
We fight the elements,
We fight our ills,
We fight the creeps who want our till.
The ashphalt playground memories
Once so sad,
After the country jungle,
They don't seem so bad.

Monkton Vermont 5/9/2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cross Hairs

Cross Hairs

2010 by Mary E. Gerdt

Some saw us or what we have

as a target

And we got

Caught in the crosshairs

Of their eco-war.

How they care about the

Alleged habitat

Of the little bat

And not us.

And when I try to understand

How hard it is to know

Those around us can hate us so.

My Great Great Grandfather died on Shiloh’s soils

To free the slaves and do the right thing.

Speaking broken english, suffering death,

Was he caught in a battle of someone’s else’s thoughts?

When I caught MS I never thought

Anything could hurt like

When they caught us in the

Cross hairs of their


Until they did, again.