Ah! My Big Annual Publishing Project is just about to be shipped off to the printer. This brings a sense of relief … all that work and stress of deadline finally over. Next comes the fun part: discovering what typos, errors, omissions I managed to commit to print and 25,000 copies! For now, though, it’s a good feeling.
Too beautiful a day to spend indoors yet not motivated enough to ride our bicycles, we took a trip by car instead. This time we traveled to the Sheldon Marsh wildlife area, just west of Huron, Ohio. It’s a spit of land that juts out into Lake Erie and, as such, is a seasonal way station for migrating birds making north-south lake transits. We saw few birds today but the few we saw offered a big surprise. I was pretty sure the large wading birds native to this area –Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons– had headed south; I’d seen none in weeks. Today we were rewarded with sightings and photo-ops involving likely three Great Blues and two Great Egrets all within a short walk of the roadway. I was a bit disappointed that the majority of my “grab shots” of herons in flight were in poor focus; they looked so good in the viewfinder. A couple of images, however, nearly made up for the bad ones. Many other nature scenes from Sheldon Marsh and nearby Old Woman Creek were also very beautiful. The ODNR’s visitor center at Old Woman Creek, by the way, is quite impressive. Photography aside, simply seeing great Lake Erie again and being out in the fresh air and sunshine of a fine autumn day were wonderful rewards in themselves.
She Who Must Be Obeyed determined that today we would get out on our bikes. So we headed to Erie County and the annual Pedal Erie Parks invitational. It was a warm morning and the weather grew hotter as the hours passed. We've had so few miles we chose to ride the 30-mile route. In the not-too-distant past we'd have elected to ride the longer distances ( 50 or more miles ) but, well, we just aren't ready. That doesn't mean the shorter ride was easy. There are a good number of river valleys to cross –quick down, sharp climb out– that got me out of my saddle. I started the day feeling bad physically but by the end of the ride I was doing fine. I'm uncomfortable in hot weather but my body seems happy to be active in it. Her new bike will need some tweaking. This was the Cannondale's shakedown tour and the chain dropped to the outside during one of Her shifts. She also feels the seat height may need adjustment. She also felt "tired" in her triceps; the handlebars or stem may need some work. Otherwise the bike performed well.
Somewhere along the way I spotted one of the nicest conversions of an old schoolhouse (or church) to a home that I've ever seen. Unfortunately I haven't equipped my bicycle to safely carry my new small camera so all I had with me was the cell phone. Kind of a crappy image but it'll have to do. This begins a week of plan-less vacation time. Don't know what we'll do but I hope none of it involves having to resolve some crisis back at the office. This week of summer looks to be lazy, hazy, not-so-crazy. That can be a good thing.
I had the day off because I get to work tomorrow. Whoopee! So took Tasha for routine innoculations. She hated the trip. After all, Tasha's visits to the vet have generally been when she needed immediate attention and lots of needles, etc. Can't really blame her for her aversion to seeing Dr. B. She got through the visit just fine though crying more than usual on the trip out and back.
I'd been considering purchase of a Canon "L" series lens –their best quality– for a while but they're just so darned expensive! I've noticed some shortcomings in the Tamron lens we bought for the Canon and, with some tax "rebate" money burning a hole in my pocket, decided to take the plunge and buy Canon's most reasonably priced "L" zoom telephoto, the f/4 70 – 200mm. To help offset the expense, I'm offering the Tamron lens for sale through Amazon.com. I hope that works out 'cause there are several other things I'd like to sell and somehow I trust Amazon more than eBay.
Finally, I canceled my EarthLink account today. I'd been with them since November 1999 from dial-up to DSL and back again (as we phased them out). AT&T's U-Verse service was just too reasonably priced to pass up and has been too good to quit! I actually feel a little sorry about leaving EarthLink but I guess that's competition for you. Bye-bye!
The weather's looking stormy overnight and tomorrow, possibly clearing up a bit Sunday. Again, I work Saturday so the weather doesn't matter too much to me! We'll see if we wind up cycling Sunday.
Have a good weekend!
Things have been fairly routine around here. Well, routine can mean different things to different people. Mostly it was the weekend when things were happening….
Tasha developed disturbing symptoms that appeared to be cystitis. Frequent urination, straining at the litter box, inappropriate urination, and restlessness/meowing all presented themselves. The symptoms had come and gone about a week earlier, but reoccurred with a vengeance late last week. So I took off early Friday and delivered one unhappy kitty to the vet; her symptoms had calmed so it was the trip to the vet that displeased her. Tests showed no crystals in her urine but there were signs of a bladder infection so poor Tasha got a penicillin injection and is receiving a week-long course of twice-a-day oral antibiotics to try and knock out whatever bug was causing her discomfort. She's tolerating the dosing well in part because I've (finally) become somewhat adept at the eyedropper. Kitty seems to be back to normal. We'll hear from Dr. B concerning lab results today or tomorrow.
Saturday my car went to the "car vet" –dealer service– for regular maintenance. They checked our record and found it's time for the timing belt to be replaced! Oh, joy: another big, unexpected expense! It's better than having the darned thing break which, we were told, does enough damage to the engine to cost on the order of $3,500 to fix. Still we didn't see this one coming.
Saturday night I had the observatory open from 9 to 11:00 PM at the behest of the student environmental group. This open night was to be a part of their Earth Day activities. A bat had moved back into the dome and/or shutter as had a bird or two. I chased the bat out of the dome and, before leaving, turned up the obnoxious "sonic repellent" that had been successful in keeping "Baxter" away. Unfortunately –or not, given sky conditions– this was also the college Springfest and the poor old observatory was up against a pop music concert, an orientation day, and several other activities. With many alternatives and little promotion we had only two visitors –a student couple– all night. Gave them a look at Saturn with moons Titan, Rhea, and Dione visible and told them about the observatory, telescope, etc. Sky conditions were clear but seeing was generally not very good with high-altitude water vapor preventing the sky from being very black. I couldn't find dim objects, not even M44 (The Beehive star cluster) but Saturn looked surprisingly good; the shadow of the ring system could be seen on the planetary body. Maybe a hint, now and again, at cloud banding on the planet. I took a look at Mars but between seeing preventing high-power views and with Mars receding and becoming quite small, it was less interesting than usual. That was about it for observing! I was happy to head home.
Sunday activity was chosen by She Who Must be Obeyed so we took our first bicycle ride of the season… the flat and easy rail-to-trail facility that runs through Oberlin. The weather was clear and cool with temperatures of about 65 degrees and light wind. The riding was easy and pleasant though we both wound up with sore-ish muscles from that short and easy 27-mile jaunt! Felt pitiable but it's been many months since we've been on two wheels. Lunch at Oberlin's Quizno's was very good and did not make us feel more guilt. One weird experience: when we parked our bikes at Quizno's my wireless bicycle computer, instead of registering zero miles-per-hour was reading upwards of 65 miles-per-hour whilst standing still! Apparently some radio source inside the building was causing the bizarre behavior. We didn't think about photographing the display until later and, when we returned to the sandwich shop to reproduce the experience, nothing happened! Cool photo gets away.
In all this weekend of cats, bats, and bikes was a good one.
This was an interesting weekend! On Saturday we were mostly going to stay home during the day and do practical things. The day, however, was incredibly beautiful! Fall color here is reaching or has reached its peak, the sky was a beautiful blue with few clouds, and the wind (a strong one) was very comfortable in the 60s. The bottom line: we couldn't stay home. As an excuse to get out we went for a drive to a shopping area east of here. She looked at clothing, I looked at computer stuff. Then we went to the lovely city of Hudson which is one of my favorite places. Whilst exploring the small but wonderful Learned Owl Bookstore, I spied a beautiful block print graphic connected with a local fundraiser for breast cancer research and prevention — also funding free mammograms for those who can't afford them. We learned that the artist who created the image, Lori Biwer Stewart, had works for sale at the Hudson Fine Art & Framing Company so we strolled over there. Hudson's town square is beautiful, especially this time of year. I fell in love with Stewart's work — simple lino cut prints with poetic and "spiritual" depth to them. We actually gave in and purchased one framed image titled "Song." Then home for dinner.
Saturday night was a scheduled Observatory open house so immediately following dinner I headed out. Arriving in the dark I met two of my regular attendees: a woman and her 80+ year-old-mother. They drive up from a place about an hour away for every one of these sessions, even when it's the same objects for observation — in this case it was the Moon. The drive took less time tonight so they arrived early. By the time the event was over we had 19 visitors look through the century-old refractor; we might have had more visitors but there was a big Cleveland Indians baseball game on TV. Guests were treated to superbe views of the Moon, however, as the atmosphere was extremely clear and mostly steady. I don't think I've personally ever seen the Moon so clearly with my own eyes! I couldn't find the planet Neptune –very close to the Moon this night– in the orb's bright glare so I turned the telescope away from the Moon and targeted the Perseus Double Cluster: NGC 884 & 869. They filled the eyepiece with diamond-like lights delighting our guests more than I had expected. This night was also to be the peak of the Orionid meteor shower but I saw not one "shooting star." Best viewing was after Moonset but I wasn't about to stay up that late: She Who Must Be Obeyed had her heart set on a bicycle ride in the excellent weather predicted for Sunday.
Sunday morning we slept in ever so little, got ourselves slowly together, and headed out to Oberlin for a loop-ride out in the country. Fall colors were past peak out there and, anyway, the route didn't take us through woods, only through flat to rolling farm country. Very nice roads, for the most part, but a fierce southwesterly wind made the going tough on a long first leg of the ride. Very tough as in riding uphill for 10 miles tough. We made it, however, but could only muster about 12 MPH on most of that leg. The return trip, however, was another matter! Effortless riding at 17 MPH for most of the return portion of the ride over, again, smooth roads. We flew under gorgeous blue skies and on good roads with little traffic. Ahhhh. Back at Oberlin we enjoyed our late lunch at Quizno's (their new veggie sub is excellent) and then headed home. Oh yeah, it was only a 23-mile trip on the odometer but felt more like 35 miles, but then, so did the wind speed!
We just couldn't get organized! She wanted to go on a nice autumn bicycle ride but we got up late Sunday, it was cold, we couldn't figure out what to wear… there was a litany of reasons but we just didn't get ourselves together. We decided to do another walk. So we visited the Bridgeway Trail in the Black River Reservation of Lorain Metroparks. We weren't sorry. The broad paved path is 2.5 miles in length, according to the maps, and we walked out and back from Bur Oak Picnic Area with a couple of short side-trips for a total mileage of 4.9 miles, according to my GPS. The people we encountered were nearly all outgoing and friendly and it wasn't crowded. We got the best of the day… mild temperatures and filtered sunshine. All around us were woodlands, grasslands, and the clear waters of the Black River. Lots of opportunities for photography. We got the usual nature photos we so love to do –Sweetie is getting really good at that!– but there was also the big, decommissioned iron railroad trestle. I shot it digitially and in color but it seemed bland. Then I dropped out the color values using Photoshop and, recalling my long career in fine art black & white, got myself some images I liked! At any rate, it helps my ego … Sweetie is getting really good! A fine day, indeed, that found us walking again.
True to recent weather conditions, and our luck, tonight's astronomy class star party was canceled due to poor sky conditions. Our final "cloud date" is this Friday but weather for the week is predicted to be unfavorable. We'll see!