Thursday, August 31, 2017

Solar Eclipse 2017
Sorry for the lapse between blog updates but I have been away on holiday in Kansas City, Missouri  to see the eclipse and do a bit of sight-seeing.

Before launching into a play-by-play of our day, I should back up and tell you we did quite a lot of prep for the eclipse. When I say ‘we,’ I mean my husband Andrew did a lot of prep. He read up on it and studied maps and charts and even invested in special equipment (a special lens for his camera). It wouldn’t be an understatement to say he took this all very seriously and was even a little stressed out about it.

My only concern was not wanting to get stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on our way to the eclipse party at the university. Hence, we set our alarm for 7am so we could get on the road to Liberty by around 8am or soon thereafter (a full five + hours before the eclipse was due to start).

We found the university (William Jewell) and the stadium parking lot with no problem and there were still plenty of spaces. Had a quick chat with another early bird before walking downtown to grab brunch at Ginger Sue’s.

Since it was still sunny when we set off we left most of our stuff (including umbrellas) in the car. However, the closer we got to the restaurant dark clouds started rolling in and we heard the occasional rumble of thunder in the distance and even saw a bit of lightning.

We managed to get through brunch (after trying unsuccessfully to each eat two of the world’s largest pancakes) and were walking down the street when it finally started to rain. Since City Hall (where we were checking out a Little Free Library)
was heavily air conditioned and not that big, I suggested we seek refuge in a store called Petals & Potpourri. The proprietor couldn’t have been nicer letting us browse at our own pace knowing full well we were there to stay out of the rain. Partly out of guilt and partly out of liking shiny things, I saw a necklace I fancied that had an interchangeable centerpiece. Since Andrew didn’t seem to object I bought it. He even suggested I pick up several of the centerpieces since they probably wouldn’t be easy to find back in Columbus.

Eventually the rain started letting up a little so we decided to brave it and make our way back to campus. I couldn’t wait to get to the car and put my warm and cozy sweatshirt over my wet shoulders.

I didn’t have the sweatshirt on too long before the clouds parted (just like in the opening credits of “The Simpsons”) and the sun came back out.  We grabbed our chairs and stuff and headed out to the stadium to find a good spot on the AstroTurf field. While Andrew fiddled with his camera I pulled out my book and sunglasses and worked on my tan while stretched out on the canvas chair that came with its own footrest.

The stadium gradually got busier and busier, though nowhere near as crowded as it might get for something like a concert or a big sporting event. Still, it was enough people (though probably half were students) to call the event a success.

While Andrew studied the eclipse almost non-stop for the just over an hour duration, I kept glancing up through my special glasses while also people watching (wondering why didn’t we think to get a souvenir t-shirt?) and reading my book.

As it got closer to totality, Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” was piped through the speakers. When the sun got completely blacked out a cheer went up from the crowd.
Then came the climax when we could take our glasses off to see Bailey’s Beads followed by the ultimate in nature’s wonders, ‘the diamond ring.’ I was so overcome with emotion I quite honestly bawled my eyes out. If you’ve ever witnessed that you know how beautiful that was. I don’t think anything else in my life will even come close to how amazing that was. We were then serenaded to George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun,” which seemed as appropriate a choice as any for that moment in time.

I feel triple blessed because technically this was the third eclipse Andrew and I shared together. The first was an annular* eclipse back in May 1994 while we were both still students at Kent State University.

* The name “annular” comes from the Latin word for ring, “annulus.” These eclipses are named for their darkest, or maximum, point even if it only lasts less than a second. If the characteristic ring of fire is visible from even just one location, the whole eclipse is called an annular solar eclipse.

Then in 1999 we booked a coach trip to see a solar eclipse from Rouen, France (home of the Joan of Ark Cathedral). Unfortunately it was a lot more overcast then, so we didn’t get to see as much of the totality (or Bailey’s Beads or the diamond ring either). However, unlike where we were at the stadium, there were quite a lot of birds around and it was interesting to see how they reacted to it. They seemed to be totally confused and flocked to the trees, quieting down quite a lot exhibiting their typical night time behavior.

Andrew has already started researching the next solar eclipse which should be visible from Ohio in April of 2024. See you there!

Here’s a couple links to our pictures on flickr: 

Have a good Labor Day weekend everyone!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

I Out Ran Myself!

Thursday August 10, 2017
Tonight I ran in the 16th annual Hilliard 5k Run/Walk Nite Classic which benefited the boys' and girls' cross country teams at Davidson H.S.
This was my first time running the race so I had no idea what to expect, and it's probably just as well. If I had known what the course was going to be, and the caliber of the runners, I might have backed out.
It wasn't long after the starter pistol was fired (no one does that anymore, but it sounds more official) that I was left in the dust of far superior runners - some older, some younger. That would have been enough to make the teenage Cindy soon give up from exhaustion (and probably cry out of self pity) trying to keep up with the pack. However, the middle aged Cindy remembered the fable about the tortoise and the hare, and knew that Fr. Bob was thinking about me and that my sister's neighbor, Jamie (whose son, RJ, a member of the Hilliard boys' cross country team, was also in the race) was rooting for me, so that helped give me the strength to keep on running.
I did end up passing some people, but was still at the back of the pack for most of the race. Unlike most other races I had some pretty stiff competition (including an 8 year old girl and a man pushing a twin stroller) and there were also fewer competitors (only 183 runners), so I had my work cut out for me. At the end of the day I decided not to worry about any of them and only concern myself with finishing. It was only a bonus that I achieved my own personal best of 37:53:4. I was also happy to finish before sunset and to avoid getting too many mosquito bites.
I'm glad I was able to contribute to the cross country teams, but next year I think I'll stick to attending the athletic clubs' annual flea market/yard sale. It's a lot less strenuous and a lot more fun (though there's certainly not that feeling of accomplishment afterwards).  

Have a good weekend everyone!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Festivals & Festivities

Friday August 4, 2017
This was the weekend of the 30th annual Dublin Irish Festival. I was eagerly anticipating it since we had such a good time last year and there were some arts and crafts classes I wanted to participate in.

Like last year, my husband and I met at the festival after I took the shuttle over (it’s convenient since we both work pretty close to the festival grounds). It was a nice sunny day, and unlike previous years not quite so hot, at least ten degrees cooler than normal I would say, though it was still a little humid. I had to keep my hair tied back since it was so windy though.

We bought dinner from a couple different food trucks and sat down to eat in one of the covered pavilions while listening to the first band warm up. When we were finished we walked over to the tent where the Finger Loop Braiding class was going to be held. Since Finger Loop braiding wasn’t Andrew’s cup of tea (and there certainly weren’t many men in the tent), he left me to it and we met up afterwards.

Although Fr. Stephen Hayes gave a decent demonstration, I’m not always that quick to pick up on things, and I was off to the side where he was giving the demo, so I didn’t exactly have a front row seat. He basically showed us how we could make a belt (or at least a long braided strand of yarn) while one of the volunteers held the other end of his loops and helped push the braidings together. You use five loops – two held on your left hand and the other three on your right hand and you turn one hand, then loop your right over your left in some sort of a sequential pattern (there are many different patterns you can do).
Still feeling a bit confused and not too bothered to make a belt, I left the tent and decided to meet up with Andrew a little bit early. Still, I guess I’m glad I attended, but there was no way I was going to get my creation done in the approximately 20 minutes we had left after Fr. Hayes was done demonstrating and explaining the procedure.

Our next activity was Irish Laughter: Comic Irish Songs, a lecture and songs sung by guitarist, singer and Greene Co. Librarian, Karl Colon.
This was the first lecture either of us had attended at the festival, and it was definitely interesting and entertaining. However, by this time in the evening the chill was definitely starting to set in since the temperature was slowly dropping down into the 60s while the wind kept up at a steady pace. Even Mr. Colon commented on it and suggested people come closer to the front and huddle to keep warm. “Who would have thought we’d ever be too cold at the Irish Festival?” he joked. [it’s notoriously hot every year.] I later found out one of the vendors sold out of all of their long sleeve hooded t-shirts, which is probably a first.

Not wishing to be a party pooper, we stayed for the last event on my list which was Irish Ghost Stories being told by the foreign born, Yvonne Healy (who was apparently reared with Irish language on an American Main Street). Andrew even bought me a cup of wine with our last three liquor tokens hoping it might help warm me up (not sure if it really helped, but definitely made me have to pee by the time I was done with it).

The two or three stories she told were really more silly than scary, but had to be age appropriate for the mixed crowd. When she was most of the way through her last story of the night a heckler started interrupting and asking her questions, which was not only rude, but surprising as I’ve never been to an event where a heckler has interrupted (except in maybe a comedy routine, but even then…).

Needless to say I was glad when her last story was over and we could head back to Andrew’s car and warm up on the way home. We both agreed we definitely would have had a better time had we both dressed warmer (I wanted my fleece jacket, hat, and scarf).

Saturday August 5, 2017
Irish Festival, Day 2….

Today on the agenda was a Celtic Knot coaster class being held at noon in the same tent as last night’s Finger Loop Braiding. Having gotten a good nine hours of sleep, I felt well rested and ready to take on the world, so I was looking forward to having more success with this class. However, I guess I overestimated my ability to follow instructions by studying a series of photos. A kindly gentleman sitting near me (who was apparently a Boy Scout troop leader) tried to help me out with the first series of instructions, but gave up when it came time to do the whole procedure a second time, which is how you get the multiple layers for the knot. The instructor, Ms. Nancy Flynn suggested taping down our piece of cord and making smallish loops since your coaster can only be so big before it’s not a coaster anymore.

While trying to follow along with the pictures I had flashbacks to doing the same thing about a year ago when Andrew and I were trying to make origami cranes. I got as far as about three or four pictures before I was lost, while Andrew slowly proceeded onward and created a pretty nice crane that he took home and still has displayed on a shelf in his room.

Later in the evening Andrew and I were watching “The Great British Bake-off” when their technical challenge was to create a “jumble” consisting of two different biscuits (cookies) in the shape of two different Celtic knots, which everyone totally struggled with (one baker got points off for not leaving any gaps between the knots).  I could definitely sympathize!

Needless to say I failed again and sadly just brought home a strand of rope. “That’s one expensive piece of string,” Andrew commented (since admission for that 45 min cost me $10). The lady sitting to my right, who told me she is does editing and proofreading for a living (too bad I didn’t get a chance to ask her more about that) said she has an easier time with words than pictures. “Me too,” I agreed. She grabbed her piece of string and left before I did, so I wasn’t the only one who called it a day on that project. I might have stayed longer and tried it again, but I was short on time since Andrew was picking me up to take me to his company picnic at the Columbus Zoo (and food was only going to be out for perhaps an hour or so).

Leading Edje Summer Picnic at the Columbus Zoo…

Having just been to the Toronto Zoo less than a month ago, neither of us were really that excited by another visit to the zoo, but not wishing to be antisocial and skip yet another company event (it’s been y-e-a-r-s since we’ve attended a company picnic), we headed over in good spirits (even after having to park about a half mile away). Upon arriving we helped ourselves to the buffet of potato salad, hot dogs/sausages, pulled pork, bags of potato chips and bags of cookies (I saw another company had an ice cream cart which I would have liked to have helped myself to). After eating (we were pretty much the last ones to arrive) and chatting briefly with some of his coworkers and Joelle, one of the founders of the company, we headed out to see which animals were out.

Looking at the map we decided to head to Asia. Our first stop was to see which baby animals were on display. We lucked out and saw a couple sleepy Geoffroy cats.
According to Wikipedia, “Geoffroy's cat (Leopardus geoffroyi) is a wild cat native to the southern and central regions of South America. It is about the size of a domestic cat.  The Geoffroy's cat is about the size of a domestic cat, but has numerous black spots and dark bands on the cheeks, head and neck as well as on the tail and limbs. The background colour of its fur varies from a brownish-yellow coat in the northern part of its range to a more grayish coat in the south. The underbelly hair is cream-coloured or even white. The backs of the ears are black with white spots. Black individuals are common.”

Definitely the most unusual creature we saw all day was a golden Labrador in a pen with a couple mixed breed foxes(?) of some sort.

All three seemed to be friends and played together in this rather large enclosure. If I had to guess I’d say this enclosure was/is also home to a Rhinoceros or perhaps a Hippopotamus, neither of which we saw.

The funniest site we saw was a pile of cats, literally, in the pen that houses a lion and several members of its pride, most of which were sleeping overlapping each other on the roof of their pen.

That’s not something I can imagine house cats ever doing, unless maybe they’re still kittens, or perhaps members of the same litter.

Hence, even though we were prepared for a pretty routine day at the zoo, we still saw a couple unusual things, so it was definitely worth a visit. Also, it was a nice day to be out since the temperature & humidity was similar to the previous day, so not a scorching summer day (which probably explains why it was so crowded).

All in all a pretty fun and busy weekend. Have a great week everyone!