Spot On!

When Arielle W. offered to send postcards from NASA to interested members of the Love Notes community, I responded “no thanks” because I live in “space central.” Boy, am I glad she ignored me! Why? Just look and see!

Detail of a Sunspot. Big Bear Solar Observatory, New Jersey Institute of Technology

This “space” postcard looks so much like a sunflower that at first glance I thought it was a sunflower. Maybe, this was because I was wearing multifocal contacts–which are amazing in bright light, but a little weird in dim light–but I think many people would have had to take a second look before realizing the image isn’t a sunflower.

The back of the postcard reads:

This detailed image taken in 2010 by the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s New Solar Telescope at the Big Bear Solar Observatory–a project partially funded by NASA–features an enormous sunspot on the photosphere of the Sun that is slightly larger than the Earth.

Arielle sent this to me (anyway) because she “thought of me and my love of sunflowers…the card looks almost like a sunflower.” She couldn’t have chosen a better “space” card for me!

Even though this amazing card did not need any help, she also wrote a popular Shakespeare “misquote” on the back:

It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.

In case you’re interested, the actual lines are from Julius Caesar:

Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings. –Cassius to Brutus, Act I, scene ii

There’s some irony in the quote masquerading as Shakespeare appearing on postcard of a sunspot–which I mistook for a sunflower.

Time Out and Bad Solar Eclipse Photos

This is extraordinary that humankind has figured out that we live on a big sphere, orbiting another sphere, with a smaller sphere orbiting us, and once in a while, these things line up and we experience totality. –Bill Nye, August 21, 2017

Yes, this is yet another eclipse post.

I looked forward to the eclipse and enjoyed every second of it, not simply because of the amazing spectacle it was but because for once, it seemed, we found something else to talk about. The steady diet of social challenge, politics, and White House shenanigans we’re fed in the USA was interrupted for many glorious hours of focus on the solar eclipse.

A time out we needed.

Like many businesses and schools in the area, the University and K-12 campuses (where I work) shut down for a couple of hours and watched the moon pass between the sun and the earth. Students celebrated a break from classes (Many profs and teachers did too, but shhh…we won’t tell). Families interrupted a busy Monday schedule to enjoy the eclipse together. The University provided snowballs and ice cream to keep us cool in the 91 degree heat.

I did not prepare adequately and completely forgot my solar filter. I was not willing to risk my camera sensor, so I attempted to take pics of the eclipse with my iPhone. Major fail!

These are really bad photos, but I figured, something is better than nothing.

This photo surprised me. It reveals just how powerful the sun is.

Eclipse What?

The sun was about 95% covered at this point (We experienced 97% coverage in Northern Alabama). It is amazing how much light escaped through that sliver. Notice the strange hue of the sky?  I’m not sure you can see it, but the sky was “bluer” before the eclipse.

Watching everyone marvel at the eclipse was just as enjoyable as the eclipse itself.  My son:

My not-so-little one enjoying the eclipse.

I might get in trouble for the next picture, but my colleague’s wife, Jewel, was so engrossed in the eclipse that she didn’t hear my greeting. This is her “punishment” for “ignoring” me.

A “Jewel” enjoying the eclipse.

I think two hours in the heat affected my thinking. It never crossed my mind to photograph the shadows, but thankfully, my friend Meli did! I love the crescent moon-shaped shadows cast by the eclipse! [Click an image for a closer look].

Many people have shared many words of wisdom about the eclipse. There are indeed some profound and valuable lessons, but the eclipse simply provided me with a break–a time out from all the little things that irk and frustrate and a moment to focus on something much grander.

NOTE: Thanks to Dr. Tiffany, one of my former students–now a molecular biologist–for the Bill Nye quote.

Small Steps

Needless to say, I am having a difficult time coping with my sister’s passing (a month and a half ago). I do not feel like doing much of anything, and it’s only by the grace of God that I get through the things I must do.  Spring semester classes are finally over. I have hundreds of assignments to grade (not exaggerating).  The stress and exhaustion are a bit overwhelming, so last weekend I returned to creativity.  Not because I wanted to but because I needed to.  I had to.  The “life-is-meaningless” moments were coming too frequently and I could not allow myself to give into those feelings.  Sooooo, I created a couple of swaps and joined a couple of swaps, knowing that if I make a commitment to something, I will follow through.  Knowing that if I get my hands moving and start playing around with images and color and paper eventually this unspeakable grief will feel less unbearable.  Knowing that through the act of creating I will eventually find words and eventually healing. I accomplished a few things while trying to process some of my feelings…

  • I manipulated images for a couple of swaps and notecards
  • I created a couple of postcards for National Postcard Week (May 5-11)
  • I tweaked the “Thank You” cards I designed for all the heartfelt expressions of sympathy
  • I worked with my hubby and son on ideas for my son’s science project on the sun

I’m not quite “there” yet, but I’m here. And I’m sitting in front of the computer typing up this blog post when it would be so much easier to crawl under the covers–that says a lot.  I can’t post everything because I don’t want to spoil the surprise for some of the recipients, but here’s one of the photos I’m thinking about sending out for a B&W photo swap.  I found this gem at Whippoorwill Academy and Village in Ferguson, North Carolina.

"Sweet Beloved," taken in North Carolina, 2012

“Sweet Beloved,” Ferguson, North Carolina, 2012

And here’s my son’s science project–“Our Super Star.”  It’s all about the S-U-N.

"Our Super Star," The Little One's First Grade Science Project on the Sun

“Our Super Star,” The Little One’s First Grade Science Project

His project touts the sun’s amazing qualities, despite the fact that some scientists label it an “ordinary” star.  There’s nothing ordinary about the sun to us!