Category Archives: Science

Moonrise/Sunset

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown.

[I figured we should have a little astronomy before Monday.]

Just a few blocks from our house in Winona, there is a spit of land beyond the levee that juts out into the Mississippi. Boat trailers can be driven down to put in (and pull out) their boats. Even farther out are chunks of concrete that you can climb over, and once you get all the way out there, you feel like you’re right in the river. It’s a great place to watch ducks and other water birds, and the barges being pushed by the (ironically-named) tugboats.

During the warmer months, on the evenings of the full moon, we go there at sunset, climb out and look West until the sun goes down behind (in this case) the hills in an island in the river. Then we turn ourselves 180 degrees to the East, and wait for the moon to come up. It’s tricky to predict exactly where it will rise * – and the orb is hard to see because it’s still quite light out. But finally it appears:  a big golden- orange roundness edging up into the sky, and it’s thrilling each time we do this.

Before I met Husband, he lived in the country up on the ridge, where he was able to see lots of sunsets. Because of the tilt of Earth’s axis and its rotation, each night the sun goes down (* and the moon comes up) at a little different spot on the horizon. These photos were taken on the July 9 full moon by my friend Angela. In August the sun went down considerably to the left of that hill you see, and the moon also came up left of what’s pictured.

Tell about a memorable solar, lunar, or stellar event in your past.

Any baboons traveling to see the solar eclipse?

 

One-Way Market

On my trip to Madison last weekend, I went to the Dane County Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning. It is a four-block affair that rims the capital building.  You can enter the market from any of the incoming streets but my friends explained early on that you can only go one way at the market.

As we were there pretty early (6:30 a.m.) and it wasn’t very crowded I didn’t understand the rule about one-way. And it’s not a posted rule either, so that made me want to turn and go the other way very badly.

But after about an hour of very leisurely looking, tasting and shopping, it had gotten very crowded; that’s when I realized the intelligence of the one-way rule. At that point it would have been very awkward (and inefficient) to try to go against the crowd.  My friends told me that in another hour, it would be even worse!

It was a great market – all local folks, no re-sellers. I ended up with a purple cauliflower, a chili-cheese bread, a little tiny apple pie, cherry tomatoes that taste out of this world, squeaky cheese curds, another cheese w/ Kalamata olives and some multi-colored potatoes.  A real score!

When have you gone against the grain?

The Right Amount of Stress

It is hard to know in a drought how much supplemental water for the vegetable garden is too much, and how much is too  little.  We err on the side of overindulgence. Our recent water bill is testimony to our generosity.  I worry that our pole beans, full and tall on their poles, have yet to produce flowers due to our over watering and not allowing them to feel stress.  I worry our peppers are responding the same way, with very few fruits as yet. Here is a photo of the pole beans with potato plants in the foreground.

Babies born to diabetic mothers often have underdeveloped lungs due to  the  glucose-rich uterine environment  which lacks the normal “stress” of less sweet amniotic fluid. Children who have few expectations don’t fare as well as their peers who have expectations.

It has been stressful at my work due to difficulty hiring staff. I can’t believe that the stress is doing me any good.

I think that a  little bit of stress is necessary for all good development, be it for plants or people.  The trick is discerning the right balance.  Oh that we could thrive without stress!

What do you consider the good stress in your life? The not so good stress? How do you find a balance?

Crutches!

A week ago Friday, Husband went, able-bodied, to play volleyball at the Y. He returned hobbling on a right leg that had sustained, as it turned out, the rupture of its Achilles tendon. One Urgent Care and three visits to Winona Health later, his leg is wrapped and he has been on crutches all week. Luckily the location of the tear means that he will not need surgery… just three months of not walking on said leg as it heals. SIGH.

As I prepare to mow our (admittedly miniscule) lawn, I recall the days (just a week ago) when I had only my tasks on my plate. (Poor me.)

Have you ever had to get around on crutches?

If you were on crutches, what activities would you have to give up?

 

The Arboretum

On Nonny’s last full day in Minneapolis, we went out to The Arboretum. I have always thought I absorbed my love of gardening from her. She never asked me to participate, but I remember the work she put into her roses, her flowering trees and her vegetable plot.

It was a perfect day for it – not too hot and not too sunny. We took some advice from Lou and did the tram tour before we did anything else. We took the tour driver’s advice and sat in the very back row for the best view and the best sound quality. Nonny loved all the different trees, especially ones with “character” and I marveled at how much of the arboretum there really is!

One of the special exhibits this summer is Gardens of Kaleidoscopes – 15 fabulous sculptures that combine lovely floral arrangements in movable containers within structures that also hold kaleidoscopes. You look through the kaleidoscopes and then slowly spin the flowers (well, you don’t have to do it slowly a little boy of seven showed us). It was amazing and as always when confronted by art, I wonder how the artist thought of the idea in the first place.

View Through Kaleidoscope

What would YOU like to see through a kaleidoscope?

Shrimp Harbor

I don’t like shrimp. They are bottom feeders. Harvesting them in the wild is destructive for the ocean floor. I don’t like their taste or texture.

Now I find that 150,000,000 shrimp will be raised annually in my home town in southwest Minnesota, in an ecofriendly “shrimp harbor”.  They will fatten on local corn and soybeans in a covered, 9 acre factory that will use less water than the old meat packing plant did in its heyday. The harbor won’t smell. It won’t pollute. The shrimp will be free of disease and antibiotics.  I hope all the promises made by the company are true.  I wonder  if we can call such shrimp “sea food” or if we will need to find a different descriptive phrase for it.

I am amazed at the technology behind this, and glad for the positive economic impact it will bring to the town.  I still won’t eat shrimp, though.  I can’t get past the texture.

How do you like your sea food?