Friday, January 07, 2011

Helpful and Not So Helpful

The few remaining bits of Christmas trim will be tucked away today.

I do have help with this task....

Tate's enthusiasm for the work makes up for his lack of process understanding.

Tate: I thought you said you wanted to take the Christmas things down. I iz helping.
Me: I meant put the Christmas things away.
Tate: Oh.  Sorry. 

He isn't the only one around here who is a tad clueless about things.
This morning I read that all the birds falling from the sky around the world might be caused by the earth's magnetic pole shifting.

I have known that our earth's magnetic poles do shift from time to time; I have purposefully avoiding really getting a firm grasp of how that happens.  Trying to understand scientific stuff like that usually just makes me feel dumb.

Bernie happened to be chugging by with his second cup of coffee before commuting to work downstairs when I commented about the possibility that the birds were being affected by the magnetic poles shifting. I made the mistake of mentioning that I really don't understand how magnetic poles actually shift.

The earth clearly doesn't flop over...
Like do they shift after X number of years? 
After so many spins?
Does it just happen randomly?

(Now tell the truth...can you give a precise answers as to why the poles shift off the top of your head?)

Bernie managed to give me an answer that I sort of understand, using his hands to illustrate the point.  Seems that as the earth goes around the sun, the earth rotation and spin tips one end of the earth more towards the sun, then the other end more towards the sun, and that sets up the magnetic pull.

I think I get that.
So wouldn't that mean that the poles shift every year? 
And if that is the case, then why wouldn't birds be goofed up every year?More information was clearly needed.
 This site  from NASA was interesting.
I had no idea that there is one person who has a full time job keeping track of magnetic North.
(And wouldn't that make for a conversation stopper during party introductions?  "Oh my husband?  He travels around keeping track magnetic north for everyone.")

Some how it had also escaped me that magnetic North is in Canada. 
I always thought the North Pole was in the Arctic.
Right next to where Santa Claus and the Elves work and play.

(Canadians: Could one of you please figure out how to make magnetic North stop shifting around your country?  Put down the Molsons and get to work!)

Apparently the last time the poles reversed was 780,000 years ago.  Scientist can tell by checking out "the magnetism of ancient rocks".

Huh.  I thought all rocks were ancient.  Are there modern rocks out there?  I suppose volcanoes make new rocks but other than those, aren't all rocks made out of the original earth?

Scientists also reported that pole reversal happen about once every 300,000 years.  They are not sure if we are overdue for a reversal or not.

NASA included the pictures above to illustrate just how messy it can be when the poles reverse.
I'm thinking going on a hike with a compass would be a bad idea during a reversal.
NASA also added that when it happens, the Northern Lights will be seen in Tahiti.
How they can be sure of this fact, considering the last time it happened was, according to them,  780,000 years ago, is also mystery to me.

NASA isn't weighing in on the dead birds via pole shift or reversal idea.
Frankly, their website just made me even more confused than I was before.
I think I will just believe that Bernie, having passed several college classes in Magnetism, understands it and will inform me of any thing about it that I need to do something about.
Right now all that needs me to do something about is clearing up the Christmas stuff.
I just hope birds don't start falling from the sky around here.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Advent to Epiphany

Amaryllis were planted the first Sunday of Advent, and placed on our fireplace mantle along with a music box with Holy Family figurines atop. 
This year we would not have a Christmas tree (two baby kittens in the house, it was a carefully considered decision), instead we would enjoy cut greenery for scent and watch as the plants unfolded themselves to glorious full bloom.

The first two weeks there didn't seem like much to see happening in the shiny containers.
Then green nubs appeared.

The nubs lengthened daily.

One morning buds appeared!

I could see the rosy blush beneath the bud's sheaths.
We looked for hints that the buds would soon burst forth.

By Christmas Day one blossom had overcome its green wrapping.

What if the Christmas bud had been the final scene for our planting hopes?
It was a fine bud to be sure...

We celebrated The Baby.
We considered what it would have meant if The Baby in the Manger (or in Sukkah as I happen to believe...a word for which there is no English translation. I will let you do your own research on that.  Here's one writing to consider) was the final scene of the Christmas story.

The Twelve Days of Christmas gave us opportunity to consider the further unfolding of the Nativity story.
The horrific murdering of all the infant Jewish boys by Herod...
The Circumcision of Jesus
Anna and Simeon in the Temple
We thought about the conversations among the Shepherds after they came to see the Infant King.
How many people really knew what had happened in their midst?

More buds opened.
More parts of the story were considered over the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Today is Epiphany.  Some of the flowers are in full bloom.
Others are still opening...
A few are still hidden inside their green sheaths.

It has been weeks since the day the rough brown bulbs were buried in the potting soil.
My hope for flowers in winter has come to fruition, and I know there will be still more blooms to enjoy in the coming days.

Water and Light were all that was and is needed to make these flowers grow.

I think they have rewarded us well for our care.

(I will not add my meditative thoughts paralleling the flowers to the Liturgical season, or the Spreading of the Good News, or even the purpose of growth of the Christian soul.  I will say that watching the amaryllis grow between Advent to Epiphany was much more insightful for us than looking at our Christmas trees have ever been in the past.  Perhaps next year we will have both flowers and a tree.  Either way, this year's choice has been a good one for us.)

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Alike but different too: This morning's snowflakes and a total flake a few days ago .

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Monday, January 03, 2011

A Stark Beauty: New Years Eve and Day

This has pretty much been me after Christmas.
Outside adventures galore.  Camera at the ready to capture the memories and beauty of winter.

Even a humble hurricane fence looks special with dollops of fluffy snow tucked into the mesh.

The snow sticking to the branches overhead shifts glitter like down on me with every whisper of a breeze.

The occasional falls are actually fun.  Bernie saved the camera this time. I had handed it off to him after I did two face plants with the camera resting against my chest.

(Bernie's December "Calendar Boy" shot.)

The stream sounds different now that the ice is taking over.  We stopped several times just to listen.

This morning Bernie discovered that it is possible to take pictures in black and white with our camera.  I told him there really wasn't any point in switching; these pictures were all taken in color mode.

I get a thrill walking around in new untrodden snow!

The swirly pattern in the ice surprised me. I had always thought streams would freeze with crystal clear ice.

The bowed branches stayed down while we were walking. 
I've seen them suddenly fling off the snow and spring up when the sun hit.

Our path through the woods.

I'm not sure if that is me or B. 
We just kept handing the camera back and forth.
It was very, very cold on New Years Eve with snow flurries sparking on my glasses.
The hike was a wonderful way to close out the year.

New Years Day was sunny, and bitterly cold.  We drove up Big Cottonwood Canyon to Solitude Ski Resorts Nordic center, where we had experimented with cross country skiing.  This trip, Bernie skied and I snowshoed
Can you believe how deep the snow is flanking this road?

Overhead the trees loomed large against the blindingly bright sky.
Just looking up to take this picture almost made me fall over; the trees were so tall and the sun was so intense.

At the end of the road was this house sporting flags of several nations.
I wonder who lived there.  Was it just a vacation cabin or a year around home?
If they ever have an open house, I want to see inside it.

Shadows are wonderful on fresh snowfall.  That lavender blue shade is fantastic; I don't think it was a color to be found even in the super big crayon box.

I did mention that it was bitterly cold, didn't I?
10 F.
Read it and weep.
I did...the cold had made my eyes water constantly!

Funny how you can't really tell how cold something really is just by looking at a picture.

I will also note that while it was cold in the sunshine, any pause in the shade made the cold penetrate even my thickest snow gear.
If there had been wind...well, the above picture would not have looked nearly as uniform. 
Also I would not have been out there to take the pictures either.
(I just hate wind.  Sitting on a ski lift with wind whipping through my head gear, with my nose numb and my eyes frozen shut was one experience I hope never to repeat.)

It is absolutely maddening that Big Cottonwood Canyon has mostly "No Parking or Standing at any time" signs up at all the places I want to photograph.
Bernie found a place or two to pull over so I could get pictures were just too good to pass up.

Gorgeous, no?

The icicles were amazing.  I was using my point and shoot camera zoomed out and no tripod.  Boy would I have liked the luxury to do a closer shot of this scene, but there was no safe way to get there.

The "close at hand" shots were pretty nice though.

I really wanted to get closer to the river so we found a place where we could park and snowshoe in closer to the water's edge.

That is Bernie up ahead.  When I caught up to him he also commented that it was friggin' cold!

The shale's colors were wondrous.

The starkness of the trees growing out the side of such rugged landscape...

How do they do it? 

Oh to see this in sunlight, wet, at sunset...

A stark beauty to ponder on New Years Day.