Messing about.

We headed to the lake yesterday for a mid-week overnight anchorage in one of our favorite coves.  We had a nice, long, light sail up the river and back for several hours before we anchored in the cove for the night, grilling dinner off the stern under a colorful sunset.

IMG_0963Then, after listening to our neighbor (motor) boat in the cove playing non-stop, loud, expletive-laced music for several hours, just 100 feet away from us, we opted for a lovely moonlit sail back to our slip.

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In the morning we decided to drive upriver to where Cupholder is docked for a daysail up to MM 48 and back.

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The winds were light, but cooperative.  The motor boaters were few.  It was lovely.  After we got back to our private dock we let it out a bit in anticipation of the lake levels continuing to fall.

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Two nice days on the lake.  Sa-weet.  I’ll leave you with this quote from Wind in the Willows:

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing… about in boats — or with boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not. ”

Yep.

 

 

Sometimes…

I toted my camera and tripod to an overlook above Lake Travis last night to try to get a better photo of the Comet NEOWISE.   Again, I was not able to spy it by eye or binoculars, but I did get some more underwhelming long exposure shots of it.  It is getting very dim.  I took exposures ranging from 10 seconds to about 1 minute.  Still no stunning captures.  No matter, I stayed out there for over 2 hours, enjoying the views.

This is a view about 30 minutes after sunset, with Sometimes Island in the foreground.  The lake level is 668′.  Windy Point juts in from the right; the Austin Yacht Club on the left shore beyond that; and you can even see Starnes Island way back there, if you look closely.

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My second attempt at capturing NEOWISE.  Sadly, these are the best shots of the night.

A 10-second exposure, about an hour after sunset; very faint:

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A 25-second exposure about an hour and 45 minutes after sunset:

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And just because… a 10-second exposure of the big dipper, on the left, pointing towards the North Star on the right side of the shot:

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Cheers!

My first ever comet photo.

I have been waiting for an opportunity to see the Comet NEOWISE since I heard about it at the beginning of July.  When it was visible over the pre-dawn, northeast horizon last week, the sky Austin was overcast.  This week it is supposed to be visible after sunset.

Last night the sky was clear, so I grabbed my binoculars and camera and headed out to try to find a vantage point looking to the northwest horizon.  I found a parking garage that I thought might provide a view.   Since it was in the midst of Austin’s bright city lights, “visible” wouldn’t mean visible to the naked eye.   I was not able to sight it in my binoculars, either.  Instead, I took a number of shots using long exposure pointing at different areas of the sky in the general direction of where NEOWISE was supposed to be.  I did capture it in several photos.  Here’s the best one:

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It’s definitely not NatGeo material, but I was excited to get it.   If conditions allow, I may try again.   If so, I’m hoping that my experience from last night will help me get a better picture.

 

Sweetness in the mailbox.

Monte and I have enjoyed joining his sister’s family zoom sessions.  Her adult kids and young grandkids live in 3 different cities.  They all join.  We join when we can.  It’s special.

Last week my great-niece, Adelle, showed everyone one her latest project, making bracelets out of colorful rubber bands.  We all asked for one of our own, and little Adelle delivered!  They arrived in the mail today.  I picked Seahawks colors, and I absolutely love it!

Thank You Adelle!

 

 

Twin antennas.

We cut the cord a few years back, and have been watching TV since then using over-the-air (OTA) antennas, which can pick up a number of local HD television broadcasts.  That, in addition to a few online streaming sources, works well for us.

We aren’t big TV watchers.  But, we do have a large TV in our game room.  And I have a small one in my office over the treadmill.  Last year Monte found a design online showing how to make an antenna that might give better reception than ones we’ve tried.   He made one for the big TV and christened it the HD3000.  It works great, much better than any of the others we’ve bought over the years, and it nearly doubled the local channels picked up.  I’ve been waiting patiently for mine, and this week Monte made one for my office TV.  We installed it up in the attic right next to the first one.  We simply screwed the coax cable from each antenna into the existing coax cable that was already run through the attic into the room of the TV to be connected.   It works great!  Now I can reliably tune in KXAN to watch the weather alerts during severe weather, which we’ve had much of, lately.  Yay!

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If you’d like to know how many (and which) channels you can receive where you live, check out this website:  antennaweb.org.

 

Garden surprise.

I noticed a new volunteer perennial in my pollinator patch a few months ago.  It stayed green and alive through our mild winter.   I didn’t know what it was.  A few weeks ago it started blooming and is thriving amongst the returning salvia, sage, purple coneflower, vinca, and scabiosa.  I finally took a good look and did some research and was tickled purple to find out that they are winecups (Callirhoe involucrata)!  I love winecups but find them very elusive in the sprawling fields of Central Texas wildflowers.  I’m glad they volunteered here in my garden.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe one small plant has exploded with 3 or so long branches that are creeping out through the garden, low to the ground.  The blooms roll up every night and reopen in the morning.  🙂  The bees enjoy them, too.

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Before and after.

I need a haircut!  But I’m enjoying that my hair is long enough to braid again.    Au natural is working out well during this shelter-in-place thing.  The picture on the left was taken about 2 1/2 years ago when I was still coloring my locks.

Quarantine meal.

We joined in the Becker Vineyards virtual wine tasting last night of their 2018 Cabernet-Syrah Reserve.   It sure went well with pizza!

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This might take a while.

I ordered a paint-by-number kit a month ago to help me pass the time in self-imposed quarantine.  It took a while but arrived today.   Perhaps I should have picked something smaller…  No matter, I will start tonight and take my time.  Wish me luck!  🙂

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In like a lion…

March 2020, in like a lion, out like a freaking atomic bomb.

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Usually one of my favorite months… ushering in Spring, wildflowers, bird migration, beautiful weather.   This year it brought so much more for us to deal with.  I’m looking ahead to better things.

Take care, everybody!

New tricks.

Social distancing is turning into social isolation. To keep my sanity, I’ve been trying to find new ways to play with old friends. Like making up new games to play on zoom video conferences and WhatsApp group chats. Here’s one: an endless game of “picture UNO.”

My sister is going to teach me how to play Settlers of Catan together using zoom video conferencing.

I found a surprisingly well done website for multi-player card games like pinochle; it’s called trickstercards.com. You can play in a browser or on a mobile device using their app. Tonight we played 4-handed pinochle with Doray and Tom from our respective bunkers.

Now I need to find one for cribbage.

Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Distantialism.

Distantialism; a word I made up to capture the way of life we have all been suddently asked to embrace due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Keeping in touch via technology:  We have been keeping to the house for the last week or so, even before the City of Austin declared a shelter-in-place order last night for the next 2-3 weeks.

I’ve been using video chat apps like zoom and skype to keep in touch with multiple groups of friends and family at a time.  Alternatives didn’t meet my needs; Facetime doesn’t run on non-Apple platforms, and WhatsApp only supports chats amongst 4 people at a time.

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My niece introduced me to the marco polo app, which I can only describe as a group texting app, except instead of just asynchronously texting eachother, you can send video clips to eachother which can be viewed by the recipient(s) at their leisure, and then subsequently responded to.  You can also use it for real-time communication, though, in which case, as my niece describes it, it works kind of like a video “walkie-talkie” where each person takes turns “talking” by sending small video clips.

Grocery shopping without going to the grocery store:  I have tried using our local grocery chain (HEB’s) delivery and curbside services.  I can’t say how that has gone, though, since the first delivery slot available when I placed my order 8 days ago, was for tomorrow.  So I get to wait another day and see what actually gets delivered.   Their curbside pickup/delivery timeslots are booked 10 days to two weeks ahead of time now, so I’m not sure how much more experience I’ll get with them.

I signed up for Shipt.com, in the hopes that I could schedule a much sooner grocery delivery.  The membership fee is about $99 for a year, or $15/month.  They had an opening for the next day, so I decided to try it out.   It actually worked well.  My shopper texted me when an item that I wanted wasn’t available, so I could pick a substitute from the available items.  There was a bit of a snag on the delivery end, but it all worked out in the end.  🙂

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Entertaining myself:  I’ve been taking walks in the neighborhood and nearby parks, streaming TV shows and movies, watching the many now live-streamed instead of in-person events, gardening, and whatever else my heart desires (that I can do in the confines of my house and/or yard).

I hope you are all faring well.  Take care.