Most years I post a summary of the previous 12 months here on Sheila365 – summarizing moments from fun trips, visits from friends and family, and other adventures and highlights from the year (like these summary posts from 2019 and 2018). Unfortunately, on this last day of 2020, there isn’t much to report, as COVID has curtailed most highlight-worthy moments.
Instead, today I went back and looked at my first post from the beginning of 2020. In that post, I included a picture of a beautiful sunrise that I took the previous year – as we were at the dawn of a new decade. I had to chuckle and shake my head reading this statement a year after I wrote it: “I’m not sure what the next ten years will bring, but I’m ready.” Well, I can now say that I was in NO WAY ready for what 2020 would bring.
BUT, I am still here, as are my loved ones, thank God. So, I am grateful, and I am simply trying to roll with it.
To end the year, I will just leave you with this, a picture of a beautiful post-sunset scene that I took at anchor in the Ashepoo River in South Carolina. Tomorrow is a new day.
We witnessed two momentous events over the weekend, each from many miles away.
We watched a livestream of the wedding of my nephew and his lovely new wife.
And we witnessed the rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the night sky. These 2 largest planets have not been this close since 1623, during Galileo’s lifetime. And they won’t be closer during my lifetime. To the naked eye, they appear to be a single point of light. We looked at the two planets through binoculars in the backyard. We also watched a livestream from the McDonald Observatory in west Texas, through their large telescopes. One could see the rings of Saturn, and several of Jupiter’s moons.
We have some talented musicians living in our neighborhood. They have taken to doing a driveway concert every couple of weeks. Sometimes classical. Sometimes jazz. We walked over tonight with a couple of chairs and enjoyed the ambiance for a bit. Very nice.
After a hard afternoon of yard work on Friday, Monte and I were sitting on the back patio enjoying a brewski. Keeto was out there with us in his cage (sans brewski). I caught a flash of blue at the bird feeder. It was a budgie! And a blue one at that.
It appears to be a young male. I didn’t see a band, and the wings don’t appear to be clipped, so I don’t know if it is wild or escaped. He didn’t stay long, but I saw him again Friday, several times on Saturday, and again this morning. I have named him Niño. 🙂 I will put a cage out to see if he wants to take shelter.
We are making more frequent trips to the lake lately to get a break from the endless 100 degree days we have here in Austin.
Last Sunday when we came home from the lake, we realized we were missing our styrofoam cooler. It’s not just any styrofoam cooler, though. It is a cylindrical bait bucket that’s been in Monte’s family as long as he can remember. And it has been along on all of our camping and boating adventures for the last 20+ years. It makes a great, compact ice bucket. As it has worn thin and broken over the years, Monte mends it with wood and epoxy. One day, I expect it will be all wood. It’s special.
We went back to the lake Tuesday but didn’t find it on the boat. So we sadly assumed it must have blown into the lake from the parking lot while we were loading the car. Monte added it to our Lost-shit Log of things we’ve lost in the lake.
We looked for it on lee shores as we sailed, but didn’t spot it. Returning to the marina Wednesday afternoon after anchoring out for the night, we learned it had been found and turned in to the office. Awesome!
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.
Then, 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.
In the morning we decided to drive upriver to where Cupholder is docked for a daysail up to MM 48 and back.
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.
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. ”
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.
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:
A 25-second exposure about an hour and 45 minutes after sunset:
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:
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:
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.
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!
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!
If you’d like to know how many (and which) channels you can receive where you live, check out this website: antennaweb.org.
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.
The 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.