Once in a Blue …

Two full moons this October. Watch the sky next week for the second one.

Stay alert for the short people in costumes out begging for treats by the light of the moon.

But the real question of this blog — have you seen a blue moose?

My brother and I were on vacation. This was the road trip on which I would finally “set foot in” the 49th and 50th states. The plan, actually not formulated until the turn of the century, already had at least thirty accomplished by then. So I set out to include one, two, or three “new” states on each vacation. And in the very last one–soon after crossing the border– we found…

I never said it was an “alive” moose. But isn’t he a jaunty greeter? Exactly the sort of moose I feel safe walking up to and giving a pat on the nose.

Enjoy the blue moon! And the blue moose!

Wet Celebration

Americans enjoy a good birthday party. We get to sing. Yes, laughter often follows. A birthday spanking equaled the number of years celebrated plus “one to grown on”. Little children (and sometimes big ones) play games. Cards and gifts are usually involved. And food — don’t forget the food!

Cake has become traditional. Often it’s served with a side of ice cream.

Our family didn’t get grand on the birthday celebrations. But I do remember a few. One time my brother wanted a three-tier cake. By using round cake pans of two sizes, plus putting a pottery bowl to use as a cake pan — my mother filled the order. Oh — and red frosting — that particular cake had red frosting.

Several decades later– I happened upon another birthday celebration.

This one was at the Georgia Aquarium, in honor of one of the California sea otters. He didn’t get a red, three tiered cake. Or my personal favorite — angel food.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Otter! May all your days be splashed full of fun!

Spooky Fun

A sunny, crisp day in fall can contain a lot of fun.

Imagine the swish of leaves as you walk under a tree. The sight of a lone maple in all it’s golden or red glory. The scent of charcoal from one of the last bar-b-que’s of the season.

Or perhaps you prefer the sound of children playing games. Or gathered around a fire pit telling the latest in ghost stories.

In an October past, these figures gathered around a tree at the zoo for a dancing good time.

Home, Sweet Home

Walking in the door after an absence is a special feeling. Depending on the length and reason for going– coming home varies in sweetness.

Certain trips I wanted to extend and it wasn’t until near my home that I pulled by thoughts from recent past to present and future. Other times I’ve been eager to return almost as soon as I walked out the door — think medical appointments.

Every trip home makes the hive sweeter. These small residents at Missouri Botanical Garden savor spring, summer, and fall blossoms.

Journey Prep

Things to do before you leave your home.

Well — preparations vary by age and species.

As an adult human, I need to consider the length of time away, mode of travel, and my companions. Often it involves packing extra clothes in a bag, my laptop, and a bag of drinks and snacks.

When I was a child, my preparation for a trip was simple. Follow mother’s directions. I’m sure it varied by age — did I have my “blanket” on that first trip? We planned clothes and did laundry close to departure when I was older.

Pets have it easy. Eat and potty when given a chance. Sleep or look out the window on a road trip.

Wildlife: eat, follow the group.

This Monarch butterfly is feasting before flying on the annual migration.

Patient Example

My friends and acquaintances are in agreement. This year, 2020, is one they do not want to repeat — ever!

A great many changes have been forced on us. A few are simple — use the bank drive-thru. Some are more complicated — make appointment, wear mask, wait outside at the beauty parlor. We hope some are temporary — limits on size of indoor groups. Others will be long-term — wear mask in public.

Change is difficult. It requires a person to be patient — with themselves and also the people around them. Perhaps you are in a position where you need to explain the new rules – again — and again — and again. You expect you will mumble them in your sleep they are carving such a deep path in your brain.

Be patient. Let the good things come your way. Consider this fine fellow — I don’t usually think of bears as patient — waiting for breakfast, lunch, or dinner — to come swimming upstream.

Active Fingers

Busy fingers make happy hands. Keep your mind active. Read. Write. Work math or word puzzles.

Or…

Early this year — when Covid 19 was first getting an official name and riding airplanes and ships throughout the world — I decided to work jigsaw puzzles. My goal was to keep my fingers busy with puzzle pieces instead of food while watching evening TV.

Months later — results are mixed. Lots of puzzles have been worked. Some I owned, a couple I checked out from the library, and a timely gift of dozens of used ones filled some boxes.

Did I stop eating? No.

Gain weight? Not much.

Enjoy the challenge? Definitely!

Hope or Fear

What’s on the other side of the door?

Will the events or items inside feed your inner optimist? Or will they feed the downward spiral of your thoughts and turn you into at least a temporary pessimist?

Can you tell by the door’s appearance?

These mid-20th century doors could do both. They happen to be the main entrance to the campus science hall. The building was almost a second home — right behind my dorm room in hours spent within the walls.

Some days, at at least a class or two, were delightful. My attitude and abilities fit with my major. Other days– not so much. How did I do on that quiz? Why doesn’t the sugar crystalize? Do I care which direction the electrons flow?

Do you have similar doors in your life? Does your experience run more to unexpected pleasure or disappointment?

Open with Caution

CAREFUL — you might learn something!

Did either of your parents issue that warning? It was usually my dad who voiced it at our house. Often it was half a joke when you were doing some practical task for the first time.

Learning can be very hands on.

When I was eight or nine, we had just a few milk cows (just getting started) and mother asked me to whip some cream to put on our dessert. So I used the electric mixer and whipped away. Is it done? No. Now? No. How about now? Keep going and you’ll have butter.  Lesson: if you go past soft peaks too far, you’ll get to butter. (This may not work with homogenized and pasteurized products.)

Or it can me all mental. Think of what you’ve learned about ancient Egypt — I’ll guess much of it has been from books. Perhaps some in conversation, lectures, or movies.

Careful!

You might learn something beyond the library door.

 

Downbound

The great inland waterways of the United States don’t get a lot of national press. Due to the area in which I grew up plus the region I have called home for several decades — I’ve always been aware of them. More exactly: the Mississippi River barge traffic.

Locks and dams enable the upper portion of the river to stay open by keeping the water level at or above nine (9) feet. Yes, it seems amazing that huge, heavy barges and the tows which push them require water only nine feet deep. I’m sure physics is involved. Understanding the fine points of buoyancy was not my best science topic.

The pilots on the tows need to be alert and capable. They also need to be trained. Have you ever thought about what sort of education is involved in some of the very specialized occupations?

I had one of those “of course” moments a few years ago on vacation in Paducah, KY. Located on the Ohio River near the junction with the Mississippi — it makes perfect sense for a river pilots to have a training facility.

Paducah celebrates modern river pilots on their flood wall mural.