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I grew up in a time when going to the moon was still a novelty. So new, in fact, that if you had asked other kids in my class what they wanted to be when they grew up, at least a handful would have said, “An astronaut.” (Not me, of course; I always wanted to an author.)

I did get interested in astronomy, though … eventually: in fifth grade, when Miss Kull told us — all full of the enthusiasm that only aerobics instructors and certain elementary teachers can muster — that if we went outside, about an hour after sunset, we could see Jupiter in the Eastern sky. (At least I think it was the Eastern sky; that’s the direction I looked, anyway, and I’m pretty sure I remember seeing a “star” that was distinctly brighter than the rest. And it wasn’t twinkling!)

Miss Kull also told us about a lunar eclipse that was coming up, and I made sure to watch for that, too. I learned all the planets, in order: Mary Very Easily Makes Jam. SUN spells “sun,” and Pluto’s all alone. (In case you forgot: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto — the since-banished planet.)

I’ve been watching the sky — albeit with frequent distractions — every since.

As an astronomer, however, I have proven, this month, to be an abject failure.

First there were the Perseid meteor showers that took place a few weeks ago. Perfect viewing conditions, experts said, for the night that was supposed to have the highest level of activity: few clouds and no moon, making for a dark sky — allowing the meteors to be even more visible.

I slept right through it.

When I read about the full lunar eclipse that was to occur this morning, I was determined not to miss it. In fact, I was hoping to photograph the event, too. I figured I could set up the mini-tripod, maybe even take some time-lapse photos; I even hauled out my “film” camera for the first time in I-can’t-remember-when!

I shot some photos of the almost-full moon early in the evening, just for practice. Then I went about my usual Monday-night activities: Watching The Closer and Saving Grace, in-between coverage of the U.S. Open (normally, I’d be watching a baseball game or two, also). I was pleased to discover several rolls of film — including some 400 and 800 speed — in my Tamrac bag, but the battery in the trusty Canon Elan II EOS was just about to flat-line. After Grace, I drug myself to Wally World to get a new battery; when I returned, I watched the end of Cold Case and headed to bed shortly after 11 p.m. I set my usual alarm for 6:30 a.m. and the second for 5 a.m., which I figured would give me plenty of time to watch the eclipse — even if I had to drive over to the road by the airport (I had no idea exactly where in the sky the moon would be at that time).

I wasn’t thrilled by the notion of getting up at 5, but what the heck? I’ll still get a good six hours of sleep, I told myself.

And then I proceeded to toss. And turn. And wonder about such useless topics as the price of hamburger (and bubble gum!) in India. Before I knew it, I glanced over at the clock and saw that it was already after midnight!

I should take some NyQuil, I thought. That’ll knock me out.

No, you can’t take NyQuil just because you can’t get to sleep, I reasoned.

I lay there for a few more minutes.

You know, those mosquito bites on my legs are really itching, I thought. I really should take some Benadryl!

With that, I was up and off to the bathroom to find my over-the-counter allergy-relief medicine; you know, the one that (temporarily, at least) puts me out of my misery every time I get poison ivy.

In a few minutes, I was unconscious. Until just before 5 a.m., at which point I awakened as if I’d been catapulted against a brick wall.

Groggily, I grabbed my glasses and put them on, staggered out of bed, slipped on my shoes, gathered up my cameras and went outside.

There, to the south and west, was the moon in the midst of a full lunar eclipse. It was perfectly round and kind of a dusty maroon, with just a hint of yellow. In my half-still-asleep state, I tried to snap a few photos with both cameras, but I could tell there was no way I was going to be able to get enough light for a decent picture. And, naturally, thanks to my overall lack of preparation, I had forgotten about the possibility of setting up my tripod.

This is the best I could come up with … and it, to paraphrase Napoleon Dynamite, is pretty much the worse lunar eclipse photo ever:

Eclipse?

(The blur effect should not be interpreted as actual movement on the part of the fully eclipsed moon; it is mostly the result of my [digital] camera shooting at a speed of about half a second [or more] and my inability to hold the camera too steady.)

I stared at the moon with half-shut eyes for a few minutes, and then I decided to go back to bed. I can come back out in 20 minutes or so and see what the moon’s doing then, I told myself.

I collapsed onto my bed and wrapped myself in my covers — and did not get up again until 6:20 a.m., by which time the eclipse had undoubtedly ended and the moon had already set.

I decided that I do, indeed, occasionally feel the pull of the moon; however, it sometimes doesn’t compare to the lure of a warm bed!

So, sometime during the nighttime/early morning hours, I dream I am eating a banana … or, actually, I take a bite of a banana, but it doesn’t taste right, so I try to dispose of it … then, this morning, I go to Wal-Mart, and when I return to my car, I see, lying on the pavement next to my car door, a BANANA, still mostly in its peel, with what appears to be a bite out of it!

What a pleasant surprise to wake up (kinda early, but not really) on a dreary, rainy Saturday morning to find one of my favorite movies, Love Actually, playing on USA. Even if it’s sort of a Christmas movie, and it’s not yet enough of a favorite that I already know all the key lines or whatever.

And maybe I’ve said it before, but the scene in which Karen (Emma Thompson) reacts to receiving the Joni Mitchell CD is so perfectly right on and devastating … damn. Really, though, I really really like the entire film. Especially Alan Rickman. And Bill Nighy. And all those other Brits … including the guy who loves Juliet (Keira Knightley) but realizes there’s pretty much absolutely nothing he can do about it: “Enough. Enough now.”

Yuck, rain.

Yay, movies!

Today, for whatever reason, I wake up at 5 a.m. And I’m faced with a decision: Do I lie there for another hour and a half, hoping that I drift back to sleep (which doesn’t seem like an all-too-likely occurrence), or do I get out of bed and watch TV to find out if The Lovely has school today?

I get up, and the oh-so-graphically appealing white-on-pea green scroll at the bottom of the aforementioned (in a previous post, I just know it!) channel passes by, with school closings listed in alphabetical order. I watch, patiently, until the N’s come up … then the O’s … the P’s (yeah, yeah, I know we’ve all got pretty good handle on the alphabet) … and then the R’s … and, yes, indeedy, school is OUT today! (Yes, I realize I skipped the Q’s, but only because there were none.)

I wake her ass up — and, truthfully, I don’t feel too bad about it because, hmm, some of us DO have to work, regardless. Then I shower and dress extra-warm (I got on a pair of extra-long silky-mesh shorts under these jeans, so if my ass looks extra-large today: Get over it!) and feed the cat(s) and head out to the car, armed with a gallon of hot water. (OK, I realize the experts say, “Don’t!” — but it works for me, so back off.)

The door opens rather easily. The windows aren’t too caked with ice and snow, either, and I can’t help noticing that the clouds are trying to make way for a semi-sunny day. Which makes me feel better, somehow.

I look to the southeast and see a sliver of moon drifting in and out of wispy gray clouds. I think of Patti because she likes moonsets. Or moonrises. Whichever this is.

August 2017
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