The Stars at Night

It’s a little unusual, but I actually love flying either very early in the morning (pre-dawn) or at night. I think part of the reason is because the dark seems like a comforting blanket wrapped around the plane. The breathtaking daytime vision of floating through the clouds is replaced by deep and wonderful silence.

The part I especially love on these flights, when I happen to have a window seat, is the blanket of star light…from below. I know I shouldn’t love the lights of civilization. I should be against all of the light pollution stealing the show from the natural stars. But there’s something amazing about gazing out over that sea of sparkling colors. I love the brightness. I love the intricate and indiscernible patterns. I love that if you stare at the yellow lights for long enough without blinking, some trick of your eyes will turn the lights a midrange violet.

I learned that last one on my last night flight. It was a pleasant surprise. I think I’ll test it out on my next night flight.

Back in the days before laser vision correction, I could take off my glasses and see a whole different field of stars. Every light – street lights, lamp light, candlelight – was transformed. If you imagine a light in its pointed roundness, every light under the influence of my inadequate eyesight exploded from a simple point into a radiant ball, the colors of all the lights on the road spilling into and over one another. It’s the one thing I miss from that period in the life of my vision.

I have a night flight in a few days. I’m smiling now thinking about my window seat.

Backyard Zoo, Part Two

Our neighborhood has a number of sandhill cranes that wander through on pretty much a daily basis. In fact, our general area has so many cranes loitering around, I’m surprised they’re considered endangered. In the spring, our resident pair gave birth to two wonderful, fuzzy chicks. Months later, the tall and elegant foursome make the rounds along our pond looking for the day’s meal.

20110926-210135.jpgThis is a picture of one of the family. At this point, the chicks are now full grown, so I couldn’t tell you which crane this is. He spent the better part of the day hanging around in our yard, with at least 30 minutes of it staring in our sliding glass door. He was generally unperturbed that we came close to our side of the window to stare. Having seen the way people can become mesmerized by TV, I almost felt like we were an exciting storyline on bird daytime television. It was fun!

I’ve been thinking ahead to next spring, when our crane family expands again. Will the now-grown chicks bring their crane spouses and little ones to join their parents at our pond? I wonder how many cranes our pond can support! If we get enough, maybe we should open a crane sanctuary and rival our local “animal-themed” parks…


Bumper Bowling

Mr. GreatWeirdness and I took our little weirdnesses to the bowling alley on a Saturday afternoon. It was their first time. It’s been a number of years since my last time in one. Our local bowling alley used to be a real “dive” in all its bowling alley glory – a thick haze of smoke hanging in the air, shoes that had probably been worn by no less than 49,500 people wearing their sweatiest and smelliest socks, a sketchy pool table area in the dark back corner, a somewhat haggard individual working the register and the shoe counter.

I find I experience a real nostalgia when I think about it, which seems a little odd as a non-smoker and a pretty borderline bowler. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a relatively small town where bowling was one of the few options for things to do. Maybe it’s because my great-aunt worked in a bowling alley up until recently and she’s in, I think, her eighties now and always struck me as delightfully proper in her Canadian-ness…which just seems great to me in my bowling alley vision.

20110926-210517.jpgFor my girls’ sake, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that our old bowling alley had clearly been renovated. It was clean. The shoes didn’t seem over-used. And did you know thy have digital bumpers now? No more major hassle to get them in place and everyone playing a bumpered game. They can actually have them pop up and down just when it’s your child’s turn. Crazy times!

While our littlest wasn’t quite ready to pick up a ball, she had a great time cheering us on. And our oldest did such a good job at playing and not getting frustrated when she couldn’t get it perfect. I can say with confidence that the GreatWeirdness family will definitely be bowling again. Put on a pair of bowling shoes lately?


When You’re Smilin’

Recently, a friend of mine was letting me flip through a book on her desk that was a reminder of some of her past experiences overseas. The book, full of colorful pictures and natural wonder, was a cultural feast in and of itself. However, there was one picture that sticks in my mind still, while the rest has generally retreated into my subconscious.

The picture was of an elderly woman. Wrinkled, grey-haired, stooped, like most pictures of the elderly. A pipe of some sort dangled from her lips. A little less usual in my cultural context, but not noteworthy. But the enormous grin on her face… It was wonderful. It was exhilarating. It was beautiful. I can still see it clearly in my mind.

How wonderful to have people think of pure joy when they think of your face! There are lots of ways to be remembered, many of them good. I’d like this to be one of the ways I’m remembered. Happy to the core.

Sitting in the Big Girl Chair

Do you remember being a kid in walking into a restaurant or a fast food place where they had the tall chairs and tables? I think they call them pub tables, although they have them at Subway…and further, it doesn’t seem particularly safe to have people at a pub sitting up on tall chairs.

I always wanted to sit in those chairs. My memory of them as a kid is from McDonald’s. There was something incredible about getting to sit in those chairs. It was like a special treat. “I’m sitting in a chair that’s extra tall, and my feet are dangling, and I’m taller than everyone. Teehee!” (Remember, I’m a little girl in this example. I almost never use “teehee” nowadays.).

Now, as an adult, I find I still gravitate towards those chairs when I see a chance to use one. It doesn’t have the same impact. Maybe it’s because I’m now so much bigger in relation to the chair? So, I want to make sure my girls get to sit in those chairs when they want to when we go out, since I know the experience will only last a limited time for them.

I think if they made a super-tall pub stool, more proportionate to my adult size in relation to the way they were when I was a kid, I think I might find it exciting to sit in them again. And I might even “teehee,” just a little.

Turning off the Email Torture

Let’s see if you recognize this experience. You wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of a persistent buzzing. It’s pitch dark. You can’t see your hand in front of your face. You feel something brush against your skin. Suddenly, your anxiety is up sky high, because there’s a mosquito in your bedroom looking for a taste of you and you’ll never find her before she finds you. You swat around in the dark. You contemplate hiding all of your exposed flesh under the covers, but abandon that plan quickly because it’s just way too hot and sweaty under there for that.

But I digress…

The whole purpose in this exercise was to get your blood pumping just thinking about this example, because I discovered something else that has this effect on me. It sneaks up on me in the night, raises my stress because I feel helpless against it, never knowing when it will strike. But this time, I’m taking action. I’m not going to lie in helpless wait. I’ve taken real action against this menace.

I turned off the notifications on my phone that tell me I have new email. No more gentle bongs alerting me to my growing inbox. No more vibrations shaking the table to get my attention. When I started realizing how physically impacted I was by just the knowledge that I had gotten yet another email, I realized this couldn’t possible be healthy, so I turned it off. Sure, I’ll still see the number of new email when I visually look at my phone. I just wont be jolted by its presence (or seductively called to check it in the middle of something else) anymore.

I feel better already.

Humming Fantasia

While I was in the airport on Monday, a man passed me pushing his (daughter? son? I couldn’t see) in a stroller.  He was on a mission, obviously trying to get them to their gate with a great deal of focus.  Which was just like everyone else wandering around the concourse, except…he was humming that song from Fantasia.  You know the one.  The one where the brooms dance.

Ba-da-ba-dum-de-dum-de-doodoodoo-dum-de-dum….yeah, that’s it.

What a funny thing to be humming as you make your way through the airport!  And then, I thought of how motivational the song really is for walking.  It encourages a focused, quick-paced forward motion.  It made me wonder if we should pipe it in for the whole airport.  Can you imagine going through the security line, all bopping our way through the metal detector with the TSA agents waving their wands in time?  That would make security a lot more fun!

In case you need a taste today:  Paul Dukas – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Video, listening & stats at