Wednesday, December 29, 2010


What is the shape of a drop of water?
If you Google that question, you'll find a Wikipedia answer
with much more information than most people will ever need.
Farther down the search page, the same question is posed 
by a nine-year-old to Bob Trach of Argonne National Laboratories
in a series called, "Ask a Scientist."  His answer is more my speed.

Contrary to popular misconception
a free-falling raindrop is not shaped like a teardrop--
round on the bottom and pointy on the top.

If the falling drip is small enough, it is a perfect sphere.
A sphere is the geometrical shape that has
the smallest surface for its volume.
The drop takes this shape because water molecules
tend to stick to each other.  So, when not confined by a container,
and with nothing around it to distort its shape,
a very tiny water drop is perfectly round like a ball
because the water molecules are pulling inward toward each other.

If the drop is larger like a raindrop in free-fall,
it has a domed top and a semi-flattened bottom
because as it falls it must push the air out of it's way.

Photos taken recently through my window 
during a rare sunny day with temperatures above freezing.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Greetings to my blogger friends!  
Your posts fill my days with fun and friendship.
Some blogs I just read and enjoy.  On others I leave comments.
Many have been kind enough to visit and comment here.
Your stories and photos are gifts to me from all over the world.

Sometimes I even receive more than comments!

My friend Anairam in South Africa sent me a card bearing Christmas greetings 
and a portrait by Agnolo Bronzino.  It is so fun to see Anairam's handwriting 
and to note the festive embellishments of red glitter put there by her hand.

Linda Sue from north Puget Sound sent me a whole box of goodies.
One item was a new set of words for my magnetic poetry collection.
Putting the intimidating words to work was a formidable challenge.
With dictionary in hand I produced the following.

I don't know if it makes any sense,
 but it looks rather flamboyant and ostentatious
don't you think?

The final line is stolen/borrowed from another blogger friend
who is presently trying to keep her head above water 
during unprecedented flooding in Queensland, Australia.
Thanks and best wishes to Bush Babe.
Be sure to check out her astounding photos of their bridge going under.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


No work on Friday so I waited until sunrise to go for a walk.

The path by the river had been cleared once,
 but the snow was deep enough to record the passing of...


and deer.

These are probably skunk tracks.  They're bigger 
than domestic cat tracks with five toes and there are marks from the claws.
My tracks at the bottom.  Love those snow cleats.

These are house cat tracks.

Smaller, four toes, no claw marks.

BIG dog tracks.  Probably weren't left at the same time
as the cat tracks since the cat was walking at the time.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


We've had a wonderful holiday.  
But I think I've overdosed on chocolate.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Silver Lake looks like this right now.

It looks like this in July.

In July it's a home for many waterfowl and a favorite fishing place for pelicans.

It is surrounded by lush meadows...

...full of wild flowers.

Large animals such as moose, deer and bear live there in spite of many human visitors.

In the winter the animals leave their tracks in the billowing snow.

Ducks, geese and swans feed along the Henry's Fork of the Snake River.

Visitors can cross-country ski in the winter; or hike or ride horses in the summer along the trails.

The Railroad Ranch, part of Harriman State park--once a cattle ranch and retreat for the wealthy.
 The property was gifted to the state of Idaho by the Harriman family in 1977. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I took my camera and my cross-country skis
 to visit the big trumpeter swans.
  Sometimes you see animals act a lot like people.

 Here we see Mr. and Mrs. Trumpeter going for a walk.

 Mrs. T. thinks they need to go for a swim and maybe 
find some yummy organic moss on the bottom of the river to eat.

Mr. T. is not too keen on the idea.  That is ICE water after all.

 Mrs. T. is getting a drink of that cold water while her
guy is just shaking his head.

 She is telling him how it's not so bad and, anyway, he needs the exercise.

He walks up and down along the edge of the ice.

 You can almost hear him say, "FINE!" or something even stronger.

 He dips in one big foot after the other.

 (Grumble, grumble, grumble)

"My feet are cold!"  "Oh, you're fine.  Keep swimming."

Monday, December 20, 2010


In a vacant lot near where I work is a world globe made from a large iron mooring buoy.
  It is mounted on a trailer and was used at some time as part of a parade float. 
 Now it tells the weather.
  When there is a glare on it--the weather is sunny.
  When it's wet--the weather is rainy.  
When it's tipped over--the day is a bit breezy. 

 Right now it looks like this.

I think it's pretty accurate, don't you?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The gas gauge on my car was reading empty, but I’d made it to the end of the week and payday.  I decided to take a few minutes on my lunch break to fuel up my car at the station across the street from work.

The station has three islands with two pumps on each.  Usually there are only three or four cars being filled at any one time. 

This time ALL the pumps were busy with more drivers waiting for a turn.  
FINE.  I’d just get in line behind the nearest car.  But wait…

 All the cars in line had tank doors on the left side.

My tank door is on the right.  This meant I’d have to approach the pump from the opposite direction.  If I pulled forward too close I’d be in the way of the car at the pump.

 When the car I was waiting for pulled away; another car behind it took its place.

 How was I going to fill my car?  And why was there such a crowd at the gas station?  Oh, yeah.  Thousands of students at the university were finishing up final exams and leaving for the Christmas break.

Sure enough, every car was stuffed to the windows with suitcases, small appliances, weasels, badgers, bicycles, guitars, snow boards, computers and pillows. Okay, I’m not absolutely positive about the weasels and badgers. 

 Gum chewing co-eds wearing painted-on pants were casually pumping gas with one hand and talking on their cell phones with the other.  I was pretty sure every service station in town would have the same crowd.

 Desperate times call for desperate measures.  I pulled in behind the nearest car, even though my tank door would be on the wrong side.

Knowing the hose might not fit across my car, I drove in as close to the pump as possible, but still forward enough that I could open my door and get out.  Fortunately, my car was small enough to make it work. 

Now I’m thinking about sending off a note to Subaru to ask them WHY??  Why would they put the gas tank door on the wrong side? 

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Most of my life I’ve lived in the Northwestern United States.
  On any clear night in the summer I can look to the 
southern horizon and see the constellation Scorpio.

I’m no expert on astronomy, but it’s fairly easy to pick out 
the big hook of its tail and the bright star Antares that marks the head.

In 2007 I traveled with a group to Southern Peru.  While we were there we visited a planetarium. We learned a little about how the ancient people of that part of the world studied the stars and planets and incorporated the night skies into their legends and navigation.

After the program the instructor went outside with us and pointed out the Southern Cross.

For people of the Northern Hemisphere this was a new and amazing sight.  Then I asked her to locate my old friend Scorpio.  She directed my eyes to a place straight overhead.  It was astonishing to see it so out of place. 

At this time of year, if I go for a walk in the morning it has to be in the dark.  Here in December sunrise doesn’t happen until after seven a.m.   A day or so ago the usual cloud cover was gone and the pre-dawn sky was the color of ultramarine blue, fresh out of the tube. 

Venus was so bright in the southeast 
that it looked like an incoming airplane’s landing lights.

I stopped to gawk at the brilliance of the winter sky 
and felt that same feeling of shock to see …

…the big dipper, normally riding along just above the northern horizon,
 now directly overhead.