Gazing up at the sky while reading the old texts one would not be amiss in believing that the stars never change. Indeed there are many who insist vehemently that the stars are eternal and unchanging. But the stars do indeed change, often quite visibly, sometimes within the span of a human lifetime.
One such star is L2 Puppis.
A bright star, one of the few naked eye variable stars that could be seen to fade and reappear without the aid of a telescope much like the far more famous stars Mira and Algol. On star charts the star is found prominently drawn at magnitude 4, buf if you attempt to locate it today you will not find it without the use of a telescope.
I first encountered this star quite recently while starhopping through southern Puppis with an 8″ telescope from the driveway. The chart showed two bright stars close together, L1 Pup and L2 Pup, while the view in the finder ‘scope showed only one bright star.
Owning a home is expensive as maintaining a house demands constant effort and expense. On the other hand owning a home is vastly cheaper if you can do many of your own repairs.
This comes to mind as I have recently encountered a couple folks who had no idea how to perform simple tasks like jumping a car or very basic household maintenance. Having grown up with tools in-hand this is a concept I have difficulty with. How do you get by? Do you always call a repairman or a tow truck?
One of these people is the tenant of a friend. Since Tom is no longer on island he sometimes asks me to look in on his old house, now a rental, just a few blocks away. A few weeks ago I got a call that the garage door was stuck open. Sure enough a broken belt on the garage door opener, I texted Tom and he arranged for a repairman a couple days later. In the meantime the lady renting did not understand why it did not work despite a drive belt hanging down in the middle of the garage. She had no idea how to even open or close the door without the garage door opener.
Contrasting this are the repairs I have done over this last weekend… Last week our garage door came to a grinding halt partially open. A loud clattering announced it would no longer move.
Lives are often measured by the great events that take place during our short spans of existence. Wars, revolutions, social movements, mark both the great saga of human history as well as our personal stories.
The COVID pandemic will certainly be such an event. An event with worldwide impact, so many changes, so many lost.
While the start of the pandemic was slow, the events unfolding over weeks and months, I can mark it’s end as today. At least in a personal sense. Today I received my second dose of the Moderna vaccine, a moment I will likely remember, a moment that forever marks my personal journey.
This pandemic is not done, with me or the world at large. The pandemic will still have impacts, and the deaths continue, years from now when I look back this moment is where I will likely consider it done, at least in a personal sense.
For much the last year Deb and I have lived quietly, marking time, staying home. Re-discovering the small joys in life… Cooking, gardening, spending time under the stars with a telescope.
Time to move on with life. The timing seems even more appropriate in that I start a new job on Monday. I can plan for events more than a few weeks away, even consider some travel further than the shores of this small island.
It may not be over, but in my life, in my mind, it is over.
We are now in the year 2021 by the Gregorian calendar used for much of the world. The celebrations are done, with the scars left by fireworks in our street now fading. We look forward to another year after the the stressful and destructive times of the last twelve months, a year that will loom large in memory for the remainder of our lives.
While the calendar now reads 2021, somehow 2020 seems to drag on. I feel that the remnants of 2020 will not truly be gone until January 20th, and maybe not even then. Perhaps later in the spring when vaccination programs end the viral rampage through our communities.
As we rebuild our lives and try to recover some sense of normality we might look back and try to understand the lessons taught by the year 2020. These lessons are both small and personal or large enough to threaten the foundations of our civilization. We have seen into ourselves and into those around us, the true nature of so much revealed by stress and argument.
Will these lessons be learned? Will things change? While we might be able to change ourselves for the better more easily than we can change our country, both need to be done.
While we plan for the coming year and move forward we rely on experience, something that 2020 was rich in. May you live in interesting times… The old curse that seems so applicable to the moment.
The labor day weekend project? Replacing a few more rotten boards in the lanai.
This has been an ongoing project for years, including a few more boards to replace this summer. Over the last few weeks I have replaced half a dozen boards in the lanai.
I write this as I wait for paint to dry. There are three more big gaps in the lanai waiting for new boards. Those boards have been cut to size, drilled, and are almost ready to screw into place. Deb bought me another box of decking screws last time she was in Kona, should have this done shortly.
Unfortunately the original builders scrimped a bit when building the lanai. No paint on the ends of the boards, no paint underneath, and no paint on the joists. Where the lanai is undercover that has not been a problem, where it is exposed to the weather that has resulted in a fair amount of damage.
Unlike the carpenters who did the original work, I am painting each board on all surfaces before installation. I also clean and paint the top edges of the joists underneath while they are exposed. This should slow down the damage due to exposure.
The last challenge is to get the gaps right. Much of the lanai is nicely spaced between the boards. There is a zone where the gaps are all wrong, the boards right against each other. This is also right where the drip line is from the roof and most of the damage is. The result is a lot of careful measurement and ripping the boards to get the gaps looking good again.
I have two or three more boards identified as needing replacement, but not in any great hurry. They can wait for another weekend. Just need to wait for the latest round of paint to dry and I can screw the next three boards into place.
Longtime readers will know that our household is ruled by cats. This means that some household chores have higher priority than others. One of the odd chores that has to be done every few years is re-wrapping the scratching pole with rope.
Yes, the cats use the pole, usually more than they use other soft surfaces around the house. The result is a shredded mess of sisal fiber hanging from the pole. Eventually it gets bad enough I just cut it away and re-wrap the pole in rope.
Conveniently a 50′ package of 1/2″ rope from the local hardware store neatly does the job. Just an hour spent cutting the old rope away, then wrapping the pole neatly with a drop of glue to secure the end down inside the tube… Done, with happy cats busily clawing away at the fresh rope.
Several hours without transportation. My vehicle is in the transmission shop for a checkout, have been having some rough shifts. Stranded for the morning without wheels in the old industrial area I had no intention of sitting in the shop’s waiting area for a few hours.
Just up the coast from the old industrial area is a large beach park. Called Old-A’s or Old Airport, it is the site of the original landing strip just north of town. Abandoned when the jet age rendered this airstrip far too small. The area was used for a while as a drag-strip, the old airport was eventually converted to a park. The old terminal building was renovated into a multi-use pavilion. The old runway is still there, now an enormous parking lot that fronts the rocky shoreline along one side and a community garden on the other.
In retrospect 2016 was not a bad year. I can look back on a collection of photographs that document my life. I am reminded of all the things that occurred in 2016, it is a set of good memories that deserve to be remembered well…