Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Total eclipse roadtrip 2017

On Sunday, we drove to the mountains in western NC to view the total eclipse. We camped with friends on a hillside between Black Balsam Knob and Sam Knob. Here's a view from early Monday morning:

In the morning, C, S, and I hiked down into the meadow below our campsite...

...and then up Sam Knob to scope out the view, thinking it could be a good spot for all of us to watch the eclipse. There were already lots of people on Sam Knob--hiking up, hiking down, camping, picking huckleberries, setting up telescopes, and enjoying the views.

Then we hiked back down to the meadow, and around the knob to Flat Laurel creek.

There were already lots of people at Flat Laurel Creek, hiking east, hiking west, camping, picking huckleberries, setting up telescopes, and enjoying the views.

See the ukelele slung over the hiker's shoulder?

I asked him if he was heading up to Black Balsam Knob to join the band, and he looked at me like I was from outer space. There were already lots of people up near Black Balsam Knob, playing guitars and drums and smoking weed and otherwise preparing their spiritual musical selves for the eclipse. One of the vans parked in the lot had the Pink Floyd "Dark Side of the Moon" rainbow prism painted on it.

Ultimately, we decided the best spot for viewing the eclipse was our campsite. Here's a view of the easy little tent S and I shared. My, tent technology has changed since the six-person tenting days of my childhood. See that thing floating in the air in the top left corner of the photo?

That's a butterfly. They were plentiful, thanks to abundant thistle blossoms. To pass the time between hike and eclipse, I took a couple hundred photos of butterflies and bees. Here are a few:

Note the hovering bee!

Of course, because we recreational eclipse-watchers can't spend all of the time during an eclipse watching the eclipse, I took more photos of butterflies and bees during the eclipse too.

Traffic jam

My favorite

Here are some scenes from our eclipse-watching experience. It had been on-and-off cloudy most of the morning, and the eclipse started with clouds...

...but they cleared away about 30 minutes in, giving us excellent views.

As the eclipse neared totality, the clouds closed in--as though materializing from thin air.

I like to think that we were experiencing eclipse-induced weather--i.e. that the drop in temperature changed the dew point in our humid corner of the world. That would help me feel not quite as sad that we missed seeing the Sun's corona. (I sent a message to one of the local TV weather casters to ask if that could have been the case, and will update this post if he responds.)

Then, approaching totality:

And totality: sunset colors all around the horizon, and much glee among the many viewers on our hillside. We were near the northeast edge of the totality zone, so only had about 45 seconds of night-in-day, but what an amazing 45 seconds they were!


Post totality, we enjoyed the strange light and views of the crescent Sun through the clouds:

And then the butterflies, which had disappeared as the light left, were back:

Thanks for joining us, C, E, J, R, J, J, M, and Z!

(Camping with that many friends, one might expect the occasional conversation to get a little heated. I will simply leave this here--http://wadlstrumpf.blogspot.com/2015/07/puns-in-german.html--with a reminder that I will bake a cake--or Torte--there's a forthcoming Wadlstrumpf blog post about the difference--if one of those conversationalists can come up with a pun in German that's actually funny.)

Friday, June 2, 2017


Fang (formerly FindusBabyCatBiteyBeauDrJekyllandMrHyde) is turning into a schmusiger Kater.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sodium silicate

A few years ago, I played around a bit with sodium silicate on my pots and thought it looked "meh," so I didn't pursue it. Last month, I pulled out the congealing jarful so my class could experiment with it. Oh, what a difference a cake decorating comb makes! (I'm still feeling "meh" about the combination of sodium silicate + ravioli wheel, but will delay final judgment until the tests have been fired.)

White slip on ER

Blue slip on LL

Detail. SS was thinned with a little water; slip was heat-gunned for ease of SS application.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Because who has the time, right?

Back in 2010, I wrote about the News & Observer's coverage of Drive-thru Easter at two NC churches, and I proposed that the Chosen People keep pace with a Drive-thru Seder. That hasn't happened yet, as far as I know, but thanks to an N&O report on Drive-thru Ash Wednesday, I'm reminded that there are still 5.5 weeks for synagogues to prepare to keep up with the Joneses. "Next This year, within driving distance!"

(Revisiting those old blog posts, I am disappointed to discover that the online presence of newspaper articles is apparently less than seven years. That should teach me to write in more detail rather than rely on links, but I'm a slow learner, as this post attests.)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Fleeting camellias

This February, Durham set a new record for the greatest number of days over 80oF in the last 130 years. Our camellia bushes have responded by bursting into bloom--and then wilting in the blink of an eye. Below are some of this year's fleeting camellias, perched in non-fleeting double-walled camellia bowls.