Tomatoes and True Love

According to Guy Clark, there’s only two things that money can’t buy, that’s true love and home grown tomatoes. What would life be without them? The song was released in 1983 by Clark and also popularized by John Denver in 1988 on his album Higher Ground.

The tomato plants in my garden are doing well this year. The cherry tomatoes are ripening now. They are so good in a salad or just popped in the mouth right after picking off the vine. The larger sized tomatoes are still green but growing in size. There are lots of them. We should be feasting and freezing the extras by August.

Sixteen years ago, I didn’t have a garden. We stopped at the local farm stand for produce. One day, I was in a different part of town and noticed a farm stand advertising home grown tomatoes. It was the first stand I’d seen that season with them available. I made a quick turn and stopped to look. They did look delicious, all plump and red. I asked if they were actually locally grown. He assured me they were and even named the town. I bought a few. It was August 3rd.

We used them in salads and sliced them on buttered toast. They seemed a bit firm and lacking in flavor. You know me. I am a science teacher. I felt an experiment was in order. We saved the last tomato for the trial. I wrote the date of August 3rd on the skin of the still firm tomato and set it on the window sill.

Weeks went by. There was no evidence of change in that tomato. Two months went by with still no change. By late October, we were afraid to cut into it. But, it still seemed firm and ok. Finally, on November 3rd, it showed signs of getting soft inside. I marked the calendar, took its picture, then threw it away. We were certain it was not a locally grown tomato.

Hovercraft | Homemade

Would you like to ride on a nearly friction-free vehicle? You can make one with some plywood, plastic sheeting, duct tape, blower, and basic tools. Most of the students in my high school physics classes were seniors. Because their graduation was about a week prior to the end of the school year, I still had several juniors in each class for several more days. They were asked to do a project of their choosing and demonstrate it on their last day. In 2002, a student built a working hovercraft similar to this one. I got to be a test dummy for her project. It was great fun.

Recently, we vacationed in Yellowstone Park. On our return trip, we visited that former student whose family has remained good friends with us. She was going through some boxes of old photos and discovered three she knew I would enjoy seeing. She was correct.

Basic instructions

  • Plywood sheet 4 ft wide with a hole large enough to accept blower hose. Tape it in tight.
  • Heavy-duty plastic sheet taped securely around the rim and under the plywood.
  • Cut 8-10 one inch diameter holes in the plastic sheet spaced uniformly.
  • Sit in the center, turn on the blower, and glide away.


Crepuscular Rays

I looked out the window just before sunset while visiting family near Boulder Colorado. The low sun angle cast a beautiful set of crepuscular rays across the sky. I love seeing those rays of light. I knew the moment would not last long. Our host had the only readily available camera in her phone. She got the photo and sent it to me to share. Do you like it?

Monarchs and Milkweeds

I was happy to see results in my milkweed patch.

Our View From Iowa

In the summer of 2015 I transplanted some local varieties of milkweed to a small patch in my garden next to the rain barrel. They were shocked by being dug up. I watered and they survived. In the summer of 2016 they all came up looking healthy. I was hopeful for visits by Monarch butterflies. I never saw evidence of any. If you aren’t familiar with milkweed, this link will help. When damaged, they bleed a white sap.

This year in 2017 the plants are nearly 6 ft tall and strong. I put a 4 ft tall piece of fencing around them so they wouldn’t blow over. This picture shows them in the center in full bloom. The second picture shows their flowered tops.

Milkweeds and Monarch butterflies have a special relationship. The butterflies over-winter in Mexico. In spring, they head north then northeast into the US following the maturation…

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Space Station Transits Sun | 11 Jun 2017

A few days ago I received an email notice from CalSky that the International Space Station would pass directly in front of the Sun for my location. The station moves about 5 mi/sec. The duration of the transit would be 0.67 sec to cross the full disc of the Sun. Here it is. Don’t blink.

This view is slowed down to 1/4 as fast and is much easier to see. Do you hear the birds in the background?

Here is a composite of the station position each tenth of a second.

Strawberry Moon | Micromoon | 9 Jun 2017

Moonrise for me last evening was 8:42 pm. I went out at 9:10 to see if the sky to the east was clear giving a view. Saturn was supposed to be positioned close to the right of the Moon. It was very hazy. The Moon was not bright and Saturn was not visible to me. I went back in the house for the camera and tripod. These two photos are at 9:20 and 9:21 with the Moon framed by some trees low to the horizon.

9:20 pm CDT

9:21 pm CDT

I went back inside to wait for the Moon to rise above some of the haze. When I returned at 9:59, the conditions were better. There was still a hazy glow near the Moon. I liked the effect. How about you?

9:59 pm CDT

Timing is everything, so I’ve heard. This moon coincides with the ripening of strawberries. Hence the name Strawberry Moon.

Much has been written in recent years about super-moons. That occurs when the Moon is at its nearest distance from Earth at full moon. This time, the Moon was at its farthest from Earth when full. The term mini-moon or micro-moon has been applied by some for this event. For more information about this full-moon, follow this link to The following image compares a super to a micro moon. See this link for details.

Astronomy Picture of the Day | Catalin Paduraru