Total Solar Eclipse August 2017

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On August 21, 2017, I had the amazing good fortune to be just outside Simpsonville, SC, right in the path of totality for the solar eclipse that crossed the United States.  This was a rare chance to see something truly amazing, and I wasn’t going to miss it.  When my partner realized his parents lived in the path of totality more than a year ago, we made plans to go down.  I’d requested the day off work more than a year in advance.

Leading up to the eclipse there was plenty of news coverage and lots of warnings about not looking directly at the sun without proper eye protection.  Eclipse glasses were available at eye doctors, libraries, planetariums, and schools all over the country.  Our family ordered them online, and they even had the date of the eclipse printed on them.

I’ve never had a chance to see an eclipse before.  When I was in fourth grade there was a partial solar eclipse where I lived in Michigan.  No students were allowed outside during the event.  Cheap solar glasses weren’t something you could get back then.  My teacher did a pin-hole camera so she could go out and look and then draw a picture on the board for us.

That paled in comparison to looking up at the sun through my special glasses (which are a pain when combined with prescription glasses, by the way).  I got to watch the moon move across the sun and see the light begin to dim around me.

The best part though, was totality.  For just under two minutes, we were able to take off our special glasses and stare up at our sun.  The moon was a dark disc across the solar surface, but the light shown out around it, peaking through around mountains and valleys on the lunar surface.  For just a couple minutes, I got to see something rare and precious that demonstrated scale and distance in the universe.

In those moments, I felt both small and insignificant, and part of something so large, so universal, that it seemed to have no boundaries at all.  Many would frame this feeling within their religious experience, and there was an element of that for me, but it was also something more fundamental.  I was one of thousands of people looking up at that moment and one of millions who witnessed totality that day.  I was in the presence of a dozen or so others experiencing the moment with me.  I was part of something in that moment.

Anello_di_diamante     And those two minutes were worth it.

They were worth the six hour drive down to South Carolina from my home in Raleigh, NC.  They were worth the vacation time I had to take to be there.  They were worth the seven-and-a-half-hour drive home that ended after midnight.  They were totally and completely worth it.

So worth it, in fact, that my family and I are already thinking about the next total solar eclipse and where we might want to go so we can watch that one too.  We were so lucky on Monday that the sky was mostly clear, and the clouds didn’t interfere with our viewing the eclipse during totality.  People talk about a total solar eclipse as a once in a lifetime chance.  And in many ways they’re right, but it doesn’t have to be.  I’m aiming for at least twice in a lifetime.

Were you able to witness the eclipse on Monday?  If not locally, did you watch the coverage available?  What did you think?

Image Attributions:

Image within Blog: Anello_di_diamante by Walty1971

Cover Image: SolarEclipseDiamondRing by Tuanna2010

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Image Prompt 031 Response: The Spaces Between

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I tried to incorporate both images this week as an extra challenge for my twenty-minute sprint.

 

Title: The Spaces Between

She existed in the spaces between things.

She was there where the seas met the land, washing back and forth across the sand and rock and slowly wearing away at it all.

She was there when nature was reclaiming a human structure, blurring the line between built and grown.

She had always been there.  It wasn’t until recently that She questions where She was or how long She had been there.

Not until She met a girl.

She had always been, this was very true, but She had never been seen before, never been met before, and never met anyone before.  She’d never paid any attention to the humans, only the boundaries they erected and the spaces they opened for her.

She’d been enjoying the slow cheap of nature over a set of wooden steps cut into a hill.  It was a slow process, but She took great joy in each infinitesimal piece of the world that was opened to her as the transformation from newly constructed stairs to overgrown relic occurred.  The stairs were almost entirely hers when She was first seen.

“I’ve seen you before,” the little girl said.  “You were at the beach when we went.”

She was at every beach, so this was probably true.  She did wonder what the little girl was talking to.

“Can’t you hear?” the little girl asked.

She focused her attention on the girl.  Long hair was plaited into two twin braids that hung down the back of the small human.  The girl wore colorful rubber boots that came up to her knees, purple leggings, and a flowing green shirt.

“Is that a no?”

She tilted, curious about this tiny human.

“So you can hear me,” the little girl said confidently.  “You could answer you know.”

Answer?  She had never conversed with another living creature.  She knew language.  She knew all language.  It was around her all the time.  She could not help but learn the meaning of the words the humans used all the time.  She did not even know if She could speak, so She simply tilted in the other direction.

“Maybe you can’t talk then,” the girl said thoughtfully, squatting down to look at the third stair.  “You’re pretty though, and you always feel nice when I have to move through you for some reason.

She wasn’t sure what to make of this little girl talking to her.  How was She even visible to the child?  No human had ever acknowledged her presence before.

“I was hoping you’d be a fairy or something,” the little girl said.  “Someone I could talk to and confide in.”

She swayed slightly.  She didn’t know what to do about the girl.  Was it dangerous to be seen?  It was for many animals, as well as many humans.  Should She trust that She was safe being seen by the girl?

“I guess I could still talk to you,” the little girl said, “even if you can’t talk back.”

She waited, and listened, and marveled at all that the girl had to say.  And then She began to wonder about herself.  The girl talked about being from somewhere and having parents.  Where had She come from?  Did She have parents?  She couldn’t remember anyone else like her.  It was just the animals and the humans, who were just another kind of animal.  There was no one else.  It was such a solitary existence.  She’d never realized that before.

The girl kept coming back.  Every afternoon, the girl would stop at the stairs and speak at length about her day or week or something that was bothering her.

She didn’t understand it at all, but the girl’s voice was soothing enough, and there was no sign of harm coming from their interaction.  Unless self-reflection could be considered harmful.  She had been doing much reflecting on her existence and where She had come from.

She still moved in all the places between.  She still lurked in the places the humans had forgotten.  She still sought the future that would hold the world safe, but every afternoon, when the little girl came, She would listen.

She thought there was something to learn from the girl.  Some lesson or meaning.  It made her think of the human saying, truth out of the mouths of babes.  The girl was quite young, her vocabulary not fully developed yet, but She felt the little girl spoke in truths in a way that few humans did.

So She listened, absorbing what the little girl talked about each afternoon and slowly beginning to understand the deeper meaning of words and their ability to convey far more than their typical meaning.

Image Prompt 031 – Ireland’s Atlantic Coast & Boone, NC

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It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day.

I’ve included two images to work from.  Pick one (or both if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

2017-08-11 Image Prompt-031-2 - Stadium Drive in Boone NC October 027

2017-08-11 Image Prompt031-1 - Atlantic Ocean Shamrocker Tour05-04-23 033

Being Away

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So I’ve been out of town for fourteen days now, and I’ll be out of town for another two.

The first week, was a wonderful vacation with my husband and his family (you can see a little about that in last week’s post).  The second Sunday and Monday were spent hanging out in Louisville, KY before my conference (Tuesday-Friday).  And this coming weekend we’re spending with college friends in Knoxville, TN.

You’d think that this would be a great way to spend two weeks.  For me, not so much.  I’m a bit of a home body, so being away for so long can get a little exhausting.

The first week was a pretty relaxing vacation with my family.  I had a ton of fun and really had a chance to recharge.  So I was going into the second week feeling pretty good.  But as of today (and I actually wrote this earlier Friday morning), I’m in my fourth of five bedrooms for the sixteen-day trip.  I’m really sick of packing and unpacking my stuff at this point and I miss my own bed and my cat.

I’m not intending this as a complaint, just a comment on how stressful traveling can be, especially to multiple locations in the same trip.  Overall, I’m incredibly glad that I’ve done this trip.  Yes, I’d have preferred to have a week in between them, but I wouldn’t give up the time with my family or my first conference experience to get it.

I’ve had a lot of firsts this week.  It’s my first visit to Louisville, KY (it’s been quite enjoyable), my first professional conference, and I gave my first conference presentation.  This is all related to my day job, not my writing, but it’s a really good experience.  It gives me an idea of how I would handle attending a writing conference and how big of one I would be comfortable with.

There was video recording during my presentation, and I was able to completely ignore the camera and focus on being a good presenter.  I wasn’t all by myself up there, which made me feel less nervous, but I felt good while I was up there and I’ve gotten some really positive feedback from other attendees and the conference organizers.

This has been a huge confidence boost, since I wasn’t sure going into this how useful my presentation would be to others.  Hearing that they enjoyed it and found it helpful has been great.  And I’ve even been asked to do it as a webinar again later, which is pretty exciting.

So despite my bout of homesickness, I’m really grateful for the trip and for how well it has all gone.  I’m looking forward to my visit with friends this weekend too.

I’d love to hear about your adventures.  What’s the hardest part about traveling for you?  Or tell me about a time you’ve had a very successful trip or conference.

The Joy of Family Vacations

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This is going to be a bit of a short one, but I wanted to make sure to have something up for my weekly post.

I’m on vacation this week with my husband and his family.  This includes his parents, their standard poodle, his sister, her husband, and her smooth coat collie.  I have been blessed with the most amazing in-laws ever, so this is something I’ve been looking forward to for months.  We all get along really well and like a lot of the same things, so it’s been really fun.

We’re staying outside Waynesville, NC and have made a day trip up to Gatlinburg, TN.  I’ve been taking lots of pictures, and will post more next week probably, but I wanted to share a few of them today.  The house is a cute three-story cabin, with a lot of décor.  We’re staying in the sunflower room.  The downstairs is apple-themed.  But it’s a comfy enough place and I’m glad to be here with family.

Our Room:

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The Living Room and Kitchen:

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Other Shots of the House:

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Gatlinburg:

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Image Prompt 030 Response – Professor

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I chose the picture of ASU’s campus in Boone, NC for my twenty-minute sprint this time around.

 

Professor:

It was starting to get dark by the time Kelly was done with all his classes and office hours for the day.  At least it was Friday.  He had four dozen student papers in his bag that he needed to work on grading this weekend, but he was done for tonight.

As he walked down the steps, he took a moment to admire the bright yellow of the tree in front of the English building.  The fall colors were in full swing, and brought with them all the tourists that loved to take pictures of them along the parkway.  Kelly just tried to avoid all the places the tourists were this time of year.  They brought traffic and overworked service people, and Kelly wasn’t a fan of either.

Kelly headed down the path toward the library.  He’d managed to snag a house only blocks from campus.  It made it so much easier in the winter when the snow kept cars and busses safe in their garages.  Plus he didn’t have to buy a parking pass.  He assumed he was making up for that with the price of the house.  At least he was a home owner now and no longer paying the exorbitant rents they changed near the university.

He was walking up the steps to the library when someone called out his name.  Kelly turned to see one of his graduate students hurrying to catch up to him.

“Looks like you’ve got a lot of weekend work in there,” Jason said with a grin.

“Papers don’t grade themselves,” Kelly replied.  At least these were undergraduate papers and much shorter for it.

“Don’t I know it?” Jason replied with a laugh.  “I’ve got about sixty I’ve got to get done this weekend.”

“This is your first semester teaching?” Kelly asked.

“Teaching college,” Jason replied.  “I spent a few years teaching high school before I came back to school.”

“I remember now.  You were over in Raleigh then, right?”  Kelly had so many students it took a while to figure out which ones were which when they weren’t in one of his classes that semester.  He did better with the graduate students.

“Yeah.  I taught in a couple different schools there trying to figure out why I wasn’t satisfied.  Turned out I just wasn’t a good fit for high schoolers.  I do better with eight- or eighteen-year-olds.”

“We all have our niches,” Kelly replied.  He’d majored in education originally, and taught a variety of subjects in elementary and middle school before going back for a masters in English.  He’d taught high school for a couple years afterward to pay the bills while he worked on a few things and decided what doctoral programs to apply to.  He much preferred teaching at a university.

“I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that,” Jason said.  “You’re office hours are the busiest I’ve ever seen though, so I’ve never managed to catch you.”

“I guess it’s good that all my students find me approachable,” Kelly replied.

“Yeah, I hear good things about you,” Jason answered, laughing again as they continued past the library toward King Street.  “You’re specialty is pedagogy, right?” Jason asked.

“That’s where I do my research,” Kelly agreed.  He tried to make it an applied science as much as possible, but occasionally he worked from pure theory to get a paper out.

“I’m planning to do my thesis on a pedagogy topic and I wanted to talk to you about being my committee chair,” Jason said.  “I know I’m catching you on your way home and on the spot and all that, but I wanted to ask you to think about it while I try to get on your calendar.”

“Sorry I never got back to you about your meeting request on Wednesday,” Kelly said.  He remembered now that Jason was trying to pin him down.

“I get it,” Jason replied.  “We’re all busy.”

“I’ll want to discuss your idea with you before I agree, so we’ll definitely need that appointment,” Kelly said.

“I’m open to odd hours and weekends if you are,” Jason replied.

“I’ll reply to your email,” Kelly promised.  “I have it flagged to annoy me about it tomorrow anyway.”

“So I’m not the only one who lives and dies by Outlook reminders?” Jason asked.

“Certainly not,” Kelly replied.  “The only people I know who don’t are the ones who show up late to everything.”

Jason laughed.  “Thanks for thinking about it,” Jason said.

“Of course,” Kelly replied.  There was no reason not to consider it since Jason wanted to work within his own area of expertise.

Image Prompt 030 – Glencoe, Scotland & Boone, NC

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It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day.

I’ve included two images to work from.  Pick one (or both if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

2017-07-14 Image Prompt-030-1 - Glencoe Haggis Tour Scotland05-04-15 020

2017-07-14 Image Prompt-030-2 - AppStateCampus07-11 001