Monday, December 21, 2009


My heartfelt thanks for all my blog friends for your warm words of support for my decision to suspend the Cloud Messenger blog for a while. I look forward to visiting you at your blogs whenever I can, and meanwhile, I hope all your lives are full of love and hope, health and happiness.

Hugs to you all,
Deb/Cloud Messenger

Thursday, December 3, 2009

SKYWATCH FRIDAY - Last and First Moon (Lake Erie)

“Toss me a cigarette, I think there’s one in my raincoat.”
“We smoked the last one an hour ago.”
So I looked at the scenery; she read her magazine
And the moon rose over an open field.

Moonrise, November 30, 2009

Moonset, December 1, 2009

Music Option for those with the time and inclination: “America” – Simon and Garfunkel

The hauntingly beautiful melody and lyrics written by Paul Simon create one of the most iconic songs of the late 1960s. It was recorded by the duo for their 1968 album, Bookends, and released as a single in 1972. I always identified with this song, not just because I’m from Michigan, which is mentioned, but for the sense of seeking it so poignantly portrays, something I think we all do at least once in our lives. (Of course, the irony here is that these photos are from across the border, on the Canadian side of the lake!)

Click HERE to listen. Once at YouTube, you can access all the lyrics by clicking on the right where it says "more info."

To view more skies from all around our beautiful planet, or to join in, visit SKYWATCH. Live links after 2:30 p.m. EST time or 19:30 GMT. And thanks to the Skywatch team for this weekly meme.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


A while ago I saw an article about how a pair of physics professors, Craig Heinke, from the University of Alberta and Wynn Ho, from Southampton U. in the UK, have revealed the mystery behind a city-sized chunk of radioactive rock that’s floating around in space for donkeys years. Apparently it took them a whole decade to solve it, but the rock itself is about 11,000 years old, so all things considered, the profs did okay. They were able to determine that the rock is the leftover core of a supernova that blew 11,000 years ago, but didn't actually become visible until 330 years ago (so we shouldn't feel bad either).

Heinke explained: This one has been a real puzzle for about 10 years since other astronomers detected this object first. We have been able to figure out what it is. We are able to show conclusively that this is a neutron star, something that was not entirely clear before. Neutron stars are produced when massive stars explode, an event called a supernova. These neutron stars are the remnants left behind and are the densest objects in the universe. The remnant in this case was difficult to identify, partly because of its age. It was an infant neutron star with an unusual carbon wrapping if you like.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I think that’s really sweet. I like knowing there’s a little baby neutron star up there way over our heads, floating around in a nice soft carbon blankie. Kinda makes you wanna dance for joy, doesn’t it?

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, November 30, 2009


This weekend my neighbor and I went to the Visitors Center at Point Pelee to get her some postcards and walk the dogs. While there I chatted with the Ranger on duty about the lack of black-capped chickadees in the area. She said that occasionally, the Park might have a couple of them in summer, and in winter maybe a few more. She said no one knows quite why they shun the Pelee peninsula and its surrounding area. I’ve lived here four years now, and have heard not a peep, or make that a “dee-dee-dee’ anywhere. I think if I ever do hear or see one here, I will likely drop whatever I’m holding—hopefully it won’t be anything scalding hot or seriously breakable—and rush to have a look! Anyway, I decided I want to pursue this matter further, so here’s my plan: to determine as closely as possible the area that the chickadees have declared a “no fly zone” around here, and enlist everyone’s help.

If you live or visit in the general southwestern Ontario area in Canada (Lake Erie/Lake Ontario area, or Windsor and farther north, or in northern Ohio, or SE Michigan, I’d love to hear a chickadee report from you. And if you know fellow bloggers who might be willing to chime in, please feel free to forward this to them. I’d like to hear from birders and non-birders alike. Chickadees are easy to identify by sight and by call—you don’t need to be an expert. I’m hoping to get an idea just what of the local black-cap distribution is. I’m told there’s a book available that lists the nesting distribution of birds in Ontario, and that may be my last resort, but this way sounds like a lot more fun. So if you’re up for it, please either leave a comment on this post, or email me at, and I’ll try to see just how far one has to travel from the Leamington/Pelee area before black-capped chickadees start showing up, and I'll post the results. I’ll also go to work on putting a link to this post in the right-hand margin so you can find it more easily once this post scrolls out of sight.

LINK with entire repertoire (41 seconds) of black-capped chickadee calls.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, November 28, 2009

CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS: Some Have the Knack and Some Don't

Here’s hoping all of you who celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend are having a wonderful time! It was kind of quiet around here this year, because people were either away or under the weather, including me. Being American born and raised, but having lived in Canada for a long time, I feel free to celebrate twice. But I have to admit that no matter how long I live here, Thanksgiving in early October will always seem too soon to me. The rhythm of the cool weather holidays: Halloween leading the charge, followed by Thanksgiving and the Santa parade sliding gently (or frantically) into the December holidays just seems right. A few of my neighbors had their lights up a week or so ago, but I always put up my Christmas decorations after Thanksgiving. So this week I took advantage of a couple of very mild windless days to get everything in place. There’s my single wonky string of “Charlie Brown” lights on the bushes under the front window. A small wreath on the front porch window, and something new this new for the back year: a lightbulb-covered deer I put together myself. I bought one of those brown deer made of some kind of twigs and branches bundled together, a spool of twist tie wire, and then spent a couple of labor-intensive hours anchoring little white lights all over it. I don’t put up my tree anymore. It just seems like too much effort for too little reward. There are only two places in my house where I could put up the tree. The unheated front porch, or the unheated back “Florida” porch, neither of which I can see from my livingroom. But those are the only two places where I can have a tree that the cats can’t get at. If I put the tree up where I could actually see it, the cats would have it wrecked in an hour, and what they didn’t break they’d ingest, so… For my first couple of years here I put the tree up on the Florida porch, but it seemed kind of pointless to put on my heavy coat, go out and turn the tree lights on, look at them for a minute, and go back through the doorwall into the warm house. So, that’s why I wanted the deer in the backyard. I want some Christmas lights that I can actually see from somewhere in my main room. So, now my backyard is decorated too. The best part was watching the squirrels cautiously checking it out for the first time! So, these are my decorations. They may not be the biggest, best or brightest on the block, but hey, we love them!

My Christmas Gallery

Wreath and lil’ Santa in the front porch window. The wreath is a little off-kilter from being squished in the box.

The Charlie Brown lights

The deer waiting to be airlifted to the yard. He’s got duct tape and twine on his back because when the winter winds blast off the lake, he must be securely lashed—like Ulysses to the mast—to the trunk of the pollarded ash tree.

The light test run. It works!

The top photo I got from Google Images. I have no idea who took it originally, but it kind of sums it up for me.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


To all those who are celebrating this day/weekend...a very warm and happy time!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


...but I'm content to be right where I am, not dreaming of being on the Coast. Here are two recent views from my backyard. The top photo is to the west, with the faint arm of Pigeon Bay hugging the horizon. The second shot is to the east, with the Point Pelee peninsula. Today it's raining, and fortunately the wind isn't too strong, so the back porch windows just may get cleaned and stay that way! It's a beautiful mild day in a rather indeterminate month...