Sunday, August 31, 2008

Yard Work

Once or twice a year we have to cut back the trees and bushes in and around our yard. They lie dormant most of the year, but when we get heavy rains, they go crazy and try to take over all available space.
The weather has been brutally hot, so we've just been working in the early morning and early evening hours each day. Sandra is always happy for any opportunity to use her "alligator" chain saw. It cuts surprisingly quickly and is much safer than a normal saw.
This year we also cut back the olive bushes that are in front of the walls around the perimeter of our back yard. They had gotten tall, unkempt, and scraggly. The yard kind of looks bare naked now, but we're hoping for a wet rainy season this year so that they will all grow back thick and bushy. We have aggressively cut back a few of these bushes in the past and they grew back and filled in wonderfully, so we're hoping that they'll do it again. There are also a few Wayaka trees back there that were getting crowded out. We're hoping that they'll start growing like crazy too, now that they have some space and sunlight. We really like the Wayaka.
We rented a dumpster from Selibon for the weekend. The hot setup is to fill it up with clippings and then Sandra would stomp and bounce them down, and we'd fill it up again, and again, and again...

Dog Days

Have you ever heard the expression "the dog days of August?" Well, as the tropical storms and hurricanes have been crossing the Caribbean to our north, it has been rather windless and hot here on Bonaire for the last couple weeks.

The dogs really like hanging out on the cool tile floors inside the house. They perk up at night when it becomes a little cooler.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Clouds of Stars and Mosquitoes

We had a slight backwards wind today, with clouds and a little rain. But the skies cleared up quite nicely in the evening. I zoomed out to the south end of Bonaire for some stargazing.

The stars were really great but the mosquitoes were absolutely brutal tonight. I was re-applying repellent every 10 minutes or so, but they were still attacking any time I quit moving around.

Kind of made it hard to look through the telescope. I didn't even get the binoculars out of their cases, but I did enjoy the views for an hour or so with my bare naked eyeballs. And I snapped a couple pictures, one of which came out pretty good.

This is a single three minute and 48 second exposure of the Milky Way star clouds in the constellation Scutum. M11 and M26 are visible towards the middle of the picture and to the right of the middle of the picture.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Blasts From the Past

Pat and Denny Hogan were vacationing here on Bonaire recently. They had a great time visiting Bonaire friends from when they lived here back in the day. Speaking of visiting, Sandra was visiting them in here in 1980, when we got engaged. Sergio and Amy Da Silva were here recently as well. They first met each other on Bonaire, while they were both serving with Trans World Radio, and wanted their kids to share the Bonaire experience. After many years with Radio Trans Mundial in Brazil, they are now living in Michigan in the USA.
Sergio has a doctorate in Psychology and teaches at Calvin College. He didn't psychoanalyze any of us while they were here, phew! But he did teach us a great song that he wrote in Brazil, following a missions trip to Africa.

Long Time no Blog

All my spare time, these last couple weeks has been spent glued to the boob tube watching the Olympics. Many of the events took place in the wee hours of the morning, or while I was at work. So we recorded tons of stuff at all hours of the day and night, and then watched our favorite events at our leisure.
For example, I recorded the mtn. biking while we slept last night, and then watched it before church this morning. :)

I've still been getting in my own mtn. biking of course. At my advanced age, it is much easier to maintain one's fitness than to try to regain it. There has been little to no wind here on Bonaire for the last week or more. That makes for great cycling, but hot and muggy living. The air temperature is only a degree or two warmer than it was a month ago, but the lack of wind makes it feel much hotter.

It's cloudy today, which makes it feel a little cooler. Sitting in front of a fan helps too! The clouds are a mixed blessing, however. Venus and Mercury are quite close together in the early evening sky, but I haven't been able to see them for a few days now. I'm hoping for clear skies at least once during the next week or so while the moon is out of the sky, so we can get in some major Milky Way star gazing.

Dirty Jobs

Have you ever seen Mike Rowe on the Discovery Channel trying his hand at all sorts of very yucky but totally necessary jobs? Well I thought of Mike a week ago Saturday, while I was shoveling chicken poo here on Bonaire. It turns out that well aged chicken poo doesn't smell bad at all, but it does make great fertilizer, something that the poor soil of Bonaire needs badly.

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of this epic event...too busy shoveling.

Believe it or not, the whole adventure was a fundraiser for the building fund of the International Bible Church. A relative of the pastor's wife runs the chicken farm and graciously supplied the chicken manure. Wai-man Chan somehow obtained 250 unused giant bags, and Johann agreed to sell the bags of poo-fertilizer at the Green Lable Nursery.

So all we had to do was shovel, bag and deliver. Hawking poo on the street corner would have been above and beyond the call of duty.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Perseids and Planets

The peak of the Perseid meteor shower occurs tonight. The best viewing, here on Bonaire, should be between 2am and dawn, when the moon will have set and the shower radiant will be high in the sky. The sky has been reasonably clear lately, so maybe I'll head out for a look, if I can tear myself away from the live late night Olympics coverage on TV. Ha-ha, that's a good one.

I'll be out on the road by 6am tomorrow morning for our Tuesday group bike ride, so the trusty VCR will be recording any of those great late night Olympics events, like team handball, (Sandra played it while in high school in Monaco) that we might want to see.

I must confess that unlike some friends of ours, I'm rarely motivated to to bounce out of bed and venture outside in the wee hours of the morning in hopes of spotting those all to infrequent meteors. What I will do, however, is wake up and peak out the window just to make sure that some sort of once in a lifetime meteor storm isn't going on out there. That paid off in 1998 when the Leonids produced a display of bright meteors and fireballs that I'll never forget!

The planets are also putting on a good show this week, and it's right after sunset, so I don't have to loose any beauty sleep to see it. Venus and Saturn will be very close together on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Venus is really easy to spot, here on Bonaire, but I might need to break out the binoculars to see Saturn.

By Thursday evening, Saturn will be placed exactly halfway between Venus and Mercury. That should be nice. And then by Saturday evening, Mercury will have moved up to be halfway between Venus and Saturn. If the skies remain clear, I should be able to watch the whole show each evening while cooking our nightly chicken on the grill. Now that's my kind of astronomy!

Cruising Curacao

Sandra and I were on our neighbor island, Curacao, all day Saturday. She had a mid morning doctor appointment, but the only flights we could get were at 6am and 9pm. So we had lots of time to visit a couple warehouse stores, walk around the downtown Punda shopping district, and visit the zoo. We also visited Burger King, Baskin Robbins and Pizza Hut. Fast food is a fun novelty, when you haven't had any for a few years.

I didn't bring a camera, but I wish I had. They had some very unusual large birds at the zoo, as well as a three day old baby monkey that was riding around on its mother's back.

The traffic was noticeably lighter on Saturday than the usual weekday, and the teeny tiny even-smaller-than-a-Toyota-Yaris car we rented from Budget was a lot of fun.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Moon and Planets

It's been pretty cloudy here on Bonaire, but the skies cleared just in time for us to spot a super skinny Moon and the planet Venus last night.

In this picture, the star Regulus is to the right of the Moon, and the planet Venus is pretty far to the Moon's lower right, just above the roof line of our neighbor's house.

If it is clear again tonight, I hope to zoom out somewhere that has photogenic cacti or palm trees in the foreground.

As this Sky and Telescope story reports, the Moon will be to the left of the planet Saturn tonight, and to the left of the planet Mars on Monday night. The chart included with this story shows the alignment of the moon and planets as seen from the USA. You can tell from my picture that the alignment appeared a bit different here on Bonaire.

The evening planets are actually easier to see here in the Tropics than they are up North.