NOTICE: All photos copyright by D.T. and S. D. Stanton. All rights reserved.



There's a neighborhood cat that has kind of adopted us. I think he lives across the alley from us, but he seems to like the attention and kindness we give him - as well as a handful of goodies now and then. He spends a lot of time at our place.


With the cold weather we get, we thought it would be a good idea to give him the opportunity to use better shelter than wherever he has been hanging out. I made him a heated shelter out of a Rubbermaid-like storage box. I used styrofoam to insulate the top and sides on the inside. On the bottom inside, I secured a 6' heating cable - only 7 watts per foot, 42 watts total. I covered it with a double thickness of old bath towel for bedding. I've seen him go in it before, and this morning I saw fresh tracks coming from it in the snow. (We had 4" - 6" today, depending on where I checked it.)

Grumpy's Winter shelter.
Notice the tracks coming from the opening. He took a couple of steps into the snow, and then backed up and took a clear path - as much as he could. I found this after he met me on the front porch and I back-tracked him. I don't know if he uses it all the time, but I know he does use it and he knows it's there for him when he wants to.



Summer is Gone

It's looking like our warm weather is over and done with in the panhandle for this year. It has been in the 60s and 70s up until today. It's one of those days when the high temp came early in the day. From up close to 60, to about 25 now, and going to be in the teens by morning. A little sleet, maybe some snow and ice to scrape off the cars. It'll be below freezing all weekend, with possible total snowfalls of 7" - 14" for the area.

It had to happen. After all, this is the panhandle. :)


Thanks Giving

What am I thankful for? I am thankful...

...He died, and thankful He lives.

...for every minute He gives me, so I may be what He wishes.

...for those I love, and those that love me.

...for those that object and those that concur.

...for all that I am, and all I am not.

...for all that I have, and all I'm without.

...for the stars above, the grass below.

...for the creatures that swim and those that fly,

...for those that walk and those that crawl.

...for the good that I've seen, the bad that has been,

...for whatever there was and whatever there'll be.

In short - for every thing and everything,
be it above or below, be it within or without.
I am what I am, and have what I have
because of the good, because of the bad.
It all had to be, to be what I am.
For that I am grateful, ever so thankful.

This is my wish, if you all will see:
That you are as thankful, as thankful as me.

Thank You, my Lord, for allowing me to be me.



Comet Season

In case you haven't heard, the comet ISON is making an appearance. It's a one-time visitor that is never supposed to return - ever. During December you'll be able to see it with the naked eye, after its journey takes it around the sun and if it survives. It will pass very close to the sun but could be broken apart by the stresses in doing so. Hopefully it will emerge unscathed. If it does, it will likely be brighter than PanSTARRS was in the spring. It will be in the Western sky right after the sun goes down. If you miss it this time, you will never see it.

(Estimated positions of ISON during December.)

I got up early this  morning and got my telescope out to see if I could capture ISON. It was a bit nippy out, crystal clear skies, and no wind. ISON was supposed to be around Leo's rear foot, and that's exactly where I found it. I "calibrated" my 'scope by zeroing in on a nearby star ("sigma Leo"), and moved it to the comet's coordinates. Got it! Being so low in the sky (and me being in town), I couldn't see it with the naked eye, but my camera found it pretty easily. Mounted on the telescope and using it as a lens, this is what it saw:

("Sigma Leo" is the star on the left - Leo's rear foot. ISON on the right.)

I may be able to get more of it before the sun gets in the way. I will post here if I do.


Time Change

Our "fall back" time change is coming - next week. I never really cared for it before, but I'm looking at it in a new way this year. It will give me an additional hour to visit the cosmos in the evenings, and not have to sacrifice so much of my sleep. It won't help my early morning sessions a bit, but I will get more opportunities in the evening after work.

Over the weekend, I had a few more successes with my astrophotography. In addition to getting some good shooting of the Orion Nebula, I found and photographed two more deep space objects: the NGC 891 galaxy, and the Triangulum Galaxy.

(NGC 891, 30 million light years from Earth)

(The Triangulum Galaxy, about 2.8 million light years away)
I many never find a cure for this "disease".


Apartment for Peggy Sue

Last winter, we kept our camper (Peggy Sue) in the driveway and covered her with a tarp. This year, we rented some inside storage space to keep her in - for the winter months anyway. (I took her to her new "apartment" yesterday.) Should we decide to go camping, it's easy enough to go snag her and enjoy! No tarp to pull off and fold up, and she's protected from the elements. We kind of miss her sitting there in the driveway, though. *sigh*



Spaced Out

Back in July, I started pursuing a photography tangent that I find interesting and awe-inspiring: astrophotography. I bought a telescope capable of tracking a celestial body (star, planet, galaxy, nebula, etc.) as the world turns. Get zeroed in on it, flip the drive switch, and it stays right there where you put it. When I first got it, it either rained or was just cloudy - for a week or two. Figures. Unbox, assemble, and here come the clouds. As I understand it, it happens to everybody. Good ole Murphy!

Astrophotography is a different kind animal. It requires multiple long exposures of a single target. It requires special adapters to couple a DSLR to the telescope. It requires clear skies - dark skies. The darker, the better. And let's not forget that the object you're wanting to snag on "film" has to be visible. Star charts have to be consulted to find the exact position in the sky - especially those not visible with the naked eye. After the images are collected, the processing begins. There's a lot to astrophotography - more than I realized when I started.

I've been taking advantage of every decent night I can, as long as my desired target(s) is/are available. Sometimes I'll stay up well past midnight, sometimes I'll be up at 4:00 in the morning. I welcome Winter and the longer nights. Getting back to Standard Time will be a blessing, too. I won't lose as much sleep.

Here are some samples of my work.
The Orion Nebula (M42) and smaller Nebula above/left (M43).

The Lagoon Nebula.

The Great Nebula in Andromeda (Andromeda Galaxy) and smaller galaxy below/right - M110.

The Pleiades (Seven Sisters).

The moon is an exception to the above routine. It can be done quiet suitably with a single frame.
Very nearly full Moon.

Apennine mountain range and Apollo 15 Landing site.
I didn't know the Apollo 15 landing site was in this image until later. Pretty cool!

I will post more about my spacey adventures as I have something to post. Winter will afford me more opportunities with the colder, drier air and longer nights - if the clouds cooperate.



Peggy Sue

I can't believe it's been over a year since my last post here. What a slacker I am! A lot has happened since. Probably the biggest thing has been Peggy Sue.

Peggy Sue is a small travel trailer we bought on Craigslist back in August of last year. She's a 1988 Sunline T-1350 - native to Pennsylvania. They are pretty rare West of the Mississippi. You just don't see them much over here.

When we first got her, she was a bit worn and needed some sprucing up. A couple of guys (dad/son) used her like guys would - not too concerned with decor. Oxidation was trying to take over her paint job. The good thing is that she was road ready, complete with a new axle that was put on the year before.

We had no trouble making use of her while giving her a bit of a makeover. We must have been on a dozen or so camping trips to date, enjoying every minute of it. We gave her a new inside paint job, new curtains, reupholstered the cushions, gave her new stripes on the outside, and a general clean-up. Here are the results:

Last year, we even spent Thanksgiving in Palo Duro Canyon with her - complete with the whole Thanksgiving Dinner, fixins and all. We're looking forward to many years of enjoyment with her.



Catching Up

Yes, I've been a bit remiss lately. Sorry 'bout that. I'll try to rectify the situation now.

We were both off on the 4th. There were a few options of what we could have done, but we decided to go see the 4th of July parade in downtown Canyon.

When we got there, we found a place to park less than 1/2 block from where we wanted to sit. We also found a spot to sit that would be in the shade the whole time. Apparently, we were supposed to be there.  :)  While we were waiting for the parade to start (and subsequently get to us), a little guy caught our eye. He hadn't been walking very long, and was trying out his new-found skills with his Daddy close at hand.

I have no idea why the expression.

All is right with the world again.
Another young man near us was apparently trying out his skills as a doctor while he waited.

What's the diagnosis, doctor?
People are interesting - especially kids. They can be so animated!

There were two different fly-overs at zero hour to mark the beginning of the parade. Given our spot under shade trees, we couldn't see them. I had to go out in the street in order to get the shots I did.

The parade was a good one. Floats, bands, military and their vehicles, firemen and their trucks, and a little bit of everything.

(Some of the cast of TEXAS! the musical.)

(This young lady was on a float.)

More like these are in my Pbase galleries.

It was the perfect day - not too hot, light breeze, and in the shade the whole time. Couldn't have asked for a better setup.  :)


We've had a small leak in our power steering pump pressure line for a little while - nothing serious, just a "seeper". I finally got a new line and had to put it in over the weekend. It was one of those that had a factory seal that started to leak. I expected it to only take an hour or two, depending on how easy it would be to snake out of its position and get the new one put back in the same path. It can be a real challenge the way they put cars together any more.

As luck would have it, all went great - until I got to the last little bracket I didn't see at first. It was in one of those spots that was virtually impossible to get to. I could barely get one hand in the right place, but it needed two. When two hands found there way to the right spot, I couldn't see anything - not to mention having to be a bit of a contortionist. You get the idea. After struggling with the bracket for a while, I finally got it out. A little while later I got the new line snaked into position and the battle started again. I had to get that same bracket bolted down. Too often, "puttin' back in" isn't as easy as "takin' out". It wasn't this time either.

Ok, I finally got it all put in and mounted securely - just like the factory one. Now I had to get all the air out of the steering. Took forever! After 5 1/2 hours, this 1 - 2 hour job was finally done! I guess it had to happen some time.


I kinda let our lawn grow a bit lately - to where it's long overdue for mowing. I was going to do it today after work, but it had been raining off and on and was still wet. Long grass holds moisture much longer than short grass. I won't mow wet grass unless I absolutely have to. It looks bad afterwards and is more of a chore to get the mower clean when I'm done. May not be able to tomorrow either. They are saying an 80% chance of more rain tomorrow. I'm not complaining at all. We need rain - lots of it. I'll just deal with tall grass when I am able to mow.


I think that's is about it. I hope I'm caught up now.  :)


June Jazz

Every Tuesday evening throughout June, Amarillo College hosts various jazz bands - a different band each Tuesday. These are free to all interested, and we've been going to them this year. (They last about 2 1/2 hours.) During yesterday's performance, I took some video highlighting two of the members of The Martinis and put them together in this short (1 minute) video:

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