Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the category “Seasons”

Starry, Starry Nights


I do so like the moon in all its phases. And the twinkly stars. And the shining planets. And all those flashy meteor showers. Oh, and I do like a good old eclipse, be it sun or lunar.

This summer I have diligently tried my best often a couple of times to venture in the wee hours to catch celestial wonder action.

I am more determined to catch a full moon, especially super moons, being that are usually breathtaking and enter the night stage with much aplomb. The past couple of years has seen a ratchet in my moon madness. My dedication is just short concern. Werewolves frighten the socks off me, so that is not an issue. I just really, like the moon.

The hubs ever happy to find a gift that brings delight (I’m not huge on stuff, being a minimalist) gave me a moon calendar this year for Christmas (not knowing I had picked one up from the Dollar Store). I was, over the moon, with his present. Especially when I heard what lengths he went to purchase it. He went on line. This from a man who owns a shirt that says “I hate cyberspace.” This is a love of true depth and devotion.

My backyard moon scape is not as profound, but still worth a watch

I have even subscribed to The Farmer’s Almanac web version to make sure I don’t miss any cool moon and planet action.

Like the planet alignment. You caught that, didn’t you? Wow! Right? I convinced the hubs to sit with on lawn chairs on our driveway and peer up into the night sky at about 4 am to catch this once in a lifetime event. Well, the next time it happens I might be too old to even care about celestial happenings, so I wanted this sighting to count.

There is nothing like getting up what seems like the middle of the night to sit outside bundled up and slightly cold and definitely sleepy, to wait for something that might show up or then again might not. I hear elk hunters experience this. No shooting is involved in star gazing unless it’s a star that took a wrong turn.

I followed the BBC Science Focus, suggested best time to see the 2022 alignment of between 3:39 a.m. and sunrise at 4:43 a.m. on the morning of 24 June 2022. At 4:30 a.m. the show began. An hour of stargazing in the early morn is one thing, but having the neighbor catch us at it is another. When we pointed to the sky at the planets queing as if waiting for their early Starbucks, he nodded and acknowledged the event with a “Cool” before going off wherever he goes at 4:30 in the morning.

Planetary alignment. Check it out:

Couldn’t quite see Mercury, yet I hear it’s a shy planet

July’s sky sponsored a super moon—the Buck Moon, the largest moon of 2022. Another required early morn venture. At 2:30ish of the a.m. that moon did rise up out the southeast as splendid as a Banksy rendering. Super, yes. More like superlative. The fact that super moons are more than once in a lifetime do not lessen their appeal.

Hey, it’s not all about you

Here it is August. What’s on the menu? The Pleiades Meteor Showers, of course. And of course they are best seen at “you want me to get up at 3 a.m.?” This time the hubs said give him the details later like after the sun and he was up.

The first night I struggled up at 2:30 a.m. Just in case the show started early. Not sure how to watch for meteors, and being sleepy, I stood up and leaned my back against the truck and watched. Nothing but a crick in the neck and an overpowering desire to go back to bed. The hubs was not impressed by my meager details.

What I hoped for…

Three nights later I found myself awake at 4 a.m. and this time I had a plan. I bundled up and went to the backyard and climbed into my faithful hammock. This is the best way to watch for anything in the night sky because if there is a starry night no show I can take a comfortable nap. A minute or three goes by. Wait—yes, a falling star. Or maybe that was a star taking a dive off of Venus, since it seemed to ever so slowly dribble downwards. Not too impressive. I’ll wait some more. Ooh—what’s that zipping across the sky with such purpose? Suddenly I feel like an extra from October Sky watching Sputnik threaten my American democracy. Okay, that was entertaining. Another minute or two. The hammock is dampish. I’m sleepy. Hungry, too. Wait—up in in the sky…Is it a falling star? Is it a satellite? A zipping vertical flash—it’s a meteor!

Fulfilled checklist. One lone meteor does not constitute the dizzying scurry of meteors I envisioned, but I’m hungry and the hammock is dampish.

and what I pretty much viewed.

This time the hubs met me at the door as I returned. What must he think about this nocturnal sojourning of mine? He’s happy that I’m happy. We read and go back to bed. I forgot to eat something. So glad for bananas on the counter.

The last super moon of the year will be Thursday, August 11th. The Sturgeon Moon will appear at the very acceptable hour of 6:30 p.m. Thank you. Consider this as my RSVP.

Nothing fishy about appreciating a full moon

And here it is September and the famous Harvest Moon is scheduled for Saturday the 10th. All this week we have watched fill in from a glowing crescent to a radiant cheese ball in the sky. It already is impressive. I am looking forward to its full prominence Saturday night.

Are you over the moon about celestial night viewing? What’s your favorite night sky item?

Neil Young helps to usher out the summer with its moon glorious adventures:

The Amazing Days of Christmas Break: Day One


It’s a bit squirrelly lately…


Not sure if we have adopted a squirrel or if she has adopted us.

It began with me spotting a medium grey squirrel bounding across the lawn. A somewhat unusual sight. Deer are more frequent visitors. Squirrel activity diminished with dogs moving into the neighborhood.

Or so we thought.

Upon spotting the bounding squirrel I mustered up my squirrel call. You know the one, that high-pitched ch-ch-ch the do. Yeah. She was impressed and came leaping right over to me. She look fairly surprised to find me instead of a swaggering grey suited critter of interest.

Since then she has shown little fear of hanging out in the yard with us. Costco is making a tidy profit from the bags of peanuts the hubs buys for her.

She will cautiously approach us and grab a peanut from our fingers. Rolling and measuring its worth in her mouth she will then deposit it in some part of the yard. Digging like a little terrier she pats it in place with dainty satisfaction and traipses over for more. I split them open because once open she tastes that peanuttyness and snacks right on the spot, inches from whern indoor th b f the f federal gregg geg for gu the gggy g of b no un noun bun nt in n ink in b min in see see e sawwwww swe wewew es swe de xmewwe swe was e I sit on the bench. Syringa, does truly work for peanuts.

Now we have a couple of new additions. A tiny sable squirrel who discovered the neighbor’s squirrel proof red ffcc ccfc f fcc cd c cc bird feeder could not deter him. He used our fence as a diner freeway until trashing the bird feeder in less than two weeks. He has moved on the freebie peanuts laid out for Syringa. She’s having none of it.

There tussles and chitterings range across the lawn and through the lily leaves. Entertaining turf wars at its best. We call this little guy Skitter, since he moves as fast as a drop of water on the pancake skillet. He’s too fast to snap a photo.

And a third squirrel has appeared. Yet, this one is a puzzlement. I notice it is small with characteristic squirrel gray coloring yet its eye rings are white like a chipmunk and so is its tummy. The legs are brownish. A hybrid squirrel? We’ve dubbed this one Buddy, as in “Hey, Buddy—what are you?”

The cx bbcgf he are beginning to vacate the area for warmer climates so there is less action at the feeder. On the other hand, the colder weather is ramping up squirrel activity as they gather nuts and bury them all over the yard. I find peanuts in my plant containers, in flower beds, and all over the lawn. How will they find them all?

Syringa will come over and spread out on the concrete like a dog when we are hanging out back.
Buddy infiltrating Syringa’s snack tray. Strange markings for a squirrel, wouldn’t you say?

National Cherry Popsicle Day!


Backyard Visitor


National Hammock Day!


It’s iris time in the garden!


Hysterical Drama: Victoria


Settling into a corset series, one of those lavish PBS costume dramas based on a historical figure or event, has been a go to strategy for dreary winter evenings, long before stay home/stay safe became a mainstay.

The truth is in the telling

Watching people come to life in all their period finery, re-enacting events that shaped history is both enlightening and entertaining. Although show runners tend to lean more towards the entertaining, rather than the enlightenment aspect when presenting their slice of history.

Victoria, now in its third season, is quite guilty of drifting towards a soap opera since its attention to accurately portraying events leans more towards hysteria than historical.

Major considerations:

Victoria constantly refers to her miserable childhood at Kensington, especially being an only child. While it’s true life at Kensington was abominable in many ways, Victoria was not an only child, a lament she emphasizes. In actuality she had the company of her much older half-sister Feodora until she was eight years old and they had a close relationship through correspondence, although actual visits to London were rare. The scheming frenemy relationship portrayed is all for show.

Skerretelli: ah, the romance of the head cook and the queen’s dresser is so endearing, so captivating—so untrue. Charles Francatelli never married the Queen’s Head Dresser. Nancy, whose real name was Marianne Skerrett, served the queen for twenty-five years (and was 44 years old when she came to the palace to serve the 18 year old monarch). She spoke several languages, came from a well-connected family, and had considerable responsibilities. Francatelli did not work long at the palace, and there is no record of he and Skerrett being together. Skerrett was married to her job. So much for that romance.

Another false romance is that of Ernest and Harriet. In real life, Ernest was married at that time, and so was Harriett, plus, she was twelve years older than him. Oh, she eventually had eleven children, while Ernest did not have any with his wife. He did have that problem referred to throughout the episodes—thanks to his dear Papa who introduced him to brothels. Albert declined, of course that initiation.

Albert’s parentage remains a historical titillation since Leopold happened to be visiting when Albert’s mother conceived. Even historians tend towards questionable conclusions.

And yes, there were several assassination attempts on Victoria.

As for Lord M…much ado about nothing. Lord Melbourne did indeed have a huge influence as her prime minister, yet he acted as a mentor for the young queen, advising and guiding her first years as a monarch. He was more of a father figure, although it might be conceivable Victoria had a crush on Lord M, although being 40 years older creates doubt.

Other points of detouring from fact include the Duchess of Bucceouth being in her spritely 30s instead of the curmudgeonly older woman Diana Riggs brought to the role.

The duchess and the footman romance is loosely based on Caroline Norton’s sad experience (accused of adultery with Lord M), and being denied access to her children. She was able to change the law so women had more rights—now that would make for an excellent episode. Instead we get trysts and time outs.

Although Queen Victoria is not one of my British monarch faves, costume dramas, BBC style, are so colorful and elaborate, such a visual feast, such an escape, especially in winter when evenings start at 4 pm.

I do wonder why the writers feel the necessity to tinker with the historical truths. Actual events were plentiful and interesting enough in their own without elaboration or bending.

So, an open request to BBC showrunners: Really, we can handle history as it happened. If we want dramatized history we can turn to Shakespeare.

That reminds me—maybe it’s time to revisit The Hollow Crown since I’ve gone through All Creatures Great and Small, Sanditon, Wolf Hall, and even a revisit of Dr Who’s second season.

What series gets you through winter evenings?

Timely Trials


November is a conundrum, being a month that offers a mixture of pleasantries and of trauma.

First off, how can one hour wreak absolute havoc? The bonus of getting extra sleep when setting the clock back one hour quickly becomes a bad trade off since my body clock doesn’t easily adjust.

I’m one of those people who doesn’t need to set an alarm clock. No matter when I go to bed I wake up at 5 am. Sleeping in is an ideal, not a reality. DST now creates the dilemma of the time read on my bedside table blaring “4 am” in red LED numerals. Gah.

It takes until spring, about the time we spring forward, that my body clock reconciles the hour difference.

Another November trial is PTC—Parent Teacher Conferences. Our district provides two nights (after working a full day) where teachers are available to parents. As much as I enjoy meeting parents, it’s a tough schedule, especially since that hour sleep deprivation is amplified by a week. I hope parents don’t think their student’s teacher is a zombie because after a week of disturbed sleep cycle I am definitely feeling zombi-ish.

Fortunately, the long two days trades out nicely as it applies to two days off which coincides with Thanksgiving week. Having a week off after PTC while dealing with DST having graded a stack of SPRPs (Senior Project Research Papers) is definitely appreciated.

And I do enjoy thanksgiving. No holiday shopping hype. No endless rounds of obligatory events to attend. No gifts to stress about. Nope. Food, friends, family. Now, that’s what I call a grand holiday.

One another aspect of November that is irksome is the night factor. Having the sunset earlier and earlier each night means driving home in the dark which initiates the feeling I’m working the swing swift in the coal mines. After working inside all day stepping outside into the light is a necessity. Good thing D3 is inexpensive and I thank whomever for inventing the Happy Light.

perpetuating a perceived reality

November also begins the season which features that four letter word, and its presence stays among us much too long in the area of which I call home. Shiver, shudder, and grumble.

So—November is a bit of a trial, yet knowing there is a pumpkin pie waiting for me at the end of the month makes losing sleep, grading papers, working two twelve hour days, and dealing with that which shall not be named, a bit easier to swallow.

Word Nerds: November


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November is Thanksgiving month. I do relish Thanksgiving: food, friends, family and no huge commercial hype. Thanksgiving involves a banquet of good times, good food, good company. In connection with bounty I offer a cornucopia of words this month, a hodgepodge to feast upon. Enjoy!

hyetal: relating to rainfall

pococurante: indifferent

forgetive: creative; inventive

paraph: the flourish after one’s signature

flubdub: pretentious; putting on airs

congeries: a collection of parts in one mass

vitiate: to impair the quality of something; spoil

causerie: an informal chat or talk

improbity: a lack of morals or honesty; perseverance

arctophile: a collector of Teddy bears.

Image result for a collection of teddy bears

squiz: to peer at quickly and closely.

anodyne: anything that relieves pain or distress

kyoodle: to bark or yelp noisily or foolishly; yap

embosk: to hide amongst greenery

exoteric: commonplace; suitable to be communicated to the general public

Isn’t that a succulent succotash of wordage? Got your appetizers, main course and dessert all in one place. What do you propose dining upon?

Suggested Menu

Appetizer: “squiz” as in glancing over the table for particular favorites

Salad or Soup Course: “exoteric” so as to appeal to even the bland dietary needs of Aunt Polly

Main Course: “congeries” because they are in season and are filling without creating havoc digestion wise leaving room for dessert

Dessert: “paraph” since they are individual and provide a unique aftertaste

After dinner the following can be available:

Anodynes due to the kyoodling of Aunt Polly’s poodles which always vitiate the meal; however, one can endeavor to pococurante the noisome nonsense and savor the causerie.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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