Eclipse Viewing

Yesterday, the US experienced a total solar eclipse. While I was not in the path of totality, my little city was fortunate enough to be in the path of a partial eclipse where 84% of the sun was shaded, so I made plans to watch the eclipse with my coworkers in the middle of the day.

I was able to procure eclipse glasses from our office, and I made myself a pinhole projector with a couple business cards. Duly armed, we gathered to watch the eclipse. The first hour we spent inside, watching out the south-facing window in our office, waiting until we were within a half an hour of maximum before going outside.

Outside, we watched as tourists and office workers alike trickled out onto the National Mall and our own building’s lawn. People with glasses watched the skies, while others watched the shadows. We saw the light begin to make crescents as it streamed through the leaves of the trees, the gaps in the leaves making little pinhole projectors of their own. One woman brought a colander to project an array of little crescents onto the ground.

Eventually, the eclipse reached its peak. We were a bit underwhelmed, as it did not get darker or feel any different to us, out of the path of totality. But considering that even 16% of the sun’s light is still much, much more than what reflects off the moon, that wasn’t surprising. But with eclipse glasses, we could still watch the sun narrow to a tiny sliver in the sky, and watch the shadows warp and then return to normal. Perhaps not the once-in-a-lifetime event that others experienced, but still something.

And perhaps in seven years, I’ll make more of an effort to make it to the path of totality.

How Playing Pokemon Go Led Me To Mordor

Hi! I’m Elizabeth, and I’m an adult woman that plays Pokemon. Or rather, I did play Pokemon, for a couple months at least. You see, when I returned from a business trip, I found that Boyfriend (oops, Fiancé) had discovered this new game that he thought we should try playing together. He plays a lot of computer and video games and has tried to get me interested in the past, but this one was different: this one makes you go outside. And I love going outside. I found it actually strengthened our relationship because we went on long walks together and then some of the time we spent lounging on the couch on our smartphones we were actually interacting and discussing the game.

Plus, I found a wild Pikachu on my walk to work and they’re adorable.

Now, I walk 3 miles to and from work every day and try to get in a little more besides that. But on days I work from home, or on weekends, I find it hard to get off the couch. Pokemon became a great motivator to walk on normally-sedentary days. I liked the fact that I was walking for a purpose, rather than just for the sake of walking. Walking with a goal in mind. It made me feel rather like an adventurer from one of the fantasy books I read. I couldn’t get where I needed to go other than by walking, so I walked all over the place.

And then Fiancé and I went to Montreal and we REALLY walked. Like, 10 miles a day. We fell out of the habit of playing Pokemon because we didn’t want to be distracted by our phones in an unfamiliar area, but we walked a lot. And it got me thinking about what I really liked about Pokemon Go: the idea of walking for a purpose.

That brought up a memory of a walking challenge I’d heard of a while ago called the Eowyn Challenge, where you log your daily walking and as it adds up, you set goals in terms of the landmarks in the journeys of the characters in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. So you can virtually follow Sam and Frodo’s journey to Mordor by showing how your daily mileage adds up. So rather than going back to trying to catch seven gajillion Magikarp near the lake near my house, I decided to log my daily miles in terms of a walk to Rivendell. And then Lothlorien. And onwards. I know that if I walk an average of 5 miles a day, it’ll get me to Rivendell in about three months, so that’s a good start, and it inspires me to add walks in, and plan longer walks to bump up my average mileage.

It also helps reinforce walking as a mode of transportation for me. When I’m in an unfamiliar city, I walk a lot more, simply because I don’t have a car, and I’m not familiar with the public transit. I’d rather walk a few miles than try to figure out the bus system sometimes. Especially when doing so involves testing my confidence in my French language skills. But in my own town, I default to driving or taking the train a little longer to walk a little less. Why do that? Why not try walking a couple miles to that lunch place I like on my work-from-home day? Why not walk to my favorite coffee shop when I have the time on the weekend? And along the way, I get to pretend I’m a Tolkeinian adventurer, albeit with less hirsute feet.

Long Walks and Getting Caught in the Rain

As part of my attempts to be healthier, I’ve started walking more often. It’s not fitness walking, but instead I try to take a few long strolls per week. On the weekends when it’s easy to lay around all day, sometimes in the middle of the work day to break things up, and lately I’ve been getting Boyfriend to go for a nice walk before dinner some evenings when he’s home early.

The other day was one of those days. He actually beat me home. For once, I was the one working the 10+ hour day and he got home early to start dinner for me. But I managed to get home early enough in the evening that we had some time before it was really time for dinner. The sky was mostly blue with a few big white piles of clouds, so I thought it would be nice end to the day or beginning of the evening.

I like taking walks with Boyfriend. I walk fast, so he slows me down a bit, and we talk a lot. It’s nice to have that reconnect, a reminder of why we’re together. Sometimes we talk about work or about the house, or about plans we want to make with friends. When I’m in a play, we’ll talk about that. This time, I vented a little about work, and then we planned a party we want to have soon.

As we turned the corner for the last leg of our walk, probably less than a quarter-mile from home, it started spitting rain at us. Since we hadn’t heard any thunder, and could still see clear patches of sky, we figured we had a little time.

Five steps later, the sky opened on us. The rain fell in sheets of water, completely soaking us through. We decided to run for it, but it was longer than I thought it was, and I ended up tiring out. Plus, it was raining so hard that gasping for breath occasionally resulted in drowned sputtering. Boyfriend stayed with me while I panicked, worried that it was about to start lightning on us, and then went on ahead to open the house once it was in sight.

Once inside, we checked the parts of the house that leak to make sure nothing would be ruined, and then peeled off our soaking wet clothes. I was still in my wrap-front jersey dress and a pair of stockings from work. These went over the shower bar in one of our bathrooms, and we found clean towels and dry clothes. Then, I wrapped up in a blanket with a beer and a good book while Boyfriend cooked dinner. It was exciting, and ultimately a bit invigorating. And then we settled in for an uneventful evening.

Wisteria and Sunshine 

This weekend, my show opened, so the weekend was busy, to say the least. But I still got a moment to sit and relax and enjoy the lovely weather on the deck. The view reminded me of the ad from Enchanted April, which I also watched this weekend. And I do enjoy wisteria and sunshine.

Sunday was the first really warm day we’ve had since spring began. I had risen early to set my hair for a matinee performance, and had watched the film with my breakfast. The local bakery has chocolate-cherry bread for sale on the first Saturday of each month, so I had special bread, tea, and melon. Then, as the weather warmed up, I found myself with an hour to spare while baking a strawberry-rhubarb crisp for the post-matinee party. So I made another pot of Earl Grey, grabbed a book of short stories, and found a shaded spot on the deck to sit and read and sip tea. You see, Boyfriend and I plan to move at the beginning of the summer, and I thought I ought to enjoy it while I can.

I took a little turn around the yard at one point. It’s not a long walk, but you can see there is some interest. There at the back, there’s what looks a bit like the foundations of an old stone house or shed. I examined it a bit, although I’d looked at it before, and went over to check out the jungle of flora growing around the decorative basin to one side. Quite a lovely little garden. So lovely, in fact, that I decided I didn’t want to leave after all. But that is a story for another day.

A Walk ‘Round the Lake

The other day it was grey and cool, but not too cold, and I decided to take a walk around the lake near me. It’s something I do often on weekends and days off. The sky was lovely and dramatic, but without any rain, and the weather was just nice enough that I could get away wearing a light jacket.

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I first got to the lake and saw this archway of fluff. I’m not certain what type of tree it is, but the effect was rather striking.

There were other trees around the lake, mostly evergreens. Some were cut off at a point, the work of our resident beaver. The lake itself was covered in ducks and geese, and it was quiet. There were not a whole lot of people around, despite what I thought was nice weather. I suppose most don’t consider a cool, grey day to be the perfect weather for an outing.

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As I made my way around the path, I heard strains of music wafting over from a nearby chapel. Their belltower plays a concert every afternoon. There was a light breeze, but I found myself growing warm. By the time I got home I was rosy-cheeked and invigorated. It was a lovely walk.