Saturday night’s show

Aurora Borealis (panorama)

We went down to Bois­se­vain on the week­end to help out with the Dun­rea Flea Mar­ket[1]It rather out­grew the avail­able space in Dun­rea., and stayed over at our friends’ farm­house a few miles south of town. There were a few shows put on by the North­ern Lights that night; I caught one of them. They danced for about 20 min­utes while I watched. Here are some of the pho­tos I got.

I tried to cap­ture a panora­ma, to show just how much of the sky was involved. Unfor­tu­nate­ly my image-stitch­ing pro­gram balked at cre­at­ing a panora­ma; the auro­ra were mov­ing too much for the soft­ware to find sim­i­lar­i­ties in the pho­tos. I man­u­al­ly aligned them instead.

Aurora Borealis (panorama)

And I did up a quick time­lapse. The 33 sec­onds of video rep­re­sents about 33 min­utes of pho­tos, each one a 5‑second exposure.

When the show was wind­ing down, I turned around and saw that the Milky Way was high above the farm. One more pho­to, I thought, then I’ll go inside.

The Milky Way above the farm

Foot­notes

Foot­notes
1 It rather out­grew the avail­able space in Dunrea.

Friday night in the park

Star Trails at Spruces

My friend Tim was camp­ing at Wasagam­ing, as is his wont on the Sep­tem­ber long week­end. I went to vis­it on Fri­day evening.

We head­ed up to Spruces to check out the sunset…

…and the moon.

Lat­er, the galaxy appeared as the moon set.

And I decid­ed to try to catch Jupiter with my 55250mm lens, which is usu­al­ly too shaky at 250mm. It seems to have worked. (If I’m read­ing this right, the moons are, L‑R, Cal­lis­to, Europa, and Io.)

Jupiter, with moons Callisto, Europa, and Io visible

After I dropped Tim off at his camp­site, I saw that the auro­ra were mak­ing an appear­ance. I stopped in a few places (the beach in Wasagam­ing[1]Man, I real­ly don’t like the orange lights at the beach, the dock on the golf course road, and on the road­side on #10 highway).

Foot­notes

Foot­notes
1 Man, I real­ly don’t like the orange lights at the beach

Writing Retreat 2022: Wrap-up

How’d I do against my goals?

  • write at least 10,000 words in “Dried Flow­ers”: Check. The nov­el went from 33,000 words to 45,000.
  • get some astropho­tog­ra­phy done. Check: see below.
  • read some books. I read the last chap­ter in Fugi­tive Teleme­try, the last 6 chap­ters in The Book of the New Sun, and made my way a bit over half-way through Catch-22. Also, I bor­rowed the next Sand­man col­lec­tion from one of the library’s online resources, and read a cou­ple chap­ters in it. 
  • ride my bike. A lit­tle; one 6km ride and a few quick runs across the dam into town to go to the cof­fee shop, so as to use their wifi.
  • go kayak­ing. I got out on the water on Thurs­day and Fri­day, for a total of about 8½km.
  • relax. Yes? I had a hard time sleep­ing past 7 am, but oth­er­wise it was a relax­ing week.

All in all, this was a good retreat. As always, I wish it had been longer, but you know what they say: so it goes.

Series: Writing Retreat 2022

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Goals; Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Mon­day; Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Tues­day; Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Wednes­day; Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Thurs­day; Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Fri­day; Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Wrap-up.

Writing Retreat 2022: Friday

In the morn­ing I wrote my 1,000 words after break­fast, then read a few more chap­ters in Catch-22. Man, that book is con­vo­lut­ed; I think it’s a good re-read, espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing that my cur­rent project is some­what non-lin­ear too.[1]It crossed my mind, as I was in the kayak, that Peace and Jacob’s Lad­der will also have inter­est­ing things to say to me, as I write this tale. But I think I’ll wait till the first draft is done.

After lunch I went to the cof­fee shop to post yes­ter­day’s mis­sive, then—since the weath­er was, if any­thing, more love­ly than yesterday—I took the kayak out onto the lake again. As I was return­ing, I checked my dis­tance, and found I’d gone 4.31 km. I decid­ed that anoth­er quick pass by the pub­lic beach/floating play struc­ture and back should eas­i­ly add anoth­er 0.69 km, and I was right—my final dis­tance as I beached my craft was just over 5 km. I can live with that.

I read a bit more, had supper—the last of the burg­ers I bar­be­cued, which leaves only 6.02×10²³ smok­ies, cool cool cool. And now I’m about to start writ­ing, with a glass of iced cof­fee[2]Made from the dregs of my morn­ing cof­fee, poured into a glass and stored in the fridge, where it devel­oped a thin skin of ice. beside me.

The sky was cloud­less after dark, so I packed my gear and head­ed north for a few kilo­me­ters. I found a nice dark spot on a side road just before the entry to the riv­er val­ley, and shot some pho­tos of the Milky Way again.

Sample

She walked toward the lake. Her san­dals filled with sand, fine and soft as talc, annoy­ing her. She took the san­dals off and car­ried them, loop­ing their straps over her mid­dle and index fin­gers and crook­ing her hand into a loose fist at her side. The san­dals’ heels thumped her thigh soft­ly with every step, which was a dif­fer­ent kind of annoying.

At the edge of the water the sand dark­ened, not because it was wet, she saw, but because words had snagged in it, lay flat on it: water-coloured sans-serif let­ters over­lap­ping in sense­less pro­fu­sion. A mil­lion thes and as and saids in blue and aqua­ma­rine and smoke grey were scat­tered as far as she could see, and tens of thou­sands of words less common—less invis­i­ble as one of her edi­tors had put it—were lay­ered below and above, fresh­ly deposit­ed or soak­ing into the sand, dark­en­ing, dis­ap­pear­ing: birth, house, joy, spar­row, rose, for­mi­da­ble. Soft wavelets made of bluish words capped with small white word­caps dropped new words as she watched, the white foam of win­dow whirl bribe fad­ing, dark­en­ing, becom­ing part of the great smear of words.

She set her san­dals down where the sand was still heart­break­ing­ly bright, where the waves had­n’t come in and crest­ed and crashed only to recede. Where the paper was still unblem­ished, the page still holy and blank. She walked into the water; no, the lake of words.

Water isn’t wet, she remem­bered some­one telling her, after some­one else had made the “water wet, fire hot, sky blue” joke at some TV report about a new dis­cov­ery that was painful­ly obvi­ous if you just applied com­mon sense. Water makes oth­er things wet, but wet­ness, he told her, jab­bing a fin­ger to make his point stick (and it must have worked, because here she was think­ing about it) is not an intrin­sic prop­er­ty of the water itself.

The words touched her and did not feel wet, did not wet her ankles or (as she pro­gressed) her calves. They clung to her as water would, mold­ing them­selves against her shapes. She felt tran­som and for­get and peace against the backs of her knees, in amid the whirling yeses and saids and thes. She walked fur­ther, deep­er. Her skirt did­n’t cling against her as it would in water, but the words crowd­ed onto its dark fab­ric too. The tail of her blouse was dec­o­rat­ed with now and togeth­er, dried and he.

She took a breath and ducked under the surface.

Series: Writing Retreat 2022

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Goals; Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Mon­day; Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Tues­day; Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Wednes­day; Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Thurs­day; Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Fri­day; Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Wrap-up.

Foot­notes

Foot­notes
1 It crossed my mind, as I was in the kayak, that Peace and Jacob’s Lad­der will also have inter­est­ing things to say to me, as I write this tale. But I think I’ll wait till the first draft is done.
2 Made from the dregs of my morn­ing cof­fee, poured into a glass and stored in the fridge, where it devel­oped a thin skin of ice.

Writing Retreat 2022: Wednesday

Cabin chic: a golden sun figure hanging on the outside wall
Cabin chic: a golden sun figure hanging on the outside wall
Cab­in chic

Today, after break­fast, I sat down and wrote about 1,500 words (I real­ly want­ed to get the man­u­script up over 39,000, and I just man­aged it). Then I read for a bit, and around lunch hopped into the car to go check out Big Valley.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Wednes­day”

Series: Writing Retreat 2022

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Goals; Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Mon­day; Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Tues­day; Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Wednes­day; Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Thurs­day; Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Fri­day; Writ­ing Retreat 2022: Wrap-up.

Aurora, Aug. 1920, 2022

Aurora Borealis, Aug. 20, 2022

Last night, the auro­ra data looked good, and also the sky was clear (unlike oth­er nights late­ly). I packed my cam­era and tri­pod, then head­ed out to one of my favourite spots (Twin Pines Field, let’s call it) about 10:45pm.

The tem­per­a­ture dropped while I was out, going from about 24°C to 17°C. Every­thing got coat­ed with a slick of dew, including—as you can see in the last photo—my lens[1]Actu­al­ly, it was the trans­par­ent UV fil­ter over the lens, which was much eas­i­er to wipe clean. Phew..

All told, I shot almost a thou­sand images, each one a 5‑second expo­sure[2]Nerds: 11mm, 5s, f/2.8, ISO 3200., which con­ve­nient­ly means that mak­ing a time­lapse at 12 frames a sec­ond cre­ates a video where 1 sec­ond of video = 1 minute of real time. So my hour and twen­ty min­utes at Twin Pines Field con­dens­es into a minute and twen­ty sec­onds for your edutainment.

Enjoy!

Foot­notes

Foot­notes
1 Actu­al­ly, it was the trans­par­ent UV fil­ter over the lens, which was much eas­i­er to wipe clean. Phew.
2 Nerds: 11mm, 5s, f/2.8, ISO 3200.

On a cloudy night

Lighthing on the horizon

The auro­ra fore­cast was great, but the earth­ly fore­cast was clouds, clouds, clouds. I ven­tured out any­way, hop­ing against hope for a small break in the clouds.

On the back road I chose, there were clouds all around, and lightning—lots of it—to the south and east. I did­n’t hear any thun­der, but there were moments where the clouds lit up from with­in. I man­aged to get one bright bolt in focus.

Look­ing up, I saw that there was indeed a break in the clouds, just large enough for Jupiter to shine through. If you view the pho­to full-size, you’ll see two moons as well: Cal­lis­to on the left and Ganymede on the right (if I’m using this tool correctly).

Jupiter, with Callisto and Ganymede visible

Then, before head­ing home, I decid­ed to take a cou­ple shots of the north­ern sky. There was a hint of green to it. This is the best pho­to I man­aged of the auro­ra try­ing to peek through the clouds.

Clouds with a bit of auroral green

And then I went home.

The Milky Way, just off Hwy 2

I left the house last night around 11:30pm and head­ed south by south­east, look­ing for a nice dark spot to get some Milky Way pho­tos. I got set up on a grav­el road about 3 miles east of the junc­tion of High­ways #10 and #2, and start­ed snap­ping. Here are some of the shots I liked the most.

I had intend­ed to take an hour’s worth of pho­tos, but my cam­era bat­tery died after about 47 min­utes and I did­n’t notice for a while (I was read­ing in the car). Oh well, so it goes. Here’s the 47 min­utes com­pressed into a few sec­onds’ worth of time­lapse video.

Then, as I was leav­ing, I noticed the moon was set­ting over a small pond, so I got a shot of that, too.

Crescent moon reflected in a pond