Tag Archives: space

Capturing the Moon…Friday Fictioneers.

“Doesn’t everyone want to capture the moon?” She smiled enchanted by some kind of magic. “I wish I could just reach up into the sky with a magic, butterfly net. Bring the moon down to earth and hold it in my hands… a dazzling, golden ball of mystery.

“That’s what I do through the lens,” he replied. “It’s the closest I can get to taking it home.”

Meanwhile, the moon retained it’s secrets… watching, waiting, longing for the humans to return. It was so lonely just hanging up there in the sky.

“All I have left is their footprints”.

…..

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishof Fields.  PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

Touched By the Light of the Moon.

Photography can be a lot like fishing. When you see that perfect shot, you’ve left your camera at home. Or, as has happened to me many times, the @#$% battery has been flat.Mind you, things were a lot worse back in the day when you could so easily run out of film and you didn’t have the privilege or looking in the back of your camera to see whether you’d got the shot. You had to be very particular and go through a lot of film “just in case”.

Well, tonight was our lucky night even if being able to capture the moment and save it for eternity might not be everybody’s idea of hitting the jackpot. Yes, indeed, I’m sure if you surveyed 100 people, most of them would take winning lotto over being able to take a photograph…especially a night shot of the moon, which, without a tripod and the inherent blurring camera shake,  is going to be a “mission impossdible” to perfect.

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The moon rising on my father’s 70th Birthday tonight. What an incredible tribute!

But that’s not the point.There’s something incredible, spectacular, spiritual and beyond any kind of description about looking through the lens at something amazing and having your own version, interpretation or perspective on that. I also find that photogrphing something helps me to absorb it in much greater detail than I do watching it with the naked eye. There’s that focus. That intense focus where sometimes, I can almost feel myself merging in with the subject and becoming one.

Today is was my father’s 70th Birthday and it seemed quite appropriate that there was a particularly impressive, huge orange moon suspended in the sky as we droive home tonight.I didn’t even have to nudge Geoff to pull over at the lookout to take the photos. We were thinking the same thing and were pleased   that for once we had the camera in the car, battery charged and ready for action when such a brilliant photo opportunity was screaming out to be caught.

You can also get some very "interesting" effects taking night shots!!

You can also get some very “interesting” effects taking night shots!!

Being out there in the pitch black darkness staring at the moon through the lens and absorbing a sense of something so serene and beyond human comprehenion and understanding, was incredible. Time stood still for those few minutes and all the rush, bustle and “to-Do’s” melting away in the moonlight.

There was just peace.

Happy Birthdays Mum & Dad. Yes, Mum had her birthday during the week so it was a double celebration.

xx Rowena

The Ultimate Ball Fetching Champion of the Universe.

Welcome back to Bilbo’s Dog Blog.

Since I last blogged, I’ve finally been crowned: The Ultimate Ball Chasing Champion of the Universe!

Quite an apt title really, even if I did kind of award it to myself. That said, I did get quite a bit of assistance from Lady. She’s great with publicity, being  one of those extroverted types always trying to jump inside someone else’s skin. Frankly, I’m more than content inside my own. It usually even takes me awhile for me to warm up to a pat from visiting friends…even when they’re coming to feed me.

Yes, I know you probably wrote me off as yet another one-post wonder… like so many other dogs. However, being an entrepreneurial dog in my own understated, Border Collie way, I decided to give this blogging thing a bit of a whirl. Unlike others of my species, I can see the benefits of extending my sphere of influence far beyond the local telegraph pole and onto the world wide web and beyond. After all, dogs have been in space before so I’m not going to let some small world, backyard outlook stop me from spreading my paws and paw prints.

Indeed, I can just imagine looking up at the moon from my kennel on a dark cloudless night and seeing my paw print up there… How amazing! What’s more, it won’t get washed away like down at the beach. My paw print will be there for eternity. That’s forever and ever and ever!!

Laika the first dog in space. While in some ways a hero, she was killed in the name of science, which we obviously don't condone.

Laika the first dog in space. While in many ways my hero, she was killed in the name of science. As I’ve said before, humans need to pay more attention to the Golden Rule.

Hmm…The moon is an intriguing kind of place. Perhaps, one day dogs will even live up there but we’ll certainly look funny wearing one of those space suits with a goldfish bowl over our heads but I don’t know how we’ll ever manage to eat let alone chase a ball.

Anyway, I know you probably thought I was showing off  in my last post. Even though I am a good dog, this bravado was definitely out of character. Being a typically mild-mannered and understated character who doesn’t go jumping all over complete strangers or whacking other dogs in the face with their over-exuberant joy, I usually don’t advertise.

I also have to be a bit careful about what I share online. Sadly, way too many dogs and humans lump “good” in the same category as “nice”. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that. However, as strange as it might seem, being “nice” is somehow a bad thing attracting many  haters. Unfortunately, this can become quite a problem and even a threat to your life.

Even though I’m a highly intelligent dog whose abilities have been honed through countless generations of highly selective breeding, this aversion to niceness remains another one of life’s unsolvable mysteries. So, if you can work that one out, I’d really appreciate an explanation!! After all, aren’t being “good” or even”nice”  meant to be virtues? Wise and noble character traits that should be at the top of everybody’s shopping list along with the dog food? (Mind you, even dog food seems to slip off their shopping list at times!!)

Apparently not!

Anyway, I’ve already told you that I’m good at being good but that’s not my only strength.

I’m also particularly good at being persistent. Mum doesn’t know that I can read but when I was just a wee little pup, I read this on her fridge:

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Calvin Coolidge
30th president of US (1872 – 1933)  

Being a Border Collie, persistence is in my blood. After all, how do you think generations of my kind have been rounding up all those silly sheep?

Since I don’t exactly have access to any sheep in the city and rounding up the kids is even beyond my genius and skill, I’ve applied all that generational expertise and breeding to the fine art of rounding up my tennis ball. Indeed, I’ve become something of a ball herding champion. Indeed, Lady suggested I should call myself: Bilbo the Ultimate Ball Fetching Champion of the Universe. As much as I am adverse to too much publicity and like to keep a low profile, I reluctantly agreed.

My dedication and persistence is so intense that the humans always wear out long before me. They have no stamina whatsoever. Indeed, I usually have to wait for some unsuspecting visitor who doesn’t have their own dog to turn up. They’re usually most obliging. At least, for awhile!

I might not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound to catch my ball but I do have some very impressive manoevres. That is, despite getting on in years and acquiring these rather generous love-handles. My increasing girth has complicated things a little.

While my career prospects were certainly looking very good for awhile there, even The Ultimate Ball Chasing Champion of the Universe has some limitations. While I can leap in the air with great agility all things considered, I hate getting my paws wet. Indeed, for a long while, I simply refused. No negotiations or even  a “go see my agent”!!

Quite a few times now while I’ve been training over at Palm Beach, my beloved tennis ball has fallen in the water.

Bilbo watching his ball drift out to sea.

Bilbo watching his ball drift out to sea.

The first time it happened, my entire body went into shock and all four paws were frozen to the spot. Only my eyes were moving, doggedly fixated on my ball as it rapidly went South with the rising tide. If you have ever witnessed a true ball chasing champion, you will appreciate my distress…such angst! Oh my goodness! It was almost like watching my dinner drift out to sea.

Almost mocking my terror, the family calls out: “Where’s your ball, Bilbo? Go and get your ball!”

While I’m combusting with horror, Mum has no sympathy at all. Instead, she’s doing her usual paparazzi thing and  glaring at my distress through the camera lens.

“This will make Funniest Home Videos for sure!” She calls out.

Nobody, not one member of the family, was trying to help me. They were just making fun of me as my heart was tearing in two. Did I actually love my beloved tennis ball enough to wet my paws and swim out to save it? Did it mean that much to me? Sure, they  knew my commitment and perseverance bordered on obsession but would it be enough to push me over the edge of my fear?

The agony crescendos.

The agony crescendos.

The kids just laughed and my heart sank. They could have easily jumped into the water and come to my rescue or even pulled it out with their precious fishing net. At least then, they would have caught something more than stupid seaweed. Something precious and as much as they keep saying they love me, this would have been the proof. A dog needs more than a pat, you know.

It was at this point, I decided the family needed to learn a thing or two about that Golden Rule they keep talking about. They needed to learn how to turn those precious words into action.

Treating  others as you would like to be treated, definitely meant getting my ball. No doubt about it.

I was an emotional wreck. My precious tennis ball heading out to sea and my family…my precious, beloved family, laughing in the face of my misfortune…and even taking photos, film and selling it off to a TV show and all. I was disgusted.

Like so many other rules, it seemed that The Golden Rule only applied to others and not to themselves!!

Anyway, they finally got with the program and fished my ball out with the broom.

Finally some assistance. Miss puts Bilbo out of his misery!

Finally some assistance. Miss puts Bilbo out of his misery!

At least, they rescued it that time.

However, they now know my Achilles heel and they seem to take great delight in throwing my ball in the water…especially when my persistence is right at it’s peak and they know me well enough by now and that I’m not going to jump in after it. I don’t need to. Eventually, once all that water goes away, my ball is usually waiting for me on the sand. At least, my beloved ball has some concept of loyalty!!

As I’m sure you can appreciate, it’s not easy being The Ultimate Ball Fetching Champion of the Universe but it could always be worse.

I could have been a cat.

xx Bilbo

PS All this ball chasing can make a dog rather hungry. So, anybody wanting to support a future champion, can please send bones through to this blog. I’m not too sure how you convert them from images into something I can eat yet but as I mentioned before, I can be extremely persistent. You just ask my Mum!!

Note from Mum: Today, Bilbo’s powers of persistence even proved too much for his ever-faithful tennis ball. Unfortunately after yet another misguided throw, it ended up in the water and actually sank. Turns out excessive love and persistence had eternally punctured it’s soul.

 

 

 

 

Inspired by an Astronaut- Life Lessons from Daddy.

Life lessons seem to be contagious around here and why not? We’re a switched on family. Well, at least we’re as switched on as anyone else you’ll find out there only too willing to tell you how to live your life!

Well, now Geoff’s jumped on the bandwagon and as usual has completely dwarfed all my efforts. He struck the jackpot. He found the life lesson of life lessons to pass onto our son and for once it seems it went in one ear and actually somehow managed to stick inside of his brain…at least for now. I’m going to type the story up and stick it on his bedroom wall right where he can see it along with a photo of Astronaut Chris Hadfield if I can find one. I might just have to send off a request.

Geoff is currently reading Chris Hadfield’s: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.  You might have seen Chris Hadfield on youtube singing his great hit: Space Oddity…a tribute to David Bowie’s legendary space song: Space Odyssey:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaOC9danxNo

He’s also been featured on 60 Minutes. He’s an incredible guy, which of course, all astronauts are. They are some kind of supreme being having been among the very privileged few who have viewed our beautiful planet from space. The rest of us can only dream and surf the net for second-hand views.

I hope I don’t get busted for breach of copywrite or anything nasty like that but I found Chris Hadfield’s reflections so inspiring for kids that it is worth the risk.

It was July 20, 1969 and Chris Hadfield and his brother had just seen Neil Armstrong land on the moon. He writes:

“Slowly, methodically, a man descended the leg of a spaceship and carefully stepped on the surface of the moon. The image was grainy, but I knew exactly what we were seeing: the impossible, made possible…Later, walking back to our cottage, I looked up at the moon. It was no longer a distant, unknowable orb but a place where people walked, talked, worked and even slept. At that moment, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I was going to follow in the footsteps so boldly imprinted just moments before. Roaring around in a rocket, exploring space, pushing the boundaries of knowledge and human capability – I knew, with absolute clarity, that I wanted to be an astronaut.

I also knew, as did every kid in Canada, that it was impossible. Astronauts were American. NASA only accepted applications from US citizens, and Canada didn’t even have a space agency. But…just the day before it had been impossible to walk on the Moon. Neil Armstrong hadn’t let that stop him. Maybe someday it would be possible for me to go too, and if that day ever came, I wanted to be ready.

I was old enough to understand that getting ready wasn’t simply a matter of playing “space missions” with my brothers in our bunk beds, underneath a big National Geographic poster of the Moon. But there was no program I could enrol in, no manual I could read, no one even to ask. There was only one option, I decided. I had to imagine what an astronaut might do if he was 9 years old, then do exactly the same thing. I could get started immediately. Would an astronaut eat his vegetables or have potato chips instead? Sleep in late or get up early to read a book?

I didn’t announce to my parents or my brothers and sisters that I wanted to be an astronaut. That would’ve elicited approximately the same reaction as announcing that I wanted to be a movie star. But from that night forward, m dream provided direction to my life. I recognised even as a 9-year-old that I had a lot of choices and my decisions mattered. What I did each day would determine the kind of person I’d become.”

You read this and you can understand how he reached his goal. That’s incredible insight for a 9-year-old.

Geoff read this out to Mister and half-way through Mister said: “I can become an astronaut”. Geoff kept reading. Mister had the right answers. He knows what he needs to do.

Now, this story has particular relevance to Mister because he is also 9 years old. It was priceless for him to hear such wisdom from a peer, another 9 year old boy who had since gone on to reach his impossible dream and be an astronaut in space.  That is certainly worth far more than a mountain of talk from his Mum or Dad. Geoff and I were both so thrilled to be able to pass this onto our son. A legacy far greater than gold.

Today, I asked Mister what he wanted to be and he muttered his reply so quickly I couldn’t understand him. I asked him to speak more clearly. There was much excitement and animation in his voice as he replied:

“I have to talk really fast. There are 600 things I want to do and I only have three minutes to talk. ”

It looks like he’s taking after his Mum.

xx Rowena & Geoff

Reference:

Chris Hadfield: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Macmillan,  London, 2013, pp 3-4.

A Different Perspective on Humanity

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a8/NASA-Apollo8-Dec24-Earthrise.jpg

Ever since I saw Dead Poet’s Society, I have truly appreciated turning something on it’s head and seeing it from a totally different perspective. Looking at something in a new or different way which challenges me to stop. Think. Not just go with the same old same old and step well beyond the square.
Indeed, beyond the flow.
That is what I love about this photo of Earth as viewed from the moon. We are so used to gazing up and looking up at the moon and yet how often do we ever consider how the moon sees us?
Sure, I know for most of you, the moon sees nothing. It’s just an inanimate lump of rock which orbits the Earth. You gave up believing in the man in the moon almost a lifetime ago. So who cares how the moon’s perspective of the Earth? How the moon sees things when, as I said, it’s just a lump of rock?
Well, I’ve always been a little different and some would argue that I’m in a league or perhaps even a world all of my own.
I am beyond the flow.
Anyway, a few years ago, I was working on a kid’s story where the moon wasn’t just a lump of rock in the sky. It was a character and for many months there, as I lived and breathed that story, I tried to see things from the moon’s perspective…as you do as a writer.
That was when I first saw this photo and I sat on the moon and enjoyed the view. That was how the moon saw us. I really took this view into my heart and loved it… our beautiful, blue planet rising in the vastness of space. It was so exquisitely pretty and beyond that, it was home… my home.  I am a little, invisible part of it joined up with all those other little bits and together we make a whole. We make up this blue planet.
It’s amazing what you can discover when you look at things from a different angle.
You can gain a whole new fresh perspective. You never know. You might even embark upon an entirely different journey.
I am trying this approach with a few challenges I am facing. Whenever I feel negative, I try to turn my feelings around to see the positives. Not in a way that lies to myself but just trying to view things differently. Finding a different perspective.
On Friday night, I will be staying in hospital overnight at the sleep lab to check out how I am breathing in my sleep. Like most people, I don’t like hospitals and I’ve had some very rough times in them. It could well be a time when some really bad memories return to haunt me and I am only human. I am scared.
At the same time, I am trying to find a different perspective. It is one night. I will be fine.
I might even think about this photo while I’m in there. It has a peace and serenity about it which is very reassuring.
It’s much more reassuring than the evening news which is on in the other room.
Isn’t it incredible how peaceful and serene our little blue planet appears from space where all the chaos and the craziness of billions of people just blurs in a blue haze?!!
I think I prefer that perspective, even if it means sticking my head in the sand.
Any thoughts?
xx RowenaI apologise for the formatting issues on this post. All the text disappeared and I had to fiddle around to get it back.