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Spring is finally here. It has been a long cold winter. While I enjoy the cold, I have to admit I am glad that spring has finally arrived. My mallards have returned, and are nesting upstream from the building in Stow. My friend the muskrat is not only alive and well, he is quite plump. I haven’t seen his mate yet, but I am assuming she weathered the winter well. The blue herring should be arriving any day. In the recent years, he has moved his nest further up the river, but he still enjoys fishing in the canal.

It is time once again for the astronomy club’s annual Messier Star party/pot luck dinner. This is an annual rain or shine event. In the early years, it used to be held at a member’s home during the prime messier viewing period of the end of March, beginning of April. However, over the years, the weather has not always been kind, and the party pushed out now till the end of April, or early May. We have also stopped holding it at members homes and now hold it at the observatory. This of course makes me the official “host”. The only thing I can say is that no one goes home hungry. I cook to excess. This year, I keep telling myself that I will practice restraint. Now ask me if that will happen?

This past winter I burned some very old, dusty, dirty firewood. The building is a mess. So this week is clean up time. I figure if I work hard, and factor in the cat’s “big help”, I should have the place clean by September. 🙂  On a good note, I resurrected one of the dead roombas. I love roombas, when they work, they are fantastic. However, I have killed 8 roombas in a five year period.There is something about the wood ash dust that kills them quickly. As I left the building this morning, the roomba was happily cleaning away. If I run him every day this week, the room might actually look presentable. To add insult to injury, the refrigerator is acting up. I am afraid to stock up for fear, the fridge will die. I will say a prayer and sprinkle holy water on it to see it through the week and hope for the best.

Well time for work, no rest for the weary. May you have a safe and happy week.

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Winter has finally released its grip and spring is slowly working its way in. This of course means it must be time for the holy pilgrimage to Suffern New York to see the 23rd Annual North East Astronomy Forum. For those not into amateur astronomy, The Rockland Astronomy club hosts the largest astronomy forum in the east coast, if not the entire united states. Over a hundred vendors bring their latest wares for display and sale. Top speakers from all over the world come to give talks over the two day event. Thousands of amateur astronomers attend each year.
I look forward to the lectures this year, several are very interesting. I also look forward to catching up with old friends I have met over the years.  If you are one of the people going this year, I will see you there. If you have never heard of the forum before, check out their website:
http://www.rocklandastronomy.com/NEAF/Index.html

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Sacramento Bound

Well we are half way through the first leg of our journey to visit a sick friend. We are currently cruising at 28,000 ft and I’m writing this post. I love technology.  Can’t wait to visit with my friend

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For as long back as I can remember, Memorial Weekend was a time to travel to the cemetery, plant the annual flowers on the graves of our departed, and reflect upon their memory. The cemetery where my grandparents rest, is cut into a sloping hillside. As a child I remember riding with my father to the entrance of the cemetery. An iron gate guarded the entrance. It was always freshly painted, its hinges well oiled. The road to the grave site was lined with majestic maples. The stones and statues stood tall and picturesque on the hillside. The cemetery was always full of life, people planting flowers, grooming shrubs and paying their respects.

Today, there is a new cemetery, the field of death as I prefer to call it. It too, has a grand, well-kept gate protecting the entrance, but there the similarity ends. Once within, a vast ever-growing field of flatness is presented to you. Gone are the trees, and shrubs of old. In many sections, only flat headstones are allowed. A barren wasteland of sorts. Pounded by the sun, the grass mowed too short, is brown, and fights to live. This is the memory of today. The field today, is full of the living, they come to pay their respects. They set pots of flowers on the tombstones, knowing they must be removed in a week, so the dying grass can easier, be kept at bay. Despair fills my heart when I enter this field of death, not because of the memories of those departed, but the emptiness the field contains. As I place my pots of flowers on the various graves and say a prayer, I often sigh, knowing I too, one day will lie in this forsaken wasteland.

I still go to the cemetery of my grandparents and my forefathers. Their memory instilled deep within my soul. The once grand gate, is now broken and rotting, it sags on rusted hinges. The once majestic maples, are now diseased and dying. Along the hillside, the once proud headstones are leaning or fallen over. Some have layed forgotten on the ground for many years. The cemetery, once full of life and memories, is almost empty. The memories of the living have passed with time, as did they. Memories passed to the youth, seem to have been forgotten. Only the memories of today, and the field of death remain in their minds. It too will one day be forgotten.

Yet sitting here in the cemetery of my youth, I find peace and solitude. I remember those who have passed before me, and their accomplishments and sacrifices. Today, while sitting on that hillside I couldn’t help but remember a poem of my youth. I think it is an appropriate way to honor their memory. Here is the poem:

IN FLANDERS FIELDS

By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

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Here is the new map of Orrehaven Island. The map was created by the very talented Kip Ayers

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The New Map of Shivenridge

Here’s the new map of Shivenridge created by the talented Kip Ayers. His attention to detail is impressive.

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Here is the video trailer for the fourth book in the Keya Quest series.

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