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Monday, June 4, 2012

Transit of Venus/Honey Moon


It's our old friend Monday again, another weekend is history. Hope yours was good - here in Chicago it was glorious - Saturday one of those big sky days with towering fluffy clouds against the bluest of skies. And my voice coach Mark told me it's a special moon because of its ecliptic proximity and the fact that it reflects particles from the fertile equator - it has a honey hue to it. It's also this time of year hives are fullest and are historically harvested to brew mead. Drinking mead during spring weddings led to the term honeymoon. I love that image- new love, full hives, a tipsy bridal party under a large golden colored moon. Who needs anything else?

And I loved an article I read at 3AM as I lay in bed, unable to sleep for some restless reason. A rare astronomical occurrence coming up tomorrow - "the transit of Venus" which won't occur again until 2117 (we'll all be dead). The reason the event is rare is because, normally, when Venus' orbit passes in between the Earth and the sun, it is too low or too high to cross in front of the sun's face from our vantage point. From the time the telescope was invented there have been seven transits (the eighth is tomorrow) - they come in pairs - when there is one there is another just eight years later and then not another for a hundred plus years after that. So the seven have been, 1631/1639, 1761/1769, 1874/1882, and now 2004/2012.  It's the pair of transits that occurred in the 1700's that's the stuff of good history reading.

Enter the well known astronomer, Edmund Halley who is best know for his comet. He realized the value of observing and making measurements of the transit of Venus to crack the then unsolved problem of figuring how large our solar system is. By measuring the transit from various points on Earth, the distance to the Sun could be triangulated, using basic math. Problem was in 1761 Europe was embroiled in the Seven Years War, not to mention that communicating with people in other parts of the world took sending letters on slow boats. Famous explorers like James Cook were dispatched to remote parts of the globe, but an example of the problems they encountered was when the heaviness of the measuring equipment caused it to keep falling through the ice (Siberia). They didn't get the needed measurements in 1761, but eight years later, when the next transit came around, the war was over and communication was better. The measurements were procured and the distance calculated. It was an amazing multi-nation effort - one of the first collaborative scientific undertakings of its kind. I just ordered the book, Transit of Venus by Nick Lomb. If you think I'm a geek to like this kind of thing, don't get me started on the Panama Canal!!!!

Friday was such fun at Schaller's - Judy and Bernie, my accountant and friend Robin and her sweetie, Jon and some of their friends, Mike, Janet and more. We sang out hearts for each other and the regulars - perfect way to end the week. Saturday, Scrabble with James - he beat me for about the first time cuz he's been playing tournament and then Sunday morning happiness and cuddling with Mike. Won't call him Lover #1 anymore -  it objectifies him - he has a name. Such a sweet, talented, generous man. Tonight I'm singing at Petterino's.

I'm aware I've been off my game with this blog - my writing lacks depth and continuity. It's a mirror to where I am at this time - I also lack depth and continuity. Lately it's all about riding the crest of change, trying to stay in the game, taking fun where I find it but being responsible. It's also about recovering from loss, having made up my mind to accept the loss fully. You already knew that I'd have to find my way here. But, I had my magical realism lenses on - clung to the idea there could be a happy ending if my heart was steadfast. Think of me with fists clenched, holding onto something so dear and precious, not allowing myself to let go for fear it would fly away from me. Last week, my fists released their grasp - I pried open the fingers, one at a time and finally opened my hands fully, only to discover I was holding onto air. Now I have to learn to walk without fists clenched at my sides. It's time. I still love the guy - always will, but now, he belongs to my past.

Challenge today is thinking about our place in history, maybe ordering the Transit of Venus book. When I read history I'm struck by how fast our lives are accelerating. Without being nostalgic, I wonder what people would think if they were invited to a peasant wedding where the entertainment was simply toasting the bride and groom with honey mead and dancing under the June moon. I am amazed that less than 300 years ago, scientists struggled to take measurements in yet unchartered Tahiti. I'm worried about the future - is there anything we can do to slow the acceleration?

Peace,
Sarah

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