2 hours to go before i was meeting up with bruce to watch the eclipse, i had a quick breakfast of cheerios before leaving at 11am via motorcycle to go water my parents' backyard.
what i thought would be a quick stop ended up taking me longer than expected. besides watering, i also turned the compost bin as best as i could, using both pitchfork and compost aerator. ideally the compost would be in a elevated bin that can be easily turned, as increased mixing means increased compost production. hopefully that will be a future project.
i left belmont by 11:45am, heading to the cafe. i wasn't sure if my 2nd aunt had a pair of eclipse glasses so i was going to give her one of mine, but she already kept a pair for herself. i told her when the eclipse was going to happen. i was also going to take out my sister's trash and water her backyard garden, but my aunt said she'd take out the trash, so i decided i'd water her plants another day.
i returned home around noontime. i took a shower and began packing my things: bottle of ice water (using my 40 oz. container even though it didn't insulated anymore), my tripod, my 70-300mm lens with the solar filter taped to the front lens, my non-kosher eclipse glasses, and my handcrafted artisanal homemade eclipse glasses. with 15 minutes to go, i suddenly remembered i had to do one very important thing: download bonnie tyler's seminal song "total eclipse of the heart" so i could play it on my portable bluetooth radio at the exact moment of the eclipse (maximum totality anyway, which is around 60%). i sprayed on some sunblock before i left, if i was going to be outside under the bright sun for more than a hour, better to put on some skin protection.
i walked to bruce's place at 1pm. we drove down to fresh pond, parking on huron avenue and then walking to the park. there was plenty of parking there, but difficult to leave afterwards as it required crossing always-busy fresh pond parkway. we got to fresh pond at 1:18pm. we were surprised to find kingsley park entirely deserted. since the eclipse wouldn't begin until 1:28pm, we had some time to kill, so we took a loop around the perimeter so bruce could look for some milkweeds to feed his caterpillars. we also found some eggs as we as tiny caterpillars.
we returned to kingsley park around 1:35pm. there was a few people there, but not the crowd we were expecting. we climbed to the top of the hill and found a tree to sit underneath which gave us a bit of shade. i gave bruce the option of using the purchased eclipse glasses (with suspect protected) or my DIY glasses with higher quality solar filter; he went with the safer option. the ebay-bought eclipse glasses were still okay to use, but i made sure i only glanced at the sun with them and try not to stare for too long. i also had my solarized telephoto lens. i brought my tripod which turned out to be unnecessary as i shot the eclipse by hand.
eclipses happen here every once in a while, but we've never had a total eclipse. today wasn't much different, as we'd only be seeing a partial solar eclipse. the last time we had a partial solar eclipse (actually an annular eclipse) in these here parts was back in may 1994. i remember because i was still in college, living in south hall, looking out my window and seeing the partial eclipse. as for total lunar eclipses, i saw one back in october 2004 the same night the red sox finally won the world series, and more recently back in september 2015. lunar eclipses aren't very exciting, just a reddish-colored moon.
as we approached the time of the eclipse maximum, more people started showing up. had this been a bonafide total eclipse, i'm sure this hill would be mobbed with people. some arrived with eclipse glasses, others with makeshift pinhole cameras made with all sorts of materials, from shoebox to cereal box to large cardboard packaging boxes.
as soon as maximum approached at 2:46pm, i began playing bonnie tyler's "total eclipse of the heart" on my bluetooth speaker. i don't think a lot of people got the joke, except for a trio of bros with pinhole cameras behind us who were snickering. despite the sun being 63% covered, it still felt plenty bright. maybe there was a sense of duskiness to the light, but had we not known there was an eclipse, we would've just thought maybe the sun was behind some clouds. if you looked up in the sky with your naked eye, you couldn't tell the difference. out of curiosity i took a photo with my iphone, and the sun was just this round bright object, couldn't see the eclipse. but there was a spot of glare in the tiny phone camera lens, and that glare was in the shape of the eclipse.
we didn't bother sticking around for the second half of the eclipse, when the sun began to slowly emerge again. we went back to where we saw the milkweeds. bruce collected a few leaves, making sure there were no eggs or caterpillars on the plants (as to not deprive them of food). as for me, i ended up taking a single milkweed leaf that had two monarchs on them: one a tiny caterpillar, the other an egg. it was on a small milkweed plant that had at least one other hatched caterpillar, and all 3 wouldn't be able to survive on that one plant, so i was helping them out in a way.
back at home i found some jars from the basement and tapped a few airholes on the lid. at some point i need to separate the two caterpillars, but i'm waiting for the second egg to hatch before doing that.
the first and only time i ever raised monarch butterflies was back in the summer of 2003. i ended up with 3 caterpillars, giving one away to my teacher friend amy so she could show it off in her classroom. i had some bad luck though, with one of the emerging monarch butterflies falling to the ground when it emerged from the chrysalis, breaking its wings and not being able to fly. i always thought that was the reason bruce never gave me another caterpillar to raise after that (though i could've easily gone out and found them on my own). since 2003, i've upgraded my camera equipment, and i plan on well documenting the monarch's life cycle this time around.
my mother gave me a bag of frozen chinese dumplings (30) before they left for vacation. i cooked up half for dinner tonight. i ate it with some weichuan dumpling sauce. storebought dumpling sauce? how can be better than the typical dipping sauce, which is just a combination of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, chopped garlic, and a dollop of hot sauce? it's different but just as good, the weichuan sauce has a very complex savory flavor, sweet and salty and spicy, worth trying out if you love chinese dumplings.
had a chance to use the new bike light last night. according to the manufacturer: it's powered by a 800mAh rechargeable lithium-polymer battery; 3 hours to fully charge via USB; 66x29x22mm 50g; 300 lumens CREE LED; 3 lighting modes - high 3hrs, medium 5hrs, flash 12hrs; side light design, lamp beam upper cut-off line (protects vision of oncoming traffic).