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Week of June 11, 2001:
Dogs, Whales, Parhelic Circles, & Polite Present


In June, Jack and I flew to the Pacific Northwest to spend time with family. We stayed with my mother, Ethel Crook and her miniature dachshund, Betsy, an adorable bundle of perpetual motion who (within seconds of our arrival) burrowed her way into my computer case (I'd innocently placed it on the floor and turned away to visit with Mom) and proudly retrieved a floppy disk. She's busy and mischievous, and the apple of my 90-year-old mother's eye.

An aside: back in Phoenix, my son, Ron Simpson, just brought over our newest granddog: 18-month-old golden retriever, Nugget, who is beautiful and gentle, but very shy. He simply tucks himself in a corner and watches us. After our two weeks with Betsy (who never knew a stranger, and who doesn't understand the meaning of words like "rest," "peace," and "quiet"), we decided Nugget should take a Betsy Crook Assertiveness Training Course.



Mom (Ethel Crook) treated Jack and me and brother David Crook to an all-day excursion on a Killer Whale Search / Nature Watch Cruise on The Island Caper.

We packed a delicious lunch and headed for the ship, docked at Bellingham Bay, and finally left the slip after all 60 or so passengers were aboard. The captain and and the naturalist provided us with a memorable day. We had brilliant nature lessons often followed by complete quiet as the boat slowed down to give us access to some seal rocks, or the habitat of a bald eagle.

They knew all the orca (killer) whale pods by a letter identification, and that day we watched the antics of whales from two pods, J and K. Getting a good photo is almost impossible. Every time I had my camera pointed at a spot where a whale had just appeared, another, nearby, would joyfully leap out of the water. I'd move my camera, but almost always too late. Oh well. Nothing can erase my memories of their playful, and trusting natures! Marshall Brain has an entire section on How Whales Work, replete with photos, charts, and sounds, at How Stuff Works. The section also offers links to other quality whale-related sites


Parhelic Circles

parhelic circles

In a different vein, seeing two parhelic circles filled everyone on the boat with a sense of awe. The photo to the right shows two circles (the lower one is less brilliant than the one closest to the sun).

"What happens," says naturalist David Given-Seymour, "is similar to what happens when you hang a crystal in the window of your home. Sunlight hits the crystal and, as it passes through it, is refracted (bent) so that the red light waves are bent at a slightly different angle than the blue light waves.

"Thus, they are separated and become visible, with the red waves appearing closer to the sun than the blue waves. The crystals in this case are made of ice and are found only in the upper reaches of the atmosphere."

Given-Seymour (also affectionately known as Captain Trivia) explains this awesome spectacle in his online narrative, and you can find out more about parhelic circles here.

Polite Present: Manual of Good Manners, 1831

Excerpts from a charming, serious 2 1/2" x 4" book published in 1831 by Munroe & Francis.

AT CHURCH: Decently walk to the pew; run not, nor go playing. Sit where you are directed by your parents. Shift not seats, but continue in the place where you are desired.

Talk not in church, especially in time of service. Fix your eye on the minister; let it not wildly wander to gaze on any person or thing.


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