Friday, August 25, 2017

Total Eclipse on the Fink Family Farm... Part One

Over two years ago, our now ten-year-old grandson from California, Kestrel, informed us that a total eclipse was going to pass over Oregon on August 21, 2017, and no matter what, he was going to be here for it. And he was. Along with his brother, parents and a host of our relatives... 27 people altogether. It so happened that our farm was in the narrow path of totality.

Since a total eclipse is the union of sun and moon, and since Johnny and I have been married 50 years this year (actual anniversary in February), I decided we should also celebrate the 50 1/2 year union of Johnny and Linda. And so we did.

Kestrel and his brother Cedrus and their parents arrived by car on Thursday, Aug. 17. Grandson Ian from Washington also arrived that day... by train. All of those people cooked meals and helped get ready for the party. Plus took hikes to the river and through the arboretum. Johnny and I each took photos. So many photos that I am dividing them into three blogs: before the eclipse, during the eclipse, and after.

We spent weeks before anyone arrived emptying the carriage house of its stock trailer, horse trailer, surrey, horse cart, jump standards and poles, cavalettis, bicycles, bamboo poles and a host of other stuff. Then we moved in tables and chairs from Johnny's Methodist Church and from our house (with help from our grandkids). The empty carriage house (pole building) made a roomy, shaded area for the meal and for Kestrel and Cedrus to give a dance performance. The surrey became the stage where Kestrel, on guitar, and Cedrus, on keyboard, provided music for our anniversary celebration. We could not have had better weather for the party and for the eclipse... not a cloud in the sky.

Part One: Getting ready...

...putting up parking signs to direct people to the parking areas

Ian, Johnny, Kestrel

Ian standing in the back, Cedrus driving...

...loading chairs and trays onto the EZ Go from the house to take to the party area...

Ian in back, Cedrus driving, Kestrel riding shotgun

Unloading at the carriage-house-turned-party-site
After parental units Steve and Munazza arrived (Ian's parents were unable to come), we hiked to the creek to cool off... and some of us to clamber about on logs...

Steve, Ian, Cedrus and Kestrel

Kestrel and Cedrus

Steve, Ian, Cedrus


Munazza and Johnny

Skipping rocks and drowning stick and leaf boats...

 The kids wanted to walk across on this log on the bank, so Ian obliged by moving it across the stream. Ian is strong.

Kestrel and Cedrus crossing on Ian's log

Ian pretending to balance as he wades across instead of walking the log
 Hikes involve blackberry picking, of course. And sometimes, laugh-filled battles over the blackberry pail.

On Saturday, the guests began arriving...

I had not yet removed the llamas from the eclipse viewing area. Cassandra, Johnny's niece, was intrigued by them... until they spit on her. Naughty llamas. I think they were spitting at each other while vying for the treats she was feeding them, but their spittle goes everywhere. I moved the llamas to a distant field for Eclipse Day.

After farm tours and talk and a lunch of Johnny's chili and more, we all convened at the Wildwood Cafe for supper on Saturday night. On Sunday, some folks went to the coast, others back to the farm, and others rested at the hotel, getting ready for the big day, Monday.

Next up: Part Two... Eclipse Day

Total Eclipse on the Fink Family Farm... Part Three

The next day, Cedrus cooked us breakfast... a most delicious potato and egg and bacon concoction. He, like his cousin Ian, is a most excellent chef.

There was plenty of relax time after all the work getting ready and the activity and excitement on Eclipse Day.


Some of Johnny's relatives came back for a hike to the creek. Johnny provided them with the EZ Go for their return from the creek and woods and field.

 And he gave them a tour of the jungle room.

Johnny, his brother Bruce, Jeff's friend Linda, and Jeff, Johnny's nephew. Apparently Bruce's sweetie, Nancy, was taking the photo

Just before Steve, Munazza, Kestrel and Cedrus left to drive home to California, we tried out our giant bubble mixture. It took some technique learning but eventually everyone created giant bubbles. All the photos were from Johnny's camera except these two, that I managed to get of Cedrus' bubbles.

Johnny's camera caught one of Kestrel's long, large bubbles...

I finally managed a bubble... in the shade. It was hot out.

Johnny's camera seemed to be best at catching Kestrel's bubbles...

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Kestrel and Cedrus declared Ian the master bubble meister...

Johnny had started the session but I caught no photos of his bubbles.

And then it was time to load up and leave. Cedrus loves Shirley Puppy and Shirley (actually 11 years old and not a puppy anymore) loves Cedrus. They were sorry to say goodbye. This photo was taken earlier, with Cedrus wearing his bicycle helmet for driving the EZ Go. (Easygoing is not his style of driving.)

Ian helped that afternoon and the next morning, before leaving on the train, to take the tables and chairs back to the church, take down the parking signs, and with all the other tear down chores. I really don't know how we would have managed before, during and after without his help, (both physical and emotional for me. I am not used to tons of company.)

The eclipse was an event of a lifetime for us oldsters. I suspect the grandchildren will travel to other total eclipses. But perhaps this one, spent on their grandparents' farm, with a host of relatives most of whom they had never met before, will last in their memories as special. It certainly was to Johnny and me.

Total Eclipse on the Fink Family Farm... Part Two

Eclipse Day dawned clear and sunny.

Cedrus provided shuttle service for our good friend J.P. from the parking area to the party zone.

J.P. and Monica, plus Karen and Bob from Washington, were the only out-of-town friends who braved the expected heavy traffic (which did not materialize until after the eclipse). Neighbors Irv, Joe and Claudia joined us as well. Our relatives had flown in from Connecticut, Illinois, Texas, California, and Colorado, all staying at the Wildwood Hotel in Willamina. Our  surrogate grandkids, Kinnera and David, plus David's spouse Michael (now our grandkid-in-law) had driven down from Seattle. 27 of us, in all, viewed the eclipse from our farm.

We had all manner of colanders, sieves, pinhole projectors, and welding plates to view the eclipse through. Plus everyone had eclipse glasses. It was interesting to see the partial sun through these devices as the moon gradually covered it. 

Cedrus, Steve, Munazza and Kestrel

 I took many photos of the reflections, more than I did of people.

 As darkness descended, I watched the goats to see what they would do. What the adult goats did was stay lying in the field while the kids continued to leap about on their playground stumps.

But when it grew deep twilight at the onset of totality, Mister McCoy, the livestock guardian dog who is locked in his yard during days and loose at night, began barking at the goats. They are supposed to head to the safety of the barn in the evening and he is supposed to be let out then. Finally, during totality, the goats stood and began slowly moving toward the barn with McCoy's constant encouragement. But it grew light again quickly, so they turned around and went back and lay down. The kids never stopped jumping around on their stumps.

The rest of us, however, were in awe of the sun's corona, the diamond ring, the odd, shimmering light on the white horse trailer and light sheet beside it, and the sudden drop in temperature. Every few minutes during the eclipse, Ian took photos of the thermometer we set out. It started at 72 and dropped very gradually until totality, when it went down sharply to 48 degrees. It was very chilly and most everyone put on their coats and sweaters.

Here is Johnny's photo of totality...  I don't know why his camera turned the black moon into white light.

He then took a photo of the people in their wraps, in the weird orangish light that everything was bathed in.

 I loved the reverse images reflected between leaves on the ground and on a sheet we had put there. Johnny's camera was periodically refusing to open all the way, creating a partial image...

Here is my photo of totality...

There is no way, of course, to photograph the ever changing corona or to capture the eerie light. I now understand why people become umbraphiles, chasing after every total eclipse around the world. It is an other-worldly experience, impossible to describe.

As the moon moved across the sun, Ian and I walked around the farm, finding those wonderful images on the ground through the pinhole projectors that are the spaces between leaves on trees.

We each lay down to see if we could become covered in little crescents. I found some on Ian, but I just looked like a corpse, as Ian frankly noted.

Ian eclipsed
Johnny, the people person of our family, stayed with the guests and managed a photo of our surrogate grandkids, David and Kinnera with our grandkid-in-law Michael, even though his camera was not fully cooperating... being partly eclipsed, I guess. This photo shows the eerie orange light after totality...

Michael and David were the newest married couple at our anniversary celebration, having just been married last December. May they have long, happy lives together!

When the moon was finally completely gone from in front of the sun, we took off our eclipse glasses and held our anniversary party.  I gave a brief description of how we came to be married (Johnny's Mormon boss at the time said we could not continue living together without the benefit of marriage); Johnny spoke about how all you need to know to have a successful marriage was told to him by a young nephew: "womens is pickles", which I take it is another way to say men and women are just different and you need to accept that. Steve spoke that we were successful because we had always done things our own way, unconventional but true to ourselves. At least, I think that's what he meant.

The best part of the celebration came next...

Kestrel and Cedrus had practiced songs for us that I had requested... from Elvis and the Beatles. Kestrel played guitar and Cedrus keyboard. They sat in the surrey to perform... a perfect stage from my point of view... and they were wonderful.

Then they danced a dance they had put together from their hip hop/house/jazz dance classes. Wow! I cannot imagine a better anniversary present than that super performance by our two youngest grandchildren.

After the performance, we had a potluck with chili and potato salad that Ian had made, turkey and dressing from me, fruit salad that Johnny and the kids had concocted, and tons more. The relatives had all brought appetizers that were enjoyed while waiting for the eclipse to begin earlier in the day.

After the meal, there was more conversation and the inevitable "crockett" game (more like miniature golf than croquet). The only hard and fast rule is you must have fun. A rule instituted this year is the "close enough" rule. When you get tired of missing a gate, simply declare that you came "close enough" and move on.

Here Kestrel, Karen and Ian attempt to conquer an impossible obstacle on the course.

The afternoon was hot so most folks just sat around in the shade and chatted. The eclipse had been excitement enough.

 Next up: Part Three... After the Eclipse