From the EastWing, Equinox & Solstice, Geometry, Tip Top Elementary School System and Neckties In The Darkness

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Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.

When it’s close to the change of seasons I always get email wanting to know the exact date and precise time. So to simplify things, I’m listing everything for the rest of this year and all of next year. Knowing full well, I’ll be asked ‘bout it again come the winter time. Never the less, here goes. I’ll explain a little bit ‘bout the terminology after the listing of dates and times. This is not rocket science, these dates are all taken right out of the Old Farmer’s Almanac© :








The word EQUINOX simply means the annual crossings of the equator by the Sun, once in each direction, (north or south) when the length of day and night are approximately equal everywhere on Earth. The equinoxes always occurs close to March 21 and September 23. On these dates, the amount of daylight and night are the same.

The word SOLSTICE is just the time when the Sun is farthest from the equator,( north or south) on or about June 21(north)(the longest daylight day) and December 21(south)(the shortest daylight day). The summer solstice falls in June in the northern hemisphere but in December in the southern hemisphere, and vice versa for the winter solstice.

Knowing full well that most of my EastWing friends are not stargazers, I’ll still bore ya with a little bit more stuff ‘bout the stars and the seasons as we see them develop from our vantage point here on this planet Earth. As you know we see the sun move in our sky from the south in the winter to north as spring and summer comes on, then back toward the south as the season change. All that Equinox, Solstice stuff is just a way of tracking the movement of the sun in our sky as our Earth revolves around the sun, while we spin on our own axis. And because everything we know is moving at the same speed, we’d swear up and down that everything’s standing still. It’s not. We’re spinning, really spinning, both fast and forward.

Another interesting fact. The sun is the farthest away from the Earth in the Summer time. And if so, why is it so hot, you may ask. It has to do with the angle of the sun in relationship to the angle of the earth in its orbit.

Notice that as the summer winds down and days cool off, it takes longer in the new day for the sun rays to again warm the Earth. Same thing, it’s the angle of the sun in relationship to the Earth.

Geometry, bet you’re like me, never thought you’d use that crap when ya were 17. Then wondered why you were even wasting your valuable time studying such stupid stuff like geometry. Stuff that didn’t even make sense. But study I did, and so, today I not only gaze at the stars, I know ‘bout the angle of the sun and stuff like that. And it turns out that life got a whole lot better after I learned how to read, up there at the Tip Top Elementary School System, high up in the mountains of Southeastern Kentucky.

Talking ‘bout the Tip Top Elementary School System reminds me of the second grade teacher. A feller, who’s name I’ve long since forgotten. He came from the Northeast somewhere, ya could tell by the way he talked, kinda quare.

I say he talked quare, ‘cause one day, at recess, we were all outside just throwing rocks at each other, and having fun. The teacher comes running outside yelling “Children, Children stop slinging stones!! We didn’t even know we were slinging stones, just thought we’re throwing rocks at each other. And so we learned something new that day, even at recess from the new teacher who talked kinda quare.

He came to the Tip Top Elementary School System to educate us little hillbillies up there in the mountains. Part of the teachers annual compensation included “room and board”. That room & board to be provided by the families of the coal miners sending their babies to the Tip Top Elementary School System, and also able to afford to contribute to the room and board for the teacher. Not all families could afford. For many just being able to provide for their own family was a struggle. There were lots of babies there at Tip Top. And everybody knew who could afford to help with the room & board for the teacher.

It turned out that at Tip Top there were different levels of “dirt poor” The babies in our house were me and three sisters. We were a small family, by Tip Top standards, we were at the top level of the “dirt poor” and as such could afford to “put up the teacher one night per month”. And so we did. The food was always extra good when the teacher came to spend the night. The first time I tasted Spam was when the teacher came for supper. Our meal was so good! I thought, teachers must eat like kings. Spam every night. I still love Spam. Every time I eat Spam, to this day, I think of that teacher and slinging stone, and talking quare.

It had not yet come our time to “put up the teacher” when the word got out at school, from those kids who had already had the teacher stay at their house, that the teacher slept with his white shirt and tie on at night. And then the teacher came home with me to spend the night.

Now when ya live in a family of girls and the teacher comes to stay the night, and ya don’t have any extra bed for the teacher to sleep, well guess who gets to sleep with the teacher. Yeah, Right! BobbyRay.

At Tip Top, where the miners lived, the houses were 4 rooms. Two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen dining room combination. And so it was at our Tip Top home. Mama and my Dad slept in one bedroom, my Sisters Three slept in the other bedroom and I slept on the floor in the living room. When the teacher came to stay the night, things changed for the better.

Me and the teacher got to sleep in the bedroom used by my Sisters Three, and the girls got to sleep on the floor in my place in the front room.

Electrical wiring in our house had been added after the house was built. And as such, the idea of putting the wires inside the wall was a thought for the future. Drop cords they were called, usually hung from the center ceiling of the room with a light bulb at the end of the cord. A chain hung from just above the light bulb to turn the light on or off. Because the chain was short, it was not uncommon to see a piece of string tied to the chain, to allow short people to turn on or off the light. Not long after electricity gained wide use in our society, a new phrase crept into use. A put down phrase it was. “Who pulled your chain?”

Both my older sisters and I’d heard all the rumors at school, ‘bout the teacher sleeping with his necktie and white shirt on. When I realized the teacher was gona sleep with me, I was determined to find out if the rumor was true or false. Then only I could lend validly to the rumor.

When the time came to go to bed, me and the teacher retired to our bedroom. I jumped into bed and watched like a hawk as the teacher took off his pants, folded them, placed them on a chair, then without removing any other clothing, he walked to the center of the room, pulled the chain, then got into bed.

The more I laid there in the darkness, the greater the challenge grew in my mind. Did he or didn’t he, that’s the question. Necktie on or necktie off, that’s the question. On or off that’s the only question in the whole world at this moment. Sleep would never come in the darkness until such time the mystery was solved.

Only I could answer this question for the benefit of the whole student body of the Tip Top Elementary School System, and so it was up to me to solve the mystery which had dominated the playground conversations for the last three weeks. Sleep with or without white shirt and necktie. The pressure upon me to act was irresistible and so I did what had to be done.

It was in the darkness of the night, that my right hand reached over and touched the answer.

A Mystery was solved. A rumor became fact. I went to sleep within minutes, just maybe, with a little smirk on my face, knowing what I knew at that moment. To describe the courage to reach into the unknown darkness of that Tip Top Night is beyond my ability to paint a picture in your mind using simple words created from my brain to my fingers to my keyboard to my screen, to the internet to your screen to your brain. Just knowing I’d touched the answer, it made me smile in the darkness, as peaceful sleep surrounded me with happiness, there on the side of the mountain in the darkness of that Tip Top night. I’d answered the call from the playground. I’d done the job.

The real fun was the next morning on the way to school. Now to get to school at Tip Top, my sisters and I had to walk down the mountain to the creek and then up to the school house on a different mountain. It was on the way to school that the sisters wanted to know what happened after the lights went out.

It turned out that after the teacher and I had retired to our bedroom, my sisters had to go to the outhouse. They didn’t really need to go, just had to get outside and look into the window of my bedroom with the teacher, to see if they could solve the rumor of the white shirt and tie, and before they could, he pulled the chain.

That day at the Tip Top School, I was the king of the playground. I’d touched the answer in the darkness. Tip Top Memories, how the linger, how they ever flood my soul.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the EastWing, Equinox & Solstice, Geometry, Tip Top Elementary School System and Neckties In The Darkness

I wish you well,