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Gaul: When the stars come out
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Gaul: When the stars come out

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Some nights when I can't sleep, rather than tossing and turning next to my husband, I pick up my pillow and the top blanket (he doesn't use it) and go somewhere else.

Sometimes it's to the couch downstairs and sometimes it's to the bed in what was our son Matt's room.

And if I happen to look up at the ceiling before closing my eyes, I'll see the night sky. And I'll smile. Every time.

By night sky I mean the arrangement of glow-in-the-dark star stickers Matt affixed to the top of his room when he was in middle school. A very thoughtful and deliberate individual, he spent a lot of time arranging them just so. Making faraway galaxies by bunching together a lot of little stars and spacing out, with a good eye, the bigger suns.

It is amazing to me how little plastic blobs can look so celestial in the dark, and how they can shine so brightly even after all these years. When I look at the ceiling in the daytime, it looks like it is pocked with little bits of yellowed newspaper and I say to myself that some day, I am going to have to remove them.

But by night they are magic, and a reminder of a young boy, now all grown up.

That some day will be awhile yet.

WOOLY BEAR WEATHER FORECAST: Readers could count on it.

For years, Quad-City Times columnist Bill Wundram would report on the winter weather forecast as predicted by Steve Gottschalk of Lowden, Iowa, based on sightings of wooly bear caterpillars and other nature signs.

So in that tradition, here is what Steve has to say this year: A little colder, a little snowier. Or, specifically:

"I have just seven woolly bear reports this season; the lowest number I have ever had to work with," he writes. "They are predicting normal to slightly below normal temperatures.

"The spiders were pretty numerous and trying to come indoors rather early this season so that means normal to slightly below normal temperatures.

"There were a lot of crickets around this fall which means a snowier winter. They are usually right 70% of the time.

"There were a lot of paper wasps around this year which means a snowier winter. I have been keeping track of this for three years now and so far they have been correct.

"When the weeds are taller than usual it means a snowier winter. They were unusually tall this year which means a snowier winter. They have been right for the last two years that I started watching them.

"The roses were blooming profusely here this week and for the second time this season. My mom always pointed out that when the Bridal Wreath flowers bloomed for a second time in a year that meant a hard winter coming.

"I kept track of them for a number of years, and they were correct for the winters of 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013. I have never used roses for predicting the winter so this is a first.

"Using the average of the three most popular snowfall predicting formulas, we should have 20 snowfalls of a 0.25" or more this season. We should have 19 more to go."

LICENSE PLATE LOVE: Here are six recent sightings:

WOOFY (A friend and I saw this while meeting for coffee at a park. A vehicle drove up, stopped and disgorged two people and one, two, three, four, five, six! beautiful auburn-colored dogs. Irish setters, we thought. A herd! But they weren't woofy. We heard not a yelp.)

FOREEL (This was on a plate that also featured a large fish)

GTOVRIT (Are they talking about the election?)

RESIST (Are they talking about the election?)

BUGOFF! (On the truck of a pest control company)  

FONOGRF (My favorite! I had one once.)

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