Launching To Space……

Hubby was disappointed Wednesday when the joint NASA-Space-X launch was postponed until today due to weather. All was well at approximately 3:44 p.m. this afternoon though as engines fired and the ship streaked upward. This was an especially significant moment because of the public-private nature of the effort. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched a Crew Dragon spacecraft on its first test flight with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on-board to be taken to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the  NASA’s commercial crew program. The Crew Dragon will return to a splashdown at sea later in the weekend. NASA astronauts previously went to the ISS on regular shuttle flights, but that program was discontinued in 2011, leaving only Russia capable of delivering individuals to the station. By way of quick facts, 15 nations contributed to the station that was completed between 1998 and 2011, although the station has been continuously occupied since late in 2000 with more than 230 individuals from 18 different countries spending time on it. Several years ago my sister asked us to go with her to a launch because her Swedish neighbor was finally getting to go up. He’d been training in Houston for years and part of the tour that day was watching other pieces of the ISS being assembled. Different modules and capabilities have been continuously added to it.

Anyway, Elon Musk and his Space-X teams have had failures as always happens when working in this level of technology. Today, however, if not perfect (and it may have been) accomplished the critical initial stages of the mission. Unlike Hubby, who has kept track of multiple stages leading up to this, I was not aware a woman,Gwynne Shotwell, is the President and Chief Operating Officer for Space-X. She was one of the early employees of the company and in the interview shortly before blast-off, she said she’d become accustomed to launches, but was nervous about this one.

There are thousands of individuals in hundreds of roles involved with making something like this happen; all of whom must be feeling very proud today.

 

An “Ouch, That Does Hurt” Memory…..

I don’t have a clue how I managed to get a small blister on one of my toes. However, handling blisters is something I learned about many years ago. I’ve mentioned before that I wear a size 4.5 shoe. Those of us in South Florida joke about dreading to go places where we need closed-toe shoes again, and in my case it has extra meaning. I  can wear a size 5 in open-toe shoes which doesn’t give me a huge amount of choices when I go into a store, but I can find some. And as with other things in the world of on-line shopping, there are other sources. Finding combat boots to fit was an entirely different matter.

One of the issues of being a “pioneering female” was a lack of “off-sizes” whether one was very short or very  tall when it came to Army uniforms. That was especially true when I was taking ROTC and time came for our first in-the-woods exercise (that means simulated combat). The best they could do for me was a size 6, but hey, a couple of pairs of thick socks should help. That probably would have been true for only walking around. Tromping up and down in the woods for hours, and being Louisiana there was swampy ground involved, meant the end result of multiple large blisters, on both feet and ankles, some of which broke before I had a chance to get the boots off. The pain was indeed noticeable, but it was the persistent redness and swelling around the scabbed over flesh that finally caused me to go see the doctor. She took one look as I explained what happened and sighed at my lack of understanding. In giving me the prescription for antibiotics, she said I was close enough to blood poisoning that she wanted me back in the office in two days if the redness wasn’t diminishing. All did heal properly and there was a similar incident years later due to a ten-mile road march, but that’s another story. Oh, the Army did finally begin to make boots down to a size 4.

Days of Instant Coffee…..

A post to Twitter brought this old memory to mind. My mother did not drink coffee, so Daddy mostly drank instant. As I think I posted some time back, I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was in the Army. I did, however, work behind the fountain at the Rexall Pharmacy with one of the big silver electric coffee urns and had to learn to make coffee in it. I also learned what happens when one doesn’t make it to suit the taste of the regulars and it didn’t take long to correct the “too weak or too strong” errors. Since this was in the years before Mr. Coffee type drip pots became popular, I had the home percolator for those who are of an age to remember such things. But, since I was rarely home enough to drink more than a cup, I still often used instant.

Somewhere in the process, a couple of coffee makers introduced coffee bags – the same thing as a tea bag. For me, they generally produced a more reliably smoother taste than most of the granulated since the amount in the bag was pre-measured. The  solution to single cup dilemma was the Kuerig type machine and who knows, maybe the inventor was faced with the same issue of wanting “brewed” coffee, but only one cup at a time. Not to mention, having all sorts of choices available depending on which cup/pod is selected. The drawback of course is trying to make coffee for a group. I have been told there is at least one manufacturer who has a combination machine; one side is a regular drip maker and the other the single serving type. This is why free markets and capitalism are so great. We will probably check this out the next time our drip maker needs to be replaced.

When Kids Step Forward….

The full article about this team of kids is at http://www.southdadenewsleader.com/news/h-o-t-and-partners-reach-out/article_6c8df6fa-8fb1-11ea-af1e-a36e34c9128d.html

In essence though, a fairly small number of students, (about twelve) have truly great role models of parents who are heavily involved in different community support activities. These young people have been not only watching their parents over the years, but also participating in the activities as they reached the age when they could. There is a situation here that requires its own post that I won’t go into, but has to do with students and sometimes families who literally depend on meals from schools as their primary source of food. As I said, skipping the “whys” of that, a group of people set up a system last year to help provide food on weekends and holidays. During the process, these students came together to create their mission statement. “We are a team of students that have chosen to volunteer our time for no benefit other than to serve our community of Homestead, Florida. We care for and change lives for the better while putting others before ourselves when possible. We treat our fellow teammates with respect, love, kindness, gratitude, and above all else, the same way we want to be treated. Our four target areas to assist are the hungry, children with severe medical needs, animals in need and the military. However, we are willing and prepared to serve anyone in need at a moment’s notice. We are the H.O.T.” They also took the necessary steps and were recently officially designated as a non-profit, 501(c)(3).

Yes, they have adults who help, but they do most of the work, and have been for months now. In light of the COVID-19 situation, their focus for now is food collection and distribution. This was once again a time when learning about a new group was a pleasure.

 

Time for the Rainy Season….

I have to admit, I was startled when the Facebook and Twitter posts came in yesterday of snow apparently from Canada down through at least Mass. I mean, sure, you expect this in May in like the mountains, but not so much the other places. We, however, as entering the rainy season which generally will be a combination – perhaps daily – of thunderstorms and downpours followed by sun and steam. We will have some socked-in days of clouds and rain, although not usually more than two in a row. The water levels are down and so no matter how inconvenient it may be, we do need the rain to replenish. By the same measure, we will now get into the point of our twice-monthly mowing may not be enough to keep up. Last year wasn’t so bad, but in years prior, the grass seemed to literally start growing again about an hour after the guys mowed and within a week, it would look terrible. The weeds of course will be sprouting even more and will get quickly out of control if allowed to do so.

You become accustomed to the cycle though and know how to adjust the schedule. This is also when umbrellas sales go up; not only to accommodate newcomers. Many of us dash into wherever we’re going, place our umbrellas in a stand, under the table or wherever, saying, “Don’t let me forget to take this”…., and then promptly do so. Most of us have an umbrella in each vehicle, plus another one or two around the house. Granted, it’s not like living in Seattle or London since we only deal with this for two-four months out of the whole year. And allegedly, the rainier the “wet season”, the milder the hurricane season. I’ll take that trade-off anytime.

Growing Hyrdoponics…..

For reasons I’m not entirely sure of, there seems to be a surge of Facebook promotions for growing your own hyrdoponics. We do have at least two local places I know that have these on a commercial scale – well, not like really huge – but enough to provide goods at some of the farmers’ markets. We, in fact, had the indoor Aero Garden for I guess it was two years or a little longer. What it comes down to is we were successful in the growing and the lettuces were delicious. The problem was the volume. With the single machine, the yield was not very large and the seed pods we ordered were expensive enough to where we couldn’t claim we were doing this from a “saving money” perspective. (There was an option to get seeds from a store and create your own pods, but we never did that.) It was interesting and the set-ups I’ve been seeing on Facebook are for outdoor. Unless you have some sort of greenhouse protection though you will have a specified growing season. As I have mentioned in previous posts, ironically the year-round ability to grow here does not include items like lettuces for the summer because it is too hot. Now, it has been a while since we’ve done this so I suppose there could be some hot-weather variant available that I am simply unaware of.

Cost of goods won’t be a factor for some people as much as the pleasure they get in growing their own and the certainty of knowing the source.Once again though, I’m not sure about quantity of yield and how many plants it would take to have enough lettuces. We each have a salad for dinner every night we eat at home except Friday (pizza night). I usually have a salad for lunch if I’m home. I’ll keep an eye on Facebook posts and see if any actual people discuss their experience.

 

Kindle and “Real Books”….

Every so often the conversation among readers turns to the subject of Kindle (or whatever the preferred e-reader is) versus the feel of a real book. I appreciate both and as I posted some time ago, we came later to Kindle than some of our friends, but are now on I think our third or perhaps fourth version. Our enjoyment is grounded in practicality rather than an urge for technology for technology’s sake. We have filled and somewhat overfilled eight book cases/sets of shelves scattered throughout the house. Like many people, we cannot bear to throw away books unless they are truly falling apart and there are few places we can contribute them to. Therefore, adding more books does present a physical space issue.

Storage space on the Kindle is quite large which means I can (and do) have well over 100 books loaded. It’s also nice to be able to order and download a book within a matter of minutes. Traveling with a Kindle is certainly easier than packing one or more books and for those of us who have reached a certain age, being able to increase the size of the font at the touch of a button is a nice feature. Granted, there are still some things I prefer about “real” books,such as being able to quickly leaf back and forth if I want to re-read a passage or check to see how long it is to the end of a chapter. I admit, there may be an easier way to do this with the Kindle and I am simply unaware of how. I personally don’t own a tablet because I prefer my lightweight “notebook style” computer for travel, but several friends love their tablets and have the Kindle app which allows them to use it instead of a separate device. And in praise of “real books”, you never get the warning of, “Battery needs to be recharged”, when you are in the middle of reading.

The Irony of Erratic Sleep…..

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I’ve always been a morning person, routinely waking between 5:00 and 5:30. This was helpful during my Army career as there are so very many early morning calls for different reasons. Nothing prepared me though for a child that did not sleep through the night until he was four years old.

I mean, people often prepare you for 3-4 months and you think, okay, I can do this. While that would have been difficult enough, this was of course the tragic year when my first husband was killed which meant I was now doing this as a single parent. I tried everything that should have worked, might have worked, etc;. It was a success when he slept for as long as three hours at a time. Anyway, we both came through it. Later, within a few weeks of being deployed to Desert Shield/Desert Storm, I served in a position where sleep was not a priority. I was also in a position where we were in the desert, but not in a direct combat zone. Hubby was further in, although not a direct combat zone either. We managed to get through that as well and did sleep a great deal the first few days when we re-deployed.

A couple of years ago, I began having issues with insomnia. I’ve tried a number of techniques and do give in and take an over-the-counter supplement maybe twice a week. Without that, my pattern seems to be 3, maybe 4 hours of sleep, then awake for 1-2 hours, then another 3 hours. Once I awaken the first time, if I’m not back to sleep in 15 minutes, it isn’t going to work so I move into the front room and tune into the Spa Music channel. I frequently fix a cup of chamomile tea, come up and log onto Twitter as I drink my tea, then head back down after to sleep on the very comfortable love seat. Perhaps I will eventually shift out of this.

 

In Defense of Picky Eaters……

For all of you with adventuresome tastes, you do have a wide culinary world to enjoy – or at least explore. As more people stay at home (providing they can also get groceries), many appear to be trying new dishes and recipes. Several of my friends consider me to be a picky eater, although that can be a relative term. I grew up in a “standard” small, Southern town in the time of traditional fare, but indeed did not eat cooked greens nor yellow squash. A wide range of seasonings were not available, although for those who never had vegetables cooked with bacon grease, you are missing a treat. There were no Chinese, Italian, etc; restaurants, and when a pizza place did finally open, we of course didn’t cross the threshold since they also sold beer. (That was one of numerous Baptist prohibitions I violated in my college years).

Anyway, my culinary experience did greatly expand as I left home for both foreign countries and other states. I do admit, I hadn’t the faintest notion of what a frappe was the first time I visited Maine and unless one is vegetarian, how can one not appreciate a Philly cheese steak? My point is, I do have a long list of “common” items I don’t eat, possible led off by eggs, bananas, and mushrooms. I am occasionally trapped into eating quiche due to social politeness, and yes, I apparently ate both eggs and bananas as a small child until somewhere along the way, I was able to express my dislike. (Mushrooms were not part of our diet so I was spared that.) Hubby, on the other hand, loves them and for a while was convinced if I just tried a different type/way of preparation, I would change my mind. He has given up and simply enjoys eating my share. I’m okay with the flavor; not the texture, so we cook with them all the time and I pass mine to him.

My point is, as long as we picky eaters achieve balanced nutrition, (which most of us do) don’t worry about us.

“They Really Lived?”……

Thank you Brian Dennehy for great movies and television shows. This post is not about him, but a couple of his contemporaries and a quirky, delightful movie, “Secondhand Lions”. I don’t think I’ve posted about it before; at least I didn’t see it when I did a quick search. The movie takes place in the 1960s on an isolated place in west Texas. The McCann brothers, Hub (Robert Duvall) and Garth (Michael Caine) wind up with their great nephew Walter (Haley Joel Osment) for the summer. The mother Mae, played by Kera Sedgwick, is utterly irresponsible which plays out in multiple ways. Of the two childless uncles, Garth is the most sympathetic to the boy, although Hub is more so than his tough exterior allows him to express. The two men are rumored to have a great treasure on the premises, thus the constant presence of greedy relatives and persistent traveling salesmen.

The first thirty minutes might move a bit slowly for some, but is important in setting up the story. Wild tales of great adventure of the brothers are told to Walter as the dynamics shift and relationships change, both humorously and touchingly. The meaning of family, the aspect of aging away from one’s youth, the concept of one true great love, are woven together as the summer progresses. The speech, “What Every Boy Needs To Know About Being a Man” (or words to that effect), is heartwarming and the closing scenes of the movie are perfect. I didn’t realize until today it was actually a book published in 2003. I probably should have thought of that before since so many movies are adapted. I don’t think it’s on Kindle so I won’t order it as I really am trying to not add to the physical number of books we have. Anyway, as people are still inside a great deal, keep an eye out for this movie.