Only Yesterday: To the Moon & Back, 50 Years Later

NOTE: Imagine sitting in a front‐row seat to land a man on the moon. Kay Cox lived that as a family adventure with her NASA engineer‐husband, Ken, and their children. In this special edition of RoadBroads, we honor that first lunar landing a half‐century ago with Kay’s extraordinary memories of what is, no doubt, the wildest journey of all: space travel.

Guest blogger Kay L. Cox writes poetry and stories from her San Antonio home. She’s an experienced blogger (check out her writings on www.picklesandroses.blogspot.com). Earlier, Kay worked as an art and family therapist, teaching graduate‐level art therapy classes in the US and abroad.

Thank you, Kay, for crafting this powerful creation: our first‐ever RoadBroads poem!


When the Moon Calls

Kay L. Cox

Only yesterday
the last space shuttle went up mid crowds and cheers
but I feel a door closing
leaving me with only memories of the challenging times,
of the countdowns, the takeoffs, the fires, explosions and splashdown celebrations,
the Gemini, Apollo, Soyuz, even the more recent shuttle programs.

Only yesterday
I was 27 years old with a two year old and a nine month old baby
in a one and a half story Olde English style home,
white cottage curtains on the windows
in a neighborhood devoted to space exploration
beginning what I perceived as a very ordinary life.

Only yesterday
tour buses drove down my street
pointing out astronaut homes
while I changed diapers, made Kraft mac ‘n cheese lunches
peeled shrimp, ironed my husband’s shirts
and took the children to the pediatrician.

Only yesterday
I valiantly tried to give NASA office parties
but after 3 different fires…
in the oven one year, a chafing dish the next,
and finally the table décor that went up in flames, I gave up.

Only yesterday
I somberly drove home from the grocery store
around hordes of TV cameras and journalists
camped out in front of Roger Chaffee’s house
after the tragedy at the cape,
a terrible reminder of the immense danger in going for Earth’s orbit.

Only yesterday
on Christmas Eve my dad made eggnog in my kitchen
while I stood anxious and breathless with astronaut friends
in front of the TV waiting for communication
from Apollo as it circled around from the back of the moon.

Only yesterday
my ordinary life was feeding the dog
while waving to astronauts in helicopters
buzzing over their wives and kids
around the corner in their own ordinary lives.

Only yesterday
I put the kids to bed
with stories and kisses
while their father was having dinner in L‐A
after a long day at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
and I spent another night alone with TV.

Only yesterday
I watched our neighbor, Buzz Aldrin,
follow Neil Armstrong down a ladder
and plant a U.S. flag on the pale and dusty surface of the moon.
Now he dances with stars.

Only yesterday
the phone rang at two a.m.
calling my husband into work
telling him Apollo 13 was in big trouble,
not telling me I wouldn’t see him again for days.

Only yesterday
with only a 30 minute warning,
my husband brought a Russian delegation home for drinks.
I plied them with vodka,
made a run for much more
while a sympathetic neighbor supplied sausage, cheese, and crackers.

Only yesterday
I sat with my engineer husband on a hotel room floor at midnight
sipping Armenian brandy through the smoke of Cuban cigars
watching Russian and American delegation leaders
sign an agreement to collaborate on the Soyuz mission.

Only yesterday
I watched Challenger disintegrate shortly after launch,
Columbia fall apart and scatter over a Texas countryside.
I wept for the loss of crews I cared for as President Reagan
greeted grieving Challenger families in my husband’s office.

Only yesterday
with great joy and relief
I celebrated with friends,
successful flights
with wild splash‐down parties
at the Flintlock Inn, Maribelles, and the Outback.

The space program, like me, has aged and dwindled
but I have come to realize that my ordinary life
might be considered extraordinary,
leaving me to hope someday
other young families will participate
in another planetary project,
something much bigger than themselves.

A Road Broad Launch: Up Close & Memorable

Below me, the ground rumbled.

Above me, the sun burned.

Before me, a fireball rocketed the space shuttle Discovery skyward.

Around me, came—nothing.

The fireball’s flash of light came instantaneously,. But, sound travels much slower at ‘only’ 1100 feet per second.

I stood a mere mile from the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Delay had been the morning’s buzzword.

As the shuttle shot into the atmosphere, I crossed my fingers, held my breath, and waited.

Ears begged to hear what eyes saw.

Silence answered, round two.

Re‐living this event from March 13, 1989, I remember it as a Life Highlight. Third on my list, after meeting DH (#1) then marrying him (#2).

Discovery’s launch memory soars partly as a rebel’s reaction. It’s been a windy build‐up to this week’s Apollo 11 anniversary.

Houston, where I live, is celebrating the Big 5–0, too. First word spoken on the moon, after all, came courtesy of us. It’s beyond mere space travel. It’s jobs, lives, friends, and families. Plus, we answered a presidential call.

As DH and I describe our shuttle launch trip three decades later: answering a call, creatively.

Conjoin a Miami business trip with radio reporting gig. Our respective stations said yes.

We launched, neither of us prepared for the overwhelm.

On launch morning, we encountered an unexpected geomagnetic storm then extended launch delays. To Kennedy’s Visitor Center, we went. Pent‐up energy needed a new home. We played astronaut. We reread mission manuals. We interviewed other reporters.

Anything to relieve nerves that multiplied. Minutes morphed into hours.

Underlying the emotions were tough memories. The space shuttle Challenger had blown up two missions before.

Many of us at the cape that March morning had worked the Challenger tragedy in some capacity.

We were space junkies. Our press passes provided sensational seats to the shuttle ride. But, three years earlier, we’d learned those seats can hurt.

Still, we gathered again, some in the media grandstand and others along the camera riser. Ahead of us, at the horizon, stood the shuttle launch pad, heating up. To the upper right, do you recognize the iconic mission countdown clock?

Nine minutes to launch, we reporters settled down. It’s our ride, too, a journey of sensory overload magnified and delayed by pressure and sound waves. Physics I still don’t understand.

Finally, Discovery launches.

I eyeball the countdown clock and begin to pray. Under my breath, my mantra becomes “please get us past “Go to throttle up.’ ” Those became NASA’s last words before Challenger exploded.

As I pray, the ground rumbles as if a thousand trains are heading our way. The roar booms, threatening to raise us all up. I cup my ears. Teeth chatter, toes digging into floorboards. Where’s terra firma?

The winds arrive next, engulfing us in sensations that collide like shipwrecks, stacking one atop another. I brace my feet, clasp my desk space with both hands. My shirt billows in and out against my chest and stomach. The hair on my arms jerks to standing as my head curls vanish.

As quickly, it’s 75 seconds, we’re past go to throttle up and now, it’s all a memory. Giddy with overwhelm, I reach for my pocket camera, hands shaking. The professional must transcend the personal.

After the camera’s film is developed, I spot the blackbird flying close to the space shuttle

How did she survive Discovery’s launch?

Later I realize the bird was probably flying as far from the launch pad as where I was standing.

Perspective matters.

Isn’t that why we journey? To feel and to see?

Never too Old to Watch…and Play

I became old—officially—on July 4th.

Blame our neighborhood park, where DH and I celebrated Uncle Sam’s 243rd birthday. After 27 years living here, it was past time.

We walked onto the long expanse of green grass and eyeballed the park’s passel of playground equipment.

I recognized only one of the thinga‐ma‐jigs that surrounded us. 

And that understanding came only with the arrival of two energetic boys.

The pair scrambled atop either end of the long pole then immediately began to pump their legs and feet hard into the ground.

See‐saw! 

I looked again, staring and remembering.

Images of childhood see‐saw rides flooded. Austin Elementary School and a little girl trying to ride a thick, wide wood plank, the boards themselves mirrors of a homebuilder’s two‐by‐four. What followed those rides, inevitably, were the curses of splinters left behind. Pun intended. 

But this century’s log‐saw comes sweetly repurposed, offering redemption for old recess injuries.

A long piece of wood—either a skinny tree trunk or a thick oak branch—lays balanced and centered, atop a funky H‐frame lever device (sorry, an engineering lexicon never married my vocabulary). There’s a metal disc for sitting so today’s riders suffer no more splinters. A recycled steel bar and tire remnants support hands and feet.

Then there’s this gizmo.

Can you explain what this is?

How do you play with it?

The green topper reminds me of what sits in my kitchen sink.

What the…? My mind races through all sorts of possibilities. Zilch. Nada. What the…? When I repeat myself, trouble looms.

I walk closer, zooming in the camera. Then I notice no children are playing here, a comforting thought for this oldster.

Less than a handful of youngsters ventured close. Fewer still stepped up and touched the pole. We all figured out, from brave demonstration, the thing swings around but none could reach Green Sponge‐y. I didn’t care to try.

Eventually, even I turned away.

This round swing‐a‐thingy elicited belly mounts and familiar cries.

Higher‐higher‐higher! came the youngest voices as parents and older siblings obeyed commands.

At last, I smiled. It felt nice to understand.

Throughout the afternoon, my neck craned then ached from watching endless activity throughout the park. I counted eight permanent pieces of playground equipment, recognizing only three. See‐saw/Log‐saw, the swing set, and a kiddie tunnel.

I’d post pictures of the other five structures for you but then I’d have nothing to report next week.

I’m going back. Gonna ride all eight of these and figure them out.

After all, playgrounds are for adults, too.

A Labyrinth Speaks

Friday’s first e‐mail, the “Message of the Day,” began “Open to the New…”.

It closed with “See things with a beginner’s attitude of wonder.”

Those words buzzed in my head as I drove before sunrise to Rothko Chapel’s Summer Solstice observance.Two key differences this season:

1) Because the chapel is under renovation, the event moved to the Gueymard Meditation Garden at the University of St. Thomas, and

2) Because that garden includes a labyrinth, we—60 strong—walked the Chartres‐based path together.

Joining us before/during the observance were persistent Southwest Airlines jets and a receding full moon.

Sweet and sour — both unexpected company.

But the noise and the vision reminded me: we’re all on a journey of some kind.

Every day. We’re either coming or going but j‐o‐u‐r‐n‐e‐y‐i‐n‐g all the same. Am I too much the Pollyanna, suggesting we must all remember this?

The music of flutist Laura Lucas and guitarist John Edward Ross muted traffic passing by on West Alabama. All the color sang, too.

As only red roses and orange dresses can. 

A trio of water fountains bubbled to life at eight a‐m.

A blanket of comfort fluttered down: water’s best offering when it springs forth in such peaceful solace.

With a crowd this large, we bumped, turned, reversed, and paused our way along the four quadrants of the labyrinth.

Even so, we disappeared into our internal worlds as we traveled. No words spoken anywhere. None needed on this circular path.

Amid steady turns along the single‐lane path, we progressed toward the labyrinth’s center point. There, we each paused, reflected, then headed back out to where we each had started.

Before we began, our walk facilitator, Jay Stailey, had suggested using the words release‐receive‐return as touchstones. One word for each phase of the three‐part labyrinth journey. 

The notion intrigued: that’s how we’ve been programmed to think of our lives. Three parts. Beginning‐middle‐end. I wonder: have I been using using the wrong words for 62 years?

Truth is, there’s no ‘wrong way’ to live — or labyrinth. How can there be when both still confuse so many?

Labyrinths exist globally, crossing cultures and centuries, religions and governments. They’ve survived because these pathways offer a universal place for meaning and healing.

Scholars such as Jean Houston consider the labyrinth a powerful tool for suspending left‐brain activity (logic, analysis, structured thinking) in favor of tapping our right‐brain gifts of intuition, creativity, and imagination.

That concept roared in my ear after I finished my labyrinth walk.

Heading to the car, I walked by the Chapel of St. Basil and a burst of sunlight beamed right onto my face.

With it came the words — “good walk, messages received, new season, better days.” 

That green dot of light?

You tell me. It’s not a laser because no one was aroundThe labyrinth stands on the opposite side of this building. The campus is closed for the summer.

Woo‐woo, indeed. 

A solstice to remember.

Oops! When Gadgets Crash Good Intentions

On the flight home from Nashville, I outlined today’s blog post.

It included somber details from a military funeral in Chattanooga followed by a pescaterian adventure with pulled pork, Moon Pies, and Tennessee kale.

A rowdy swing at the Grand Old Opry collapsed in comparison to the quiet intimacy of The Bluebird Café and a Sealy‐bred guitar player named Jamie Lin Wilson.

Touring a Southern plantation presupposed cotton fields and grim living conditions for African‐Americans. But, now it’s a museum honoring its differences: raising thoroughbred horses (as in Secretariat’s dad) and distilling Tennessee whiskey. Another frame of reference blown apart.

Seventy‐two hours in Tennessee ended with more life learnings. But you’ll have to wait to read them.

My iPhone—the brand new one that I bought a week ago today—crashed into blackest black yesterday. Ergo—no pictures to share.

Who in today’s on‐line world wants to read a blog sans images or sound? Our eyes and brains operate differently now, thanks to successful rewiring from small screens. Thank you, techies.

A black screen also means no texting or calling or news‐surfing. Forced LOMO offers opportunity, always a good reframing for antiquated habits.

The hardest learning centers on my encounters with the phone’s creator. Dealing with Apple feels like stumbling around blindfolded at three in the morning. From deep inside the Rocky Mountains.

Between recent RoadBroad excursions to New York City and Nashville, I’ve met Apple staff six times via telephone, online, and in‐person.

It began as my familiar iPhone 6s began to crap out in Manhattan. Constant battery pack offers its only survival. I called Apple from DH’s device.

During the twelve‐hour, H‐Town spend‐over, I bought the new unit. It’s a fancy Xr: “our latest and greatest! ” the millennial teen vowed.

Now, I’m awaiting Tuesday’s Genius Bar appointment. In the dark.

Meantime, I’m drafting a report for Mr. Tim Cook.

A writer always has a Story.

Bedtime with My Cousin Vinny, Version 2.0

NOTE: Ghost fingers posted a rough draft of this blog post last night. It’s been replaced with this final version. Enjoy! 

Vincent Van Gogh always seemed a nut case.

You don’t chop off an ear if you’re sane.

But I met the artist this week—via his letters, etchings, sketches, and paintings—and realized he’s my long‐lost cousin. What else do you call someone with whom you share three great loves: books, shoes, and colors?

My personal trifecta grants Mr. Van Gogh an irreverent nickname: Vinny.

Isn’t that the gift we give family members?

Coincidence that the moniker matches Joe Pesci’s 1992 movie, My Cousin Vinny.

All this discovery unfolded at Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFAH) and its fantabulous exhibit titled Vincent Van Gogh: His Life in Art. This one‐city show runs through June 27th; attending is beyond worth‐your‐time. From Houston, the exhibit returns to its Amsterdam home.

Since childhood, I’ve visited countless museums and art galleries. All around the globe. This show was different.The day became profound. Art, when married with words, can do that.

My skin actually t‐r‐e‐m‐b‐l‐e‐d when I viewed Vinny’s work. A first.

Around me, I heard tears and sniffles. Another first.

The floor‐to‐nearly‐ceiling sketches stopped me in my shoes.

This image was drawn in the late 1800s. My mind struggled with its how‐to. As in: how do you create something this large—on your hands and knees? Where do you find, in 1888, paper this big? How do you store it?

Questions raced through my mind. Then I saw the clogs.

I gasped. Something about the yellow background and the plain pair of shoes screamed strength, confidence, and power.

How could that be?

Vinny’s strong brushstrokes—around, over, and through the tightly‐shaped shoes—transformed the leather into something more than a simple something you walk in.

Art critics disagree on Vinny’s intent with A Pair of Leather Clogs. They cite specific walks, spiritual wanderings, or life paths.

How much more RoadBroad can you get?

Perhaps Cousin Vinny was a RoadDude. He did live all over Europe.

In these clogs, I saw myself. These weren’t, after all, ordinary shoes. They were clogs, the only type of shoe I paint. See my February 18th post to refresh the hobby details.

No way am I suggesting that I reside in Mr. Van Gogh’s league. Instead, I believe there’s an artistic universality in painting shoes.

Call it magic juju. His painting offers a question, a reflecting point, ahead of any journey. The shoes beg you to ask, in advance: are you ready? 

But how often do we consciously ask? Do we save the preparation for the bigger roads only? How about in the middle of the journey—do we consider our observations? After we leave the road, do we look back to ask: what did I learn? 

Creation resides with the artist. Interpretation belongs to the observer. What freedom, for both!

Shoes, regardless of who paints — or walks in — them, offer preparation, experience, or wisdom. We choose our takeaway(s).

The exhibit ends with a delight‐filled interactive play area.

When I spied Van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles, I had to get between the sheets.

Cousin Vinny called me. Or, maybe, I’m half‐crazy after all.

When the Road Offers Memories & Change

March’s road trip to Austin offered a two‐fer.

Celebrate author‐friend, Dorothy Van Soest, at her latest book reading.

Swing by the University of Texas campus and cruise around on grounds where I once stomped.

I stop mid‐plan.

When, precisely, did I attend UT‐Austin? When did I leave?

My mind races back to graduation, spring of 1979.

I dig out my college diploma. Discovery yields an oh‐my‐god. 

I graduated from college 40 years ago.

Today.

What are the odds?

And…40 years? How did that happen?

The new‐graduate photo at right offers a trio of chuckles: an Instamatic photo enlarged to pixilating — beyond the limits of this ancient technology; Farrah Fawcett wannabe‐hair; and pair of ghastly raccoon eyes.

More questions: what was I thinking? Why, UT‐Austin, was my tassel red and not orange?

DH marveled at my pre‐DW look, worn so proudly a decade before we married. He marveled, too, at the UT campus, amused at how little I recognized.

My sense of loss‐and‐big‐change began at the communications building, my life center for three years.

Dull brown now covered the building known as the Rusty Bucket. Framed in weathered steel, the building’s exterior had morphed during our college years into a distinctive orange‐brown hue. So, we renamed the building. It stuck. What do they call it now?

New also is the building across the street: a stand‐alone home for UT radio with twice as many stations as in my day.

I began my radio career here, at KUT. But our studios sat deep in the bowels of the Rusty Bucket, an afterthought.

My chest puffs up. In today’s era of social media dominance, it’s a new point of pride that my alma mater supports radio like this. Even the pedestrian street‐bridge reeks of extra resources, even special privilege.

If faster access results in better news and information, bring it on, kids!

Down the street, I spot The Co‐Op, where we bought our textbooks. Nowadays, turntables appear to headline the sales.

I laugh. Old becomes new? I ask DH“how quickly will the youngsters figure out we dumped records and record players—for a very practical reason?”

At the Co-Op’s door, the welcome sign brings a laugh. I reach for my phone. In that instant, I remember how picture‐taking has also changed.

Snap a photo and wait a week to hold it in your hand. Take fewer pictures because each print costs a dime, or more.

How much has changed, and how little.

All in only 40 (short) years.

Honoring Mother, the Original RoadBroad

From Austin to Abilene, Salisbury to San Francisco, she taught me how to be a RoadBroad.

Indulge me, please, as I pay tribute on this Mother’s Day to mine: Glenna Lea Couch Miller.

From a childhood spent in an orphanage to a widowhood making up for lost time, my mother lived adventure and attitude.

It began with her 1927 birth in a “teacherage”—that’s government‐provided housing for schoolteachers—in Vernon, Texas. Here, Allie Couch holds up her surprise, born as the “but‐doctor‐I know-I’m-in-menopause” baby

From Vernon, my mother moved into a Corsicana orphanage. There, her father served as superintendent for much of Glenna Lea’s childhood.

Imagine sharing all your birthday and holiday presents with 250 Depression‐era orphans. Glenna Lea became a dedicated bookworm for good reason. Books were easier to share than a bicycle.

Reading, no doubt, honed my mother’s writing skills. Upon discovering her 1938 report card, I shrieked.

Evidence echoed an earlier report card, highlighted in 2/25/2019 post. Delighted, I showed Mrs. Mathis’ remarks to DH and shouted a loud aha! At last, I know who gifted this gene!”  

The teacher’s prescience also identified a family’s later tease point. Cough, cough: yes, math challenges were gene‐shared, too.

Later, Austin and a new bookstore summoned my grandfather. Glenna Lea moved through school in the capital city, landing at the University of Texas as a theater major.

While attending college, my mother joined a women’s singing trio. She spent her weekends during World War II traveling across central Texas to perform for base‐bound soldiers.

Mears Studio hired her to model. In those pre‐ballpoint pen days, UT students received these 3.5 x 5 inch “ink blotters” to use while taking class notes. Also, the studio enlarged this pose and plastered it on the side of their downtown building.

As an award‐winning actress, Glenna Lea dreamed of a Broadway career. Marriage and children interceded. Post‐war expectations ruled women’s lives.

Four children and two decades later, Mexico and deep‐sea fishing beckoned.

I doubt Mother caught this thing. Instead, I imagine her reading as she humored my father’s love of all things fishy. If I had laser vision, I’d bet money on finding books in that bag. Yes, plural.

Fast forward 37 years. Glenna Lea asked to join a daughter’s European honeymoon—“but only for the first week.”

The tallest church spire in the United Kingdom lured us to Salisbury Cathedral, outside London. Mother stopped outside to read the outside plaques., Spot the tiny, huddled figure in the lower left here?

And so her pattern began. Every day for seven days, she read every word she could find in, on or about the place du jour. Across England, Bride and Groom gawked and listened as Mother/Mother‐in‐law read about Salisbury, Stonehenge. Bath. Westminster Abbey. St. Paul’s. Roman Wall. Others sites, too, all now forgotten, lost to middle age.

After my father died in 1994, Mother hit the road. Big trips, somewhere, every year. Santa Fe. Washington, DC. San Francisco. New York City (multiple times). Colorado. Across Texas.

She slowed down when I did, joining me in walks along the Cane Lane at the stroke rehabilitation center.

In this single shot, I see a lifetime of dedication, love, and the full meaning of today.

If my mother could read this post, she’d say—as she always did—“Sweet girl, it’s perfect. And it’s your story to tell.”

I would answer back, “Thank you for your generous spirit. And Happy Mother’s Day, GL.”

Seeking Books, not Avengers

I returned to my primary, and first, love twice this week.

Credit the over‐rated, over‐hyped, over‐long, and over‐done Avengers: Endgame movie. Its over‐abundant onslaught of k-pow, k‐bang, and k‐boom bored me to sleep.

I attended the film because of an ancient promise made to DH: for every movie I choose for a Mate Date, he selects our next one. I’ve seen every new James Bond movie since 1984. He’s slept through Amélie, Mamma Mía, and others.

The cinematic misadventure sent me to the bookstore. Not one, but two book readings. In less than a week. A first.

Monday delivered Delia Owens reading her When the Crawdads Sing. It’s topped the New York Times bestseller list since January.

I admired Owens’ lyrical writing and her treatise on loneliness and isolation. However, I grimaced at the formulaic and, ultimately, predictable plot.

Yes: both an unpopular and ornery stance.

When I read fiction, I seek some degree of escapism. This novel sent me, instead, to paroxysms of “no‐young‐girl‐could‐manage‐this‐way‐this‐long‐no‐way‐ever.”

By attending Owens’ Houston reading, I hoped to observe and learn what a bestselling author’s reading offers. Surely, there’s elevated air for both readers and authors in the big leagues.

Held at a west Houston church—thanks to an expected large crowd—I snapped a single picture then heard a warning: no recordings of any kind, pictures included.

Why?

While reading from a prepared script, Owens explained her novel’s themes of isolation and loneliness. According to her website (www.deliaowens.com), both have been lifetime challenges. Owens offered that we all land in the swamp sometime in our lives but “we can all do more than we think we can.”

At week’s end, author Jennifer duBois asked at her reading for The Spectators, “what haunts you and why?” In her novel, duBois explores what we look at, and why. She uses the frame of 90’s reality shows (think Jerry Springer) amid fallout from the AIDS epidemic and the gay rights movement.

In a relaxed question & answer session after her reading, duBois referenced what she calls The Big Question, something she said must prompt a novel’s birth. And the Big Answer? duBois admitted that, invariably, multiple viewpoints arise. Perspectives from many voices. 

Now, that, I thought Real Life.

I returned to my studio, pumped.

And, I’ve returned to my novel.

The Big Question seeks The Big Answer as I cross fingers that, soon enough, I’ll stand in my own story shoes. Publicly.

Taking Flight for Tea

Last week I celebrated an anniversary.

This week I celebrate a find: the best green tea on the planet.

After my stroke in 2012, much changed.

Coffee sickened me. I switched to green tea. In low doses, its natural properties protect the brain and fight premature aging. Emphasis on former, not the latter.

Now, roadtrips demand daily green tea. Non‐debatable.

In Vienna, Austria, a tiny cafe offered a wall of overstuffed couches but no green tea (“gruner Tee”). DH knew enough Austrian German to translate chai tea latte and order two drinks.

He also picked up a single slice of Vienna’s national treasure. At first taste of the oh‐my‐god Sacher Torte, all tea cravings vanished.

Five years later, that single bite of dark chocolate remains a heart‐stopping memory. Yes, that good. I’ve sought to replicate the experience stateside. Failed. Every. Taste.

A summer later, iced green tea called my name at Denver’s Tattered Cover bookstore.

A brief moment in time, it flooded with crisp Rocky Mountain air and mild June temperatures. An odd perfection ensued, the world dissolving between the first sting of ice‐cold green tea and the opening words of a brand‐new book. 

Last Labor Day, Steven Smith Teamaker of Portland, Oregon delivered a first‐ever Tea Flight.

Each large porcelain bowl delivered nirvana in a two‐handed grip. Four varieties of green tea ranged from bitter to sweet and heavy to light. A different galaxy came to life in each bowl. 

So unexpected was the experience, DH and I sipped and giggled amid our overwhelm—a tea flight, and every one is excellent! Who‐da‐thunk‐it?!

The experience laid shame to all previous tasting flights involving beer, wine or mini‐desserts.

For this West Coast adventure, think entirely new universe of life experience. As in the best green tea on two continents.

It changed our day, this intimate, circle‐around‐the‐sun journey unfolding in a tiny, quiet shop, hidden deep in Portland’s warehouse district. To think we only navigated it because of an insistent bus driver.

Last week, we returned to Portland while never leaving.

At the old Waldo’s teahouse, we discovered a revamped cottage. Inside EQ in the Heights, we found new paint, new interiors, and a new menu.

On a side shelf sat our old friend: Steven Smith Teamaker.

I ordered a teapot of Jasmine Silver Tip and enjoyed, once again in a special teahouse, the world’s best green tea.

Memories returned. I smiled, giggled, then sipped some more.

Ah, the joy of unexpected delights. 

NOTE: I’ve never met Mr. Steven Smith. He’s not paying for this over‐the‐top product endorsement. I pay fully for any of the tea I buy regularly from his company. Just sayin’, friends.