Play Time to Heal a Broad

Flying on a netted saucer?

The week demanded frivolity. Then I remembered last month’s promise.

Six weeks ago, our neighborhood park overflowed with youngsters on Independence Day. No room for free spirits eager to swing, crawl, spin, and leap. (Who cares if she’s 62 going on 8?)

I pledged in my July 7th blog post to return to Commonwealth Park. With youngsters back in school, the neighborhood park returned to me. 

Hmm, helping hands to lift an old broad?

Yikes, this tube was a hard squeeze. And low to the ground.

Creaking bones sent reminders as voice echoed, “you’re living a sixth decade, sweet girl.”

Somehow, I slithered out. With help.

Onward, I continued. The seesaw delighted, especially with its complete recycled construction.

Yabbadabbado!

Old log. Old tire. Old seat.

The latter crept up high. In, shall we say, very uncomfortable places.

Perhaps I can find the builder and suggest a rubber pad for old buns?

The seesaw was the only playground equipment familiar from my childhood. Cough, cough.

You may remember last month’s primo playground piece: this green sponge‐y thing. From a distance, it looks like a larger version of those PacMan creatures that zip out of reach, beyond your joystick’s fastest response. Note: no blame to user’s slowpoke moves.

What IS this thing?

This pole topper was as frustrating as that ancient video game, if only because I have yet to figure out its purpose.

Too high to hold, too big to clasp, even adult hands are forced to hold low.

As for the black stick, you swing around on it. Whoopee. No wonder it was barren on the 4th.

A tight squeeze (in two ways!)

After the pole dance, I climbed Mount Everest like a geriatric monkey.

Scaling ever higher, my limbs became entangled so deep in the ropes, the photographer forced a back‐side emergency rescue.

From all this play emerged several major life learnings:

  1. Body play animates in ways both mind and soul crave.
  2. Joints can bend only so far. In either direction.
  3. Forcing new moves on an old(er) body is not animating.
  4. New meds work; no hyper heartbeat from exuberant playtime.
  5. (Actually #1 discovery): Play like this more often.
Whee!!!

Nothing heals like soaring, flying, and laughing.

Giving thanks for the ability to do all three, especially only one week out of an unexpected hospital stay.

For those reasons, I’ll soon return for more playtime.

Meet me there?

Traveling on a 3D Road

Do you see your life in 2D or 3D?

I see life in both and I am constantly moving what I see and what I experience from one to the other.

I love it when I see parallels between my writing life and my artistic life. They are always there and every so often they pop out at me. This is what happened last Wednesday during my collage class at the Art League of Houston. The challenge for the day was to make a 3D collage piece of art. I had been planning this for weeks. I picked out the perfect box that I wanted to use. I found a music magazine from the early 1930s. I picked out some books by Jane Austen and Mary Shelly. I used these pages to cover all sides of the box. Then I collected found items. A bit of carpet found on the walkway of my apartment. I found some items at Michael’s. My Dear Friend made two grand pianos with a 3D printer. I found some items in my home. I am not finished yet. Here is my “work of art”, but it is still a work in progress.

What I realized was that as I learn more and more about collage art, I want to make more and more of the pieces by myself. I used to rely heavily on magazine pictures. Now I am developing an idea of what is not limited by copyright. My own photos are mine to use as I please. Works of some very famous writers prior to 1923 are not subject to copyright. What can I make of my own to add to a collage? What can I make that is thoroughly my creation? It’s a process and I am well on my way.

It’s the same way in writing. I can write a novel and tell you that a character named Sally is upset. Or I can give you a scene where Sally bursts into her living room, crying. She balls her hands into fists and looks up as if to beg the heavens for an explanation. She yells out to her sister, “I can’t believe this is happening to me!” This gives writing depth. It makes the writing more of a 3D scene and not just an informational narrative.

I guess I am always looking for ways to see my life in 3D. It is so easy to look at the world around me as 2D. Just see what there is to see and don’t look any deeper. It’s like comparing a picture of a flower to the real thing. I have had this painting of flowers up on my wall for years. It’s nice. I used to know the artist when she lived in Houston. I like the colors and the way it is framed. I can only wish that I could paint flowers as good as this artist. I haven’t yet.

Yet when I look at this group of flowers that I found at a restaurant called, Vibrant, I see the life of the flowers. I want to touch them, because they are such an interesting shape and color. I know they are local, but where did they come from? There is a story about these flowers that I may never know, but I can use them as a writing prompt for a new story.

So, how do you see life? In 2D or 3D?

Stay tuned for further developments.

Until next week.….

When your Heart Screams: “IT’S E‐R TIME!”

Thunder started when we left the movie theater. Clear skies outside but inside the car, my heart threatened to blow itself out from beneath my ribcage.

I feared an Alien replay.

Remember the movie monster that bursts out of the victim’s chest? I envisioned me the victim this go‐round. Inside DH’s brand new car.

Be calm, I whispered between breaths, now shortening into wispy gasps. Gather info. Focus on facts.

I googled “women over 60 symptoms heart attack.” 

No mention of racing heartbeat. Or shortness of breath I had earlier blamed on a recent cold. I wasn’t dizzy, tired, vomiting, or sweaty. Neither neck, jaw, shoulder, or back ached.

Relax, you aren’t about to die.

Car grew hot. Sweat bathed my face.

Can you raise the air conditioning, please?” I asked. My chest began to hurt. I imagined Michelangelo placing a block of marble square atop my breastbone. Chill. You don’t hurt anywhere. Don’t over‐react. Gather data first. Worry later.

DH neared the last traffic light. Fairness dictated honesty.

Hmm, I think maybe there’s something going on with my heart,” I force‐wrapped calm around every syllable. “It’s racing, like thunder. A bit of shortness of breath. When we get home, I’ll take my blood pressure. We’ll go from there.”

Minutes later, the numbers screamed, HELP ME!

My heart joined the chorus. My god!

FYI: Normal blood pressure is 130/80; pulse under 90.

I tore the paper from the pad and race‐walked into the den.

We’re going to the emergency room,” I forced an even voice. Don’t scare the driver. “My pulse is 188. Too fast. I need help.”

Thirty five years of me, and DH knows my sound. He whirled around, said nothing but grabbed his keys, wallet, and my hand.

Urgent care or ER?” He knows I like choices.

I barked back, “ER. And turn up that AC. I’m sweating bullets.”

Less than a day later, the diagnosis followed innumerable tests.

SVT with Left BBB. That’s Supraventricular Tachycardia with Left Atria Bundle Branch Block. 

Translation: my heart beats too fast and it’s got a short in it.

Good news? Both involve easy fixes. White pill every morning and baby aspirin every other day.

The remaining ‘scrip is tougher: absolutely no caffeine (as in no chocolate ever again); 100% Mediterranean diet; keep exercising and meditating; minimize stress. 

I’ve had my share of health woes, which I’ve tried to keep off this blog. But, I learned on Friday that women over 60 are at HIGH risk for heart disease.

Even teetotalling, speed‐walking, pescatarians ( that’s fish‐eating vegetarians) who neither smoke nor take drugs can get blinded by what they believe “protects” them.

Truth is, sometimes the body needs extra tender loving care, especially as it ages. Here’s TLC for yours:

  • Exercise: 30 minutes/day, five days/week, non‐negotiable.
  • Diet: Mediterranean or DASH diets are most heart‐healthy.
  • Weight: Pounds appropriate to your height.
  • Smoking: Don’t. If you do, quit. Now.
  • Alcohol: Don’t. If you do, minimize how much.
  • Stress: Avoid as you can; counteract its toxicity with meditation.
  • Blood Pressure: Check yours regularly; ideal = 130/80, pulse under 90.

Four crisis response tips you can learn from my recent health (mis)adventure:

  • Trust your gut: When your body speaks, listen to what information it offers.
  • Stay calm: Information empowers; gather and sort it, then respond.
  • Pain or Blood: Ignore #2; seek medical attention.
  • Mind your mind: Your body depends on your brain to guide you; let it help.

Please: learn from my experience.

Start taking heart‐care of yourself.

You really don’t want to ride in a pink wheelchair.

Or stay on the maternity ward in an overcrowded hospital.

Screaming babies aren’t fun when your heart hurts.

The Comfort of Rituals

I have a ritual. It’s a very sacred ritual and it takes place during the late summer of every year. Actually this year, it came early. However, that’s okay, because I needed something to cheer me up this week. The temperatures in Houston are in the triple digits and not going down any time soon. This is the worst part of summer. Don’t go outside without sunscreen and a hat. Better yet, don’t go outside. You will sweat.

As I have written before, I am a big fan of Halloween. I have been for years. If reincarnation is a fact, then I must have been a witch way back whenever. Did I get burned at the stake in Salem? It would explain so much. Even Hannah, my cat, is a fan of Halloween. She loves my witch hat and poses next to it every chance she gets. Why did I have my witch hat out last week? More on that later.

While I’m running chores and errands at various stores, I always stop and notice the first time I see any Halloween decorations. This year it happened late last week. It was at Michael’s. And of course whenever I see these first seasonal decorations, I have to buy something to add to my collection. Lucky for me, Michael’s was having a sale to clear out some of last year’s stock. Great! That meant that I could buy two new Halloween decorations for the price of one.

I picked up these two little items. One is a skeleton sitting in a meditative position. The other is a stack of books. I took them home and added to my ever increasing stock of Halloween decorations. Since I have so many, there are several items that stay out all year long. Think me weird? Again, just think of it as explaining so much. But the skeleton looks peaceful, doesn’t she? It reminds me to practice mindfulness meditations and keep a sense of humor about myself at the same time. And I like books. I don’t really read palms or tell fortunes, but I can make something up if you like!

I thought this trip to Michael’s was an unusual and fortunate find. Surely I wouldn’t find any other Halloween decorations about. This ritual of mine usually did not take place until September. Imagine my surprise when later the next day I walked out of Kroger’s and saw this pumpkin display! Maybe everyone else was agreeing with me. Late summer in Houston is too hot and let’s proceed as quickly as possible into fall and cool off.

Maybe we need Halloween, because it allows us to laugh at things that typically scare us. There has been a lot of scary stuff in the news lately. Let’s move to a place where the ghosts and goblins are imaginary and we can have some fun. Maybe Halloween is much more about healing from our fears than it is about scary movies.

But please, let’s not forget about the witches. Another fortunate incident happened this past weekend when I made another visit to Houston Tintype Studio and photographer Laura Burlton took this picture of me. Yes, I am ready for Halloween. I am ready for cooler weather. I am ready to relax and enjoy Halloween festivities. I am ready to start healing some of my fears. It’s less than three months away. I will start practicing now.

Until next week.….

Celebrating Traffic Tickets

Diamonds are not a girl’s best friend. And third time’s not the charm.

Pardon the cliches and my negativity.

Truth is, this particular Monday, it’s hard to be positive about much in the world. But I’ve got a blog post due so let’s distract ourselves for the next 300 words or so.

It happened like it has twice before: the cop sprang out of nowhere. Flashing red lights in my rearview mirror and it’s, well, I can’t repeat what I shrieked. I told Ellen no profanity.

His badge read Youngblood. No Officer Krupke here. You’re in Sugar Land, Melanie, not West Side Story.

I felt ganged up on.

He interrogated me as if I’d endangered lives: “Are you the only person in the car? Are you confirming that, ma’am? Are you? Repeat?”

I winked. It had worked in the last century. He repeated his queries as if wrinkles equal poor hearing. I wanted to ask him if he talked to his mother using this tone of voice.

Then I heard my father’s voice whisper in my ear, “the police are always right — when they hold the ticket. And it’s ‘sir, officer.’ ”

The young man said I was in the HOV lane, not the HOT lane. I replied, “Excuse me, Officer, I mean, sir, Officer? HOT lane?”

My mind raced with the unsaid: I’m not hot? Wait, what is this officer saying? Is it the weather? Did I just teleport to Mars? 

Later, in Defensive Driving, I learned that if you see a diamond on the road, you’re in the high occupancy lane. Meaning there must be more than one RoadBroad in the car. Toll tags don’t save a single in the double lane.

The six‐hour course taught me, too, how little I know about lane markings. As in the meaning of solid lines, double solids, and single dashes.

I missed one question in the exams. This picture illustrates what I still don’t understand: traffic can move left or right through dashes but never through any solid line? What about the far lanes? 

For nearly three years, I’ve driven the HOV every Wednesday for writer’s group. It’s a worthy $2.25 toll charge to drive single and save time in a still‐rush‐hour morning.

This time, busted, cost me $146: ticket fee, court costs, defensive driving course, plus a ridiculous $12 for my driving record.

The latter burned.

I remain a convict in Wyoming, courtesy of DH (see RB post, dated 3/3/19). The brutal black on white offers no hint of truth. Where’s that vital line: sleeping while unbuckled?

I’d say third time IS the charm for defensive driving. Except all I’ve learned is how little I know about diamonds.

But now — courtesy of me — you do. You’re welcome!

How Fascinating is Glue?

In days gone by, I never got very excited about glue. I have used it all my life, but there was a time during my long lost youth when I simply used whatever the teacher handed me or what I found at home.

I remember when a plastic bottle with an orange pointed cap and Elmer’s glue inside held everything I needed for any school or craft project. Then someone came out with super glue. You could hurt yourself with that by attaching your hand to a table or your hands to each other. Until everyone got the hang of super glue, one could wind up in the local Hospital Emergency Room. Luckily most of us have gotten a lot smarter over time.

Now my journey through collage and mixed media art work has caused me to discover how many different types of glue are available to me (or at least how many are sold at Texas Art Supply). During my most recent collage class, I actually used four different types of glue. Different materials require different glues. Our focus this week involved textiles. I used different pieces of cloth, paper, yarn, paper, beads, etc.

I was enjoying lunch today with my Dear Friend and I innocently asked him what he thought about glue. Since he is an Engineer, he had many bits of knowledge, factoids, and streams of thought about glue.

There is Elmer’s Glue and then there are glue sticks. Then there is epoxy. Epoxies are exciting because they come in two liquid parts that when combined creates a chemical reaction that makes one hard part. There are pressure sensitive adhesives. Some glues and adhesives need to be flexible; like when you are fixing a tire or fixing the sole of a shoe. Some glues are made of polymers and some are made of monomers. Converting monomers to polymers is polymerization. That’s what happens when super glue hardens. Sometimes you get a chemical reaction when glue is exposed to light. That’s called photo‐polymerization. Then if you want to talk about glue and quantum mechanics you can consider that the shorter the wave length of light the more energy each photon has. A photon, of course, is a quantum of light. And, as everybody knows, light is both a particle and a wave. Thank you, Albert Einstein. AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At this point of the conversation my eyes rolled in the back of my head and I stopped taking notes. I just want to make pretty, or at least interesting art!

My Dear Friend has a history of buying his glue and adhesives at a hardware store. I have always purchased my glue and adhesives where I find art supplies. I guess this is just the difference in perspective between engineers and artists.

Maybe this is the metaphor for life. Regardless of your approach, there are many ways to keep your self, your act, your art or your life together. Engineers want to make sure they keep things together in scientifically proven ways. I want the world to be artful and interesting.

How do you keep your life together?

Until next week.….

Sunrises: Why I Walk Mornings

I walk every morning. Four miles round‐trip. For seven‐plus years.

Through dog days, sprinkling dawns, and all the in‐betweens, I trod the sidewalks that jut east and west from our house.

Shimmering heat cooks sun, pond, and walker, too.
Peek‐a‐boo sun rises to an oddly sweet blinding light.

What began as a long‐ago journey to wellness evolved this past week into a higher calling.

Sunrise walks = healing sights, despite 80+ degree temps.

A trio of sunrises explains.

The last image there shocked, then stopped, me into awe. Absolute silence.

In 2555 days of walks (yes, I counted), I’ve n.e.v.e.r. stopped for Mother Nature. These aren’t pleasure trips I’m taking.

Leaving the house and race‐walking down the driveway, my eyes aim down at concrete and my feet speed to pounding. I’m a woman on a four‐mile mission that continued good health demands.

At least I was. Spying this profoundly beautiful sight, I nearly dropped to my knees. Instead, a verbal wave of thankyouthankyouthankyou rolled off my tongue as I stood in grateful silence, eyes tear‐filled.

In succeeding mornings, other visitors stepped forward.

Double dose of orange delight!

Seeds planted by DH bloomed for the first time. Last week. With my favorite color.

Previous years, we started with flowering plants: easier, faster. Something about retirement encourages new ventures.

Two blooms here, too. Can you find them both?

This second set of blooms burst forth two days later.

The pair of colors grabbed my attention. How did that happen from a single sack of seeds?

Upon seeing the blooms, I ran to our backyard garden. It’s filled with DH’s beloved rose bushes. A dozen of them.

I saw not blooms but this. And gasped.

Can you see why?

The glistening spider’s web spoke of little things making their way in the world, too. Then I asked: when’s the last time I saw such a perfect web? And why today?

The real synchronicity of all this comes after learning that an article I wrote about my walking and writing practice will be published this fall. In a national magazine. Oh my. This news arriving when it did reinforced the near‐holiness of all this timing.

Amid the thrill is the bigger message: sometimes, noticing leads to wonderful surprises.

It starts here: Open your Eyes.

See.

Notice.

A Road Filled With Collage and Mixed Media

It seems as though any time I find myself on a writing spree, leaving procrastination and writing blocks in the rear view mirror, I also find myself engaging in other creative pursuits as well. Once the creative juices start flowing, they flow in all directions.

This summer I am taking an art class at the Art League of Houston on Collage and Mixed Media. What fun! It is taught by Sasha Dela, who is very good at simultaneously giving us direction and letting us have artistic freedom both at the same time. For three hours every week I can go into the classroom and create to my heart’s content.

One week we focused on color and another week we focused on composition. At some point I will attempt a 3‐D collage. Sasha encourages us to bring in whatever materials we would like to work with. So far I have found old photos in my home, I have shopped 2nd hand stores and Half Priced Books, among other places, to find interesting pictures and articles for my artistic creations. Every week I try to get a bit more creative and experimental with what I make. It is a very comfortable space for experimenting.

Here is a collage showing people who I do not know and am not related to. I just thought they looked interesting. Don’t you? The lotus came from a picture I took while vacationing at a spa in Austin, Texas. I used to visit that spa at least once a year, but then they were bought out by a large hotel chain and I haven’t been back. But I still like looking at this lotus and remembering the peaceful and wonderful times I had. The material came from scraps of paper I had and then I inserted brads on three different levels. Three different pictures, three different pieces of paper and three levels of brads. I think I was working on the rule of thirds that you hear so much about in art classes.

My favorite collage of the week involves a wall from the very same Austin spa. The wall surrounded a delightful and peaceful meditation area where I have spent many hours in mindfulness. This collage involves nine different pictures of the wall (did I mention that I liked this meditation area?). They are pieced together and overlapped hopefully in an artistic manner that leads the observer to introspection and thought. Are you thinking and introspecting?

And finally, when I am not writing or experimenting with collage, I am playing with Alcohol Inks. I don’t really strive towards an absolute realist picture with these inks, but I love the different color combinations. Again, what great fun!

And just recently I have been introduced to Brusho! Stand by for future experiments with this material.

But enough of all of this artistic expression. I have two writing workshops this weekend with Max Regan at the Spectrum Center. And, oh yes, I am in the middle of writing a book. I better get going!

Until next week.….

On the Road to Saying “YES”!

Note: I don’t remember how many years ago I first stepped into the True You Creativity Studio run by Cherie Ray. However, I remember I was taking a workshop on Intuitive Painting. I have taken many of those workshops since and always learn more and more about the creative process. I have spent many hours in Cherie’s studio staring at a blank canvas until I took up a brush and dipped it into paint and started making lines and dots of all different sizes in all different colors.

As an international consultant and coach, Cherie works with individuals, couples, and families to help them thrive in their home and work lives. She can be reached at www.cherieray.com.

Thank you, Cherie, for this powerful blog post!


From “No” to “Yes”!

By Cherie Ray

For the last 10 years, I’ve been consistently surprised by what life offers me and what my mind makes of these offers. When I speak of ‘offers’ I’m referring to invitations and inspirations that reach me through other people or fresh ideas that come into my mind. You know the ones that kind of shake your reality? The ones that you immediately say NO to in your mind but then they don’t leave you alone. Those are the taps on the shoulder from the source of all life saying, wanna play a bigger game?

Recently, I’ve received a few of these intense taps on the shoulder and watched how my mind quickly determined what was possible for me. And just as quickly, I believed what popped into my mind as a GO/can’t GO. As if the TRUTH police or Judge Judy made a determination. More times than not, my mind says NO, nope, nada, it can’t work, not possible, etc.

I can trace this conditioned NO response to an upbringing that embedded in me the answer to every invitation to do something ‘unnecessary’ came back with a NO. I laugh out loud when I think of my dear father’s response to me asking if I could spend the night with my best friend. His response was, “no, you have a bed”. Seeing the cause of this historical NO habit doesn’t help. It still looks and feels true.

It’s at this point of the self‐talk conversation where I would live with the answer NO and move on. Now, after the initial NO response, a whispering curiosity comes on the scene, “Could I do that?”

Recently, I received an invitation to attend an event in the Pacific Northwest. Immediately my mind said NO! My internal monologue continued with a litany of, What? Go all that way for one night? Ridiculous! Get a plane ticket, rent a car, secure a hotel room and what to wear? The idea really did look absurd to some part of me but another part was answering, why not?

This time I said YES! With YES, the ball began to roll and the adventure began to unfold. By saying YES, a rich sense filled me! I was delighted and amused by staring absurdity in the face.

Within moments the entire adventure was planned. It was simple and easy. Who knew this was possible? Not me! I marked my calendar and boarded the plane.

The gifts for me in saying YES to the concept of ABSURD:

  1. While deplaning upon arrival, my phone alerted me to check‐in for my flight to Houston the following day. LOL!
  2. Participating in an event that was filled with joy and celebration.
  3. Connecting with people that I don’t usually get the chance to have lengthy, rich conversations with.
  4. Experiencing the Tulip Festival! A vision that compares to Holland and Belgium in magnificent beauty, I’m told.
  5. Standing solo in the tulip fields at sunrise. The vibrancy and vitality from Mother Nature was palpable.
  6. Seeing I really do love an idea that engages a, ‘why not’ response!
  7. By saying YES, so many concepts of limitation fall away.
  8. Having the opportunity to see that NO is a habit, not life informing me of what’s TRUE.

Looking back with immense gratitude for this learning opportunity, I see how much I would have missed by living in my habitual NO. I see that by following feelings of delight, inspiration follows.

I encourage you to face absurdity head‐on and to partner with delight. Your experience of life will grow as naturally as the tulips!

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.