1969: To the Moon

Two years after the Summer of Love, it was the summer of ’69. (For those of you who like to keep track of such things, Bryan Adams was a lad of nine years old and Jackson Browne actually was twenty-one.)

Woodstock poster

My parents weren’t hippies and they certainly weren’t about to run off to Woodstock. (In fact, I don’t even know anyone who ran off to Woodstock. When I was in my thirties I worked on a magazine with a senior editor whose hippie friends had invited him to come along with them to this little concert in upstate New York. He considered it, but the date conflicted with his first day of boot camp and he chose the Air Force instead.) My parents did own a couple of Peter, Paul, and Mary albums and a record entitled “Summer of 70” that I might break out for next week’s story, but their form of counterculture was the mid-60s folk song parody as rendered by, variously, Tom Lehrer, the Smothers Brothers, or the New Christy Minstrels. (These performances prepared me for Lehrer’s later work on “The Electric Company,” the fractured fairy tales from “Rocky and Bullwinkle,’ Monty Python, and, ultimately, Weird Al Yankovic. But I digress.)

The other big event in the summer of 1969 was, in some ways, the biggest event of the millennium: the moon landing. Of course, I don’t remember any of it. And by the time I was old enough to remember such things, NASA wasn’t doing such things any more; I wouldn’t see anything so spectacular until the Space Shuttle Columbia’s thrilling launch and safe landing in 1981. I learned about it in two ways: a book about the space program (over which my brother and I later fought) and my stamp collection.

Explorer stamp album Freedom stamp album World Wide stamp album

Didn’t everyone have a stamp collection in the 1970s? My stamp albums, Harris Grab Bags, and glassine hinges all came from the Woolworth’s hobby aisle. I spent countless hours soaking them in the bathroom sink, drying them on paper towels, sorting them, and mounting them. I learned that Hungary and Poland had the coolest stamps (thank you, Magyar Posta!). The Queen’s profile, often in silver, was on every stamp of her provinces. Some countries even issued stamps in the shape of TRIANGLES. The mind reels. I traveled around the world on these small pieces of paper, which I catalogued on larger pieces of paper.

When my parents saw how careful I was with my stamp collection, they entrusted me with something precious – a first day cover of the moon landing stamp. I was in awe.

Moon landing first day cover

This one isn’t mine, but mine looks an awful lot like this one.

“Thank you!” I [hope I] exclaimed. Then, after a careful examination of the date on the cancellation, “Did I see this?”

“Yes,” they told me. “It was important, so we sat you down in front of the TV and you watched it.”

When Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, I was watching. My parents had made sure of it.

Curiously enough, I never actually imagined myself an astronaut or took any steps towards becoming one. I don’t think anyone would have discouraged me – certainly it would not have been the most improbable career I ever entertained – but my goals just didn’t go in that direction. When I was a bit older I saw myself as a scientist, but one doing pure research in a lab somewhere, wearing a blindingly white lab coat. Nevertheless, the moon and the stars have remained objects of fascination for me.

Apollo movie launch

That fascination resurfaces whenever I come across “Apollo 13” and feel compelled to watch it to the end. It resurfaced when I waited for months to watch “Hidden Figures” in the theater, and bought it as soon as the DVD came out. It shows itself again whenever the stars are clear, the moon is dramatic, or the sun is eclipsed.

Thanks, Mom. Thanks, Dad.


I didn’t give a knitting update last week, but I have finished a sideways striped scarf, a hat to match a scarf previously made, and one pair of slippers for Grandmother (to be honest, I still have to seam them up). I promised myself that this year I would knit at least one stitch every day, and so far I have kept that promise. That does mean that I shall have to knit at least one stitch tonight, and I have had slightly more than my allotment of fermented grapes. Nevertheless, she persisted. Maybe I’ll break out the bubblegum-pink yarn and start knitting a special hat. Who needs?

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Published in: on January 22, 2018 at 10:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ascending and Descending

Whoa! it’s been a week. Not for knitting — no, not so much for that. All I have been able to work on knitwise was blanket squares, and not so many of those. But as I walk through my evolving work-and-study schedule at school, I’m finding pockets of time that I might be able to use for work that requires more concentration, like the DNA Scarf.

I’m definitely in the right spot at work. I sat down this morning to start a blanket square, and by the time two other people had entered the break room, we were having a lively conversation about knitting, crochet, and the lost art of lace tatting. Not one person has wandered in, watched me work for a split second, and commented cheerfully, “Knit one, purl two, huh?!?” Which is refreshing.

As far as school goes, I got through my first astronomy lab (fun) and my first astronomy quiz (got almost everything right), and emerged from the dizzying Chapter One of the precalculus book and its extremely dry review of linear algebra and entered the peaceful and friendly Chapter Two dealing with functions.

[f(a + h) – f(a)]/h, anyone? Come on, it’s fun! And eventually it’s going to have some cool purpose, I just know it is.

Ascending and Descending, M.C. Escher (1960)

I haven’t exercised this week unless you count repeatedly climbing (and descending, let’s not forget descending) several flights of stairs and crossing acres of campus to deliver Extremely Time Critical campus-mail envelopes. I volunteer for that job every chance I get. The air is crisp, the sidewalks aren’t too slippery, and the way I walk, it’s aerobic. And I’ve been drinking very little soda (until the headaches creep back into my temples, then I have just a teensy bit), mostly having flavored green tea water. It tastes better than I’m making it sound. Zero calories, lots of hydration.

So I was pleased to weigh myself on the Wii this morning and see that I had finally met my incremental goal. It took me about three weeks to lose two pounds, but I did it. The next goal is to lose two pounds by two weeks from now, and by healthier means than by catching a bit of the stomach-bug that’s apparently making the rounds of the house. Jack had an awful day of it on Thursday and stayed home from school on Friday too for good measure; Colleen stayed home from school on Friday as a sort of preventative attempt; Tommy has it now and let’s just say we’ll be washing a lot of bedding today. Poor critters.

Resolution Update

  1. I am publishing this post on Saturday as I promised. Check.
  2. Knitted about three blanket squares. I need a recount on that particular project.
  3. I rehomed a hand-knitted sweater this week. Unfortunately, it was Tyrone, which I absent-mindedly put in the regular wash, thinking the wool was Superwash. Oops. Yep, it felted and would no longer fit my heartbroken five-year-old. (Who promptly insisted I had to knit him a new sweater, RIGHT NOW.) I passed the sweater along to the owners of the local coffee shop where my knitting group meets; their little boy just turned one year old. Anyway, in all other areas, clutter abounds. There is work to do here.
  4. Doing well on my Precalculus homework and Astronomy work. The first Precalc exam will be February 10; the first Astronomy exam should be February 14.
  5. I met my incremental weight-loss goal of two pounds and have set my sights on the next two pounds.
Published in: on January 28, 2012 at 8:27 am  Comments (3)  

Same as the old boss

What a long week! I got slammed with a sinus infection on my first day of school, then the meds slammed me again. There were also snowstorms on Tuesday (to and from school) and Friday (after school) that kept me as alert as possible. I worked 15 hours in the Languages & Literatures Department, mostly photocopying syllabi on Tuesday and posting “class cancelled” notices on Friday. It turns out that I probably won’t be able to count on getting that many hours in a regular week once the schedule is set, so I’ll probably be looking for an additional campus job to help pay for classes. I have a couple of leads.

Unfortunately, there was almost no knitting this week. The roads were terrible on Tuesday night, so I wouldn’t have gone into town for knit night anyway, but it was a Scout night, so I didn’t go to Scouts instead. I missed both morning knitting times, as I will for this whole semester, and I was so busy on Friday afternoon that I didn’t get home until about 5:30 anyway. There was no way in the snowfall that I was even thinking of driving to Verona anyway, which takes an hour in each direction on a clear day.

Friday brought something new… a first step in an assessment for Jack. I wanted him to be checked with Asperger’s Syndrome in mind, but after half an hour of watching him scoot across the exam room on the doctor’s “spinny chair” on his stomach, touch everything in the room, open all the drawers, and interrupt a million times, the doc wisely remarked, “I don’t really see Asperger’s here, but have you thought about ADHD?”

Well…. duh. I’d said years ago that I didn’t want him to go off to public school because he would have come home with a Ritalin prescription in hand on the first day, but I hadn’t taken my own words seriously. Viewing him through this filter, it makes a lot of sense. He doesn’t have a formal diagnosis yet, but we got a referral to someone who can make one, we set another eval appointment for two weeks out, and I have a pile of questionnaires to fill out myself and to distribute to other relevant parties. So, if you know a kid with ADHD or are an ADDult yourself, feel free to chime in with positive suggestions. The kid definitely needs some coping tools and some impulse control. He’ll be super scary when he gets focused!

Resolution Update

  1. I am publishing this post on Saturday as I promised. Check.
  2. No progress on the DNA Scarf, and none to speak of on the blanket squares either.
  3. I must have thrown something out….
  4. I’m current with my homework for Precalculus (and still looking for how to access the homework file for Astronomy).
  5. I did a quick weigh-in this morning on the Wii after not working out all week (except for burning 450 calories a minute by gripping the steering wheel until my knuckles turned white and my fingers locked up). I’m down a bit but didn’t make my incremental goal. Time to set a new goal and keep drinking the green tea.

Alcatraz update: I DVRed the show and watched it closely for two hours, but didn’t pick up on where Lydia’s song was. Ben says it’s in the gun-shop sequence, so I’ll have to watch it again and crank up the sound. I do kind of like the show. Thanks to everyone who watched the show, mentioned it to other people, or shared the video of Lydia performing “How Many Women.” Every little bit helps, and sometimes they turn into big bits.

Published in: on January 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm  Comments (2)