Friday, July 8, 2011

Up, up and more.

Even before I gave birth to a child who would become obsessed with space flight and exploration, drawing his younger brother toward the same passion with his enthusiasm, the Shuttle program has been a large part of my life.  I grew up thirty miles from Cape Canaveral and if we weren't at the coast, parked in our station wagon or later in our VW van watching launches up close, we were in our backyard or in my school's parking lot, both of which were a direct shot down Highway 50 from Kennedy Space Center.  The only time I remember watching a launch on t.v. before moving away from Central Florida was the day of the Challenger disaster.  I was home sick from school that day so was watching from inside while my parents watched from the upstairs, east-facing window of the home we were building, my sister watching from the school parking lot with her classmates.  I have always been grateful that I wasn't watching it in the sky that day, it was traumatic enough for a 13 yr. old to comprehend.  I don't think any of us ever worried until that point that anything could ever go wrong.  Watching Shuttle launches was like watching a fireworks display.

I'll never forget the day I was playing in my East Orlando backyard and looked up when a low flying plane came over the tree tops.  It was huge and very, very low, like I could touch the underbelly of the colossal aircraft.  We had planes cross in a flight pattern over our house very high up in the sky, but never like this.  While I stood with my jaw hanging open, I realized that on top of the plane was the Space Shuttle riding piggy-back from its landing place in California, home to Kennedy Space Center where it would be readied for another flight.  I watched until it was out of view and ran back up the property to tell my family what I had witnessed.  I had really wanted to see a Shuttle up close, but even at the Kennedy Space Center visitor center you couldn't get near one.  My dad did a little mental calculation and figured that if it was going to land at the Cape which was only a 35 minute drive, it had to be so low to already be preparing to land.

As my first-born son grew it was obvious that he had a passion for science.  Even at age two he said he wanted to be doctor and at three would grill his pediatricians on medical posters and charts that hung on the walls of the examining rooms, wanting to know what everything was and what it did.  Very quickly his interests switched to space flight, planets, anything to do with astronomy.  By age nine he was determined to be the first man on Mars.  I used to tease him and ask him why, when he knew how hard it was going to be for me when he grew up and moved away, did he have to go the absolute furthest from me that he could?  Well, with the future space program that had been set in place to follow the Shuttle Program it was possible that he could very well make his dream come true if all the conditions were right and he planned his life accordingly.  We knew he had the drive to reach his goal, but as a mother who wants her children to have anything they want, I worried about the enormity of that dream.  When the current administration took office and scratched the space program from the drawing board we were worried that he didn't have a back-up plan.  "Don't worry," he tells me all the time, "I have a plan B, C, D, and E."  Smart boy.  I was such a silly child at his age with no goals for my future in mind whatsoever, so this boy's mature attitude just blows me away.

Well, he really wanted to go to Space Camp.  He needed to go before he turned twelve because though there were other programs, the basic Space Camp was for kids under that age.  We didn't see how he could go it was so expensive and two states away.  I couldn't send my son at age 10 that far.  Just couldn't do it.  My husband surprised the boys with a sensible alternative-- a weekend, parent accompanied Space Camp program for himself and both boys.  So nice to be so young and have your biggest dream come true! They all got so much out of it and had the most amazing time.  Last summer they took me for the day to show me all they did and guess what I found at Space Camp?  A full-sized, fully functioning Space Shuttle on display.  Too cool!

Another of my boys' dreams was to see an actual Shuttle Launch.  They knew that I had grown up watching them and we felt that it was important for an aspiring astronaut to experience it for himself.  This time I was in on the secret when my husband came home with a package that had come in the mail.  Inside were tickets to Kennedy Space Center for the day of a launch and special parking passes.  He had already taken time off work for those days.  Could I ask for a better father to my children?!  We had the best time!  Another bonus was that I was able to see my grandmother on her last Mother's Day.  It was such a special time for our little family and the launch was amazing viewed from Space Center property.

 Today's launch marked the end of the Shuttle Program that was almost as old as I am.  I am proud to say that I watched the first Shuttle launch with my naked eye and though the last I viewed miles and miles away through my t.v. screen, it was just as poignant.  I had no idea it would be so moving until the commander gave a speech from the cockpit and my little guy said, "It's like they're taking Disney away and no one can ever go again".  That's when I lost it.  I can't help thinking how different our country is from when the Shuttle first launched.  It's like that spirit of adventure and patriotism has come to an end.  They say we are opening a "new chapter", but with no plans for a space program it seems to me as if the book has just closed.  For my son and other future pioneers I am hoping that the sky is not the limit.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

3 a.m.-- the dreaded hour for sensitive people.

'Round and around we go.  It's 3 a.m. -- time to mentally beat myself up for everything I've ever done.  I hate it.  I'm better than I used to be at stopping what I call "thought attacks" before I get myself into a real funk and start thinking that I'm just plain broken and need to be "fixed", focusing on everything in my life that I think is less than perfect.  Since learning that I'm sensitive and this is just one of those things sensitive people do, it's much easier to deal with.  During the daylight hours I can "change the subject" in my head or dive into a project, stop everything and play or snuggle with my kids, get outside to get a little sun on my face and fresh air in my lungs, cook something, do some breathing and yoga poses... In the middle of the night I just lay there critiquing everything about me, hearing the criticisms of a lifetime that I refuse to allow in my life today. 

Tonight it has been the usual "I'm not doing enough as a mother", worrying that my kids will grow up with a negative view of our relationship and certain from experience that it's not possible for mothers to have a healthy relationship with their children.  I've been laying there driving myself nuts wondering when I will make the big blunder that will stretch the bond I have with my boys creating an irreparable rift between us, like it's inevitable because my own mom was never concerned with having a good relationship with her children.  I know it doesn't have to happen.  I know it's up to me to make sure that nothing will come between my boys and me.  I know I've kept that desire foremost in my mind since the first moment I saw a positive sign on a home pregnancy test, but it's there.  My problems with her are there, always have been.  As the child in the relationship I know it was never my responsibility to make sure it was strong.  I won't take that responsibility now.  I know that I put my relationship with my boys above all else in my life, even far above my marriage which I feel is as it should be, but I can't help feeling like I won't always be able to pull this off.  Somewhere along the way, maybe without even knowing it, I will do something to screw it all up and there's no way it will be alright in the end.  The frustrating part is that I honestly know this to be untrue.  I never worry about this in the middle of the day when we are going through our daily routine, laughing and giggling together over silly things, or on family outings, movie nights, long talks about life, just in the wee hours of the morning when my defenses are down. 

Tonight I was able to get over it when I remembered my son telling me as I was tucking him in that I am the "best mom in the whole wide world" and to tell his daddy that he was the best dad in the whole wide world.  I remembered cracking them up on our way into town this morning by turning up the radio to "concert mode" and doing a pseudo head bang (on my way to see the chiropractor about a stiff neck, not a good idea) as I tried to maneuver around the corners of our street.  Then after a 3 a.m. mental chiding on not getting everything done this school year that we had planned to do, I remembered that their state test scores came back above average, as usual, and told myself that obviously we were doing enough.  I can do this now, the attitude readjustment.  Up until a couple of years ago I would have fretted into the day hours and my worries would have affected my productivity the next day.  It is possible to see the glass half full for the first time in my life, I just really wish it didn't take a boxing match with myself to get there.

When I'd decided that I was pulling this mothering thing off for now, I started to worry about Dad.  The usual debate with myself, weighing the pros and cons of having another baby or two before it's too late, got me to thinking that if I did have more kids right now, I would almost be my dad's age when they were leaving home.  My dad is the youngest 60 something I know.  I can't even believe he's in his 60s he's so fit, healthy, and just plain young looking.  But then I think of my grandmother who just died at the ripe old age of 86, my other grandmother who passed at 63, Grandpa who died in his late 70s and I just don't think it's fair to do that to a child, give them between 20 and 40 years of my life and just leave them.  I've ended up in a real funk just thinking about it.  Whether I decide to have more kids or not, I am sure that I just don't want to do the next 20 yrs. of my life.  I don't want to watch Dad and his siblings age.  I don't want my children growing up and moving away.  I think of my husband's father and grandfather and I don't want him to be the ages they just were.  I'm not ready!!

Then there was the whole, "why the heck did I just start my third novel that I will never have the confidence to finish and attempt to get published" thing, the pine bedding in the farmyard is saturated with rain from the last two storms and I didn't get out there today to change it, should we have gotten a kitten when cat dander makes me break out into a rash, how could Casey Anthony be found not guilty, how is JL faring tonight knowing he's off to war in a few days, I shouldn't have had that darn Moose Tracks ice cream after dinner when I still have so much weight to lose, why didn't I finish losing weight before bathing suit season, was it really smart to start a cooking blog when I still had weight to lose, should I get up and put the head phones on with really loud music to let people do the screaming for me or do I get up and blog my frustrations to the world?

And now that I've written this, because I'm sensitive and shy (not like anyone would EVER know that by the way I type my guts out) I will fret and worry over it like I've done with every single blog post, recipe post, FB status post I've put down.  I know that everything I blog is a record of my life.  Do I want to leave such an honest legacy?  Have I remained anonymous enough to do it?  I've learned that some people will always see me as ridiculous rather than accepting me for who I am, but I worry that if my anonymity is compromised that feelings could be hurt. Then I think, to heck with it.  I've spent most of my life smiling politely while trying not to step on toes and those same people never considered my feelings or the benefit of holding their tongues.  One of the reasons behind blogging for me was to gain the confidence to put myself out there, anonymously or not, so that maybe I would have the gumption to try to get those novels finished and published some day.  I will never gain that by deleting everything I write which is always my first impulse after reading my posts. 

And maybe someone out there can relate to what I have written.  I hated not knowing why I had certain "quirks" that not everyone else had.  I was tired of being told that I needed to "be" a different way by certain family members and all but a few kind and loyal friends while growing up, which always made me feel like I just wasn't acceptable the way I was.  If you are sensitive, you don't know that you are okay, you just worry that others think you are not.  But that's a whole other subject for a 3 a.m. blog.  It's okay that my brain works this way night after night.  It's not okay that it's almost time to get up and I still have a full day ahead of me with little sleep behind me.  How much you wanna bet I delete this after breakfast...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tis a yoga patio no more, thanks to a nest of pesky yellow jackets.

I worked very hard last year and through winter and spring making my yoga patio just right.  It was so relaxing and peaceful to sit out there in the mornings and evenings.  By mid-spring we had already had more fires in our little fire pit and more cookouts than we'd had all of the previous summer on the yoga patio.  I waited for the weather to warm up enough to do yoga in the mornings on the patio without having to wear bulky clothing to stay warm.  I made sure the copper wind chime I'd made was hanging in just the right place to catch a breeze, but not be blown off its hook by the gusty easterly winds that blow through my yoga patio when a severe storm is threatening.  I worked copper and stained glass into sun catchers while the weather was still too cold to sit on the patio without a jacket.  The fountain that sits in the corner which had stopped working had been repaired and waited for the morning yoga ritual I'd tried to keep last summer. Birds would come and flutter through, their numbers increasing as the weather warmed. It was all fine and dandy until I realized that yellow jackets had taken up residence in the outlet in the wall of the yoga patio.

I was willing to use toxins to remove the nest if I could get to it, but couldn't figure out a way to do that without getting electrocuted or blowing up the house.  It's a tiny crack in the side of the outlet cover that they found to lay eggs in.  I am still at a loss as to what to do about this nest.  I went out two nights when I was sure they were all in the nest and covered the entire outlet and surrounding siding with contact paper, taping the edges down very well with duct tape.  I figured that eventually they would suffocate or starve.  Well, I knew it wasn't the best idea, and of course it hasn't worked.  They were able to find their way up through a maze of gaps under the contact paper and out to a tiny hole near the window above.

Yellow jackets are very aggressive wasps.  They can sting over and over again, unlike honey bees, and can kill a person.  I have never been stung, but I've heard from family members who have that a yellow jacket sting feels like getting hit with a baseball bat, so the yoga patio is out of commission right now until I can find a way to eliminate this nest.  My poor boys are so tired of me stopping them from going outside through the back door that is closest to the nest.  They always forget.  They are tired of me telling them that we cannot have a patio fire because of the yellow jackets and I am disappointed every morning when I see through the window that the thermometer on the yoga patio reads just under 60 degrees, perfect outdoor yoga weather in my book. 

So for now, I reach, reach, reach in the living room trying to keep my fingertips from getting lopped off by the spinning blades of the low-hanging ceiling fan, longing for the day when the patio will again be mine.

Here is a great article with a natural way to destroy a yellow jacket nest in the ground.  Unfortunately it won't help in my case, but others may find it useful.

An Effective Non-Toxic Solution For Getting Rid of Yellow Jackets' Nests by Miriam Landman

UPDATE:  I think I did it!!  Patched that hole up well.  Saw a few returning to the nest.  I was so excited to see that they couldn't find a way in.  We had no activity after that and were able to use the patio for sparklers and smoke bombs on the 4th of July.  So nice to have the patio back!!  Just crossing my fingers that they aren't all in there planning a counter-attack of some sort.  Keeping my fingers crossed...