SNOOPING

Snooping is unlike eavesdropping. It’s just curiosity, expanded. In any case, I can’t help myself. When I visit someone for the first time, I must look at their books. Assuming, of course, they read.

I’m suspicious of anyone whose home has no books. My friends and I have exploding bookcases. Books on tables. On the floor. Everywhere. Old books. Paperbacks. Audiobooks. Kindles. Magazines. Newspapers.

Next, I look at their other media — movies and music. Naturally I look at whatever is hanging on the walls. I had a painter friend who ended a relationship because she couldn’t cope with his taste in art.

Next, I find somewhere to sit. Is the furniture comfortable? Have they traded comfort for style? It’s not a deal-breaker, but it is a statement about priorities and to a degree, age. There was a time in my life when I owned uncomfortable furniture because I liked the way it looks. I was younger then. My back didn’t hurt as much.

I do not snoop in medicine cabinets. Medical information is considered private. Fair is fair. Welcome to my little world. You won’t learn everything, but you can find out a lot if you know how to look.

Let the snooping commence.

EARTH RISING

Prelude

Gary and I joined the Mars mission. It’s a special mission, not at all like previous exploratory ventures. I always wanted to travel to the stars.

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Because of all the health problems I’ve had, I thought it could never happen.

Suddenly, more or less out of the blue, this mission came up. NASA said they were looking people like us, who have arthritic, heart, and other aging issues, but have retained a strong sense of adventure. The space doctors want to see if Mars’ reduced gravity will improve the quality of our lives and hopefully, increase our longevity.

Couples were welcomed — preferred. Garry and I found ourselves trying to pack our memories into little space trunks. After a lifetime of experiences, we will abandon Earth’s blue-green shores.

NASA has made it clear. We will never return to Earth. The trip is too long — for us — to travel both directions. Science fiction notwithstanding, warp drive never became real. It would have made a  huge difference in the entire concept of the trip.

When I think about it, I’m not sure we would need to come back anyway. Most of our friends and family are gone. Adventure awaits! It is one of the biggest ironies of aging that our souls do not grow old, but our bodies do.

This is the ultimate soul food — a journey into the unknown. The chance to be pioneers and maybe change the world.


HOME ON THE RED PLANET

Mars. Different sky. This planet has but two seasons, albeit in limited areas near what we would call the equator. Spring and fall. Summer is broiling and only occurs at the poles, as does winter. Mars’ winter makes the worst winter we ever experienced in New England look like nothing.

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Few flowers and they are not like those we’ve known and loved. Fauna comes in strange shapes and odd colors.

There are forests, sort of. Martian trees grow in abundance. These trees have stems without bark. They are smooth with leaves like fronds. In the Martian autumn, they turn magenta and blue. Gaudy for sure, but I miss the gold, orange, and red of an Earth autumn.

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There is no grass though the pink sands are beautiful in their way. The ground is not alive. It forms a bed for growing things, but it is inert.

I do not miss full gravity. I feel light and springy, and my arthritis and other joint problems are gone. This is better than stumbling into old age on earth.

We all miss green. Trees, grass, even weeds, and crabgrass. Mars has no birds. There are plenty of ground animals. Many burrowing things that look (and act) like squirrels. But nothing flies through the air. Maybe the atmosphere is too thin.

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I yearn for the crisp snap of an October morning. To be fair, even on earth when I was away from the northeast, I missed fall.

There are no breezes that rustle the treetops or wildflowers in fields. No dandelions, violets, or spiderwort. Most of all, I miss blue skies though I may eventually grow to love mauve.

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I miss oceans with tides and waves. These oceans are smooth as glass, like huge mill ponds and full of the weirdest looking water-dwelling critters you can imagine.

Breezes do not rustle the treetops and winds blow only during storms. Those winds are wild and powerful. You won’t see a field of wildflowers, dandelions, violets, or day lilies. Or anything like it.

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Mostly, I miss blue skies and white clouds. Mauve is okay, and I don’t hate it, but I never stop being shocked when I look up to see that warm, dusty pink. Never a cloud rolls by.

Mars is our new world. Different. But we can make a home here. It will be good.


Interplanet Janet

ODE TO SPRING

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March 20, 2015. It was the first day of spring. Cold, raw, with leaden skies and a promise of snow. Supposedly not a lot of snow. The forecast called for less than an inch. Not noteworthy. After the past 7 weeks, “noteworthy” has a new meaning.

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So I said “Let’s go shooting,” and Garry agreed.

Garry goes out everyday. I am sometimes inside for a week or more. Usually, it doesn’t bother me. This winter, though, I haven’t been able to get out at all, not even to the backyard or deck.

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Finally, I got restless. I had a sudden, urgent need for a change of scenery. An airing. It was, after all, spring. The vernal equinox.

We went down to the river and took pictures.

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I’ve lived in the northeast my entire life, minus 9 years. Garry too. We’ve both been in New England through many winters. I don’t remember this much snow still on the ground so late in the season. Not in my 28 winters. Garry’s been here or in Boston for 45 years and he doesn’t remember one like this, either.

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I don’t necessarily expect it to be warm and flowery at the end of March, but I expect the snow to be mostly melted. Maybe see a crocus or two. Robins returning to build nests.

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Not this year. No crocus, no robins. And the thing is, it’s cold. Still dropping into the low twenties at night and barely going above freezing by day.

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NOTHING SAYS SPRINGTIME LIKE MORE SNOW

March 21, 2015. It was the second day of spring. Surprise! It’s snowing. It had been snowing since the previous afternoon and there wasn’t much accumulation. But it wasn’t nothing, either. All the ground which had appeared was white again.

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I took pictures out the front of the house, out the back window and over the deck. I still can’t get to the deck, but I can push the door open about halfway. We call this progress.

We cancelled our planned excursion for the beginning of April. Even if the weather turns suddenly seasonably warm, it will take more than two weeks for the mess to clear up. For the mud to dry up. For the huge piles of dirty ice to disappear. Maybe we’ll go in the autumn.

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Maybe we’ll just stay home.