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.

Woods on the side

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

WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM

When You No Longer Have a Home, Rich Paschall

Jimmy knew it was not going to be easy.  He had put it off for weeks, but after a while the delay was just as hard as what he perceived the actual event to be.  So the high school senior marched home, mustered up all his courage, and prepared for the inevitable battle.

Born of a rather dysfunctional family, Jimmy’s parents were divorced when he was just 4 years old.  His biological father remained marginally in his life.  His mother introduced a new “step-father” when Jimmy was 5.  He was raised by ultra conservative parents to have values of the ultra Christian right.  Unfortunately for the family structure, Jimmy did not adopt the “family values” of his rather right-wing parents.  Nonetheless, the 17-year-old boy was prepared to take a bold step forward and challenge the strict guidelines he had been given.

When he arrived home near dinner time on a cool fall evening, his parents were already watching television and absorbed in some crime drama.  At the first commercial break, Jimmy made enough noise to be noticed.

“Well, boy,” the step dad began, “you are a bit late, but you can still grab some dinner in the kitchen.” The mother just smiled and went back to watching the television.

The teenager had already called up all his courage and was not going to back down.  The moment had come, and even though he was shaking, he began a speech he prepared all day.  “I had something important to say,” Jimmy stated rather meekly.

“Well spit it out, boy, the commercials are almost over.”

Without launching into his well rehearsed speech about each man having to be his own and so forth, a nervous Jimmy did indeed just spit it out.  “I’m gay,’ he declared.

“What?” the middle-aged, balding, flannel-clad stereotypical alpha male shouted. At that the mother turned down the television volume.

“What did he say dear?  I don’t think I heard him correctly,” said the middle-aged, middle class, middle intelligence woman.

“I think he said he’s a damn faggot,” the man shouted in a loud and disgusted voice.

“No, sir,” the boy countered. “I said I am gay.”

“Same thing,” the fake dad declared.

“I am appalled.  No son of mine is going to be a sinner.”  The mother was as much angered by the “sinner” as having to miss her TV program.

The step dad marched right up to the boy and shouted in his face, “You will stop that right now or you will get out of this house, do you understand me?”

“I am sorry sir, I can not change,” the teenager said in a trembling voice.  At that the step dad pushed him as hard as he could and the boy went flying over a living room chair and crashed into the dining room.

The mother then began shouting at the boy, telling him he would go to hell, that God would never forgive him, that such behavior was forbidden in the Bible and that God hated him.  The boy rose to his feet and stood there staring at the shouting parents.

“If you are not going to take back that sinful statement, then you are not staying under my roof.  Get out sinner,” the pretend dad shouted.  With that he gave a menacing look as if he would hit the boy again.  Before long, he started after the boy and shoved him, knocking him to the floor.

“OK,” the terrified teen said.  “I’ll go, if that’s what you want.  I don’t want to be here either.  I will get my school books and leave.”

“I paid for those books,” the man shouted.

“Like you are going to read them,” the teen retorted.

At that the boy hurried to his room, he put his books, a few items off his dresser and whatever items of clothing he could stuff in his backpack and headed toward the front door.

“God hates faggots, son,” his mother said with great disdain.

“I don’t know that God hates anyone,” the boy countered, “but he does not hate love.”

At that the step dad picked up an ash tray to throw at the teen, but the boy was out the door too quickly.  The angry parents resumed watching television as the trembling senior high school student walked aimlessly down the street.  Tears filled the eyes of the handsome youth as realized he had no home, no parents, and nowhere to go.

Attribution: BookCrossingBefore at the English language Wikipedia

He struggled forward, step by step, as the night air began to chill his bones.  Was he shivering because of the night air, or because of the sad situation he found himself in?  When he arrived at a major intersection, Jimmy took a seat on a wooden bench by the bus stop.  He was not planning on taking the bus.  He had no plan at all.

After many moments filled with crying, Jimmy pulled out his cell phone and called the one person he thought could help him, his real dad.  He located the number, dialed, and got a quick answer.

“Hello dad, it’s Jimmy.  I have been thrown out of the house.  I have nowhere to go.  Can I come and stay with you a while?  I promise I will not be a bother.”  The teen was not ready for adulthood, and certainly not this.

“Why, what happened son?  What would cause them to do that?”

“I told them I am gay.  Can I come there?”

There was a long silence on the phone.  Neither one spoke for what seemed like minutes.  Jimmy finally spoke up again.

“Please.”

 

Note:  This is a work of fiction, but there are many true stories of teens tossed aside.  What do they do?  Read more tomorrow.

SHARING MY WORLD – WEEK 14, 2015

Share Your World – 2015 Week #14

What type of music relaxes you the most or do you prefer silence?

I love music, but I need to listen to it. If I am not paying attention, and it’s playing in the background, it’s noise. Either I am fully engaged or I want silence.

When I do listen, it’s usually classical music, probably because that was where my love of music began. When Garry and I are traveling, we listen to folk, or country, even older music from the forties or fifties. We are nothing if not eclectic.

I cannot listen to music and drive alone. I find music more distracting than words. Tell me I’m not the only one.

Show us a two of your favorites photographs? Explain why they are your favorite. If you are not a photographer, think of a two favorite scenes in your life and tell us about them.

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It was a terrible winter. I took this picture at the end of March. By the calendar, spring was well underway. No one told the river; it was partly frozen. The snow was piled so high I had to go to the road and shoot down. The snow was higher than I am tall.

Manchaug Falls, August 2011

These two pictures were taken less than a mile from home. They remind me that New England is amazing, filled with extraordinary natural beauty even when we are buried under 10 feet of snow.

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As for this last picture, I love the look on Garry’s face. I love that Bishop photobombed the picture. I love that everyone looks happy.

What is your favorite tradition? (family tradition, church tradition, whatever)

Garry and I watch seasonal movies. For Christmas, we watch “Christmas Story” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” We view “The Ten Commandments” at Easter/Passover. There are others. Movies are a language we share. They have memories and meanings that are special to us. Personal memories not shared by anyone else.

If you could go back and talk to yourself at age 18 what advice would you give yourself? Or if you are younger than 25 what words of wisdom would you like to tell yourself at age 50?

I’ve gotten to a point where it makes more sense to figure out what I would tell myself at age 50. In which case, I’d tell myself to get better medical care. To take the time to go to Boston and be seen by experts. To not take the word of local doctors with dubious credentials. I probably wouldn’t listen to myself. I never do.