28 January 2012

28 Jan 2012, 1147hrs local (Scotland) time.

I woke up this morning thinking about the weeks and months just after my dad had died, and Crusty, Fox, and I had settled into a 3/2 brick ranch in SouthEast Alabama. Thinking how cold it was that first month in Alabama, how Fox had been changing as he approached his third birthday, how difficult things were between Crusty and I.

I lay there in the nice warm bed with Paul and the cat snugged in under the duvet, and thought to myself "Why am I thinking about that horrible time?"

I got up (late, it was very cold here this morning and it was a real force of will to crawl out of that warm bed and start a fire in the bedroom wood stove!) and got the morning started-Paul loves to make breakfast so while he did that I did other things. Eventually we both took breaks and booted up our computers to check email (FOX-write yer mum!) and scan the news.

I have a routine. I open the email and look for personal emails first. Then I move all the earthquake alerts to the EQ Log folder and pdf the page listing them so I can delete the previous days worth and move on to the new day. Then I read the news headlines morning newsletters sent out free from news feeds all over the world-it's how I stay in touch with local and global current events.

I read the local (UK feeds) stuff first, starting with The Scotsman of course for the really local stuff, and where once again it looks as though I haven't hunted enough Haggis to win a holiday at the famous St Andrews Golf Resort. Oh well, there is hopefully a next year. Paul and I don't do Burns Night so much for the Burns as for the end of the annual Haggis Hunt, lol!

Then moving quickly through The infamous Daily Mail (oh, don'cha love a bit of refined tabloidy trash first thing in the morning?) and onto The Telegraph for serious news, I scan the headlines and sometimes do a pdf of the articles that are interesting, educational, or seem to be a part of the forming jigsaw of Life.

And then I start receiving the US feeds, and I trawl through The New York Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The LA Times (among others). As I work my way through the US morning collection, I am usually on cuppa number four and thinking about making another pot...

This morning I was so unsettled by waking to memories of Crusty and the misery he caused Fox and me that so far I've skipped the tea, although Paul did force breakfast on me-bless him! I make him eat things like brussel sprouts, broccoli, and salads, and he makes me eat breakfast every morning. We have a perfect marriage (which is why I hate waking up dwelling on misery-it seems SO disloyal to my wonderful Paulie!).

Well, I'm on my way to make that pot of tea now. I read through the British newsletters. Moved onto the NYTs, and there at the end of the newsletter was the offer to see the pdf of the NYTs front page on 28 Jan 1986-the morning the space shuttle Challenger exploded just after lift-off.

And because I do know that we humans are anniversarial even when we don't consciously recall the date, I now know why I woke up thinking about AL, Crusty, and those unusually dark winter days so long ago across the American Deep South.

It's been so long ago, and yet for certain people it must seem like it is happening all over again. Humankind is anniversarial, and today is a very sad anniversary.

I recall where I was this morning all those years ago-I was getting the morning started in a SouthEast AL 3/2 brick ranch, my three year old playing with his breakfast, and my husband sulking in the living room while I listened to CNN news as I washed the dishes.

28 Jan 1986:

We'd had a terrible row the night before, fierce for all it was conducted in whispers so as to not disturb Fox; unresolved the next morning, Crusty flounced into the living room and sulked in the dark. I made breakfast (his sat congealing on the breakfast table) and tidied up in the kitchen, not really paying attention to the little TV on the counter until the CNN announcer said "And we have lift off of the space shuttle Challenger..."

I turned off the water and went to stand in front of the TV. I watched the screen and the interspersed shots of family and shuttle and it was only seconds after lift-off that the Challenger lift-off became the Challenger Tragedy. Fox went completely still as I called Crusty to the kitchen with the words "Oh my God, Mike, come quick!"

We spent the rest of the day glued to the TV, hoping against hope that the astronauts somehow had miraculously been saved.

But of course, they had not.

28 Jan 1986.

No-one should have died that morning and 'they' should have learned from the earlier tragedy that occurred (eerily enough) 19 years+1 day prior to that horrible 1986 morning-the launch pad fire in Apollo 1 that killed three men, including the uncle of one of my friends.

I feel safe saying that because I heard it said by another friend, this one met during FL Master Gardener training. He'd been part of the team in FL that day in 1986 and when I met him in 1993 he was still shattered by the event, blaming group think for the decisions that killed both the Apollo and Challenger crews.

He retired soon after the Challenger disaster and avoided the place like the plague. Knowing my family loved the space programme, he gave us his tickets for 'ringside' seats to the Endeavour maiden voyage.

The intervals between majour disasters seems to shorten. Apollo 1 burned on the launch pad in Jan 1967, Challenger exploded in Jan 1986, 19+1 day years later.

Space shuttle Columbia, 17 years+4 days after the loss of the Challenger crew, burned up on re-entry because no-one had been willing to loudly suggest that loosing a chunk of foam during lift-off might cause catastrophic damage to the tiles.

I've been blessed-over the years I've known some amazing people, people of tremendous courage and honour. Some of them have been involved with the space programme, and they are sorely missed. I read a piece this morning on the Washington Post about the Apollo 1 horror, and the gentleman interviewed made it clear that he believes safety is the one cost-cutter that should be done without.

He is so very right!

27 Jan 1967
28 Jan 1986
1 Feb 2003


  1. "...with Paul and the cat..."

    HUH? When did you add a cat?

    If you mentioned that, we missed it entirely.

  2. Oops, sorry about that! We are fostering a cat from Devon in the South of England over the winter while his 'beans find and move into a new house further south.

    We've had him with us since October, he's borrowing Mozart's blog space to keep his folks and fans (this cat has fans:) updated until he goes back south in April.

    I wish the people who had Mozart and Gonzo would have done the same, I think of those two all the time!

    Roo is a Burmese-Siamese cross who's 'real' people abandoned him to the wilds of Devon; he 'adopted' our friends when they went to their holiday caravan park in Devon (they live near London), and over the past few years they've grown VERY attached to him. His 'real' people finally agreed to turn him over to our friends this past autumn, but they couldn't take him to their home because they thought their 16yo neutered male cat would expire on the spot at the arrival of a young, healthy Roo. Since they thought the old fellow was on his last winter, they asked us to foster Roo over winter.

    The feeling was that Roo and the two younger spayed females would get along no troubles, but the old guy wouldn't be happy about a young cat invading his space.

    Well, Old Boy is going strong, but our friends lost her mother just before Christmas, so they are selling their home near London and moving to Devon permanently. The plan now is to take Roo down to the new house this spring before the London Cats arrive, and the old fellow will have an easier time learning to get along with Roo if Roo is already in the house when he and the two ladies arrive.

    He's a wonderful cat, we'll miss him. I think Paul will have a better understanding of how hard it was for me to rehome Mozart and Gonzo when Roo goes back to his folks. And I think it won't be long before Paul and I adopt a pair of rescue cats from the local group to fill the empty spots in the house when Roo goes home:)


Regretfully I've had to update my blog to comment moderation to prevent spamming. LOL, if only the fools knew my blog is seen by a very small and select group-it might help them understand the waste of time it is to spam my blog! Oh well, it's not as though spammers are very bright, after all.