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Hosting a Rocket Launch

Hosting a Rocket Launch

Every year my husband’s family gathers in Chincoteague, Virginia on Veterans’ Day Weekend. For many years we have been blessed with gorgeous weather, lots of wildlife, lots of good seafood, and abundant fuzzy pony sightings on neighboring Assateague Island. We are now on the third generation of youngins’ who have participated in this annual pilgrimage. But this year there was a first.

This year there was a rocket launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility scheduled for Saturday, November 11.

At about 7:00 AM lots of hardy folks in numerous layers of warm outer wear started gathering on the causeway between Chincoteague and Assateague. There is an unobstructed view of the launch site, which I think is about 3 miles as the crow flies. Although I wouldn’t advise a crow or anyone else flying near a launch. However, that’s exactly what happened.

We were all gathered on the causeway at 7:37 AM, freezing our butts off, waiting for the big event when some idiot pilot decides to ignore the restricted airspace and take a joy ride! A launch window is only open so long so they had to scrub. The launch was rescheduled for the next morning at the same time.

The next morning, we all gathered on the causeway at the same time. I think there might have been even more people on Sunday. It was a little warmer and the mood was upbeat.

They “lit the candle” (that’s what the cool people say) right on time and up it went! I was underwhelmed by the actual rocket, which was smaller than I expected but had an impressive flash. What was cool was the after boom (I don’t know what the cool people or anyone else calls that officially). About ten seconds after liftoff there is this incredible, deep, rumble, like nothing you’ve ever heard before. Walls shake and folks reflexively Ooh and Aaah. There is also an impressive amount of smoke left behind on the launch pad.

It was incongruous to see a rocket being launched so near a natural wildlife refuge. However, the fuzzy ponies weren’t phased in the least. I guess they’re so used to seeing tourists exhibit goofy behavior that nothing phases them. They just kept munchin’ on that salty marsh grass and bloating.

Afterward the launch everyone walked away looking satisfied and for hot coffee.

I must say Chincoteague did a great job of hosting the event on both days. Traffic control, signage, and even first aid were provided by local law enforcement. But it was all low key in keeping with the Chincoteague vibe.

Thank you for visiting.

The Last to Arrive

The Last to Arrive

The reunion of my best girlfriends from high school can now be called an “annual event.” That’s because
technically you can’t call something an annual event until it’s happened twice. Last year I hosted the
inaugural, and while I enjoyed the company, it’s more fun to be a guest.

This year’s hostess invited us to her vacation home in Bethany Beach, Delaware and specified we were
welcome any time after 4:00 PM. Apparently, we were all raised right because no one was early. I left
after work and was the last to arrive at about 10:00 PM.

Every hellish minute in I-95 traffic was worth it when I was greeted by six screaming ladies on the front
porch, brandishing wine glasses. Each of them embraced me in turn and continued to scream their
greetings in my ear. If you’re ever feeling low, be the last one to arrive at a reunion of half-tanked high
school friends. It’s an amazing ego boost. At that point in the festivities the air conditioner repairman
might have gotten the same reaction, but I’ll take the love just the same.

I was offered food and beverages immediately by my amazing hostess. This was the girl in high school
who most guys wanted to date but got too tongue tied in her presence to form the words. Strangely enough, all that adoration never went to her head. To this day that amazes me. After all the screaming had stopped she took me by the hand, looked very seriously into my eyes and said, “Would you like some chocolate lava cake?”

I turned down the chocolate lava cake but managed to drink waaaay too much Prosecco. So much so
that I fell out of my bunk and had to be tended to by the group’s remaining cogent person. Thank you
Dr. P. I owe you one. She informed me the next morning that I speak fluent Wookie. Who knew?
The rest of the weekend was wonderful. Time on the beach, good food, nonstop talking. I’m still
touched by the memories we all own of each other. It’s like the various puzzle pieces form a complete
cohort’s experience.

We talked a lot about parenting; the way we were parented, the way we parent our kids, and the way
our kids are raising their own kids. I’m more convinced than ever that having a safe and stable home life
is the most important gift you can give a child. It doesn’t have to fit traditional models, but simple
stability is crucial. I’m in awe of the women who could create stable and loving homes when that was
not their experience growing up.

I’m hoping to raise a glass of Presecco among these precious friends for many years to come. We should
probably take turns being the last one to arrive.

Thank you for visiting,


Acknowledging a gay couple…what’s a Boomer to do?

Acknowledging a gay couple…what’s a Boomer to do?

The Question of the Week comes from Ellen in Virginia.

“I recently attended a reunion weekend of some of my college sorority sisters at a lovely beach house that one of the “girls” had rented.  There were about 15 of us there, and it was great to see everyone after over 30 years!  Two of my sorority sisters are now obviously and openly a lesbian couple.  (I didn’t know about this until arriving, and I didn’t say anything to acknowledge their relationship because I just didn’t know what to say.  This was a taboo topic when we were all in college in the 1970’s).  What advice do you have, if any?  I felt like I should have offered some kind of congratulations, but didn’t want to say the wrong thing.  Help!”

My first thought is that all of you have the same generational perspective. These ladies are well aware of the taboos you all grew up with and have had to face them on a regular basis. I would wait for an opportunity when you can speak to one or both of them in private, acknowledge that you are feeling a little awkward, and say you are genuinely glad they are in a loving supportive relationship.

I also want to take this opportunity to reach out to my younger readers to help them understand that, like Ellen, most baby boomers are pretty accepting of healthy relationships regardless of gender or race. In fact most of us are truly happy that folks can now live honestly from an early age. It avoids so much pain and nonsense. While we welcome this healthy societal change, it is still relatively new to us and we need you to understand that we may not always react as naturally or nonchalantly as you do. So please, give us the benefit of the doubt and help us out.

I think the lyrics below from the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

sort of sum it up.

Do you need anybody?

I just need someone to love.

Could it be anybody?

I want somebody to love.

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends,

Mm, I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends,

Oh, I get high with a little help from my friends.

Yes, I get by with a little help from my friends

With a little help from my friends.


From the album Sgt. Pepper’s

Lonely Hearts Club Band

Thank you for visiting.



The High School Reunion and House Guests, Traveling to the Past

The High School Reunion and House Guests, Traveling to the Past

About a year ago I hosted six of my closest female friends from high school for a mini-reunion. This may have been the first time all of us had been together in one place since graduation; I know it was the first time we’d been together without the distractions of spouses, children, or other classmates.

There is something about hosting women that sends me into crazed-preparation mode. If I’m hosting a man, I might clean the toilet. If I’m hosting a woman I turn into Rosie Jetson on rocket fuel, dusting the basement rafters and detailing the cat. When did I become more concerned with the looks of my house than my own looks? Is it just me?

When you’re hosting, events tend to go by in a blur as you’re dealing with details, and that’s what happened to me with this reunion. But there are some lasting impressions.

Sorry to be cliché but, “we picked right up as though we’d never been apart,” sharing our memories, lives, and emotions. There’s something about spending your teenage years together that creates an enduring bond of familiarity.

We talked about boyfriends and spouses. We compared notes about the high school guys we dated, what they were like, why the relationships ended. Our fumblings with teenage lust and infatuation were pretty funny. Some of the lines guys used back then are really hilarious! For instance, “Don’t you just love the way skin feels on skin? Let’s pull up our shirts and touch stomachs.” Two of the ladies married their high school sweethearts, one of whom has the closest thing to a fairy tale marriage I’ve ever known. The other high school marriage lasted only a few years. We also talked about betrayal and the scars it leaves on your ability to trust going forward.

We talked about losing our parents, a discussion that led to revelations about my classmates’ childhood struggles that I didn’t know about at the time. I realized I was tremendously self-absorbed back then, and I hope that’s changed. It was fun to hear their memories of my parents, who were considered “quirky” for the times. My dad told a friend her prom dress looked just like our shower curtain. Another was made to sit on our front porch during dinner for calling him “sir” one too many times. Intellectually we all know we’re now the senior generation and next in line for the cosmic compost heap, but I don’t think any of us are really ready to accept it yet.

After all the reminiscing and catching up, we talked about motherhood. When you’re the mother of sons, your energy goes into keeping them alive until adulthood. When you’re the mother of daughters you just try not to kill them. Several of us had received calls from our sons that went like this, “Hey mom, how’s it going? Just out of curiosity, what’s my blood type?” My son actually called me once and said, “Hey mom, when do you know it’s time to go to the emergency room?”

We also talked about parenting experiences that did not end in amusing anecdotes. I was deeply touched by two of the women who were witnessing their adult children go through tragic losses, and were deeply affected by their inability to make the pain go away as they did when their kids were young.

As I sat among these friends, feeling a profound sense of wisdom and survival, I glanced up and saw one of the ladies pressing her bare butt checks against the picture window, mooning us. We laughed until Chardonnay came out our noses.  Some things never change.

Thank you for visiting and I hope you’ll share comments and advice about your own reunion experiences.






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