Thursday, May 03, 2007

Wally Schirra

Wally Schirra died today at age 84. He was one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts - those with the "right stuff." Schirra died in California.

"With the passing of Wally Schirra, we at NASA note with sorrow the loss of yet another of the pioneers of human space flight," said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin in a statement. "We who have inherited the space program will always be in his debt."

Schirra was the only astronaut to fly on Mercury, Gemini and Apollo flights. He orbited Earth six times in an October 1962 Mercury flight, making him the third man in space.

Schirra never got to the moon, but his command of the Apollo 7 mission in October 1968 paved the way for the subsequent moon missions.

Astronauts are something of a "dime a dozen" where I live. The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson attracts them to the area on a regular basis. But I've always had a soft spot for Wally Schirra.

Many years ago when I was a young TV reporter in Lexington, Kentucky I got to interview him - ever so briefly. His flight had been delayed and he was late for a speech, but he took a few minutes to speak with us in a parking lot and was pleasant, charming and witty. I was too young and foolish to fully appreciate the greatness of the man in front of me, but even I knew it was a moment I would savor in retrospect. And I have - many times.

Schirra once wrote, "We shared a common dream to test the limits of man's imagination and daring. Those early pioneering flights of Mercury, the performances of Gemini and the trips to the moon established us once and for all as what I like to call a spacefaring nation. Like England, Spain and Portugal crossing the seas in search of their nations' greatness, so we reached for the skies and ennobled our nation."

Condolences to his friends and family.

Kitchen News

While I was away, my flower bed went crazy with growth. My dianthus, affectionately known as "pinks" where I'm from, are just beautiful. Last year when they were down to a quarter a bunch at the end of the season I bought a couple more plants and stuck them in. Both of them have really taken off.

Of course, as you know, I am infatuated with having flowers in the house. I bring greenery in when I don't have blooms. And all my little vases I've been buying are now filled with sprigs on the shelf in the kitchen.

Part of me wants to be one of those people who does things in a minimal way, but I'm just not. I guess you can tell from the dozen plus vases, multiple teapots, French candy mold and Avebury, England postcard crowded together on the two foot long shelf. I like the look of greenery and little pink flowers on vases and knick knacks that remind me of special moments and the little jar to hold rings that belonged to my mother. I am a person driven by the things that trigger memories and I doubt that's going to change.

In other kitchen news... Greg brought me a wonderful surprise tonight. Sixty-four pieces of Taylor, Smith and Taylor Boutonniere dishes in the Ever Yours Shape. OK, truth be told, I really don't have a clue what all that means - I just looked at the bottom of the plate and then looked it up online. I just know it's pretty. I've been watching it for awhile and told Greg when it went half price to just buy it and I'd repay him. He's such a dedicated shopper when someone is on the hunt for something. Ya gotta love that about him.

This set has been at the local goodwill for more than a month. We've been speculating that it would go down in price. Finally, today, it did - right at closing time - and Greg was there to check on it and bought it for me. It was a great deal. It was a good deal before but it was a great deal today.

I will need to add some more pieces to it to complete the set, but there are a lot of dinner plates, saucers and cups. There are also some of the unusual pieces, including the salt and pepper shakers. I will put a photo on soon, but it's in the dishwasher at the moment.

Yeah, I know all about the evil ways of dishwashers. But I want to use this and I won't if I can't put it in the dishwasher. Besides, it's called "ovenware" - surely it can handle the light cycle in the dishwasher.

The creamer, shown here, wouldn't fit in the dishwasher so I snapped a photo of it. I love the fact that the inside is that beautiful robin's egg blue. It's almost enough to make me want to paint my kitchen that blue. But, hey, lets not go crazy.

Although I'm tired of this story, I still cannot talk. I'm sure there is a lesson in this for me. I am hoping I feel and sound better tomorrow.