The Final Frontier

I’ve been listening to a podcast called “13 Minutes to the Moon” these past couple of weeks. It’s a departure from the usual true crime, news, and entertainment stuff I typically gravitate toward, but with all the crap going on nowadays, that’s a welcome relief. I heard that podcast listenership is way down because nobody is commuting to work these days, but even when I do drive to the office, it takes all of eight minutes, so my podcast habits are unaffected. I listen while walking on the treadmill or outside.

Anyway, the BBC World Service podcast is a ten-part series that focuses on the Apollo 11 mission—more specifically, the 13-minute descent to the lunar surface. Well, technically it took 12 minutes and 49 seconds, but that doesn’t roll off the tongue quite so easily, does it? The podcast talks about how we landed on the moon and provides lots of information about NASA, the history of space flight, the politics of going to the moon, the astronauts and people in mission control, and the technology that got us there. It’s both fascinating and inspiring, a reminder that a determined nation can accomplish great things. It also demonstrates what a miracle landing on the moon was. The fact that we did so six times is amazing to me! Season 2 focuses on Apollo 13 and I plan to listen to that next.


The podcast has reignited my interest in space. Like many children of the ’70s, I had dreams of becoming an astronaut, though if I’m being honest my desire was less about slipping the surly bonds of earth and more about drinking all the Tang. So, I’m planning on rewatching a lot of my favorite space-themed movies. Films like Contact, Apollo 13, Gravity, The Martian, First Man, and Armageddon (hey, don’t judge!).  You might say that “I don’t want to miss a thing” (but probably shouldn’t).

If you didn’t tear up when Harry sacrificed himself to save the world, you must have a heart of stone.

Our season appears to have finally settled on “spring-ish” (i.e., no snow in a week), so we decided on Saturday to attack with gusto our big project of converting the side yard into a garden.

“With gusto” is probably an overstatement. It’s more like, we figured we couldn’t avoid the task much longer. Those seeds that Tara planted continue to grow like crazy and will need a permanent home in the soil in about a month. So, we broke out the standard gardening tools — shovel, tape measure, spray paint — and got to work. OK, maybe those aren’t your typical implements, but if there is one thing you should know about my wife, it’s that she is very much a planner when it comes to this stuff. She plotted out the entire garden in advance, drawing up schematics on graph paper and labeling where every single plant and flower will go. This runs contrary to my usual way of doing things (“this looks like a good enough spot to start digging!”), so we make a good team in that regard.

It took about an hour to dig that first bed. The work wasn’t too difficult; I have no doubt we’ll have everything done by the end of May, which is right around the time when we’ll be able to safely plant everything outdoors.

Our vegetable starts might be the size of Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors by then, so if I drop off the face of the blogging earth in a few weeks, you can safely assume I’ve been digested by a giant plant.

Under the circumstances, maybe don’t send flowers.

It appears that we may be easing into reopening some businesses this week. Our mayor and city council are going to vote on loosening restrictions tomorrow and allowing certain businesses to reopen. There would be strict guidelines: bars and restaurants, for instance, would be limited to one person per 140 square feet; patrons must be spaced apart a minimum of six feet; staff must wear masks and submit to health checks prior to the start of every shift; etc.

Maybe this is controversial to some, but I’m in favor. Our mayor took aggressive action early and, as a result, the virus has been virtually non-existent here. While many of our restaurants have shifted to take-out and curbside delivery, they aren’t making enough money to offset costs and can’t survive being shut down indefinitely. I feel like, with a strong commitment to safety and vigilant monitoring, it’s do-able. Lockdown can’t last forever, and people can decide for themselves whether they are comfortable taking the risk. I suspect even with less-strict guidelines, a lot of folks will continue to avoid going out for some time anyway.

I’ve had several concerned friends reach out to me to see if we’re okay after Sioux Falls, South Dakota made national headlines as one of the country’s top COVID-19 hot spots. Fortunately, they are clear on the other side of the state, about as far away from us as Fort Collins, Colorado. We are separated by 346.6 very non-populated miles. Granted, all it would take would be one infected person from there to visit here, but hopefully that won’t happen. We’ve had a total of 12 confirmed cases in Pennington County versus 1,796 cases in Minnehaha County.


If things do reopen, I might need to consider working part-time in the office in the near future. That’ll be a bitter pill to swallow, as much as I’m enjoying working from home…especially now that it’s warming up (they’re forecasting 84º on Thursday!) and I can work from the backyard. I won’t make any decision on that for at least a week, and am thankful that my employer is fully understanding and not pressuring us in the least.

All I know is, tomorrow’s my birthday, and I ain’t punching into no time clock!

19 thoughts on “The Final Frontier

  1. It is nice to work in the backyard. Husband and I were doing that this morning. I have tried a vegetable bed but it does not really take. The Tampa Bay area has also been very vigilant and restrictions will be eased the end of this month. The problem is with unemployment and a stagnant economy so we have had some strange crime incidents. Many people in America have no savings for this emergency and if you do, you are lucky or well-planned. Back to semi normal, we hope.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve heard of an uptick in certain crimes, too…though nothing locally (that I’m aware of). Desperate times for some people, for sure. Which doesn’t excuse them, of course, but maybe makes it all less surprising.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your garden (and the planner-wife – ha!)…I never thought of using spray paint. Way to go!

    Now that the neighbours have a lab puppy (named Olive<3 ) the groundhog family that usually births under their shed and then feasts on my garden are likely not to return. Which means, I can re-attempt having a garden like what you did there. I already started seeds for spinach and arugula which will go in boxes, since we do not yet have the garden set up. Our sow outside date is usually May 24 weekend…that's a ways away.

    My arugula which I planted in an egg carton already sprouted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I walked into the hardware store to buy the spray paint, I was looking for a can with the words SPRAY PAINT. This simply didn’t exist. I bought what I assumed was correct, and got lucky. Clearly, I am not a tagger!

      I kinda wish our neighbors had a dog. That might keep the deer out of our yard and away from our garden. We’ll see what kind of system the planner-wife can rig up to keep the veggies safe!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Gosh Mark, I clearly remember when I was a kid and watching the very first landing on the moon.

    “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

    That was so exciting!

    Wasn’t “Contact” a fabulous film??

    How cool to see the start of your garden. I can’t wait to see how it progresses.

    I’m with you, I’m in favor of reopening. I realize that we will still have to take precautions, no doubt about it. However, I think we need to start opening so that people can get back to work. PA is set to open May 8th, however, Philadelphia will not be opening until later in the month. UGH!

    Have a faaaaaaaaabulous Happy Birthday tomorrow, my friend!

    Cheers to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Contact” isn’t just one of my favorite space-themed films, it’s a favorite movie, period! Incredibly acted, dramatic, tense, spiritual, and thought-provoking. I love it!

      I hope the next few weeks pass quickly and Philly reopens for business soon. I’m sure you’re dying to get out there and frequent your favorite cheesesteak places ASAP! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I just started trying podcasts on my walks, as I got tired of my iPod music. I miss my walking friends and it’s getting harder to entertain myself on walks. So far, I haven’t found a podcast I love, but I’m still looking.

    Our garden is in the corner along our house. It will be interesting to see what plants work and don’t work for you. Our biggest success here has been green beans. No luck with corn! Good luck!

    I’m all for taking slow steps to open things back up. I’ve discovered 6 weeks is my quarantine limit. I’ve had it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Tell me about it. I’ve only been quarantined for five weeks and I reached my limit ages ago.

      I planted corn once in WA and had one measly ear. Green beans have always been much more reliable for me.

      I have lots of great podcast suggestions depending on your interests.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember when Harry sacrificed himself to save the world, and then his daughter’s wedding without him. So bittersweet. Your garden plans seem to be falling into place nicely. Good job. Our state is slowly lifting restrictions, but it’s too soon here. We have lots of confirmed cases of the virus, with many deaths, so we won’t be going anywhere soon. I’m all about being healthy at home. Your state’s scenario makes sense. Hope your birthday was a happy one.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m sure in time you guys will follow suit. Definitely better to be safe than sorry. There is only one active case on the whole western side of the state, so clearly something is working. Nice to see our businesses back open (some are waiting another week just to be on the safe(r) side).

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi Mark, I was a fan of podcasts while commuting and rarely listen to one now. Your post reminds me I should start again, on my walks. You make a good point how a “determined nation can accomplish great things.”

    Your movie list reminds me how I may rewatch “Capricorn One.” The surreal events of the last two months have reminded me of this movie. (Yes, don’t judge). Surreal, yet very Real around here.

    Great on the progress of your garden. It is fascinating to hear reopening plans around the U.S. and Canada. We (British Columbia) will be hearing some news/guidelines tomorrow.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I cannot recall the entire movie, although I enjoyed it when it was released. Something about a Mars landing that looked very realistic, a government hoax, suspense. Your list reminded me of this movie.

        Liked by 1 person

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