I was slightly surprised how emotional this experience was for me, trekking to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to catch a glimpse of the space shuttle Endeavor en route to LAX. Eric stayed home. My oldest son was at school right next to JPL. He and his classmates sat outside under a tree waiting for the fly over that went right over their heads. So that left my youngest son and I to make the journey together. The day was crazy hot. We hiked down a well known to us path to sit in the shade of a scrub oak while the crowds amassed above us in and around a tiny parking lot.
As we sat waiting, my mind slipped back to January 28, 1986. I was still in high school. I was in a class where there was very little classroom control. The P.A. system went on and the principal muttered something unintelligible under the the din of out of control students. It wasn't until I was home later that day that I heard the space shuttle Challenger had exploded, killing everyone aboard. I remember feeling so angry that I didn't know.
Then my son and I heard the roar, first of the crowds above us and then the engine of the 747. Endeavor appeared from the east and soared above us flanked by three jet fighter planes. Endeavor atop the 747 made a long graceful swoop over JPL before leaving our line of sight. When we came home to share our stories, Eric told us Endeavor had flown twice directly over humble Camp Ramshackle. Eric may have had the best seat in the house. Next to the pilots, of course.
The tale of artichokes at our compound is a twisted story with great highs and desperate gopher devoured lows. This season is yet another tale of woe. I relied on the fruits of the Altadena farmer's market for the delectable pictured above. The artichoke is so delicious, that even when I say that's it! No more. I give up. I taste the meaty heart dipped in a lemon and olive oil dressing, raise my head like Scarlett O'Hara and proclaim, "As God is my witness, I will grow artichokes again!"
Watch out gophers, I got my eye on you, and although I am a vegetarian, I might not be above a gopher stew with the small skulls torn from carrion and placed on sticks surrounding my artichoke plants, the journey to my own heart of darkness.
But before that, I think best to try again with wire baskets and Exhart gopher repellers and perhaps record my guitar practice and pipe it under ground to drive the artichoke eating thieves crazy.