Tuesday, February 2, 2016

My View #162 - Questions about Life in the Space Station

This business of flying in the Space Station, here are a few questions a few people might think to ask. I, for one, ponder over so many things up there, as they whip around the world every hour and a half. I have a small list of questions. Can anyone answer them?

Col. Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut, and past Commander of the International Space Station, agreed to speak with me to answer Letty's questions. She would have been so thrilled to know that a real astronaut was interested in her. Here are Col. Hadfield's answers in italics below, from our phone conversation on February 2, 2016. (Sorry I have been unable to get the video links from YouTube to work.)

1. When eating, are the plates fastened to a small table, so they don't float away?

"There is no need for a table or plates with no gravity; both would float away, as would any food you tried to put "on" a plate in space. The space station has no oven and no refrigerator. Food is irradiated, some is dehydrated and we add water, then if necessary, heat.  The food tastes like food on earth, but our sense of taste is dulled in space, so we like it a little more spicy than our earth diet. Astronauts eat one thing, then move on to the next. For example, you eat all your mashed potatoes, then move on to the peas, finish them, and then eat the meat. At one point, they tried having us eat from two small tubes at once, but it didn't work. If you think of packaged army rations, it's similar to that." 

2. Do the people lie down to sleep, and where?

"There is no "down" in space. You could relax anywhere, fall asleep and float around, but then you might bump into things, or other people, or they could wake you up by making noise, so we have a small sleep pod, like a phone booth, for each astronaut. Part way through the night, you get cold as your body temperature drops, so for that we have a sleeping bag tethered to the wall. You just float into the sleeping bag in your "sleep station." It is immensely comfortable, no pressure anywhere, so there is no need to roll over, or for a pillow, as in a normal bed." 

3. What, how and where do they dispose of soiled shirts, underwear, socks, etc?

"We wear them until they are too dirty, then throw them away. However, clothing in space doesn't soil as quickly because it doesn't touch your skin nearly as much. On earth, your clothing hangs on you, while in space, it floats around you. One shirt can last six months. Our exercise clothes (shorts, tee-shirt, underwear) get dirty faster because we perspire. They last a week or so. To dispose of them, we put them into our solid waste, and once the solid waste is full, it is sent earthward in an unmanned resupply ship, which incinerates in the atmosphere."

4. Where and when do they use a toilet? Do they have one? And where?

"There are two toilets on the space station, of Russian design. Since you cannot flush with water, they use an air suction system, with tubes, one for liquid waste and one for solid waste. There is no smell and it is very hygienic. We use wet or dry wipes to clean ourselves and they too go into the waste system. This is a huge improvement over what the early astronauts endured, such as lying in their spacesuit in their own urine, or having to wear a diaper."

5. On Sundays, can they get church services on board?

"We have all religions on board, including Christians, Jews, Muslims, people on different calendars and so on, and we try to honor every astronaut's religious beliefs. There is no communal service, but each astronaut can contact whomever they want, for example, tune into a religious service via the internet."

6. How many hours of sleep do they get in 24 hours?

"NASA schedules our time in five minute blocks, with 7 1/2 to 8 hours scheduled for sleep each night. I slept an average of five hours per night, since it was a very rare opportunity to do many things you cannot do on earth."

7. Do any of them have small hobbies to do?

"Our mission psychologist and psychiatrist encourage us to have hobbies for our mental health. All the astronauts have hobbies, such as photography, science experiments, reading, drawing, sketching, and music. We make time to do them by getting ahead of our schedule, or sleeping less. I wrote a music album called "Space Sessions," which has done very well."

8. If one of them gets sick, who do they contact?

"Each other. We all train as Emergency Medical Technicians. I worked in a cadaver lab, helped a surgeon do surgery, to learn the skills that might be needed, but in the half a year I was in space, no-one got sick. We make sure the people sent into space are healthy, and build a safe environment, and because we are not exposed to the germs in the general population, we are less likely to get ill. We keep pharmaceuticals on board in case. Accidents are more likely than illness; for example, electrocution is a danger, if a drop of water floats into some electrical circuitry."

9. Where do they store their flight suits, when they take them off?

"We have many different suits. For launch and landings, we have pressure suits, that we store in the return ship we will use. For daily wear, we have flight suits that we store in a little zip bag. For space walks, we have the white spacewalk suits, which come apart in pieces and are stored in the airlock."

Tonight I've been watching a CBC space program. Maybe that is what set me off to ask all my questions. A young lady is going on her second trip in space. Good luck and Godspeed on your trip.

F.L. Evans
July 10, 2009

Colonel Hadfield, thank you very much for your time! You are Canada's favourite astronaut, my daughter Michelle asked me to tell you she loves you (not in a romantic way, but for all the good you have done for science and Canada,) and now I'm going to download your music album. It was a privilege to speak with you.- Ann

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Goodbye, Mom

Dear Mom,

All your "view" and family history writings are out in the world for anyone with an internet connection to see. Can you believe that 8731 times, people have looked at your writings? (And over the years, more will follow, I am sure.) Congratulations, Mom! You would be so proud that people from countries as different as China and Ghana, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, Germany and Venezuela, have seen your posts. I don't know any of these people, but I thank them for honouring you with their time and attention.

You have spoken very clearly for yourself, and now, it is my turn to speak about you.

Me, Melinda (granddaughter,) Riel (great grandson,) Letty 2007
You were a wonderful mother to young children. You had such love, such empathy, and a strong sense of fun, although you were strict, too, and didn't let me get away with much. When I had my own children, you loved being a grandmother, and my daughters loved their time with you: the cookies, the candies in the blue candy jar, the shopping trips, the stories - what child could have asked for more? They all loved you so much.

You were courageous, through the trip to England during wartime, living in a very substandard home when we returned to Canada, coping with your many illnesses and injuries over the years, and caring for Dad through his declining years.

What got you through many tough situations was your incredible stubbornness. It worked for you many times, but worked against you too, because you were so ruled by your emotions that no-one could budge you from a position once you had taken it. 

I admired your creativity. Your poetry and all your writings reveal an artistic soul that, had it been nurtured with more education, might have bloomed into far more than you imagined. I and your granddaughters, having inherited your love of the written word, continue to honour you in our own writings.

Of the sad things that passed between us, or at least between me and your deteriorating self in the last two years of your life, I will say no more, except that I forgive you, and ask you to forgive me.

Mom, I love you. I believe we will be reunited one day when it is my turn to "slip this mortal coil." Goodbye, my dear.

Linda Ann

Thursday, December 24, 2015

My View #32 - It's Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve. I sit alone, watching a lovely children's show on TV. It is lovely.

I've talked to all my children and grandchildren a little while ago and I'm immersed in days gone by, of Christmas Eve in England and Canada. I'm not lonely, what a lovely evening, just enjoying an evening alone, on Christmas Eve.

Christmas 1961 - Letty receives a pop-up toaster for Christmas. She and Ron slept in a hide-a-bed in those years, in the one-bedroom house.

On November 29th, Edgar and Melinda, my eldest granddaughter, had their first child, a baby boy. That was one reason my home was quiet, My daughter, her husband, and my other two granddaughters were with the new baby in Toronto. Meanwhile, my son, Bob, was in Southern California. He drives an 18 wheeler.

From the left: granddaughter Rachel, Grandson-in-law Edgar, Great-grandson Riel, Granddaughter Melinda, Granddaughter Michelle, Daughter Ann (Linda) and Son-in-law Art, December 2006, Toronto, Canada
So this is why I was alone on December 25th.

What beauty there is in a happy child, the wonder in their eyes and eager voices. What good memories I have. At 93 I'm still a child at heart, and love all the lovely music makers, off key maybe, bu still beautiful.

I hope I don't have any more quiet Christmases in the future. Give me the noise, sparkle and laughter next Christmas.

January 7, 2007

Art and I spent another couple of Christmases with Letty, and she was never alone after that one year.

This is the final post of Letty's writings, but I will blog my own tribute to her. It is fitting that today, the anniversary of her death, is the last day in which she speaks with her own voice. 

Merry Christmas to all our readers around the globe. Peace and joy to you all.

Ann Griffin
December 24, 2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My View #33 - What is Christmas?

For the Children

Christmas is a Birthday Party,
For a baby boy,
A young boy.
You had a birthday party, sometime?
This baby was the new kid on the block,
So he needed a party.

People came to see Him,
They brought Him presents,
Which is good.
Not like the ones we get,
His were stuff called "Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh!"

You know what gold is?
Look at your parents' rings.
Frankincense is funny stuff, I looked it up,
It is "perfume, made from the gum of African trees."
Imagine that, now I know too.

Another gift was myrrh, more perfume,
So He should smell really good.
He was a happy baby,
Smiled a lot and didn't cry much.
He had lots of company, sheep, cows, people, birds,
Because He was born in a barn.
He loved all the people and animals.
His Mom and Dad loved him, there was music, singing,
"Happy Birthday," and that is why we celebrate,
Because that little boy did on His birthday.
So He started the Christmas Party.
That little boy's name was Jesus.

Image result for christian christmas images clip art
Blessings to all.

Letty Evans
Christmas 2006

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

(Nearing the End) My View #199 - Blind Courage

Dear Readers around the world,

This post is the last my mother wrote. As we approach the anniversary of her death on December 24th, I have reserved three Christmas stories she wrote for the last three days of this blog. I hope you will enjoy them and share them with your friends. 


Never in my long life, have I ever seen such a display of sporting courage. In all of the country, to learn we have hockey teams of lads who are partially or totally blind. Yesterday I watched them play, and I was so shocked. I can still hardly believe it. What courage, rage, and tenacity must have seeped into their souls, to drive them, plus a wonderful, very special coach. They all looked so happy, in the rough and tumble game of hockey. I prayed for them, right then, for giving me so much pleasure. Next day I am still so happy for them, and their new joy in life, playing hockey. God bless.

February 26, 2011

Hi Linda and Art - I think this is one of the best things I ever wrote about. What do you think?

I am not in great shape anymore, always wanting to lie down. What a lazy life I lead. I love you both, have a happy life dears.

Monday, December 21, 2015

My View #198 - My Scottish Godmother

To me it is funny, you go into some homes and, right away, you are struck by the number of pictures on the walls. The home of my Aunt Mary, my Godmother, was like that, very interesting, but looked sort of cluttered. I loved her house, and Uncle Jim too, but I always liked the pictures. There were not photo albums in those days, but there were lots of military pictures.

They were a Scottish couple, and I loved to visit them and their children, Jean and Willie. We stayed for a day, Charlie and I, and we always had barley soup for lunch, and Auntie always baked a batch of scotch scones, to take home for Dad. He loved Aunt Mary's scones, a special treat. Auntie never lost her accent, and it was a treat to see her and Uncle Jim dancing, kilts and all. I think that was when I really liked the dancing, like no other. But those pictures of the dancers on her walls were special. I am both Scottish and English by birth, and love it all. I hope my children appreciate it.
Scottish Country Dancing. Photo from St. Andrews Society of Panama website.

That's all for tonight, love, Mom

Feb 8, 2011

PS: I only have scenery and flower pictures on the wall, except for weddings.

I believe the aunt and uncle she mentions were not blood relatives, since both Letty's parents emigrated from Britain without much or any family in Canada.  Our family also has a strong Welsh heritage from Letty's side and I, from my father's side too.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

My View #197 - Kitchen Cupboards

All kitchen cupboards are designed and built by men. Women, it seems, have no say in the matter and this is wrong and bothers me. Most people are tall or short, and this is where the difference lies and needs to be changed. Tall people are very comfortable with these cupboards and have no complaints, while short people struggle and constantly complain, "I can't reach that, on the centre shelf."

I am one of thousands of women who are only 5 ft tall or less, and we have trouble reaching to the second level, let alone the third shelf level, it is useless to us, unless we stand on a chair or a ladder. Phew!
Me in Letty's kitchen. I scolded her more than once for climbing on a small chair to reach things.

When you are told, "don't stand on a chair," what do you do? Just wait till some lanky person comes to the house and ask them to help? Yes, to them it's easy.

So you builders better smarten up, and challenge the cabinet designers to make some changes. My top shelves are all empty, come on men, you know how to change things, do this for all the short women, who make your meals.

No doubt this will make the designers swear, and nothing will change.

My grouse for today!

Letty Evans, Feb 6, 2011

Note: the bottom shelves/drawers, from the counter down, are all OK and work well.

At Letty's memorial service, her granddaughter, Michelle Deines, read this to the congregation, prompting laughter in places and agreement from the short people in attendance.