“A Very Big Mistake”

by ESP on May 4, 2014 · 2 comments


Houston…we are a go for ignition.

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These explosive clouds were fitting as we were up close to some rather large rocket engines at the NASA Space Center in Houston recently.


It always amazes me how much hardware is involved,


fuzes, cabling, flux capacitors.

It looks like the back of my TV.


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Oh yes, we were back in familiar Griswold territory…


We even took a lame space shuttle simulator ride into orbit,

which turned out to be a very big mistake.


Being the first to embark the simulator we waited and waited until the attendants had squeezed enough people into the already confined space to make it feel really uncomfortable…hmm, perhaps they were simulating the cramped conditions in space? 


The two doors finally closed sending the temperature inside the capsule sky-rocketing (ahem 1) to what could only be described as atmospheric re-entry conditions, oh yes it was really uncomfortable now and we had not even reached orbit yet.

index2I glanced down at my daughter sitting beside me to see how she was holding up, she looked back up at me with wide-eyed distress, a green clammy complexion and a fake smile.

I also noticed she had some subtle facial twitches going on.

fat-bastardAdd to the mix a perfusion of body odors, a fusing together of a myriad of personal hygiene and hair products and the fact we were all being shunted around on unconvincing hydraulics whilst looking at a graphical simulation that was a world away (ahem 2) from anything close to resembling high definition.


Oh yes, I was at the end of my endurance tether and ready to hit the emergency ‘Houston we have a problem’ button.

o-HAND-SANITIZER-facebookI would have aborted the ride if it were not for the fact we must have spent a grand total of 15 seconds in ‘orbit’ before our premature rattling decent back to earth,

but you certainly didn’t hear me complaining.

The doors opened up, everybody inhaled fresh oxygen and walked down the stairwell adjusting their garments whilst grumbling and mumbling about paying $7 for ‘that’.


We did get to see a mock up of the NASA’s next generation ‘Orion’ spacecraft.

Orion’s first flight test, called Exploration Flight Test-1, will launch this year atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral.  The green arrow indicates where the crew module is located on the launch vehicle.



Back on the ground in the Patch:


Feather grasses are now waning,


their seed heads are already matting and falling over under their weight.


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He rolled the seeds up


and then kept rolling. 

When I mentioned that under no circumstances should the seedball be planted as the resulting monster feather grass would most certainly consume our house and we would have to cut a tunnel through it to get in our front door…


…well they didn’t hesitate.

The first purple martin scouts arrived this week.


This one spent the entire day battling with aggressive sparrows (as they do every year) that had already set up permanent camp in the nest-box.

I had another much stranger bird encounter this week,

straight out of Wallace & Gromit…


I was driving down Cesar Chavez, as you do, when I noticed a small bobbing head down next to my wiper. It kept emerging then disappearing under the hood of the truck.


Poor little guy must have fallen out of it’s nest.

Staying with birds:


 Desert Bird of Paradise

Caesalpinia gilliesii


is a relative newcomer to the Patch. I planted this one last year in poor sandy soil and it liked it. I was also surprised that it pulled through the freezes with ease.

This plant looks great paired with the dark backdrop and contrasting broad tropical foliage of loquat, a combination I will be replicating.


Another toxic plant gets established in the Patch.



I do not remember this Mountain Laurel ever looking this healthy, perhaps it is making up for a poor bloom year.


Apart from occasionally hacking back of the rosemary the front of the Patch thrives on neglect and relies mostly on foliage,


though larkspur really livened it up under the vitex tree this year.


Stay Tuned For:

“Uncle Wiggily wants his Ovaltine”


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intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
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1 TexasDeb May 7, 2014 at 6:47 am

We visited the space center in Florida – AFTER a trip to Disney. Wrong order. So very wrong. While thoroughly impressed and entertained by all the simulated fun at Epcot, our kids were bored within minutes of getting close to the real deals. Space science. It’s not for everybody!

That desert Bird of Paradise is striking in front of the loquat all right. They are supposed to attract hummingbirds and I can see why. My loquats lost all their fruit in the last freeze. Going to be a lot of disappointed birds and squirrels and butterflies though maybe I’ll get a good portion of the seedlings cleared out this year. (Maybe…)

2 ESP May 7, 2014 at 9:47 am

Hi TD.

We had a great time at NASA despite the traumatic simulator ride. The kids were in awe when they walked into the hangar containing the Saturn V (5) Apollo rocket. The center has become a lot more theme-parky since the last time I visited. The gift stores were a great success, ended up with a bag full of things I could do without:

Roger that…I will keep an eye out for the hummingbirds on the DBOP.

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