You Can’t Change a Cat’s Stripes

When my oldest son, Cameron was three, I decided he should have a pet. A cat, instead of a dog, because I worked full time and was a single parent. Cats didn’t need two walks a day and for the most part preferred to be ignored.  Thomas was a tiger tabby with brown and gray stripes, a little pink nose as soft as felt, and claws.

Thomas was a gremlin. He waited until I went to sleep each night and then pounced on my face.  He hissed at any human he encountered.  And the well-meaning cat-loving friends of mine who thought of themselves as cat whisperers, who reached out to pet him and offer him a hand of friendship, got bit.

I was a neophyte cat-owner. I’d read too many stories about cats curling up in laps and purring their owners nearly comatose.  Thomas was a loner.  He disdained human company. Or at least mine, it seemed.  But I kept trying.  I put out bowls of milk for him — because didn’t all cats like milk? Thomas was lactose-intolerant. Need I say more? After he’d bitten three of my friends, I determined that his hatred was not limited to me alone, but that generally speaking, Thomas was not a people-person. I didn’t want the next person he bit to be my three-year-old son. So, being the weenie that I was, I asked my dad if he would take him to the Humane Society so that some more tolerant, cat-literate family could adopt him.

And for decades, that is how I pictured Thomas: living the high life in a cat-loving family full of catnip and Whiskas Temptations. And I would have been perfectly happy to continue in this delusional world until my dad decided to come clean, thirty years after the fact.

Flashback to that fateful day.  My dad picked up Thomas to take him to the Humane Society where he would be adopted, most assuredly, by a family that would love, admire, and respect him. But you can’t change a cat’s stripes.  My dad put Thomas in the seat next to him. He drove down the highway to the nearest Humane Society. Thomas, being Thomas, suddenly pounced on my Dad’s head. The car swerved to the right and then the left, as my dad clutched at Thomas’s wiry frame, plied him from his face, and held him down on the passenger seat to contain him so that he wouldn’t hit an oncoming car and kill a family of four. Dad (firmly) held Thomas down. And suddenly. Thomas. Stopped. Moving.

Did I tell you that my dad grew up on a farm?

Dad pulled the car over to the shoulder and walked around to the passenger door. It opened with a squeak. He lifted Thomas’ limp body from the seat and threw him into the ditch. With a sigh, Dad got back in the driver’s seat and started the car, wondering what he should tell me.  When I asked him later how things went, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Fine.”  Okay, I thought, everything went fine.  Dad was a man of few words.

All those many years later, for whatever reason, Dad decided to come clean.  As he pulled away, Dad said, he saw a flash of movement and looked to the right, just as Thomas rose like a Phoenix from the ditch and leaped across the corn-stubble field to his freedom.

Dad passed away two years ago, and I will never stop missing him. I imagine that Thomas is on his eighteenth or nineteenth life somewhere, bounding through fields of corn, and quite happily evading all human interaction.

Adaptation

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We recently moved to the North Shore of Lake Superior.  Born and raised in a suburb near Minneapolis, I was accustomed to the vagaries of Minnesota’s weather.  For instance, on a recent trip to Minneapolis on May 25 for my Mother’s 90th birthday, it was 100 degrees.  Only two weeks earlier, the Twin Cities had been hit with eight inches of snow.  They’d had the latest ice-out on city lakes in over 40 years.

You could say that May held a grudge, and by the end of the month she was madder than hell and burning to show us what she was made of.

Unfortunately, not on the North Shore of Lake Superior.  This weekend, the first of June, we are topping out at 45 degrees.  It is windy and rainy.  Minnesotan’s usually reserve the wind-chill factor for the depth of winter, but here in June, the wind-chill off the Big Lake makes 45 feel more like 35.  My son and his wife arrived on Friday for a visit, just in time for the polar plunge.  But they’re runners — and 45 degrees feels heavenly when you’re training for a marathon and it’s your weekend to grind out 15 miles.  And when you run that much, you can eat whatever you like.  So, we spent a lot of time in restaurants — good ones, mind you — eating fresh Lake Superior Trout with wild rice pilaf at the Angry Trout Restaurant and cast-iron fried chicken with jasmine rice and pickled chiles at the Crooked Spoon.  Not to mention beers at the Voyageur Brewery and a stop at Wunderbar for a second.

But even with all this food.  We were still cold.

My husband has had a more difficult time adapting to the 20 degree drop in average temperature here on the North Shore of Lake Superior vs. Minneapolis.  I consider myself adaptable.  I wear a lot of layers — and as I approach sixty years old, this seems to suit not only the cooler temperatures but my slumping musculature and sagging skin.  But my husband is like a lizard, the hotter the temperature, the better.  He glowered in Minneapolis last weekend, as I reapplied my deodorant for the fourth time while driving down the freeway.

Not to say that he doesn’t appreciate the beauty of the North Woods, the majesty of the Big Lake, his new friends, and the lake trout he catches 100 feet off shore.  He loves to catch, and he’s made lots of new friends who know just how to do that, on whalers with down-riggers and GPS systems.  When he finally finds just the right boat of his own, I know that he will adapt.  At least that’s what I tell myself.  He’ll be like a snail with a new shell.

George Washington Carver said that nature was his greatest teacher, and that he learned from her the best while others were asleep.  There are so many great examples of adaptation in  nature.  Consider the Blow Fish, that  puffs up twice it’s size with thorny protuberances when threatened by a predator, or bears that hibernate all winter when food is scarce, or the snowy hares and owls that adapt their color to the season, or those tricky Viceroy Butterflies, that mimic the Monarch — which every butterfly-eating bird knows, taste terrible (unlike the Viceroy, which is delicious — although I can’t vouch for this because I’ve never actually eaten one, but I sure like the story.)

I started a new job in my new town.  After working for the same company for twenty years, and very comfortable with their systems and protocols and culture, I am the new dog learning new tricks.  I am the old new dog.  And I am uncomfortable because I was accomplished in my old job; I was an expert — not like it was nano-science, but I was good at what I did.  Even if it was only sales and event planning.  I was a Viceroy in a Monarch world; I knew how to make the system work.  But now I just feel like a . . . well, a moth, flying toward the light and flapping my wings, hoping that someone will notice that I’m not as stupid as I feel.  I guess you could say that my husband isn’t the only one who needs to adapt.  I need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I consider the natural world — it is all around me here — the woods, the water, the starry skies that seem to be falling into the Big Lake at night.  It is different from my previous home where ambient light washed out the Milky Way, and run off clogged the lakes with silt, but where the average temperature was twenty degrees higher.   Here, we are foreigners.  We are the alien to the insider, the non-native to the aboriginal.  I could easily shrink back from this challenge at this stage of my life.

Instead, I consider the tree in the picture above — at some point in it’s life cycle, something got in its way, but the tree kept growing in spite of it.  I will be sixty in September, and I plan to take a cue from nature — I’ll remain adaptable and keep growing, and if all else fails, I’ll be a Viceroy, and fake it till I make it.

In Defense of Fakations

Not too long ago, we took a week long motorcycle trip at the end of May.  Four couples and five bikes across Arizona, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and South Dakota, arriving back at our home in Minnesota tired, cold, and wet.

Who says global warming is a myth?  During our time away, tornadoes ripped across the South, as well as through North Minneapolis.  In Pierre, South Dakota, the Army Corps of Engineers were frantically holding their finger in the proverbial dike hoping to save a neighborhood of new homes and a multitude of businesses from flooding.  All across South Dakota we encountered rivers, streams, and lakes spilling over their rims onto roadways and over farm fields.  We stopped watching the news at night before bed and started watching the Weather Channel.

It seemed as though Mother Nature had become Mommy Dearest.

This was our fourth year on this trip, traveling with friends from Arizona back to Minnesota along various routes.  This particular year, we would go through the Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. The Tetons, particularly Flaming Gorge, were amazing, although heavy clouds clothed her highest peaks.  That night, we stayed in Afton, Wyoming and awoke the next morning to clouds spitting snowflakes – which we were certain would dissipate as the day matured.

We stopped for breakfast in Cheyenne and checked the weather forecast as well as the road closures.  We would enter Yellowstone through the West Gate and had hoped to exit through the East Gate.  We had hotel reservations in Cody that evening.  But the East Gate was only open for two hours in the morning and then they closed it.  They’d had so much snow and so many avalanches that they were having trouble keeping the roads open.  Though it would make our “short” day (measured in miles) into a longer day, we would have to exit through the North Gate and loop around.  Oh well, we would get to see more of the park, right?

The snow steadily increased throughout the day. At times we were driving in white out conditions barely able to see the motorcycle in front of us.  The snow seemed to annoy the animals as well.  A rogue buffalo wandered down the middle of the road. Our rumbling Harley Davidson pipes agitated him, and he swayed back and forth across the centerline, leaving no room for passing.  When one of the bikes passed him, he became even more agitated and chased the next bike as it squirted by.  We, as luck would have it, were in the rear.  By the time we came upon him, he was quite cranky.  I wondered if my leather chaps were gore-proof.  We encountered several herds of buffalo, all with calves, as did the tourists in front of us, who would stop to take pictures from the safety of their cars . . . completely oblivious to the exposed and vulnerable motorcyclists behind them.  The black bears and grizzlies really didn’t take to us.  As a grizzly lumbered across the road and scaled the hill on the other side, he turned to show us his teeth . . . I don’t think he was smiling.

We only stopped for three reasons, to eat, to pee, or to fuel up.  If you wanted to sightsee, you did it from the bike – which meant that the drivers missed a lot.  At one point we stopped at the lodge near Old Faithful.  As we drank hot coffee and fueled up for the rest of the ride, the snow began to fall harder.  As we pulled out of the parking lot, I realized that we hadn’t even looked at Old Faithful – in fact, the idea had never come up.  We were on a mission, and our mission was to get to Cody.  We exited out the North gate in error and had to backtrack to the Northeast gate.  As we passed through Cooke, I asked why we couldn’t just check into a hotel there. My suggestion was met with headshakes. Thank God we pressed on or we would have been snowed in.  The next morning, the roads had accumulated snow and were icy.  Our safest choice was to keep pressing forward without stopping.

Snow accumulated on the windshields.  The only windshield wipers were the driver’s gloved hands, which quickly became soaking wet and frozen and useless as blocks of wood.  As snow accumulated on our helmets and became heavy, it slid into our laps. We were soaked, and so cold that our muscles ached from shaking.  When we finally arrived at our hotel in Cody 13 hours later, I was trembling so hard I couldn’t unzip my jacket.

The next day, as we drove through the Big Horn Pass out of Tensleep, we were met with more snow and even colder temperatures . . . 28 degrees. The cold penetrated through long underwear, a turtleneck sweater, a heated vest, a lined leather jacket and leather chaps as if it was tissue paper.  At a certain temperature the heated vest was ineffective. I was beginning to understand what it felt like to freeze to death.  Your mind shuts down as your body’s core cools.

When we finally descended the mountains, I could feel the warmth of my vest cranked to high, and the sun shining on my face.  I started rethinking our annual vacation.  Perhaps next time we should try a Fakation, I mused.  Remember when Staycations became popular?  How about a Fakation – one in which all the activities would be indoors or simulated?  We could go to an indoor water park with a wave pool and lazy river.  An indoor amusement park would save us from a rainout.  There were even simulated golf courses where you could tee off into a screen with images of world-famous golf holes.  And how about those simulated racecar machines?

I think the idea might catch on.  What do you think?  I’m forming our itinerary now so that when my husband brings up the subject of the annual ride, I’ll be armed and ready.  If you have any suggestions, I’m open for comments.  Just don’t suggest a reconciliation with Mommy Dearest, I’m not quite ready to forgive.

Geology Rock Stars

Fredrick Mohs was the German mineralogist who developed the Mohs Hardness Scale, a test for identifying mineral specimens.  For instance,  on that scale a diamond is a ten and talc is a one.  When my first husband and I got married, I thought we were a diamond,  hard and impenetrable.  When my children’s friends’ parents were getting divorced, I assured them that our family was immune to divorce.  But, as any good geologist knows, hardness can be affected by impurities.  And indeed, that was the case.  After twenty-five years of marriage, I was divorced; I worked part-time at a bookstore and hadn’t finished my degree.  As a newly single mother of three, I felt vulnerable and hopeless.  There was only one thing to do: steel myself and go back to college to finish my degree.

Though I didn’t feel any older than the day I’d graduated from high school, within minutes of entering the University of Minnesota classroom for my required geology class, I felt older than the rocks we’d be examining in our labs.

“So, like, are you the T.A.?”  A young man plopped down at my lab table and blinked naively in my direction, probably hoping to make a good impression.

“No, like, I’m old enough to be the T.A.’s mother,” I said, suddenly conscious of the puckering skin around my lips.  I felt hideous.  Hideous and exposed, wearing my jeans and black boots, a wannabe, another Cher, a pitiable old woman trying to pass herself off as a University student.

It’s not like I hung out in the student union, or the dorms, or even the Kitty Kat Klub for a late-night beer after studying at the library.  I drove home to the suburbs each day after class, made dinner for my son, or popped a Lean Cuisine in the microwave for myself if he was at practice, and settled in for the rest of the evening to do homework.  And I was okay with that.  But somehow, that blatant acknowledgement of my oldness by someone who I must consider my peer for the next twelve weeks was unnerving.

We came each Wednesday to geology lab to scratch rocks with nails, play in a manufactured river to determine the course of eddies and flows and learn about plate tectonics.  We charted earthquakes around the world.  We learned about mass wasting and much to the surprise of my young male tablemates it had nothing to do with Friday nights at a nearby frat house.  And somehow, they came to accept me . . . a forty-six-year-old mother of three from the suburbs who reminded them to do their pre-lab exercises and turn in their post labs before the end of the day.

At the beginning, it was my least favorite class.  I would never use this stuff outside of the classroom (hadn’t I heard my own kids say this often enough?)  Yet, in order to earn my B.A., I had to have a physical science lab.  I am shy and it was difficult to work up the energy for group labs.  I’d rather work independently, muddle my way through, but not have to make idle conversation with a bunch of nineteen year olds.

By the second week, I actually enjoyed their company.  When I arrived early for class, several students engaged me in conversation.  They didn’t talk to me like Eddie on Leave it to Beaver talked to Wally’s parents. They didn’t make fun of my reading glasses. They were less intimidated by my age than I was by theirs.  I relaxed.  I decided to be myself.

As a lab group, we were required to make a group presentation the last week of class.  Our T.A. announced that we must come with ideas the following week and each contribute something to the project.  He wanted it to be educational – based on something we’ve studied—yet not dull.  Entertain him, he said.  I took him literally.

The following week I sat at the table with my lab partners and looked from one to the other in anticipation.

“So, what did you come up with?” I asked each of them in turn.

There were two shrugs and, “Nothing.”

“Okay, since no one else has an idea, I guess we’re stuck with mine . . .”

“Great!” Joe said, relieved that someone, anyone, had something for us to run with.  The other two, Kaj and Jordan, eyed me suspiciously.

“What?” Kaj asked.

“An interpretive dance of mass wasting styles,” I paused and waited for them to catch up.  “And since it was my idea—I get to be the narrator.”

“Which means?”

“You guys are the ballerinas.”

They were stunned. I could see them slide from relief that someone had come up with a plan to horror at the thought of what they would have to do. I smiled and nodded at each of them, describing my vision.  Joe started laughing first.  Kaj snickered.  Jordan was not convinced until the T.A. came around and asked us what we would be doing.  When I briefly outlined it for him, the T.A. became animated, “That’s a great idea!”

Jordan was on board, too.  As long as the T.A thought it was great, Jordan thought it was great.  He was not going to make a fool of himself for a C, but the T.A.’s enthusiasm convinced him it was worth the risk.

“Okay, let’s sketch it out,” I said, when the T.A. moved on to the next group.

The next week, the guys came prepared.  They each decorated a white garbage bag that they would wear with their identity: Kaj was mud, Joe was water, and Jordan (at six foot four and 250 pounds) was rock.  I’d written the narration and Joe had burned a CD with four different classical music selections that perfectly represented the different speeds of mass wasting styles.  The dances, we’d decided, would be freestyle.  We knew which dancers would need to perform for each style of mass wasting and basically indicated whether the dance would be fast or slow.

We sweated as the other groups began their presentations.  They were dull, intensely grounded in fact, insipidly scientific, and 100% of them relied upon technology—of which we had none, other than our boom box.  We watched, dry mouthed, PowerPoint presentation after PowerPoint presentation, wondering if we missed anything in the criteria.

“I thought it was supposed to be entertaining,” Kaj hissed.  Our eyes darted from lab partner to lab partner.  Had we screwed up?

I took a deep breath and tried to shore them up, “Remember, he said scientific and entertaining.  Don’t worry about it. We’ve got this thing.”

We watched the other presentations and yawned, sending each other looks that said dull, dull, dull. But still, we were uneasy.  It showed in our clenched jaws, the look of panic in Jordan’s eyes, and the sweat that beaded on my forehead.

When it was our turn, we approached the front of the room clearly intimidated.  I read the narration leading into each interpretive dance and pressed the play button on the boom box.  The music filled the classroom.  I looked around the room at the puzzled expressions on the other students’ faces. Kaj, Joe, and Jordan glissaded and pirouetted across the front of the room, interpreting mudflows, debris flows, slump, and creep.  The audience was no longer glassy eyed from boredom; they sat on the edges of their seats.

Kaj and Joe held hands and spun across the front of the room to the accompaniment of “Flight of the Bumblebees,” for the interpretation of mudflow.  For a debris flow, which is accelerated by the addition of water, Kaj (mud) and Jordan (rock) began slowly pirouetting when suddenly Joe (water) collided with them, sending them into faster spins, a chaotic, spastic dance that landed them all in a heap. For slump, in which the rocks settle into a crescent-shaped formation with a head scarp and toe butting out, massive Jordan performed an arabesque over squatting Kaj and slumping Joe.  The class broke into hysterics.  To what lengths would these guys humiliate themselves to get an A?

We ended our presentation with an interpretive dance of creep—a slow, but pervasive sliding of earth that often resulted from clear cutting land for mass development.  With root systems eliminated, and earth newly grated into unnatural mounds, the land creeps over time.  It settles back into a more natural formation leaving ridges and rises and often foot-length drops that tear the sod.  Kaj, Joe and Jordan stood at the front of the class, arms interlocked, plied and slowly lifted their feet, planting them across their partner’s in an exaggerated and slightly clumsy second position, lifting their other foot and moving parallel across the front of the classroom.  The class burst into applause.  The guys were pumped.  They bowed and hammed it up, laughing and slapping each other on the back.  I smiled from the sidelines.  They were geology rock stars.

The next week, as I walked to class, the T.A. stopped me, “Your presentation was the best of all my sections,” he said, and I smiled.

As I entered the classroom and sat down at the lab table, I felt new camaraderie with my lab partners.  I was one of the guys, just another struggling student.  They looked down at our evaluation sheets and noticed my last name the first time that semester.

“Do you have a daughter named Lindsay?” Kaj asked.

“Yeah, why?”

“You’re from Lakeville?”

I nodded.

“We graduated with your daughter,” Kaj said, pointing from himself to Jordan and back.

I laughed.  “Did you ever think you’d be choreographing an interpretive dance in college with the mother of one of your high school classmates?”

Life is full of weird ironies.  The next fall, my son was in a world history class at his high school.  The first day as the teacher called role, he stopped at Alex’s name.

“Does your mom go to the U of M?” he asked.

“. . . yeah . . . why?” Alex asked cautiously, not certain he wanted to be publicly associated with me.  Like most teenagers, he was often embarrassed by my mere existence.

The teacher eyed him with mock accusation, watching him squirm in his seat.

“Your mom made my son perform a modern dance in their geology class!”

Alex smiled, “Yep, that’s my mom.”

My Father’s Violin

My father was a carpenter.  He learned to build houses from a book entitled How to Build a House for $1300 … and then he built one and another and another.  Dad couldn’t afford to send us kids to college, so instead, he built each of  us a house.  Part of the deal was that we had to work alongside him.  I learned to tape and sand and paint walls while country music or Paul Harvey (Dad’s favorite radio show) mused over the radio waves in the background.
In his spare time, Dad was a musician.  Had he been born twenty years later, he would have had a garage band, but instead he cobbled together a group of neighbors and they played in the basement every Saturday night followed by a potluck dinner.  Dad could play any stringed instrument by ear, as well as the spoons and the harmonica.  After he retired, he joined a band at the Senior Center called The Renegades.  They performed at nursing homes and in shopping malls during the holidays.
My dad bought his first guitar from a pawn shop on Lake Street in Minneapolis — a circa 1950’s Gibson.  Later he added an electric guitar, a banjo, and eventually a Fender Dobro.  At some point after he retired, he purchased a violin from the Sears Roebuck Catalog, but he didn’t like its tone — so he researched the specifications of a Stradivarius violin, disassembled his Sears model, shaved his down to match, and reassembled it.  It sounded much better, he said, though not by Stradivarius standards.
My Dad’s music was the soundtrack of my childhood.  Even after dementia robbed him of language, and his short-term memory, he remembered music.  It’s as if the notes were embedded in his cortex. Even when he struggled to remember me — I would greet him in that last year by saying “Hi Dad, it’s Lin, your youngest daughter” — he remembered how to play Blue Moon or Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. When he began hospice, a musical therapist came every two weeks to play her guitar and sing.  He remembered all the words to his favorite songs and though he could no longer play along on his bass guitar or his violin and bow, he either sang or played his harmonica.
When my dad died last August there were only two things I wanted: his violin and his Gibson guitar.   These two instruments lean against the wall by my bedroom bookcase and when I am lonely for him, I run my hands over their worn wood and think of the day my husband and I brought him home from the hospital to die.  He sat in his recliner, laid the violin across his lap and plucked out a simple tune:
“There’s a place in France where the ladies don’t wear pants . . .”

Around the World in 91 Minutes

Cam, Tanja, Ryan, and Taylor with Natalie and Martin and their boys Christian and Florian. Dressed in traditional Austrian garb.
Cam, Tanja, Ryan, and Taylor with Natalie and Martin and their boys Christian and Florian. Dressed in traditional Austrian garb.

Ten years ago, my eldest son, Cameron, fell in love and moved to Vienna, Austria.  He married, had two children, built a house, and built an entire life away from me.  And this is how it should be.  We give them roots and we give them wings.  His wings came in the form of a 747.

I keep telling  myself that physical distance does not equate to emotional distance–especially in the age of email, Skype,  Facetime, and texting.  But the time barrier can be difficult to navigate.  There is a seven hour time difference between Minnesota, where I live, and Vienna, Austria.  Obviously, I can write emails any time of the day or  night and Cameron can read them whenever he chooses.  But there is something about real time — hearing his voice and seeing his face.  Not to  mention my two grandsons.  Their bedtime is 7:30 pm.  During the week, that means that I am at work.  On the weekends, we must coordinate our schedules in order to Skype.  They are a busy family.  When we do Skype, the boys, Ryan (age 5) and Taylor (age 3) sit stiffly on the couch between their parents.  They are boys and they would rather be outside or wrestling on the floor.  I am Omi Lin, but really, a virtual stranger.  We visit each other once a year.  They know their teachers better than they know their Omi Lin.  I am uncertain how to bridge the 5,000 miles and seven hours between us.  And then there is the language barrier.  My son and his wife, Tanja, want the boys to speak German and English. Though Cameron speaks fluent German, and sometimes forgets the English word for something, he speaks to the boys in English at home, and Tanja speaks to them in German.  The boys understand English, but they only speak a few words, while I neither understand or speak German (though I studied it in college).

Last summer, when they came to visit, the language barrier became real.  One night, while Cameron and Tanja went out to dinner, I spent time alone with the boys.  We played with the cars and puzzles that I keep stashed in the “toy closet” for my grandchildren.  Before tucking them in, I read them several books.  They pointed at the pictures, commenting in German.  After stories and a snack, it was time for bed.  As I tucked them in,  Taylor began to cry.

“What is it, Taylor?  What’s wrong,” I asked.

He replied in German.  Repeating the same word over and over.  I felt the frustration build between us as he tried to express what he wanted and I could not understand what he was saying.

Finally, I turned to Ryan, hoping that at age five, he might be able to interpret.

“What is Taylor saying, Ryan? What does he need?”

Ryan looked at me, clearly incredulous that I could not understand my own language.  “Snoopy cup, Omi!,” he said in broken English. Taylor simply wanted a drink of water from the Snoopy cup that we had gotten earlier in the day at an amusement park.

Sometimes, I am the one who makes the distance between us larger than it needs to be.  Recently, I met Chris Hadfield, astronaut and Commander of the Space Station.  He said that at one point on the Space Station he had a revelation. He sent an image of Pakistan from space and commented, “Here is where seven million of us live.”  And he paused and realized that from his view from Space, where the entire globe can be circumnavigated in the Space Station in 91 minutes, that there was no longer a “them” and a “us”.  We are all global citizens.  Our humanity unites us.

When Cameron first moved to Vienna, I would look up at the moon and remind myself that he could see the same moon.  He can gaze into the night sky in Vienna, and see the Big Dipper, Ursa Major, and all the constellations. I am reminded that time and distance are relative, and that sometimes, the greatest distance between people is their perception.