#713 The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily KoppelThe Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

The united States wanted to beat Russia into space. It was after WWII and into an entirely new decade. Some of the finest fighter pilots would be chosen to start the United States’ space program. There were originally seven men and seven wives. The Astronaut life lacked the structure of military life, so the wives decided to become friends. They had monthly coffees and when each man went up into space, the women surrounded the wives left on the ground.

The US was not the first country to put a man in space, Russia beat them to it, but it was the first country to put a man on the moon, which came years after the first man went into space. Meanwhile, Americans were fascinated with the astronauts and their wives, so much so that the government had to get involved with an official publicity deal with Life magazine. The press was granted an all-access pass to the lives of the wives, even in very personal moments.

After the first men went into space, the wives got to meet presidents and first ladies. At home, the Astronaut wives had typical, and atypical, home problems to deal with, all while being in the public eye.

To the additional astronauts was added many more. There came to be conflict between newer astronauts and older astronauts. Death also came to the astronauts. Several deaths happened in practice exercises and the wives were often left without official support and what support there was came from the wives.

Many of the astronauts and their wives ended up divorced. There was a lot of time away from home for the astronauts, but there were also a lot of Astronaut groupies that hung onto the men, which apparently made it difficult to resist, even though there were wives and children at home.

Some of the wives went on the become very prominent people in US society, while some never recovered from the experience of being an astronaut wife.

What I liked

I never really wondered about the astronauts or their wives. I know that the whole thing was this big power contest between Russia and the United States, but I never really thought About the people involved. Their lives were certainly interesting, but I don’t hold the astronauts up to the same shining standard that I once did.

I never knew about the media deal that was made in regards to the astronauts and their families. Who would have thought that astronauts were that big of a deal, but in the 1960s, I guess it was; they were rockstars in their time.

What I didn’t like

It really seemed as if infidelity was condoned by the government and NASA in regards to the astronauts. I am already if the opinion that the military complex in the US asks and takes too much from its military members and their families, without giving enough back in return.

It’s hard to comprehend that these men we hold as American heroes, couldn’t keep it in their pants with the entire country watching.

The book got to be a bit difficult to follow. There ended up being so many women that the whole thing wasn’t as personal. I feel bad for these women, being in the public eye through such emotionally fraught moments.

Overall

You’ll never look at the moon the same again.

Weigh in

Would you go into space?

Do you consider the first men in space heroes?

The Man who Married the Moon

The Man who Married the MoonThe Man who Married the Moon

Isleta Pueblo

The Bluish Light of Dawn lived in Isleta, which is still in the same spot today. He wove robes and clothe for the village. He was young, strong, and unmarried. All the village girls wanted to marry him, including two corn maidens, who were also witches. He finally got tired of young women coming to look at him, so he finally issued a decree to the town crier. He would marry the woman who could grind cornmeal so fine that it stuck to his pearl drinking dipper. He would hang his dipper on the door and all day long the girls could throw their cornmeal at it.

Girls ground their cornmeal for days, including the two witch sisters. They also used spells, thinking that surely their spells would make their cornmeal fine enough to stick.

Girl after girl threw her cornmeal at the dipper, but none of it stuck. Finally, the two witch sisters threw their cornmeal, and to their disappointment, it didn’t stick either. Moon, who was an actual person at the time, hastily ground her cornmeal and decided to have a go at it. The witch sisters laughed at her because they had ground their cornmeal for four days. Moon took her cornmeal up to the dipper and threw it and it stuck.

The Bluish Light of Dawn declared that he would marry Moon, which he did. They were very happy, but the witch sisters were always wanting to cause trouble. They asked Moon to come look for roots one day and The Bluish Light of Dawn said she could go, but that she must not do anything the sisters said.

The sisters took her out into the forest where there was a well. They told her to come look at her reflection in the water. As Moon has always been fond of looking at her reflection she decided to take a peek. This was when she was pushed into the well and drowned. The two sisters covered the well up with dirt.

They went back to the village telling The Bluish Light of Dawn that the girl had left long before they had and that she should be home by now. He didn’t really believe this. He sat and was sad. The luck of the village came from him. Crops started dying. Things started going wrong. The people knew they must find Moon. They sent several animals looking because of their keen sight, but each one came back empty-handed. The eagle could not find her. The Coyote could not find her. The badger could not find her.  The Osprey could not find her. The buzzard could not find her either. He actually flew so close to the sun that he burned the feathers off of his head and they no longer grow there, even today.

One thing the buzzard did find were white flowers on a mound in the forest. The Bluish Light of Dawn asked for one of the flowers. He put it between two blankets and sang a song. Each time he did, the top blanket rose a little more. Finally, it was apparent that there was a human form underneath the blankets. It was Moon. She was alive as ever. The village celebrated for four days.

There was still the matter of the two sisters. They would want to come and congratulate Moon. The Bluish Light of Dawn made a special hoop, to play the hoop game. When Moon played the game with them, they both grabbed the hoop at the same time and were turned into corn snakes. Moon told them that they were women at that they had to be gentle. They could not bite people. They live in the same spot, even today and are sometimes taken into people’s houses to catch mice.

Observations

Snakes are somewhat revered in some of the south-western cultures, so this wasn’t a severe punishment for the bad things the corn maidens did. They became kinder and gentler when they became snakes. I have to wonder if their punishment would have been more severe had they been men. Some snakes don’t really bite people. Anything will get defensive if you provoke it, but some snakes just have no desire to mess with people in any manner. Corn snakes are one of those types of snakes.

Themes

This was actually a severe crime. It was murder. It’s great that The Bluish Light of Dawn was able to bring his wife back to life, but if he hadn’t been able to, Moon would just be dead.

The crime started off with envy. Moon was able to perform the task to get the man, while the two sisters were not. They wanted what Moon had and were willing to do anything to get it. This is not a healthy attitude to have towards life. Sometimes, people have things you can’t have and there is no way you can get those things, so you might as well live with it and quit focusing on it. The corn maidens would have been better off had they found their own husbands and decided to be happy.

Happy is a conscious decision. Sure, things can make you happy, but you  can also decided to be grumpy. You have to decide as a person that you’re going to be happy about something and enjoy it. The corn maidens could have found their own life, being happy, with their own husbands.

Overall

Don’t let envy get the best of you.

FYI

Envy and jealousy mean two different things. Jealousy is when you are afraid someone is going to take something that you have and envy is when you want something that someone else has, or if you’re old school–it’s called coveting.

Weigh In

What do you think the corn maidens should have done?

Do you think Moon forgave the corn maidens?

Playing a Trick on the Moon

Playing a Trick on the MoonPlaying a Trick on the Moon

Snoqualmie

Moon used to be the chief and he told spider to make a rope that stretched from the Earth to the sky. Bluejay and Fox soon found it and climbed up. Bluejay pecked a hole in the sky and they went to the upper world. Fox turned into a Beaver at the lake, but Moon caught him in a trap.

Moon skinned beaver and put his hide out to dry and then threw his body in the smokehouse. Moon went to bed and beaver came out of the smokehouse and got his skin back. He then went exploring. He found a great forest of cedar and pine. He pulled some of these trees up and made them small enough to carry under one arm. Under the other arm he put Moon’s tools for making daylight. He also took some fire, carefully preparing it for a journey. He then found the sun hidden in Moon’s house and took that as well.

He went back to the hold Bluejay had made and changed himself back into a fox. He went back to Earth. He gave the fire to the people. He set the trees out to grow. He made daylight and he set the sun in the sky.

Moon eventually woke up and decided he was going to get his things back, but when he got to the rope that stretched from the sky to the Earth it broke and moon fell down to the Earth and became Mount Si. His face can still be seen in the face of the mountain. The trees which Fox brought back became the forests of the Cascade mountains.

Observations

If moon is a mountain, how did we get our current moon? Explain that. Is this particular mountain shiny? Why was this specific mountain created from the Moon?

Themes

Look, Moon really shot himself in the foot. He is the one who asked spider to make the rope in the first place. Why make a rope and just leave it there for people to climb up? Was Moon planning on climbing down? Was he going to invite people over for tea? If you don’t want people to steal your stuff, don’t make it easy for them to steal. Lock your doors. Don’t wave your money around. Good Lord, and if you’re the moon, don’t make a rope to your house that pretty much says, “Come steal my stuff.”

Overall

Oh Moon.

Weigh In

Do you think the moon was kind of stupid in this story?

If the moon turned into a mountain, where do you think our current moon came from?

Moon Rapes his Sister

Moon Rapes his SisterMoon Rapes his Sister

Inuit

A brother and a sister lived together in a large village. One night all the lamps went out and the sister was raped by a man in the dark. She thought he would come again, so she blackened her hands with soot. The next time the man came to rape her she put her sooty hands on his back so she could identify who he was.

She found out that it had been her own brother. Such things were not done. She ran away into the night with a brightly lit torch and the brother ran after her with a torch as well. He stumbled and fell and dropped his torch into the snow.

A big windstorm lifted the brother and sister up into the sky where the brother became the moon and the sister the sun. She stays as far away from him as possible. She only comes out when he is gone. If the brother had not dropped his torch, the moon would be as bright as the sun.

Observations

This is a sad origin story for the moon and sun.

Themes

I don’t really like this story. I know what it’s like to be so scared of someone who you will hide any time you catch even a glimpse of them. I have never been raped, and especially not by my own brother, but I can imagine that it’s very traumatic and you probably wouldn’t ever want to look at that person’s face ever again. I understand the need to be as far away as possible from a person though. I know what it feels like to be so scared of a person that you would rather take to the woods than look at their face.

This story is just so sad. It’s an origin story of how we got the sun and moon, but it’s an awful reason. I guess it’s a good explanation for why the moon and sun are so far apart from each other.

This would have been a gigantic betrayal. Being raped is already a betrayal. You’re not supposed to force someone to have sex with you. Being raped by someone who you were supposed to be able to trust is a monumental betrayal. You’re supposed to be able to trust your family members. They’re supposed to protect you, not hurt you. This story has the sun as being perpetually terrified. The sun is traumatized and will apparently be traumatized forever.

This story brings up other thoughts. What if you were in a situation where you were raped, or something nearly as terrifying, and became traumatized, but you had to see the person and you couldn’t stay as far away from them as possible? How awful would that be? It would be exhausting. It would be a constant mental struggle.

Goodness, this is such a sad story.

Overall

I usually like the moon, but in this story, not so much.

Weigh In

I just can’t even ask any questions about this story. It gives me the heebie-jeebies.

The Story of the Creation

The Story of the Creation

The Story of the Creation

Dieguenos

When Tu-chai-pai made the world the the Earth was  woman and the sky was a man. He was with his brother Yo-Ko-Mat-is and decided to make some more things. He asked his brother what he should do now, but his brother didn’t know, but Tu-chai-pai did. He said “Wi-Hicht” three times and puffed tobacco up into the sky. The sky raised up some. He got Yo-ko-mat-is to do it as well and the sky raised up some more.

The Tu-chai-pai created the four directions. He created hills valleys and water. He created people, but woman was difficult to make. He then made the sun. Yo-ko-mat-is was allowed to make the moon. Sometimes it would die and during that time the people would have to run races.

Observations

I don’t know what the deal is with the whole race thing. It must be a tradition to run races when it’s a new moon.

Themes

Was Yo-ko-mat-is the stupid brother? Is that why the moon dies each month? He didn’t really get to create anything else. Tu-chai-pai created pretty much everything except the moon, but when it came time for Yo to create something, it was something that died each month. The sun doesn’t go through phases. It just is. The sun comes every day, whether we want it to or not. The moon, kind of hides from us from time to time.

It’s really not a concession to the stupid brother, if this is the case. The moon is pretty important to our lives. If we didn’t have it, things would be really strange. Our months go roughly by moon phases. Our tides go by the moon. Menstrual cycles go by the moon. If we didn’t have the moon, when in the heck would we get our periods? Seriously. Would periods still come every month, or would it be like every three months, or every year, or whatever. The point here isn’t to talk about something that some people consider gross, it’s to make a point that the moon is pretty darn ingrained into how we live our lives. Our bodies react to the moon. Our planet reacts to the phases of the moon. The moon is important and the fact that it has phases isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Overall

Don’t dis the phases of the moon.

Weigh In

How important is the moon to you?

Do you have any new moon traditions?