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Slices of Life By Jill Pertler-Small changes – big changes

One day she was here and the next she was gone. We’d been taking care of our grand daughter during the weekdays since September. And although getting up early in the morning to care for her was a bit of a yawn, our dear grand daughter was anything but. We thought we’d have her with us until the end of May. We sort of thought we’d have a few more months. But things happen, don’t they? And now, we not only don’t have her here every day, we can’t see her or hug her or be the recipients of her rare but sticky kisses. Thank goodness for FaceTime. The virus, the pandemic, has changed lives for everyone. This little glitch is our price to pay. In the big scheme of things it is inconsequential. Still, inconsequential is our new every day and I can’t help but miss her. We all can’t help but miss her – me, her papa, and uncles. (We miss her mom and dad too, but if we are being honest here, she definitely has the cuteness factor locked in.) Our daughter called last night and our little sweetie just learned to say “Grammy” “Hi Grammy,” she said it twice into the camera. She still remembers me. That’s good. Her uncles were here and they wanted a piece of the FaceTime fun, but our grand had only one word to say to them: “Papa!” “Don’t you want to talk to your uncle?” I asked. “Papa!” was her repeated and emphatic reply. So we brought the phone to Papa. I tried to get her to demonstrate her new vocabulary word (Grammy) to him, but the girl has a mind of her own. She was strutting about her living room, much like she used to strut in our kitchen. I’m glad she is still feeling spunky. I wonder if she feels the change in the world. I hope not. Not yet. Before I was ready, she was done talking to us. “Bye bye,” she said. We signed off with my daughter and that was it. Until the next time. Her toys – too many for us to have of course – sit unplayed with. Her snacks are untouched. Her diapers and wipes are in the back closet. Her birthday present is in the front closet. We’re not sure if her party will be cancelled. The present will wait. I suppose we’ll put the toys away eventually. My husband used to make her breakfast every morning. She’d arrive at 7:30 and issue a one-word directive: “Pancake!” And of course that’s what she got. Because she was the boss. There was no disputing that. Now she is home with her mom and dad and that’s a great thing. Still we miss her little big personality. We miss the way she used to strut around the house circling around the kitchen island giggling. We miss playing hide and seek even though she never changed her hiding place. We miss her Pebbles Flintstone ponytail. We miss her “Owie-boo-boos.” I miss sitting with her as she napped every afternoon. But she is safe and we are safe and in these unprecedented times, you have to be grateful for the little things. I am most definitely grateful for one grand little thing in particular. Can’t wait to FaceTime again. Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

Slices of Life By Jill Pertler-Small changes – big changes

This year, at the end of April, my family and I were in our backyard enjoying the stars when we observed something shocking coming out of the northwestern night sky. It was a string of very bright lights that took our breath away. Upon realizing that they were satellites, I went to the internet and discovered that they were a string of approximately 20 Starlink satellites placed into orbit by Elon Musk and his company SpaceX. The SpaceX Starlink satellites appear in groups of up to 60 in a long line and each is bright. They were first launched into space in May 2019 and there are currently about 360 in orbit. SpaceX has the ultimate goal of blanketing the space around Earth with potentially up to 42,000 of these satellites. These satellites will provide internet to every corner of the Earth. Some might think the sight of these satellites is pretty cool, but I do not. My family and I were horrified by the sight and the thought of what is to come. Once these tens of thousands of Starlink satellites are in orbit they are there to stay and this is from just one company. I understand that there are currently no national or international laws to address the problems associated with placing satellites into space…there needs to be. These satellites may seem like a good idea to some, but there is a tradeoff. My primary concern is that the unregulated placing of satellites into space to orbit our planet will ruin the natural beauty of the night sky. These satellites will make astronomical observations more difficult. Also, there will no doubt be collisions between satellites leading to more space debris “junk” in Earth orbit. None of these outcomes are acceptable. The problem with satellites like the SpaceX Starlink is that each satellite reflects sunlight making them visible from the ground, which in turn affects our view of the night sky. There needs to be some type of regulation governing the placement of satellites into space and their visibility from the Earth’s surface. I can envision a day when in one view there could be hundreds if not thousands of satellites visible in the night sky. I can also envision a day when space advertising is a reality. Is this future acceptable? I believe not. I spend a lot of time in the outdoors and I have a passion for naked-eye astronomy. When I view the night sky I see the same stars that my ancestors viewed. This has meaning to me and I hope it has meaning to others as well. Whether it be in Iowa or in the wilderness of southern Utah, I would like to think that everyone should have the opportunity now and in the future to view the night sky as nature intended it to be viewed–free from the ever present hand of man. SpaceX and other companies might have good intentions, but they are companies out to make money. I believe it is an outrage that one person, or one company, can take control and completely transform every organisms’ experience of the night sky including our own. Every culture that has ever existed has valued the night sky through naked-eye astronomy. Mankind’s observations of the stars have created meaningful traditions which survive to this day. The one thing that humans have always had in common is the night sky and messing with it is something not to be taken lightly. I do not want to imagine a time when my children and my children’s children cannot enjoy the night sky as I and my ancestors have for millennia.