Thursday, September 8, 2016

Writers' Obsessions: Carl Little

I've been MIA for the past three weeks traveling in Newfoundland (more on that later). I'm continuing my series on writers' obsessions sent to me by some of my writing buddies. This one is Maine poet and art critic Carl Little. (Be sure to check out some of the previous ones, too).

Flax Pond

From age one to age 18, I spent most of every summer by a pond in Water Mill, New York, on the South Fork of Long Island. Flax Pond, as I later came to learn was its name, was one of a group of bodies of water that inspired the name of our road, Lower Seven Ponds Road.
The pond was utterly alive, full of fish: pickerel, bass, catfish, eels, sunfish and perch. Snapping and painted turtles frequented its waters. Swans, ducks, geese and heron took up residence or fished in the reeds.
The pond represented a means of escape for me—a place of retreat from my family, from New York City where I went to school. At the same time, it meant family: fishing and swimming with my sisters and brothers and parents. It was a glorious place.
One of my first published poems, chosen by Robert Farnsworth for Columbia Magazine in 1980, was based on memories of a summer of drought when the edge of the pond receded a good 15 feet. At that time, I found myself in an in-between place, dealing with adolescence and family. I began exploring the edge of the pond, digging with my feet in the mud for remnants of past lives lived nearby, mainly antique bottles, milk and various medications. Unmarked bottles may have been from the potato mash still that had been set up at the back of our property. The poem, “Water Lily,” evokes the place and my mood. Here is the second stanza:

Deep in the pond’s mud shallows
my toe touches a bottle
but I pull up a water lily root.
It bobs at my knees,
it won’t stay planted.

I wrote about the pond’s denizens, including the snapping turtle:
Its beak is mean
even in the mud,
snaps at beauty like a man
who erases the eyes of models
in a magazine.    

The pond kept appearing in my poems, a constant presence even though my last visit was around 1990. A few years back, reading a book of poems by Russell Libby that featured several lovely poems about trees, I was inspired to write about the stand of pepperidge that formed a special space next to what I called “the perfect pond.”  In another poem I paid homage to the pickerel weed. Here are the opening lines:
I know these, too, from the pond
I skirted as a child, the green
cake knives clustered along the shore
doubling in shallows….

I was reminded of that place again when my son James and I went fishing on Somes Pond here on Mount Desert Island earlier this summer. His life-long friend Sargent Pepper, who is now a certified fly-fishing instructor, had taught us how to cast on the lawn in the morning and then took us out trolling around 6:00 p.m., dusk, a beautiful time of day. I felt my senses revive even as calm came over me.  
I read recently that Elizabeth Bishop had a fear of repetition in her poetry. With the help of her psychiatrist, Dr. Ruth Foster, she began to consider each poem as part of “one long poem” as “they go on into each other or overlap.” I’m grateful for that insight and feel reassured—and ready to revisit the pond again and again.

Carl Little is the author most recently of Art of Acadia, co-written with his brother David. He lives in Somesville on Mount Desert Island.

Monday, August 8, 2016

UPCOMING CLASSES: Writing Nature and a Sense of Place

I will be offering this popular class in various locations over the next year. Each workshop will be different based on the location. These are what are scheduled so far.  (Register via the organization sponsoring the workshop. If you want more info about the class, use the Comments section here. )

Writing Nature and a Sense of Place
Writing about place involves working with the elements that make a specific place unique. This may include the layers of history, natural history, human culture, and the built environment across time to bring us to the present moment. Writers might be advocates, critics, or lovers of a place but any way, a sense of place helps us ground our writing on any topic.

By developing the craft of writing about place, participants will discover more about their subjects, allowing them to better understand and present their world and experiences. The workshop is open to writers of all levels and suitable for writers of both poetry and prose.

·       Through writing exercises and prompts, participants will work to develop skills from the “writer’s toolkit” of image, voice, language, structure, and more.
·       We will look at the work of other authors for inspiration and modeling.
·       As weather allows, participants will write outside for some of the exercises.
·       The workshop will maintain a safe, supportive environment that recognizes there is no such thing as a mistake in writing, just the next draft.

Saturday, September 24; 9:30 - 1:30: Blue Hill (Maine) Public Library
Sponsored by Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. Time outside to explore the harbor. 

 Saturday, December 10; 10:00 - 3:00: Fernwood Nursery, Montville, Maine
Scones and homemade soup lunch included. Enjoy the gardens in early winter.

 August 17 - 20, 2017: Whitehead Island Maine
Sponsored by Whitehead Light Station. This three-night program will be held on an island off the coast of Spruce Head with accommodations in the lightkeeper's house and all meals included. Definitely a special experience. More details will be posted soon. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Poem: "Flowering. At the Ruins of the Seven Churches, Inishmore"

 Today I feel like running this poem that has appeared in various places beginning in the UU World Magazine and most recently on the on-line project "A Year of Being Here" ( I've been thinking about this place -- Waldo County, Maine -- that I've called home for the past four decades as well as the people in my life I have lost over the years including my brother Ric this past April (you might have seen him in some of the essays I've posted on this blog). 

"Flowering" was conceived sitting behind a rock to escape the wind on Inishmore in the Aran Islands. If you know anything about the Aran Islands, you know that the winter winds blow the topsoil away every year and so islanders, from the medieval monks who lived out there to current residents, have to rebuild the soil from seaweed and what we'd now call compost to plant their potatoes.

            At the Ruins of the Seven Churches, Inishmore

Pick a crevice
a homey gap
between stones
and make it
your own.

Grow a life here
from wind and
rain, the memories
of ancients embedded
in limestone.

The bees will use you
for their sweet honey.
The rock will soften
under your touch. You
will draw moisture from
fog and hold it. Your
presence will
build soil.

This is all
we have in this
life, all we own:
a flowering
an opening
a gap between
stones for tiny
tender roots.

Copyright 2007, Linda S. Buckmaster

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Writers' Obsessions: Kristen Lindquist

After I wrote my post "Turtle Moon: Genealogy of an Obsession," I put a call out to some of my writing buddies locally and internationally to find out about their writing obsessions. I'll post them over the next couple of months. --Linda

Kristen Lindquist

Since I was a child spending summers and vacations at my grandparents' saltwater farm in Lincolnville, Maine, I've had recurring nightmares on this basic theme: as I watch, the ocean rises in a storm surge or a freak high tide to break over the front lawn in huge destructive waves that eventually wash us away, house and all. I still have dreams involving big waves breaking where they aren't supposed to--even still washing away my grandparents' house, a place that no longer exists as it did. 

I guess it only makes sense that I have tried to decipher my recurring dream over and over in various poems. In some, I try to draw a direct metaphor between the dream image and loss of childhood, loss of my grandparents, and/or loss of the only place that was really home to me as a child who lived in over a dozen different places before college. In others, I just describe either the dream itself, which has variations, or describe it as an imagined reality. I've tried writing about it in essays, too, to parse out its significance and why those dreams keep coming to me.

The wave has become a motif for me--like Hiroshige's Great Wave--in my writing and in my life, as I try over and over to embrace what I fear, to embrace that lost child(hood) of the past, to embrace the unembraceable, the overwhelming, the stirrings from the deep subconscious.

Last year at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts' special exhibit of Hiroshige's work, I stood for a long time before his Great Wave wood block print, mesmerized. The image is used everywhere, it's almost a cliche at this point. But for me, it's personal; when I wear the baseball cap with that wave image on it that I got at the MFA gift shop, I feel as if I'm representing my own inner team, the one with the intimate imagistic relationship with deep water, with the amoral power of the sea.

Kristen Lindquist is a freelance writer, poet, and naturalist living in midcoast Maine. Garrison Keillor has read three poems from her poetry collection TRANSPORTATION on The Writer's Almanac; she writes a monthly natural history column for the local online paper, Pen Bay Pilot.

Website: (where you can find info on how to order her book TRANSPORTATION)
Daily haiku blog BOOK OF DAYS:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Security Clearance Part 4

We get to go inside a rocket launch blockhouse filled with 1960s technology!
We are now passing Hanger “S.” Hanger “S” is where the Mercury astronauts prepped for launch, Dave tells us. I don’t really care that much about astronauts, although it’s fun to see a famous building we watched on TV. I think my father met a couple of astronauts, officially at work, that is, but I’m not sure.
What I am most excited to learn, though, is that we are going to—and into—the Launch Complex 26 Blockhouse! I know not everyone can say this, but I have always wanted to go inside a blockhouse, especially one my father might have worked in. They have turned this one and the surrounding area into part of the Air Force Space & Missile Museum, the part that can only be accessed by this very special, security-cleared tour we are on. Nearby it are Launch Complex  5/6 from where Alan Shepard and later Gus Grissom were launched on Redstone rockets.
I’m sure this has something to do with my father. I know he spent time in launch blockhouses. I know, or am pretty sure, he worked on Redstones, at least on the unmanned suborbital missions. Or test firings. Yes, I think he was a test engineer or maybe that was before he was at the Cape when he worked for Sperry Gyroscopes in Virginia. Oh, it’s all so confusing, the numbers and names and places and dates and jargon attached to someone’s life, especially someone in the space industry, but I think my father was actually here in this blockhouse, or one very like it.
The tour bus stops in front and we are told we can wander at will or follow a docent-led tour. In any case, we’ll meet back at the bus in a half hour. And, by the way, this is the last bathroom on the tour.  I leap up to get off but am still beat by a line in the aisle. Ric is calmly waiting for everyone else to go ahead. He has learned some kind of Zen acceptance somewhere along the way that I missed out on.
The Russians are chattering among themselves excitedly as they stoop to peer out the bus windows at the white squat cement building with the slight igloo hump for a roof, also cement. We have already learned that the walls are two-feet thick while the roof varies between five and eight feet. The sun hits me in the face as I make the final step off the bus; I forget how forceful and ubiquitous it is here.
The docent swings open one side of the double blast-doors, a heavily plated gateway to a twentieth century fortress. Like the entrance to a cave, the narrow entry-way opens into a small chamber, large enough for a dozen or so people to stand comfortably and now decorated with rocket “cheesecake” photos.  On either side, doors lead into the two firing rooms, the control rooms from where the rockets were launched, where the buttons were actually pushed to fire up the engines, I’m excited to note.
We learn that everything in the firing rooms—control panels, equipment, lighting fixtures, wiring paths, paint schemes—are original. The buttons and control handles are cute, looking almost like toys with their rounded braised metal edges, shaped and sized for mere twentieth century humans just cutting their first space baby teeth. The black buttons stamped with numbers look like the keys on an old-fashion typewriter. On the front of the control panels are tiny pullout ashtrays like the one in my father’s 1954 Chevy. Inside are cigarette butts—original cigarette butts, the docent tells us. Like a child, I imagine that maybe one is my father’s, but then I see it is a Lucky Strike, not a Chesterfield.
Two blue-green slits like reptile eyes look out at the launch pads only four hundred feet away. The window glass is comprised of forty-two layers of quarter-inch glass. Forty-two layers of mica-thin glass, laid one on top of the other very carefully, then heat-fused into a solid block. Even though you can see through it, the view is fuzzy and only the big outlined shape of, say, a rocket, or a palm tree, or a man’s life with the hot fiery blastoff of anger obscuring everything else, can be seen before the shape slowly rises.
Then I see the Burroughs guidance computer. This one is identical to the two that were installed in the Radio Guidance Center. I associate the words “radio” and “guidance” and “test” with my father; he was a radioman on the Navy plane, after all, a test engineer at another point. I’ve heard the word “Burroughs” sometime in the past, the way children hear those grownup words without knowing their meaning and then repeat them knowingly.
I read that these computers were used to control the rockets’ flight, using five receiving dishes and transmitting guidance commands back to the rocket. In later years, my father mentioned that he had used some of the first computers back in the day, the big clunky kind. Indeed, the docent tells us, “The processing computers on board a Mercury mission are now available in a thirty dollar wristwatch.” I stare at the long brown metal machine, vaguely rusting, but receive no messages from it.
I wander outside, another sleepy Florida afternoon. It’s well past a half hour that we have been here, but no one seems concerned. Some of the other tourists are still inside asking questions; others are sitting at the benches overlooking this Rocket Garden; the tour guide and bus driver are jawing with a couple of the docents.  I walk out into the St. Augustine grass, carefully watching for sticker burrs, and sit down on a chunk of cement. Some kind of bird calls from the palmettos in the late afternoon light.
I try to make up a story, a story not about what was, but composed of “what ifs” and “as ifs,” a story that makes my father something other than a minor engineer on a big project who drank his way out of a Security Clearance. In this story he is not the father who didn’t come home at night. Instead, he is the kind of father who brought us out here on one of those Saturdays in the 1960s when they briefly opened the Cape so the families could see daddy’s rockets, a father like one of those on TV who dispensed loving guidance to his kids after work.
Too sappy, I think.  It can just be an ordinary story. My father would be a regular guy who does his job well, maybe singled out from time to time for his good work. Still the hail-good-fellow kind of guy who others greet in the hall and he always has a joke or a story for. Buck, a great guy, a four-square guy, who maybe in later years the younger men call Mr. Buckmaster until he tells them to just call him Buck. And at home, he really plays the mandolin, not just a few chords then stopping with a “hee-hee” when he messes up. And turns his quirky creative mind into witty columns for the Orlando Sentinel every month . . .
“What are you doing?” My brother is suddenly beside me.
“Nothing.” I realize this is an answer I have given before in my family when interrupted in the middle of one of my stories. “So what’s up with all the knives?” I ask.
“My knives? It’s just my pocket knife. And the Leatherman has a little knife on it.”
A Leatherman, a pocket multi-purpose tool in case he has to fix something along the way, like our father would have.
We rejoin the tour group. Dave winds up again. A jackrabbit dashes across the crumbling, nearly abandoned road. We are headed toward the launch pad of the disastrous Apollo 1.
“The next stop, folks,” Dave says, “is hallowed ground.” Fini
Copyright, 2016, Linda S. Buckmaster

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Security Clearance Part 3

 My brother Ric and I board the bus for the "Cape Canaveral Then & Now" tour.

The Kennedy Space Center is the official name of this tourist attraction, museum, and historical theme park. It sits just outside the NASA Kennedy Space Center where the real work of space exploration actually happens. In the early days, all the action was out on the edge of the Cape until the giant Vehicle Assembly Building and the space shuttle launch pads were built farther inland. The Cape Canaveral bus tour is taking us out to see this “old Cape.” 
At the bus staging area, no fewer than four guards direct us to the right line. Standing in line isn’t so bad, though, because there is a wall-sized map mural of where we will be going.  Maps are about imagination as much as fact for me, and I imagine the empty green spaces between launch sites still so like the open palmettos I used to wander as a child. We’ll be driving over the Banana River and entering through the North Gate. My father, of course, always entered through the South Gate since my hometown of Satellite Beach is south of the Cape.
For a family outing one time, he drove us up to the South Gate and stopped since family members without badges weren’t allowed. We gazed for a few moments at the other side; the acres of palmettos looked just like the side we were on, and then he ceremoniously turned the car around. We headed back to Cocoa Beach so we could drive our car along the hard-packed sand with the waves on one side and beachfront joints on the other. We found the right spot to park and unloaded lawn chairs, beach toys, towels, grill, charcoal, marinated chicken parts, chips, beer and sodas. We kids headed for the water with my father, who dove head first into the waves, a feat I wasn’t yet brave enough to try.
Much later, as the evening sky was turning pink and orange, Ric and I scouted for driftwood. My father made a shallow pit behind the car to dump the fading hot coals into while my mother put away food. My parents drew their chairs around the fire, and Ric and I sat in the sand. Pieces of the wood were added into the pit to flame and flare in the soft darkness, while my father sang all the verses to “A Fox Went Out on A Chilly Night.” I sifted the cool night sand through my fingers over and over again, the back of my hand hot from the fire.

Among the other tourists on the tour bus is a slew of thirty-something Russians. What is their interest in this tour, I wonder. Too young to have experienced the space race between their county, or their former country, and us, they are dressed too hip to not recognize a certain postmodern irony in the situation. After all, the thing we most feared when I was growing up was the Russians invading Cape Canaveral. Maybe these young people  had read about the space race in their textbooks and how the U.S. was actually losing until sometime in the late Sixties. That’s why there was so much pressure on the Mercury program—to catch up with the Russians and the little dog that was sent into orbit.
The bridge arches over the Banana River, and we can look out over the flat expanse of palmetto scrublands surrounding a handful of bare patches with missile sites in the middle of them. We can see the Atlantic stretching to Africa. The Guardhouse at the Gate waves the bus through since we are all completely security-safe. I wonder if the other tourists are surprised at how much of a wilderness this area really is, less developed than, say, the Disney World complex of solid cement.
Our tour guide, Dave, is telling us that what is now called the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, or the old Cape, is a mostly natural seventeen thousand acres. Right on cue, we spot a couple of armadillos poking along the side of the road. Dave is sure to let us know about the four species of poisonous snakes and alligators we could see. To me, it’s all just beautiful. The sky is as big as I remembered it—like being out on the ocean or in the middle of the Great Plains—and because the weather is on the cool side today, it is bold blue. The gray-green palmettos stretch out consistently the same height as far as can be seen, their rough fronds creating texture against the sky. I suddenly remember the jump-rope rhyme: “Car-penter, Coo-per, Glenn, and Grissom. Schir-ra, Shepard, and Mis-ter Slayton.”
Dave is filling us in on many facts that involve many numbers—dates, speed, thrust, weight, length, numbers of employees, miles around the earth, dollars. Actually, I don’t think he ever talks about money, the trillions of dollars that have been spent over the past fifty years on maintaining our space superiority. I have figured out that the “now” of this “then and now” tour is about drumming up taxpayer interest, support, and patriotism for the projects now in process for the future, maybe playing on the nostalgia like you would about the railroads.
It’s widely recognized that this is the end of a particular kind of era for the Space Center, an era that saw space exploration as a major national interest and funding priority. After this final launch of the Shuttle Atlantis, the expectation is that everything will be privatized. The local Florida Today newspaper featured an article on the up-and-coming private companies that will launch missiles for their own interests. The article also reminded us the Space Coast has always seen both boom and bust eras.  It’s hard for me to differentiate between the industry’s fluctuations in fortune and my family’s.
Dave is also full of anecdotes. He tells us about the shenanigans of the astronauts when they were in town, the wild parties at the Holiday Inn, the bikinis on Canaveral pier, the pioneering topless bars, the free Corvettes provided to the astronauts every year by the enterprising Chevy dealer Jim Rathman, the drag racing down North Atlantic Avenue.
He misses the one about my father somehow making the fifteen miles between Cocoa Beach and our house, skipping the driveway but making a course correction up onto the lawn so that the front bumper of the Chevy just kisses the palm tree before he passes out in the front seat. And how my mother got me up extra early the next morning to go out to the car to try to get him inside before the neighbors woke up.  Or how on occasions when he didn’t make it to the lawn, my mother bundled us kids off to a neighbor’s in the middle of the night so she could drive the twenty miles to bail him out on the mainland.
Dave mentions Bernard’s Surf, the watering hole where the astronauts and press corps mingled. Of course, Dave wouldn’t have known that at the bar of Bernard’s Surf, my father cashed his paycheck—the paycheck that briefly made us like all the families of Cape engineers among the highest earners in the state. He left the pile of bills in front of him so he could just tell the bartender to “take it out of there and something for yourself.”  Whatever was left at the end of the night went into my dad’s pocket. My mother and he eventually agreed that the check would be mailed from the payroll office right to our house.
Dave paraphrases the “Vegas rule” to say that everyone knew that what happened on the Space Coast, stayed on the Space Coast. I wonder, though, what happens if you actually lived here? Does it just stay forever?  To be continued  . . . Fourth and final installment next.
Copyright 2016, Linda S. Buckmaster

Friday, July 22, 2016

"Security Clearance" Part 2

Previously -- my brother Ric and I begin a tour of the Kennedy Space Center.
We pass through the mysteriously darkened Information Center and wander out into the blazing sunlight of the Rocket Garden. The space music follows. Here, a dozen or so famous missiles, or replicas thereof, stand at attention on cement pads or lie on their sides, each with a little plaque detailing its merits and other little plaques with factoids about rocket science for those of us who haven’t studied rocket science. Mercury, Atlas, Titian, Gemini, Apollo, Saturn,  Agena—the  names were designed to evoke the grandeur of gods and timelessness. 
These missiles are all “old-timers” from the early days of the space industry, the ones launched from the launch pads at the “Old Cape” that we will be visiting. At the Space Center, anything before the beginning of the Space Shuttle program in 1981 is considered ancient history. Some of the rockets have been drawn and quartered to reveal their insides and “stages.” Stages, as any Space Coast schoolchild would know, fall off one by one after liftoff when the missile reaches a specific altitude until only the main capsule is left.
I wander over to one of the smaller rockets and read it’s the Redstone. Ah—the Redstone, a name I haven’t heard in thirty-five years. The little plaque tells me that the sturdy Redstone, the workhorse of the 1950s, was drafted into Project Mercury, NASA’s first manned space program in 1958; this was the year we moved to the area so my father could work at the Cape. Project Mercury—how these names come back.  Alan Shepherd rode the Mercury 7 as the first American in space, my brother reminds me.
“Oh, right,” I say.
“And remember that jump-rope thing you and your friends did?” he asks.
“What ‘jump-rope thing’?”
“You know, with the names of the seven astronauts.”
I don’t remember that because I am trying to remember which ones of these corpses my father might have been a part of, or rather I am trying to imagine which because I don’t think I ever knew, and now there is no one left to ask. I think he was part of the Mercury project and so I look for those with that identification. How could a kid not know what rocket her daddy worked on? Isn’t that the kind of thing you’d talk about at the dinner table? Wouldn’t you actually get kind of sick of hearing about it every night—assuming he was home every night?
I suddenly remember my father worked in guidance; he was a guidance engineer. Of course, how could I forget? What an ironic job title for him.
I thought I came to visit this tourist site to learn more about the space industry for my writing project. Now I realize I’m in search for my father. I am looking for some signs of him that I haven’t been able to find elsewhere. He has been dead for almost thirty years. I know nothing about his work life, nothing about what he spent his professional career doing —while it lasted— and what he did all day after he drove the Chevrolet coupe and later the VW Bug to join the morning traffic jam on that narrow strip of asphalt out to the Cape. I asked him once what he did at work. “Draw pictures,” he said with characteristic joking. I figured out later it had some connection to drafting, in this case, drafting a missile flight plan. He was always the go-to guy at home for math and science projects. He once explained to me “the rule of thumb” about electrical current, but I don’t remember what it is.
As an inheritance, he left me a cardboard, twenty-four-can Schlitz beer box, a nice sturdy one with top flaps that tuck in. He presented it to me rather ceremoniously after alluding to it for years. Like most drunks, he was famous for repeating himself, but he was also savvy enough to realize the tragedy and irony that the legacy of a cardboard box represents. “That’s what you’re getting,” he would say. As the oldest and the daughter, I would be the keeper of the family heirlooms.
Inside the box were two slide rules in leather cases that he had from this student years, his Navy metals and black leather journal from his days as a flight navigator on an aircraft carrier plane during the war, a diploma in electrical engineering from the University of Miami, and a report card from Thomas Junior High in South Philadelphia. There was a collection of the postcards, two letters, and greeting cards I sent after I left home, maybe fifteen years worth, although I didn’t write much.  For a guy who made his career tracking missile courses, his was conspicuously untrackable. Running out for a pack of Chesterfields when I was a kid could mean two or three days with no sign of his whereabouts.
A couple of tourist kids are dashing down the mock gangplank to the mock Apollo capsule, where they can try out the seats. It was this same kind of gangplank that the crew of the Apollo 1 walked down for the launch dress rehearsal, which ended in an accidental flash fire in 1967, killing the three men. My father wasn’t there, I know. By then, he was out of the industry, never to work at the Cape again. One too many drunk driving arrests and petty misdemeanors meant he lost his all-important, government-issued Security Clearance. Without it, he could no longer drive past the checkpoint gate to get into the Cape. When did that happen, I try to remember. Sometime in the mid-sixties, sometime when I was in high school. I do some quick math and am shocked to realize that my father was a rocket engineer for maybe only ten years.
I appraise the rockets again, this time by launch dates. My brother gives me information, more details than I want to know, about how the missiles work or the peculiarities of some of the components, information he’s gleaned from his prodigious reading and watching the Discovery channel. He takes a professional interest in the welded joints. The only other visitors in the Rocket Garden besides the kids and their parents are a young couple with shiny new wedding bands, who are taking an inordinate amount of photos of each other in front of the rockets.
Why are those other people here, I wonder. What can be their interest in these relics? Why would they care that the two things a rocket needs are thrust and guidance? Thrust gets it into the air, and guidance keeps it on its all-important track until it slots into its orbit above the atmosphere. To be continued . . . 
Copyright, 2016, Linda S. Buckmaster