Pluto’s still a planet in Gainesville, GA

Gainesville's sun pillar includes information about our nearest star, as well as a map of the town's Solar System Walking Tour
Gainesville’s sun pillar includes information about our nearest star, as well as a map of the town’s Solar System Walking Tour
The Solar System Walking Trail runs through the shady Rock Creek Greenway
The Solar System Walking Trail runs through the shady Rock Creek Greenway

If you walk around with your head in the clouds, come back to Earth long enough to visit Gainesville, Georgia’s, city parks. In addition to offering more than 400 acres of parkland, the municipal system features a Solar System Walking Tour. Visitors to the Downtown Square will discover a granite pillar, topped with a shiny model of the Sun, and a detailed map of the Solar System Trail. Not far are the planets Mercury, Venus and Earth, along with Earth’s Moon. Head toward Rock Creek Veterans Park and you will come into the orbit of Mars. Jupiter and four of its moons are hidden nearby, and if you keep walking, you’ll make it all the way to Pluto (and Lake Lanier), but it takes more than a few steps. This scale model of the Solar System was created by the North Georgia Astronomers Group, who came up with the idea in 1998. Members partnered with local sponsors to raise money for the eye-catching granite pillars, which were erected beginning in 1999, as the astronomers’ Millennium Project. When the project was done, the planets, the Solar System’s Asteroid Belt, and Alpha Centauri were all in place.

If you miss the New Horizons Flyby, you can still visit Pluto in Gainesville, GA
If you miss the New Horizons Flyby, you can still visit Pluto in Gainesville, GA

The Solar System trail is 1.8 miles long (one way), and wends its way through four parks and the Rock Creek Greenway. According to the North Georgia Astronomers Group website, 1 mile along the trail = 2 billion miles in space. If you can’t make it to Gainesville any time soon, zoom over to NASA’s website this week to check on the New Horizons spacecraft’s Flyby of Pluto (set for Tuesday, July 14). NASA has been busy the past few days sharing photos of the tiny sphere beamed in from New Horizons. Whether you still consider Pluto to be a planet, or merely a dwarf, the New Horizons flyby will give astronomers and star-gazers plenty to talk about for years to come.

The day I found my wedding shoes

Wedding shoes

Since I’m no longer working “nights,” and sleeping half the day away, weekends are not what they used to be. I now have 48-plus hours to fill with things like family, and fun. Although, the kids’ jobs require irregular schedules, so spending time with them, or the grandkids, is still hit or miss. And because my husband is working out of town, our time spent together is relegated to chatting on the phone, rather than serial-watching our new favorite show, going out for exercise, or running errands.

Last weekend, I was lucky. I kept our one-year-old grandson for three days, and reveled in watching him take a few steps (when he wasn’t paying enough attention to be scared), and discovering he can feed himself mac and cheese, very well, as long as you load up his baby fork (not too much), and don’t mind if he picks the fallen pieces up with his fingers. I took him on walks around the neighborhood and the park, and followed him around the largely un-baby-proofed downstairs, making sure he stayed out of the cabinets, and off the stairs, and handed him board books to peruse, only to see him first pet the fuzzy tiger on the front cover, then lay the book down to scoot around the floor like a squashed, wheel-less race car.

This weekend, I felt the need to clean. The kind of reorganizing that requires going through closets and moving dusty, old things, and finally carrying what I know isn’t going to sell in a yard sale (I know, because I tried), to the local thrift store. We have an empty room, and like most of the rooms in this small house since my husband and I tied the knot, contain too much stuff. We have little storage, and we are not in a position to move, so there’s really only one solution. I’ve postponed really doing much about it, because, sometimes when you put something off too long, it seems to morph into a project just too big to handle. But it was pouring rain, I had no one to spend time with, and I needed something to do besides sit around and read, or watch more TV. In other words, I was out of excuses.

I started in my room, on my side of the closet (Bill, I didn’t touch your stuff, honest). I looked through all my clothes, figured out what fit, and what didn’t, what I loved, what I hated, and what I just didn’t want to look at any more. I pulled out garbage bags, designating some for trash, and some for giveaway. I loaded up the car, and left, shortly before 6, because I wasn’t sure, being a holiday weekend, if the thrift store was even open. I came back, and forgot the mess for the rest of the evening, knowing I couldn’t leave any of the rooms half-done, and would get back to it (probably today).

This morning, I was dragging (probably from all the Benadryl I needed from stirring up the dust), but I sweet-talked my husband into going to the gym, so I had to go, too. Ignoring the fact it’s no fun exercising with your husband when he’s 300 miles away, I lost myself in a Learning Channel show about life in the stressful E.R., and logged 45 minutes on the elliptical.

Ten minutes before the gym closed, I cleared my locker, and came home. Now energized, I packed up even more than I originally planned to donate, but with grandkids often spending the night, we really need the space. And if I’m going to rent that carpet-cleaning machine for the living room, I really should get my money’s worth by shampooing the carpet upstairs, too.

I still need to vacuum, and offload those extra bed frames on someone or someplace else, but I’ve made progress. I’m well on the way to creating one nice, baby-proof space, and my side of the closet, at least, is presentable. And hey, I found my wedding shoes.