My favorite (dwarf) planet is Pluto

by cheri block

The bright spot in this week’s news, brighter the prospects of a nuclear agreement with an untrustworthy country, and more luminescent than the prospects of a third ginormous loan for Greece, is the picture of Pluto and one of his little moons that the NASA spacecraft New Horizons beamed back to us this week.

To call Pluto a bright spot is dead wrong. I know because in the 5th grade, I wrote an exhilarating  report on my favorite planet and learned that Pluto was so far away that the sun’s rays had little effect—that visiting Pluto would be like stumbling around blind in my closet at night.Those were the days when having a favorite anything was a must in all conversations, assigned reports, and for Monday-morning sharing.

My favorite color was blue, my favorite Beatle was George, my favorite horse at Shady Lawn Farm was Herb, my favorite food was spaghetti, my favorite animal was the horse, my favorite South American country was Chile, my favorite European country was Ireland, and of course, my favorite planet was Pluto.

When Pluto was downsized several years ago to a dwarf planet and all maps of the Solar System became archaic and collectors’ items, I was as mad as hell. I knew that Charon, Pluto’s mysterious moon, named after the ferryman who boated the dead across the River Styx, would agree.

In 1961, I suppose  Pluto attracted me because it was so small and I, too, was a shrimp. Out there, circling the sun with all of the attention foisted on Saturn and her gaseous rings, on Uranus because of, well, because of all of the anatomical jokes of Your Anus, and on Venus because of Frankie Avalon’s song, I naturally gravitated toward the planet with no gravity. Pluto needed a patron and my report was superior. That might have been because my mom made Pluto cookies, I gave everyone in the class a yo-yo, and because the cover of my report my father had helped design: it was black with an aluminum foil spot glued on the edge.

Today, my eyes feast on the first images of Pluto, that dwarf planet so far away from earth. Sometimes, I too, feel as far away from the earth I used to know as can be. So far away from the obvious notions of engaging the enemy in a nuclear agreement or giving a country another loan when it has proven that it doesn’t understand a balance sheet. Or from electing a  president who is a socialist in what used to be a capitalistic country.

Let’s see. If asked today, my favorite color is green, my favorite Beatle is John, my favorite horse at Shady Lawn Farm is still Herb, my favorite food is pasta, my favorite animal is a yellow Labrador Retriever (go lay down, Dinah, dammit), my favorite South American county is, well, I have no idea but definitely not Argentina, my favorite European country is England, and my favorite planet is still Pluto.

About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
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32 Responses to My favorite (dwarf) planet is Pluto

  1. Cyberquill says:

    My favorite Pluto is the dog. And if Obama is a socialist, then what is Sanders, that candidate for president of what used to be a capitalist nation that is now a plutocracy?

    • Cheri says:

      Once again, I am suffering from a lack of words to respond to this clever comment. This reminds me of the days when we all used to hang out at Andreas’ blog and try to be witty. When I think back to Mr. Crotchety, Jenny, and you–and your continuous wit in the comment category, I am struck by the banality of my responses. I have not begun to study the pedigrees of the Plutos running for President, only to observe that I will have a party when B.O. is no longer our president. And I’m not kidding about that.Perhaps you could begin thinking about party themes, favors, and a menu?

      • Cyberquill says:

        That’s a good-sized response for someone that’s suffering from a lack of words to respond. And I’m an introvert. I don’t party. Party planner and carnival barker are the two professions I can least imagine myself in. But if you want to plan for something raucous, why don’t you start preparing for the big Cascadia subduction zone quake that’s allegedly overdue, which is expected to turn to “toast” everything west of I-95? Are you west of I-95?

        • Cheri says:

          We are sitting right on top of the San Andreas Fault line, subset–Hayward Fault. We like to live dangerously.

          • Christopher says:

            Just by chance, a friend of mine in Hong Kong, only this morning, sent me a *New Yorker piece* about this coming Tsunami on the west coast, out of concern because I live in coastal BC, that, for those of you who never took geography in school, is on the west coast too, as well as being in Canada, which, contrary to what many Americans think, isn’t the 51st state.

            I have to say, though, I’m not worried (about a possible Tsunami, that is).

            First, given my age, I can expect to be dead any moment now. So the chances are statistically far less that I’ll be washed away by this coming Tsunami, than if I were much, much younger, with maybe thirty or forty years to live.

            Second, the New Yorker piece focuses on the northwest USA, and says nothing about Canada. Hence, when this Tsunami happens, one assumes it’ll go only as far as the forty-ninth parallel, and then stop.

            Third, a leading scientist behind these warnings of a west coast Tsunami, is called Chris Goldfinger. I dunno, I wouldn’t believe anything a guy called Goldfinger says, because….well……”he’s the man, the man with the Midas Touch, a spider’s touch……”.

            He might know useful stuff about gold futures or arachnids. But earthquakes? Nyaaaaah………

            Fourth, real estate prices would likely plunge after this Tsunami. This’ll create opportunities for survivors to make a quick buck by snapping up cheap property, then reselling it when its market value returns to the inflated price it was before.

            This is what makes Capitalism such a beautiful thing.

            • Cheri says:

              I have this feeling that, despite your prediction, you will be alive long enough that you will live to see if your financial planning has been adequate. In Canada, I understand, all your needs ( well, most of them 🙂 ) are taken care of by the government. If this were true here in the USA, we’d all be in a bad way because whatever the government touches instantly becomes mediocre yet the bill, in terms of taxes, becomes super. I know. I worked in public education for 25 years. Made many observations over those years. I’m kind of hoping for an earthquake because then, my husband, would have to stay home and rebuild the house. That might be fun. 🙂

        • Cyberquill says:

          It just hit me: I-5, not I-95. Off by a factor of 90. My bad.

  2. Glenys says:

    Pluto has every reason to remain high in your affections, Cheri, despite his notional demotion nearly nine years ago.

    Pluto decided to take a short break from his role as the most distant planet in February 1979, returning to his post in 1999. During this rest period, Neptune, a beautiful but most deviant planet, who had long been working on Pluto’s orbit, staged a coup and assumed the title. It is fitting, therefore, that more objects have appeared further out in Pluto’s defence.

    Some say that there is an underlying prejudice because “Pluto” shares three letters with the word “Planet” and also, perhaps, that he was named on his appearance by an 11 year old English girl – no doubt the reason why England is now your most favourite European country – in 1930, the same year this heavenly body was depicted a dog (do not confuse mythology and fantasy, CQ, science has moved us on). In those days he was said to be a bloodhound cross. Portraits show he was sired by a golden labrador, so there is consistency in your choices, Cheri.

    Pluto’s greatest achievement was, however, the construction of a Pipe Line Under The Ocean from Shanklin in the Isle of Wight. The pipe pumped vital fuel in great quantity to the beaches of Normandy in 1944. Glenys and I honeymooned in Shanklin and the pipeline has been an inspiration to me ever since.

    No wonder Pluto ruled the deep earth that contained the seeds necessary for a bountiful harvest.

    • Richard says:

      Again I regret having to confess to being the author of the foregoing comment.

    • Cyberquill says:

      Today’s fantasy is tomorrow’s mythology.

      • Richard says:

        So you are a eurosceptic.

      • Cheri says:

        That’s a good one. I think it should be worked into your next song. Could you have that ready in a week?

        • Cyberquill says:

          Sure. In exchange, could you send me a gallon of fresh EVOO from your little grove so I’d get it by Friday?

          • Cheri says:

            If we actually have a harvest this year, I will send you a bottle. Not a gallon. Each tree might (if we are lucky) yield one gallon. We have 58 trees, but one little Pendolino is sick, so let’s say 57 trees. You will have to pay postage…:) j/k

            • Cyberquill says:

              You can email it as an attachment. But I thought your entire olive harvest had been irrevocably ravaged by fruit flies. So you’re saying only one out of 58 trees has been affected?

              • Cheri says:

                The past four harvests have been obliterated. Olives are harvested in the late fall, usually November or December. That’s why, as my post indicated, we are spraying a pesticide now. The tree that is troubled has nothing to do with fruit flies. They do not harm the trees: they just eat the fruit. OK, sure, I’ll send your bottle of Rancholivo oil as an attachment. Maybe just the label.

              • Cyberquill says:

                Label will be fine. I’ll 3D-print the rest.

    • Cheri says:

      Once again, a most inventive comment, one that I have read three times. I am heartened to learn that Pluto’s father was a yellow Labrador; I shall immediately share this news with Dinah, who turned 7 on July 13.
      I am not going to take up the opportunity to be a little crass and discuss your honeymoon location and a pipeline.

  3. Christopher says:

    “……..When Pluto was downsized several years……….I was as mad as hell……..”

    Is this why proposals that Greece’s debts be substantially written off (ie downsized) make you as mad as hell too?

    You’ll know, I feel sure, that what we think about anything outside us, reflects what’s going on inside us.

    • Glenys says:

      Of greater concern is the downsizing of the Greek people.

      …….. You’ll know, I feel sure, that what we think about anything outside us, reflects what’s going on inside us. ………..

      I am sure you do not seek to have your own debts (if any) downsized, Christopher.

      • Richard says:

        Me again! This is becoming quite cosy.

      • Christopher says:

        @Richard – “……..I am sure you do not seek to have your own debts……downsized…….”

        Actually…….I’m debt-free.

        This makes me about as rare in today’s North America, as a grasshopper might be in the Aegean Sea.

        • Richard says:

          As I knew – you are a man of honour, integrity and considerable stature.

          You’ll know, I feel sure, that what we think about anything outside us, reflects what’s going on inside us. 😉

        • Cheri says:

          We are debt free too. There are many people–government workers, private business owners, independent contractors, undocumented workers–many dignified people who are debt free because they know how to spell A-U-S-T-E-R-I-T-Y.

    • Cheri says:

      Yes. I agree with that.

  4. Brighid says:

    “Sometimes, I too, feel as far away from the earth I used to know as can be. So far away from the obvious notions of engaging the enemy in a nuclear agreement or giving a country another loan when it has proven that it doesn’t understand a balance sheet. Or from electing a president who is a socialist in what used to be a capitalistic country.” AMEN!

  5. shoreacres says:

    I love Pluto. In my mind, Pluto still is a planet, always has been, and always will be. The scientists will come around, just like they have with butter, eggs, caffeine, and assorted other things that were going to kill us, pronto.

    I love that some of Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes were on board for the fly-by, too. Here’s a photo I took of the historical marker in his boyhood town of Burdett, Kansas, while I was traveling through.

    I wondered if they would be having a party in Burdett for the occasion — they did! From the town’s website:

    You are invited to a community commemoration of the arrival of the New Horizons Space Probe containing Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes as it passes by Pluto. This event is at the Burdett Seniors Center, Monday, July 13 at 1:00 pm. If you would like to join us for lunch at noon, please bring a covered dish.

    Following the meal, a one-hour dvd of the 1981 historical marker dedication and interview
    with Dr. Tombaugh will be shown. If you would like to purchase a copy of the dvd, please contact Don Cloutman 620.525.6212 or Lee Musil 620.525.6710.

    Isn’t that great? I would have liked to attend the lunch at the Senior Center. I would have taken a peach pie and my best coleslaw. Too bad they’re 700+ miles away.

    • Cheri says:

      Yes! Attending the luncheon in Burdett to honor its native son, Clyde Tombaugh, would be on my list. Your peach pie, I am sure, would be a winner; your coleslaw, a hit. I would bring an apple pie, my son-in-law’s bread pudding, and some hors…little red potatoes with salmon, cream cheese, and capers.

      Thanks for linking your comment to your picture.

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