Earth to Jo-Ann…Come In Jo-Ann

It’s March 12th and we’re so excited. It’s 10:34 p.m., we’re situated along Florida’s Space Coast, (east side of the state on the Atlantic Ocean, 74 kilometres [46 miles], south of Cape Canaveral). The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is at the Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and is ready for take-off. It’s the 4th rocket launch since we arrived here on January 1st.Kennedy Space Centre

During the 10 minute countdown to lift off, my imagination kicks in and it brings me back to our home up north, t
o our bedroom, and to the large photograph hanging over the headboard. It is the now famous photo of planet Earth taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft, at a distance of about 45,000 kilometres (28,000 mi) from earth, titled, The Blue Marble, that I purchased sometime in the 1980’s at Kennedy Space Centre.

I bought this photo then because I love our home planet. I find myself often, sitting on my bed and losing myself in the magnificent beauty of our planet. I contemplate our blue jewel suspended in the velvety blackness. I marvel at our fragile sphere.

I think back to 1992 when Roberta Bondar, Canada’s first female astronaut boarded the space shuttle Discovery, and broke the mould. I recall an interview upon her return from space, she remarked that she had looked out of the window of the shuttle and was struck by all the empty space around our planet. That we’re alone in our part of the universe, she pointed out that it’s the only home we have right now, and we need to take care of it.

Earth looks peaceful and harmonious from space, but of course all is not as it appears. Conflicts threaten our very survival. Weapons are poised, ready to annihilate life as we know it at a moments notice; environmental crisis is lurking, and conflicts that are rooted in antiquity abound. Human destiny is unclear, the veneer of civilization is yet exceedingly thin, and our current actions bring sustainability into question.

Oh my, the glow of what looks like the dawn of a new day, fully illuminates the horizon to the north of us. It’s 10:44 p.m., and we have lift off. Within seconds a large fire ball climbs through the inky black sky. WOW! The rocket has a quartet payload of what is called Magnetospheric Multi-Scale (MMS) spacecraft, which is the first space mission dedicated to the study of magnetic reconnection. My own very basic understanding of magnetic reconnection is that it is a fundamental process that occurs throughout the universe where magnetic fields connect and disconnect with an explosive release of energy. Magnetic reconnection is one of the most important drivers of space weather events, such as eruptive solar flares.

It’s amazing to think the journey it took human-kind to arrive at a day where representatives of earth can leave our home planet, not knowing what they will find.

Arriving back to our Florida condo after witnessing the spectacular liftoff I am in awe as I think of humanity’s epic journey out of Africa, the cradle of humanity, to eventually populate the earth. We are a species of brave pioneers and adaptive innovators.

I’ve lived most of my life so far in the 20th century. Those of us who have lived during this time in our planetary history have witnessed the extraordinary miracles and folly of humankind first hand. Ours has been a century of demystifying, human-made miracles and human-made catastrophe.

My mother who is only 22 years older than I, lives with the effects of a world evolved from the dim years of the Great Depression to World War 11, and she witnessed the incandescent Nuclear Age.

Progress has been swift for the most part and severe. I have lived through the silent war that was never overtly fought, (Cold War). Watched as humans fought over ideology, and are engaged in an era of organized global terrorism, the likes of which has never before been experienced.

In this age of miracles such as; The Human Genome Project and gene therapy, Pandemic Planning and Coordination of Response, creation of life saving and life sustaining ostomies. The Human Brain Project, an international team of researchers led by German and Canadian scientists have produced a three-dimensional atlas of the brain that has 50 times the resolution of previous maps. Microscale 3-D Printing. And, the list goes on. In my lifetime I have seen the horse drawn ice wagon, delivering ice to my neighbours in a time when not all folks had a refrigerator. And then, just a few years ago my life was saved and extended by the technology of modern medicine, and the skills of medical practitioners.

I have lived momentous days, extraordinary in the ability of people to coordinate their minds and skills to ensure the continuation of humanity’s journey and our own individual journeys. The little blue speck in the midst of the vast emptiness that is dotted by luminous celestial bodies is our home, and this ostomate is honoured to be graced with an extended life and the opportunity to live life to the fullest on this beautiful blue marble.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay


“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

The Case Of The Raging Toilet

An ostomates life can seem a bit silly at times, especially when we have to leave treasures all over our community. Percy and I went out to run a number of errands the other morning. Percy (my enigmatic spirited stoma), decided to overact as I drove the car to the Passport Office. As we traveled each kilometer after another, well, what can I say, instead of our cup runneth over, our bag was just about there and it seemed to me, we hit every red light cosmically possible.

Finally we arrived at our destination with not more than a moment to spare. First stop, was to the bathroom to take care of Percy’s business, before we addressed my business. Up one hall, nope no bathroom, down another hall, nope no bathroom. With frankly no time left, I found a commissionaire, who gave me directions. “Oh, for Pete’s sake, I must have passed it at least twice”.

With a great deal of relief I dealt with Percy, and to make life easy and efficient for me, I simply went into my “Percy’s spare equipment stash”, that I keep in my purse for a fresh bag, and deposited Percy’s old treasure bag well packaged into the washroom trashcan.

With everything in order it was now time to go back down the hall to the Passport office. When this task was completed it was time to head off to the grocery store. As the life of an ostomate would have it, Percy once again thought this was quite exciting, as I suddenly became aware of number two of the final act of digestion quickly filling Percy’s bag. Upon arriving at the grocery store, it was off to the washroom, we headed. I changed once again to a new bag, and deposited Percy’s not so old treasure bag in the trashcan.

Groceries purchased, it was off to our final stop – the Pharmacy. Wouldn’t you know it, Percy wasn’t finished yet, silly little pooper. Well, history had to repeat itself. It was straight home from there, and I wearily stepped through the door. From the moment I entered all was quiet, nothing was moving, not even a mouse.

Figuring that with 1 bag, 2 bags, 3 bags I had already filled and almost overflowed, I thought all would be quiet and uneventful for the evening. Hmm….best laid plans of mice and men. Before I go on with the story, know that the whole ordeal has worked out well, and my husband has seen his Physician. Now back to the case of raging toilet.

Our day had not ended, at 11:30 p.m. it was off to the Emergency Care Unit of our local hospital for a medical issue for my husband Mark. By 1:00 a.m., pungent Percy (stoma), kicked into high gear yet again. The toilet facility was adjacent to Mark’s room. I went in to deal with Percy, all went well, until I flushed the toilet. Well, a tornadic fury began, then a counterclockwise rotation of speed and noise I have never witnessed before in the water closet raged, and would not stop. Around, around and around, like a tempest in a tea pot it raged. Then as I danced about jiggling the toilet handle in an attempt to stop the torrent, a small geyser erupted in the middle of the rotation, and a fine spray of water filled the air above the toilet, and a mist began to fill the area.

It was at this time I escaped the washroom as a nurse heard the roar of the toilet, and came over to the door to peer in with me. No sooner had he witnessed the raging toilet, it began to slow down and it eventually stopped. It had stopped as mysteriously as it had started. He then turned to me and said, “well, that must have been some log you deposited”.



Jo-Ann L. Tremblay


“Everyone one you meet has a story to tell.”