The Heavens are Telling
Susan M. Riggio
When my son, Mark, was a NASA engineer, one of his jobs
was to monitor orbiting objects in space so that the space shuttle would
be able to avoid colliding with them.
“You mean stuff like satellites, rocket parts, and
the space station?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said. “But just as important are the
smaller objects. The astronauts get rid of their waste in canisters
which are jettisoned from the shuttle. These canisters are in orbit,
My eyes opened in amazement. “You mean there are cans
of… of human waste in orbit around the earth right now?”
“Yes,” he said.
Well. This sounded like a kitschy “green” quilt to
me. I borrowed Beethoven’s title, “The Heavens Are Telling,” which
seemed quite appropriate for the subject matter.
Along with the usual satellites, the shuttle, and
rockets are numerous buttons, representing the ubiquitous canisters. I
added a piece of Mylar because, at the time there was speculation about
advertising in space on big sheets of Mylar. Turning to whimsy, I added
the cow that jumped over the moon and the kitchen sink.
Gold quilted stars edge the work, which is a
traditional Trip Around The World quilt pattern with the center block
showing the planet Earth.
In 1996, the untethered satellite made the news. I
added it to the mélange.