Our Little Secret

Looking for the timer

Painting Completed 2003
15 x 18 3/4 inches, Textured Acrylic with Moondust on Aircraft Plywood

I'm down on my knees praying for more light, less dust, and better tactile sensitivity in my gloved fingertips. A wonderfully conceived plan to take a fabulous photo of both Pete and me celebrating in front of the Surveyor III spacecraft was coming unraveled by the minute. Time is critical and it seems to be rushing by as I look into - and feel all around in - our tool carrier tote bag. Where is that little self-timer for our Hasselblad camera?

Pete and I had put it in the empty tote bag at the start of our exploration, but now there are a lot of rocks inside their own sample bags in there, too. But no problem, the chrome-plated timer had been easy to spot during our training sessions back on planet Earth.

Not so, up here! The shadows inside the tote bag are darker than on Earth because of the lack of atmosphere to bounce the sunlight around. The dust is fine and tenacious, and sticks to everything, too. What to do? I'll take out some individual rock sample bags and hold them on my left arm. Maybe it'll help. Still no joy!

What if I drop a bag and lose a documented sample? The scientists back on Earth won't be happy with that. The time crunch and the pile of rocks on my arm keeps building... And building....and building. Time is up! We are not going to be able to take our secret photo. I put all our little rock sample bags back in the tool-carrier tote bag and get on my feet.

I carefully inspect the area for dropped sample bags. There are none. Pete and I get back on checklist and time line. It began as a great idea that became the fabulous photo we never took.

Ulli Lotzmann adds, "In January 2004, Mr. Eduard Klap - proud owner of Al's painting 'Our Little Secret' - visited us in Marburg. Eduard was a F-16 pilot in the Netherlands Air Force and now works for KLM as a pilot.

He told me that he had asked Al to put a cluster of 5 rocks to represent the Klap family. I have marked these 5 rocks in the detail below. They symbolize Eduard, his wife Marcelle, and their children Féline, Annelouk and Bastijn.