Thursday, May 18, 2006

696 Pardon Me While I ....

I'll be very busy, so don't worry if you don't hear from me until, say, Monday.

Unless it rains all weekend.

Then worry.

Because then I would be in a very very bad mood.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

695 Sonnet

Let me not to the marriage of true minds (Sonnet CXVI)
William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Monday, May 15, 2006

694 True Fact #1 - Holding Breath

Monday, May 14, 2006

(This entry and the previous two refer to an earlier entry where journalers were to report three "facts" about themselves, two true and one false.)

I was pregnant with Daughter in 1975, in St. Louis, Missouri. I was 30 years old. I'd had three prior miscarriages and one late term stillbirth, and when I got into the seventh month with this pregnancy and realized this one might really go all the way, I decided I wanted an absolutely natural birth. No meds. No "lines". No monitors. No strapping down. No artificially breaking the waters. No episiotomy. No nothing!

Lamaze was big on the coasts, but in the middle states, it hadn't caught on yet. We had the best obstetrical team in the county, but when they shrugged and patted me on the head and said, "Well, you can try if you want, but...", I went doctor shopping. One after another discouraged me. Most male doctors acted like it was THEIR baby, and they were going to "deliver" it, and if there was some way they could figure out how to do it without me there, they'd prefer that. I really think they frightened women to the point where the women tensed so much they needed the drugs, then they drugged them to "get rid of the women" during the birth.

I finally found Dr. M., an Indian woman (complete with sari) who, when I described what I wanted and asked if it was possible, shrugged and said "Of course. I had my own four that way."

I went to the Lamaze classes, but all that silly panting and hooting turned me off. I had learned self hypnosis during the year of the double tic doloreaux, and decided that was the way to go - to find a bright light as a focus point, and pour myself out of my body and into that point. I also learned and practiced relaxing every part of my body, every muscle except across the top of the stomach. I got very good at it. I also practiced hyperventilating and then holding my breath while totally relaxed and "out of body", and tightening and relaxing that one pushing muscle. Ex#2 timed me several times, and he says I often went 6 minutes without breathing.

When the time came, I didn't know I was in labor at first, because the contractions never settled into any rhythm. They were all over the place, a cluster, then nothing for a while, and I thought it was just cramps. From the time that they got insistent enough that I decided it must be labor and went to the hospital, until Daughter was born, was only two hours.

Everything went exactly as I had wanted. Dr. M. did a perineal massage, but other than that, nobody touched me. Daughter got a 10 Apgar, even though we later discovered that she had a hole in her heart, between the ventricles. (It closed on its own when she was 9 months old.)

During and between the two big delivery pushes, the doctor told me that I had held my breath for over five minutes, and both my heart rate and blood pressure (the only monitors allowed) had dropped during delivery. I credit the total relaxation and self hypnosis ... and that everyone kept their hands off me and let me do my job.

(That guy who recently tried to break the record for breath holding was under enormous stress while doing it. He was burning oxygen and making carbon dioxide at a high rate. I wasn't. Total relaxation makes all the difference.)

693 True Fact #3 - Manhunt

Monday, May 14, 2006

(Daughter - you already know this story. You can skip this.)

During high school, 1959-1962, I lived on an Air Force base (a SAGE base, for those who know) on top of a mountain in the middle of state game lands in the middle of nowhere. Nothing but forests and bears and vipers all around. My father was the base commander.

There was a strong fence around the base itself, like a prison fence, topped with razor wire. The family housing, baseball field, rifle range, and other support structures were outside that fence, and then there was another fence around the outer perimeter of the government property, sort of like a cattle fence. Just three strands of barbed wire.

Alerts were a frequent occurrence. Some were just exercises, but some were serious, when "something was going on" somewhere in the world. During an alert, airmen were stationed around the base and along both fences. Depending on the level of alert, they may or may not have had ammunition.

That summer was very tense. Some weirdo had tried to bust through the gate onto base, and the APs had shot out his tires to stop him. There had been several red alerts of two or three days duration, and then one day two men who claimed to be officers from Wright-Patterson had tried to get on base (to get the equipment for the sailboat the AF kept on a nearby lake), but their paperwork was suspicious. The APs at the gate detained them, searched their car, and found explosives in the trunk.

My father interrogated them, and finally found that they had their real ids taped to their stomachs. They were from headquarters and were going to plant bombs around the base near the radar towers, and then call and say "Go look at the north wall of the height-finder tower...". It was a test, and the base passed. It was the year before the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the international situation was already tense.

Shortly after that incident, another red alert was called. The men were deployed, and fully armed. This one was unusual in several ways. For one thing, it went on for something like two weeks. During other alerts, civilian family members had been allowed to drive in and out through the outer gate. The school bus, for example, was not allowed in, but we kids had been allowed to walk out to meet the bus on the highway. This time, not only was absolutely no one allowed on or off the base, but we in the family compound were told not to leave our houses.

After a week or so in a tiny house with four younger squabbling siblings, I was going crazy. I decided to go for a walk in the woods. I knew a spot in the swampy area below the houses where there were no guards on the outer fence. Nobody wanted to stand there (it was full of snakes - including rattlers and copperheads), so the guys assigned there tended to shift left and right, leaving an unguarded space. My German Shepherd, Sparky, and I could get through undetected. We'd walk in the woods around the base, and then come back through the same spot we went out.

We did just that.

The woods were old growth. There was very little undergrowth once you got past the edge of the cleared government property, so it was easy walking. I let Sparky off the leash, and he scouted ahead and around me, 300' or so out from me, but he always kept coming back to check on me. The day was still, and the woods were silent. We walked on a carpet of hundreds of years of fallen leaves and pine needles.

We had been out about 2 hours, and were about 3/4 the way around the base, when Sparky, who was walking next to me as we climbed a hill, suddenly stiffened and growled. I looked up to see what bothered him, and --- it was like a scene in a movie. Silhouetted against the sky, at the top of the hill, were men with guns, pointed at me. In the center was a lieutenant, standing with his legs spread, and his hands on his hips. He said, "Who the Hell are you?!"

They surrounded me. Sparky growled, he wasn't going to let anyone get near me. One of the airmen suggested shooting Sparky if he attacked, but another said, "Uh, I think that's [the commander]'s daughter. Don't shoot his dog." The lieutenant mulled that over, and said, "I don't care who she might be. We do this by the book."

They made me tie Sparky's leash around his muzzle and then hold him by the collar as they marched me back to the base. There were three or four guys on either side of me, and they kept the guns pointed at me.

What I didn't know until later was that sentries had seen had seen Sparky as he ranged close to the edge of the woods, and had thought they had seen glimpses of human movement. They had been shouting "Halt, who goes there" and all that happy hoopla, and getting no response. Reports had been coming in from sentries all along the perimeter of "man or men in the woods", and "police dog or dogs in the woods". The idea of dogs for some reason scared them more than human attackers. At least ten sentries reported activity of some kind, around the entire perimeter. Most reported having seen "police dogs" (plural). As the reports went back and forth, more men thought they saw and heard more activity.

Suddenly it sounded like the base was under attack by an army of men and dogs. Headquarters denied any knowledge of any such exercise. Patrols were sent out to locate and ... whatever. All I know is that they were fully armed and fully scared, and had been told to shoot anyone who didn't cooperate. This was serious. These were guys whose entire military careers had been spent greasing motor pool vehicles or tending SAGE computers, and it was freak-out time. The Russians were coming!

The lieutenant radioed in that he had captured the intruder, and that it appeared to be the commander's daughter and dog.

I wasn't scared at all until we broke out of the woods at the far end of the athletic field, and I could see my father's car tearing down the road toward the baseball field. Then I got scared. He was going to kill me. Literally. I had embarrassed him big time in front of all his men, and possibly jeopardized his career. He could quite possibly beat me to death for this.

When the call from the lieutenant came in, my father had freaked. When he left his office, one of the other men called our house to warn my mother. Another officer's wife, Mrs M., happened to be there, and Mrs M. ran up the road to intercept my father. She flagged him down, and said, "Oh, What a terrific idea you had! Wonderful! What a great way to make sure the men stayed on their toes! I'll bet nobody will be sleeping on duty tonight! How did you ever think of this?"

She saved my life.

When my father met up with us, he said "Good work" to the men, and "Good job. Go home now" to me (Huh? Good job?). He never said anything else to me about it. But the next day I was in the Provost Marshall's office pointing out on maps where the open spaces were, where it was easy to get in and out. I told them I'd never heard anyone yell Halt or any other challenge. And I noted that the way they had marched me through the woods, in two lines on either side of me, if it had been necessary to shoot me, they'd have shot each other, too.

After the alert was finally over, there were groups of men at either end of the main road practicing shouting "Halt, who goes there" at each other at the top of their lungs. The guys assigned to the swamp were issued snake leggings. And everybody got a lesson in how to safely escort a prisoner.

692 True, False, True

Monday, May 14, 2006

See entry #685, wherein you were given three facts about me, two true and one false, and then were to detect the false claim. Here's the answers.

Fact 1:
I once held my breath for over five minutes.

It's true. I really did. Story to follow pretty soon.
(Later Update: The story is at "694 True Fact #1 - Holding Breath". )

Four people figured #1 is the lie.

Fact 2: When I was in college, I sold my hair to buy winter clothing every fall.

This is the lie. Readers of this journal may be aware that I had very little clothing in college - I went one Pennsylvania winter without a coat, just a rubberized poncho and a sweater. It is also true that my hair grew quickly then, about 1.5 inches a month (it grows about an inch a month now - I can tell by the dark roots). But my hair was very dry, and had not only split ends, but splits in the middle of the shaft. Nobody would buy it. However, as proof that it was possible, I had a friend in the dorm who really did do it. She started college with hair down to her tailbone, and sold a bit over a foot every fall to buy textbooks. This was the early 60s, wigs were fashionable, and they paid top dollar for real hair.

Seven people decided #2 was the lie, which surprised me. I thought it would easily be the most, not least, believable.

Fact 3: I was the subject of a military manhunt, orders to shoot on sight.

It's true. And when the patrol didn't kill me, I thought my father would. Details will follow, pretty soon.
(Later Update: The story is at "693 True Fact #3 - Manhunt".)

Six people thought #3 was the lie.

So, as a group, you pegged me! Which is a surprise. I really thought y'all would buy my hair, even if no one else would....

Sunday, May 14, 2006

691 Can't See the Links?

A few posts back I added links to many of the blogs and journals I read. It appears that if you are looking at an individual entry (like this one, for instance) you won't see the list of links on the right. Very odd. I don't know how to change that. To see the list, you have to be looking at the "main page" - that's the one you get if you click the page title up there at the top.

690 Flattering? Only a little it is.

You are Yoda
Obi-Wan Kenobi
Princess Leia
Qui-Gon Jinn
Luke Skywalker
An Ewok
Han Solo
Boba Fett
Wise and all knowing you are…yes.
Tall, dark, and handsome?
Not so much I'd say.
(This list displays the top 10 results out of a possible 21 characters.)
Click here to take the "Which Star Wars character are you?" quiz...

689 Mothers' Day Offering

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I lifted this from Linda's World. This was the second entry in her journal, Mothers' Day 2005.

"Mom's Special Brownies"

Remove teddy bear from oven and preheat oven to 375.
Melt 1 cup margarine in saucepan.
Remove teddy bear from oven and tell Jr., "No, no."
Add margarine to 2 cups sugar.
Take shortening can away from Jr. and clean cupboards.
Measure 1/3 cup cocoa.
Take shortening can away from Jr. again and bathe cat.
Apply antiseptic and bandages to scratches sustained while removing shortening from cat's tail.
Assemble 4 eggs, 2 tsp. vanilla, and 1-1/2 cups sifted flour.

Take smoldering teddy bear from oven and open all doors and windows for ventilation.

Take telephone away from Billy and assure party on the line the call was a mistake. Call operator and attempt to have direct dialed call removed from bill.

Measure 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 cup nuts and beat all ingredients well.
Let cat out of refrigerator.
Pour mixture into well-greased 9x13-inch pan.
Bake 25 minutes.
Rescue cat and take razor away from Billy.
Explain to kids that you have no idea if shaved cats will sunburn. Throw cat outside while there's still time and he's still able to run away.

FROSTING Mix the following in saucepan:
1 cup sugar
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup margarine Take the darn teddy bear out of the broiler and throw it away -- far away.

Answer the door and meekly explain to nice policeman that you didn't know Jr. had slipped out of the house and was heading for the street.
Put Jr. in playpen.

Add 1/3 cup milk, dash of salt, and boil, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.

Answer door and apologize to neighbor for Billy having stuck a garden hose in man's front door mail slot. Promise to pay for ruined carpet.

Tie Billy to clothesline.

Remove burned brownies from oven.

Collapse and call the baker for delivery.

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