“Picture” This

Do you dream often? Do you remember your dreams?

I dream all the time. I used to remember my convoluted dreams in detail and relate them to the long-suffering Husband, who would shake his head. (He almost never remembers his dreams at all, even when I wake him from  nightmares.)

However, in the last decade or so, most of my dreams just lift in the mornings like fog.

I won’t even go into daydreaming, which I do a lot of. I can’t fathom how people go through life without imagination, but then, it amazes me that people can’t or worse, would not want to, write, but again, I digress.

I have had a few actual dreams that have been, if not life-changing, certainly have been lifelong.

Seriously, I remember two distinct dreams that I had when I was four. I am not going to go into them. One was simple and involved Elvis, which certainly had to be from my sister’s influence. I am still working on the other one, since that one truly made a major impact in my life.

I had another type of dream, a recurring one most of my early life where I was hiding out and deathly afraid to be found. I never saw those from whom I was hiding, and for many years, I never heard voices. Hiding and being caught is a fear of mine; I absolutely hated to play hide-and-go-seek. I’d end up purposely being caught rather than endure the torture of waiting in fear.

These dreams didn’t happen very often; they were short, but they were intense. Finally, in one I experienced as an adult after they started coming a bit closer together, I heard the people from whom I was hiding speaking a foreign language. When I woke up, I was totally confused. I knew people from that country, some good, some bad, (as happens with people from any people), but I had no fear of them, and this took me completely by surprise.

I was confused, but happy. I now had a handle on it, and immediately knew what to do:
I exposed myself to that language.
I never actually learned the language, but I did some studying. I knew, I just knew that knowledge would be power, and I believed that I would not have those dreams again, or would not be afraid in one if one came to me.

I was right on the first count; I never had a hiding-out dream again.

I could go on. I know that I have had some very funny ones, (which escape me at the moment), but I want to tell you  a story of two dreams, which were somewhat related.

A very close friend of mine died about a dozen years or more ago. We only corresponded, first through a group, then email, but we were in contact every day, several times a day, often with running conversations.

 I can only imagine what we would have done with messaging!

We saw each other through person problems, family illnesses and deaths. We sent gifts and we had a lot of fun together. We could never get together in person, but we could not have been closer if we lived next door to each other.

She helped me through my illnesses, and I was as with her as much as possible through hers, even the one which took her life, but I did it from here in Kentucky, to her in Iowa.

A short time after she died, I had an extremely vivid dream of her. She had been unable to travel to see me, so in the dream, The Husband and I went to see her. She insisted on taking photographs, lots of photographs. Oddly, she was using an old-fashioned portrait camera, hood and all:

She spoke of my other family members, whom she knew well through me, as I had grown to know hers. It wasn’t a very long dream, but it stayed with me. Despite my getting on with my crazy life, it kept popping into my mind. Except for the camera, it felt so real, and the memory of it kept stopping me in my tracks.

After a number of days, another memory hit me, and nearly took the breath from me.

I remembered my mother telling me of a dream that she had. Since my mother had been gone for at least five years at this time and her dream happened years before that, I was stunned.

Mom had told me that she was rather overwhelmed by a very real dream of my sister’s late mother-in-law. The woman died young, (in her 40s), and had been gone for probably 20 years at that point.

My mother said that she seemed to be in her home where my sister and her daughters were visiting, and in walked my sister’s late mother-in-law.
The two women had a very cordial relationship, even though their children’s marriage was a rocky one. The other woman had died when their mutual granddaughters were very young, but now they were grown, and the oldest had a young son.

Mom said that Betty was so real, and although she was a bit surprised at first, she said to Betty, “Oh, did you come to see the baby?” The boy was no longer exactly a baby, but  Betty never spoke, she just smiled. No one else seemed to know that she had arrived, yet she mingled among them

with a small camera, taking photographs.

I was overwhelmed myself when this came to mind.

I believe that there is a spiritual realm, maybe more than one realm. 
Can people visit from beyond? Can they ‘pass thorough’, as it were?

Most cultures think so. I don’t know if it happens often or seldom, or if we are just not aware when they come through. Those with near-death experiences often tell the same type of stories about seeing their loved ones and passing up the possibility of contacting them so as not to disturb them, but perhaps a visit in a dream can be handled by many, and our loved ones make use of them.

I have not researched whether the image of taking photos is a common theme with those who believe such visits are possible, but I did write a free-form poem about Betty’s ‘visit’.

I have had dreams of others who have gone before, and at least one other was very ‘real’ to me, though  these are two very real ones with the picture-taking in common.

Have you ever had dreams of visits of those who passed? Have you ever dreamed of  them taking photographs?

Posted in blessings, characters, Daily life, descriptions, experiences, Faith-centered stories, Family, friends, Friendship, imagination, inspirational people, Life, memories, poetry, Tonette Joyce, using talents | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

All I Have To Do is Dream

[and then spend 30 minutes typing up what I can remember]

By Jeff Salter

I borrowed my blog title from the lovely hit song by the Everly Brothers [see link at the bottom].

We’re chatting about dreams this week, with the topic: “Do you dream often? Do you remember your dreams?

Short answer: Yes, I dream often… and yes, I remember many of them. Furthermore, I’ve recalled enough detail (from hundreds of dreams) to type up a page or two of that content for each dream.

You may be wondering why I’d bother to “document” those dreams I’ve been able to remember. One major reason is because I’ve used many dream images in my poetry or fiction, going back at least as far as 1969. But there are many other factors.

Here’s just one example of a dream – from the middle 1980s, as I recall – that really piqued my interest in further study of what goes on inside my noggin (at night). Several decades ago, I had a dream which featured some interaction with a library colleague who worked in a university setting on the opposite side of the state. A few days later, while speaking with someone from our State Library, I was informed that this gentleman had died… and his death had occurred a day or two after my dream which featured him. Now I’m not saying I “foresaw” this man’s death. But I do find it odd for someone I’d worked with on a library committee to appear in my dream (for the very first time)… and then die a day or two later! I’ve also had numerous dreams in which beloved, deceased relatives of mine have appeared.

Those examples are merely to partly explain why I became interested enough to take the time to type up accounts of the dreams I could remember.

From an article cited below:

Dreams are not under the conscious control of the sleeper but they can feel lifelike, even if the events are impossible. During sleep, the brain creates a conscious-like experience by itself, with dreams often containing experiences, people, or subjects from waking life.

Prior to the covid years (2020-2021), the years with the largest number of remembered dreams (that I “recorded”) were 1993 [after I’d finally been able to get some REM sleep again after a couple of years of Fibromyalgia-caused sleeplessness] and 2007 [the first full year of my post-library retirement.]

But those numbers paled in comparison with how many dreams I remembered during covid. And realizing the significantly larger number of covid era dreams, I decided to tally up some numbers, presented here:

Analysis of (digitally) recorded dreams – 1990-2021

Analyzing the quantity of dreams that I’ve remembered enough to record (type) in digital format.

Taking just the period which would include all / most of the ones I’ve digitally typed (as opposed to hand-written or manually typed) — 1990-2021, here is what I found:

667 recorded dreams in the 31 years from 1990-2021 [ave of 21.5 / yr]

449 recorded dreams in the 16 years from 2006-2021 [Somerset years] — ave of 28.1 / yr

218 in the 15 years from 1990-2005 [final Shreveport years] — ave of 14.5 / yr

2 highest years (prior to covid period):
1993 w 72 drms 
2007 w 47 drms

2 covid years (2020 & 2021):
2020 w 94 drms
2021 w 72 drms
total of 166 dreams for those two years [ave of 83 / yr]

[Not only have the two covid years produced significantly more dreams numerically, but they’ve included some real dillies.]

I honestly have no idea how many of my dream accounts are hand-written, but I know I have at least one or two from 2021 (not included in this total) and others from 2020 (not included).

Plus, prior to 1990, before I was actively saving docs in digital format, I have dozens or scores that may be typed (on paper) – or still hand-written – but not included in this count.

Summary

Although many of my remembered dreams are quite unspectacular, I’ve had several which feature unique and vivid imagery – or even PLOTS – which I have used or may one day use in my AWAKE writing. So I plan to keep documenting as many as I can remember… and that I can find the time to write down before I forget them.

Rather general article I consulted about dreams:

Everly Brothers’ song

[JLS # 590]

Posted in author's life, Jeff Salter, writing | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Dreams.

“Do you dream often? Do you remember your dreams?”

Actually, I think I do dream pretty often, but usually when I wake up I can’t remember them. I dreamed more when I was still working. I remembered the dreams better too. In most of them I had done something that could negatively affect my students. In one that I remember I was late to school, and everyone was running around trying to find me. I imagine this was just a reaction to stress. I really wanted to do my best for my students so I was my own worst critic.

I have had a recurring dream throughout the years. For a long time I imagined myself walking into a two story home with no lights on. It was night, and I pushed the door open and went on in. Thin, sheer curtains were blowing on the landing because a window was open. Behind me a couple of doberman dogs passed me and ran up the stairs. I tried a door on the first floor and entered a laboratory. And there the dream ends. Nothing scary happens, and I never know what was in the lab or where the dogs went. Oh well. I haven’t dreamed it in years now.

I do remember one dream I had not too long ago that scared me silly. I still don’t like to think about it. In the dream I had taken a shower, turned off the bathroom light and walked into my bedroom. All the lights were on even though my husband had already gone to bed.Then I saw a young child standing at the foot of the bed. He looked at me with a malignant expression that chilled me. So I decided to throw him down the stairs. The dream ended with the two of us struggling. I can’t forget it because of the child’s expression. My heart was pounding when I woke up. And just for the record, I don’t usually throw children down the stairs.

Like our Monday Fox, I’ve always spent a lot of time daydreaming, and many of my stories came straight from those daydreams. My son who is an excellent writer told me recently that he daydreams often. I don’t care if I never have another dream while sleeping, but I’d sure hate to lose my daydreams.

What about you? Do you have a dream that you remember because it was so awful or so wonderful? Do you daydream often?

Posted in Miscellaneous | 6 Comments

Sweet Dreams

Image from Depositphotos.com

Our Wednesday Fox asked, “Do you dream often? Do you remember your dreams?”

I honestly don’t know if I dream or not. When I wake up in the morning, I have absolutely no clue about what may have gone through my mind during the night. I do have memories from my high school and college days of waking up in a panic, having the sensation of falling and thinking I would be landing in a heap somewhere. But I never had any idea about where I was falling from, although I’ve read that dreams about falling could be related to stress (Pietrangelo, Ann. “What Do Dreams About Falling Mean?” Healthline, 12 Oct. 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/dreams-about-falling).

Now, daydreams are another matter. I can tell you all sorts of stories about those, but I’ll limit myself to three. 

I remember a time in grade school when I needed a new winter coat. My parents took me to a department store, and I tried on several. There was one that made me feel elegant, like the well-dressed women in the movies that we watched on our little black and white TV. I buttoned up the coat and stood in front of the triple mirror, twirling this way and that, loving the way the coat made me look and feel like a grown-up. The fantasy ended when my dad said, “Okay, Miss Movie Star. Is that the coat you want?”

My daughters were quite active in school (I guess I sort of encouraged that). Two of them belonged to the marching band, and I kept busy with other parent volunteers, sewing color guard costumes and flags. One day I was sewing costumes in the high school cafeteria and decided to buy something to drink. I went to the vending machine and put some money in. As I listened to the coins fall and watched the mechanisms move to deliver my drink selection, my mind inexplicably conjured a vision of a tiny person inside the machine, running up and down and all around, collecting the money and releasing the correct bottle. Weird, I know. But for some reason, that thought kept me entertained long enough that my daughter tapped me on the shoulder and said, “My friends told me you’ve been standing here for a long time and I’d better check to make sure you’re okay.”

A few years later, when my youngest daughter was in high school, her choir traveled to Washington, DC to sing at the National Cathedral and Mount Vernon and to take part in the celebration of the new WWII memorial. The four-day trip included several tours, and one particular tour guide lost my interest with his rambling narrative that didn’t seem relevant to what he was showing us. I wandered off to the back of the crowd and happened to spot several ants crawling up and down a tree. The tour guide’s nasal twang faded away as I watched one industrious ant crawl along the ridges in the bark going steadily upward. How high would he go? What was he after? Silently, I cheered him on, until my daughter appeared behind me. “Mom, stop staring at that tree. Everyone thinks you’re nuts.”

Yeah, my daydreams usually ended with someone else telling me how strange I was acting. Nowadays I daydream in front of my laptop, and nobody minds. And if I write fast enough, I’ll remember what I dreamed up.

Posted in author's life, creativity, experiences, imagination, memories, Patricia Kiyono, The Author Life, writing from experiences, youth | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

REVIEW: “They Called Us Enemy”

We have a rule not to be overtly political here at Four Foxes, One Hound and I agree with. None of us are ever in possession of all of the facts and there are many facets to many problems which we face individually or collectively,

and we must not fight among ourselves; we are all in this world together.

We must, however, strive to alleviate whatever problems we truly can that are around us, or at the very least, not cause anyone else any harm.

I am under-the-weather but wanted to make a post about what should in no way be a controversial book, however, someone may make something of it anyway.

The Husband came in last week after stopping at the library on his way back from the doctor,(he should have not been on his bad ankle), and he came in with only one book, one borrowed book,oddly, a graphic novel:

George Takei’s “They Called Us Enemy”.

I am probably not the Fox who should be talking about the Japanese-American experience, but I sat and read this all the way through in one sitting.

I had not read a book in one sitting in some years.

I knew the terrible way in which the people were treated. In fact, when I lived in Colorado, it was realized that although each state was allowed two statues of their prominent citizens to be placed in the U.S. Capitol building, Colorado had only added one. It was time to decide on another.

Of those in the running, my vote was cast for Governor Ralph Lawrence Carr, who refused to inter his citizens of Japanese descent. The bravery of the man, to stand against the country, (and even the president), when others stepped on their lives as rungs to climb the political ladder, is astounding.

I even lived on “Carr Loop”.

From George’s childhood point of view, things were not good, but his parents made it all tolerable. Looking from his parents’ generation’s POV, well, God bless every one of them; they more than paid their dues,

and as in George’s father’s case, allowed themselves to understand and to forgive, accepting the good that was done by the same who did them injustices.

I met a woman last year whose parents were of German descent. They, too, were interred in a combination Japanese/German camp in Texas, removed from their homes in New England and the Upper Midwest. The fathers and grandfathers were separated from their families and treated as traitors, spies and potential saboteurs as well. She did not know all that her grandfathers and great-grandfather went through, but out of it came  her grandparent’s life-long friendship and her own parents’ love story, (which to be only came after they left the camp and saw each other for the second time years after the war ended; it’s a sweet story.)

During the Watergate hearings, Senator Daniel Inouye was called a racial slur by one lawyer. The senator had been a decorated WWII veteran who had lost his arm in battle. I remember feeling so terrible listening to him tell his story afterward in an interview of how he came back to the States, in uniform, empty sleeved, but still was refused a haircut by a Caucasian barber.

All of what I had found out only within the last ten years or so ago of how so many men of African descent were truly railroaded for decades into prisons to be used as actual slave labor in roadwork, construction, and factories by cronies of the politically placed and corrupt judges, came flooding back to me while reading this.

The treatment of those seeking work coming across the U.S. borders is another scandal, one which is covered up, one in which the richest of our country are involved, and why I refuse to participate or even acknowledge the Kentucky Derby or any of Churchill Downs and the like.
When will it end?

George Takei’s book is gently written, but hard-hitting for those who truly see what the people went through.

It should, could be, read by everyone,

and it be taught in every school.

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Fun Mystery

But Bubba Has Hamlet’s Flaws of Irresolution & Inaction

By Jeff Salter

My review of Bubba And the Dead Woman by C.L. Bevill

Blurb:

Bubba Snoddy is a good old country boy with a big problem. Although he’s personable, handsome, and lives in a historical Southern mansion in a small Texas town, he has just discovered the dead body of a woman to whom he was once engaged to marry. His ex-fiancée was responsible for Bubba being thrown out of the military which in turn caused his shameful return to the tiny town of Pegramville, where everyone is a consummate gossip and no one has any secrets. Sheriff John Headrick believes Bubba killed his ex-fiancée in a fit of vengeful rage. The townsfolk believe that Bubba killed his ex-fiancée in a fit of vengeful rage. Bubba’s own mother believes that Bubba killed his ex-fiancée in a fit of vengeful rage. To top it all off, there are some mighty strange goings-on at the Snoddy Mansion, where ghosts walk the halls rattling chains in the midnight hour, and Bubba’s own sainted mother, Miz Demetrice, runs an illegal gambling ring. Rumors run merrily rampant about Bubba, decadent Snoddy ancestors, missing Civil War gold, a to-die-for sheriff’s deputy with the greenest eyes Bubba’s ever seen, and a Basset Hound named Precious who likes to nip first and ask questions later. Bubba has to find out exactly who did murder his ex-fiancée and quickly before he goes to jail for the crime, or before someone murders him.
Book one in the Bubba series.

REVIEW

It’s no surprise that Bubba encounters a dead woman – we got that from the title – but we do learn (quickly) that the deceased is his ex- fiancée, whom he had not seen in three years. So what was she doing in this small East Texas town of Pegramville? And how come everything fell into place that Bubba is alone at his job (during the wee hours) and has no alibi for the time of death?

Along the way we’re introduced to Bubba’s momma — the feisty, unpredictable, eccentric Miz Demetrice… who organizes (among other activities) an illegal “floating” poker game. [It’s a poorly kept secret since everybody knows about it.]

We also meet the lovely waitress, Lurlene, who has certainly captured Bubba’s romantic interest since they’ve had three or four (presumably platonic) dates.

In Pegramville, everybody knows everybody else’s business… personal and otherwise. And since most of these local families go “way back”, everybody knows the histories (and sins) of those families’ ancestors. Everybody also knows the chronic misbehaviors of their fellow citizens… whether those are truly unlawful activities or merely immoral proclivities.

While incredibly lax about any other law enforcement – including that floating gambling bunch – the sheriff and deputy seem awfully intent on fixing Bubba into the frame for this murder. Bubba does precious little to advance his own version of events – refusing to offer any defense against old and new accusations – and likewise withholding info and theories which should be helpful to the sheriff’s investigation.

As is the case in nearly every other good murder mystery, one of the likely suspects turns up dead. Of course, Bubba is the obvious culprit for this second murder… and of course he has little or no alibi. And of course, he hardly protests his own innocence — he just lumbers back to jail.

And that’s my main beef with this story. The plot is clever enough, but the pacing is erratic. Every high-schooler who passed English class likely knows that Hamlet (the Danish Prince) suffered from the inability to DO anything to improve his own lot — well, except he did kill the new King. Anyway, likewise, Bubba does little but react – to intruders, new developments, new accusations, etc. – until the author is finally ready (in the final chapters) to turn him loose. Only then does Bubba to take any significant action on his own behalf.

During his several visits to the sheriff’s office, Bubba finally meets the new deputy – transferred from a larger city – Willodean Gray. And now his romantic attention is divided!

There are several amusing “turns of phrase” (from various characters) and colorful metaphoric descriptions. There’s also a funny running gag in which Miz Demetrice makes references to having murdered her wayward husband (though she DIDN’T). Each time she phrases it, the means of death changes… and it’s a hoot. Especially because of the non-reactions of the characters around her. You can tell that while her straying hubby was still alive, Demetrice most likely DID daydream about a hundred different ways to do him in… and from those larcenous daydreams, she blurts out the one that surfaces first. [If this were ever made into a movie, I could see aging actresses killing each other for the opportunity to play the role of Demetrice!]

There’s at least one sequel in the Bubba series, but I really didn’t become attached enough to Bubba – or the others – to care enough what happens later. I’m sure he will stumble / lumber through it…reacting, rather than acting. And presumably he’ll grow closer to the lovely deputy Willodean.

[JLS # 589]

Posted in Miscellaneous | 8 Comments

Book Review: Ghost Boat

Blurb:

“All hands to battle stations.” The words still haunt Jack Hardy, even after thirty years. As a young Navy lieutenant, he watched as his submarine, the U.S.S. Candlefish mysteriously vanished in the Pacific amidst an attack by an unseen enemy.

Now, the Candlefish has emerged out of its own shadows, fully intact and in perfect working order, miles from Pearl Harbor. Only a return to the scene of the original incident can answer the question of what strange forces stole the lives of his crew. As Hardy leads a new team toward Latitude 30 North–a place known as the Devil’s Triangle–he realizes he must solve a riddle from the past or finally meet his fate.

As they near their destination, the ghostboat begins to reveal its secrets…and all may be headed toward a watery grave.

My Review:

Ghost Boat is an old book. It was first published in 1976. I didn’t know it, and I’ve never seen it, but I found out that the British made a movie or a TV series based on the book. I bought the book years ago, because whether I believe in it or not, the Bermuda Triangle is interesting to me. It’s fun to spectulate where all those missing boats and planes went.

I don’t especially like the book blurb. Yes, it’s accurate, but it makes it sound as if Jack Hardy was on fire to return to the Candlefish, but he wasn’t. Ed Frank, who was given the task of explaining how a World War II submarine came back looking pristine after thirty years, is the man who pushed Hardy to get involved in the project.

The book was exciting, ramping up the suspense in small, almost unnoticed bites that add up and create a whole new atmosphere in the sub. The characters are pretty well done, and I did like the plot. The ending could go only one of two ways, and I correctly guessed which way it would go. The book ends up being a combination of science fiction, time travel, and the supernatural, a combination that went well together.

Does this book sound like your cup of tea?

Posted in Miscellaneous | 6 Comments

Guest Author: Britney M. Mills and the Love, Austen Series

 By day, Britney M. Mills is the wife to a builder and mom to five, but by night, she turns into an author, writing YA & contemporary romance stories. 

A book lover, former college athlete, and Jane Austen fan, she crafts stories with the idea that anyone can find love. When she’s not writing, she spends time playing games with her kids, or shuttling them to and from their activities, watching Sanditon and Murdock Mysteries, or dreaming of future characters while she folds a mountain of laundry.

After I participated in an online event featuring sweet romances, I invited authors to share their books here, and Britney’s PA contacted me. Her books intrigued me, so I scheduled Britney’s newest series for this month and asked her to tell us a bit more about herself and her writing than her bio reveals. Here she is!

****

I’ve always loved to write. In fourth grade I tucked myself in the corner behind my mother’s brown flower couch and wrote a whole story about knights, princesses, and dragons.

I wrote here and there growing up but I started writing more seriously after having my oldest son. After several years of trying to make a blog work out, I figured I might as well write. It was a lot cheaper than heading to the craft store every other day, and I didn’t need the perfect light to get the right pictures.

My first big project was a fantasy my husband and I came up with, but after several revisions, I switched to writing romance. I had an idea for a contemporary take on Jane Austen’s novels. So Love, Austen, the retelling of Emma, released on my birthday in 2018. I’ve written in a lot of genres and a few series that still need to be finished, but I love seeing the progress of growth through each book.

Matched with Her Runaway Groom is the first book in a Love, Austen spin-off series. I’d spent six books building up the fact that the matchmaking company was creating an app and figured I might as well use it to my advantage now.

I love to travel, which is usually present in my books. This series is all based in Boston, which is where I went to college. That city holds some great memories for me and it’s where I did a lot of growing up. Now I get the chance to help my characters do some stretching while also finding the person they love.

Writing romantic comedy is like coming home in a way. I’m the klutzy girl and crazy things happen to me all the time. So some of the elements aren’t far off in my books.

Someday I hope to be able to write books all day, but for now, I’m the walking calendar for my husband and five kids. We love to explore and hike, taking vacations we can mentally survive driving to. I have heart eyes every time I see homemade chocolate chip cookies. And someday I want to see Garth Brooks in concert.

Thanks for having me and take a moment to check out my books! https://amazon.com/author/britneymmills

You can also subscribe to my newsletter here: https://view.flodesk.com/pages/604fdd4dfb7a531f23b9eb11

Blurb for Matched With Her Runaway Groom (Book One in the Love, Austen series): 

Rachelle Stewart has spent the last year working through her Breakup Bucket list, something her roommates helped her create to get over her ex-fiancé, Landon Higgins. The cruise she won is going to be the crowning achievement of her list, but she can’t seem to get rid of Landon when he shows up as a passenger. Luck is on Landon’s side when he finds out he’ll get uninterrupted time with his ex-fiance. He ruined things a year ago and getting her back is a long shot. But seeing the changes in her gives him the sliver of hope that they might forgive and forget.

Coming Soon: Matched With Her Fake Fiance (Book Two)

Britney can be found on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Goodreads, and YouTube.

Posted in authors, Clean Writing, Family, Guest author, Guest author post, Patricia Kiyono, series, writers, writing from experiences, YA | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Stronger Than Dirt

“What are some challenges you’ve encountered that you were unsure you could handle but then surprised yourself?”

Where do I start???

It seems that every time I have thought, “I don’t know how that person did that/does that, I could never handle it”, God says,

“Oh, yeah?”

Then He drops it right into my lap and I know that He is saying, “WE will handle it.”

Pray like it all depends on God and work like it all depends on you.

That pretty much sums up my life.

From being a Scout leader,teaching a class, to breaking up actual adult fights,(one at a child’s funeral), to staying behind to sell a house while The Husband moved out of state for a job, personal and professional betrayal, calumny, living away from family, living away from a city, moving away from friends, to financial problems, handling car accidents, (mine and those of others),to chronic health diagnoses, another chronic health diagnosis, then another, handling traumatic health problems, (mine, and those of others), to surgeries, procedures, pain, (chronic and acute), without ‘real’ pain meds, to son in war, son in dangerous fire situations, sons hurt in some way, suffering in some way, difficult in-laws, more difficult in-laws, emotional problems of family, people who have used me a  ‘whipping boy’, those who have done everything they could to try to shock me, deaths in the family, witnessing death of a loved one, problems that are beyond the scope of imagination, either directly to me or to family members, all of which I have had to deal with.

I have been through the wringer,

and as you know, there is never an end to ‘laundry’.

The problems with my parents, my generation, my children and now grandchildren, my own personal problems, and the world situation in general, I have to find ways to cope,

and I do.

When you don’t feel like you have a choice, you need to just do what needs to be done.

I owe many apologies to family members and others whom I once I saw as weak because they did not refuse to do certain things, or they put up with misdeeds and poor behaviors from others. I know now that they were taking the big picture into account and handled things as they saw fit, and they were mollifying the others to protect those who would suffer from the fallout of confrontations. They chose to disregard their own needs and pride, and were actually stronger than I realized by doing so. I have found out that a person can face anything if there are others, (or just someone), depending on them, relying on them, who will be harmed if  the person doesn’t do whatever needs to be done,

and that a  person can face any pain, (emotional or physical), if they have no way to alleviate it.

ANY pain.
I have zero tolerance for the common comments made to me such as, “Oh, you are such a strong person, but I am weak. I don’t have that in me.” It’s rather a type of  ‘Blame the victim’:
“Oh, so, I deserve this because I am strong?” or “The person/people around me is going through this because I am strong?”

In case no one has noticed, I am not really strong.

I am terribly weak. I am afraid, I am a wimp. I have to fight those inclinations every day,
and I sometimes, even often, I lose.

I just have to go on. I expect a mental head-smack when I pass from this life that I did not see the whys of what I have gone through, but I get through them.
I have often had no choice. Let the chips fall for family members who need my help? I could never live with myself if I did not try to help where I could.
No matter which generation, these people were put into my life for a purpose, and I have seen things that I could do to help, I do. I have not always done them right, but I tried…most of the time. I have wimped-out a few times, or not done my best job, but that hasn’t happened often.

I was actually in a discussion recently where people were afraid of not receiving medications because of the problems in the world right now, since most components of meds or the meds themselves come mostly out of China and India. It is a concern, (may God help the entire world), but pain medications came into the discussion, and a couple of people were extremely fearful. I told them not to panic, and that all though history, people have had to endure pain, and that they could. I hoped that they did not have to, but anyone can endure most pain if they need to, and I went into my own pain-med allergies.

They said to me, “Some people have no choice.” (No choice but to use opioids, etc.)

I replied, “Do you not understand that I am the one who has no choice?”

Have you ever wondered how people survived the pain, anxiety, and mental torment of a prison camp? I used to, but I learned how; not to the fullest extent of course, but I do know.

Courage is not the lack of fear, it is the knowledge that something else is more important than your fear.

It’s usually someone, not something, but it holds true.

 Someone, or some people, are more important than my fear.

I’d like to be more frank, but it involves the lives, secrets, or the overcome pasts of others and it would not be fair to them.

One of my doctors told me that just one of my surgical procedures would have put many of his patients into a tailspin, but I was hanging in there.
Falling apart would only make things harder, and ‘harder’ is something that I do not need in my life.

I read that any of the problems listed below are earthshaking to most people and it is enough to cause irreparable damage to their mental health:
Loss of health/life altering diagnosis
Loss of a business
Loss of a job
Bankruptcy
Death of a loved one
Family trauma
Child in trouble

I had all of those within a few months. A couple of years later, things got even harder.

But I never would have guessed that after a bit of failure I would have works published, I would be writing a great deal, (let alone write a romance novel!), that I would be contributing to two blogs?  Never would I have thought that (previously) I would have had my own business, and would have been ready to go on with it, but, again, God had other plans, and I needed to be free for others.

Others.

It’s always for others,

and that is how I always manage to surprise myself.


 [Ma1]

Posted in advice, big plans, childhood, Daily life, Dealing with stress, decisions, experiences, Family, friends, guests, inspiration, Life, lifestyles, shyness, teaching, Tonette Joyce | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Coping With Challenges

A Remote Tour of Duty Inside the Arctic Circle

By Jeff Salter

Topic: What are some challenges you’ve encountered that you were unsure you could handle, but then surprised yourself?

As I began making notes for this topic, I thought back over several major challenges which I might feature as my Hound Day blog post.

One was that series of 13 death threats I received [1989-93] in my capacity as a public library administrator. All of these were phoned — my young daughter intercepted one at our home, fellow employees intercepted a few when they picked up my office line. It’s pretty certain 11 of them were from one man – a hulking 230 lb. 6-foot-five deranged customer who couldn’t tolerate standard library rules. Once, in person, he told me: “this is a life or death situation for me… and it’s life or death for you, too.” He was also (at least once) waiting for me beneath a bridge (which was the route between my office and where I parked). The other two phone threats, one which was taped on my home message machine, came from two other people, not related to the irate lunatic.

Another major challenge was a four-year period of legalized persecution at the hands of an unscrupulous attorney whose zealous practice was making up preposterous allegations, putting those bogus ravings into legal documents, and then demanding that I disprove them. He’d taken on the cases of two employees who were dismissed after NUMEROUS chances to correct their work behavior… but they wouldn’t / didn’t. Since there no legitimate grounds (legal or otherwise) for challenging either dismissal, the sleazy creep turned his guns on me and the direct supervisor of both ex-employees — it was harassment, pure and simple, to generate a settlement from our insurance company. This lawyer had a widespread reputation for bizarre histrionics, such as when he got into a verbal argument, inside or just outside a courtroom, with a deputy (who was at least a foot taller and 50 pounds heavier) and proceed to punch the officer. [Lucky for this attorney that bystanders quickly intervened, because that deputy could have pulverized him… which is what I thought he deserved.]

View facing North Star Bay

But, today, I’m not gonna talk about those two challenges, as interesting as they are (to me, anyway). A challenge that looms large in my experience and memory was my 12-month tour of duty at the remote Arctic facility called Thule Air Base… literally at the “top of the world.” It was about 900 miles from the North Pole.

The running “joke” in the Air Force at that time (1972) was that if you screwed up bad enough, you’d get sent to Thule. Or, to put it differently: if they sent you to Thule, you must have screwed up pretty badly. Well, I had a stellar record to that point, so it wasn’t a matter of me “screwing up” — but I did make a “full bird” colonel furious when my humor / satire column (in the base newspaper) poked fun at his outfit. [That’s a story for another time.]

Anyway, my first set of Thule orders were later rescinded… with no explanation (though I’ve always believed it was due to the efforts of a concerned major from the Office of Information at either 12th Air Force HQ or Tactical Air Command HQ). Then a few months later, I got another set of Thule orders. Did I make TWO colonels mad? Or was this effort pushed by the same colonel who wasn’t satisfied that my first set of orders were changed? Don’t know. Doesn’t really matter. I was going to Thule, period.

One important thing to remember of this time period: the Vietnam conflict was still raging and a BUNCH of military personnel – including Air Force – were drawing tours in Southeast Asia. In fact, two sergeants from my small office had already been sent to DaNang (where they experienced frequent rocket attacks) and another sergeant had been sent to Thailand. So my attitude about the Thule assignment was rather philosophical — “at least it’s not Vietnam.”

In the weeks / months leading up to my departure from our base in NM, I encountered a neighbor who’d previously served a tour at Thule. He regaled me with briefings he possibly assumed would be “helpful”… but which actually served only to heighten my apprehension.

I flew from New Orleans to Maguire AFB NJ [I can’t now recall the stopovers, but there must have been some]. From Maguire to Newfoundland, and then to Sonderstrom AB at the southern tip of Greenland.

Once we left mainland USA, I distinctly remember looking out (the aircraft’s windows) over the desolate expanse and thinking: “I’ve got to spend 12 months up here… alone?” It was an empty feeling and I felt like I was a convict heading to an isolated penal colony.

Anyway, fast-forward to the numerous shocks: climate, desolate location, a base mostly populated by Danish civilians, language and cultural barriers, etc. I was met at the terminal by a guy from my new unit, the base Information Office — though he worked in a different section, the American Forces Radio & Television [AFRT] Service. He handed me a parka and took me though the initial stage of in-processing. Then to my quarters in the AFRT / IO barracks.

While the Danish civilians took these tours voluntarily – and got really good pay for doing so – all the American military (like me) were there quite IN-voluntarily. And we were being paid peanuts for the privilege! Ha.

Anyway, a large percentage of the guys I encountered up there spent their tour being either drunk or high (illegal drugs were plentiful) — that was evidently their means of coping with the isolation, “confinement” (since we couldn’t really leave the base), and depression.

Not me. Oh, I went to the NCO club a few times – when there was a special event or a USO show I wanted to see – and had a few drinks. But I was remarkably sober for the entire time. Not only did I NOT “do” drugs, but when the base’s OSI agent [Office of Special Investigations] was about to mount a raid / inspection / shakedown on our barracks, the base Protestant chaplain (who knew me well) alerted me and told me to get those other guys to clean up their acts at least until the heat was off. [Please understand: the chaplain was NOT endorsing use of drugs, not by any means. But he didn’t want to see half a barracks of guys get busted and have their lives / careers ruined.]

So what DID I do – instead of drugs & alcohol – at Thule? I saw a LOT of movies at the base theater, probably almost every time they changed the playbill. I played a lot of ping pong. I participated in group jigsaw puzzles that the Catholic chaplain hosted at the officers’ quarters Rec Room. And every evening, around 9 p.m. one of the two chaplains – one of the very few offices on base with an assigned vehicle – would drive by our barracks and we’d all load up for a trip to the chow hall for “midnight supper”. That would be my FOURTH meal of the day… and I gained about 22 pounds that year!

What else did I do? Listened to music with one of my buddies — the head DJ at the AFRT station. And I wrote. I wrote poems by the bushel full. I wrote letters to my wife and parents. I bought a deck of playing cards at the Base Exchange and each week – the mail only went out (and in) once a week with the flight to / from Maguire – and sent her a card. That first week, I wrote on the card: “one week down, 51 to go.” Each week, I adjusted the count. For the final card, I delivered it myself.

I should clarify that I didn’t actually spend a full 12 months at Thule. Around the middle of our tour, it was customary to get four week’s personal leave to return stateside. In addition, I got a TDY (temporary duty) to Washington D.C. to go to the Pentagon to receive the award given to the Thule Times, which I edited. There I met the AF Chief of Staff, four-star General John D. Ryan. In addition to my personal leave and that TDY, there were a few “extra” days stateside… because I couldn’t return to Thule until the weekly flight from Maguire. Most of that time I spent with my brother in Philadelphia… on one of those brief layovers, my parents paid for a plane ticket for Denise and she joined me in Philly!

One of the highlights of my Thule-time was – probably Dec. 1972 – when Denise sent me a special CARE package: a dozen small, individually-wrapped, homemade apple cakes. Though it probably took nearly two weeks for them to reach me, they were still moist and delicious… and they lasted for another several days in my barracks.

When I was nearing my tour’s end, my replacement was already on-station and fully trained, so I requested (and received) from the base commander a two-week “early out.” [During my final several months I did some cross-training at the AFRT station, first in radio and then in television.] After you subtract my leave, my TDY, the layover days on either side of those, plus my early out… I figure my actual time AT Thule was about 10.5 months (45 weeks). I was there long enough to experience the “midnight sun” wherein we had sunlight 24 hours a day for around 2.5 months. And I also experienced the “arctic night” wherein we had total darkness 24 hours a day for around 2.5 months. Both seasons were kinda weird… and I’m glad I stayed sober. In summer, the guys who went out drinking heavily and returned to the barracks well after midnight were stumbling around drunk in the blazing sunlight! Talk about disorienting!

Anyway, I made the best of this Arctic tour (early Aug 1972 to late July 1973. Instead of treating it like banishment to a penal colony, I stayed busy, explored several creative outlets, and did the best job I could in my assigned duty. In fact, I earned the following recognitions for my Thule service:

*  Meritorious Service Medal (1973)

*  Won First Place in 1972 ADC Newspaper Contest

*  Selected as 21st Air Division’s “Information Technician of the Year” (1973)

*  Selected as Thule AB “Airman of the Year” (1972)

*  Nominated from 21st Air Division for ADC’s “Airman of the Year” (1972)

*  Promoted to E-4 (Oct. 1972) with 21 months in service

When you consider that I COULD HAVE wasted the entire year lolling around (staying drunk or high) and feeling sorry for myself… I guess it’s easy to see that I’m proud of how I met the challenge of my assignment to the “top of the world.”

Here’s my post about my Christmas at Thule AB:

https://fourfoxesonehound.wordpress.com/2016/12/08/strange-holiday-on-ice/

[JLS # 588]

Posted in Thule Air Base | Tagged , , | 10 Comments