Saturday, August 21, 2010

J-Land -- Not Forgotten, and Not Really Gone Either

Today, August 21, is the anniversary of AOL Journals, the beginning of our virtual community we called J-Land.

happy anniversaryWhen AOL shut us down and most of us moved to Blogger, it was a bit exciting and hectic for a while, getting used to a new format, getting our own journals transferred over, and finding all our friends. We lost several J-Landers who decided to stop journaling instead of making the switch, but I find that most of my original buddies are still around, and I've found a lot of new friends as well.

I don't blog as much as I used to, but most of that is really just because life is busy these days. I know that my blog and my friends are here whenever I have something I want to say, and I really appreciate that more than I can say. So Happy Anniversary to J-Land, and to all of you!

updated friends throughout
Thank you Donna for the J-Land tag!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Once, Twice, or Another Number of Times....

Has anyone read any Donald Barthelme? In particular, has anyone read "The Indian Uprising"? If not, I would certainly recommend it. The story has three main themes -- violence of war, male-female relationships, and deception -- and he mixes these themes and blends them quite remarkably. Barthelme's style isn't for everyone, but I love the way he plays with words and syntax, especially in this story. I would also recommend "Robert Kennedy Saved From Drowning", written only two months before Kennedy's assassination, and "Snow White", published in 1967.

If you like the writing styles of T.S. Elliot, Samuel Becket, James Joyce, Mallarme and even Baudelaire, you will like Barthelme. (Well, even if you don't like the above authors and poets, I think you would find something that you would like by Barthelme.) I don't think Eler Beth is ready to read or understand him, but I have enjoyed getting reacquainted with him.

"The Indian Uprising" is included in a collection of short stories by Barthelme called "Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts", which you should be able to find in your local library. There is a pretty decent summary of the story here, but you can't really feel the "weird dream" quality of the story without actually reading it.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

August 14, 1989, My Son Was Born

Twenty-one years ago this morning I awoke about 3 a.m. I was nine months pregnant. My doctor had put my due date at August 21. Thomas was sure I'd deliver on August 16, because that was the new moon. And I had told everyone that I was sure the baby would come on August 14. No one believed me, but I was right, wasn't I? (If you don't want to read the birth story, then you may want to skip to the pictures.)

That morning I went to the bathroom and w
hile I was taking care of my business I heard from inside my body -- I swear I heard it from the inside -- a loud pop, and it was soon very apparent that my water had broken. When I thought it was safe to leave the bathroom I woke up Thomas. "My water just broke." He said, "Are you sure?" Yes, I was sure!

He called my doctor, then my sister Dennice, who w
as going to pick up Mom and meet us at the hospital. When I thought I had lost all my fluid I took a shower, did my hair and my make-up -- yes, they tell you to do that!! --, and got dressed. We made sure my seat of the car was protected, just in case, and Thomas took my bags and the baby's car seat out to the car. Then we left for the 45-minute drive to Humana Southwest, in Louisville.

On the way, Thomas dr
ove very carefully and within the speed limit -- or at least, very close! --, but whenever I had a contraction I couldn't help but make a noise, and I'd notice his foot press down a little harder on the gas pedal. That made me smile inside, even though I couldn't say anything about it out loud. We got to the hospital emergency room, and when I walked in the clerk on duty said, "What are you here for?" Well, I hadn't lost all my fluid at home, and, as a matter of fact, I was still losing it when I walked into the hospital, so it seemed to me that she could have taken one look at me and known what I was there for, but I just said, "I'm in labor."
e took a picture, though. I hope this doesn't offend anyone. I was 23 years old in this picture, and Thomas and I had been married for 2-1/2 years. I look much younger, though, don't I?

My water broke at 3 a.m. and by 8:25 my baby boy was
born. In between that time, while going through my labor and waiting for my doctor to get there, I really rather enjoyed what I was going through. I didn't take anything, so I was very much aware of everything that was going on. The nurse who attended me was one we'd gotten to know when I was at the hospital with a kidney infection at 5 months. It was really nice that she was helping out in maternity that night. When we'd met her before, we'd discovered that she and her husband had a property on Rough River Lake, and we'd traded a lot of fishing stories. So, once again, she and Thomas got into discussions about fishing. As my contractions would build, they'd see it on the monitor, and their conversation would get louder and faster, one of them on one side of me and one on the other, talking over me. Then when the contractions subsided they would slow down and get quieter. Inside I was laughing hilariously, but, once again, I wasn't able to laugh out loud!

At one point the maternity nurse had told me
I only had to count to five, instead of to 10 during my breathing, but when the other nurse, our fishing friend, came in she was still having me count to 10. I couldn't talk, and I had my eyes closed, but I snapped my fingers and held out my hand with five fingers spread. My Mom, also in the room, said, "Oh, she's telling you that the other nurse said she only had to count to five." Our nurse laughed and said, "Well, that's funny that she's telling me!"

BoldThey wouldn't let me push, and I. Really. Wanted. To. Push. At one point I was clinging to Thomas' hand when a really bad contraction hit me. I heard a quick intake of breath, and felt him take hold of my hand with his free hand and loosen my grip on his thumb. He told me later that I had bent his thumb all the way back, and he thought I was going to break it. Again, when I heard him and felt what he was doing, I knew what I had almost done, and I laughed inside.

When my doctor got there, she came in briskly, sho
ok hands with Thomas, took one look at me and said, "Push!" Oh, that was heaven!! I'd wanted to push for at least 30 minutes before she got there, but they wouldn't let me! lol They barely got me into the stirrups and Thomas gowned before my baby crowned.

hen he was born, my doctor announced it was a boy -- we hadn't known beforehand --, and Thomas said, "Looks like I've got a little fishing partner!" The doctor said, "Well, not for a while yet." Little did she know!!

An hour later I was eating a full breakfast of bacon, eg
gs, toast, cereal, juice, and even a little decaffeinated tea. I had thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I am not kidding or exaggerating. I was in labor only 5 hours, and only about an hour of it was really painful labor.

My eight-pound baby was chalk white when he was born, except for the u
pper parts of his ears, which were a little darker. While I was in the hospital with him a friend of ours sent word to me through my sister Lois that he would be as dark as his ears, and I thought, "Oh! So that's why there's almost a visible line there where it's darker." No one else had noticed, but believe me, I had examined my little son very carefully. I loved that she had thought to send me that message, and I have passed that information on to anyone I know who's having a bi-racial child. (They usually have their "color" by four months.) Because he was so light, Thomas had an interesting experience. He was looking at Andrew and the other babies in the nursery when another father came up and said, "So. Which one's yours?" It was funny because Andrew was the only "black" baby in there, but you couldn't tell him from the "white" babies.

are a few pics of Andrew (Thomas Andrew Helms II) when he was young. I can't believe my firstborn is 21 today!!

Daddy with his son the morning after we brought him home.
With Aunt Barbara's cat,

Posing in front of Mamaw's jo
A chilly fall day at Rough River.
Helping Papaw dig a hole to plant a tree.
Papaw's showing him how to hold it up straight wh
ile he fills in the dirt.
Mamaw, lending a hand.
Celebrating with a little chocolate after planting
the tree.
Four-year old Drew dancing with my grand-nie
ce Summer (Sheila's daughter, four months younger than Drew), at my niece Evonne's wedding reception. They were the "miniature bride and groom" in the wedding party.
Getting to know his newborn sister, Eler Beth.Patting Eler Beth on the back while she naps in his lap.Showing off a nice catch (and some nice little muscles, too!).
Showing off another nice catch!
First day of kindergarten.

I might put some more on here later.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"Weaving spiders, come not here; . . ."

Okay, so, I have been reading my Shakespeare, but I'm more behind than I wanted to be by this time. Two weeks ago I took a commenter's advice and read A Midsummer Night's Dream {Act II, Scene 2}, from which comes the quote above. I hadn't read Midsummer in several years, so it was nice to get reacquainted.

Then last week I read the two early narrative poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, the latter being one I'd never read before. I want to write a bit about these two poems; indeed, there are a lot of things I really want to say about them. But right now, it is late, I am sleepy, and I have other things I want to write about first.

For instance, check out the absolutely fabulous sand sculpture of William Shakespeare above, and click here
to see other sand sculptures at the Somerset Sand Sculpture Festival a week or so ago in Great Britain. Shakespeare and Wallace and Gromit on the same beach -- Wow!

"Swift as a shadow, short as any dream;
Brief as the lightning in the collied night."
~~A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act I, Scene 1

Swift describes this summer. I can't remember when a season has flown by so quickly. Just as a catch-up, my brother has been home for two weeks now. He is doing very well, although he isn't on solid food yet. They are still working on his swallowing, but he's making progress. Thomas' leg is almost completely back to its correct size. It took two weeks on the medication for the swelling to significantly go down, but the pain went away pretty quickly. Most days the leg looks normal, but sometimes the calf is still a bit swollen. I suppose if it keeps doing this, he'll go back to the doctor to see if they can come to a more definite diagnosis.

Public schools in our county start next Thursday the 19th, so I was going to start Eler Beth's classes on Monday the 16th. She was supposed to go to King's Island with some friends this week, but they have to postpone till next week. They're visiting the amusement park, The Cincinnati Zoo, and The Newport Aquarium, so it is to be a three-day trip. Since they're now going to be leaving next Thursday, we're going to start school this Thursday, so we don't have to make up two days right from the get-go. I've had her first semester lessons planned for a couple weeks now, so it won't be a problem. I'm ready, 'though I don't know if she is yet. I'd like to write more about my plans for her high school classes later, too, but not tonight.

I'm going to go to bed now. I hope everyone is having a nice summer. I know some schools have already started, even as early as the last week of July in some cases. And I just think that is ridiculous. I can't imagine riding a school bus in this heat! So, until later, my friends, have a nice night, a nice week, and a nice rest-of-summer.

Click for updated List

What shall I read next? I think I'll attempt King John, since I haven't done one of the histories yet, and it's one of only two that I haven't read.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Istanbul's Sinking Palace

I just thought this was intriguing, especially the Medusa heads and the people catching fish in their basements in the 1500s.