An "Ashleigh Brilliant" cartoon
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WHAT I'M READING...
(not for the squeamish!)
WHAT I'M WATCHING...
Washington Week in Review
Samples of two of the
Pictures from the Cincinnati are now up at Steve's Club Photo page.
Pictures from our Family reunion are on my own Club Photo page.
That's it for today!
PRISON vs. FREEDOM
1 September 2001
Disclaimer: I'm not even going to try to make this 850 words. So sue me!
In the late morning, I drove to Sacramento to get Priscilla. I had promised to drive her to Vacaville (about a 45 minute drive) to visit her son at the California Medical Facility (a prison). (Johnny is in his 16th year of a life sentence for a murder he committed at 18; he is in the medical facility because he has sickle cell anemia).
We had a nice drive and a good visit in the car. She was less tearful than she has been the last few times I've talked with her and that was very good to see.
We arrived at the prison at the appointed hour and she went in to check that she really would be able to see Johnny today (the last time she went, she was turned away because they had all the Black and Mexican prisoners on lock-down).
She came out furious and fighting tears. The woman at the desk told her that her pants were too tight and she wouldn't be allowed in. I was quite surprised. Priscilla was wearing black bell bottom pants which were not tight by any stretch of the imagination, though they were form fitting at the top. Priscilla couldn't believe she was being turned away for a second time. But then she remembered a house on the grounds of the adjoining prison where people who were deemed inappropriately attired could borrow proper clothing to wear for their visit.
I had no idea that visiting rules were so strict. There was a 5 year old boy wearing jeans whose mother was told he could not wear jeans into the prison, and so they had to find other clothes for him. A young girl, about 3, was wearing a sundress on this hot day, and they wouldn't let her in because they were afraid it would "entice" some of the inmates.
Priscilla found herself some pants. At one point she almost decided against the whole thing because she hated the pants she had to wear, but I pointed out that if it was seeing her son with pants she didn't like or not seeing him at all, she agreed to wear the pants.
I dropped her back at the prison and told her I'd be back in 2-1/2 hours.
So, with all that time to kill, I decided to go take myself a walk. Lagoon Lake is a perfect sized lake for a sedentary person like myself. It's 2-1/2 miles around-- just long enough to know that you've definitely had some exercise, but not long enough that it's not even worth considering. I'd also taken that walk in the fall and knew that I could easily make the trip.
I left my purse in the car, brought the camera with me, stuck a floppy disk in my pocket, and set off to walk around the lake. It was a perfect day for a walk. It was probably in the mid-to-high 80s (or possibly low 90s), but there was enough of a breeze that it wasn't uncomfortable.
The last time I did this walk, I stuck to the groomed path, but this time I went off on a side trail which went right by the shoreline. This way I got closer to the birds and had a better angle for taking pictures.
There were the usual duck families-- the kids now getting bigger but still following Mom and Dad for a bit yet. A group of Canadian geese slowly floated out onto the water as they all moved from land to lake. And there was a cute little guy (the one on the left here) which I couldn't identify, and hadn't seen before, making a big racket as he moved from place to place.
Off in the distance I noticed a large group of pelicans. They were slowly floating toward me and I began to watch them more closely. It was an amazing thing. I might have been watching a well choreographed water ballet. The group would move in close precision about 3-4 feet from their last stop. Then as if a leader had given a silent signal, the entire group would dip their heads down into the water, in unison, tail feathers up in the air, as they looked for fish. In a body, they all came back up from the water again, moved another 3-4 feet and repeated the whole thing. I watched in fascination as this was repeated over and over again. It was synchronized swimming at its best.
When I decided it was time to move on, the little path I was following joined the well groomed path, with its distance markers posted, and I discovered I'd traveled 3/4 of a mile. It seemed longer, but whatever.
By the 1 mile marker, I was beginning to feel the distance and I was starting to feel thirsty. I also had been in the full sun for about half an hour. I continued on to the far end of the lake--the point of no return, where it was farther to retrace my steps than to continue to make the circle around the lake.
But I was starting to be very uncomfortable. The breeze had died, every water-producing gland in my body had shriveled and I was dying for a drink of anything. The sun beat down on my back, soaked up by the black t-shirt I had unwisely chosen to wear. Perspiration was dripping down my face and into my eyes, which began to sting.
And then, shimmering off in the distance I saw it! My oasis! The roof of the restroom!! I knew from my last trip that there was a water fountain there. I knew if I could just make it that far, I'd be OK.
But I was starting to feel nauseous and was starting to have some serious concerns about heatstroke. I was trying to remember what the symptoms were. I was pretty sure that nausea was one of them.
I found a small tree and stood under its meager shade for a few minutes. Off to the side, a lone jackrabbit hopped by, from patch of shade to patch of shade. The guy knew what he was doing.
I staggered through a field. The restroom seemed to get farther and farther away, but I finally reached it. The water was warm and came out in a trickle, but it was the best thing I'd tasted all day. I drank and drank and drank.
My body was still throbbing from my heart pounding so I walked to the nearby picnic ground, found a covered barbecue area which was situated in such a way that it got a breeze from the lake. I decided I needed to sit there for 20 minutes to give myself time to cool off before starting the last leg.
I thought I had covered a mile and a half at this point and figured I had a mile to go. As it turned out, it was only half a mile to go, and this side of the lake was lined with tall bushes that allowed me to walk in the shade most of the way back to the main road.
The car was visible off in the distance and I was never so glad to see anything in my life. I got in and turned the a/c on.
I know that to most "fit" people, 2-1/2 miles is child's play, but for someone who is as heavy and as out of shape as I am, walking it on a hot day without any water to keep me going, felt like a very big deal indeed.
There were times when I almost wished I was locked up in the prison with Johnny. I'll bet it's at least cooler inside those cement walls.
One Year Ago:
Some pictures from this journal
Created 9/1/01 by Bev Sykes