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Location: DownByTheRiver, Central Iowa, United States

Husband of the world's most wonderful wife, father of the world's four most brilliant children, grandfather to the world's eight most beautiful granddaughters and two handsomest grandsons

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

17 Years... and counting

On May 1oth 1988, the RRR used narcotics for the last time. For 17 years that has been my new birthday, the day my life clean and sober really started. This morning on a whim, I went to The Wall website, the one where each soldier who fell in Vietnam has a brief page telling his name and demographics and whether or not he died of hostile action. I looked up a good friend. There were few comments added. So I told what I knew about how he died and how I felt about it. Then I sat staring open mouthed at the page. He died on May 10th, 1971. 34 years ago today. 17 years later to the day, I got sober. 17 years later is today. He was from rural Colorado. He was one year and three days younger than I. He never got married, had children, or grandchildren. Why? I went on R & R twice. Both times the guy who did my job for that week got blown up. This one died. The other was maimed for life. I was a radio operator for 50 weeks, they each did the same thing for a few days. Why?

I was still staring at the screen when the Psychiatrist looked over my shoulder at the screen.

Shrink: "Who was that?"

RRR: "A friend."

Shrink: "Well, that was a long time ago."

RRR: "No, Doc, it was just yesterday."

My Uncle Elmer was a marine who island hopped across the Pacific from Guadacanal to Saipan in WWII. I'll be it was just yesterday for him too. Maybe I'll call him up soon and ask.


This ends my five night stretch at the Private Hospital. Most of my time has been spent on one patient. Caring for people newly psychotic is extremely difficult. It has not sunk in to them yet that none of what is happening between their ears is real. You want so bad to help them, but there is no insight to build upon. Old joke: Q? How many psych nurses does it take to change a light bulb. A. Just one but the bulb has to want to change. So I present here:

The RRR's list of little known facts.

1. Hallucinogens cause a temporary state of schizophrenia. This includes hallucinations and delusions.

2. A certain number of people are born with a genetic pre-disposition to schizophrenia.

3. When a person born with a gentetic pre-disposition to schizophrenia uses a hallucinogen, the schizophrenia they've induced artificially simply does not go away. This includes those whose pre-disposition was so mild they might never have "bloomed" into the illness.

4. The new varieties of specially raised marijuana are so powerful they can be full blown hallucinogens.

5. In order to make more money, drug dealers spray "ditch weed" with PCP, a hallucinogen, and sell it as the more powerful stuff.

6. The sloppy, amateurish production of methamphetamine make it not just poisonous, but also hallucinogenic.

7. If you're a drug user asking for something specific, ie: meth, coke, heroin, etc., the dealer will sell you whatever he has and TELL you it is what you asked for.

8. There is no way currently to tell if you have a genetic pre-disposition to schizophrenia.

9. Once you "bloom" into schizophrenia, your brain never comes home.


Rain is forecast for the place in the woods. So today I changed the oil on Luigi, the Italian roto-tiller, put in fresh fuel, wound the starting rope around the pulley and he chugged into life on the first pull. Luigi is large, blue, loud and cantankerous. And if you push down hard enough on the handles I'm betting you could till an asphalt parking lot. We started tilling a space just wide enough east and west, running north and south to put in the tomato cages. 17 (there's that number again) just fit on 6 foot centers down the length of the garden. I was about 3/4 done tilling when Luigi simply died. And would not fire at all. I opened the drain on the bottom of the carburetor and rusty goo dripped out. A job for the swiss army knife. I took off the home made fuel bowl. (A piece of heater hose, a sawn off bolt and two spiral hose clamps). Of course it tore apart in my hands. But yes, it was full of nasty sediment. So back to the shop, find the odd chunk of heater hose, trim it to length and re-fabricate. All with the swiss army knife, of course. Re-install, wrap the rope, yank... Zoom! I finished the strip of garden while Mrs. RRR washed and sprayed the plastic mulch caps with bleach to kill blight, wilt, and viruses. Then we marked the spots with little twigs and planted 5 seeds by each one.

Yes, we start them from seeds instead of plants. A cupboard full of tomato juice says it works just fine. Two varieties, both open pollinated Siberian sauce types from Johnny's Select Seeds. We buy two sample packs of 40 seeds each and have plenty. Then caps over the seeds. Cages made from 5' sections of concrete reinforcing wire over the caps. Steel fence posts driven into the ground and wired to the cages. We were done by 6:30. A bowl of Mrs. RRR's oatmeal simmered with raisins, sweetened with maple syrup and real cream stirred in, a quick shower and 2 hours sleep before coming in to the hospital. As I write this portion at 0400 on Wed. May 11th, rain pours down in central Iowa.

Like the song says, "Life's been good to me so far."

Good night Ranger Readers.


Blogger H. Jane said...

Dad, I 'preciate your honest.

11:16 AM  

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