Hallows Coming – Herrick

For this Hallows poem into fog lands meander, her midnight rides come wondrous dreams or nights a thunder, doom and terror.

∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼

T - Nemo font_halloweenhe Hag is astride,
This night for to ride;
The Devill and shee together:
Through thick, and through thin,
Now out, and then in,
Though ne’r so foule be the weather.

Herrick's HagA Thorn or a Burr
She takes for a Spurre:
With a lash of a Bramble she rides now,
Through Brakes and through Bryars,
O’re Ditches, and Mires,
She followes the Spirit that guides now.

No Beast, for his food,
Dares now range the wood;
But husht in his laire he lies lurking:
While mischeifs, by these,
On Land and on Seas,
At noone of Night are working,

The storme will arise,
And trouble the skies;
This night, and more for the wonder,
The ghost from the Tomb
Affrighted shall come,
Cal’d out by the clap of the Thunder.

Robert Herrick, The Hag

————

Halloween breaker

happy halloween

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Hallows Coming – Taboo

Continuing Hallows theme of dark and fright, a jolt in my slumber this one heavy night.

∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼

It was in the middle of the night, about 3:00 AM on a Monday. I had been sleeping very well considering the last five days of severe stress from sudden, painful, unexpected family events. It hadn’t taken long for me to fall asleep. I was utterly drained, mentally and emotionally. Suddenly, something woke me, alarmed! I sat up in my bed fully awake and listening acutely for any noise, any motion, as if someone had broken in. I was sure someone, something jolted me up. But I couldn’t be certain, yet. Was I dreaming? Was it so real it forced me out of my sleep sitting straight up, fully conscious waiting for the burglar to make another noise? In those seconds I could have heard even the tiniest critter moving across the floor or in the kitchen or living room my senses were so sharp. Never in my life had I awakened like that in half a second, completely aware of myself and surroundings!

But I have started at the end of my Hallows story, five days later.

∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼

It is Wednesday evening, July 18, 1990. I had returned to my apartment in Jackson, MS from my workday. It wasn’t any extraordinary day. No one at the psych hospital had a Code Red. No emergency admissions by attempted suicide or court-ordered commitment, just a normal day. I was ready to relax, make dinner, and decompress. Then my phone rang.

On the other end (over 400 miles away) was my Mom bawling, upset that she struggled to say hello and begin telling me why she called. This is the first time in my life I have ever heard my Mom so upset she could barely speak and seemed to be near hyper-ventilation. My nerves, heart-rate, and perspiration rise quickly because I am so not prepared to hear what she is about to tell me. Mom, take a deep breath I tell her, slow down, breathe… however, in my mind I am not so sure I want her to gather herself to explain why she is calling in this manner. A few minutes pass when she calms herself enough to talk.

I am leaving your Dad. I am moving out. I lose my breath now. This is a blindsided blow to me. Not once in my childhood, adolescent, or teen years did I ever see or hear things so bad between them that Mom would apparently be forced out or have the need to move out, away from my Dad. Sure they had their differences like all married couples by their 28th year of marriage. Yes, they had their heated arguments, but those were so few and far between, at least as much as my sister and I could perceive. There were a handful of times they’d disappear behind locked door or private moments we had to remain detached from and unaware. But THIS was nothing like any of those.

Mom shared a little more what she felt was appropriate, that she was only moving out for a separation, not divorce. But then she described Dad’s mental and emotional state to me. I am very worried about your Dad she said while choking and clearing her throat. I still couldn’t find a response. He is not doing well. He only eats a small bowl of oatmeal in the morning. she begins to cry again, When he gets home from work, only his childhood favorite… peanut butter and butter on a slice of bread. I know this about Dad because during the Second World War, he, Granny, and Grandpa had to ration what little food was available in a small town outside of Galveston, TX. That was two meals Dad would usually eat for a day. He has been like this for over 4-weeks, maybe more. Nothing around the house is getting done. Now I have words. Upset, I firmly ask WHY hasn’t anyone told me this!?

Mom answers me, but it is that typical explanation from their generation:  It isn’t your problem or baggage. You carry your weight or more. You don’t wear so many heavy emotions on your sleeve for everyone and their uncle to see or hear! You chin-up, get up and carry on.

Right. Meanwhile, I am clueless and handicapped in helping, much less initiating help! This has always infuriated me about my parents and their generation. My Dad, an ex-U.S. Marine (scream Semper Phi!!!), is ten-times worse than Mom! I jump ahead now to return to my All Hallows theme…

It is Friday evening, July 20, 1990. As Mom had requested, I waited a day before calling Dad. In a very somber voice and manner Dad confirms everything Mom has told me. Where he struggles to keep down his intense emotions are when my questions involve Mom and their marriage, their teamwork or their lack of now. I do not want to speak bad about your mother. he would pause to compose himself, I refuse to do that. It’s unfair to you and your sister. What do you say when your father is right, but contesting him is so horribly inappropriate at the moment?

I moved on to other problems there:  tasks, chores, cleaning, all rooms inside, work outside in the yard. Mom and Carolyn (sister) tell me that lots of things are not getting done there.” I prepared myself for some sort of backlash or angered reply, perhaps something completely unexpected. Silence. I am going to come home tomorrow for the weekend and help around the house I told him. At least I can do that.” He said no. He explained that I had no need to miss work because your mother and I cannot workout our problems. He said convincingly that traveling that far was ridiculous and risky for my job-future. We will try to work this out. Stay there.” he sounded more upbeat, genuine, Do not come home, not yet.” Reluctantly I agreed, but we planned I’d come home the following weekend to help him around the house. Then he said some things he had never said to me before that I could not easily recollect…

I realize I have rarely said ‘I love you’ most of your life. My heart-rate and nerves are returning, I should’ve said it much more, but… he paused again. I do love you. I just share it in other ways. I hope you knew that.I acknowledged his unique habits and stoic tough military personality and said I understood. I returned the uncommon sentiments with sincere empathy and love.

visitor in my bedroom

It is now Monday early, early morning about 3:00 AM, July 23, 1990. As I started in this story I was jolted awake, convinced someone had broken in the apartment. I had seconds to do something. I was remarkably sharp and aware of everything. I sat there upright in bed listening for any noise, any motion to confirm or deny my first thoughts, first fears. I was convinced someone was in my bedroom! For some 30-45 seconds I did not hear anything. I did not see anything, in the dark, but I kept silent and upright. Not long after a minute or two of complete silence and motionless in bed, I felt this air of reassuring calm and peace come over me and into me. It was such a peculiar sensation given the moment. And as fast as I had been awakened I laid back down and immediately fell back into my prior deep sleep.

That morning I remembered how very strange the night had been and asked my roommate if he had come in, then went back out, or some other logical simple reason it happened. He told me no, he wasn’t even there. He was staying overnight at his girlfriend’s place. I dropped it, not intending to think anymore about it other than weird. Simply weird and way out of the ordinary for me.

It is Tuesday morning, July 24, 1990. My phone rings. It is my brother-in-law and I immediately sense something is wrong. He doesn’t call me on his own, or from his phone. It’s always with my sister. And in a shaky voice, pleading, he tells me Dwain, you have to come home now, as soon as possible. Jeff tries to gather himself, Your Dad killed himself. I found him down in the garage inside the car because he wasn’t answering the phone for three days straight. His breathing gets heavier, faster. Your Mom is in a complete meltdown. he sounds increasingly desperate, I’m handling your sister as best I can, but you have to get home fast.

∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼

Weeks later, maybe a month or so, I can’t remember exactly, the coroner and detective on the case tell us that Dad’s time of death was either late Saturday night, July 21 or sometime July 22, 1990. He said it was likely Sunday, July 22nd. It wasn’t until my life and my family’s lives returned to a degree of normalcy that I connected the dots. Or rather the bizarre coincidence of my unusual late night disturbance (of some kind) July 22-23 that jolted me awake and what the coroner and detective determined for Dad’s time of death.

I didn’t know it then that July night/morning it would be the last time I spoke to my father and those would be our last words together. What is fact is that I am certain of everything I’ve written here and I am 100% certain that whatever it was that jolted me out of my deep sleep to instant, acute awareness feeling someone was in my bedroom, was Sunday/Monday, July 22 or 23, 1990. What made it more bizarre was how soon after that weird sensation of going back into a calm and profound sleep so easily.

What is it that goes on, operates within the aether, moves in the atomic, subatomic, and Quantum range or wavelengths? Why is the infamous witching hour traditionally around 3:00 AM? Einstein agonizingly called it “spooky action at a distance.” What can be said and surmised about the thermodynamic law, in those unseen atomic/quantum levels known as Conservation of Mass/Energy? What I can share about it on a personal basis and incident is weird, bizarre, though I cannot prove it to anyone. But as I am writing this right now, on my honor it was quite real. That’s what I know. It’s all I can say, granted, during what was an extremely traumatic time in my life. It is my one and only Hallows true-story for the season.

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Feel free to share your own favorites of fall and the season’s Hallows? Share your most spooky weird stories, special beloved celebrations, how you and/or your family decorate your home—pics will be required! What about meals or snacks prepared and enjoyed, or better still what astonishing events of paranormal activity have you experienced personally or heard from a close, good (dignified) friend! You have until November 1st to remember them and comment throughout this Hallows theme.

————

Halloween breaker

Mackbeth Witch quote_footer_1

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Courage Fulfills: The Many Rewards of Mindful Exploration

As part of the Alternative Lifestyles blog-posts migration over to the new blog The Professor’s Lifestyles Memoirs, this post has been moved there. To read this post please click the link to the blog.

Your patience is appreciated. Thank you!

Since I Was A Boy

Several years ago I lived in an apartment no more than a mile from a suburbia airport north of Dallas.  It is the home of a vintage flight museum I have visited countless times and volunteered two or three times just to touch and be near the famous warbirds.  Like a boy loves his dog or a little girl loves her favorite doll, I marveled at the history, pilots, and flying machines of World War II.  Some days I would utterly frighten my son and daughter by suddenly dropping whatever I was doing and run out the door as fast as I could.  Seconds later they would hear what I already heard.  Sometimes the windows and knickknacks on the mantel or shelves would vibrate.  Turn your volume up as loud as is appropriate to get the full effect and play this 20-second clip:

My kids would chase after me, sometimes out of breath because I would keep moving around in order to see as much sky as I could watching the spectacle arrive and depart.  “How can you always tell the difference between modern planes and the old ones!?” my daughter would ask.  That is amazing!” as she shook her head bewildered.  As I have gotten older, been to many airshows, and gotten more informed and educated on EVERYTHING World War II Aviation, a few of those traumatic surprises would start with pumped adrenaline, then goose-bumps, and then tears.  My son, always emotionally connected to me since his first breath, upon seeing my tears would ask “Why are you crying Dad?”  And this is how I would describe to him the honored, revered tears.

* * * * * * * * * *

I love almost all of the WWII planes whether they were combat or cargo, they all had a vital importance to the war effort.  Their pilots were some of the bravest heroes under the most extraordinary circumstances.  All of our veterans from any war or combat service are and will be heroes.  However, if I had to choose just one WWII plane to love most, I know exactly which one she would be.

p-51-mustang-credit-caf

The P-51 D Mustang

If you are not aware or cannot remember, at the onset of the Second World War the Allies were grossly unprepared to fight Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan.  Both Axis nations had a big head start in fine machinery and experienced well-trained pilots.  In the first 24 to 30 months of combat, most air battles were won by Germany and Japan with much better maneuverable faster planes and better pilots.  Losses due to combat or dogfights were often staggering for the Americans and British.  Plain and simple, the German Messerschmitts and Folke-Wulfs, and the Japanese Mitsubishi Zeroes were flat-out better machines.  Any high-ranking general will tell you every time, if you don’t control the skies, you either will not win or you might win but at astronomical losses in men and materials.  In 1942 and ’43 the war in both theaters was very uncertain for America and Britain.  The Germans controlled the skies over Europe and the Japanese controlled them in the Pacific.

The Allies desperately needed an edge in the skies!

The primary reason Great Britain thwarted Hitler’s Luftwaffe (air force) in the Battle of Britain was because of their Spitfire and Hurricane pilots.  Spitfires could handle the Messerschmitts while the Hurricanes could take out the bombers.  The problem was that Britain could not quickly replace losses; both in planes or pilots.  The Spitfire housed one of the most superb engines ever built:  the Rolls-Royce Merlin V-12.  The Americans had a few good fighter-designs but most of them at the time were under-powered and couldn’t match the high-altitude performance of the German engines.  Finally, with British ingenuity and American manufacturing, emerged a single fighter-plane that would change the course of the air war in Europe and the Pacific…

The North American P-51 Mustang.

You might ask how can just one fighter plane change the course of a war?  Simple, the P-51 D Mustang saved thousands of American bomber crews from their deaths.  From 1942 to early 1944, American bomber losses were intolerable because the bombing raids required deeper penetration into Nazi Germany.  In the Pacific air war, vast oceans with few islands also required long-range aircraft.  The Allies had no such fighter plane capable of escorting bombers all the way to their target and back until the P-51 Mustang.

Not only did the Mustang, with its high-performance high-altitude Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, match and exceed those of its enemy fighters, but it was also highly maneuverable and lethal in the hands of a good pilot.  To put it in perspective just how much the P-51 Mustang changed the air war, the survival rate of American bomber crews in Europe prior to its introduction was 1-out-of-3 crewmen killed from 1942 to late 1943.  After the winter of 1943-44 when Mustangs flew escort, the survival rate rose to 67% after 25 missions flown, then 81% by 1945 and the end of the war.  The P-51 Mustangs were quite literally their knights-in-shining-armor for bomber crews, or “Angels on our wings” as many bomber pilots and crewmen would describe.  The Mustang helped turn the tide of war and bring it to a quicker end.

That is the historical impact of the Mustang.  Now I want to describe from a boy’s perspective the emotional impact of this gorgeous mighty bird.

Leave it to Steven Spielberg to capture the moment perfectly how it feels for a boy.  His 1987 film Empire of the Sun starring a young Christian Bale, tells the story of a small British boy fascinated with flight and “the brave daring pilots” of the Japanese Zero fighter.  He gets separated from his parents in Shanghai, China at the outbreak of war with Japan.  Though his captors are brutal to him and his “new” British prison-family, Jim (Christian Bale) worships the Zero pilots and their magnificent planes throughout the first half of the war.

After they are moved late in the war to an airbase to build a runway for the Zero fighters, Jim hears rumors about a new fighter plane called the Mustang, the Cadillac of the Skies.  He eats breaths and reads everything he can get his hands and ears on.  I relate completely to Jim’s obsessions of flying and the machines these brave pilots fought in.

And then one morning while paying his respect and admiration to the Kamikaze pilots and planes, Jim’s whole world and those of the planes and pilots he worshiped so long are turned upside down.  Apologies that this heart-wrenching scene is broken up into two clips – blame YouTube!

It is hard to put into words how the flight, the speed, the beautiful lines of a P-51 looks and feels to a young heart.  There is no other sight or sound in this world like the air being sucked into the intake whistling at a high pitch as it dives toward you, and a second later the reverberation of that V-12 roaring by as it climbs away at over 4,160 feet per minute!  “Go P-51…Cadillac of the Skies!”  As Jim screams, “HORSEPOWER!

Since I was a boy I have always dreamt of flying in this mighty magnificent warbird.  To feel the immense rumble of that Rolls-Royce Merlin engine supercharged and forcing me back into my seat.  That would absolutely be one of the best days of my life!

For a few very lucky months the software company I use to work for had their offices at the end of the runway.  Every two or three weeks the owner of the flight museum and the P-51 D Mustang would take it out for some fly byes.  On one particular occasion he throttled it out on take off.  Just over halfway down the runway he had enough airspeed to lift-off and put this beautiful bird into a 35-40 degree climb with ease, banked it, and then leveled off about 600-700 feet at cruising speed.  It seemed effortless.  I thought to myself, so that’s how it must have looked and sounded back in 1940’s Europe and China.  Imagine if you were Japanese or German what it meant watching the Mustangs fly by and listening to that whistling horsepower.  Imagine how it felt if you were British or American back then:  finally, the beginning of the end.  Wow!  I still get chills up and down my spine every time I hear that distinct engine and watch it zip from one horizon to the other.

Some of man’s creations are works of beauty and timeless.  Today my son no longer has to ask why I have goose-bumps and tears watching famous warbirds; he gets it…just like I did when I was his age.

(paragraph break)
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