Saturday, May 23, 2020


Sunday, 10:26 a.m. May 17, 2020. Tomoka C. I., Daytona Beach, FL

They brought hot (warm) breakfasts before six a.m.--two boiled eggs, oatmeal, biscuits, and an apple. The prison work camp kitchen prepares all the meals, and officers deliver them in a trailer. They continue to provide adequate quantities and quality of food. The work camp cooks are much better than the ones who used to prepare the food for the main compound, who are still in quarantine. Nothing is happening (good?--bad?), so I went back to sleep until ''count.''

I made phone calls to my wife Libby and mother, Lucille, earlier this morning, while it was still quiet. Libby and I are supposed to be sharing a visit today, not trying to cheer each other up from long distance. Our anniversary is next Sunday, the 24th. I miss her terribly. Libby sat outside at a table enjoying her coffee while we talked. At least I could hear the cardinals and other songbirds singing as they frequented her bird feeders. One day we will enjoy the songbirds together. We both are encouraged by the prayers and concerns of family and friends. Thanks, and same to you.

My phone call with my mother was encouraging. She sounded strong. She took a COVID test before she left Brandon Hospital (negative), and another one when she arrived at Hawthorne Rehab (negative). To further protect her, they put her in isolation in a nice suite. They provide her with excellent meals. She was happy to have received a phone call yesterday from her first cousin, Letha Miles, in Texas. She grew up with Letha and her late sister, Iva, and they spent the phone call reminiscing over old times. They are both 90 years old, my mother reminding me that she's five months older. She is determined to work hard at her rehab, recover, and return home soon.

In a previous update, I mentioned how noisy it has become with a few loudmouths moving in this past week. Thank God they all take psychotropic drugs every day, which quiets them for a few hours. I am formulating a hypothesis that there is an inverse relationship between the loudness of one's mouth and their IQ. The louder the mouth, the lower the IQ.

Earlier today several us were watching the CBS Sunday Morning news show. Jane Pauley introduced a segment about how difficult it is for many people to be isolated from others, since we are social creatures. Then they showed examples of people who had accomplished great things while in self-imposed isolation, especially writers. ''Walden'' was one example, and ''King Lear'' (and other plays) by William Shakespeare, from the 1600's, were mentioned.

One of the bigmouths was sitting with us, watching, and exclaimed, ''The 1600's! Why, I wadn't even born then!''

No, you weren't. None of us were.

My bunk is situated on the north wall of dorm K-1. An open window is inches from my pillow, providing cool breezes and a pleasing view, a rare treat in prison. Five vertical half-inch steel bars attached to the window frame prevent anyone from being tempted to crawl out. A chain link fence encloses the fallow farm field only a few feet from my barred window, providing me with an excellent view of the two-and-a-half acre ( one hectare) yellow dandelion crop, which I mentioned in a previous update.

A couple days ago, early in the morning, I heard the distinctive calls of sandhill cranes outside my window. The sound is hard to describe, like a combination of gargling and scraping fingernails on a blackboard, but once you've heard it, you won't forget it. I've heard that you can download bird calls on Google if you're interested.

Sandhill cranes are large birds, four or five feet tall, mostly gray plumage, with a distinctive red crest on their heads. They mate for life, so you always see them in pairs. If you see three or four, most likely they are juvenile birds that have not gone out on their own yet. There are many sandhill cranes frequenting central Florida, and they exhibit little fear of humans. A few months ago, on my way to the law library, I passed one crane digging into the thick lawn for bugs only three feet from the sidewalk. I took the opportunity to stare closely at the regal bird as I slowed my hurried pace. The crane ignored me. They ignore the security fences, too, effortlessly flapping their wings, landing on another fenced plot of prime insect habitation whenever they choose.

These past two days I've enjoyed watching them feed, slowly making their way through the dandelions, feasting on mole crickets, worms, grasshoppers, and anything else edible their long, sharp beaks may find. Sometimes they meander only yards from my window. Other times I see them far toward the other side. Then I hear their honking, and spy them flying over the fences toward the retention pond and woods outside the perimeter fences.

There's more I wanted to say. I wanted to share some news excerpts from USA Today concerning the prison pandemic in other states, but that will hold until next time. Meanwhile, another count is clear, and life in prison continues on. Take care and be safe.


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