Monday, April 30, 2012

My visit with Shawn: Good food, laughter and time well spent

Similar to what Shawn's Lasagna
looked like!

I know that I may have mentioned this before, but Shawn (Campbell) is my oldest child, and having him in prison for a crime I know he did not commit has tore me to pieces. Being able to spend time with him is truly wonderful, I miss him so much.

On Monday, once we got all of the groceries put away, it was lunch time and Shawn fixed us these huge, fully loaded sandwiches. On each was sliced ham, salami, pepperoni, sliced onion, lettuce, mayo and Italian dressing...with a side of chips. For our drinks: Mountain Dew and Pepsi. (I don't do Dew!)

That afternoon, he made a cherry cheesecake, that would be our desert for the next two nights. 

Since the FRP program doesn't provide everything we might need to make food with, Shawn made this in a frying pan! It worked!  LOL

For supper, we did Taco salad...with all the trimmings. Hamburger, onions, lettuce, diced tomatoes, black olives, sliced green and red bell peppers, salsa, shredded Fiesta cheese and mozzarella cheeses, and it looked a lot like this:

Breakfasts consisted of either toasted cinnamon-raisin or onion bagels, topped with cream cheese...and of course our drink of choice!

Tuesday, Shawn began cooking first thing in the hamburger and hot and mild sausage links, to add to sauce that he was using for lasagna later in the day. As well, he had to dice onions, peppers, black olives and fresh mushrooms and slightly sautéed  them before adding them to the sauce. After everything was in the pan, he let it simmer the remainder of the morning and well into the afternoon.

At lunch, he fixed us sausage links, on which he covered with sautéed green and red peppers and onions after placing the links in buns. Add a side of chips, and sodas to drink...lunch was served!

For supper, we had his lasagna and a nice tossed salad with slices of garlic bread. It was heaven! Shawn is a wonderful cook and has really missed his calling in life! One of his dreams was to go to Italy and study under some of their top chefs. Makes me sad to think that his talent goes to waste in the place he's in.

We had plenty of good conversations, laughter and even watched two movies: The Orphan and North Country.  Of the few times that I have done these visits with Shawn, this was by far, the BEST!!!!

When in came time to leave Wednesday morning, we had to make sure the place was cleaned and all the linen and garbage bagged. The C.O. came in and did a search to make sure that we were returning the unit to the condition in was in when we arrived...normal procedure. After that, I was escorted to a van with what remained of the groceries and my luggage, then delivered to the parking lot...where the visit officially terminated. That is the hardest part...leaving him behind.

[[**If you are new and are reading about my son for the first time, we have set up a page on Facebook, called "Team Free Campbell" where his case is detailed and we strive for justice to be done and my son freed. Please visit, familiarize yourself with his case and if you would, 'Like' the page. Thanks!]]

And thanks for reading!

(Note: photos contained here, are all off the web. Unfortunately, cameras aren't allowed.)

My visit with my son: Getting there & signing in

One of the guard towers that watched
over us

Last Monday was my sign-in day to have the FRP (Family Reunion Program) visit with my son, but to our surprise, when we got up that morning and watched it turn daylight, this is what we saw:
Wet snow icing the trees...

Limited visibility 

Torture on the green leaves!

Heavy snow weighing pine branches down

And more snow fell...

We received about 3 to 4 inches total by the time
the storm passed.
However, in watching the traffic pass on the highway (which we can see from my house), traffic was moving right along, which meant that the roads had been kept clear. Good! We loaded the car and off we went on the trip to the prison. Although the roads weren't bad overall...we did encounter a spot or two on the highway that was a bit ify:
snow still coming down hard enough that visibility wasn't
all that good was trying to really come down and blow at the
same time
We made it to the prison safely, only seeing one minor skid-off on the way. It was surprising though that the storm had barely even dumped snow upstate. There might have been a tad more than a dusting on the ground.

With my dufflebag and groceries carried into the prison, it was now time to wait, I was roughly 45 minutes early and the guards don't start processing us through until 10:00 a.m. When all three of the FRP visits (there are three units as I described in my last blog) had arrived, then eventually a C.O. (Corrections Officer) came out and started going through all the luggage and grocery bags, checking for anything 'not allowed'. 

To anyone unfamiliar with prison rules, there is a lot that is forbidden. This is only a partial list of what is allowed or not allowed: 

(c) Visitors are allowed to bring only a minimum amount of personal property, including items of personal hygiene. The facility shall provide: pillows, blankets, bed linens, towels, soap and condoms[, sanitary pads and tampons (female facilities only)].(1) General. Glass containers are prohibited. Except for fresh fruits and vegetables, [meats and prepared foods,] food products must be commercially packaged in airtight hermetically sealed containers impervious to external influence….(g) Visitors may not bring in any alcohol, narcotics, dangerous drugs, [or] weapons cellular phones, wireless phones, pagers, laptop computers, personal digital assistants, any device with global positioning (G.P.S.) capabilities, any device with audio recording capabilities, radios, cameras or other similar electronic devices.
As well, there is a more inclusive list (pdf--pages 18 & 19), but it's still not all inclusive...and often, things change that won't be on the list: (I apologize for the fuzziness of the images...)

Since I have done this before, I hadn't brought anything that would not be allowed, I made sure that everything would pass inspection. That also included myself, as after the food and luggage were inspected, I then had to pass through the metal detector and did so with flying colors!

After another wait of about 20 minutes, we were loaded into a prison van, complete with all our items, and delivered to the appropriate unit...and inmate. 

Thus...began the visit.  Stay tuned for the next part....!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

FRP visit

3 units between mobile home and what
looks like a house.

I thought I would get in a quick blog today before I am off for a visit with my son, Shawn, who is incarcerated at a prison in upstate New York. I will be leaving tomorrow morning for what will be essentially 46 hours (behind prison fences, not including the 2 hour one way travel time) in what is known as the "Family Reunion Program" or FRP visit.

Most people have heard of 'conjugal visits', or 'trailer visits' and often don't even want to know any more about it...because the first thing that comes to mind is what would go on between a man and woman (but they HAVE to be married) during those visits. However, these FRP visits are not solely for husbands and wives, but also for their children and even an inmate's parents (and possibly direct siblings) to come to visit them during their incarceration.

I have done these visits a few times in the past...and it's not as bad as it might sound as far as being locked inside the prison fences. In the photo at the top, you can see the mobile home which is one unit, and then the house-like structure which is 2 units...but each of the 3 units are two bedrooms. They all have full bathrooms, full kitchens and living rooms...complete with most the amenities of home.

In this next photo, you can see the 2 guard towers located on either side of the units, and each unit is protected with it's own fences, which separate the trailer from the house unit. The fences have green plastic weaved through the wires to also prevent non-visiting inmates from seeing in, giving us all privacy.

The guard towers are the buildings that look like they have an 'x'
on the top

In the next photo, you can see where the FRP units are in relation to the whole prison compound:

When I go tomorrow, I will be taking with me the groceries that we will need from lunch time tomorrow through-to breakfast Wednesday morning, as well as clothing I will need and any personal care items. What can't go in with me though, is anything glass, any aerosol cans, and shaving razors, plus only limited amount of make-up and jewelry are allowed in. No cans over 16 ounces are allowed, fresh meat is, but otherwise, it has to be hermetically sealed. They have a LOT of rules which, though I understand the 'why', are still a pain...ugh!

Sign-in for me is at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow and sign-out for Shawn and I both, is at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday. (That gives someone time to come in a do a brief cleaning and changing of linens before the next set of visitors come in at 10:00. It is up to Shawn and I to make sure the unit is spotless before we are brought back out by guards. Shawn is taken back into the prison where-as I am returned to the parking lot.)

What will we do while on a visit? Lots of talking, cooking; we watch TV, can play video games, listen to a radio, play cards...go outside and sit at the picnic tables, and even play Frisbee. And of course, we relax and nap too!  [LOL]  But it is a very pleasant time despite the fact of WHERE we are! 

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me...I'll do my best to answer them!

Take care in the week ahead and I will be back later in the week!


[**You can find my son's story here on my blog under the headings of "Shawn Campbell's Journey to Justice!"]

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Physical therapy...ouch!

physical therapy table

Where ever did we get the notion that physical therapy wouldn't be so bad, that the 'good' pain would out-weigh the bad? So okay--that was MY notion...but I have to tell you that the good pain does NOT out-weigh the bad! In has made it worse!

Several months ago, I began experiencing a lot of pain in my shoulder joints as well as in the center of my back between my shoulder blades, and relentless pain in my collarbone area. With this pain, there became increasing soreness and stiffness to the point where it was effecting my range of motion in my arms. 

When I went to my doctor and told her about it, she did some simple strength tests to see if I was losing strength in my arms...and I had. Her asking me to resist or push against her hands... acerbated the pain. She asked me then, in November (2011), if I wanted to be referred to a specialist, and at that time, I said 'not yet'. I wasn't ready and I really hoped that it would pass...thinking it was merely a case of arthritis.

However, over the next few months, the pain steadily became worse, and lifting anything that had some weight to it...say from up in the kitchen cupboards, hurt so bad that I nearly dropped whatever I was getting. I knew that I had to give in and see a specialist. Again.

In 2005, I had similar pain in my right shoulder, which then was diagnosed as being caused by had gnawed at the end of my collarbone roughening it so that it was basically chewing into the tissue at the shoulder joint itself. Surgery was done...1/2 inch was taken off my collarbone to relieve the pain. (This was done after cortisone treatment, which lasted all of 4 hours for pain relief!) After I healed from the day surgery...I felt good as new!

That was until last October, when the pain came back...not in just the right shoulder, but in BOTH shoulders. Ugh!

I finally went to see my doctor again last month and she suggested I try physical therapy while waiting to see the specialist, as she knew it would take a few weeks to get in to see him. (Busy guy, I take it!) At first, I hesitated...thinking 'what if' physical therapy makes things worse since we don't know what is going on? I decided to talk to a physical therapist, and she asked that I do see them...because the last thing I wanted was for the muscles and tendons to seize. So, I agreed to go. As it turned was too little too late.

My first appointment was last Thursday, which was little more than a consultation, getting my history down and seeing what I could and couldn't do. This past Tuesday was my second appointment...let the pain begin. And ohhhh boy did it! The sad thing is...I did nothing but sit there and let the therapist do her magic, only to find out the tendons all down my back, my neck and shoulder areas HAD seized...and are as hard as stone.

First came the stimulator, much like my Tens unit:
Tens unit
What mine does look like
electrode pads that are self-adhering

The therapist put the electrodes on each shoulder, and over that, she placed heating pads much like the ones shown below:

moist heating pads 

I have to admit, that part of therapy was a 'hurts-so-good' 15 minutes. Then, she let me rest a few, took the heating pad and replaced the electrodes with a different kind, which stimulated a kind of cortisone through my skin, hoping to loosen the tendons. The pads look a little different though: 

Another 15 minutes waiting for this to work through my skin, and then she had me sit in a chair and with a gel, she began to massage my shoulders, neck, and back. Here was a hurts-so-good feeling...and it made me feel a little sore afterwards, but nothing I couldn't live with.

That came after. Boy did it ever......

Since Tuesday night, I have been in misery...and nothing seems to help. Not cold packs, my tens unit...not even Ibuprofen. Today...the pain has lessened for the most part, but my right collarbone is really tender and aches. I can only imagine how tomorrow will be after therapy this afternoon.

I am sure that you are wondering how it came to this, and I too wondered...and asked. My therapist says that there are a variety of reasons that this could/would have happened: poor posture (who me? LOL), age (yep--knew that was coming!), lack of exercise (which I hate, hate, hate to do...and with a disaster for a spine, it has made it harder for me TO do)...and the list goes on. (My body has had a lot of abuse over the years...heavy lugging, lifting, etc. as not only a farm girl, but as a wife and mother.  I have Cervical Spine disease, Scoliosis, and a herniated disc in my neck. This is one of the reasons too that I am disabled...the other being because of having PTSD.)

I am not looking for pity or sympathy here...the fact is that I am aging and this goes hand-in-hand with it. I take it for what it is...and I will get through this, whatever the outcome will be. I see a specialist on May 9th...and will find out if I need to have either a CT scan done or an MRI to see what changes have taken place over the last 7-8 years since my last tests were done.

Anyways...thanks for letting me tell you my woes...

Monday, April 16, 2012

The geese

My new friends...3/31/12

It's surprising that growing up on a farm and having lived a good share of my life rurally, that I never had the chance to watch any geese, except those honking-through over head. This year, in the last month, that changed with a pair of geese that decided they liked the field behind my house to feed.

Like clockwork, they showed up twice daily, once about 8 a.m. and then again about 5 p.m. They always landed in the middle of the I really had to push my camera to the limit to get photos of them.




It was really hard to catch them both in the same photo...they like to wander apart yet not too far from each other.



I have no idea which is which as far as the gender, but I have pretty much figured out the the one that 'talks' the most is likely the male. (LOL)


4/6/12 adventured closer to the yard...4/6/12

As you can see...I was able to get many photos of the pair. I tried to get them in various stances, coming and going as well as eating.


This one was getting noisy because I started into
the field to get a better photo!  4/8/12
They are a pretty bird, even if in some places they are a nuisance. There is a swamp across the road and behind a brush lot where a big flock pretty much lives there year around, but these are the only two that venture to the field. Curious.






This one is being mouthy...again!  4/10/12
The 10th was the last day that I saw them, and I started to get worried that something happened to them. Every now and then, I hear shots being fired, but beyond the swamp is a shooting range...and you never know whether it's someone practicing or actually 'hunting'.

Yesterday...finally...I heard the familiar honking and was able to see one land in the field...but it was alone. For several minutes, it seemed to call and call...but no others responded or came. 



I felt so bad for this one...I have no idea if the other is sitting on a nest...or...something did happen to it. I am hoping that maybe they will both come back...time will tell. 

Who knows...maybe the entire family will come for a picnic in the field! I'd love to see their babies!

Anyways, thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Rhubarb...a photographic journey

Little nubs of growth...3/18/12

As I mentioned in my previous blog: Taking the time, I have spending a lot of time getting back to things that I love...watching the world change outside my door as Spring settles in. I have not been more thoroughly fascinated in anything for some time as really "seeing" the moods of the skies, the various birds that flit about, and even photographically documenting the growth of a patch of rhubarb that is growing just off the back porch.

It may sound like a rather nutty thing to do, but I can only say that all of this...right down to watching the rhubarb change day-to-day/week-to-week has given me a wonderful sense of peace and even gratitude for being able TO see everything around me!

What follows are photos of the changes as the rhubarb develops and the leaves unfold. I have never noticed the beauty of these leaves before...and I hope that they will amaze you as well!  Enjoy!

In just two days time, the nubs in the top photo
developed into this...3/20/12
A closer view...
And the next day, the leaves began to unfold...3/21/12
Another close-up...
More plants are starting to fill-out...3/22/12
The texture of the leaves is amazing! 
A closer view of the leaf coming out of its housing...3/22/12
Isn't this beautiful?
It fascinates me just how fast these plants grow...3/23/12
The leaves really filled out in the last few days...3/27/12 
A new leaf reaching for the sun...3/27/12
A closer look....
The whole clump...3/27/12
And still more new 'crinkled' leaves develop...4/1/12
As you can see, on the left side of this plant, there is what looks
to be some wilting happening, that is from heavy frosts we've
been getting for the last week. It has also slowed the growth...

And one of the things that I have been observing over the last few weeks. In the days ahead...there will be more to come!

Thanks for stopping by!