Deciding What’s First

When I went to work outside the home, I always put the most demanding or disgusting chore I had to accomplish as the first thing I’d tackle. I figured I was strongest in the morning after I had my coffee and breakfast, but since I’ve been working at home, I forgot that discipline.

On Monday, I reinstated that technique by filing the letter I received from the city attorney to allow the city the required easement for my garage construction. I’ve never been comfortable with the courthouse and city hall environments, so I had put off this necessary evil for almost a month. A call from the attorney kicked me in the butt and I got this chore done–first thing. After I completed this task, I took the day off.

Tuesday was dreary around here. The temperatures didn’t climb anywhere near 70 degrees and the skies remained gray. I don’t do well with gray skies, so I kept the curtains drawn and painted for most of the day. I had no energy for a hard task today.

Wednesday’s first chore was to take out the garbage because we’re on a weekly pickup schedule for that day. Who wants filled bags of trash taking up space, right? So, I put that chore first.

Today I’m writing my first blog from my new computer. I’ve been dragging my feet because experience has shown starting from ground zero never goes well. But I need practice to get used to the smaller keyboard and screen. I also wanted to  download “Chrome” because I prefer that browser to Explorer. Mission accomplished. The next important task was to move a few files  from the old computer to the new one so I had what I needed to complete my blog post. As you can see, I’m up to speed for today.

What’s the moral in this dissertation? I’m encouraging you to put your hardest task of the day at the time of day when you’re strongest. For me, it’s first thing in the morning. For you, it might be later in the day. Figure it out, and I guarantee you will enjoy a satisfying day all day long.

#####

APPLE PIE AND STRUDEL GIRLS – BOOK 5 (CONTINUED)

Chapter 5

Camp Young, Arizona–February—Josie said goodbye to her parents in the kitchen at breakfast the day she left for nurse’s training. She couldn’t bear to see them crying at the train station, so she asked Rosalie, Donna, and Mary to take her to meet the train for Minneapolis. Once in the city, she would take a bus to the airport. She found the gate with little trouble and waited for her flight to be announced.

As she climbed the stairs from the tarmac to board the plane, Josie’s chest tightened. She never flew before and the whole idea of flight scared her. She preferred her feet stay on the ground.

Her travel lasted all day. The pilot set the plane down in Kansas City and then again in Denver to refuel.  As the plane took off and landed, Josie compared the sensation she experienced to the ups and down with her favorite roller coaster at the country fair. When the trip ended in Phoenix, she understood why Johnny became a pilot.

Before Josie disembarked the plane in Arizona, the captain announced the current temperature to be 101 degrees. When the attendant opened the door, a blast of hot dry air took Josie’s breath away. She thought she just walked into a blast furnace as she descended the steps of the plane to make her way across the tarmac and into the airport. She wondered how any place could be so hot in February.

She boarded a bus which would take her to Camp Young, Arizona–the training center where she would spend the next four weeks. She and the other recruits were dropped at a guard house where they needed to sign in. Jeeps brought the girls to headquarters. On the way they got a good look at the base which consisted of an odd collection of old buildings and endless rows of tents

.A male officer welcomed the bus load of women to Camp Young and waved them to a table where  a female officer handed everyone a uniform, a pair of heavy leather boots, a steel helmet, and a canteen belt.

Next they received a tent assignment. The tent she was assigned to stood on a wooden platform. Four cots and orange crates to store their personal items would serve as home for the duration of their training. The surroundings reminded Josie of a similar tent she encountered at Girl Scout Camp when she was eleven years old. Her three bunk mates were already storing their gear.

Josie introduced herself. “Hi, I’m Josie Schneider from Wisconsin.”

A pretty blond shook Josie’s hand.  “Come on in, Josie. It’s nice to meet you, Josie; I ‘m Theresa from California.”

A redhead continued the introductions. “I’m Maggie from Maine.”

Finally the tallest girl with the darkest hair Josie ever saw came forward. “And last but never least, my name is Joan. I’m from the great state of Texas. I bet you never experienced the desert in February, did you sugar?”

Josie laughed and played along. “You’ve got me, Tex. This Yankee never even dreamed February anywhere was this hot.”

Joan laughed with her. “Don’t worry sugar, You’ll get used to it and eventually you’ll wonder why you weren’t born here. I heard snow is highly over rated.”

Josie laughed. “I understand we’re to report back to headquarters as soon as we’re settled. Then we’ll have supper in the mess hall at 1700 hours.” She looked right at Joan. “That’s five o’clock, Tex.”

Joan put her arm around Josie. “Well, bless your heart. I guess we’d better git a wiggle on then. Come on girls. Snowball here seems to have become our fearless leader.”

Headquarters overflowed as two hundred nurses filed in. A hush fell over the female chatter when the male commanding officer stepped up to a podium. “Welcome to Camp Young, ladies. I’m Major Henderson. While you are here, it is the army’s intent to put you through drills and other activities you never imaged. This training is tough but necessary. It is our job to prepare you for some of the experiences you may encounter in the field. At this time, we are not aware where your orders will take you; our job as training officers is to prepare you for combat situations. We’ll begin tomorrow at “0600.”  Your instructors are responsible to train you properly. But before we begin to whip you into shape, we’re providing some good chow tonight. Enjoy it. After tonight, you will be eating MRE’s and other field delicacies. Don’t be late. Dismissed!” The major left the building and the nurse’s chatter resumed.

“What the heck are MRE’s?” Theresa asked.

Joan answered. “It’s army talk for meals ready to eat.”

“Yum.” Maggie said.

Josie chimed in. “Yum, indeed.”

*****

When the women reported for duty at  six o’clock the next morning, Josie realized her extensive Girl Scouting experience, even survival training in the woods, didn’t prepare her for Camp Young.

Their first assignment was to take a tent down, move it 10 kilometers and then put it back up again to prepare them for moving a field hospital. They were instructed on the measures they needed to take to keep equipment sterile in the most adverse conditions.  After lunch, they experienced how to handle handle poisonous snakes and scorpions, not to mention fire ants and other poisonous insects.

Joan, Maggie, Theresa, and Josie climbed into their cots after an exhausting day.

Maggie sighed. “I suppose I’ll dream of snakes and other creepy crawlies tonight.”

Theresa added. “I think I found muscles my body never used before.” She paused. “Hey Tex, I thought the desert got cold after the sun went down.”

“Who told you that, chickadee?”

“I think I read it somewhere.”

Joan quipped. “I wouldn’t go back to that library again if I were you. Let’s just shut up and get some shut-eye. God knows what they’ve got cooked up for us tomorrow.”

Josie had the last word. “For once we agree, Tex. Pleasant dreams.”

*****

For the first week of her stay at Camp Young, Josie wondered if she had made a mistake by enlisting. Arriving from a cold climate made the dry heat harder on her than some of the other women–especially Tex. But day by day Josie adapted. She learned how keep her body hydrated to prevent fainting or suffering sun stroke. She learned to work steady and pace herself to conserve her energy. She complained about the heat but she wouldn’t let a simple thing like weather defeat her.

Every morning began at 5 a.m.  The nurses reported to the exercise yard for calisthenics and weight lifting before chow. After breakfast, they hiked twenty-miles in fatigues, steel helmets, and combat boots, carrying thirty-pound backpacks, mess kits, and gas masks. After lunch, they attended classes on how to camouflage themselves to blend into their environments. Other classes taught them how to improvise when the didn’t have normal equipment to do their jobs like making a bed pan from a newspaper and stretchers from trousers. They even learned how to chlorinate water.

Some of the training required they breathed mustard gas and other lethal chemicals in order to identify them. They even crawled on their bellies over seventy-five feet through a tear-gas chamber and learned how to extinguish incendiary bombs.

One of the final tests required the nurses to maneuver through a “no man’s land” of trenches and barbed wire. Charges of dynamite exploded on either side of the trench, while machine gun bullets zinged a few inches over their heads. The nurses became skilled at triage techniques for incoming wounded soldiers.

Everything they endured at Camp Young served a purpose. The army brass wanted to ensure the girls got tough enough to face the hardships they would experience after they deployed.

The four short weeks at Camp Young simulated the hell the women would experience in field hospitals. The army did a good job preparing them physically; however, no program could prepare them for the sights, sounds, and putrid odors of battle and death. They would learn those elements on the job.

Chapter 6

Lacrosse, Wisconsin—March—The last time Rosalie felt sick in the morning, she turned out to be pregnant, and today she started her day in the bathroom vomiting. She didn’t want to think she might be pregnant again, especially with Angelo gone. How would she face a birth alone when Angelina’s birth left her so depleted? She missed one period already but attributed it to the stressful goodbye she said to Angelo over six weeks ago. When she missed her second period, her fears proved to be right.

After another week went by, and Rosalie found herself sitting in Dr. Ward’s office again. When the nurse called her name, Rosalie took a deep breath and braced herself for the news she expected to get.

The doctor did a pelvic exam and said, “Well, Rosie,  Gina will be a big sister about six months from now.”

“Are you sure doctor?”

“Quite sure, my dear.”

Rosie’s eyes welled up in tears. “How am I going to do this?”

The doctor helped her sit up on the examining table. “Don’t cry, Rosalie. Everyone who loves you will help you get through this pregnancy. Don’t worry about a thing.”

“But Gina’s birth was so hard last time, doctor. It took me months to recover, and Angelo helped so much. Now he’s gone and I have Gina to care for as well as a new child..”

The doctor raised his eyebrows. “Your husband enlisted?” ”

Rosie nodded. The doctor continued. “You must really miss him, but everyday women come in here and must face having a baby without their husband by their sides.”

“I suppose.” Rosalie said in a low tone. “But I don’t want to go through a birth without Angelo.”

The doctor took her hand. “I’m afraid you will must.  I will take good care of your health. You’re in a safe place, and you’ll be okay. When times seem too hard to go on, think about the women around the world who are having their babies in jungles and bombed out buildings. At least your baby will be born in a clean, safe hospital.”

“I must sound like a baby. I never thought about that.” Rosalie hung her head.

“You’ll be fine, Rosalie. Mark my words.”

Rosalie dressed and left the doctor’s office ashamed she showed the doctor her self-pity, but she still stung from Angelo’s decision to enlist. Now she needed to tell him she was pregnant again through a letter.

After Gina went to bed that evening, Rosalie wrote to her husband.

March, 1942

 My dearest sweetheart,

 Everything at home is fine. I do miss you so much, Angelo, I find my body actually aches for your touch. Some nights I dream your arms are wrapped around me, and you are whispering secrets into my ear. Then I wake and must realize you still are away.

 I’m writing to tell you I’m pregnant. That’s right, sweetheart, we’re having another baby. I went to the doctor today to confirm my fears. The baby will come in August. 

 I’m looking forward to you returning home after boot camp, and I pray everyday your drill sergeant won’t kill you before then.

 Sending all  my love, Rosie,

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Deciding What’s First

  1. I’ve been praying for some gray skies and some rain. It’s been dangerously dry and excessively hot here the entire summer. I’m ready for a day in at the computer. Good practice to do the hard stuff first. That’s what I do. I always need a written list. I’ll have to go back and read your chapters later. I can’t even keep up with short blogs these days. Good to see you still have a little fight left in you. Go get’em girl. 🙂

      • The rain dance worked. We had real rain and I’m hoping it helped with the fires. I know what you mean about the blog. I’ve been tempted many times to throw in the towel. But the few who visit my blog are those that keep me going in life too. I tend to give up too easily. I’m being taught to persevere. The more I connect with others in their area, the more they connect with me. Hang in there.

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