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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Wanted: One Mouser Cat

Must be willling to work nights.  During day must assume another identity so as not to traumatize resident dog.  Mouser Cat must possess keen mousing skills and be able to dispose of all remains before sunrise.  Salary commensurate with experience and results.  Please come for interview in a disguise.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"Next to the Last of the Mohicans"

I like this guy.  He exhibits pluck and exudes savoir faire, no?  Furthermore, I can relate to him.  That guy in history who "also ran".  The common foot soldier in the historical battle that turns the tide of history.  The inconspicuous mother of a statesman that sways the masses.  The best friend of James Dean or the next door neighbor of Albert Schweitzer.  A small peg in the wheel that moves the history of mankind forward whose name will only be known to a small handful.  My fifty ninth year seems to be rolling out as highly introspective.  I want to hit 60 with a splash.  Perhaps it's the significance of yet another decade or the realization that the NEXT decade birthday I encounter may be full of drool and artificial parts.  So, in preparation for my upcoming birthday in the spring I've been striving to pack some things into this year that I may not have normally considered significant.  I'm reading 60 books, giving away 60 things, walking 60 miles, going vegetarian for 60 days, doing 60 blog posts--you get the picture.  My goal is to cap off the year with 60 miles on the Appalachian Trail if anyone would like to join me.  I realize that by going public I lay myself out for inspection.  That's OK.  Maybe someone will "go thou and do likewise."  Perhaps I'll write a book about it.  Not sure the world is on the edge of it's global seat waiting for my post-menopausal ruminations, but then again, I feel somewhat compelled to turn to the faceless throng and at least give a wave and a goofy grin...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Satur Day

"Oh my heck! When I want to kiss her I will!"  (a note I found in a pile today which I took from a kid last week )

Putting my finger on the pulse of just one day in my mortality...Today I
--read 14 pages from the Book of Mormon
--finished knitting the toe on grandson Pete's Christmas stocking
--fetched my Bountiful Basket
--shopped for groceries
--fed the "boys" their daily hay
--kavetsched with "Off-the-grid Bill" in the alpaca field about latter-day prophecies (watch out for the year without rain that's coming up!), hay, provident living and government grants
--washed dishes
--put away the ice cream freezer and raclette grill after locating ALL the multiple parts
--cleaned out under the sink
--herded the "girls" off the road not one, not two, not three or ever four but FIVE times!!!!!  They have become free-ranging "lawn ornaments" due to the lack of water and subsequent lack of food in their pasture
--put up an alpaca barracade of sorts using a wooden pallet, a septic tank cover, and a garden hose
--washed 5 front windows inside and out
--cut down perrenials in front
--washed bird poop off of the porch
--cleaned the remains of a dead mouse out of a drawer
--soaked a pot in which I burned apples I was cooking last week.  I'm afraid it's a goner.
--made a crockpot of white bean and hamhock soup
--did wash
--watched two episodes on Amazon Prime Instant View of Friday Night Lights to which I am strangely attached (Texas high school football??????  Really, Mad...)
--called an aunt and a cousin
--fed my sourdough start
--washed off some shelves
--cleaned out my lazy Susan in the kitchen
--soaked up some gorgeous September sun with Mugsy
And now I'm taking a bowl of strawberries up to my bed where my day will end knitting and watching TV.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Eschatology and Elixirs

Eschatology i/ˌɛskəˈtɒlədʒi/ (from the Greek ἔσχατος/ἐσχάτη/ἔσχατον, eschatos/eschatē/eschaton meaning "last" and -logy meaning "the study of", first used in English around 1550)[1] is a part of theology, philosophy, and futurology concerned with what are believed to be the final events of history, the ultimate destiny of humanity—commonly referred to as the "end of the world" or "end time".

The Oxford English Dictionary defines eschatology as "The department of theological science concerned with ‘the four last things: death, judgement, heaven, and hell’."[2]

In the context of mysticism, the phrase refers metaphorically to the end of ordinary reality and reunion with the Divine..

I've never actually known what eschatology definitively meant.  Paco has responded "Eschatology" on many many occasions when I've  asked him what he will be speaking about in church.  I always assumed (using my best context clue skills) that he meant "mysteries."  So when I encountered a deep deep mystery, I immediately responded mentally with, "Ahhhhhhhh....eschatology..."   Two weeks ago I took a crockpot of pulled pork to a family picnic in Utah.  I left the leftovers with my kids and brought the pot home dirty because it looked like it might need some elbow grease to get it clean  The fact that that crockpot ended up in the back of my car trunk for 4 or 5 days and then was left on the garage floor for ahem...another 9 a topic for discussion at another time when I open myself up for "deep dark faults that we hide."  Get on to the mystery, Mad!  You're losing them!  YESTERDAY you can imagine my utter shock and incredulity when I found that crockpot--glass lid lying neatly beside it--resting in our side field out by the bonfire pit!!!!!!  Closer inspection revealed that the pot was in perfect condition and had been meticulously licked clean both inside and out!!!  And that's my story!  I immediately suspected Snoopy, the neighbor's beagle.  But HOW????????  He would have had to have drug it over a cement garage floor, through the garden boots, over the door frame, down a step and about 50 feet over rocks!!!!    Paco suspects it to be the work of a raccoon, whom he insists are very very clever.  It's the whole opposable thumb thing that has me stumped.  I'm thinking an opposable thumb would be critical to the operation.  What do you think?????  Sounds like the "end of ordinary reality" to me...

 And THIS is my elixir!!!  No, I didn't melt chocolate chips!  I cleaned out my fridge and fired up the Champion juicer.  To say that this juice is fit for the Gods is a gross gross understatement.  It defies description.  Delectable.  Magnificent.  The vegetables I remember juicing were tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, and kale (about the only thing my garden yielded this year), but I can neither confirm nor deny that there may be other ingredients.  I got carried away.  I added some salt and downed a heaping glass of this.  I resisted the overwhelming urge to drop everything and write sonnets, symphonies, and Pulitzer fiction!!  I think I'll go to bed comtemplating how I'm going to use the extra decade of life I'm sure I added to my mortality today...

Saturday, September 8, 2012

An Open Letter to the Animal Kingdom

Please be forewarned that any and all animal life entering the residence of Paco and the Mad Hadder who have NOT been domesticated, named and given a bowl of food and water by said Paco and Mad Hadder will be dispatched immediately.  This includes (but is not limited) to those of you who crawl, fly, leap, slither, or dart.  As for the squirrel who sprinted in last night and is now sequestered in the cellar, you have been warned!  One tiny tooth inserted into our food storage down there will necessitate immediate declaration of WAR!  Touch just one potato and your fate will be sealed.  Heretofore mice have been semi-tolerated.  The residents have placed posion and then semi-good humor-edly disposed of the remains.  The rodent who DIED in the washing machine bin recently has necessitated institution of a zero tolerance policy.  ALL FOREIGN INTRUDERS BE THEY BAT, MOUSE, SQUIRREL, COYOTE, BIRD, FLY, OR WILDEBEAST WILL BE MERCILESSLY BROOMED WITHOUT FURTHER ADO.     ...The Management

Friday, September 7, 2012

7 Random Happiness Moments

My newest granddaughter, Maren, weezling her way into her father's heart
My friend, Melonie, posing with a gnome  named Gnerdy I knit for her
My oldest grandchild, Lily, at her field day in Centennial, CO

Grandsons, Pete and Charlie, keeping cool

Happy houseplants on my old-fashioned grandma porch
My English garden dainty ladies

Charlie and Pete enjoying mud

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I've Never Seen the Likes...

I SOOOOOOOOOO didn't have seminary teachers the likes of THESE!  But then I guess I can't account for what they did "over there" after the last bell rang...

Cyber Sweet Nothings

4/6/97  7:36 P.M.

Hi Jerry,
I noticed you on the Singles listing.  Are you still in Beijing?  I'm going to be in Osaka and Singapore this summer.
Your job sounds interesting.  I teach English in a high school.  I read more than I should, ski slowly not to miss the sights, tamper with dog breeding, and raise 3 kids.  My married life included 13 very interesting but tempestuous years with a very "artistic" concert pianist.  We did some exotic things, and unfortunately his mental health took some exotic turns also.  I''m 5'10", black hair, 145 lbs. 43 years old.  I used to be way more funny.  But every now and again I kick it in and make people laugh.  I'm very converted to the gospel.
Always looking for friends and interesting men on the internet.  I'm a pretty loyal corresponder. Write if you're interested.

4/7/97 12:42 P.M.

You're among a short list of women who saw my profile on the web and sent me a message.  I'm still in Beijing and will be for another couple of months.  Then it will be back to the states, possibly via Melbourne, Perth, Manila and Hong Kong.  My job is quite interesting, and at the moment quite time-consuming.
I don't tamper with animals--with my work schedule, that's what it would be if I tried to maintain pets.  Back in the U.S. I have a couple of cocker spaniels on my refrigerator.
Unfortunately, both of my children died shortly after they were born.  Thus, for the moment I'm missing out on the joys and sorrows of parenthood.
I'm 45, 6'1", 175 pounds, brown hair and eyes, with tortoise shell glasses.  (Does that really matter on the Internet?)
Your name sounds like something from within the British Empire, but the .us at the of your e-mail address tells me that you're probably located in the U.S.  You have an advantage, knowing where I'm located.  Where are you located?
What happened to your sense of humor?  You'd have trouble convincing me that after 13 tempestuous years married to a concert pianist whose mental health turned like a Formula 1 racecourse, you've lost must have been quite an adventure.
I'm quite converted to the Gospel as well.  That's why I particularly like the Beijing Branch.  Both the Branch members and the spirit are quite strong here, and I'm fortunate to be exposed to them.
'What will take you to Osaka and Singapore?  I have people trying to persuade me to move to Singapore for a year.
What would you like to know?

Thus began an innocent correspondence.  Do not fear that I am going to post all 13 bound volumes of letters we exchanged over a 14 month period of time while Paco was in China and I was in Idaho.  I merely posted these first two verbatim so that the gentle reader can catch the nuances of two single strangers meeting in cyberspace--separated by thousands of miles of continents and oceans...

Monday, September 3, 2012

Self Loathing or Blame It On Brothers and Sisters!

Head hanging.  Idle toe poking in the dirt.  Looking up for even the hint of compassion in the eyes of any readers who haven't vacated the premises and moved on to a blogger who actually...blogs.  The truth is that NO one has missed this blog more than I.  Writing it is certainly in my top 10 favorite things to do.  If it's any consolation--I've written dozens of post in my head!!  And thought of toting around a small notebook to write down my ideas.  But never fear!  In an effort to NOT go quietly into 60, I have committed to writing 60 blogposts (in addition to some other things I'm going to do 60 of) before I turn 60 in April!!! 
Part of the blame for my slack certainly goes to a TV series I adopted hook, line, and sinker!!  I picked up the first 3 seasons in a thrift shop in Jackson last summer.  Oh my everloving goodness.  And then it wasn't bad enough that I gave MYSELF over to it--I hooked my daughter as well.  We obsessed.  Not since Gilmore Girls have we done that!!!!  Shelly even admitted to including the Walkers subconsciously in her prayers!!  That's bad.  I finished today, and I just want to part with a little shoutout to all my "peeps":  I've loved you all.  Kevin and Scotty, I applaud your courage and wish I were your neighbor so we could raise those babies together!!!!  Kitty, REALLY??????  Sarah and Luke, you make me believe in romantic love.  Nora, my goodness.  You are an iron woman and deserve some deep lie-free love.  Justin, I think you were my favorite.  Saul, who knew you could sing??????  Rebecca?????  Holly????????  Nurse girlfriend???????  Tommy, you slunk off.  Why?  Robert, we need you this November!!! Sarah's newfound sister introduced in the ladies' room at the wedding?  I feel so CHEATED to not get YOUR story.  And Brody...badaboom, you old cuss. 
My friends Jeff and Mary took pity on me today after I laid the whole confessional on them and gave me 3 seasons of Friday Night Lights.  We'll see.
Blessed an angel, Maren Emerson Giles, on Sunday in Orem.  And last but not least...A Definitive List of What I Brought Home In My Subaru From Utah Today:  25 pounds of organic carrots, 3 packages of spinach, 5 pounds of oranges, 1/2 bushel of apples, 1/2 bushel of tomatoes, 1 cantalope, 3 bottles of green drink, 2 red peppers, 2 bunches of parsley, 3 bunches of grapes, 1 head of celery, 1 case of V-8, 10 pounds of new potatoes, 3 avocadoes, 2 heads of lettuce, 3 jalapeno peppers, and if you guessed I'm starting a juice fast give yourself a star.  Stay tuned.

Monday, July 30, 2012

"Where do I begin... to tell the story...?"

"have visited your blog and i got a reliable and megnificent information with your post.Thanks for sharing useful information with us.Great!!!!"  (blog comment)

In an ever-escalating attempt to provide "a reliable and  megnificent information" to the nameless masses, I, Madhadder, will now tell you a love story.  This story doesn't begin in a high school chemistry class or even a BYU Home Evening family.  It doesn't have a prom in it or a shy blushing bride.  The story I am about to tell is about Madhadder and Paco.  It will begin in cyberspace, circle down through China, wind its way through New Jersey, make a brief pit stop in Nebraska, and then drop with a dusty thud on a charming little 8 acre hobby farm 6,000 feet above sea level in the Great State of Idaho.  Our story isn't about walking babies in the night or waiting up for teen-agers.  It is short on fast-moving drama but hopefully long on emotion.  I will tell it in an as of yet undetermined number of posts through letters mostly--13 bound volumes--and a few pictures. It's time.  Only just not right now.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Shhhh!!! What was that??

I make no pretense about country living.  It can be gritty and unsettling.  For instance, at the moment two dead birds are decomposing under our crabapple tree.  Inevitably I will put on my "big girl jammies", shut my eyes, plug my nose, and hope that the direction I've pointed myself in and the movements I've made with my arms and a dustpan will result in contact and subsequent disposal.  If I calculate steps correctly I can fling the birds over the fence away from the house with my eyes shut and my nose incapacitated.  I've practiced a few times.  Earlier in the summer the neighbor's dog (Dear Santa, Please bring me an airgun.) feasted on another dead bird spewing feathers, carcasses, and small birdie feet all over  the lawn.  Before I could clean that up, she'd added a half-eaten raccoon to the mix.  Picture me green.  Her beagle counterpart regularly knocks over the trash and rummages for delicacies--boule (look it up, and you'll be flabbergasted that a beagle would have a taste for such), decaying meat from refrigerator cleaning day, a whole bag of catsup and mustard samples from Subway, and yes...diapers.  Mayhem.  Decay.  Dung.  Like I say--gritty and unsettling.  And THAT'S outside!!!  Inside is not much better.  I've posted about scratching noises under the floorboards beneath this computer, a walking talking SCRATCHING SQUEEKING oven, a bird who flew down from the library (origin still unknown), flies ad nauseum, mice taking up residency, and bats from HELL!!!  We actually went 4 years without bats, but this year they are back.  Of course they are.  I'm bunking in the loft this summer because I gave my 5 week guests the bedroom.  The scratch scratch scratch up there within the walls or under the eaves or behind the filing cabinet curls my skin!!!!  I KNOW it is bats!!!!!  Bats in the attic, bats in the fireplace, bats in the belfry!!!!  And then there's the mouse.  Not the one who died feet up on the kitchen floor, not the one who staggered into the middle of the family room and collapsed, not the one who cowered to his death facing the corner of the library bathroom.  THIS mouse is bold.  He STRUTS around the family room between the entertainment center and some drawers by the woodstove.  He sickens me with his nonchalance!!!!!!  The least he could do is scurry!!!!  I surrounded him tonight with poison bait.  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT FORCE ME TO SET A TRAP!!!!  Just take the bait and die.  Smell a few days if you must, but just die--preferably far far away.  I profess to be genteel.  I read a lot of books, knit quietly, sip tea, watch British series, vote conservatively.  Carnage?  Not so much.  Decomposition?  Keep it in the compost bin.  Bird parts?  Just cooked chicken ones.  Raccoons?  Just Rocky.  Bats??  Inside quilts and dugouts.  Mice?  At the side of my computer, thank you.  Scratching??????  Inside my longjohns.  Oh, and then there was the day I dscovered a pulsing afterbirth at the side of the water trough, and the day,Talia, our mother alpaca, was frothing at the mouth...and the day...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Prodigal

Do you remember jump rope in grade school?  I was a passionate jumper and can still recall at least a dozen chants AND how to spell M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I and O-H-I-O with my feet while I jumped.  I liked to be a turner, and I really really liked red hot Peppers!!!  High waters, not so much. The part that DID make me nervous was waiting by the edge of the rope while it went by, went by, went by.  My arms would make the rotation movement of the rope as I looked for an opportune time to jump in.  If you misjudged, the rope hit your leg, and you were out.  After almost 2 months of blogging hiatus, that's how I feel.  Like I'm waiting for just the perfect height of the rope, perfect tilt of the planet, perfect timing just after the rope hits the pavement.  At the risk of getting a leg whip, I'm just going to jump in.  I readily admit that this blog of mine serves really no purpose  except to allow me to indulge myself and try and make some order out of the chaos of just living.  I wish I had a really smashing excuse for my silence--"All 10 fingers were cut off in a meat carving event run horribly amok!"  "The doctor prescribed complete bedrest for my hands due to an unforeseen blood malady that erupted due to lack of rain!"  "I took a bet!"  "Aliens!!  Lots of them with a weird weird agenda!"  Actually my best excuse is 6 weeks of computer downtime.  I took a smashing trip to the East coast.  I went to camp.  And I've done more weeding than could possibly be healthy.  But I digress.  Once I start into the weeds and flies, I know my readers (all 3 of you) nod off...zzzzzz....
Actually I am brimming over with things to write about!!  Pictures?  Oh yes, I have them!  Adventures?  By the score (or at least by the scorelette).  Alpacas running wild in the streets?  I DO need to post all of this and more!  So...can we just forgive and forget?  Make up?  There.  I've jumped in.  The turners have a good rhythm going.  Not quite ready for Double Dutch, but jumping, nevertheless...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Closet Farming

Paco and I have decided to come out.  "Our names are Madhadder and Paco, and we own a farm."  It all started so innocently--a 1924 farmhome in need of a caretaker and 8 acres that cried, "FARM ME, SEYMOUR!"  At first we were just mowing and fighting dandelions.  Then we got into the hard stuff--gardening, outbuilding repair, landscaping, and rhubarb.  Before we knew it, we were asparagus users, llama owners, and even started dipping garlic.  From there it was a short freefall into raspberries and hostas.  A tractor soon followed, and when our resistance was completely down--a 4-wheeler.  I kept thinking that a rope swing would keep Paco from succumbing to the habit, but no, once his hands were dirtied by the taint of his own land, he sunk into the mire.  Our parole officer has said that chickens would be the worst possible therapy, but the admonition may have fallen on deaf ears.  We see no out.  The addition of 11 alpacas seemed to designate the inevitable Point of No Return.  All that really remains to be done is to add our warning for the collective good of society.  Please know that we're seeking help.  And for the love of all that we hold dear, be ever vigilent in watching your own children for tell-tale signs...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Horse is a Horse, Of Course, Of Course...

(Spoiler alert:  This post may tread on some toes.  In the event that it does, please let that not be the end of our conversation together.  I love a good debate!!)

My abrupt nocturnal awakenings appear to be directly related to the general state of my mind.  In other words, you can trace my recent week of sleeplessness to a recent thrashing I have taken for a book I confidently placed in the hands of my 7th graders--a whole class of 29--bright kids for the most part--readers but for a small handful.  Give yourself 5 "I DONE Good!" points if you can guess from the post title the name of the book.  Scroll back and look if you must.  I'll wait.  And then the fun will begin!

 In the attempt to expose adolescent readers to more non-fiction (a task no less daunting than trying to change adolescents' eating habits), I purchased 25 copies of Seabiscuit, using up the last crumbs of my budget, throwing in some money of my own, adding my personal battered copy to the mix, and gleaning the library.  Not unpassionately did I enter this project.  I love the book and passed it out with much gusto and the promise that the kids would also love it.  My intro was met with groans which I ignored.  Then I watched the transformation.  About 7 chapters into the book the majority "hit a vein" and devoured the book.  Enter (the day before the book was to be completed) two mothers who (to put it mildly) did not carry my same devotion to this book about a quirky, "undersized, knobby-kneed,[1] and given to sleeping and eating for long periods" horse who caught the heart and spirit of a depression era country--one of the greatest animal stories ever told.  They found the language offensive (I admit there was nary an English nanny in the entire book) and couldn't believe I would assign a book of such quality.  And therein began my sleeplessness.

My response has been to apologize profusely to the mothers and my entire class for esposing them to the language in the book.  Oh, and that undescribed reference to prostituion in the chapter about horseracing in Mexico.  But what to do with 25 copies of the book?  Wite-Out?  A bonfire? resale?  A closet?  Razor blades?  Do we throw the whole baby out because she peed in the bathwater?  Help me out here.  What do you think?

Conclusions (which you DO reach eventually if you cogitate long enough about anything):  I will defend forever your right to read something.  I will defend the inestimable value of this book.  OH, YES!!!  OH, YES!!!!  Let there be NO mistake.  I DO NOT believe in whitewashing the world.  I DO believe it is our God-given duty to help each other navigate responsibly through this world.  I DO believe we are what we read.  Mealy mouthed books make for mealy-mouthed people.  I DO believe that many words of the vernacular of the day are unacceptable.  I do NOT use them.  I DO believe bad, shallow writing without offensive words is way way way way more damaging to my spirit than good good writing about the best of human values sprinkled with a few offensive words. Etc. Etc. Etc. Getting down off my soapbox.

My very articulate and bright students (for the most part) in this class joined me in a spirited discussion about censorship which was obviously prompted by the reading of this book.  As for Seabiscuit, they suggested perhaps a parent's permission slip  giving the go ahead.  They  suggested I could read it aloud and add my own censoring. Both workable solutions.

I found this quote which makes sense: "When middle school parents challenge books, it's often a last gasp to stay involved," says Camille Powell, a Houston area school librarian whose BookMoot website is a go-to destination for educators and kid lit aficionados. "Elementary schools are fairly responsive to parental input. However, the junior high transition years are frustrating and difficult for parents as their control over their children and the school gradually erodes."  I WILL be more careful.  And who was I to think that I could go 23 years and not get some fallout along the way?

Oh, my last note is for the horse himself:  Your legend lives on. Sleep well under your anonymous tree, Seabiscuit...wherever that is.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

"Oh for a Book and a Shady Nook..."

"Diapers dragged the floor, salmonella dripped off thawing chicken breasts onto the counter and the phone rang out its throat as I eagerly read page after page of this middle-brow novel."

I found this on this morning. Here's hoping everyone out there has such a book absorbing their lives today!!

“Oh for a book and a shady nook,

Either indoors or out,

with the green leaves whispering overhead,

or the street cries all about.

Where I may read at all my ease

both of the new and old,

For a jolly good book whereon to look

is better to me than gold”

― John Wilson

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I Was So Scared I...

I'm not sure what kids "play" when they get together these days.  I suspect it involves a joystick.  Back in the day we played cowboys and Indians, house, farm animals, night games, board games when it was cold, Lewis and Clark (that story is like mother's milk to us Idahoans), and countless other concoctions which involved streets, empty lots, canal ditches, darkness, and oftentimes fire.  I am the youngest, so frequently I was pulled along and forced to adapt or at least take a minor part.  When I was five, my particular neighborhood at the time was fiercely engaged in a dramatic role play/adventure which involved very realistic exoduses (exodi?) through vacant lots and neighboring fields in a frantic attempt to outrun and evade...communists...Russians.  Our neighbors owned a set of abandoned motel units with which we had free rein. Oftentimes, we hid there under old dusty blankets, and I remember fervently praying we would not be caught.  I don't think my 5 year old mind knew the difference between reality and play at the time, unfortunately.  When the plot of our adventure called for travel, we took off through fields, oftentimes needing to stop along the way, build a fire, and roast hard little potatoes.  They were always undercooked--black on the outside.  Two years later I entered school.  The stakes were higher now.  Not only were those same Russians stalking me in my dreams and neighborhood play, they  also were, apparently, the reason we hopped under our desks when the terrifying siren sounded in drills..  Now, when we see those pictures, we all laugh and say, "Silly People of the 50's/Early 60's!!  Radiation isn't intimidated in the least by a wood desk blockade!"  Then, in third grade, enter, the Bay of Pigs.   I didn't know it was that until years later, and I saw pictures of Kennedy in his infamous rocking chair.  Rocking and fretting.  Why did the principal keep announcing over the intercom, "In the event..."?  The fervor of the these drills intensified as history unfolded.  Fortunately the nitty gritty traumatic global historical details of the news elude most children--in America, that is--sometimes.  I don't remember anything more than a few events associated.  But I DO remember one particular day.  We were having a bus evacuation drill, or so I thought.  All of the other times, we'd heard the alarm and headed for the bus.  Roll call and back to class.  On this particular day, however, the bus was instructed to take us all home.  Mid morning.  No drill!  Bombs were surely going to be raining on us before lunch.  When I realized this was not a drill and the REAL RUSSIANS WERE COMING, I did the unthinkable as the bus exited--I wet my pants.  I was truly truly panicked.  AND I left my coat at school.  My teacher brought it to me.  Those kinds of things stick in your head.  It was about 25 years later that I came face-to-face with bona fide  Russians--my first communists.  I was working at the time in the Texas State Senate in Austin.  A convoy of Russian diplomats had come to Texas--perhaps on a goodwill tour--but it looked all the world to me to be for the purpose of shopping!!!  Each of the dozen or so gentlemen were decked out in an expensive ten gallon Stetson, jeans,cowboy boots, and a fancy leather belt with a big old Texas longhorn belt buckle.  All of the senate staff were invited into the rotunda to behold them--Texas ettiquette requires such things, I suppose.  I'm ashamed to admit that I thought to myself, "Well, I'll be. They look just like everyone else."  I don't remember any punch or cookies;  I think we just gawked, maybe clapped a little, and went back to our offices.  Someone probably made a speech.  I'm sure it was diplomatic.  One must tread lightly around communists or bear the consequences.  Fifteen years later, I landed on communist soil.  The circumstances of that adventure are for another time, but let it suffice to say that when that plane landed in Beijing, for a few brief moments,  I was five again.  The communists were just outside that plane.  I should run.  I should grab raw potatoes and head off over the field so they wouldn't find me and do whatever communists do to little girls.  And for a brief moment before my rational mind returned, I almost ...wet my pants.

Oh, and Happy Happy Earth Day!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Up in the Night

I know it will delight some of you out there that I'm not sleeping. I know who you are, and I forgive your delight in my insomnia. It was a bad combination of stereo snorers, an immovable canine lump stategically placed, an overly efficient comforter, the new glow of my Ipad charger/alarm clock, and an unusually active mind. I do prefer to sleep, but hey, why fight it? Actually writing the blog title reminded me of something I attribute to my brother--Up in the night--he used that to describe someone who is a few screws loose, not typing with all the keys, a bubble short of plumb, not playing with a complete deck. All of which I guess describe me during 90% of my waking hours. I headed on over to catch up on some blogs. Jana Riess keeps cropping up in blogposts and Goodreads. Interesting. She's a name I hadn't thought of for awhile. In case you don't know her, Jana is the author of a book I'm currently reading, Flunking Sainthood. She has a bachelor's from Wellesley (where my friend Anna introduced her to the church), a master's from Princeton, and a PhD from Columbia. Her area of expertise is religion--lots and lots of degrees and time spent writing about religion. Plus she's funny. I met Jana in our ward in Princeton when she came back to visit once. We had a delightful conversation about Mormon kitsch--one of her pet subjects as well. Head on over  for the fun.  Alright, who's been messing with Blogspot?  This probably won't even publish.  My HTML cannot be accepted.  Tag is not closed.  Huh???  I shall cowboy on and hope this gets resolved.

 Paco brought home a dandy composter from Logan today as well as a deluxe chicken feeder.  He's going into warp speed to get the fencing and gates up so the Philosophers can return (they've been wintering down the road)--probably just in time for shearing!  I've missed them.  Rumor has it that someone's preggers...I think alpaca gestation is probably similar to llama gestation in which case very possibly we could have a baby alpaca mid Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Lake winter.  Perhaps the canine lump on our bed will have to share sleeping room with a camelid lump...We wouldn't be the first to cohabit with baby animals born out of season.  I'm just could happen.  Probably not so much the bed thing but possibly a box by the fire.

In other news--there really isn't any that I can mention here.  I don't feel inclined to rant this morning.  I don't have any recipes to post.  I really have no business taking up the webspace here.

I need advice about cheating in school.  It's a constant fly I keep trying to alleviate, but it just keeps buzzing around my ear.  Being  honest is such "entry level human behavior" to me that I almost have no place for it on my radar screen, so when it DOES show up (which believe me is frequently), I'm taken aback.  Sometimes I catch it personally, and then I run the risk of going nuclear right then and there.  More often I get little notes on my desk, or a student pulls me aside and informs me.  Today I got one of each, so I DO need to act.  Any long term solution suggestions?

I won 3 firestarters in the recent library contest.  I read about 20 books this year from January 15-ish to April 15.   What I won't do for a ticket in a glass jar and the anticipation of possibly winning something.  Last year I read 40 and won a great large bottle of lotion.  The year before I won an apron and a Farkle game.  High stakes here.

I need to "get up" in about 50 minutes.  Ugh.  Aargh. 

I'm thinking of starting another blog somewhere--maybe focus on one particular subject.  Branching out.  Maybe assuming another identity and toying with people.

I supported a mother today as we met with school administrators to discuss her son.  Why does a parent with a child at the top of the game need to fight for services while a parent with a handicapped child is protected under a mile of government mandates?  The great state of Idaho decided a decade ago not to fund gifted programs.  Come again?????????  And they obtained the joints they were smoking at the time from whom???

Here's something purely charming that I encountered in an autobiography today.  I wish you could meet this kid--I've taken a liking to him.  Enjoy.

"If you didn't know, my family is a nuclear bomb waiting to blow. We mostly try to avoid family outings together. We just get in fights--a little fist action, and it gets out of hand. We have to get the guns out. Outings would only end in a riot. At minimum, a fight will usually end with a black eye. Sometimes we end up crouched over someone in the ER. In fact, we have been to the ER so much the hospital was going to name a wing after our family As I said before, my family shouldn't have family get-togethers unless there's enough food to occupy us so we don't notice each other. So, we don't have family traditions. If we did it would just mean more hospital bills." (I love the part about being crouched over someone in the ER!)

Check out hugelcultur!  Gardening is such an adventure, isn't it?  We're putting an 80 foot one of these across the front of our house!!!!

Detecting some light out there.  I'm scared to death to push publish.  This may all disappear.  Cross your fingers.  Here goes!!!!

Friday, April 13, 2012


A book clerk at the Tattered Cover in Denver placed this book in my hand about 6 years ago. I never take book recommendations lightly. In fact I'm about 100% on reading (or at least purchasing for a future time) what people tell me to. This book rose quickly quickly to probably my top 5--maybe 3. Furthermore, sometimes whenever I discover someone else who has read it, we become instantly connected. One of my former students and I had a poignant conversation about it. I approached a stranger in an airport waiting area who was engrossed in it, and we had a phenomenol conversation. My son took it into a women's prison for a book group. Those women finished it ahead of schedule and clamored for more. My unbridled enthusiam for this book has not met with unqualified success, I regret to inform you. One friend said she couldn't follow it. Another said it was "all over the place." Those comments left me speechless. Currently my copy of this book is on loan with a young friend. I'm going to go get it today.

I watched the movie this morning. It was perfect. Just perfect. I can't even post this picture without tearing up. The spirit of this movie will most likely accompany me during this entire day. Perhaps it will never leave me. I can hope. But I actually have no adequate words to write about it, except that sometimes I feel and witness people surging towards God--in a very powerful personal way.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Few Days Late on This Anniversary

My son's reflections from Facebook on invading Baghdad with his fellow Marines.

Forgetting, Remembering, Hoping.
By Taggart Giles

... I have a horrible memory. I forget birthdays, names, places, work stuff, and pretty much everything else. Writing things down helps, but then I forget that I wrote it down. However, I won't, or better yet can't, forget ANYTHING from April 8, 2003.

I can't forget the sounds. I can’t forget the smells. I can’t forget the sweat, the blood, the fear, the hate, the pile of spent ammo casings, the cars racing toward me trying to end my life. I can't forget what it feels like to shoot at someone, or to be shot at. I can’t forget knowing that I would happily take a bullet for one or all of my brothers, and knowing that they would do the same. I can't forget what an RPG looks like flying past my head, or the relief I felt when it missed. I can't forget wondering who was going to make it out alive and who we would have to mourn over. I can't forget running out of food or water or ammo. I can't forget thinking that this was only one day, and wondering how many days were going to be like this. I can't forget the bullets impacting the cement just a few feet in front of us, hitting the seemingly invisible barrier and unable to penetrate. I can’t forget the memories of April 8, 2003.

I can't forget the love I had for my brothers; the heroes to my right and to my left; the clear mind; the adrenalin racing through my body. I can't forget how I had remembered every bit of training from the previous 6 years, or that EVERY other Marine did as well. I can't forget the pride I felt seeing my fireteam perform flawlessly under the worst conditions imaginable. I can't forget looking into the souls of every Marine of Fox Company, and understanding why it looked like we all just aged 10 years almost instantly.

9 years it's been; and somehow my memories become more vivid every day, like a movie you've seen thousands of times, being able to recite the lines and predict the next sequence of events as it plays on. I remember the flight home to the U.S.A. I remember coming home to a foreign land; one with strange sights and sounds and people; a place where I felt like a stranger. I remember wanting to leave this place and go back with my brothers, where I could carry my loaded rifle with me, and sleep on the floor of vacant buildings, and not worry about school, work, friends, bills, politics,

I remember my brothers. I remember the pain that they went through and continue to go through, though the bullets have stopped. I remember reading about them in the paper and seeing them on TV. I remember each of us going our separate way; getting new jobs, graduating from school, getting married; getting divorced; getting arrested. I remember moving away and losing contact with most of them. I remember craving their friendship, their companionship, their understanding. I remember the pain that I feel knowing that my brothers are suffering silently, and that I would give anything for the pain they feel to go away.

I hope that the changes I have gone through since April 8, 2012 are not permanent, and I will someday fade back to the old Taggart…someday. I hope my brothers can find peace in this life. I hope this movie stops playing someday, and I forget the words. I hope that we can all stay in touch. I hope my brothers can come to me for support, and that I will go to them. I hope that this is a priority for us. I hope that, though we are taking different paths through life, that they will remember me, and I will remember them. I hope we don’t lose another brother. I hope that we can be forgiven for our actions on April 8, 2003. I hope that we stop feeling guilty. I hope we can be happy. I hope we can forget. I hope we never forget.

-Taggart Giles

Monday, April 9, 2012

Participles? Really?

I woke up yesterday thinking about participles. Not just the joy and beauty of a simple participle to grace a sentence. My feeling was one of panic--two weeks until the ISAT's (the standardized test given each year in the great state of Idaho upon which NOW rests a school's very existence), and I don't think I've taught participles yet. The stakes are high this year. The state withheld money (as in from our salaries...insert eery music and doubletakes) with the edict that we could get it back in the form of bonuses (come again?????) IF our students proved proficient. Furthermore, only math and English are tested. I'll leave the kind reader to extrapolate the cosmic implications of such a system. Wait! It gets better! The bonuses of ALL teachers in the school rest on the students' performances on the test. In other words, SOME necks in the school are lined up on the guillotine,and all eyes are watching. Angst?? One of my fellow English teachers is developing a constant pain right below her sternum. Another says her sleep is down about 40%. So is it any wonder that instead of waking up contemplating the glory of Easter or even the dawn of a beautiful spring day I'm being shaken awake in the mouth of a rabid beast whose name is Participle...? It hurts my brain. Speaking of which--

• The human skull contains 22 bones.

• Your brain is more active and thinks more at night than during the day.

• The brain stops growing at age 15, but learning never stops.

• The spinal cord and nerves—known as the nervous system—let messages flow

back and forth between the brain and the body.

• We actually “see” with our brains; the eye is basically a camera.

• The strongest muscle in the body is the tongue.

• The average person has 32 teeth.

• Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never

stop growing.

• Your thumb is the same length as your nose

I'd like to take my thumb and wedge it right up the equal length nose of the suits who thought up Pay For Performance.

On the lighter side, enjoy this. Apparently this was completely spontaneous. The girl and her skateboard friend were just walking along and just happened to ask these guys for a tune. See if you find yourself wondering if the skateboard guy wishes he'd stuck with the music lessons.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Last week I almost stepped on a petrified squirrel in the parking lot between the police station and the library. It was a huge specimen--perhaps made even more so by its complete smashedness. Something extra heavy had come its way, no doubt. I was taking the same route today during my lunch break, and subconsciously kept an eyeball on the lookout. You can imagine my surprise when in the exact spot as last week's Rocky J. was a banana peeling! So here's my question: Is it possible that things are happening in nature that we just aren't aware of because we miss it? Could squirrels, in fact, transmogrify (I am not 100% sure that is a word, but it feels like it is) into banana peels under the right conditions which heretofore have just not been documented by science?? If John Carter can find himself lying in a cave in what looked to be southern Utah one minute and suddenly in a hatchling nursery on Mars the next, I'm not so sure anything anywhere anytime should be ruled out! Common sense tells me that scientists cannot now or have never been capable of being everywhere at all times graphing data and keeping track of EVERYTHING! Everything is so very much, you know. Along these same veins, I wonder if scientists ever stop and say, "Hey! Enough of this scientific method! Let's do something really bizarre and random! Let's crush Smarties and feed them to these cancer cells! Ready, set...GO!! Hey wait! Stand on one foot while you do it!" I'd made a heck of a scientist.

Paco went on a bit of a cattle round-up the other day. Forty some odd cattle needed to be moved from here up the road a few blocks is all (I guess that makes it a super mini drive), but scenes of City Slickers are certainly relevant here because Paco rescued a calf who got into the water trough somehow!!! Yippee Ki Yi Yo!! I asked if he had to do CPR. Nope. But he does say he will miss #51 and hopes little #18 gets healthier.

Have I mentioned lately how truly truly truly truly truly truly truly truly difficult my job is? Maybe I haven't, but I should. So I did. You wouldn't understand unless you're there--right in the arena...every day...the bell rings, you stick that mouthguard in, your new fresh opponents rush in, you don your gloves and take it in the gut over and over and over. First from the feds right on down from the state. And what they don't knock out of you, the kids will. Over and over. I could write a book. "But Mad!! I thought you loved your job!!!!!" I have a very passionate love/hate relationship with it which is actually twisted and sinister. I told someone today I felt like teaching grammar must be much like skating on bacon grease on a rink in a whirlpool. That's all I'll say about that.

I see Charles Manson is due to be paroled. They say he's difficult--ends up with sharpened pens which he seems to think he can joust with. AND they've caught him with cellphones TWICE!!!!! I know!!!! Where do you go punishment-wise when you need to discipline someone imprisoned for life??? No ice cream for a week? Rougher toilet paper? Cut his magazine subscriptions? I still recall the empty satanic eyes through which he sneered at us all in 1969. His photo at 77 reminded me of an eccentric mountain man. I see similar-looking specimens in the grocery store here sometimes--I wonder what he's been up to lo all these many years. Ahhh...the 60's.

We're reading Maniac Magee in one of my classes. I challenged them all to see how long they could run on a railroad track. I'll keep you posted on that. So far one kid made it a foot. Maniac RUNS a-l-o-n-g the track! Runs.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Did You See This??????????

I have basically cut sugar out of my life since mid October of 2011. Do not start addressing me as "Saint Madhadder", however. I have had a couple of cookies, some sixlets, one See's chocolate, and some gelato once. But basically I am 99% sugar free. My purposes are more spiritual than physical. I wanted some control, and I knew that sugar was a culprit for health ills as well. I knew I was doing my body good. And my pushing 60 body wanted to slim down as well. Going off sugar, incidentally, didn't affect my weight at all. But I'll bet my pancreas and kidneys would make you stand up and cheer if you could see them! Watch this video, and then we'll talk.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Peck..peck..peck peck..peck peck peck peck...

Random musings:
-Did anyone else see Steve Martin in the Tabernacle Choir yesterday??? (Sometimes I see things...AND my daughter saw a kangaroo in a local canyon once, AND I SWEAR I saw a zebra in Shenandoah National Park on Thanksgiving Day a few years ago!!! So we're a little used to having second sight. Don't feel badly if you missed him.) I immediately hoped that maybe the choir was going to break into something with a banjo solo but alas...nary.
-In other choir sightings! I soooo missed David Arculeta singing in the missionary choir!!! He's off to South of Ze Border somewhere--secret, so as not to attract attention. Shhhh... I'm thinking maybe a jungle would provide some good anonymity. Good on ya, young elder. Go thou forth!!!!! Oops! Here he is!!

-I've been gorging on a diet of really smashing non-fiction lately, but my current problem is everything I pick up POST these great books feels so very mwyeah..
-Do you remember that scene in Fiddler on the Roof when Motel's sewing machine arrives and the whole village comes to ooh and aah and the audience is supposed to think it's a baby? Well, it was just like that here yesterday when our....wait for it...

arrived!! Our new electric drum carder!!! This is the bomb! Now we can take the entire room of fleece we have in our cellar and turn it into gold just like in Rumpelstiltskin! I'm going to boil me up some vinegar and Dharma Trading dyes as well and make something truly drooly! Working on my spinning skills too of late. Spinning is much like chewing gum, patting your stomach, composing a symphony, AND minding a toddler all at once BUT I shall conquer it! So the demo of this carder showed this gal just slapping all manner of things onto the carder--leftover fleece, ribbon, carrot shavings (not really) and letting it morph into something WOW to spin. Stay tuned.
-Paco has become a farmer. Cool. He bought a blue tractor which seems way more useful than I currently am. Next week the visiting 40 head of cattle which have been using our corral as a maternity ward are leaving, and our alpacas are coming home from their winter retreat down the road!!! We have plans to go to Portland for a couple with our name on them and down Colorado way as well to adopt part of an on-line friend's herd. Look for a great post on all the Philosophers when it greens up a bit more around here! Paco has also been ripping down some fences in preparation for our 60 foot greenhouse (I KNOW!) and making ready for the chicks we're taking in. Yesterday he was waxing eloquent about the glories of goats. I'm campaigning for a pony.
I'm off to star hunt some more in the choir today.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

7th Inning Stretch

One of my classroom traditions is a 7th Inning Stretch--usually held in March sometime which is the 7th month of the school year. Most stretches over the years have included perhaps breakfast, a movie, board games, crepes, a chocolate fountain or sundaes. One class a few years back got creative and cooked hamburgers out in a snowy corner of the schoolyard on individual "stoves" which we made from those big industrial cafeteria cans that tomato sauce or fruit come in. I think I've opened a can of worms this year,however. One of my classes wanted to do "nightgames and a bonfire at the farm!!". It came off smashingly, so here you go!
This rope swing could have kept us all entertained for several more hours. I'm not sure who had more fun--the swingers or the "judges". Some dismounts included a foot lodged in the loop which was just too too hysterically funny.
The potluck food was long on Starbursts, donuts, marshmallows etc. and short on anything one might call supper.
Paco took us on a great hayride--slow enough that kids could hop off and on, jog alongside, run up and down the sides of the road and down into empty ditches.
Bonfires and log chairs. Yes, Becca is about to roast some red licorice.
I've been peeling this kid off the top of my couch at school all year. I think I've found a place where he can truly embrace his inner monkey!
In a moment of madness we brought out the electric car. All 24 got a turn to take a spin around the silo! Huge hit!!
Long after nightgames had ended and most parents had come, still swinging...Thanks Kids for a novel Friday night. You keep me young.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Daily Dribble and Trends

Hey! Look who's in DC sniffing her up some sakura blossoms!! Nice hat, Rosalie.

So much of the good stuff of life gets lost in the everyday distractions. I know that good good material marches by me on a daily basis. Sometimes I catch it, but most of the time I'm looking past it--down the road for something that might be better. Lest you brand me "VAGUE", let me give an example or two. Yesterday a kid walks into my classroom with his arm in a sling. Crutches, leg braces, elastic bandages, stitches, bruises, and walking boots are the norm--to say nothing of the gargantuan amounts of mouth metal that the light flashes off each day. I usually inquire about the injuries--common courtesy--and they SOOOOOO want to talk about all this drama. Mr. Arm Sling wears a cravat 95% of the time and cowboy boots. The books he totes around usually have a cow or two on the cover. Many many of these cowboys have graced me with their oh so charming presence over the years. Today's story took me to a bull ring in Wyoming somewhere. It wound down through a vivid description of a "mini" (yeah, I'll bet) bull and drew me in as I got a first person account of the subsequent ride and rider ejection. To come flying off a bucking bull through the air and to only get a broken bone out of it seems nothing short of a miracle. Did I detect some pride in the whole story and getting to wear a sling now? Oh, my testosterone imploded goodness YES! This isn't the first bull encounter injury to take out one of my students. It's fairly regular in spring/rodeo season. Paco and I drove to a kid rodeo a couple of hours away to see a student of mine a couple of years ago, so I know firsthand the treachery of it all! I watched one bull-induced injury go through a complete amazing metamorphosis a few years ago. It started out very very carefully wrapped and babied for a few days. Then as the cowboy "cowboyed up", the bandages came off to reveal something HUGE, RED, STITCHED LIKE FRANKENSTEIN, and...oozy. We all watched with interest each morning as that wound took centerstage. Our morbid fascination turned to slight interest and then to complete nonchalance as said cowboy put that incident behind him. Now, here's my point. Putting a kid on a bull? What do ya think? Yeah, me too.
A new trend reared its head today. No less than 8 kids were dared to remain mute during the entire day. I was more than happy to supply them with lap whiteboards and markers. Boy howdy was I... In fact I'm thinking I could PAY them to mute out! Better still let's take a semester and teach them all sign language! We'll see if this trend lasts out the week.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Up on Downton!

Lucky for me, Paco and I dined in Minneapolis over Christmas with an enlightened hostess who gushed over Downton Abbey. Ever on the ready to rise above Bumpkin status, I immediately took possession (amazon-forgive-me-for-I-have-sinned) of the British PBS versions of Seasons one and two and entered Abbeyworld. Oh my goodness. It was intoxicating--deliriously mind numbing--and fed every Anglophile bone in my body. When Paco returned he took up residency in the abbey as well. In fact, one snow day we did SEVEN nonstop hours! "Shall we watch another?" (repeat six times more in 60 minute intervals)

Now, these are the sisters. It took me several hours to even appreciate Mary, the eldest. She was uber snobby, self-centered, and just a little too snitty with her sisters. And how she treated Matthew!!!! Well, I'm just saying. Cybil seems to be the crowd favorite, but Edythe was forever endeared to me when her mother (Elizabeth McGovern from two of my ALL-time favorites--Ordinary People and She's Having a Baby) said, "Perhaps Edythe will take care of us in our declining years" (or something as condescending signifying that that was ALL Edythe should aspire to). These sisters..Oh, and the surprise Turk! And the surprise pregnancy! And then the war comes.

But my heart is reserved for these two. Ahhh...the downstairs folks. Anna and Bates--loyalty personified and just as good and genuine as all get out, darn it. I love them. Excuse the interruption, but Paco just brought me strawberry shortcake AT 8:13 A.M.!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He takes to the servant role so well.
Now, I haven't even mentioned the Dowager Countess or Sinister Thomas or scoops of others mmmmmmm....shortcake....Let me just say next season is--HOLD THE PHONE!! I JUST FOUND A NAIL IN MY SHORTCAKE!!! I confronted my chef, and he nonchalantly says, "Yeah, I found 3." COME AGAIN????? As I was saying, next-- AND YET ANOTHER!!!! All of a sudden shortcake for breakfast has lost some appeal. So next season the American grandmother (Shirley MacLaine--now THAT'S some zingy casting!) will show up, and I can just imagine the grandmother shrapnel will fly. I, for one, will be perched on the edge of my rocking chair in anticipation. In the meantime, perhaps I should consider hiring food testers to preview what leaves the kitchen...the nails (I'm up to 5) seem to be centered in the biscuit. They're those tiny ones you use to hang pictures. A mystery. But then, as I recal, Daisy let some dangerous stuff leave the kitchen as well! And the chauffeur too!! I'm in good company.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

This One's For You, Season!

We had a robust discussion about 14 months ago when the family had gathered. I innocently asked if anyone had ever heard of using school buses to store food underground in the event of a disaster. I was met with blank stares, then a few giggles, then out and out knee-slapping guffaws. Assuring them I DIDN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP, they nevertheless discounted it all as delusional on my part. The gauntlet was tossed, and I swore I WOULD track down the source of my information! You can imagine my delight last September on my rafting trip down the San Juan when the topic came up AGAIN! Is anyone really surprised that Bruce was my source?? I thought not. Here are the rest of the details as I jotted them down in my travel journal as we floated down the river: Someone in the valley here (I'm respecting their anonymity) has several buses packed and buried; enough accomodations exist bus-wise to take an entire ward (because heaven forbid civilization be forced to restart without nursery leaders, homemaking counselors, and choristers!) all the way to Evanston where they would join others who have made similar preparations (WHO KNEW??????); buses are covered with roofing made of inflated tires; an escape hatch allows air to enter; the buses are buried into a sloped hill, but the rear door is not buried but is covered with sand bags; one must tunnel into the bus from another entry; the buses are filled with a 3 month supply of food in case of a disease pandemic, but in the case of a nuclear blast only 15 days of food would be needed after which food in houses could be consumed when the survivalists exited the buses. And lest you find this hard to swallow, I submit the following video of a Canadian version. Feel free to watch the whole thing, but do NOT miss the FREAKING Underground BUS TRAIN!!!!!!

There. Now that I've redeemed my name in my immediate family, I have just one final word--C-L-A-U-S-T-R-O-P-H-O-B-I-A...
Wait. There's more. Down Salisbury way (There's a Salisbury in NC--perhaps this is it)
Survivalist’s stash found in buried bus

Hidden from sight: Landscaping and a secret door conceal the entrance to a buried school bus that housed weapons that authorities said Ralph Eugene Christie Jr. was holding for an end-of-times scenario.

Authorities seized heavy artillery and military equipment Tuesday from a school bus that a man kept buried behind his mobile home, less than a half-mile from West Rowan Middle School.

Ralph Eugene Christie Jr., 40, 600 Barringer Road, is charged with eight felonies — six counts of possessing weapons of mass destruction, one count of manufacturing marijuana and one count of maintaining a dwelling to keep drugs.

He is in the Rowan County Detention Center under $15,000 bond.

Behind Christie’s mobile home, two large fish ponds conceal the entrance to the homemade bunker. The bus is entirely buried.

A tunnel leading to the bus is hidden by a large wooden door that lifts up from a raised, landscaped area surrounded by railroad ties.

The door is concealed behind azalea bushes and a sun dial. The only giveaways are metal hinges and a piece of chain link that serves as a handle.

A metal ladder is bolted to the side of the tunnel, which is about 5 feet in diameter and at least 10 feet deep.

The ladder leads down to cinder block steps and a small area scattered with debris, including a gas mask aerator, gun holster and empty shell casings.

In the school bus, a couch and chair create a sitting area surrounded by filing cabinets, food rations and debris. Railroad ties stand upright along the center, supporting the roof.

An old electric Army lantern apparently provided light, and a Citizens Band radio was hooked to a battery.

Damp and hot, the bus smelled of mold and mildew this morning. A three-ring binder held government-issue instructions for mortar shells. Booklets described how to make knives and mines.

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Department had heard rumors for years about a makeshift bunker, Sheriff George Wilhelm said.

Only recently, officers were able to obtain information to get probable cause to get a search warrant, he said. “We notified the (U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency) and had an ATF agent with us.”

Authorities seized a sawed-off shotgun, seven hand grenades, 300 feet of detonation cord, two kenny-pacs (chemical dynamite), a flame thrower, grenade launcher, and four marijuana plants.

“He took a lot of prescription drugs that we also took possession of,” Wilhelm said. “He has been ill for several years and on lots of pain medication.”

Wilhelm said there was no evidence of ties to an organized militia.

“It appears that he’s a survivalist,” he said. “We didn’t uncover any great plan to destroy Rowan County.”

It appeared Christie was preparing for the end of the world, Wilhelm said.

“If end-time comes, he was ready for it,” he said.

“But the danger in that is a person who has hand grenades and det-cord and all those things may not have criminal intent to wreak havoc, but if someone else were to find his bunker, they may have.”

Christie apparently didn’t intend to hurt anyone, Wilhelm said.

“But that possibility is always there,” he said. “And even if that person claims he had those items for self-protection, another person can get ahold of that.”

But at the bunker this morning, a neighbor said Christie is dangerous to himself and others.

“They need to keep him in jail,” the neighbor said. “If they don’t, he’ll hurt somebody. ... He’s obsessed with weapons.”

Two people have died on Christie’s property in the past year.

Sherry Rumple, Christie’s girlfriend, died of a drug overdose a few months ago, said Sgt. Terry Agner said. She was in her 40s, he said.

Another man died there about a year ago from a heart attack, Agner said. His name was not immediately available.

Wilhelm said Christie may have bought the materials at legitimate military supply shows. The gear likely was disarmed when he bought it, and then he armed it, Wilhelm said.

Christie is not connected to other cases where law enforcement has confiscated illegal military weapons.

“People just need to be aware that survivalists are around,” Wilhelm said.

This morning, a German shepherd puppy sat on the steps to Christie’s mobile home and barked a greeting. The fountain bubbled in the fish pond.

Nearby stood an old Army jeep with a disarmed machine gun mounted on top.

An old car was parked across the driveway, blocking it. Two other buses were on the property.

One was filled with debris. The other, a newer bus, was parked behind the home.

I rest my case. MH

Friday, March 9, 2012

One More Cat Shout Out!

I only put out one lonely gingerbread man Christmas pillow as my entire Christmas decorating here. I refrained from my annual Cat in the Hat imitation. Go ahead. Take a puck shot at me; I deserve it. I feel lower than bug spit. Every iota of whimsy I ever claimed to harbor...ignored and repressed. I will rise phoenix-like yet another year. For now, I'm basking in rumors of celebrations back Maryland way.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Up Early in the Morning to Become...

Oh, how this book makes me giggle, snort, guffaw, titter, snicker, and squeek with pure delight. This guy inspires me to want to tackle a set of encyclopedias too! Letter by letter, subject by subject, he's hacking away at the vast labyrinthian mountain of human knowledge and history. Fortunately for me the reader, he synthesizes it down into page bites of some pretty funny funny stuff. Did you know a dragonfly can eat its own weight in 30 minutes? Or a Pueblo woman need only leave her husband's moccasin in the doorstep and she's immediately divorced?? Or Disney's FIRST animated character was a rabbit?? Now, THAT alone would have been a cultural showstopper...the world without Mickey Mouse and left, instead, with rabbits--everywhere--propagating like...well, rabbits!
And on the political front, here's my frater ego posing with the current presidential wannabe whose Big Big day is just dawning. I shall not prepare to meet voting hopefuls today. However, I have a standing Tuesday with 80 plus amygdala-challenged 12 year olds. Eat your heart out, Mitt. Oh, did you know that Mitt and I BOTH have sons named Tag? And that alone ought to warrant me a humble seat in his cabinet...

Favorite books

  • Me 'n Steve
  • Thundering Sneakers
  • James Herriott's vet books
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Travels with Charley
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • Peace Like a River
  • The Egg and I
  • Mary Poppins
  • Extremly Loud Incredibly Close
  • How Green Was my Valley