Monday, February 21, 2005


Reflections On Utah Lake
Originally uploaded by David B..

After we finished rockhounding today in Vernon, Utah, we decided to return home by traveling along the the West side of Utah Lake. As we made our way around the lake, we noticed something very unusual. The lake was perfectly still, and had mirrored reflections of the mountains to the South and East of the Lake. I stopped along the way, and took several photos. We tried to get a better perspective, and drove for awhile along a road that paralleled some high-tension power lines in the area. We got back onto the highway, and continued driving North.

We saw a raised promontory a few hundred yards off the road, that was perhaps 300-400 feet above the surface of the lake. And fortunately for us (at least for me and the kids) there were 4 wheel drive roads you could take to the top of the hill! Fortunately, the soil here was not completely saturated, like it was in Vernon. We were able to ventur off road safely. We found a road that left the highway, and proceeded up the hill. We stopped just a couple of hundred feet from the summit. The road looked pretty steep and narrow those last few feet to the summit, and I didn't know if there would be room enough to turn around once we got up there. If there is one thing the Sour Note hates more than anything when we go 4-wheeling, it is to have to back down a steep hill. So I got out of the truck, camera in-hand, and hiked up to the top of the hill.

The view at the top was spectacular. I took several photos, and found a rock ledge there that provided some nice foreground to the photos. You can view more of the Utah Lake photos here. Everyone else waited in the truck, since their muddy shoes were still in the back of the truck from our rockhounding adventure.

As I came back down from the summint, I could see that there was more than one trail going up and down the hill. I saw an alternate route, from the one that we had previously ascended the hill on, that we could take to get down. It would require a minumum of backing up, and better yet, there was a large puddle of water at the bottom! I backed up, made a three-point turn, and proceeded going down the hill. All went well, and mama did OK, too. Then I turned toward the mud puddle at the bottom, a sly grin on my face, and gave the truck a little gas. -- SPLASH! -- We churned up a bunch of water on both sides of the truck, and Amy gave her nervous little laugh/scream that we came to love on our trip to Moab last year. I continued on down the road toward the highway hitting every mud puddle just about as fast I could find. The kids were having a great time. I wasn't too sure about mama though.

We hit one mud puddle at a pretty good clip, and then there was a slight rise in the road, so you couldn't see what was coming up next. As we crested the ridge, a wash bottom (the Sour Note calls it a Ravine!) was revealed right in front of us, and we were heading right into it -- too fast! I hit the brakes, and I could feel the anti-lock brake pulsations kick in on the slippery, muddy road. The heavy-duty shocks and suspension of our off-road outfitted truck were called upon for rare duty, and we made it through OK. --- Except for Mama, that is. Her eyes were as large as saucers, and her heart was stuck in her throat. She had had just a little too much excitement for her taste, as she exclaimed, "THIS IS NOT FUN!". The Sour Note rides again.

She really likes to always know just exactly what is coming ahead. Surprises while four wheeling are just not too good for her disposition. (I first learned of this trait when we went on our first 4-wheeling trip before we were married, on the original "Stripey-Tailed Monkey Trip." We were riding over some dunes in the San Raphael Desert. As you reach the crest of each dune there comes a certain instant in time, as you reach the top, when you can only see sky in front of you. You have to take it on faith that there is still a road before you! A moment later the vehicle crests the hill, and you tilt downward on the downhill slope of the dune, and you can once again see the road ahead of you. On the Stripey Monkey Trip, the Sour Note dug her fingernails into my leg each time we crested a hill -- and I still have the scars to prove it! -- Well, not really.) Fortunately, our new truck is wider than the old one, and she couldn't get her hands on me this time!

I put some calm, soothing music on the stereo. I pointed out things along the roadside as we passed by. (She had never been on this road before). It still took about 20 miles for her to get her feathers unruffled and smoothed down.

All along the way, the kids were teasing mama. They too, have come to know her 4-wheeling proclivities. At every possible chance, they would tell her such things as, "Mama, we're tipping!", or "Look mom, we can't see the road!" and "Mama, we're going backwards!" And after going through our little wash bottom experience, the kids wanted to do it again!

We eventually made it back to the highway, and made it back home in one piece -- that is, I made it home in one piece. The truck, of course, was never in doubt.


Originally uploaded by David B..
Today is President's Day. We all had the day off from work and school. We worked around the house until about noon, then headed out for an outing.

Our plan was to go rock hounding. We decided to go out into the west desert. We have several geology and rock hounding guidebooks, and decided to head down toward the area of Vernon, Utah to look for a rock called Wonderstone. Vernon is just a little over an hour's distance from our house. We packed a picnic lunch, and took off.

We noticed as we drove a long the way that there was a lot of water along the roadside. I began to wonder if it would be too soft and muddy to go off road very far. Even with 4-wheel-drive, you don't want to venture too far off highway, and get stuck out in the middle of nowhere.

After we arrived in Vernon, we started looking for the road that is adjacent to the railroad tracks. We turned off the road, put the truck into 4-wheel-drive. We went about 50 yards down the road before we realized that it was going to be too muddy to proceed. We were slipping and sliding in the clay soil, and sinking in about 3-4 inches into the mud. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor (did you know that saying originally comes from Shakespeare?) We decided to look for an alternative location, that would not require us to be in jeopardy of getting stuck in the mud.

About a mile up the road from the railroad tracks, there was a large open pit, exposing several layers of different rock strata. We back tracked our way along the road, and found the pit. Fortunately, there was a turnout adjacent to the pit, alongside the road. We got out of the truck, and noticed just how wet the soil was. Bryan started heading to the pit right away, with rock hammer in-hand. We all slipped and slided, and mucked our way over to the pit (less than 100 yards off the road.)

Once we arrived at the pit, we found it to be roughly about 120 feet long, and about 40 feet wide. There were lots of different kinds of rocks there. Bryan, being our mountain goat in residence, was climbing all over the place, chipping away with his rock hammer. At one point, some rocks and soil fell from the rim of the pit. Fortunately, no one was near the spot of the little rock-fall. In looking at the rim of the pit, I could see that the soil surrounding the pit was completely saturated down to the rock layers beneath the soil. More rock falls could happen anytime. We made a point to stay away from areas that looked unstable. I took several photos of the pit, and it is clear to see that more erosion is likely to occur. As we looked at the bottom area of the pit, you could see that there was a sink-hole. It appears that water that flows into this pit, eventually drains down into the sink hole down into an underground aquifer. Over time, more and more erosion will take place, and the pit will continue to expand in size. The Sour Note, and the kids were able to collect quite a number of rocks. But alas, no Wonderstone. We'll have to go back again sometime when things have dried out. We walked back to the truck, and tried to clean off everyone's muddy shoes. Everyone but me took their shoes off as they got into the truck. You can see more photos of the rockhounding pit here.

We proceeded back toward home going through the towns if Tinitic, Eureka, and Elberta.

Bryan's Ordination

Originally uploaded by David B..
Its been a big week for Bryan. He has had a lot of attention directed his way.

First there was his birthday party last Saturday with his friends.

Last Sunday, we went over to Grandma and Grandpa C.'s house for a birthday dinner.

On Tuesday, which was his actual birthday, he went to his 11-year-old scout troop for the last time. They took him out to a nearby ice cream shop to celebrate. (He got raspberry sorbet, with fresh raspberries mixed in. Bryan brought home a taste for us -- it was quite good!)

On Thursday, Bryan met with the Bishop to be interviewed for his ordination.

Today, however was the culmination of all the celebrations. Today, Bryan was sustained by the church membership, and ordained a Deacon. I had the privilege of officiating in the ordination.

Our family was in attendance, along with Grandma and Grandpa C, Uncle Mark, and Aunt Jeannette.

Today marks a turning point in Bryan's young life. He begins to turn the corner from childhood, to becoming a young man. He will take upon himself new duties and obligations as a priesthood holder. Now the focus of his efforts as a priesthood holder will be in service to others, and in preparing for a mission.

Bryan and I will have have more things in common. We both share in the honor of holding the Priesthood. We will attend priesthood meetings together. He will get to come with us to General Priesthood Meetings, when Grandpa, Myself and all of my brothers (who are in town at the time) and now Bryan will be ablet to attend together. We will add a new generaton to our family priesthood quorum.

Bryan still has a lot of things to do learn. He still has a lot of maturing to do, as well. But today, he turns a corner and begins a journey in a new direction. He will have new associations as he enters the Aaronic Priesthood, and takes part in the Young Men's program of the church. He now enters a time in his life where more is expected of him. He will have resonsibilties, important responsibilities that will bless the lives of those he serves.

We are proud of Bryan, and for his willingness to take upon himself these new responsibilities and obligations. We know that as he serves his fellowman, that his service will help to shape him as he grows in the gospel, and as he learns to prepare for that which lies ahead.

Friday, February 18, 2005

My Music Listening History

I first started paying attention to pop music in about 1971. I was in the 8th grade at the time. Prior to that, I listened to what my parents did – which was quiet, easy listening music. I remember listening to dad’s Western music (Sons of the Pioneers). I also remember listening to patriotic music, such as John Phillip Sousa marches, and the Ballad of the Green Beret. However, the records I remember playing the most were dad’s Tijuana Brass Albums (The Lonely Bull, Going Places, and Whipped Cream and Other Delights). I remember playing those records over and over again. I’m sure we wore them out.

The first record I remember buying for myself was an album of Piano music from Peter Nero. It had his arrangements of movie theme songs on it. It wasn’t much different from what my parents listened to. My next purchase was the Carpenters’ Tan album, which featured the song, “Rainy Days and Mondays”. I tended to like music with strong melodies, and sweet harmonies, which I found in the Carpenters, Simon and Garfunkel, and similar artists of the day.

Over the years, my musical tastes diverged, into more mainstream pop music, though not much into heavy metal, or really hard rock. Later I would branch into Jazz, Classical, and dabble in Country Music.

If you are like me, you may have lots of old LP records, on good old vinyl – refugees from the 70’s and 80’s. At some point in the mid to late 1980’s, I switched over to CD’s. For a while, when CD’s were first gaining popularity, I still bought music in LP form, because an LP was about ½ the price of a CD. However, I would use the LP’s as master copies. I would only play them once – and then only to record them on high quality cassette tapes. Then if the tape wore out, or was lost or destroyed, I could play the record again, and make a new tape. Finally, LP’s began to disappear altogether from the shelves of the “record” stores. Only then, of necessity, did I convert to CD’s.

After I bought my first CD player, I bought a few CD’s of my old favorites that I had previously purchased on LP records. Of course, all new music was purchased on CD’s. By this time I had over 100 LP’s in my collection, and I couldn’t afford to buy CD’s of them all. In fact, in the earlier days of CD’s not all of the older records were even available on CD’s. Nowadays most every popular record has been re-released as a CD, and can be purchased from some of the larger on-line music distributors, such as, or BMG music. However, even now, it is not cost effective to go back and re-purchase all of your old LP’s in CD form.

Digital music is now the big thing in recorded music. Most of the time, you still want to have a CD hard copy of the music, that you can play on a home or car stereo. However, with the popularity of the iPod, and other portable music players, digital music is gaining more and more popularity.

The early days of digital music were pioneered by Napster, and other file sharing web sites. The problem with this was the great opposition of the record companies, because people were sharing copyrighted material without any compensation to those who either performed or produced the music. After a long series of legal battles, the free music file-sharing sites have either been shut down, or severely restricted.

In comes Steve Jobs, and Apple computer. They have been innovative on two fronts. First, they came up with the iPod, which is the granddaddy of all portable digital music players (and still holds about 90% of the market share). Secondly, the came up with the iTunes digital Juke Box, which can be run by windows based computers. Also iTunes includes a digital music store, where customers can purchase a single song (for 99¢) or an entire album (usually for about $9.99). After downloading, the customer can then download the music to their iPod, as well as make an Audio CD copy of the music, which can then be played on any CD player. Also, if you have music already on a CD, you can import it into your iTunes jukebox, and then download it to your iPod. The iTunes jukebox also allows you to play your music on your computer as well, without having to inset CD’s. You can mix and match music into your own albums, or groups of albums. I have groups for 70’s music, 80’s music, Jazz, Classical, etc. Then you can have this music played in random order. It’s like having your own FM radio station, which only plays the songs you want to hear – with no commercials. Other music companies have similar jukeboxes, and portable music combinations, such as Sony Music, and Real Player. Microsoft has its version with Windows Media Player, as well.

As on-line music stores gain in popularity, I would not be surprised to find more music eventually distributed legally over the Internet. Even now, there are some artists who are self-producing and self-publishing their own music, and distributing it only on the Internet through their own web sites, bypassing the music companies and retail stores altogether. Over time, I would not be surprised to see more and more artist direct to consumer marketing of music in this form.

The question for those of us over 40 then becomes, what the heck do we do with all of those old LP’s? That, my friends, will be the topic of my next post.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Jeannette's Stonework and Drywall

Good progress continues to be made on Jeannette's house. This photo shows the shingles completed, the stonework wainscot on the front, and the tyvek insualation wrap.

Living Room

Also much of the drywall has been put up. This second photo shows a view of the living room, looking toward the front door.

Both of these photos were taken on Feb 12, 2005.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Bryan's Birthday Party

Bryan and a few friends over to the house yesterday to celebrate his birthday. In this photo, Bryan and his friends (and Amy) are playing a game of secret square. Bryan is contemplating his next move, as he studies the field.

The kids were all well behaved, at least until we brought out the pie and ice cream and they all got their sugar fixes.

I have created a little photo album of the birthday party on flickr. You can see Bryan's birthday party pictures here. When the web page loads from Flickr, click on the small thumbnail of each photo, and you will see additional comments I have made about each picture. (I don't recommend clicking on the "view as slideshow" option. It is slow if you are on dial-up Internet access. Also, it does not show the little comments that accompany each picture.

I'll let Bryan tell you more about his party on his own blog. I'll line to it when he's got it done.

Santa Clara River Fundraiser

Its been a month now since the floods struck homes along the Santa Clara River. The latest reports indicated that there were about $170 million in losses. There was a federal disaster declaration for the area, as well as a $25 million aid package approved by the Utah state legislature. These government aid packages will benefit damages to public infrastructure, such as: roads, bridges, water and sewer lines, etc. The $25 million from the state will be very helpful, because it will help toward the 25% matching funds that local governments must provide in order to receive federal assistance.

There were also about 50 homes either carried away by the floods, or damaged to the point that they are no longer habitable. Of these homeowners suffering losses, very few had flood insurance. Damage to private property was not widespread enough to trigger federal assistance. For help, these people will need to rely on charity.

To that end an new IRS-approved charitable organization (Virgin River Santa Clara River Flood Relief, Inc) has been organized in St. George. All of the start-up costs of this organization have been donated. They are producing a book, and DVD depicting the devestation of the floods, as well as the stories of how the community came together to help one another. All of the proceeds of this book/dvd will go toward helping those who lost their homes in the floods. This organization is also working other angles to help bring relief to homeowners. These actions include, encouraging financial institutions to either forgive, or reduce the amount of debt owed on homes that no longer exist. Also they are seeking donations of land for building lots, building materials, and donations of labor from local contractors.

Purchasing a copy of the Book/DVD gives those of us who live far away an opportunity to help, with the guarentee that all proceeds will go directly to the victims.

Santa Clara Fundraiser

You can make a donation by going here. I will also make a link to this charity on the left sidebar.

For more information concerning the nature of the flooding, I suggest you read this first-hand account of what happend in the floods of Santa Clara.

Amy's New Blog

Amy had decided to become a blogger too. She just posted a story that she wrote for school last year. It is on "Flying Brooms". You can read her story here.

Amy calls her new blog "Amy's Corner". She plans to post stories she has written, and descriptions of here experiences.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Amy!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Purple Fingers

Purple Finger
Originally uploaded by David B..

The Iraqi elections turned out to be a spectacular success. Under difficult circumstances 60 % of the eligible Iraqi voters participated in the elections. There was great opposition to the elections from the terrorist insurgents. They threatened beheading to any Iraqi who chose to vote.

Did the threats keep the people away? No! Many walked great distances, carrying the elderly upon their backs, and waited in long lines, all the while being exposed to terroristic dangers, to exercise their franchise to vote. For most Iraqi's this was the first free election in which they had ever particpated (The last time such elections were held in Iraq was some 50 years ago.)

Election Line

Hats off to these brave people, with the spirit of freedom and liberty burning in their breasts. The proudly dipped their fingers in the purple ink, and wore their badge of courage proudly.

Hats off, also to the brave men and women of our armed forces, who made it possible. To see freedom and democracy taking root, in a place where many said it was hopeless, is a vindication of the many sacrifices which have been made.

Thanks also, to President Bush. The man who does what he believes to be right, in the face of all the frothing opposition. He bravely stood his ground, through the bitter election campaign. We heard all the kooks and nay-sayers. All those who impugned the President's honor and integrity. Those who figuratively spit in is face, and trampled him under their feet (and there are many who would have done it physically as well, if they had the chance.) The president stood his ground. He knew in his heart what was right, and stayed the course. He put his whole presidency at risk by doing so. He could have waffled. He cound have gone soft to stay the criticism, and to save his political hide. But he remained firm and true to what he knew was right. He would rather have given up the presidency, that abondon his principles.

Thank God, for President Bush. Thanks for a president who can distiguish right from wrong. Thanks for a president who is a man of faith, and who seeks the counsel of the Lord, and tries to do right, regardless of the consequences.

And in return, I'm sure that the Iraqis are thankful too. In fact, the new mayor of Baghdad wants to erect a statue in honor of George W. Bush. That thanks was manifest at the President's State of the Union Speech. When an Iraqi woman (whose father was killed by Saddam Hussein) - spontaneously gave a hug the the mother of a fallen Marine, who had given his life for the freedom of Iraq, and the safety of the United States. During this moment, now known as "The Hug", the President's eyes welled up with tears, as did many who witnessed that poignant moment. For in that insant -- for all to see -- was Courage, Faith, Commitment, and the Gratitutde of two nations all on display at a single moment, which will go on to live in history.

Put a Smile On your Face!

I was reading another blog the other day, and found this story. If this doesn't put a smile on your face, I don't know what will!

Go ahead, take a look. But I'm giving you fair warning -- don't blame me if you get a stitch in your side, or if you hyperventilate from laughing. Here are the links to the Story:

The End Times - Part 1, and
The End Times - Part 2.

(P.S. -- This Blog has a rather unfortunate, name. If you go there, don't let it fool you. There is nothing to worry about. This writer is one of the best storytellers your likely to encounter. She can be funny, and she can be serious, and quite moving as well. In fact, I've linked this blog on my blogroll under the name "Tracey's Page".)

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Jeannette's Roof

Jeannette's Roof
Originally uploaded by David B..

The walls are up, the roof is on. They were shingling on Saturday 2/5/05. Hopefully they got most of the shingles on before the storm hit. About 10 inches of snow fell there by Monday evening (2/7/05)! All the windows and doors (except the front garage door) are in now -- so the interior should be protected from the elements. They are estimating about 6-8 weeks to completion.

On Saturday, Mark and Jeannette spent a long day installing low-voltage wiring. They put in wiring for telephone, computers, cable TV and TV antenna cable, and wiring for surround sound. A TV antenna was installed inside the attic (antennas are not allowed on the roof). Also, they made sure all the custom wiring for the garage door opener was in place.

This was the only day that the low-voltage wiring could be done. On Monday, there was to be the final electrical inspection. Once that inspection passes, they will be busy installing the drywall, and the chance to put in customized (easily, that is) would be past.

I would like to have been there to help, but I had to present a training class for Ward Mission Leaders and Bishops at our stake conference, which was on the same day.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Case of the Missing Mudder - Part 2

Note: You can read my wife's version of this story here.

It was a fine Monday afternoon. I was working away. I had just got the payroll done for the pay period, and had started working one another project for the police department.

At about 4:00 my cell phone rang. I looked on the caller ID, and I could tell it was from a strange phone number. I answered, and it was Bryan. He told me that mama had gotten the car stuck over by the horses and that I needed to call a tow truck to get her out! I asked Bryan again where they were, but the best he could tell me was that they were over by the horses! I was told that mama was barefoot, and that she and the dog (Strider) would be staying in the car. I asked him how deep the mud was. Bryan answered by saying that the car was in deep, but that he and Amy were light enough that they could walk across the top of it without sinking in. I asked if she had her cell phone with her. But no such luck!

I gave my boss a quick call, and explained that I would need to take the rest of the day off to take care of the situation. I got my things together, and headed for home.

A few minutes later Amy called me again on my cell phone. I asked her to get mama’s tennis shoes and a pair of socks and put them by the front door of the house. I asked here what mama was wearing, but neither she nor Bryan could remember what she was wearing. For all I knew, she was wearing her house coat. I made a mental note to get some clothes for her as well, because if we did end up needing a tow truck, she probably would not want to have the tow truck driver see her in her house coat.

Now calling a tow truck presented a problem. I didn’t know the exact location of where they were. All I knew was that it was somewhere West of our house, by the “horses”. The truth is, there are several homes with ½ acre and 5-acre lots who have horses. I had no idea which one it was. I would not be able to call for a tow truck, until I knew exactly where the car was located. Moreover, since mama didn’t have her cell phone with her, I couldn’t call her to find out the exact location, or even let her know that I was on my way. Mama, Mama, wherefore art thou cell phone Mama! (Apologies to Shakespeare!).

Mama would just have to sit at wait for us to come to her rescue.

As I was driving home, I remembered the old logging chain that I had rescued from Grandpa Hatch’s shed before his home was sold last spring. It now resides in our shed. I talked to Bryan on my cell phone, and asked him to get the log chain, out of the shed, along with our shovel. I started thinking of all the tricks we used to do on grandpa’s ranch, when we had to pull vehicles out of the mud. The only tool that I lacked, was a Handyman Jack.

I arrived home, and gathered up the shoes and socks for mama. Then I got some clean clothes for her also. I through in a set of yellow pages as well, in case we ended up needing a tow truck.

Outside, I loaded the log chain and shovel into truck, and then I got some pieces of wood to place in the path of the car tires, to give it something solid to gain traction upon.

We headed West from our house and up the hill. Near the top of the hill was a little temporary corral with 4 horses in it. Way off (about ¼ mile) from the top of the hill, down onto the edge of a cultivated hill was a small red car. The care was up to its nose in mud!. There was a little two-track trail that led down to where the car was. I put the truck into 4 wheel drive, and headed down the hill. I couldn’t help wondering why she had gone so far down the trail? Why hadn’t she just backed the car up from where the horses were (maybe 40 feet) back over to the paved road? (The truth is, she really hates going backward. When we are out 4-wheeling, if we get into a spot where we have to back up, she would rather get out of the vehicle, than go backwards. Also, from the height of the truck, you could see several good places to turn around, but from the lower perspective of the car, it just looked like a mass of tall weeds, which obscured the view.)

As I got closer to the end of the trail, and nearer to the car, the trail got more and more muddy. The cultivated ground, which the car was stuck in, didn’t look particularly muddy. The top layer of the soil and dried somewhat in the few sunny days we have recently experienced. However underneath, it was a mud bog. When Dawn Ann drove on the cultivated ground, she quickly sunk down to the depth the soil had been plowed.

I grabbed the shoes, socks and clothes, and trudged over to the car. I started sinking I pretty deep myself. She rolled down the window, and there they were! The long lost mudder (mother) and the yapping dog. He recognized me quickly, and quieted down. She did have regular clothes on, so I handed her the shoes and socks, and tossed the other clothes into the back seat of the car. She was glad to see us!

I dug the mud out from behind the two front tires (front-wheel drive car). Then I placed the boards up next to the tires, hoping they would gain some traction, and buoyancy. Then I went around to the front of the car, and told her to try to rock the car, and I would try pushing her out. Bryan had tried this earlier, but since he weighs less than 80 pounds, I knew that he couldn’t have been able to push too hard. As I tried, I found that my feet slipped so much in the mud, that I couldn’t be of much use pushing either, especially since I had to push uphill.
After several attempts pushing the car by hand, it was time to put the truck to work! I had Bryan get me the log chain. I hooked one end of the chain to the car, and the other end to the towing hook on the truck. I put the truck in 4WD low-range. Then I gently backed up taking the slack out of the chain. I waved my arm to Dawn Ann to signal that it was time to put the car in reverse and start backing out. The truck pulled the car right out, lickety-split. At one point as I was pulling her back, Dawn Ann took her foot off the gas pedal, and I just kept right on pulling her out. The truck hardly even broke a sweat.

I said "Thank you Grandpa Hatch", for the use of the log chain. I also gave thanks to the good Lord as well. I determined that we needed to have a towing strap to be kept in the truck, preferably a little longer than the logging chain.

Finally she was free! Neither mama nor the car were any worse for the wear. And, we had saved ourselves the cost of a tow truck as well:) We gathered up the chain and shovel and put them back in the truck . Everybody had muddy feet, that is – except for mama! (There's something unfair about about all this -- I mean mama, the one who got stuck, ended up being the only one who never did get muddy through all of this! Sometimes there is just no justice in this world!) I made the kids ride home in the back of the truck. Maybe I should have made mama ride back there as well!

I resisted the urge to tease Dawn Ann about getting stuck. I really didn’t want to rub it in. I figured that she had already been through enough. I remembered a time some 15-20 years ago, when I got my car stuck in the middle of a stream (small river actually). I had been trying to ford the stream, and the exhaust pipe of the car went under water, and although the wheels were not stuck in the bottom of the stream bed, the engine killed because of the inability to relieve itself of its exhaust. There I was, 20 miles from the nearest town, in the middle of the San Raphael Desert! I ended up having to walk all night long, over some some 15 miles (let me tell out about the blisters on my feet sometime!) until I was eventually able to get a ride into town. The Sheriff’s search and rescue had to pull me out! I’m afraid I had Dawn Ann beaten for stuck car experiences.

So instead of teasing her, and rubbing it in, I joked with her that “At least you weren’t 20 miles away from civilization!”

Well we all made it home safely. We parked our muddy vehicles in the garage, just as it was getting dark. Bryan and I had to strip off our muddy clothes and put them directly into the washing machine as we entered the house. We now had a row of muddy shoes lined up on the front porch.

All was well, and all were safe. And the adventure came to a close.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Case Of The Missing Mudder

The "Better-half Note" has decided to change her moniker to: "The Sour Note". The following post is her account of what happened Monday Evening (Jan 31st). It will help if you read this with a Clousseau-esqe type accent, to get the full impact. Here is her side of the story (my side to follow later - David B.) :

It all started off innocently enough on a bright, sunny, warm-for January, inviting, and hazeless day. All I can say is I must have been in a chemical induc-ed mental fog, for me to make such a vital error in my usually impeccable judgment. “Mama is Always Right” has become our family’s mantra. (I’ve got them sufficiently brainwash-ed!) It was the Motrin and Sudafed’s fault. That’s all I can say about that.

The offending day was Monday and - it was the 31st. I should have known not to get up that morning, but—duty calls and I am not one to shirk my responsibilities. The alarm rang much too early at 6:30 am. We all struggled to move in the cold morning air, as we all were under the influence of the same “Rhinovirus.”

Blue Rhino

After sneezing, coughing, and various tissue noises, I promptly medicated everyone with their dose of cold medicine for the day. That was the second mistake, you see I also partook.

Promptly at 8:10, I load Luke and Leia into our small, domestic, red, vehicle for the 1 mile journey to our bus stop destination. Of course we had to slog through the “other” school’s parent drop off traffic. (It has gotten so bad recently. Please - the way parents baby their kids today. Can’t they just let their kids walk to school? (it wasn’t even snowing both ways either) Oh, excuse me, I digress from the case at hand.)

Up the hill to the “West Bench” of the valley, out in the field across where the children’s bus stops, is a small, 30X30’, gated corral, where 4 horses are kept. In fact, it just sprung up there one weekend. How mysterious, but that is another case to investigate.

The children had hounded me that morning “Please, can we go feed the horses after school today? We’ll try to get all our school work done during class time.” We’ll I agreed. My third mistake. They boarded the bus, happier than usual, while I descended the hill to our family’s base location.

I promptly return-ed home and climb-ed into my, now empty, quiet, bed, for a long peaceful morning nap. Blissfully I fall asleep to the happy noises from our 4 parakeets, stationed for guard duty in the front room.

Precisely at 11:55 I awaken and begin my chores for the day. A load of wash-(color-eds), strange whistle noise investigated and solv-ed. (furnace fighting royal) I, vacuum-ed the air intake vent covers (times 3) and went deep probing for internal debris. Debris suctioned out from under the floorboard vents. The small, yappy, dog fed and watered, (I threatened him with a bath and he promptly straightened up his act.) And last but not lease the noisy birds seed cups were cleaned of offending seed hulls by blowing the remaining seeds with a straw. All in all, a full day of-duty, I think.

As the time approach-ed for the return of Luke and Leia, I gathered 2 long carrots and 1 stalk of old celery from the fridge crisper. This was provided for the children to feed the afore mentioned, lonely horses on the hill. Leia loves horses from afar and Luke loves horses but shouldn’t, as he is allergic to them. This indeed would be a interesting winter adventure.

Precisely at 15:45, the bus arrives with lights a flashing. The children bound down the stairs and pile into the small, domestic, red, vehicle and point me to the horses on the hill. They are just on the other side of the road, about 65 yards away. Oh I forgot to mention that I also took the small yappy dog with me to pick up the kids. (another mistake)

Energized with excitement and I in a muffled, Sudafed daze, I turn the small, domestic, red, vehicle onto the paved road and travel a short distance further west. After traveling at a relatively slow speed and precisely 50 yards on this road, there was a turn off to the left, at a right angle, heading directly due south. (You see every junction here in Perfectville is at a right angle.) Reconnaissance observation -- dirt road is covered with wild grass, looks dry, and it is obvious that others have tread this road before us as there is a dusty truck trail leading right to the horses and hay. The truck ruts appear to be just the right size for a small, domestic, red, vehicle.

I pull off the paved road, of course making a left turn, on to the dry, truck tracks, a sound of nervous glee and excitement emitting from the back seat. I pulled up to the corral and stopped, leaving the motor idling. Across the road was a small stack of hay-bales which broke the chilling wind for us.

Children disembark-ed, simultaneously full of terror and joy. Leia cautiously approaches the biggest horse. He is the first in the line. She has the big end of her carrot clutched in a death grip. She lifts her arm and hand offering her carrot to “Stripe”. (They all had names you see) She had her carrot tip pointing to his mouth. The poor creature pert near hung himself trying to get at the carrot. The closer he reached with his big, scary, head and alien like lips, the further Leia inched backward. Horse lips pleading with Leia for the tasty morsel, she finally gave in and let him have his morsel from the very ½ inch tip of her carrot.

At this she had reached her fear threshold and with a squeal, jump backward, and a little rain dance, she decided she had had enough. She almost threw her carrot at Luke telling him, “Aaah, You do it!”

At this he was all too happy to help out his damsel in distress. By then I had already called Leia over, taken her carrot and celery, and snapped them into bite size pieces, and instructed her to hold it out with the flat of her palm. This way she could feed them and they would have to grab her treats with their lips and not have “those big teeth” coming at her. The test now would be, could she handle the big slobbery, pleading lips? (I didn’t mention that, of course)

Luke, knowing no fear, had already successfully given his treats away and now was honing in on Leia’s. She had decided to give it another try with “the lip thing”. Allergic Luke was busy patting and stroking the littlest horse, (a yearling they named Angel, - of course), on the head, nose, and neck, all the while encouraging his sister that it was no big thing, “Look at me.” Now don’t you just hate that? This all was done quickly before mama could mount any objections to him. I had been occupied with the female squeaky wheel/rain dancer. Oh well, adventures to the wind.

To her wonderful credit she did try again, but those wiggly, slobbery, lips were too much. With her eyes the size of saucers, her rain dance commenced again this time accompanied by a full blown war whoop. Luke, true to his helpful nature, stepped in. He led her over to “Angel” the same one he had been lovingly stroking. He patiently explained that she should be feeding the little one. He wasn’t to scary. (Hey, I don’t even know if they were he’s or not.) But also true to his nature, he wasn’t going to give back the treat she had thrown at him, for her to do it. He was going to show her how it wisely it is to be done - without fear.

Now all along I am sitting in the car with the my window rolled down. My arms folded along the edge of the window track. The slippery, yappy dog is by now having a full blown conniption fit. He is bouncing all over the inside of the car, front seat and back. Occasionally I have to grab him by his tail as he tries to sail across my lap, and out of the open window. He is determined to get at those 4 monsters that seem to be scaring his Leia. Fortunately, I have developed a talent of selective deafness so ignoring, our maniacal, yappy dog isn’t so bothersome. — Yet.

Mission: Treat the Horses, now successfully accomplished we make hast to get out of there without detection. (We are, after all, on private property.) The kids pile into the small, domestic, red, vehicle and grab the yappy dog, to keep him from jumping over their laps to freedom. All hatches secured, windows rolled up, I put the engine in forward gear and we proceed down the dry, grass mashed, dirt road. Another ill timed mistake. (I should have just back-ed up on the dry trail.)

The resulting problem that further springs up, I can only account to the fact that, I am definitely a city girl out in the wrong environment. (That’s all I’ll say about that.)

On the left of the dry dirt road was a field of winter grain that was plowed last fall. Don’t those furrowed lines look wonderfully symmetrical? To the right of the road is a grassy, tumbleweed compacted, boulder field. I can clearly see big rocks hidden in “The long grass”. We like to use a line from the movie Jurassic Park, “Don’t go into the Long Grass,” to warn us of hidden dangers.

About this time I notice, as we proceed away from the horses and looking for a place to turn around, that the dry, grass-mashed, dirt road was becoming slightly more moist and slippery. The forward truck tire prints are clearly in the mud now. Granted they looked like old prints with their edges not sharp, and water puddles in them. (Take note that the small, domestic, red, vehicle is still rolling forward.) Hummmmm This is not good.

OK, I’ll turn around NOW, before we go any further on this road. With boulders on the right of me, furrows (they looked dry! Honest!) on the left of me. I took the left. I planned to make two 45 degree turns, and we would be out of there. That’s where good intentions meeting reality clashed. I successfully made the first 45 degree turn out into to grain field,(I only went 10 yards), and as I was trying to make the backward 45 degree turn, well --- lets just say I got stuck. Royal!

Car in mud

It wasn’t just a easy case of stuck. No, no, I was really stuck in cold, frosty, mud, up to my as…, um, axels (yes, axels, that’s it!) I was, unfortunately, barefoot, and without a coat, without my purse that carries my cell phone. (What could happen on a little ole 1 mile trip in the neighborhood?)

Well, you can imagine the comments fermenting in my young Luke and Leia’s mind. After the initial 15 seconds of silence from everyone, even noisy, yappy dog, Luke broke the tension. “Now mama,-- this is the second time that something like this has happened to you. (I don’t remember the first)“Mother,-- don’t you know that it is for things just like this, that cell phones were made for?” Leia is quietly shaking her head, wondering how her mama went wrong? (It so seldom happens:)

Quickly before anyone can ratchet up any rain clouds, I formulated this plan. Because the children still had their coats and shoes on their feet, they were chosen to walk home. (It’s only 1 mile in the snow and downhill.) When they got there, they were to call their ObiWan master at work, and have him come with his new, shiny, big-wheeled, truck to pull me out. (About time that truck was used for something useful!)

Luke tells me with his serious voice, “Mama you stay in the car where it is warm. Don’t turn off the engine and we’ll be back.” So with both my heroes fading from away from view in my rear view mirror, I settle in for the long wait. I begin calculating how long this might take. I look at my car’s (Whoops small domestic, red, vehicle) clock and figure well about dark I will be saved.

It is now 4:00 pm and the yappy, obnoxious dog is getting on my nerves. Before I know it, Luke is pounding on my window, breathless. He tells me that he had stopped a lady in her car as she was driving down the hill. (I later find out that he stood in the middle of the street with his hands stretched out like a traffic cop, yelling stop!) He continues to tell me that “It is an awfully long way to walk all the way home and this lady would take them down the hill to our house if I gave her permission. (Well that cuts about a hour off the recovery time.)

He had already call-ed ObiWan on the nice lady’s cell phone, (“see mom she carries her cell phone in her car!”) and he had relayed my predicament to him. ObiWan was already on the way home and would pick up the kids at the base location. Gratefully I looked in the rear view mirror and saw two headlights at about the horse’s location. It seems that she is wiser than I. I gave permission with a prayer and Luke began running back to her parked car. Everything would be all right.

I grabbed my scriptures that I had brought with me and tried to remain calm. Various headlines come to mind as I try to describe this mission: “Oh, how the mighty have fallen.” “Out of the mouth of babes. . .” “Mama’s stuck in the mire and it is not even Sunday!” Or “Peace and quiet for the space of 1 hour.” How about: “Dog narrowly escapes throttling.” These are some of the headlines that I thought of in the few wild minutes of solitude.

Before even the hour was up, I see coming over the horizon Obiwan and his young padowans in the big shiny wide wheeled truck. Yeah I am saved to fight another day. I wonder if ObiWan really hurried as fast as he could. I think he might be getting more than a little giggle out of my unfortunate situation. As per his nature he had assessed the situation and proceeded to carry out his plan. He had me out of there quicker than a greased pig. In fact just as the sun was setting he had me fixed just right and on my way home. Mischief - Managed - The End