Friday, December 31, 2010

Fun With Texting

It's grown increasingly frustrating trying to keep track of the kids and all their extracurricular activities, especially since Tracfone decided to up and cancel our area after being bought out. I had just gotten new minutes for their phones, too.

So just like in the commercial, well almost, three deceptively large and brightly wrapped packages began to ring. Three ecstatic children ripped them open, and immediately began a frenzy of texting. "thank u dad" "thank u mom" "i luv u" and on and on.

At bedtime, we sent them upstairs and turned out all the lights. A few moments later, both of our phones began to buzz, each text message received in triplicate. "gd nite mom" ("gd nite mom" "gd nite mom"), "gd nite dad" ("gd nite dad" "gd nite dad"), "luv u mom" ("luv u mom" "luv u mom") and so on. Finally we had to lay down the law. "GO 2 BED!!!" ("GO 2 BED!!!" "GO 2 BED!!!")

Within 24 hours, the Tattle by Text program got started. "mom, tiggy droped the cat on me and it scraced me." Even in text format, the whine came through loud and clear.

A couple days ago, Damon was messing around with my phone and goobered up the default text setting, so instead of typing in the traditional form, it would fill in the blanks with seemingly random words, and sometimes just letters. Every time I had to reply to one of the zillions of texts, I would have to go in and change it manually. Despite repeated requests, and then commands, Damon failed to fix it, claiming that he hadn't been the one to mess it up.

Not one to argue, I simply began responding to his texts, and only his, without changing the settings.

Damon: mom i am @ basktbl pract now
Me: Monkl

Soon the phone rang. "Mom, what is Monkl?" I explained that I had typed in "ok", and that was how my phone had interpreted it. "Oh."

The next day, I got another text.

Damon: mom may i go 2 my friends house please
Me: J jnnnnnrsgugugljereiuk quiarenermke
Damon: oops i guess i had bettr fix that
Me: Monkl

Untl th nxt advntr,
Nn Bth


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cat and Mouse

This morning, I awoke to find that one of the cats had left a dead mouse on the little rug by my bed, as if to say,

"Look, I caught you a mouse...

...with this handy mousetrap."

Upon further investigation, I found that the only gift they had left me was the tail, and not even quite all of that. "Heer. Dis iz foar yoo. Cant eet ennyway."

Boy, do I feel special.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Slippin' and a Slidin'

The days since the ice storm have passed slowly. Probably because you can't get very far very fast at 35 mph. At last the roads are starting to improve, and almost anything would be better than the thick sheets of ice in all directions.

Thursday of last week, Jack counted 22 cars and at least 15 semis in the ditch during the short stretch from Ray, ND to Williston, ND. Right after the ice storm, he heard on the radio that there had been over 1100 accidents around the Williston area alone, an all-time record. One of those was probably Tina

Even now, driving along the highways, you can see one churned-up place after another where successive (but not successful) vehicles have bitten the dust. About the only nice thing is probably none of them were badly injured. The same weather that made conditions so dangerous, also piled up huge drifts of snow to cushion careless and unwary drivers.


Thursday night I went in to Plentywood. There was no class, sadly for Gastron, but I got a number of errands done. Then it was time to make my slow way home, over roads that were imaginary in some places. Drifting snow had thickly covered the blacktop, and without the faint impression of tires - right down the middle of the road - I would have had a hard time.

Slow and steady, and I did NOT end up in the ditch, something that is getting to be more and more of an accomplishment round these here parts.

Wherever you are, and wherever you go, please drive safely!

Living an adventure every time I get behind the wheel,
Noni Beth

The site of Tina's smashemup crashemup.

P.S. Whoever thought it would be funny to change my Google profile to Chinese, it is not 所有中文網頁繁體中文網頁香港的網頁外文網頁翻譯版 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! >:(

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bad Spirit Land in Winter

Our earth has been catastrophically marked from pole to pole by the great Flood. The remnants are everywhere, from the tropical fossils in the Arctic and Antarctica, to the ocean fossils on mountaintops all over the world.

Makoshika, or "Bad Spirit Place", is one such fascinating spot. Though I personally haven't succeeded in finding them yet, some of our friends know of places within the park where you can hike around and find fossilized shells and shark teeth just lying on the ground. Glendive, the nearest city, is just over 2500 feet above sea level, and Makoshika is farther uphill than that.
Not only did sharks and shells somehow wash over a thousand miles inland to a hilly country 2500+ feet above sea level, but numerous dinosaur bones have been found there, as well.

One of the most famous is an excellent specimen of triceratops skull. Fossils of nine other types of dinosaurs have also been found, including the Thescelosaurus Jack Horner's team found in 1997. A park manager found a bison fossil in 2009.

Snow covers much of the ground, drifting fairly deep in some places. Not everyone was dressed for a hike, coming straight from church as we were. Technically speaking, all of us were unprepared, to some degree or other. Five out of seven of us had improper footgear, some VERY improper. Others of us had less than ideal clothing.

I was in fairly good shape, in my Winter Church Chic look: skirt, Eskimo jacket, thick gloves, black long johns (since after all, I was dressing up more formally), and warm boots. It could have been worse. Tiggy wore pants...capri pants. If not for the thin boots she borrowed from me, she would have had trouble. Jack wore underarmor under his dress clothes, but his slip-on shoes weren't intended for snow hiking. Tina had dressed much like me, only with black stockings instead of black long johns.

Worst of all was Cowboy Devon, wearing my unwittingly borrowed jacket (grrrr!), a western shirt, blue jeans, and yep, cowboy boots. He had already fallen on the ice twice, and apparently wanted to see how much more trouble he could get into. As usual. As usual, he was able to answer that question with flair.

All the way along the trail, Jack stepped exactly in our friend's footsteps, so he didn't get much snow in his shoes, even in the deep places. There's bound to be a good lesson in there somewhere.

Devon did not follow the path so clearly marked out for him. There's bound to be a good lesson there, too.

He tried to follow the other kids up hills and down coulees, right until his boot got stuck in the snow. Be sure to check in with Tina's blog in the next day or two or three for an excellent photojournalistic documentation of the rescue operation. We had to take the long way around to the other side of the gully, while Devon warmed his now-bare feet on Tiggy's abdomen.

Being the kind, warm, caring mother that I am, I carried him on my back most of the way back to the car. Even mother love balked at hauling him up the last steep hill, so he had to make a dash for it. "Eeech, aaatch, ooootch, ouch," trailed behind him all the way.

"I wish I hadn't brought these old bootcycles," I said to myself. (If you haven't already heard the story, remind me to tell you about that tidbit of family history later.)

Despite a temperature of -3F, I was sweaty, um I mean rosy, when I got back to the vehicle. As thin as Devon is, he is also surprisingly solid. Add snow clothes - wet snow clothes - and you have a nifty workout.

He didn't even have frostbite this time, thanks more to Tiggy than to him actually learning a lesson about dressing appropriately for cold weather.

We all had a nice trip home, all three hours of it, especially once Devon fell asleep. Oops, did I say that out loud? Now we're looking forward to going back and visiting the Creation Museum. Who would've thought they would have one so close to us?

Before I snuggle up and go to sleep, I want to leave you with one final thought - if the story of Noah's Flood is a myth, as so many believe, or was just an exaggerated version of some local flood, then why does virtually every culture on earth have a Flood legend? Even remote tribes only recently discovered have these legends, often with such details as eight people saved in a boat, while the rest of the world perished. Well worth looking into, for the open-minded.

That doesn't even begin to cover Ooparts, or a host of other odd things that don't fit within the traditional framework of evolution, but I said one final thought, so one final thought it shall be. Er, one final thought it already was.

Exhausted from the adventure,
Noni Beth

PS Although I color-correct my photos as often as I can when using my other computer, the overwhelming blue cast is actually a pretty accurate representation of the winter light here. It's so beautiful, with all sorts of blue and purple pastels from morning to night. It only drives me crazy in my photos.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Put on Ice

Hunting season 2010 continued explosively with an out-of-season doe. It was Tina's fault, and the way she tells it, the doe tried to bag an out-of-season van. On her way north one night, she vaporized the poor thing, losing a couple of lights and the ability to open the driver's-side door in the process.

The next day, the dogs removed as much of the evidence as they could. Fortunately for them, there was no repeat of the infamous "A Christmas Story" scene. (Not that I have ever seen it myself - I just happen to know several people who can quote it at length. I may have mentioned that before.)

The next, and hopefully final game bagged by a family member was last weekend. Turning into the church parking lot, Jack began to skid, or something. (He still claims it was mechanical failure. I'm sure all the men would agree with him.)

As he pulled into our usual place, the car kept right on going and plowed straight into the church with a resounding crash. A thick metal pipe kept the church wall from injury, and simultaneously left a dandy impression on my front end.

All this happened before...

The Ice Storm
Unlike previous ice storms, consisting mainly of the freezing fog known as "frizzle", this one was actual, bona fide freezing rain. I still don't understand how you can have freezing rain at around 15-17 F, but I sure can't argue with the results.

At first, it sounded like teeny bits of hail pattering against the windows and on the roof. But through some magical and mysterious process, it froze and stuck everywhere it landed. Before long, a glossy, slippery coat covered everything outdoors.

Heady with the joy of having a vehicle again after a month of pedestrianship, I carefully made my way in to EMT class for the first time in a long time. It wasn't too bad until right close to Plentywood, and I arrived just as another wave of freezing rain arrived.

Once again we practiced with the spine boards, tying each other up, but this time with the added fun of C-collars and the KED. With no charting, there was no chance to introduce Gastron, but be patient. He'll be here soon.

At the end of class, conditions were much, much worse. A few skidding steps on the sidewalk told the story clearly enough. Our sturdy 4wd vehicle slipping around in the gas station parking lot at .5 mph added a few more details.

I knew I'd have to drive slowly and carefully, but 30-35 mph top speed was a little more (or less, depending on your perspective), than I bargained for. Even then, I still lost traction several times. Going up that first steep hill just out of town, I thought several times I was going to have to just slide back down and not go home.

Even in all my years of trucking, I had never driven in anything so bad, though the time I got lost in the narrow residential streets of Tacoma, WA with a 53 ft. trailer and came to a dead end, might have been more stressful. Or the time I got off I-5 on the wrong exit in Portland, and came a few feet from blundering into downtown with no way out except a helicopter. Or the time...

But I digress.

Morning brought only a little help from the sun. Have I mentioned that I have a new p/t job? That may seem like a digression, perhaps even rather random, but it's not. My job is maintaining the safety and integrity of the sidewalks around the senior apartments - both sets of them. As you can well imagine, my work area was grim, very grim. (After 2 days of work, I am only just now starting to make some progress with clearing away that pernicious, foul stuff.) School was even postponed till 10 am as the buses couldn't safely make their route any earlier.

Into that melee and mayhem romped Tina, driving to work only a little slower than usual. A few miles before reaching the big city she hit a patch of ice, landing turned around and sideways in the center median. She wasn't hurt, and the van suffered surprisingly little damage: a dent in the side, and one mirror gone. No one is quite sure why it won't run, but I suppose we'll find out eventually.

I'm still not sure how she got out, lying on her passenger side as she was. The deer jammed the door on her side, remember? Anyhow, she made it some way or other, and borrowed a phone to call and break the news to Mom and Dad that yet another car had bitten the dust.

Tonight was EMT class again, but we missed it this time. Just out of town we began to slide around, even at a very low speed. Better safe than sorry, with my apologies to Gastron.

Tomorrow I'm going to try and chip away some more of the ice on "my" sidewalks. The ice melt is helping some, but apparently nobody told the freezing rain that it was supposed to melt on command. Probably I won't drive anywhere tomorrow. For no particular reason.

Growing increasingly paranoid of driving,
Noni Beth

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bring Me Some Shorts

Without warning, the rod bent, dipped, and all but broke. Even engaged as he was in the sudden battle, the fisherman sneaked a glance at the sonar fish finder. Tiny blips moved and danced on the vivid blue screen, probably black crappie or yellow perch. Maybe even some small trout. The smaller blips scattered like mice at a cat convention as the behemoth filled the screen with its sinister presence.

Aye, it was a big'un. The fisherman shuddered. It was just like all those monster movies where you only saw the creature out of the corner of your eye...right before all the extras started getting eaten.

This last summer, John John took his family and several friends on an extended fishing trip to Fort Peck, many miles west of Culbertson, MT. Mom and Dad have both been there, separately, by accident, having missed the turn to Sidney. Jack went out there for his weather-spotter class, and there is a fine museum with delightful fossils. Someday I'll get to see them.

At first, 7-year-old Bubba was the only one who caught a fish, with his dinky Batman pole. The menfolks with their hundreds of dollars worth of specialized equipment, caught nothing. I'm sure the fact that he wouldn't let anyone else fish off the deep end of the boat was the only reason for that.

When it was time to set up camp, Bubba whipped out his one-boy tent and snapped everything in place. Jerry, a family friend, didn't fare as well, being unaccustomed to the outdoor life. No matter how he tried, his tent sagged in the middle. At last, in complete frustration, he gave it a parting kick and drove 25 miles to the nearest town, where he bought another tent.

Same result.

"I tried to tell you that you had to fasten those strings up," was John John's laconic comment. He only laughed a little as poor Jerry finally took wire out twisted, it, and tied the top of his tent to a nearby tree.

"You might want to turn your tent around," John John suggested helpfully. "Face the door away from the wind."

"Naw," Jerry drawled. "It's hot. Besides, I like the breeze."

The next morning, John John manfully held in his laughter as a hollow-eyed Jerry crept out of his twisty-tied tent, complaining, "I hardly slept a wink all night! The wind kept whipping the tent all around, and just about blew me over."

Are you kidding? This is Jack's little brother we're talking about. He howled with glee. And the fun was only getting started.

"I'm going to fire up my propane stove and cook supper for everyone," John John promised one evening.

"You go ahead," Jerry said. "My brother and I are going to beer roast a couple of chickens over the fire. I've got a great recipe!"

"Suit yourself," John John shrugged, silently noting that it was already 7 o'clock at night.

In a little while, John, Dusty, and all three kids were happily eating their succulent dinner. Jerry and his brother were not.

The two men poked a couple holes in the top of their beer cans, and inserted one into each bird. Jerry carefully gathered up two miniscule twigs and began to insert them into the rear of the chickens. "Aaaaaagh, don't use those," John John exclaimed. "You have to get something bigger."

After upgrading from twigs to sticks, Jerry poured most of a bottle of lighter fluid into the fire pit, and excitedly held the chickens just above it while his brother tossed the match. A massive volcano of flame shot upwards, engulfing the chickens in the inferno. Whatever the temperature farther in, there was no question that the skin was done. Very done.

At last the firestorm subsided to glowing coals, and they got down to the business of cooking supper. "I don't know about that," John John said doubtfully, as he listened to the beer popping and hissing inside its poultry prison.

"Oh, it'll be fine," Jerry assured him, trying not to notice that it was getting very late and his body was beginning to consume itself. He shifted to a more comfortable position and continued his lengthy vigil.

Startled, he jerked upright as the beer cans burst inside the chickens, spilling over and dousing the already-guttering coals. "That's it - I'm eating!" Jerry burst out bitterly. He and his brother held their prizes and took a big bite. Black as night on the outside, juicy and raw on the inside. It could almost have walked away on its own.

"Please, John," the two men begged, "do you have anything we could eat?"

Fort Peck has such nice, warm water in the summer, that water sports are wildly popular. John John decided to introduce his friends to the fine art of inner tubing. "Are you sure you want to wear that?" he asked Jerry, who was just tying his drawstring sweat-shorts.

"Yep," Jerry answered confidently, climbing into the boat. When it was Jerry's turn to ride the inner tube, he happily jumped in the water, got into position, and signaled John John to take off. When the boat took off, so did Jerry's pants, to the riotous, shrieking delight of the bevy of college girls on the shore.

With dignity barely preserved by a strategic life jacket, Jerry crept to the shallow water and called to his friend, "Hey, can you bring me some shorts? And bring them right to the shore."

"You might not want to put that there," John John sighed as he warned Jerry yet again.

"My grill? It'll be fine." Jerry smacked his lips. "I can almost taste those hot dogs already." John John just shook his head.

After another fishing foray, the return to camp was marked by a shrill cry of outrage. "They're gone - all gone! WHO ATE MY HOT DOGS???"

John John held his aching sides with one hand, wheezing as he tried to talk and laugh at the same time. Pointing at the ground, he gasped, "Don't you see the footprints? The dogs got your dogs." Overcome by his own wit, it was a moment before he could continue. "That's why you're supposed to put the grill up on the picnic table, not on the ground!"

Jerry was busy having his own adventures, with no unkind soul to record or remember them, when the Great Fish made its appearance.

John John battled fiercely, sometimes playing out the line, and sometimes reeling it in. Once, the fish breached the water, landing with a splash. One look at its alligator head, and he knew he had a Northern Pike on the line.

"What am I going to do?" he thought to himself. "I was hoping to get a walleye, and I don't even have a net." Though short on equipment, he had no lack of ingenuity. As the pike drew in closer and still closer, he picked up a pair of pliers and seized its jaw, heaving its four-foot-long body into the sixteen-foot boat.

The fish went mad. Jaws snapping, it lunged, thrashed, and leaped, wildly beating against the resonant metal. Already taking shelter in the bow, Dusty tried to keep the frantic children calm. As the pike snapped and beat a few feet closer, she caught three-year-old Emily midair as she tried to leap off the boat. Apparently the certainty of one pike in the boat was more terrifying than the possibility of many more under it.

Word quickly spread, and a rather large audience had gathered to watch by the time John John got his trophy to the cleaning station. They were all there to see him clog up the drain with the fish's head, too. "Ya know, Son," one old-timer offered, "these stations weren't really designed for fish that big." Aw, he was probably just jealous he didn't have anything to plug the drain with.

They all ate fish fillets, about as fresh as it gets. John John cut them in quarters, and when they were still too big for his largest frying pan, he quartered them again. It was much more popular than the chicken.

Hopefully we'll be able to go camping there next summer. If normal, grown men could get into so many adventures, I have to wonder what a professional like Devon could do.

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Jonah Syndrome

(Borrowed from one of Tina's blogs of which I am a contributor, since she hasn't been using it for many months.)

Something brought to mind the sad fate of one of our pets, back when Damon and Tiggy were very small, and Devon was still in the oven.

So shortly after the turn of the century, we had this adorable little black dog named Jonah. She, yes she, looked like a whippet, but I have no clue what she actually was. She was the fastest, wiggliest little thing you could imagine, with a white star on her chest. We all loved Jonah.

Then, while the kids and I were gone on a trip, she came up missing. The kids were sad for a day or two, but life went on and we got another dog. However, for YEARS afterward, whenever Damon became upset about something else, he would wail, "I MISS JONAH!!!!!!!!" That became his excuse basket to put every bad and sad feeling for years. No, he wasn't upset because someone called him names. He just missed Jonah. No, he wasn't upset because he got in trouble. He just missed Jonah. No, he wasn't crying because he fell down and skinned his forehead. He just missed Jonah.

It was a long time before the kids found out what happened, but Jack and I had a pretty good idea from the start. Shortly after we got back from the trip, a horrible smell began emanating from under the house on one side, where a vent cover was missing. For a month or two I couldn't even go out there, pregnant and very sensitive to bad smells as I was.

For some reason I couldn't get Jack to go under the house, either. We just figured it would go away eventually, and it did. Very eventually.

Later, Buster, a huge naughty dog that destroyed and ate everything in sight, managed to squeeze his bulk under the house somehow, and clawed up the walls pretty good before he got back out.

Several years after that, a heater duct repair guy found Jonah's bones, just as we suspected. "It was horrible," he said with a catch in his voice, "there were claw marks all over where the poor thing tried to get out."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hunting Season 2010

You've probably been wondering why there have been no adventures of Gastron O. Nomical. He's probably been having all sorts of fun, but without any of us.

We've been going through Hunting Season 2010, aka The Great Car Massacre. In the middle of a blizzard, or excuse m
e, BLIZZARD-LIKE CONDITIONS (to some purists very separate and distinct from actual blizzards), the 2-point buck came out of the swirling black whiteness, attracted to the lights of the swirling white whiteness by some primitive force th
at brings deer and autos together all over the globe.

Mom was the poor unfortunate who happened to be driving when the deer rushed at her, thwacked the passenger-side lights, thrust one little antler into the engine compartment, and kicked out a light o
n the driver's side for good measure, before collapsing dead beside the road. There was nowhere to pull over right there, and the car kept going just long enough to coast onto one of the few roads out there in the middle of the bliz - in the storm.

Jack was at work, so I set out to her rescue in the only vehicle available to me - our aging and ailing van, whose transmission is slipping like Bambi on ice, so I only drive it right in town. (You might be wondering why, after I drove all the way to CA to bring back the little red truck for Mom that she wasn't driving it. Bear with me - there was a very good reason. Well, a reason.) Despite all trepidation, the rescue went off without a hitch, as well as the subsequent towing. John-John, my brother-in-law, turned out to have his own personal tow truck, so he drove the 10 miles out of town, hooked up our defunt Suburban, pulled it onto the bed, and drove it back to our house. By that time it was so late and cold that he parked the tow truck in our driveway, Suburban still on it, and got a ride home.

The next day, Mom had to go to Williston for many essential supplies, as well as a dentist appointment, and oh yes, picking up Jackie the Junior Border Collie from the vet after being fixed. All that was going to fall to pieces if I couldn't get the red truck running again.

It was all my fault. I admit it. Dad had so carefully warned me numerous times that there was a quirky little thing wrong with the red truck. Something kept the battery from staying charged like a normal car, so it either had to be started every day, or plugged into the special little battery charger in the engine compartment. "Don't forget," he said again and again. "There will be all kinds of trouble if the battery goes dead."

The night I got back from my trip at almost 11 pm, I was so dead I could hardly walk. As I staggered into my bedroom, bed lit up as with a spotlight, I looked down at my hand with horror to find the truck keys still clutched there. Before keeling over, dead asleep, I have a vague memory of handing them to Devon - desperate times call for desperate measures, and I foolishly thought it was a better option than dropping them under the bed - and saying, "Grandpa will kill us all if you lose these. GO HANG THEM UP!!!" Then a few giggles, and a tiny voice saying, "Look! A laser! Hee hee hee," before all went black.

The next morning the keys were nowhere to be found. With no way to start the truck, it sat unplugged past the critical point, and the battery died. Still, how bad could it be? I had jump-started so many batteries I lost count years ago. I could do it in my sleep. All I had to do was find the keys, and Devon had no idea where they were.

After four days of frantic searching, Tiggy found them in a cup-holder in the van. Go figure. No problemo, I would have the truck going in 3 minutes, tops. (This was the day before the buck hunt.)

Hooking up the battery charger with practiced ease, I turned it on to Quick Charge. A shrill siren split the air, and I made it several feet straight up before recovering enough presence of mind to snatch the clips off before something exploded. Jack thought that was pretty funny when I called him, and he informed me that it was the car alarm.

He thought it was even funnier when I called him after a quadrillion attempts to charge the battery while turning off the alarm, had all failed. At least I think he was laughing. It could have been my ears ringing.

The next night, with the Suburban down for the count, it was confession time. Holding back ~most~ of his I-told-you-so's, Dad gave me several things to try, and one of them worked. Just in time for Mom to leave for the dentist and vet, I whisked the purring truck over to her.

That evening, the call came in. "Do you suppose John-John can make another trip to Williston? The red truck has broken down." I think there were muffled sobs in the background.

With the Suburban hastily set down in the driveway, the family tow service sprang into action once more. Mom rode home with Tina, so she wasn't there to see the dazzled coyote slicing through the heavy snow, mystically drawn to the glowing li.... thump thump. Never mind.

Two cars that don't run any more. Two animals that don't run any more. Most folks would call that a draw.

I call it a pedestrian. Two pedestrians.

Doing a lot of walking,
Noni Beth


The drill barely goes

How red and cold is my nose

My boogers are froze.

~ Inspired by helping Jack with an installation at -5 F/-20 C.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Look, There's Elvis!

The man - or was it a woman? - slumped against the bathroom wall in the hospital, unresponsive and deadly pale. A passing employee rent the air with her startled scream. "Please, come quick! Somebody help me!"

The team of crack EMT's rushed in, determined to save the man - or was it a woman? - if they could. "Let's get him on the floor, stat," the lead EMT barked.

"Or her," another mumbled under her breath.

"No respirations and no pulse." The lead sounded hoarse. "Initiate CPR."

As one, each member of the team leaped into action, one beginning chest compressions, one inserting an airway and preparing to bag, and one getting the board for transport. The poor hospital employee watched it all, wringing her hands and moaning softly.

It was a long trip, and the EMT's were tired when at last they rolled the patient, still unresponsive, into the ER where Dr. Ruth waited. She spared only the most cursory glance before declaring the patient dead. The EMT's relaxed, stretched their aching muscles. They had done all they could.

"Great job, guys," the instructor said. "Now sit down and write me up a report on what you just did. Oh, and please put the dummy back where you found him."

"Her," someone whispered.

Then it was my turn to be on a team. When we found the patient, he was in even worse shape than before. What, you ask, could be downhill from dead? As it turns out, plenty. This time, our poor person was found face-down, still unresponsive, with his head in the toilet and the seat resting on the back of his neck. It looked for all the world like the toilet was trying to eat him, and just hadn't gotten around to swallowing the rest of him. Rather an undignified way to go...but not if we could help it!

After we loaded our patient, the ambulance driver took us all around town, over the railroad tracks, bumpity bump bump, pumping and bagging all the way. Two of us kept up the CPR at all times, the other two steadying with one hand and hanging onto the ceiling rail, subway-style. The "hysterical" hospital employee rode along, too, giving direction as needed, and timing us to get a baseline against future efforts.

Alas, despite all we could do, upon our arrival Dr. Ruth quickly declared him dead. Again.

She never did explain to us how, with no pulse and no respiration, our patient was able to get sick to his stomach on the way to the hospital, thus needing to be turned on his side and suctioned, mid-CPR. One would almost think it had only been an excuse to get us to practice suctioning.

When the instructor read the three trip reports, our team was horrified to learn that another team had been far more creative, naming the patient and making up a funny address. (They did have trouble picking a gender, though, since the poor dummy had a man's head and a woman's torso, but hey, nobody's perfect.) Our report, though most excellent, had not made anyone laugh. Well, Team A, consider the gauntlet to be thrown.

Next, another student and I were dispatched to an office, a hospital office, oddly enough, for an unresponsive male. We walked in to find a tall, burly EMT lying flat on the floor, his desk chair knocked over beside him. Snoring sounds came from his throat, and his right hand still clutched a urinal.

"I don't even want to know."

Performing the treatment was a little distracting, when the 'unresponsive' patient kept giggling. He's just lucky I only pretended to insert the nasal airway. Next time, he might not be so fortunate.

Tune in next week for the adventures of...
Gastron O. Nomical

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I am so ashamed. I admit it. I feel I should make restitution, somehow. My only defense is that I never knew, not until just now.

I am married to a Flaming Poo Warrior. Former juvenile delinquent, to be more precise.

Before becoming a Christian, Jack did many things he shouldn't have. The usual drinking, some drugs, reckless driving, unsavory women...and now adding to the list flaming poo.

Apparently what you do, not that I would EVER KNOW, is put some dung, the fresher the better, and place it carefully in a paper bag. Light the bag on fire, and once it's good and blazing, set it on the person's doorstep, ring the doorbell, and run away. The poor person opens the door, sees the fire, and immediately attempts to stomp it out.

What horror! What cruelty! What wickedness! What a lot like what my own grandpa did!

Grandpa was not always the fine, upstanding missionary gentleman that he is now. He was a boy once, and a very naughty one at that. When a member of the community annoyed him, he would find creative ways of getting even. And grouchy old Mrs. Fernandes really, really annoyed him.

Enlisting the aid of Emmy, his best friend and frequent partner in crime, Grandpa scouted around for the best possible horse apples he could find, and slipped them into a paper bag. (Note for any city children: horse apples are not really apples at all. You didn't think cow pies were edible, did you?)

He and Emmy went up the steps onto Mrs. Fernandes' porch and knocked on the screen door. The elderly woman shuffled over to see who it was, and eyed the two suspiciously. Butter wasn't melting in their mouths. "What do you want?" she finally snapped.

Smarmy doesn't begin to describe it. "Here you go," Grandpa oozed, smiling winningly, "Here are some nice, fresh cookies my mom baked just for you."

Suspicion melting into smiles, she took the bag. "Oh, tell your mudder tanks, tell your mudder tanks," she beamed, and shuffled away. Chortling, Grandpa and Emmy ran around the corner and peeked back, watching for the explosion. It was not long in coming.

Violently, the screen door banged open and crashed into the wall. The bag of "cookies" flew through the air so fast and so far it turned heads at SETI, propelled by a slipper-clad but very spry foot. The language would have humbled a sailor.

Not many minutes had gone by before a complaint was registered with Pop, Grandpa's dad. Sternly he called Grandpa in to account for his actions. By the end of the vivid description, Pop "oh ho ho ho'ed" with the rest of them. And if he then "oh ho ho'ed" all the way to the woodshed, it was surely a well-deserved lickin'.

Mrs. Fernandes has been gone for many, many years, but the memory of her and the athletic prowess of her right foot still lives on. I'm sure she would be flattered.

Suddenly eyeing all paper bags askance,
Noni Beth

Charles Spurgeon, Eat Your Heart Out

Jack preached today. I always look forward to his sermons, because they're so down-to-earth and informal. He takes the same casual teaching style that served him so well teaching peace officers and other security personnel. It was great material, too, about the second temptation of the devil tries even yet to substitute his own easy, feel-good religion in place of surrender to God.

After the first couple of minutes, I was thinking that this was not going to be his most rousing sermon ever. It wasn't bad, don't get me wrong, but it lacked his usual flair. He was reading more than talking, and didn't look up as much as usual, either. Still, it was good enough that I didn't realize what was going on until he said...

"I'm sorry, I was trying to make it - I'm almost through - but I'm not feeling so good. I'd better sit down."

It turned out that he had started feeling dizzy early on, (probably as a result of the ibuprofen he had taken, since he had a VERY GOOD breakfast), and every time he looked up at the congregation, he got dizzier. And dizzier. And dizzier.

Fortunately, he had had me go over his material with him a couple times, so I finished the last little bit up for him just fine. At potluck, I teased him, "Since the preacher is supposed to bless the food, you go ahead and start the prayer, and I'll finish it for you."

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth

Friday, October 22, 2010

Of Lying Flat and Flatulence

Mom made it up here on October 6 with Grandpa, after setting some kind of world record for bad trips. They had stops in Denver and Someplace, WY (no, that's not really the name - I can't remember which city it was), and it didn't take long for the mechanical difficulties to surface. It took a half hour to fix whatever was wrong, and an additional half hour for the engine to cool before they were allowed to start up and continue on their way. Arrival time moves from midnight, Central Time, to 1 am.

In Someplace, WY, a woman deplaned and neglected to replane. The pilots of the little commuter plan found out 45 minutes toward Williston that she was missing, and turned around to get her. The woman's brother had been in a terrible accident, and they weren't sure if he would live, so she was trying to get there to see him while he was alive. I don't know how much you know about Williston, ND, but a center of interstate air travel it is not. There would have been no more flights till the next afternoon at least, which is why those wonderful folks turned around and got her in a stunning act of kindness seldom seen.

New ETA for Mom: 2:30 am.

Upon arriving in Williston, there were more hurdles to surmount. First, a dreadful spill in the airport that took another half hour to clean up (boy, Mom really likes those half hour increments, doesn't she?), then when they finally got everything gathered and out to the car, the battery was dead and wouldn't start. Another half hour.

To say it was nippy would be an understatement. Mom had to throw herself on the nice lady's mercy to take Grandpa back inside the airport before he froze to his wheelchair, and they did finally get going. It must have been a bit disconcerting to leave the airport around 4am, and then get home an hour 4am.

It's been WONDERFUL having her out here, and if she missed fall, she at least made it for a couple weeks of pre-winter.

The same day Mom left Cali, Jack and I started our EMT class. Out here they have a volunteer ambulance service, though you do get paid when you have to actually work. So every Tuesday and Thursday nights, we've been going to class to get our certifications back.

Tuesday night this week was where we got to drag each other around with blankets, and last night was backboard practice, right after the test. Jack said he was trying to get kicked out by flunking, but he's going to have to work much harder to fail with test scores like that. He missed two nights and I didn't miss any, but I only got 2 more points than he did. One for each night, I guess.

Here I must digress for a brief fashion complaint. Nowadays, it's just about to impossible to find anything but pants too low, and shirts too high. Hip-huggers are poor choices health-wise, too, being linked to all sorts of girl-trouble for those who wear them. They have influenced styles enough that all waistlines have dropped somewhat, and you're doing good if you can find a pretty shirt that comes down far enough to meet said waistlines...if you stand or sit straight, and hold very, very still.

I had even brought a t-shirt with me in case we did something strenuous, but was caught off guard when the teacher turned to me first. "Ok Noni, you can be our victim."

It was backboard night, so I laid in a supine (face-up) position, ever-so-delicately arranging my shirt and pants so the edges would approximately line up. And held very, very still.

Suddenly, my wardrobe was no longer chief of my worries. There is just no dainty way to put this. Sometimes, especially at the end of the day, I become methaneically challenged. When I lie down to sleep, or as it turns out, just lie down, any backlog of effluvium makes its way rapidly to the exit and knocks sharply.

So there I was, on the floor of the classroom, with the entire class gathered around me, as my shirt and sphincter made simultaneous attempts to slide out of position. No spinal patient has ever stayed more still, making every effort to assist in keeping the proper body alignment.

As they rolled me back and forth, my dumb shirt leaped back to the forefront. The nice lady at my midsection kept trying to pull it down for me, but it just wouldn't stay. Finally, I tried to tuck it into my pants, keeping my spine straight all the while. In my enthusiasm, I also mistakenly tucked the shirt into my unmentionables, tossing any last shred of modesty to the wind.

At long last, shirt properly tucked only into my pants, I could once again give my full attention to holding still. A quick lift, the odd sensation of floating, and they lowered me carefully onto the gurney. Almost there, a few more straps fastened, then unfastened. Whew! That was close! Time to sneak away for a moment of ahem privacy.

"Ok Noni, you can help with the next victim." Great. Just kneel down, bend over, and strain every muscle in your body. Guaranteed to go wonderfully.

Coming soon to an ambulance near you,
Noni Beth

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Fox Whisperer

Yet another blog without a photo, and oh how I wish there was one, or better yet, a series. But even if my camera had been in my hand, turned on, I would probably have missed the shot. It all happened so fast.

Tina wanted to take the dogs out for a run in the country. They looooooove the drive, and the gallop through the grass with the wind whipping through their ears. And there's not much longer till anything fun outdoors is only a distant memory. So we packed up all 3 dogs, all 3 kids, and drove out on the gravel roads west of town.

Last week, Tina had found a beautiful old abandoned house, and wanted to show it to me. We parked down at the road, and walked up the long, curved ruts that had once been a driveway. True to her description, it was beautiful. All the windows were gone, so you could look right in and see all the incredibly bright colors that had once been on the walls, and yes, the ceiling. The lower part of the walls had been forest green, with a vibrant yellow on the upper part, and the ceiling was a deep royal blue. Old cupboards still cling to the walls, and gorgeous disintegrating doors sag forlornly.

Tina went right on in. I didn't. As much as I like to explore, I have this thing about not wanting to plunge suddenly into dark basements, leaving chunks of my body behind on the way down. I'm just funny that way. Tina thinks she will somehow just know when the floor is unsafe, and that she can float if anything goes wrong.

Those little differences of world view leave her with all the best things to see, and me outside, pressing my nose against where the glass used to be. "At least you won't fall into the basement," I try to console myself.

While Tina gingerly worked her way upstairs - it not being sufficient to fall only into the basement, she wants to fall through the ground floor first and THEN into the basement - I began peeking into each window, feet planted firmly on the ground.

Right above my head, I heard her squeal or squawk or something, and this awful-sounding noise right above Damon and me. I ducked my head and closed my eyes. Don't fall on me! Don't fall on me! Don't fall, either....

A plopping sound and instantaneous ruckus behind me made me whip around, only to see a glorious red fox streaking off into the sunset, Finley hot on his poofy tail, and all the other dogs hot on Finley's hindquarters. Finley has no tail, so that's probably why he was so intent on capturing that one, to assuage his inferiority complex.

As it turned out, upon having his second-story haven disturbed, the courageous flying fox took to the air and hurled himself out the window, leaping far out directly over Damon and me, and was well on his way to Canada before I even saw him.

Finley has never chased a fox before. I have never seen a wild fox so close, much less had one jump over the top of me before. Tina has never startled a fox in an upstairs bedroom before. It was a day of firsts. I'm guessing there may have even been a couple of firsts for the fox.

Cringing and looking upward for more raining foxes,
Noni Beth

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Lutheran Church Strikes Again

I admit it. The title is a masterpiece of responsibility-shifting. It really isn't the Lutheran Church's fault that things keep happening to me. Every time I play for them.

So I got all ready, and right on schedule about 13 minutes before the hour, picked up my music to walk out the door, and went to the little peg where my keys were supposed to be.

No keys.

Reaching warp speed in less than 2.7 seconds, I tore in quick succession through my purse, book bag, camera bag, kitchen counter, and bedside stand. No keys, not even in the ignition.

Time was running out. With blinding speed, I dumped the stuff out of Devon's backpack, ran to the car where my music and glasses were set neatly, and dumped them in. Somehow I missed the glasses, a move I would regret for a good hour. Then nothing else for it, but to grab the nearest bicycle and start pedaling.

The dress I had chosen was very low-key and modest - a long, narrow pinstripe skirt that buttoned up the front, and a white shirt. Not exactly designed for biking, but no time to change. It took two hands on the handlebars to get going, since my feet would hardly reach the ground in my leg-hampered condition. Then it took the next 500 feet to pull myself back into a mostly-clad condition.

My only hope going through town was to ride so fast that no one could see anything but a blur. Unfortunately, steering with one hand and trying desperately to hold myself together with the other, I just couldn't pedal as fast. Jack, down at the shop loading his work truck for the day, came out the door just as I went by, of all the luck. His maniacal laughter followed me most of the way to the church.

One advantage of being a couple minutes late is that, once I turned onto the highway and headed for the edge of town, no one was around so I could let go and ride like the wind. Everyone was so happy to see me that no one commented on my windblown, gasping condition. To my face, at any rate.

After that, the discovery that my glasses were still at home and I would have to squint my way through the whole service, was anticlimactic. I sure wasn't riding back to get them.

Next time they ask me to play, I think I will get dressed Saturday night and go spend the night in one of the pews.

Still twitching from too much adventure,
Noni Beth

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Phot-hography...aka Taking Pigtures

Our friends who gave us Bunny, have given us more than just their treasured friendship and a baby cottontail. They also share generously of their manure, and thankfully, gardening advice.

The kids are always so excited when I shout, "Okay, who wants to go get poo?" Well, nobody was complaining about carrying buckets on this particular day, when we were invited to help feed the pigs on the same farmstead where we get the manure for our garden.

These adolescent pigs were tame enough to eat right out of our hands.

Somewhere, I've got a picture of Tiggy in her pink shirt and little braids slopping the pigs. I'll post it when I find it.

Somewhere, there is a picture of me in my work clothes and ponytail, slopping the pigs. Though a cherished bit of family history, it will never see the light of day. (With appropriate bribery one of the children may show it to you in person, when you come visit.)

Next year, there will be more little piggies to visit. Sigh. It's very hard for vegetarian kids to become attached to farm animals.

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth


Another Short-term Guest

No, Expensia isn't the short-term guest. She has long-term tenancy, and so considers herself a part of the welcoming committee for any of the refugees that find their way into our home. Especially the tasty-smelling refugees.

A friend of ours found a tiny little bunny under attack by the family cats, rescued it, and brought it to us, much to Expensia's delight. Not as much to my delight, since I tried to conceal Bunny's presence from the children by putting him/her/it in a cat carrier and artfully arranging laundry over it so it looked boring.

Boring to everyone but Expensia.

Naturally, Devon was the first to find it, his interest piqued by the cat's insistence on sitting atop the cat carrier, or staring fixedly through the air holes in the sides and meowing. Thus he got to help me feed Bunny his/her/its last meal. At least he was up-to-date on his rabies vaccinations...

The next morning, Bunny was gone, and I don't mean missing from the cat carrier. We put her out with Fezzy, Mourning Dovie, Robinny, and I forget who else. Thanks for visiting, Bunny.

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth

A Year in the Life of a Tree


I am learning that digital cameras weren't meant to function in subzero temperatures. Not my digital camera, anyway. It took the picture, but complained bitterly.


Tina and I both thought the tree would surely be covered in snow, right up to the tippy-top. Though plenty has fallen, it keeps blowing away.

Yes, I'm serious!

A little later in the day I took this one. And wow, the tree is still there!

It's been foggy some, freezing fog of course, but this day was sure a doozy. Driving along, about all you could see was the road for a little ways ahead, since everything on the sides was white, and the snow blended seamlessly into the fog.

MARCH 2010

Does this photo look familiar? I'm having such an odd sense of deja vu all over again.


The only time I had ever seen anything like this was in It Could Happen Tomorrow about the ice storm. You can imagine what the poor power lines looked like! We had more outages than you could shake an icicle at.

APRIL 2010

What a difference a month makes! Almost everything has melted, and things are just beginning to grow. The red-winged blackbirds just returned, and if their songs could show up in the picture, there would be so many you couldn't even see the tree.

MAY 2010

It's yo-yo season. First the weather was so warm I got out my shorts, and then with very little warning it was snowing again. Sun, rain, more snow, more sun.

Everything is turning green - the grass, the leaves on bushes and trees, the roof of the abandoned house next door...

It's very windy, too. When you come to visit me, you won't have any trouble figuring out why this whole part of the country is a windmill-full energy mine.

Bring your Aquanet!

JUNE 2010

Once it decides to green up around here, it does it in a hurry! The lilacs are nearing full bloom, we've had to mow the lawn several times, and it's almost time to set out tomatoes.

Which could be why the ones I planted several weeks ago were not doing too well. Live and learn.

I built a portable greenhouse (of sorts) around them, so I think that story will have a happy ending.

JULY 2010

What a busy month, and fairly hot (for here). Tina was very cranky with the lentil farmers, who accelerate the drying of their crop by spraying Round-up and other herbicides to kill the plants.

No, it's not the use of chemicals on the plants that has her up in arms - live lentils are a lush green with a hint of yellow, that is her new favorite color. Dead lentils are brilliant wheat-yellow and orange. Not her favorite color.


After a string of thunderstorms, with two tornadoes causing a total of three deaths near us, August took a quick turn for the chilly. After a bit it warmed back up again, but there is no doubt that fall is on the way.

For one thing, the birds are just beginning their southward migration. For another, the kids are back in school. Oh, yeah!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Born to be Wild

Now that Diesel continues to have bladder control problems following his lengthy illness, we have been encouraging him to go outside for almost the first time in his life. Definitely the first time on purpose. Hey, it beats being shut in the laundry room all the time so he's never more than four steps away from his litterbox.

For the first time ever, he gets to run free outside, feel the grass under his little cat paws, watch the songbirds with no glass between, and best oh best of all, climb trees!

After this little foray into tree climbing, Diesel decided to be an indoor cat for almost a week. He hid in the laundry room, tucked away behind the washer and dryer, nose pressed into the corner, clicking his little heels together and whispering, "There's no place like home! There's no place like home!"

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth