Thursday, February 24, 2011

What Kind of Mother?

Devon got up just fine this morning. Maybe not perfectly, but once he got up,, he got ready very quickly. By the time I saw him, he was dressed and ready to go.

I helped him with his hair a bit, because with his winter shag, he hadn't succeeded very well in taming it. Of course I wouldn't want to be embarrassed by sending a weed seed to school.

Fixing him with a gimlet eye, I told him, "You'd better be wearing clean clothes under that snowsuit, Mister." He smiled wordlessly and zipped up the last inch rather suspiciously. "Clean clothes," I repeated sternly.

That was the last thought I gave his wardrobe till the teacher called. "Devon showed up at school wearing shorts, in -18F weather. He said he slept in his snowsuit, and forgot to change."

Forgot, my eye! Although I hastily told her that I had NOT known he was sleeping in his snowsuit, and had indeed told him to be sure he was wearing clean clothes, some impressions just can't be erased. No matter how logical the story sounds, you're just left wondering,

What kind of mother sends her son out into shorts???

"But at least I combed his hair," I mentally protest, "and reminded him to brush his teeth." Great, he probably didn't do that, either. What kind of mother, indeed.

Very, very humbly,
Noni Beth

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


So, you've all heard about those fighter jets from Libya, right? In the wake of all the political unrest, two fighter jet pilots from Libya flew off in their jets, seeking political asylum on the tiny island of Malta.

Malta has long been an important spot, despite its small size of just over 115 square miles. The apostle Paul shipwrecked there, and the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans all saw its strategic value. Though the exact meaning of the name Malta is unsure, the most common idea is that it means "honey", after the populous species of bees that do indeed produce honey there. Some believe the name originates from the Phoenician word Maleth, meaning "haven".

Whether those pilots sought after a haven from the turmoil in their own country, or just wanted to see the Megalithic Temples, there they landed and surrendered their aircraft.

In view of that, you can imagine Jack's great surprise yesterday when he heard ON THE RADIO that Libyan fighter jets had landed in Malta, Montana, which is near Fort Belknap.

I can certainly understand the confusion. For one thing, the state of Montana is almost 1300 times as big as that little island - much easier to aim for. For another thing, Malta has had its own post office since 1890. With Kid Curry, part of Butch Cassidy's gang, carrying out a robbery in 1901 to the tune of 40 G's, there is no shortage of historical interest. And if they had preferred dinosaurs, well Malta, Montana has plenty of those, too.

Leonardo, the mummified brachylophosaurus, was found there, one of only four mummified dinosaurs in the world. His unmummified-but-fossilized cousins, Peanut, Roberta, and Elvis, are also on display at the county museum in Malta.

With so much to offer, I can only wonder why Malta, Montana was passed up by these Libyan pilots as they looked for a landing place. What's that? Other side of the world? Details, schmetails. Help spread the word - next time you want to defect, go to MALTA, MONTANA!!!

Rooting for Malta,
Noni Beth

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Winter weather advisory. Winter weather watch. Winter weather warning. Every few hours it worked its way up the storm ladder, till we were under a full blizzard warning, with the road out of town closed due to severe drifts. The zero visibility might have had something to do with it, too.

Jack tried to keep his voice calm, but inside he was jumping for joy as he called in to work and told them he couldn't make it out. The kids would have been jumping for joy, but they were already on vacation. For them, it was a waste of a perfectly good snow day.

When I walked out the door to head to the grocery store, and of course to take a few photos while I was at it, the tiny grains of ice the wind hurled at me stung my face and eyes. It was a struggle to get to the car without blundering into the deep drifts crossing the driveway, especially with my eyes closed.

First things first. I wanted to get a photo of the road closure signs. It only took a few moments to realize that wherever the signs were, I wouldn't make it that far. Carefully and slowly, I picked my way along to the sharp left turn just past the last house at the edge of town. As I opened the door to get out, the wind ripped it out of my hands and wouldn't let go.
Hastily snapping a few shots of the nervous horses a few feet to one side, and the nearly obscured telephone pole on the other, I leaped back in the car. Pulling, tugging, and grunting, I finally got the door to shut. Barely.

Upon hearing a description of the brutal storm, Mom asked me to take her out for a spin and show her, too. Always happy to oblige, I swung by and picked her up, preparing to drive around that little loop again.

The best laid plans of mice and ladies....just before I got to the left hand turn by the horse barn, my windshield fogged up. With visibility of only a few feet, I didn't dare stop, even though I couldn't see. There were a few hasty moments of scrambling around to turn on the defroster, roll down my window, and stick my head out so I could at least see the yellow center line.

Once I could see the line, I could also see that I had just passed up my turn, and was headed out in a Very Bad Direction. We should have at least come to the roadblock by that time, but it was nowhere to be found. Finally, right by the big radio tower, we found a space with about 50 feet of visibility, doubtless due to some obstruction a short distance north of the road. It wasn't ideal, by any standard, but offered the only place to turn around for a mile or so.

About 3/4 of the way through my 9-point turnaround, Mom suddenly began emitting a
high-pitched squealing. At least I assume it was Mom, since it wasn't me, and Flipper seldom visits so far north. Someone in a pickup, who should NOT have been out on the road either but didn't have any fine excuse such as missing his turnoff, was headed straight for her.

In that cute little clear bubble on the road, he was able to see us in time to stop, then followed us back into town. Doubtless he and I were both muttering in unison, "They shouldn't've been out here anyway...what kind of idiot goes out on the road like this in a blizzard???"

The next morning, the sun rose warmly, the winds had vanished, the roads opened, and all that remained of the great blizzard were deep snowdrifts in some pretty inconvenient places. It gave us a little taste of what the pioneers must have been through back in the olden days, where you could get lost between the house and the barn, if you hadn't strung up a clothesline to hold onto. Even in 1931, the Towner Bus Tragedy cost 5 children and the bus driver their lives when the bus slid into a ditch.

Back in January of 1888, the Schoolchildren's Blizzard in Nebraska and South Dakota killed 235 people, many of them school children. The weather had been unseasonably warm, from 20-40F. Children went to school, adults went to town for supplies and to run errands, and none of them were prepared for the sudden subzero blizzard. One teacher in Nebraska was trapped in the schoolhouse with three students. By midafternoon they ran out of fuel to keep warm, and so they at last tried to reach the boardinghouse only a little more than 200 feet away. They became lost, the children all froze to death, and the teacher lost her feet.

In March of the same year, another blizzard struck the eastern seaboard. The Great Blizzard of 1888, also sometimes referred to as the Great White Hurricane, killed over 400 people. Around half of the dead were from New York City. Some aftereffects of the storm were the underground transit system, and utility companies began burying many of their lines to protect them against future storms. That blizzard, too, had been preceded by unseasonably warm weather, which had lulled the populace into a false sense of security.

How thankful we should all be for the warnings we receive. It's so easy to take them for granted, but there was a time not so long ago that we would have had no way to know what was coming for us. We are so privileged to have all this knowledge right there at our fingertips.

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Romance Lives

A big THANK YOU to all of you who purchased Peter ~ Fisher of Men this last year. (I'll bet that's not how you pictured the first sentence of a post on romance.)

Last year, more people bought my first book, Malchus, and my sales revenue from the sequel dropped far, far into the double digits. This year, sequel sales increased almost 700%! So maybe I haven't made it on the New York Times Bestseller List yet, but I was happy.

Jack was happy, too. Since he was the one who encouraged me to submit Peter to another publisher after the manuscript had already been rejected once, AND went the extra mile to talk to some of the guys when he bumped into them at a conference, he (quite justly) feels a proprietary interest in my success.

Every year we joke about his cut, and he tells me all the outrageous things he wants me to get for him. (Since moving to the Chilly Northland, Hawaiian vacations have featured prominently.) This year, I told him I wanted to take a little of the "special money" and go on a date night with him.

"Yeah, I'll take you out," he grinned. "I'll take you down to Al's Meats and buy you a muffin."

Funny man.

The actual Big Event was almost as romantic as he envisioned, even if there were no muffins. I have been awfully sick for two weeks now, and if that wasn't bad enough, the frighteningly warm temperatures left rivers of molten snow turning to sheets of ice at night. Undaunted, we decided if we couldn't go out, we would just have to stay in.

Mom & Dad were kind enough to take the children for the night, and Jack & I cooked up a storm, together. Once we had a first-rate homemade Mexican dinner put together, we snuggled up to watch a movie. That is, until nine-thirty, which found me passed out cold. The End.

Romance may not be dead, but it sure falls asleep easily. And even though it didn't last very long, spending a whole evening with my best friend, the love of my life, was wonderful! I can't to see what unique Mommy-Daddy Date Night we come up with next, perhaps an afternoon nap.....

Still waiting for my muffin,
Noni Beth