Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Birthday That Never Ends

Woe, woe, woe. Woe is me. I have a heavy birthday upon my back, and I don't know how to get rid of it. Hopefully today will be the last I have to hear of it for almost a year.

As I mentioned before, I have been quite sick. I am still sick. April 1 will make two months exactly, with no end to the coughing in sight. At least I have my voice - Mom's has been missing since mid-February. (If you find a missing voice, please ship it to General Delivery, Westby, MT. COD is fine.) Nothing natural or traditional has been enough to finish off this terrible bug so far, though the hope of temperatures into the 40's may mean we can get a little sun and fresh air, instead of months of only going outside with every square inch of skin covered.

Still not great now, I was completely miserable on Devon's birthday. The poor thing was lucky to get supper at all, never mind a special birthday supper. And cake? Who can stomach the stuff? (Maybe one little boy who wasn't sick and didn't get any, but NOBODY ELSE, OKAY???)

Instead of having one modest party with a friend or two and some cousins, we have had an ongoing celebration for almost 6 weeks now, trying to help Devon feel less cheated about his birthday. In retrospect, I wish I had either crawled out of bed at the time, or just hired some entertainment. Since I didn't, we have done more for Devon's birthday over the last month-and-a-half than in the last five years rolled together.

Somewhere around five parties/occasions dedicated to Devon, and two cakes - three if you count all the cupcakes he got to take to the people at the nursing home, given in his honor. To (HOPEFULLY) bring the celebration to a final end for the whole rest of the year, Tina invited us out for a snow frolic, also in Devon's honor. 

It wasn't even a blizzard this time, just a strong east wind, that left Tina's driveway not only drifted, but completely filled in. Some places must have been at least 5 feet deep, right there in the middle of her driveway. Thus even the walk up to the house was fraught with adventure. 

No one else was around to see my ungainly, cautious waddle (thinking light thoughts) as I tried to cross the deep snow unscathed. No one was around to witness my hip-deep plunge at the very end, or to laugh as I finally had to roll down the hill to escape. No one was around to hear the increasingly shrill soprano cries as snow melted into all sorts of personal areas. And if any unkind persons bring up dolphins, I won't be held accountable. There are NO dolphins in the wild in Montana.

We took turns skiing, the first time I have ever had skis on my feet. Technically, they were only under my feet, since the toe clips were nowhere near big enough to fit over the toes of the huge boots I had borrowed from Jack. I really think that put me at a disadvantage, since I have always known I would have been very good at skiing, if only I had learned. First, I tried not to go too fast. Then I tried to go faster. Then I just tried not to get stuck, as the skis slowly sank farther and farther into the powdery whiteness.

Devon did quite well, 

and so did Laura, right up until the last moment, when both skis stopped and she kept going. With grace and beauty, she whirled and pirouetted before dropping into a drift. Rescue Dog Finley rushed to her aid.

After all of us were clumped with snow, soaked, and cold, it was time to go inside for hot chocolate - also in honor of Devon, of course - and get ready to go home. 

Devon, if you read this, your birthday is over. I have made up for being sick. Several times. There are no more presents. There are no more cakes. There are no more parties. Your birthday is O.V.E.R. You will have another one next year, but until then, there are No More Birthdays for you. Only for other people. 

I will leave all of you with one final image, that of Tina making a snow angel.

Tired from the adventure,
Noni Beth

The Puppetmaster

Me: Ok children. It's time for worship. Let's sit very quietly and see which Bible story Devon is going to do  for us with his new present.

Devon: Once there was a donkey. He was walking along through the jungle.

Me: (interrupting suspiciously) Is this a BIBLE story???

Devon: Of course. So anyway, this donkey was walking through the jungle, here and there. Walking through the jungle. Finally, he saw a house. "Aha," he said, "I need to find a new owner. I will go to this house." Inside, he found Mary.

Me: (to myself) Ah yes, the Bible connection.There in the jungles of Nazareth.

Devon: Mary took Clonk N Thonk...

Tiggy: (whispering loudly) CLUMP N THUMP!

Devon: (sighing) So Mary took Clump N Thonk to the stable. There, he met her other pet. (Lengthy pause to consult puppet packaging.) Perry Winkle. Perry Winkle had been Mary's pet for a long time, so he knew her very well. Perry Winkle came close and whispered in...
Tiggy: Clump N Thump...

Devon: Clump N Thump's ear. Then Joseph came out with a lot of supplies. He loaded up (glares at Tiggy) Clump N Thonk with lots of stuff. "Wow," said Clomp N Thonk, "I can tell this is going to be a very long journey. Look at all this stuff we are taking. It's going to be a loooooooong time before we're back home again. "I know," said Perry Winkle. Then they all started out. Mary was much heavier than usual, tee hee, and they went on. It was a long trip. They walked all day, and rested that night. Perry Winkle ate his seeds. He...he....(tries repeatedly to make Perry peck at the seeds, without success). Perry Winkle put his head under his wing and went to sleep. They walked all the next day. Then they slept. Then they walked all the next day, and finally got to Bethlehem. 

Tiggy: (whispering loudly) Here, take my doll!

Devon: (sighing) They went to sleep again that night. During the night, something woke them up. It was a baby crying. They walked over to the baby and looked at him. Just then, two shepherds came. "The angel told us we would find the baby here," they said. And just then, (singing) We Three Kings of Orient Art...

Me: Um, Devon, that didn't happen till much later. 

Devon: (singing) We Three Kings of Orium Ares...

Damon: About two years later.

Devon: You're kidding!!! Ok then, two years later (singing) We Three Kings of Orienarr...and they brought their gifts. Gold, silver, and what else?

Me: Gold, no silver, ffffffff......

Devon: Frankincense!

Me: And mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm (his brow furrowed) mmmmmmmmyyyyyyyrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhh.....

Devon: Myrrh!

Me: Yes!!

Devon: And then Joseph letted Perry Winkle and Clomp N Thunk go free! They ran, well actually they hopped and jumped and leaped to freedom.

Me: Ok, Devon. Thank  you for that lovely and interesting rendition. Let's bow our heads for....

Devon: And THEN, many years later, Clonk N Thonk carried the baby who is, who was, who used to be a baby but then he grew up, he carried his body. He was so sad. "This man looks familiar," he said. And he carried him to the grave. And then he met Perry Winkle again, and they both went free again. They jumped and hopped, and Perry Winkle's head went UP and down, and UP and down, and UP and down, and UP and down...

Me: (sternly) Devon!

Devon: And they lived happily ever.

Yes, really. That's how it ends.
The Majestic Perry Winkle

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Prelude to a Party

Step 1. Collect the guests, blizzard or no. Conveniently, one guest had already arrived, being trapped in town and unable to make it home.

So far, this isn't as bad as the last blizzard. According to Damon's buddy, Doppy-ler Radar (as he used to call it), that condition may not last long.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Just Visiting Around Today

"Are you SURE you're on the road to Bismarck?" Jack asked today for the third time.

"Of COURSE I'm sure....well, pretty sure," I hesitantly replied. "There haven't been many signs." 

That alone was a bad sign. Others followed in quick succession. Upon turning on the compass (instead of the always-entertaining thermometer), it read "E" instead of "S". Then, a minute or two later, there was at last a highway sign, and sure enough it was Highway 2 instead of 83. A mere paltry difference of 81, but enough to get me in trouble.

And that is how I came to visit any number of little North Dakota towns that I might otherwise never have seen. Towner was the spot I turned around, and after looking up several options, found a shorter route than going all the way back through Minot. 

Keep in mind that not only was I supposed to have been there to pick up Jack two hours before my actual arrival, but we were racing against bad weather and the likelihood of another spring blizzard. Instead, I was touring Anamoose. Among other places.

The small, colorful town of Anamoose got its name back in the 1890's, during the building of the Soo Line Railroad. A dog wandered the area, catching the attention of the local Chippewa, who began calling the place Anamoose. In Chippewa, it simply means, "dog". Like many places around here, it became a booming town in the early 1900's, and has since tapered off rather dramatically in population, though not in community spirit.

You may wonder how I learned all that as I raced through, hair afire. Easy. I came home and looked it up on the internet.

Such a lot of beautiful scenery I saw today, and if I pretended hard enough, I could almost imagine it was on purpose.

Glad to be found,
Noni Beth

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hail the Conquering Heroes

About a half hour ago, the parade came through the main street of town. Two snowplows and a sheriff led the way, followed by numerous cars, pickups, and at least one semi. I didn't see the UPS guy, but I'm sure he was in there somewhere. John John was close to the front, clearly eager to get home.

I'm sure some of those motorists will still be stranded, but a much higher quality of stranded.

In the store, I met the music teacher. She had nobly volunteered to take in all the stranded out-of-town students, and was stocking up on ingredients to make a giant batch of spaghetti.

The blizzard continues, but with a smidge less fury, and the last hour ticks down on our warning.

All's well that ends well,
Noni Beth

A Brave Snowplow Driver

Blizzard Deja Vu...Only Worse

Always before, we have had plenty of warning. Today, as Tina sat home reading The Children's Blizzard, the storm struck.  

The weather forecasters are normally very accurate. Up here, lives depend on it. But as late as 7:30 this morning, we were only supposed to get some winds and a spritz of snow. Only a generic winter weather advisory was issued, and the roads were all open. The outside edge of the blizzard warning was almost 60 miles away. What happened caught us all by surprise.

Jack was supposed to go to Minot today, right in the heart of the blizzard. Being a good sport, since his supervisor really, really hoped he could make it, he tried. After about 30 miles, he gave up and came back. His next project was to twiddle his thumbs down at the shop while waiting to make sure John John made it back safely from the farm.

Before long, I got a call. "John John is stuck out on the highway. We're going to try and get him." Goody, I love being on standby as The Great Last Hope when everyone else has gotten stuck.

They had hardly made it past the just-put-up road closed signs before they had to turn around and come back, somewhat reassured by the news that John John had some food, beverages, and plenty of gas. Upon arrival back in town, the news grew even more dramatic. John John was one of 15 or so motorists trapped on the tardily closed road, including the UPS man.

The FedEx guy was more fortunate, having already arrived in Westby. He and the others stranded by the blizzard were given shelter in the community center, and provided with food. 

After several hours, a daring snowplow driver tried to break through, but got stuck at mile marker 12. 

The last I heard, the snowplow driver had finally broken loose, and was continuing on his rescue mission. No idea how many may have been rescued by this time, but John John is still stuck, trapped between two monster drifts, moving every ten minutes or so to avoid becoming a drift himself. The rest of us are eating pizza.

And Tina? She has decided it would have been much better to read her book in the summertime.

Without visibility,
Noni Beth

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Curse of the Prairie Royalty

If you have not already read Prairie Royalty, by Tina, you should do that first. Click here to read it. 

Monday came and went. No check. Tuesday came and went. No check. Wednesday came and went. No check.

Finally, I reached someone yesterday in the Review office. "Oh, yes," he said cheerfully. "Your check was returned to us by the post office, and we sent it out again to your new address."

It turned out that through some unknown quirk, my address hadn't been updated, even though my check came here fine last year. In an ironic cosmic response to my gloating, my check had made the tortuous journey to California and back.

Now that both Tina's and my addresses are completely correct and updated, next year we'll be back on the same footing again, unless one of us successfully bribes the postmistress, or maybe lets the air out of the tires of the one of us that lives farthest from the post office, too far to walk quickly. Or... I'd better not give away all my ideas yet.

Since her check had only 1/2 of Rahab, and mine had 1/2 of Rahab plus all of Malchus, it was larger than hers. Not huge - only two figures (four if you count the decimal places, ha ha), but enough to buy 7 sleds. Barely.

Gloating again,
Noni Beth

O Come, All Ye Faithful

Inspired by the hilarious recollections of several readers on the last thread, I have been inspired to rat out Mom, um, I mean share a special memory from my dear mother's childhood. I'm not certain how old she was, though I'm guessing early teens. Don't worry if I'm wrong - once she gets back from town and sees what I've done, she'll be sure to correct any errors.

It was nearing Christmas, back in those days of long ago. I'm pretty sure they didn't still put candles on the Christmas trees, but in hindsight, that might have been safer.

Mom and one of her childhood friends were rattling around the mission compound in Honolulu, trying to figure out something to do. What they finally lit upon (snort) was the fine plan of each lighting a candle, then marching in circles around the room, singing "O Come, All Ye Faithful".

I'm sure they thought they would sound very splendid, and they probably did. Right up until Mom's hair caught fire. 

The stately, familiar carol had never heard notes quite as high and piercing as emerged that day. It may not have heard them since. I am told that dolphins several miles off shore became inexplicably agitated, leaping and twisting as if trying to stay out of the water as long as possible.

Compared to that, the story of nursing class and the bunsen burner is quite tame. "Look, Ma, no bangs."

You'll be glad to hear that she did eventually stop lighting herself on fire. Most of you probably will, too.

Until the next conflagration,
Noni Beth

Well, Singe My Tailfeathers!

Yesterday morning I got out of bed, and as my custom has become, went out to stand by our emergency-now-everyday heater for a minute or two. (We'll get to that in a later post.) Within moments, a horrible smell filled the air.

Hastily I checked the pants of my adorable red valentine jammies to make sure I hadn't overheated them. No, they were just nicely warmed, not charred and smoking. I resumed warming. Another wave of the terrible odor assailed me.

"It has to be my jammies," I muttered as I leaped away again. But no, they were still just warm, and no more than that.

Just then, Lila, one of Tina's former cats, walked by the heater, rubbing up against it. The tip of her proudly waving tail was just level with the top of the heater, the only part that gets too hot to touch. Immediately the smell of scorched hair filled the room once again. 

Lila walked blithely on. With so much fur to spare, she had no idea she was as burnt as toast. A careful check of her fur revealed that she was completely uninjured, and still has almost 2 inches of fur to go before she starts to notice that her tail is getting hot.

An Offensive End
A bit later, she began to race around the house, occasionally whirling to glare at her tail, angry that it was still following her. Since she was still unhurt, I can only surmise that she was trying to escape the offensive eau d'char. But then, so was I.

Odorifically yours,
Noni Beth

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Snowplow ~ One

Semi   ~   Zero.

(The snowplow drove home.)