Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Save the Child

I just finished a good book this weekend! It's Margaret Turley's 'Save the Child'. I have to say that I put off reading this book for a bit, thinking it would be a little dull.

How wrong I was!

The book was gripping to the end. I even read it while I worked out. It's clear that Margaret knows her stuff medically! The characters were true and the action put you right in the fray. It felt like a true family nightmare and made me want to stand up and throw a bedpan at the people who worked together to keep the child away from her parents.

I think incidents like this in which well-meaning parents are victimized by unprincipled or misinformed people is a horrible by-product of the CPS system. It enrages me that we have a government who thinks they own our children. I hope we can somehow work together to get this fixed. Otherwise, the government will be like the camel poking his nose into the tent. Pretty soon the camel will own the tent and you'll be out in the sandstorm without a stick of shelter.

Other than some editing flaws (you spelled one of your characters' names two different ways in adjoining sentences for one thing, Margaret), this book was great...:o) Maybe a change of back cover blurb will make the book more readily appealing, because once you get into it, it's a page-turner.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Bit of Summerhouse

I just thought I'd post a bit of my W.I.P.:

There was an unearthly, pearly light in the summerhouse, where no light should be. Charlotte Pennington picked her way across the grass to investigate. The moon plated each leaf and blade with silver and lit her way. Charlotte had hastily donned an old blanket--not proof enough against the chilly summer night. Her bare feet encountered the occasional sticker hidden in the grass. Any cry of hers fell upon deaf ears; the servants had long gone to their beds.

The summerhouse glowed with a ghostly, stark white light--not that of a candle, but something stronger and unwavering. The light poured steadily through the wooden curlicues and embellishments like a frozen, white star.

Charlotte slowed, hesitant to surprise whatever or whoever was trespassing on Pennington land. Fear rose up to take her throat in its grip. She should have brought her father's saber. At least then she might have felt herself to be safe. Her mother was always telling her she was too impetuous and daring. Father seemed to secretly enjoy those traits.

She edged slowly closer, trying desperately not to make a sound. She could not make out the form of a person anywhere in the structure. Slowly she approached, until she stood at the bottom step. She put one foot on the riser, which let out a loud 'squeak!'

“Who's there?”

It was the baritone of a man's voice! Charlotte froze.

“Come on, mate. Who's out there?”

Charlotte swallowed convulsively.

“If you don't come out where I can see you, I'll shoot you where you stand!”

Charlotte stepped up and into the light, which temporarily blinded her. Her face was a mask of rage. “How dare you? This is Pennington land! You, whoever you may be, are trespassing and I shall have the servants fetch the beadle to have you off!”

“Why would a beetle mean anything to me? I'm the caretaker here, and you, girl, are the one trespassing!”

“Girl! Why, the impertinence of you! How dare you call me 'girl' as if I were the kitchen skivvy?” She blinked several times so that she might better see who it was with which she was contending. Slowly a shape came into focus. It was a youngish man of about average height dressed in outlandish clothing. She saw at once that he bore no sidearm.

“I'm sorry, you were just leaving!” he exclaimed rudely.

Charlotte nearly went into an apoplectic fit. “Go away from here, you despicable lout! I'll not stand by while vagrants infest my family's holdings! Be off with you! And take your garish light with you!” She lifted her chin arrogantly, and stomped her bare foot, unfortunately encountering a splinter in so doing. She hobbled over and sat down upon one of the window seats to remove the offending shard of wood.

The young man examined Charlotte closely. “What is this rubbish? Why do you insist on calling this your family's property? This land is part of the National Trust.”

“I have no idea what you mean by 'National Trust'. This land has been in my family's hands since Queen Elizabeth bestowed it upon us. Furthermore, I know every single worker, hand, and servant upon this estate and you, Mister...”

“Harris. Jack Harris.”

“You, Mister Harris, are not one of them. Thus I adjure you to be off.”

“So you say your family owns this land?”

“Indeed. I am Charlotte Marie Pennington, only daughter of Viscount Sir Robert Pennington and Lady Elizabeth Pennington.”

“Get off, lady, there have been no Penningtons here for nearly two hundred years. I'd know! I've lived in Shipston-on-Stour for nigh on three years now, and I know everybody affiliated with Pennington, except you! And you are clearly a loony. Get along out the gate before I set the dogs on you.”

Charlotte stood with her arms akimbo, staring at the impertinent young man. He was tall with a shock of unruly brown hair. His blue eyes studied her with a scowl. He behaved as if he belonged there in her summerhouse!

The man wore some sort of rough, blue working man's trousers, the oddest footwear she had ever beheld, and an undershirt which bore the words: Do Not Disturb. I'm Disturbed Enough Already, as if he were some sort of peddler hawking his wares. Charlotte wondered why such a peddler should be skulking about on Pennington land.

Over it all, as if he wanted to hide the fact of his livelihood, he wore some kind of strange, truncated waistcoat with metal-toothed edging. Her gaze slipped from the cap bearing the words 'Manchester United', perched atop his dark elf locks, to his piquant face. The strange blue windows of his eyes held her the longest.

He was enjoying her discomfiture.

Jack stared back at the girl, seeing long, brown hair, flashing green eyes, and a figure that wouldn't stop. Even though she was barefoot and dressed only in a nightie and blanket, she was a luscious 'bird'—one his mates would sell their eye-teeth for.

The girl saw him eying her blanket-draped form and began tapping her foot impatiently. “Be off with you! And never you mind about the dogs; I shall call them myself!”

He folded his arms, frowning thunderously. The stalemate dragged on for what seemed like eternities. Then a thought occurred to Jack. His glance snapped to her face. “Wait a tick. What did you say your name was?”

“I am Charlotte Marie Pennington--which you would know if you had been an invited guest at Pennington Hall.”

Jack's face blanched white in the glare of the halogen bulb. “The Charlotte Pennington?”

“Of course. Whom else?”

Jack sat for some minutes staring lack-witted at the vision in white. “It can't be...” he muttered under his breath. Charlotte Marie Pennington had disappeared from this estate in the year 1811—almost two hundred years in the past! There was simply no earthly way this woman could be that Charlotte Pennington. “Who are your parents, Miss?”

“I do not believe it to be your affair who my parents are. You, Mister Harris, are trespassing and must go away at once.”

“Humor me, Miss. Please.”

She sniffed. “Once again, they are Viscount Sir Robert Pennington and Lady Elizabeth Pennington.”

Jack gasped. He knew there couldn't be two such Lady Penningtons. He knew all the Penningtons and their offspring. It was his business to know everything about Pennington Hall and its past and present inhabitants and environs. It was, in fact, his job to oversee everything on the estate including the museum and gift shop. He knew the estate like the back of his hand, and he had never heard of this particular person, unless she was that Charlotte. He looked over at the girl sitting beneath the window. She was ethereally beautiful with the light gleaming on her creamy skin. Her eyes were huge and the lashes rimming them, luscious. The nightie she wore appeared to be hand-sewn and of antique design.

He reached to touch the girl in the blanket. She shrank away, her eyes wide with fear and something akin to curiosity.

“What year is it?” Jack asked.

“Now I know that you must be an escaped lunatic from Bedlam. Everyone knows the year.”

“Humor me.”

She sighed. “It is the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and nine. Do you wish to know the reigning monarch as well?”

“Mad King George the third, whose son, George the fourth, will become his regent in one year,” he said quietly.

Charlotte glanced at him sharply. “What do you mean, Prince George will succeed him in one year? How can you possibly know that?”

“I know that because I live in the year 2009.”

It was her turn to be struck dumb. Only the music of the crickets broke the silence for some time.

Charlotte drew a ragged breath and eyed Jack suspiciously. “Of course you would say that, as you are clearly lacking wits. Has your nurse misplaced you, perchance? I would think that, had there been searchers about, I would have seen the lanterns and they would have asked my father's permission first. He is sleeping just across the grass, you know. Should aught happen to me, he and all the servants would surely hear me scream and come at the run.”

“There are no searchers, because I am not lost. You, however...”

“I am neither lost or mad. I know perfectly well where it is I am.”

Jack muttered, “Sure. If you only...” then stopped. If she were the famous missing Charlotte, he could ask her anything he wanted! He could finally solve the mystery! People would flock to the estate in droves. The Euros would simply pour in. He looked over into the quizzical gaze of those green eyes. They were so full of innocence and dawning wonder. Apparently her fear and sense of modesty had battled with curiosity and lost. “Knew...”

He felt that she was picking through his memories and dreams like she were at a jumble sale. Every fault and foible lay on the table for her perusal. Apparently she liked what she saw, or at least chose not to run screaming into the night. He knew in that instant that he would never be able to pull a fast one over on this one.

“You were speaking the truth, were you not? Your outlandish clothing speaks volumes for you.”

“What? These old things? They're just my mucking about duds. You can't expect me to roam the estate in my posh gear, can you?”

She rewarded his question with a wry grin. “Clearly not.”

“Tell me something,” he said quietly. “When you first got here, you were off your nut witless. What gives?”

She was confused. “I beg your pardon?”

“You were afraid. Now...?”

“I believe that, should you have wished to harm me, you would have done it by now, correct?”

He smiled warmly. “I'm not going to hurt you. My job is to keep unwanted blighters from camping on the estate. It seems as if you, at any rate, belong here.”

“It grieves me for you to have misunderstood me at all.”

“Here. Let me clear it all up for you--at least on my end.” He took a Euro from his billfold and held it out to her. “Look. Do you recognize this?”

Charlotte looked at the paper. “I have never seen such a paper in all of my life, however it appears to be some kind of currency. What is it?” She reached to take the bill, but somehow her hand grasped empty air. She looked up at him, aghast. “Why...?”

Jack poked and pinched himself and was satisfied that he, at least, was not a ghost. Charlotte followed suit. Their eyes met. They reached out gingerly to touch hands, but both met only empty air. Charlotte shuddered. “I am not a specter! See, I have form and substance!”

Jack smiled nervously. “I think we have just settled the fact that we are not sitting here together in the same year.”

Charlotte gave a start. “We have?”

“Naturally. Or rather unnaturally. Since neither of us are loopy and for you it is the year 1809 and for me, 2009, it is safe to say that we are experiencing a paradox.”

Monday, August 22, 2011


Most of us, these days, think God owes us a cushy life. I find myself praying that problems will work out well and quickly; that hurts will smooth away; that kids will be healthy, cars will run, and the raise will materialize. For the most part, they do. I have had ample evidence that God in all His generosity and magnificent caring, loves his servants and wants them to be happy.

But God owes us nothing, really, unless we have held up our ends of the bargain. God, the Keeper of the Vineyard, wants us to drive a taproot deep into the soil. Those who have it easy, only form surface roots. Their foliage may be rich and lush and their fruit delicious.

But when the wind blows, those over-watered, pampered trees fall, throwing the web of their surface roots into the air. Even though possibly extensive, the surface roots will not save the outwardly large and beautiful tree from the storms to come.

I want a long taproot. I want my root to thrust down so that it reaches the river of Living Water deep beneath the earth. I want to drink my fill, knowing that with this water, I shall live forever in the Lord's Vineyard--a fruitful tree. For that I must accept the challenges that come.

Oh God, make my taproot long.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Once in a while I read something my kids have been reading. For Barret, I read Brian Jacques. For Perry, it was City of Ember. For the girls it was Twilight. Courtney showed me a book recently: Entwined by Heather Dixon. I flashed through it once, to check it out, and got hooked like a trout.

My first impression was that Azalea and her sisters were annoyingly not my idea of real princesses. My mind kept trying to cram them into my own (stilted) princess mold and seeing my daughters' annoying Barbie 12 Dancing Princesses movie (which makes me barf just thinking of it). For pages and pages I kicked against this preconception until I finally broke the mold and just enjoyed the story.

The story was fresh and gripping. I was over-joyed not to have to deal with excessive gore, bad language, and premarital sex. Even so, this book boasted of a nightmarish villain, who could scare me without drenching me in gobbets of flesh, and had me reading long past when I should have been up and doing things.

There was a sweetness to this story, bound up in sorrow for a mother who had died, and for a father who could not seem to find his way out of the maze of his loss enough to recognize his daughters. Like a rose, the relationship blossoms into something poignantly beautiful.

I like that. I like that the characters have their own personalities. The main characters are delightfully four dimensional. I felt like one of their magical tea cups, with the ability to watch it all unfold.

Hooray for Heather Dixon!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fade to Red

I climbed slowly down the ladder, bouncing a little at each step. The suit was ponderous, but I had worked out; I was ready for it, I hoped. First day on Mars. I wanted to stretch my arms and breathe deeply--which of course I couldn't.

As I hit the ground, I kicked up a little skiff of vermilion dust, which blew away in the stiff breeze. I tongued the suit com. "Starling here. Carbon dioxide--stable, nitrogen--up 23%, argon--stable, oxygen--down 3%. We have a stiff breeze coming from the north, which could kick up some serious iron oxide dust problems if we aren't careful. Out."

I was at Aeolis Mensae along with Lieutenant Jay Parker (who was taking an inordinate amount of time getting out here, by the way) and Ensign Sten Falco to study the tectonic signatures in the area. There were also research teams over near Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris.

After we were done here, our team would head over to Cydonia to see the 'giant face' and pyramids and check for water. I couldn't wait. It'd be like a vacation. Falco never stopped yakking about it. He was sure it was alien architecture. I wondered how he got past the hoard of psychs to come on this little shindig.

I started off across the rubble-strewn plain, wondering how long the landscape has looked exactly like this. On earth you'd expect to see differences nearly every day, even in 'wilderness areas'. There are always animals or water or humans or other things to disturb the lay of the land. Here--just the wind--the ever-present scouring, howling gale.

I tongued the com again. "Parker, when are you haulin' your carcass out here anyway? I've already got half a click on you, man."

No answer.

I was starting to get a little antsy. Parker was normally right on top of things. Today I had yet to raise him. I tongued the com again. "Falco, do you read me?"
"I read you, Starling."
"What's Parker up to? Why won't he answer his com?"
"Not sure. I'll go check. Out."
I wondered idly why Falco didn't just look down at his array to pinpoint Parker instead of hunting him down.

I stepped around a huge boulder and found myself at the lip of a vast canyon. Somehow on our readouts it hadn't looked so deep. I kicked a pebble off the edge. It plunged, little clouds of scarlet dust marking the places where it hit the cliff wall. How glad I was that I hadn't come out here in the dark.

I turned to go back, and there was Parker, standing there silently. He'd been at my back and I hadn't even seen him come.
I tongued my com. "Crud, Parker. You scared me spit-less! Where'd you come from? Haven't you heard me calling you?"

No answer.

His face had a strange calmness to it as he nudged me backwards off the cliff.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Zombie Jamboree

So about this zombie thing...

It's the biggest rage, right now, this zombie apocalypse--especially with teens. The idea is to arm yourself with whatever you think you need to survive a zombie incursion and then see if you survive.

Great fun, right?

I've even caught myself saying, "I'm in it with the chainsaw and a few dozen Molotov cocktails".

But what is this 'game' really doing? Is it all fun until someone loses an eyeball, or something deeper?

In my opinion, this rising generation is being tailored to do a couple of things.
1. become a worker state
2. bear babies for the state to raise (ie. no families, love, or bonds of any type)
and 3. become a military state in which people rat on, kill, and destroy 'nonpareils' at the will of the state.

I think the whole zombie thing is being pushed so that young people will get used to ratting out their families, and not be above shooting them to death if the state thinks their family is for some reason unacceptable. What do you do with a zombie? You kill it in the most final way possible, even though it might have once been your mother.

I have even seen a website dedicated to proving that the possibility of a zombie 'epidemic' is real in several different ways. Many of those ways are very possible to enact by unprincipled people (or governments).

Another thing. Look at how many TV shows have sprung up about death and killing. What are they geared for?
1. They get people inured to the sight and experience of death. Not long after seeing your first show like this, you find yourself wondering why the 'good' guy doesn't just kill the bad guy.
2. These shows actually show 'bad' guys how to get away with crimes. I've watched one or two of these shows and find myself wondering why the bad guy didn't just to this or why he was so stupid to do that.

You might think I sound like a complete kook, but I am in no way alone in my conjectures. I see the underpinnings of such a state being installed almost daily. I see how shows like the aforementioned affect young people around me. It makes me as itchy as if I were standing in the middle of a fire ant hill.

What can we do about such an eventuality?
*Prepare for survival.
*Live the gospel.
*Refrain from watching shows which numb you to the human condition.
*Educate yourself to what your government is actually up to, not the spin garbage they are feeding the sheep.
*Live kindly and be Christlike.
*Remember that God takes care of His servants.
*Develop loving, loyal relationships with your family members.
*Teach your family about loyalty.
*Teach your family to recognize the truth when they see it--and transversely, the lies.

Good luck with the zombie apocalypse.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Rise and Fall of Lower Lincoln Park

I am annoyed.

Yesterday I went to a nearby park to be an unobtrusively supervising adult for my youngest son and his cousin and a few other boys while they played 'Army' out in the surrounding desert. I didn't want to be a helicopter mom, so I mostly walked around picking up trash.

A lot of trash.

What used to be a fairly nice park has turned into a fetid, junky, dry swamp. Apparently because of vandalism, the 'Powers That Be' took all the playground equipment out. So now, instead of a nice place that actually has trees higher than chest height and things for kids to do, this place has nothing except dog logs and broken beer bottles.

The aforesaid PTB also decided to post the large fire pit. On it is a sign saying: Warning! Extreme Fire Danger. No fires in this fire pit. So I'm standing there staring into a trash-filled fire pit thinking:

Of course there's extreme danger of fire! It's a stinkin' fire pit for crying out loud! That's where you're supposed to have your fires!

It's not like the pit is in a dangerous place, either. It's a big cement ring out in a sandy area away from trees! This makes me think that the PTB don't really even want people to be in that park.

On the other end, what kind of people 'defaecate in their own pool' like those who vandalize? I mean seriously! Why would a person go to a place meant for the enjoyment of everyone in the area and render it ugly and broken and unusable? It's not even just completely selfish, because They're making it so they can't use it either!

The other silly thing about this place is that for some years now, the neighborhood nazi element in our HOA has been trying to push the idea that the wash area edging the park is a 'bird sanctuary'. Like birds would rather fly to that 'hiking trail' than hang out in the less populous desert right next to it. I have only rarely seen birds in the 'sanctuary'--no more than any other desert-y place.

In fact, I see more raptors out in the desert on the other side of the park than in the 'bird sanctuary'. What, are the birds suddenly more protected on that little hiking trail? Not from my cub scouts. If those boys see something interesting, it's all we leaders can do to keep those boys from poking it with a stick.

So what ends up happening, is that the PTB spend piles of our hard-earned cash making a bogus 'sanctuary', which is a colossal waste of taxpayer money, while removing the things we do use, which make the park a fun place to be.

This is all in direct opposition to my experience in Washington state. Those people are building some spectacular neighborhood parks! They must be designed by some seriously child-like people who know the value of playtime and enjoy it to the hilt. Those parks were even fun for adults to visit!

I think we in Tucson are going the wrong direction. Instead of wasting money (as they constantly do) on worthless frills and pocket-lining schemes, why not make the things they do build really count? Make something we can actually use and be proud of. Unless they don't really want people to actually use the parks...

And for those people who don't care about the parks and city where they live, they should go back to the hole out of which they crawled. It's probably befouled with broken beer bottles and other rancid trash, but that is apparently where they belong.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Butterfly Year

I just saw a wonderful short movie called 'The Butterfly Circus'.

It was about a circus full of wonderful people who didn't start out that way. The ringleader seemed to have a talent for collecting such people and then turning them into fantastic people and performers instead of broken wrecks.

This movie made me think about whether I'd been more of a gawker than a ringleader, like the one in the movie. Have I simply reveled in the differences, perhaps snickering behind my hand, or have I spent the balance of my life inspiring people to reach for their potential and be excellent? Most of the time, I'm afraid it was the former.

I wondered what the Phantom of the Opera would have turned out to be if he'd only met 'The Ringleader'--if he'd only had someone to lift him from the grubby, hellacious prison of his childhood to a place of respect and understanding. Surely his magnificent voice and teaching talent would have been respected well over his unfortunate looks.

So I have decided to try and make this a 'Butterfly Year'. I'm going to talk to my offspring about this concept and see if we can't help to lift not only other people, but each other too. Instead of tearing each other down for slights real or imagined, let's look for the butterfly potential and understand while we are in the cocoon stage.

Be EXCELLENT, my little caterpillars!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Summer Sacrifice

The early pagan Celts sacrificed a young maiden or youth every year so that their crops would be plentiful. They'd adorn the chosen one with the finest clothing and flowers and drug them so that they would have a pleasant 'journey'. The sacrifice would go dazedly to their fate, in order that the people might live.

This dazed feeling is somewhat like the feeling which surrounds me. I'm not the one who has taken the task on--I'm more like support, so the effects leach over.

My husband has been called to be in the bishopric of the Escalante ward. We are both still in shock. It is true that our ward should in truth be called a branch, now, and thus has a dearth of active adult males. But there were things he felt he still had to learn before he took on a responsibility so large.

Lon feels as if he's been an underwhelming Home Teacher. He feels as if he could have done so many other things in his calling as Scoutmaster. He feels that there are problems in our life here at Murphy Manor which we could handle better. Our temple attendance is pitiful. I could see all these problems roiling in Lon's eyes as he sat there in the office, Sunday, wondering why the Lord was choosing him.

He took a deep breath and told Pres. Lewis 'yes'. And then all the consequences of that answer began to step onto the stage of my mind and make their bows. Lon would be gone a LOT. He wouldn't be sitting with us anymore at church. He would be learning things we couldn't share together. We'll no longer be able to pick and choose what we'll attend.

Most of all, though, we as a family have some growing to do before we can be good examples. We could be better at having Family Home Evenings. We could be more consistent with family prayers. We could be better at reading our scriptures. We could play fewer computer games and spend less time on Facebook.

Apparently the Lord has a whole spectrum of growing experiences planned for our family. Like a baby bird who resists the changes it must make--whose loving mother nudges it out of the nest--we are being nudged into a more excellent way by a loving Father.

Flower bedecked and dazed, we walk forward to meet the future.