Page the Second


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

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Christ Child's Journey

The Christ Child's Journey
by H. Linn Murphy
Oh little town of Bethlehem
We see your lights afar
O'er lowing sheep, 
Our vigil keep
Beneath the glowing star

Tiny place all tuck'd away
Tho thou be passing small
Tonight you own
A babe not grown
The savior of us all. 

The angels sang that balmy night
Of baby come from Heaven
To save us all
From Satan's thrall
And all our flaws to leaven.

In Nazareth, the shelter place
The starlight-showered trail
Leads from the East
Both men and beasts
To baby's knee travail.

Again to Bethlehem they went
To share Passover's treat
The boy they found
With men drawn 'round
To worship at his feet

He traveled far from place to place
Down dusty roads and long
He healed the ill
And did God's will
He righted many wrongs.

Then in Gethsemane he bled
And suffered for our pains
He took the cup
And drank it up
No thought for his own gain.

Oh city of Jerusalem
With dusty steps replete
Tonight hath trod
The son of God
Along Golgothas street.

Now we must try to follow close
Along our Brother's trail
He led the way
Down to this day
Now it is our travail.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Rudolph the Chupacabra--the Real Story

Once upon a time last year Santa and Mrs. Claus decided to trot on down to Puerta Vallarta for some fun in the sun before the Big Night. They packed their swimsuits, sunglasses, snorkels, sunscreen, MP3 players full of carols, striped umbrellas, a couple of pounds of fudge, some thermoses of hot chocolate, and a road map or two into Santa's bag and hopped into the sleigh. Santa grinned at Mrs. Claus and rubbed his hands together, expecting a lovely trip.

The reindeer weren't all that pleased about having to haul Santa's chubby carcass clear down to Mexico twice in one year. Cupid did a fair amount of mumbling about how Blitzen kept falling asleep in the traces and had to be nudged.

"If you dig that antler into my rear one more time, I'm chopping it off," Blitzen growled. He gave "Loverboy" Cupid the evil eye.
"Easy there, you two," Dancer complained. "You're chipping my hoof polish with all that jigging back and forth."

Santa gave a snap to the reigns and yelled, "On Dasher and Dancer, on Prancer and Vixen, on Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen! To the top of the porch to the top of the wall now dash away, dash away, dash away all!"
"That only works on Christmas," Prancer said, staring out into empty space, chewing his cud.
"There is no porch," Vixen said with a smirk.
Donner said loudly, "You expect us to all balance on this one wall? You're off your rocker! We'll fall to our fiery deaths."
Comet said, "I'm leaving the dashing to Dasher."
"Oh for crying out loud! Haul your keesters into the air," yelled Santa, snapping the reigns and fingering the whip he normally never had to use.

That was enough for them. The grumbling reindeer chugged down the snowy run way and stumbled into the sky still filling the air with complaints.
"I will turn this sleigh around if you don't stop whining," Santa said loudly.
"Please do. Then I can go back to my nap," Blitzen said.
"See, I told you," Comet hissed. "He needs to go to bed before two am instead of staying up to play Christmas Warrior all the time."
"Shut up and pull your weight, you old cow," someone in the back grumbled.

At last the sleigh hit Mexican airspace and settled into a holding pattern over Puerta until a plane could clear. Santa had had it with the complaints. He seriously considered flying back in a plane, except that he'd left his wallet in his fuzzy red pants.

They landed on the beach and Santa and Mrs. Claus gratefully hopped out of the sleigh.
"If you lot can stay relatively close, I'll let you loose to play in the waves," Santa said, despite feeling like booting each deer in the rear. They'd be unbearable if he didn't let them have some fun. The Clauses unpacked and spread out a blanket in the sun. After slathering each other with lotion, they settled down for a long winter's bake.

So off they went. Dancer had a great time body surfing. Donner found a starfish and a couple of sand dollars. Blitzen took a nice nap in the sand and Cupid buried him up to his nose while he slept. Dasher chased Comet with a hermit crab and tripped over a piece of kelp, digging his antlers into the sand with an "Oof!" Prancer nearly split his sides laughing until Dasher came at him with the poor crab.

Vixen wandered off in search of souvenirs.

After a couple of hours, Santa popped an eye open and mumbled about needing to turn over because that side was done. The two of them flipped over and settled in for the other half of their snooze.

By that time Dancer was pruney and huddling under a towel to watch Blitzen try to dig out of his hole. Donner and Prancer built a sand North Pole compound complete with stick elves. Cupid had found a surf board and was shooting the tube. They could hear his "Dude!" exclamations clear down the beach. Comet had spilled the reindeer snacks and seagulls dive-bombed him to get at them. Dasher limped around showing everyone his boo-boo.

And Vixen was nowhere to be found.

The sun was starting to paint the waves when Santa sat up and exclaimed, "Holy Christmas Carp, Mama! Look at your back!"
"Oh dear," Mrs. Claus said. "I thought this SPF 300 would be enough. The ride home is going to bite." She gingerly touched her purple shoulder and knew they were going to have to stop off for some aloe vera.
"You got that right. Come on, reindeer. Let's get back."

As you might surmise, none of the reindeer were interested in lining up to haul everything back to the frozen North. For one thing, they would be a few hundred pounds heavier, what with all the sand, shells, cool-looking pieces of driftwood, and jars of hermit crabs. But finally, with lots of veiled (and not so veiled) threats, the reindeer shivied into place--all except Vixen, who was still AWOL.

Santa, by this time, had reached thunderous bellow level. Feeling like an over-done lobster had done bad things to his patience. But nobody had seen Vixen in hours. The wind had even obscured her hoof prints.
"That does it," Santa growled. "If she's not here in fifteen minutes, we're leaving her here."
The other reindeer groaned.
"Never again," Blitzen said. "I can nap anywhere."
"Clearly," Cupid grumbled.
"Why didn't anybody pay attention to her?" Dasher asked.
"You know Vixy," Comet said. "She has a mind of her own."
"You mean 'no' mind of her own," Dancer mumbled.
"I'm hungry," Prancer whined.
Donner said, "You could have had a snack if Comet hadn't fed them all to the seagulls."
"Hey! It was an accident!" Comet yelled.
Another fight ensued until Santa cracked his whip. "We're leaving," he thundered.

The sleigh just about didn't make it into the air. It tipped crazily and a couple of buckets of sand fell out. Mrs. Claus shrieked and clutched at Santa until the sleigh righted itself.
"This isn't going to work. We need to find something else to help fly us back," Santa said, thinking hard. "We'll stop along the way and ask."

They leveled off in a field of corn and asked the farmer standing there if they could borrow his caballo.
"Lo siento, but no. I need him to carry maise to el mercado."
Next they stopped at a chili field. The granjero hoeing his chili hills told them, "Lo siento. My burro must carry mis niños to escuela. They must learn to count the chili peppers."
The sleigh even stopped in a cow pasture. The dairyman shook his head. "I am milking mis bacas. Mira, they no fly well anyway."

Santa started to lose hope of ever getting home before Christmas. Just as he and Mrs. Claus despaired, a goat farmer came running down the road yelling, "Chupacabra! Chupacabra! He's eating mis cabras."
Santa hot-footed it back to the man's goat farm, losing a flip-flop on the way. Sure enough, there was a Chupacabra sucking the life out of one of the man's goats. The farmer took up a machete and backed the poor Chupacabra into a corner and was about to hack its head off.
"Wait!" Santa thundered. He turned to the hideous black beast with the spines and the fangs. "Can I interest you in a little venture?"
The Chupacabra didn't have much of a choice. "Si, El Gordo. What can I do for you?"

Santa grinned as he hooked the grinning Chupacabra in back of the line of reindeer, next to Blitzen. The deer's eyes were the size of tortillas. Not one of them opened a mouth to complain.

And that's how Santa got back to the North Pole in record time. 

Copyright by Heidi L. Murphy

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Chupacabras and Other Bumps in the Night

My Hubs has Stumbleupon, which he got from his best friend once. He uses it nearly every day. Well lately he's stumbled on some pretty freaky things.

Now I can spin a good yarn. I've been known to make telemarketers frustrated enough to cry or laugh themselves silly. But some of this stuff the Hub's been coming up with you simply can't make up. They have pictures! Yeah. And movies. And people in the areas those stories come from, say all these creatures are real. They all swear by it. Makes me wonder what those things really are.

So far we have chupacabra sightings, Almamula the Ghost Mule, terrorizing gnomes, troll sightings, and the Defuncta Correa. Plus there are always the odd space alien sightings and abductions and crop circles and a Madagascar mermaid or two.

Some of those chupacabra pictures look like a mix of those nasty-looking Mexican hairless dogs and mangy coyotes.
Madigascar Mermaid?
I understand the pull of making something that'll fool people. It's a human trait to want to raise the hackles on your friends' necks. But when you get loads of pictures from different people, you start to wonder.

Several of these have websites that purport to have many witnesses to the anomaly or sighting and report very carefully including some questionable footage, but nearly always these places are in out-of-the-way areas away from civilization for the most part. You never hear of someone in Chicago or New York being abducted by aliens. It's always some dude in a pickup truck out in the wilds of Wyoming or Louisiana, or someplace down in South America.

Some of these things have been proven as hoaxes manufactured to fake us out (the Trollhunter movie for one). I have to admit the Trollhunter movie is fairly well made. They made it look like a documentary. These are the guys who can look you in the face and remain totally deadpan while they act. 

So what's the deal? If they're real, why don't these oddities ever come to town so to speak? If alien abductors want a real cross section of the population and not just to take down the slow, sick people, why don't they hit somewhere with a better cross section. Or how about abducting a major biologist who can really get some information? Why don't we have a chupacabra in the Smithsonian, bagged and tagged?

For that matter, maybe the reindeer aren't reindeer at all down in South America. Maybe they're flying chupacabras. Just think about that while you're writing your letter to Santa. It could go something like this:

Dear Santa,
I'd like a stick and a cardboard box for Christmas. And while you're at it, can you please stop your flying chupacabras from eating my pet goats? Gracias, Gorge

I'm not offering to be an abductee. I'm way too busy. I would love to spot a real chupacabra, though, especially if I had a shotgun or a metal baseball bat for protection. Madagascar Mermaid? Shove it on over here so I can take a look.

(No person or troll was intentionally harmed by this post.)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Upon Destiny's Song

Today I'm reviewing a great book. UPON DESTINY'S SONG is about the Ole Madsen family who came across the plains in the Willie Handcart company. It's a gripping read and comes complete with a CD of wonderful music.

This book puts you right into the handles of the handcart. My muscles just ached with empathy while reading about real people who felt each bump in the road and who complained sometimes of the hunger and cold. I felt the anguish of poor Ane Madsen as she said good-bye to her eldest daughter before they left Europe. I found myself reading into the dark of the night to find out how they weathered the night up on Rocky Ridge. Did Marie found peace in her life? Did Ole help guard them against further terrors from beyond the grave? Did they ever know what heroes we would think they were?

The thing that makes this story so fascinating is that these were real people experiencing a very real set of challenges. They were tried so sorely that I can't imagine how they didn't just kneel down in the snow and give up.

This book also adds a second storyline: the author's experiences in searching for his ancestors and their stories and how they impact the author's life. I enjoyed reading about how his heart changed in trying to find what drove his family to carry on.

At times the book got a little disorganized, but searching for ancestral records is often that way. One comes by information by bits and pieces. This work got to me in a very real way.

I too had ancestors who came across the plains. My great great grandfather (at least I think it's two greats) was one of Brigham Young's scouts and one of the first 100 white men into the Salt Lake valley. His name is on the seagull plaque in Temple Square.

My husband had people who came across in the Christiansen Handcart Company just before the Martin/Willie Company.

This book has gotten me more interested in finding my own stories and putting them into written form.

I fully recommend UPON DESTINY'S SONG. Make sure you have lots of tissue handy.

You can purchase this book at latterdaycottage.com