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A Sweet Love Story

I usually don’t read those internet stories.  You know, the ones you have to click through an unearthly number of pages wishing all the time it would have just been put on one:  why this celebrity did this, what this one looks now is whatever, and see what we caught on a hidden camera (seriously who cares), but, I am a sucker for animal stories.  This one makes me wonder, if a person can care this much for a dog, surely we all can care this much for each other.  Honestly, it’s worth the clicks.

http://www.wonderbuzz.com/animals/36/g/tabcdalldoeca/bronson-puppy-rescue/1?cs=synacor-centurylink1&ck=This+Puppy+Was+Going+To+Be+Euthanized.++What+She+Did+Will+Bring+Tears+To+Your+Eyes.#

Not a Solar Eclipse Story

photo credit:  Google images/Photo Bucket

I thought about sharing stories about solar eclipses, but there are so many entries on line, myths, superstitions, experiences of the recent one, that I decided, “nope.”  However, I couldn’t get myself to totally leave it alone so, this is a story I placed on Watpad.  I hope you like it.

Eclipse of the Heart

“Turn around.  Every now and then I get a little bit lonely and you’re never coming round.  Turn around.  Every now and then I get a little bit tired of listening to the sound of my tears.”1

The song drifted woefully out of the old speakers and past the man who seemed to be half listening, half staring out the living room window.  It flowed across the room, over the breakfast bar, and into the mind of his wife who was aimlessly wiping the kitchen counter for the sixth time.

I used to know that song, she thought and her hand paused its circling.

“Turn around.  Every now and then I get a little bit nervous that the best of all the years have gone by.”

The green stripes of the tile became fuzzy and then faded as tears filled her eyes.  A drop hit her right hand.  She raised that hand to her face and stared blankly as the tear randown her wrist.

“All the best years have gone by,” she whispered, just audibly.  She gave a deep uneven sigh, turned around and leaned against the counter.  Her eyes closed as her head rolled back.

Gone, she thought, ten years.  Ten years harried with hopes and tests and trails and this method and that method.  For what?  A very small coffin and a dark hole.  My baby, my little sunshine.  So much brightness in six short months, all dark now, all gone.

She turned back around and leaned on her hands at the edge of the sink.  She reached for the tissue box in front of her on the ledge and felt the rattle inside.  It was the baby’s favorite, hidden there by her brother Greg, yesterday after the funeral.  He had stayed with her in the cemetery for a while after everyone else left, then had brought her home.

They were greeted by her husband.  “Mother is straightening up a bit.  Why don’t you go lie down?”

His tone was too insistent, and she felt a knot format the base of her skull.  “Where is she, Mark?  What is she doing?”

He must have seen her growing panic because he took her shoulders and begged, “honey, she means well.  Mother has been through many crises and heartaches.  She knows best.  Please.”

She yanked out of his grasp and ran for the baby’s room.  Greg followed.  Once there, she screamed, “no, what are you doing?”

Her mother-in-law was methodically packing all the clothes, all the toys, into dark boxes with tight lids.  She calmly, without stopping explained, “it’s time to move on.  I’m not taking her away.  The baby will always be with us.

“Tisha my dear,” she said as she clamped a lid firmly, “you are so emotional.  If her things stay as they were, the temptation to enshrine this room will be too great.  You must grieve for her in pieces, until you have rid yourself of all your pain.  These things will be here for you to go through whenever you are ready.”  She placed the box on two others and carried them to the closet.

Those words were a further darkening of the shroud that had wrapped her heart.  She scanned the room to see what else was in that closet.  Greg swiftly scooped the rattle off of the changing table, nodded slightly and stepped out of the room.

Tisha ordered her mother-in-law out of her house, grabbed a stuffed cat and held it tightly.  The woman protested as Greg returned, stood by Tisha and placed an arm around her.

“Mrs. Tobias, it would be a good idea if you left,” he said quietly.  “Tisha is in no shape to think sensibly right now.  Come back in a couple of weeks.”

She followed Greg as he escorted Mrs. Tobias out.  She saw Mark standing in the hallway with a blank, faraway stare.  He remained there while Greg sat with her on the couch.  The shroud darkened.

“What are you feeling right now?” Greg asked.

She didn’t answer him, just shrugged her shoulders and shook her head.  After a long silence she spoke.  “You better go home.  Your family will worry about you.”

He kissed her head gently and replied, “you are my family too.  Hey, I put that red rattle in the tissue box in the kitchen.  I didn’t want your mother-in-law to get her mitts on it.  I’ll check on you tomorrow.”

After he left she walked into the hall.  “Am I your family too?” she asked Mark.  He didn’t answer.

That night she was aware of both being next to her husband in bed and being alone.  All alone and gradually sinking down into a still, dark space.  She heard her voice, detached and faint, crying “too much feeling spent, too much time spent, all spent, all gone.”  The sinking had faded into sleep.

The song was not quite over when the radio announcer’s booming voice smashed into her eardrums.

“Why don’t they ever let a song finish?” she grumbled to herself.  “I never hear the last verse to that song either.  How does it go?

She sang softly, “turn around.  Every now and then you’ll be a—no.”  She shook her head and frowned.  “That wasn’t it.  It’s something about the only boy.  I don’t remember.”

She shook the donut-shaped rattle she held.  Fluorescent green stripes danced boldly on an equally radiant red background.  Jingle bells sang enthusiastically inside the smooth, hard plastic.  It’s so loud, she thought, but calming at the same time, sort of hypnotic.  Maybe that’s why the baby liked it so much.

“I bought it at that gift store by East City Park.”  She jumped at the quiet voice.  He was standing in the doorway tracing the rim of his coffee cup with his finger.  He looked down when she looked up.  “I was on my way to take you two home from the hospital, and I remembered they had stuffed animals there.  That rattle,” he raised his cup to her, but not his eyes, “was so bright I knew it would be perfect for my—“  His voice broke.  He took a deep breath and finished, “my little girl.”

“Am I still your big girl?” she asked dully.

He flung his head up.  Pain churned his usually calm countenance and flattened his usually sparkling hazel eyes to a dull brown.  It stabbed from those wide, wet eyes into her heart’s shroud and ripped it.

He really hurts, as she thought, her pain entwined with his.  I should have known.  He’s so quiet, so controlled, he must have pulled away from the hurt.

Memories of the very few times his emotions had betrayed his quiet control shredded the heart shroud to bits.  The strongest was when they had become pregnant.  He not only enthusiastically yelled, he danced a circle around her.  Then he picked her up and swung her around.

“I’m sorry,” she stammered, feeling the love that had been wrapped up for days.  “I let my own grief blind me to yours.  I don’t know how you’ve put up with me this long.”

She opened her arms to him.  He took the invitation and completely closed the distance between them.

He whispered into her hair, “it’s alright.  I love you, always have, always will.  Even when my mother told me you were wrong, I knew you were right.”

She pulled back enough to see his sparkling hazel eyes.  “I remembered the last verse of the song that was just on the radio.  ’Every now and then I know you’ll always be the only boy who wanted me the way that I am.’1  I never wanted to forget that.  But I think all the thoughts of giving you the large family you grew up in and being the perfect mom you grew up with pushed it out.”

He gently twisted a lock of her hair.  “My mom is not at all perfect.  ‘Bout time I acted like I knew that.  And you and I are a large enough family.  We’ll always have our little girl if we always keep each other.

“Tell you what,” he released her and took the rattle.  “Let’s put this on the mantle, in front of our family picture.  Then when we see it, we will always remember.”

As they left the kitchen, hand in hand, the last part of the song played in her mind.  Turn around.  Every now and then I know there’s no one in the universe as magical and wondrous as you. — And I need you now tonight — and if you’ll only hold me tight we’ll be holding on forever. – Forever’s gonna start tonight.1

  1. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” Copyright 1982, 1983.  Lost Boys Music, Administered by Edward B. Marks Music Co.

A Kettle full of Stories Part 2

Story 3—A Tale of Two Boys

photo credit Evelyn Stam, vacation photos

There are three area of geyser density in Yellowstone National Park.  These are called Upper, Midway and Lower Geyser Basins.  Because the soil’s crust is so fragile and thin, each has a boardwalk to safely see the area.  There are many signs telling people to stay on the boardwalk.  These not only have words, but a picture of a child falling through the crust to scalding water below.  People have been boiled to death by stepping off the path.

So, one would think that any reasonably intelligent person would obey the signs.  One boy did, one, yeah, almost did.  Fortunately for him almost counted.  I met him first.  He was 16 or 17, old enough to know better, young enough to forget that fact.  He and six or seven like aged friends were ahead of me on the boardwalk.  They were talking, joking, but not causing trouble.  Then, the brilliant idea entered his mind that even though the sulfur scented air was hot and humid and the water was steaming, he needed to find out first hand if the water was hot.  I was taken aback for a moment that anyone would actually squat down, grab the guard rail with one hand and shove the other (and his head!) toward the nearest steaming pool.  By the time I collected myself to say anything, he was back up.  He then announced to his friends.  “It really is hot.”

Did I mention the boardwalk was slightly slippery?  And that there were signs advertising the fact?  It was made of composite wood to last a long time, but it was more slippery than genuine board.  His Guardian Angel was on duty.  The only thing I could think of to say was.  “That was not smart.”  Then I told him.  “The last guy who tried something like that, well, his friends went to his funeral.”  I don’t think it even fazed him.

As I walked back, I met the second boy.  I heard a young woman say something and a small voice repeatedly ask, “why”.  I turned to see a young mother carrying her 3-year-old son.  He wanted to know why the pools were called sapphire.  I told him what a sapphire was and that the pools were the same color.  He reacted with the typical toddler shy look.

His mother explained, “He’s confused that he’s in a park, but can’t play.”  I told him, “Yea, some parks have playgrounds and some trees and pools.”  My daughter Evelyn added and him mother nodded, “And some have boiling pools that can kill you.”

I thought about the two boys.  Maybe, if the second keeps asking why, by the time he’s as old as the first, he won’t need to do something dangerous to answer his question, because he’ll already know.

 

Story 4—The tale of Acoma, City in the Sky

photo credit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoma_Pueblo

Set up in the old West Yellowstone airfield was a Mountain Man Festival.  Dozens of white canvas, three sided tents formed a rectangle on the huge dirt and dried grass patch.  Merchants of all kinds filled the tents with their wares.  One held a knapper busily making a flint knife blade.  The weathered old man lives in Idaho, winters in Utah and gets his flint stone in Oregon.  In another tent, a furrier displayed his caps, coats, holsters and quivers.  There were jewelers, toy makers, musicians, “pioneer” clothing makers, painters, sculptures and music makers.  Every aspect of life in the 1800’s was represented.

One tent held my interest most of all.  It was an outdoor, mini antique shop.  Pottery, wood sculptures, old kitchen ware, were among the bric-a-brac sold by the spindly middle-aged gentleman decked out in buckskin, denim and straw (hat that is).  He was a cheerful, friendly, storyteller and magician.  He soon had a crowd of children engrossed in his rope and ring tricks, but his wares were what held my gaze.

photo credit hp scanner

I first saw this wooden Storyteller Doll.  I asked how much.  He replied, “Five dollars.”  I repeated that and he said, “It can be ten.”  I explained, “In town they’re asking fifty for something like this.”  He explained that he had bought it from a woman in Utah for five dollars and was selling it for five dollars.  He pointed out that it was weathered and so old, but he didn’t know the story behind the Storyteller.   If any reader recognizes this and knows the story, please comment.

However, he did know this one.

Did I know Acoma, City in the Sky?  No I didn’t.  Well, it seems about 2000 years ago, a group of Pueblo dwellers in present day New Mexico, USA, built their city on top of a mesa (flat topped, rocky hill).  This made for a nice stronghold.  In fact, the first Spanish visitors in 1540 were sorry they had tried to climb the thing.  The storyteller/merchant told me the Acoma people had rebuffed the Spanish completely.  This is only partly true.  It took until January, 1599, for the Spanish soldiers to turn peaceful trade into full blown conquest.  The Conquistadors managed to drag a cannon up the hill and blasted/burnt the village killing 800 of the 6000 people.  They mutilated and enslaved the rest as the brave Conquistadors were wont to do.  Well, the Soldiers died but the Acoma people lived and still live.  Having the last word is a good ending to a story.

My spindly merchant told me this story to tell me the story of a small vase, similar to this one found on a google search.  An Acoma wedding vase.  I found a longer version than he told me on http://www.sfaol.com/store/wedding.html.

STORY OF THE WEDDING VASE

Usually a week or two before they are married by a priest, the future husband’s parents make the Wedding Vase.

When the vase has been made, the husband, along with his parents and all his relatives go to the bride’s house. The bride brings out everything she will need to establish their new home together: clothing, utensils, mattress, moccasins, corn and any other homemaking essentials, including her white manta wedding dress.

The parents of both the bride and the groom give the young couple advice to help them have a happy and successful marriage.

Indian holy water is placed in the wedding vase, and the vase is turned around and given to the bride.

She drinks from one side of the vase, turns it around again, and gives it to the groom, who then drinks from the opposite side. This ceremony unites them as one.

The couple will treasure the Vase throughout their married life. Should one of them outlive the other, the remaining person will give the vase to a couple known to be living a happily married life.

The wedding vase is treasured and protected always-it is never broken, discarded or destroyed.

http://www.arizonaflutes.com/wedding_vase.htm is another site listing a slightly different, longer version.  My storyteller was certain that I would be back for the vase and if I would have had the money, I would have been (it was much more than the $5 I “borrowed” from my husband).

 

Story 5—Old Man Coyote strikes again

I mentioned the humans at the festival and they were fun.  I talked to a woman wearing a tartan shawl over one shoulder and carrying a small dog.  A tartan is the colors of a Scottish clan (family).  I am part of the Southerland clan so I spoke with her.  Her clan, she said, was wrongly accused of being cattle thieves.  So, now when she and her husband attend Scottish Highland Festivals, they use this to have some fun.  A stuffed calf is placed somewhere among the booths.  It is then the goal of the youth attending to steal the calf, write their names on it and leave it somewhere else for someone else to steal.  The theft must be done with stealth or it will be stopped.

Well, there was a theft that day, but not by human hands.  By Coyote paws.  Now there are plenty of regular coyotes around the Yellowstone area, but I’m not talking about them.  I’m talking about the original, one and only, Old Man Coyote.  He is the eternal trickster who as often as not ends up tricking himself.  I guess he just didn’t want my pictures in this blog.  You see, at home I found an old roll of unexposed film and my old camera.  I loaded the camera, took it along and promptly lost it in the tent.  Okay, figured I’d find it—I mean really, how can something be lost in a six-man space?  And it was found, the day we went home.  Anyway, I didn’t worry because I had our camcorder and since our campsite had electrical hook-ups, I even charged it at night.  I guess the batteries didn’t like almost freezing nighttime temperatures because I only got 4 pictures per charge.  But I figured that’s 4 pictures.

So, I took a couple of pictures at the festival and decided to put the camcorder away until we arrived at the park—after I used the port-a-potty.  Okay, so I placed both the Storyteller Doll and the camcorder on the small shelf in the plastic pit toilet, did my do, sanitized my hands and walked to our van to store the items.  So I had both hands full.  I transferred the Doll to my left hand, with the camcorder, pulled keys out of my pocket with my right hand and opened the van door.  The keys went back into the pocket, the Doll went into the right hand and onto a cooler on the back seat.  Then, I looked for a good place to put the camcorder and put it there with my left hand.  Or at least that’s what I think I remember.  When I looked for the camcorder, it wasn’t there.  I checked the entire back seat area, including the garbage sack, and the floor of the van.  And it wasn’t in any of the suitcases and boxes we packed.  I hope Coyote likes my photo of Dragon’s Mouth cave.

I can’t blame this on Old Man.  I neglected to write down the name of the woman’s clan.  So, Scottish Sister, if you are reading this, please comment.  Thanks for reading.

A Kettle full of Stories Part 1

Story 1—The Yellowstone Caldera

My family and I spent last week, Monday, August 7th to Friday, August 11th exploring Yellowstone National Park.  Once upon a time, oh, 640,000 years ago a hot spot, of magma from Earth’s core built up enough pressure to blow its way to the surface.  It turned everything above it in a 35-mile (56.33 km) by 50-mile (80.47 km) ragged oval to ashes and took the ash up with it.  Scientists have identified deposits of this ash in California, Iowa, and Louisiana.  Then the hot spot “cooled down” to power geysers, mud pots, hot springs and meadows that are warm enough to grow grass in the winter.  What’s that?  The perfect area for a Spa?  Well, okay, if you like bathing in superheated, boiling water, sipping on a sulfuric acid cocktail or enjoying a heat loving bacteria mud pack.  If however, you value your health (and life!), it is a Spa for the spirit.  To be enjoyed with the eyes, not with the hands.  (Or any other body part.  Except the hearing, there are some wonderfully interesting sounds made as steam and gas blast out of rock tunnels.  You might want to leave your nose home though.  Rotten egg gas is not the most enticing perfume.)  The depression remaining after the explosion is called the Yellowstone Caldera.

Caldera is the Spanish word for large pot or kettle.  Instead of Grandma’s stew or 5-Alarm Chili, this kettle cooked some of the most fascinating acreage on Earth.  Interspersed between verdant green Lodgepole Pine and Fir forest are rock meadows, thinly crusted earth between “bottomless” holes spewing forth demonically scented gas and steam.  Some of these holes contain crystal clear water bubbling with both heat and more gas.  The colors in this Hades inspired place are heavenly.  Sapphire, emerald and beryl describe the ponds and waterfalls.  Yellow orange and ochers decorate the pool edges and follow the runoff rivulets.  These vibrant, larger than life colors are made by microscopic, heat loving, or thermophilic, bacteria.                                                                     As the bacteria ages, dries and dies, the color fades into the grays and white of the surrounding rock.  A few places have bacteria and mineral combinations of dark brown and black.  Elsewhere in the park are sub-alpine areas filled with gorgeous red, yellow, blue and violet flowers.  The North swath is carpeted by a silver-green Juniper-Sage forest to rival anything Southeastern Idaho or Northern Utah has to offer.

Small warm water lakes and their accompanying rivers dot the park.  The central Southeastern portion houses the very large, very blue Yellowstone Lake.  It is 7,732 feet (2,357 m) above sea level, has 110 miles (180 km) of shoreline, and covers 136 square miles (350 km2).  The lake bed has just recently been explored with camera containing robotic craft.  The deepest areas are about 400 ft (120 m) and contain gray, white and green rock        pillars made of fossil diatoms, single celled aquatic creatures.  Cutthroat Trout are the native fish.  From a bird’s eye view, it looks like a hiker, a hitch-hiker with one arm and a huge fist and thumb.  (The area is called Thumb Point.)

Bison, Elk, Mule Deer, Trumpeter Swan, Pelican, Canadian Geese, Ducks and lots of friendly Squirrels can be seen in and around the Caldera.  If you travel to the Northeast Range, away from lodges, hiking trails, boardwalks, roads, in short, away from people, you will also find Wolves, Coyotes, Pronghorn Antelope, Bobcats, Cougars and yes, Bears.  The days of feeding the Bears garbage as a crowd gathering spectacle are, thank heaven, long gone.  The rule of thumb now is “you have your spot, we have ours and with 100 yards between us, we’ll be just fine.”  There were also the largest butterflies I have ever seen with orange and brown colors to rival the rocks.

(photo credits = 1-4, 6  Evelyn Stam vacation photos, 5 Yellowstone Lake as seen from space, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowstone_Lake

Story 2—The only thing constant is change

One day, in the galactic timeline, Earth’s crust will have floated itself over the magma hot spot and Old Faithful, the most celebrated geyser, will be just another cold-water spring.  Until then, the interaction between inside and out constantly changes the look of the park.  Two examples:  In August of 1959, when I was just over two years old, an earthquake rocked Hebgen Lake, 15 miles (24.14 km) away in Montana.  The shock caused a plot of grass to spew forth red mud and earn the name Red Squirter.  Since then the area has doubled.  It spews mud mostly in the spring when there is the most water and whistles “scented” steam as the area dries.  Dragon’s Mouth, a cave out of which used to come a stream of hot water shot out to the outlook boardwalk a good 30 or 40 feet (9.14 m or 12.19 m) away.  In 1994 the Dragon must have found something to be happy about and he quit “flaming”.  Now the water simply pours out, bubbling up and down to be sure, with a spray that mists the platform now and then.  He expresses his opinion though.  As the gasses, water and air flow through the underground tunnels, they make a growling, howling noise like, well, a dragon.

I wish I could be there when the mud pots plop their last sulfur spewing plop to see what other wonders Mother Nature has made.  I could too, if I could figure out how to live for another 640,000 or so years.  Until then (if ever) I’ll have to return to see what else has popped up.

Celebrate!!!!!

Is finally HERE !!!!!!!!

Norma Jean Morris and Nola Morris Stam proudly announce their first joint publication, Aspects of Love.  Nine different stories, each illustrating an aspect of love.

*  Kaelyn Cull, Femme Fatale of the high stars learns to love herself and change her life with help of a very unusual being.  (Hint: the story is titled Father Earth)

*  A cursed woman calling herself Quill is released by the true love of a prince.  (You were expecting something else??????)

*  Andra Allid, manufactured in a clone factory for the use of sentient machines becomes a truly autonomous human through selfless love.

*  A newlywed couple, Vonni and Thomas learn that for love to grow it needs more attention than sharing the same abode.

*   Karen McCall, Army test driver, finds out from a hero possessed car that love is as sweet as hot fudge.

*   Azzara, a dream caster who can no longer cast dreams, learns love is powerless without faith and hope.

The Squire and her Knight battle the ultimate challenge to their friendship and learn the true power of love of friends.

Britt, a young widow, faces off against Nazi Germany to prove the love of a mother for her disabled child is stronger than any Führer’s edit.

*  And Nada and Rosa, two broken hearts, discover the mending power of the love of Christ.

Available July 30, 2017 from SynergEBooks.

It can be purchased in either Kindle or Nook form.

No reader?  No problem!  Both Kindle and Nook have free apps for PC, Tablet and Cellphone.

Shared Stories

I am sharing stories about two men today, old time musician Buddy Holly and a mystery man.  I wanted to re-blog them but there was no way to do it on the sites so I am sharing the addresses.

http://www.flipslife.com/paul-harvey-now-know-rest-story/ is a tale about music loving insects and a bad land line.  Blogger Phil Beling “Flip” presents the story behind naming the group “Buddy Holly and the Crickets.”

In https://themanfromthesuitcase.com/ Blogger Becci tells of her quest to solve a mystery.  Years ago she bought an old suitcase from a second hand store full of letters and pictures from and to the same person.

I hope you check these out.  If you have a story worth telling, send it to me and I’ll tell it.

 

Still the Best Place to find a Story Part 2

The best place the Morris flock had to find a good story was the library, either Mom’s upstairs or at the Public Library in the Park.   If we had been born 200 years earlier, our story would have been much different.  In the 1700s, educational opportunities for females were few to none.  Unless a family was wealthy or clergy, book ownership was limited to the family bible and perhaps a few other volumes.  And there were no public libraries.  Women who wished to further their learning (usually the wealthy) would meet together to read and discuss books.  Literary salons then, were not only a precursor to today’s public libraries, but also book clubs and literary societies.  Rich men at the same time had subscription clubs.  For a monthly fee, a man could borrow a book to read for a while.  The fee would buy more books and a place to put them.  Closer, but still no Library in the Park.

this photo and the next credit:  https://dp.la/exhibitions/exhibits/show/history-us-public-libraries/beginnings

Benjamin Franklin, United States of America inventor, statesman, ambassador, printer, “Founding Father”, and all around brilliant guy, had a large part in setting up Public Libraries in the USA.  In 1731, he founded the first subscription club in the colonies.  He was a member of a group, mostly merchants, who met to discuss, as he described in his autobiography, “queries on any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy.”  They owned some books and were looking for a way to get more.  So, Franklin used subscription money and a forty-shilling investment from each of the first fifty members to order more books from England.  The next time you think your order from Amazon is taking its sweet time, remember it took anywhere from 47 to 138 days for a ship to cross the Atlantic, if it made it at all.

The greater part of the first books were about education and religion.  As the collection grew, more topics were added.  Members of the club had free use of the books. A non-member could borrow, if he gave some sort of collateral.

Ray Memorial Library in Franklin Massachusetts

Then, in 1790, the town of Franklin Massachusetts (named for him) asked Franklin to donate a bell as a memorial.  He decided that sense was more important than sound and donated a collection of books.  The town voted to have the books available to all town members, thus starting the first Public Library.

As recorded in A History of US Public Libraries, https://dp.la/exhibitions/exhibits/show/history-us-public-libraries/beginnings:  “The first totally tax-supported library was established in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in 1833. While there were many other libraries that met new public-oriented milestones—like the Darby Free Library in Pennsylvania, which has been in continuous service since 1793—the first large public library was the Boston Public Library, founded in 1848. Boston Public Library opened in 1854 and all Massachusetts residents could borrow from its collection, which began with 16,000 volumes.”

It took until after the Civil War before board-governed and tax-funded lending libraries became commonplace in American towns and cities.  Now, Public Libraries have expanded their collections to audio books, movies and e-books all for free.  (Unless one decides to never take the thing back and let fines grow higher than any bookstore price.  Seriously now who would do that?!?)  Plus, most systems have an inter-library loan of some sort so if your neighborhood library doesn’t have the book you want, the one down the street does!  Public Libraries, brick and mortar or www., are still the best place to find a story.

 

Still the Best Place to Find a Story Part 1

Photo credit: http://cdmbuntu.lib.utah.edu/cdm/ref/collection/Shelley/id/274

Once every two weeks each summer, Mama Duck Morris and her four ducklings would waddle to the park, but not to swim in the pond, because there wasn’t one.  No, we went to immerse ourselves in the waters of literature.  Shelley Public Library, magic land.  Outside, it was a small, one room log cabin, left over I’m sure from when the land was not a park.  It stood behind the swings and slippery slide and under huge shade trees, no doubt as old as the cabin.  Inside it seemed like Doctor Who’s Tardis, bigger on the inside than the outside.

The first thing that hit you was the smell, a lovely, comforting combination of wood, paper, leather and dirt from the plants on the windowsills.  Then you heard the window fan that kept the place a little cooler than the outside.  Then you saw the librarians desk, usually with books on top, and the librarian’s smile.  (honestly, I don’t remember her name or what she looked like, but I remember we knew her from church.  Of course in Shelley, pretty much everybody knew everybody from church.)  Then, you saw books.  Books on shelves lining the log walls, books on shelves between the walls, books on tables wherever they fit.  There was just enough room to squeeze down the aisles and find the magic wrapped in hard cover.

The best part was watching the librarian stamp the card from the book’s front cover pocket.  That meant it was yours for two whole weeks.  The worst part was you could only check out six.  I could read six books in six days.  What was I to do the rest of the two weeks?  So, I read them again.  I wanted to read them all!  I actually did read all the Children’s books about horses.  I came close to reading all the Science Fiction too.

Photo credit as above.

Eventually that stuffed little house became too stuffed for the words.  When the bank moved down Main Street, the Library moved to Main Street.  It lost the atmosphere but gained a whole lot more magic wrapped in hard cover.

Photo credit:  http://www.americantowns.com/id/shelley/organizations/schools-and-libraries

It moved yet again and now it is down the street and around the corner in the old hardware and paint store.  Now instead of decorating your house, you can decorate your mind.  One of Mama Duck’s ducklings is now the Library Storyteller.  Patricia’s handy work, “Barbie” and friends dressed in homemade costumes, illustrate library display cases and story time.

Living Horror Story, Happy Ending Possible

photo credit: https://www.unicef.org/

Someone, cousin to the well know writer Anonymous, once said, “everyone loves a good scare.”  He was probably on the payroll of a movie company.  Some people love horror films or books.  The bookstore owner in the movie “The NeverEnding Story put it perfectly when talking to the protagonist, Sebastian, about his favorite books.  The owner said, “those books are safe.”  Sebastian could read them, be transported to a different world and then be safe and sound at home.  The special volume Sebastian was looking for however was not safe.  The reader would actually live the book and it would be different each time.

      

photo credits:  https://www.enca.com/africa/chibok-girl-refused-to-be-part-of-release-deal-nigeria   https://www.enca.com/africa/another-chibok-girl-escapes-boko-haram-says-nigerias-presidency 

Thousands of children in Nigeria are, I am certain, wishing their story would end.  We know part of it.  On April 14, 2014, a group of warmongers called Boko Haran captured a group of school girls from their dormitory in the town of Chilbok.  This started a well-publicized campaign called Bring Back Our Girls.  On May 6 of this year, 82 were released.  Twenty-one were release during a previous October.  They received attention and are in therapy.

photo credit:  http://www.thedailybeast.com/boko-haram-teaching-child-soldiers-to-rape

But what of the thousands of others?  Their story is beautifully and chillingly told in “The Scars of Boko Haram”, text by Aryn Baker, photos by Paolo Pellgro.  Time magazine, Volume 190, Number 2-3, 2017, pages 40-51.  To quote page 46:

“For every young woman who is whisked into a comprehensive reintegration program, thousands more traumatized Boko Haram abductees have been thrust, untreated into communities that are not equipped to tend to their wounds.  Parents have been reunited with children who were beaten, starved and forced to participate in ritualized massacres.  Some converted.  Others fought for the insurgents.  Many were raped.”

The article points out that abductees, child and adult alike were told they must punish offenders of the Boko Haram creed, even to the point of murder, or their lifes would be forfeit.  Some were coerced to kill their own parents, for “a child who can kill his parent can do anything.” (pp 47)

Living with what happened is horror enough, but after the victim returns home, the nightmare worsens.  Townspeople reject young women escapees for “sleeping with the enemy” (most were forced) and consider their babies as “bad blood”.  Because many victims will chant Boko Haram creeds when stressed, townspeople ostracize them as walking time bombs.

Try going to school, getting a job or, well, anything to prove you are not what you are being told you have become.  It’s next to impossible.  Because the country has been so torn by the war to stop Boko Haran, funds are short and available treatment is scarce.

photo credit:  http://bhekisisa.org/article/2017-04-25-handful-of-psychologists-deal-with-minds-racked-by-boko-haram-terror

So can they have happy endings to their stories?  It seems a far possibility as things stand right now.  Geoffrey Ijumba, head of the UNICEF field office in Maiduguri, stated: “If nothing adequate is done to help this generation of children, very soon we will have a bigger problem than the one we have now.” (pp 49)  The far light in the tunnel is therapy.  The Neem Foundation is an organization founded in 2016 to offer counseling to Boko Haram victims.  The group sessions are time-consuming and staff-intensive, but are considered the best way for a better if not happy ending.  Without this ending, the next chapter in the story is mental illness, drug use, and social crimes to hit back at the government that failed them.  (pp 49)

Think about your own life stories and those of your family and friends.  Would you write any of them into these pages?  Of course not!  I intent to put more than these words into this.  I intend to, after prayer, contact the two sources below and find out how I can donate some badly needed funds.  Please, share this blog with everyone you can and consider prayerfully if you too can help.  We may not help the entire nation, but we can help one more person.

http://support.unicef.org

http://www.neemfoundation.org.ng/

 

 

Adam and Eve?

Who were the first story tellers?  Well, the first people of course.  If you are Christian, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)  “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27)  If you are an LDS Christian, (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) your twist on the story would be “Gods” as in Heavenly Parents who came to earth, partook of earthly food and had two earthly children.  So I guess in that case the storyteller would be Heavenly Mother.  But, if you are some other persuasion, you have a different story.

If you are Piute the first woman was Bear’s wife.  The first man came to live in the area and she wanted to see him.  Bear was jealous, they quarreled, he was killed, (that’s one tough woman) and she went to find the first man.  They met, married and started the Piute people.  One of her sons was unruly and caused such an uproar that he and a sister were sent away to start another group of people.  The first woman missed them so much that her tears formed a lake and she waited so long by the lake, she turned into stone.  (http://plpt.nsn.us/story.html)  Photo found on:  (http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/nevada/underrated-lake-hidden-gem-nv/)

If you lived in Ancient Greece, you believed that the world was first populated with the gods.  One group, the Titans was pretty much wiped out by the god Zeus.  One of the remaining Titans, Prometheus made humans out of clay.  Since Zeus didn’t like Prometheus, he decided humans were not worth it either.  So, he flooded the earth to drown them out.  Two survived, huddled in a boat.  Deucalion and Pyrrha (daughter of Pandora, yup, the one with the box) decided to consult the Titan goddess Themis to see what they should do.  She told them to throw their mother’s bones over their shoulders.  Confused and a bit horrified at what seemed sacrilege, they pondered the words and decided that the goddess meant mother Gaia, the Earth and bones were rocks.  So they tossed rocks which transformed into the ancestors of humans today.  (http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSGaia.html)  Picture found on: (https://mrpsmythopedia.wikispaces.com/Deucalion+and+Pyyhra)

If you are Hindu, Praja-pati, the Lord of Creation, was all that existed in the beginning.  From his will alone, he created mind, water, earth, fire, sun and air.  Then because he was lonely, he split himself into two parts, man and woman.  From these two came all of the animals, humans included.  (http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSSelf.html)  Picture found on:  (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/475692779364306624/)

If you are from China you may have been told of the goddess Nü Wa who roamed the world in solitude.  She wanted company so she shaped some mud into the form of a human.  As soon as she set it onto the soil, it gained life.  She made many more and then, wanting even more people, too a long vine and dragged it through the mud.  Then she swung the vine in the air and scattered mud all over.  Each drop turned into a human.  The handmade ones became aristocrats and the mass produced ones the common folk.  (http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSPG&NW.html)      Picture found on:  (https://ferrebeekeeper.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/nuwa-the-serpent-goddess/)

And, if you grew up long ago in Babylon, you learned of Ea, Marduk and Nintu.  Their gods were just as loving and gentle to each other as the Ancient Greek’s.  Ea, the god of rivers, ended up doing in his great-grandfather, Apsu.  This really caused a battle which his son, Marduk led, won and became head god.  It seems the earth had water and land, but nothing else, so Marduk filled in the details: rivers, plants and animals.  Okay, so he gave the vanquished gods chores to do to take care of this newly filled planet.  Surprise, surprise, they didn’t like it.  So, Marduk called the leader, Kingu, to come forth and slew him, right on the spot.  Then, with spit from the other gods, Kingu’s blood and clay, Ea and Nintu, the birth-goddess, created humans.  Guess who got all the chores?  Yeah, the measly human underlings were also given the honor of worshipping the gods and holding festivals for them.   (http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSMarduk.html)                                                                        Photo found on: (http://www.annunaki.org/who-is-marduk/)

All these stories and more may be found in a bounty of books and on-line.  There are many sites in addition to the University of Georgia web site cited above, all just a few clicks away.  Try out your local library first.  In my un-humble opinion, the rustle of turning pages far surpasses the clicking of a computer mouse.

Each time I read a creation story I’m filled with respect for the ancient people who with limited knowledge and revelation did their best to make sense of the beautiful world they called home.