Thursday, March 31, 2011

Need To Shrink? Cut Out The Exercise, Increase The Brownie Input

This post was supposed to have gone up yesterday instead of the last one. 

So this morning I put my pants on and they were tighter than ever. I have been riding my bike to work--not the 15 miles I claimed last week but the actual 18 miles it truly is. So why are my pants so stinking tight after all this aerobic pedaling I'm doing? My guess is that with the extreme exercise I'm putting out, my muscles are expanding. Right now I'm thinking if I quit exercising, I should be able to slip into my jeans easier.

We had a young couple with some kids over last night for dinner and Family Home Evening (a Monday night Mormon thing that helps families keep it together). My wife had mixed up a bunch of brownies, some with nuts and some without. She was doing the government thing and trying to keep everybody happy.

So this morning after breakfast I figured I should celebrate my end of exercising. I got out a box of sherbet and spent 10 minutes looking for the plate of brownies Michele had hidden. I finally found them under the sink.

I was just going to have one but found that the biggest brownie on the plate was nut less. This was not a good situation since I just have to have nuts in my brownies. I just should have thrown it away but after looking at it for a second, I finished it off and then kept looking for one with nuts. I didn't find one with the desired crunchy morsels until the fifth try. By that time, there were only three left. I figured there wasn't enough to save for another meal so they went down the hatch too. By that time I didn't care whether they had nuts or not.

With each brownie I snarfed, several spoons of sherbet were needed to help the brownie find its way down the tube. By the time I finished the brownies, there was only about half of the half gallon of sherbet left so I took care of that the same way I handled the extra brownies. I guess you could say I hate leftovers.

Now I can go to work. I'm taking the pickup today since I just swore off the bicycle regimen.

If anyone has any suggestions on how I can further improve my diet and weight loss, please let me know.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Biking Tips For Life

The other day I posted and claimed to have eaten a bushel load of brownies and ice cream. Or was it sherbet. I can't remember, I'm in a sugar fog right now.  Well, I exaggerated. I had one brownie, two at the most. OK, I had three but I absolutely did not eat eight. Unless you include the ones from the night before.

I also claimed I was going to quit riding my bike to work and start driving my pickup. I exaggerated. After writing that, I habitually walked out the door, hopped on my bike and pedaled downhill against a 15 mile an hour headwind for 9 miles. It was long and exhausting. The return trip was twice as easy even though it was uphill. I love the wind at my back.

It usually takes me around an hour and a half total to ride the round trip to the shed and back. This is because I'm often fighting a headwind and then enjoying a tailwind (or vice versa), freighting massive cargo (that would be myself), and negotiating a few terrain gradients that make life easier or harder, depending on which way I'm rolling.

Life is a lot like this biking thing. Sometimes it's fun and easy. Sometimes it's uphill and against the wind. Once in a while, coming from one who has first-hand knowledge in both life and biking, you may end up in a head-on collision.

I am finding this hour and a half of riding quite beneficial. During this time I have no distractions unless I get a call from my wife. I don't really mind her calls unless I'm busy fighting a uphill battle and headwind at the same time. While cruising, I have silence and still time and peaceful surroundings. I get to think about ways to solve my inventing problems and even dream up new ideas. No one talking back at me and I can talk without fear of offending anybody.

However, once in a while I have to kick a dog that chases me.

I'm also able to think about blessings I have which are many. I think of how broke I am which in many ways is a blessing in disguise. I marvel at how things always keep working out for me, especially when I'm living correctly and expending effort for the Lord's kingdom and in service to others. Most importantly while I'm on the bike, I'm able to meditate about the most important aspects of life without the distractions of the tv, internet, phone, paperwork and smashing my finger with a hammer.

Traveling helps me think. For some odd reason, it is much easier for me to meditate with an eternal perspective while biking than driving a car. Perhaps it's because I'm in a more natural environ.

Eternal perspective is so much better than your normal, everyday outlook. It has no worries about the price of gas or the world's political climate. Carnal desires, commandment-breaking actions, loose thoughts and talk are not encountered in this sphere. It carries no financial concerns or distracting excitement of the next big deal. No envy of those who look like they're higher up the ladder of temporal possessions or angst about ongoing world disasters is present while dwelling on eternal principles. When I have eternal perspective, I have peace. I don't care about man-made gods.

Man-made objects and lusts hold no place in the eternities. They will all turn out to be smoke and mirrors, rust and carbon in the very near future. We will exist long after our toys are gone. Eternal perspective answers the age-old question of why life isn't fair in a most satisfactory manner. Birth and death begin to be understood as essential steps in our progression. Eternal perspective is a completely different realm than the common views of the world that most of us pack around daily. Eternal perspective must be sought and once attained, allows seeing life for what really matters. A constant striving for this perspective is necessary to keep it close.

Death holds great sorrow and no hope to those living for today. Death holds no sting but great promise for those living for eternity.

Pedaling along, I get to think about things that really matter. I think about my life and family. I think about death and loved ones who have already passed on. I think about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the ultimate blessings and gifts of forgiveness and living again in the hereafter. I think about my weaknesses, which are many, and what I need to do for course corrections. I can pray and pedal at the same time. I can even bow my head while riding. However, I have found it is not wise to close the eyes for too long.

This phase of my life is the best.

I can clearly see that boatloads of money, lavish homes, fast cars, vast holdings, famous personalities, haughty attitudes, selfish actions, base desires, harmful habits, sin, unrighteous dominion and all the other trappings that most all of us are naturally inclined to gravitate to are actually worth nothing. In fact, a few are usually a negative and most are always a negative.

The obtaining of toys and accolades and accomplishments naturally detracts and often absolutely prohibits the gifts of humility, desire for spirituality and knowledge of things as they really are. Rushing around in the daily grind and then trying to unwind by the world's entertainment systems is not conducive to an eternal perspective. All this coming from a guy who bought a brand new Corvette from the factory without telling his wife or his banker. Who spent decades trying to see how much trouble he could get into and out of. All this from a forgetful one who sometimes forsook the very principles he now strives to remember daily.And still fails at regularly.

I know these things are true. I spent a lot of time chasing the grind and action. Been there. Done that. It's not true happiness.

Now, I just ride my bike and think. I know what is most important. Now I spend a lot of time asking for forgiveness.

I have peace more now. In times past, I often didn't.

Went to a church meeting last night in Pasco. A 60-mile round trip. No, I didn't ride my bike. Once in a while I splurge and treat myself royally by riding in a four-tired vehicle that has doors and a headwind-breaking windshield.

That hour and a half meeting was 1,000 times more uplifting than an average night spent tv watching & internet gazing. It focused on things as, you guessed it, they really are. One of the items briefly mentioned was our church website  It has some interesting stories from some interesting people.

I came home and checked it out a little more thoroughly than I had in the past. Good stuff in my opinion.

Here's one 3-minute clip from the website that touched me...   It's about a lady named Jenny Hess.

And since I'm on a preaching kick, permit me to quote a relevant bit I memorized many years ago.

Isn't it strange that princes and kings,
And clowns that caper in sawdust rings
And common folk like you and me
Are builders for eternity.

To each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mask and a book of rules
And each must make 'ere life is flown,
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.

I'll get back to humor in the next day or two. You know, the stuff that we all like but has no lasting value. Don't forget to watch the Jenny Hess video clip.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Little Red Riding Hood is us.

Sorry. I have to vent.

Every day when I open the newspaper I get another unwelcome surprise from the nation that George Washington is rolling over in his grave about.

From small community matters to huge national issues, the legal beagles of the left and even sometimes the right are determined to do away with common sense and values that initially made this country great.

This morning my paper said Oregon was considering a bill that would allow people to shoot a wolf that was attacking them. Apparently at the present, when a full-sized wolf is charging you with open mouth and dripping saliva, all you can legally do is to lay down your rifle and say something like "Why grandma, what big teeth you have. Have a nice meal on me!"

If by chance you decide to protect yourself and fire off a shot, the state and federal government will slice you up and have you for dinner. This will admittedly be slower than the wolf attack but guaranteed to be a much more painful process.


There's a guy from our area who's been sitting in jail for the last 8 years. He decided it was time to get out so he appealed to the powers that be and they kinda agreed with him. To avoid a public outcry, they decided they would give him a new trial, courtesy of the tax base and give him a chance with a new jury instead of the old jury that thought he should be put away for 25 years.

The reason they're giving him a new trial? The sentence he is serving is too harsh.

So you might ask what did he do? He killed his girlfriend. By accident according to him and his lawyers.

So you might ask how did he kill her? By hitting, kicking and stomping on her. This was also by accident, I guess.

So you might ask how many times did he hit and kick her? Over 100 times according to the autopsy and police reports. She had severe head injuries and internal bleeding. Each injury was, you guessed it, inflicted by accident.

What was that old jury thinking 8 years ago?! Why were they so hard on him? Don't they know an accident when they see one? One can readily see the average person sitting on a jury is not nearly as smart as appellate judges.

So now the guy's getting a new trial. I don't know who paid for the psychologist to testify for him but I'm sure it was also the taxpayer. Only in the USA's legal system could they find a shrink who would try to spring a guy like this loose.

I think when a educated expert gets up and testifies that a guy such as this is really just fine and therefore should be released into society, they should make the con live with the doc for the next year or two. Maybe there would be a little less psycho-babble testimony from these so-called experts. I think there would also be a few less head shrinkers due to attrition from their roommates.

The shrink said that the perp shouldn't be held accountable because he was drunk and therefore unaware what he was doing. He also said his client was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. So what brought the PTS on?

Simple. He shot his sister.

He then went on to say he didn't think the guy really meant to kill his girlfriend because he was crying real tears after the cops caught him. My guess is that he coughed up the tears because he knew it would eventually look good to a jury and also he was sad because he would be serving some time. 

I guess I'm just not kindhearted enough but when I hear stories like this, I want to go postal. A guy shoots his sister, gets drunk, whacks the gal friend with fatal blows 100 times over and then spends taxpayer money for a jailbreak.

Sometimes I yearn for a return to the law of Moses.

And now listen to this. Guess what the guys last name is? Pleasant. Usually oxy-morons have two words. He only needs one.

Monday, March 28, 2011

MIA Does Not Stand For Missing-In-Action

The fall of my 14th year, I was persuaded by Brian to expand my horizons. He came up to our new house one night. When we got outside, he revealed some astounding news to me that took a while to comprehend and believe.  The memory of my astonishment is still fresh in my mind. The guy had guts!

He had taken his folk’s car out one night and cruised to a neighboring town about 20 miles away. This was a whole new concept for me but one that I thought sounded exciting. The only problem was the fact we were only 14 years of age and still 2 years away from getting a driver’s license. However, we had been driving on the farm for many years and felt we were better qualified to cruise the nation's highways than many of the people who had had licenses in their back pockets for decades.

The next six months were a contest to see who could outdo the other. One misadventure followed another. Danger and close calls kept us entertained and constantly switching between first and second place for bragging rights. We would sneak out of our houses at night and push our folk’s car down the road until we could start it without waking our parents up. I probably went on these midnight adventures 8 or 10 times with unusual happenings and excitement in every trip. From start to finish, the adrenalin flowed.

We would usually travel to Connell and look up girls. These brazen exercises accomplished two purposes. We thought that we were being pretty macho with all the excursions we were taking and wanted the girls to be aware of this fact. The other reason we knocked on their doors concerned the fact that we needed a witness to verify our adventures to friends who otherwise wouldn't believe our crazy-trip claims. 

We had several other buddies who went with us from time to time. They could always count on an exciting eve if they dared climb in the various rigs we utilized. We guaranteed an exciting time would be had by all!

One night found a friend and I sneaking out of a Wednesday night church meeting called MIA (Mutual Improvement Association) and heading for town. This particular night Scot and I decided to hold our own MIA (Meatheads In Action). Not wanting to vary from our standard practice of driving as fast as the particular vehicle we were in would go, we took off. Our average driving speed was usually at least 100 miles an hour. This particular night found us in my folk’s blue Ford station wagon with the pedal to the metal. 

After we had driven 12 or 14 miles, we approached a turnoff that led to Connell, our rendezvous, claim substantiation and turnaround point. However, I was lost in thought for some reason and wasn’t slowing down. I was probably thinking about the girl we were going to see that night and how impressed she was going to be when she saw us pull up in her yard in a station wagon with me at the wheel. 

In the middle of my reverie, Scot yelled: “Aren’t you going to turn?!!” (A few years later, he would be yelling similar words to me in an even more dangerous predicament.) I snapped out of my girl-crazy trance, hit the brakes and turned the wheel. The car started sliding sideways. I am still in awe some 40 years later that the poor Ford wagon didn’t roll. There must have been some loose gravel at that intersection allowing the tires to slide a bit or a couple of angels pushing down on the side of the car that was trying to roll over. 

We slid hundreds of feet with the driver’s door in the lead, finally skidding to a stop. I looked out my side window and the stop sign post was looking huge, looming approximately three inches from the car door and five inches from my nose. A bit more momentum and the car would have had a smashed driver's door, an instant red flag to dear old dad. It's too bad we didn't impact the stop sign. It might have stopped us from further escapades. Then again, probably not. 

We continued to town and visited a girl from our class named Robin.

After a few minutes of our flesh and blood appearance to the cute little girl at the door, we drove back to MIA. We arrived before it was over and just waited in the bathroom until the classes dismissed. Then we went out and rode home in the blue Ford station wagon. 

It was all warmed up.

I asked mom if I could drive home. She said I was too young.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tyler's Night

As you may know, our six kids are out of the house. Our last one, Michael, has spent the last couple of months at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, UT learning Portuguese since he'll be spending the next 2 years in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

He has really changed his attitude in just the last 2 months. He now appreciates and even expresses love for his mom and dad. This is a dramatic shift. I am so glad Mike is on a mission. Great miracles can occur in life and this is one of them. The last couple of years Mike couldn't stand to be at home. The only thing he really wanted was to be gone from home and partying with his friends. If there was anything going on within a radius of 100 miles from our house, he wanted to be there and not here.

They shipped him to Boston last week for a temporary reassignment until he got his visa. A few days ago he finally got his visa and was sitting in the Boston airport waiting to fly out. He was allowed to call us and one of the things that really struck me was his comment "I'm not too homesick but..."

It would have had less effect if I had been struck with a bolt of lightning. Not too homesick? This was tantamount to him saying "I am so homesick I would honestly give my right arm if I could just come home and see my mommy and daddy again. I miss you so much! I am so sorry I gave you so much trouble. I love you and mom so much that it hurts. I will never again want to leave the confines of my childhood home." And so on.

His admission was a ground-shaking change of attitude. Thank heavens for missions. Our little independent and somewhat self-centered boy has just turned into a knowledgeable and gracious young man who has finally realized a few important things in life. I am now in love with the phrase "I'm not too homesick but...."

One last note on Mike. A couple of weeks ago he wrote us. He had been cooped up and in a very rigid and intense language training environment for the previous month and a half. He was studying a foreign language 10 or 12 hours each day with no opportunity to just hang out or go to the mall or text or date. He mentioned that it was very hard but he was doing ok. He then said something like "I heard two other missionaries talking the other day and they said that they went outside and got to pet a dog. I am so jealous."

I laughed and felt pleased that the MTC guys had actually been successful in keeping him under control.

My wife remarked that when he gets to Brazil and after getting bitten by one or two mangy mongrel mutts, he'll no longer feel the need to pet a dog.

Anyway, back to my statement that we no longer have our kids at home. This is true. However, we do have Tyler. Tyler has been with us this year. He's my cousin's kid who is up here for his high school education. This is his last year. He has turned from a rebellious redheaded 8th grader who was ready for jail in Utah into a fine young man who has been accepted into BYU and wants to serve a mission. He lived with my sister next door for four years and has spent this last year with us. That is a whole 'nother story.

Tyler doesn't like to dance. He's almost 6 feet tall, big and he would want me to say muscular and struggles a bit when it comes to shaking a leg on the dance floor. He's tried to dance at church functions but has discovered it's not his thing. He claims that he gets paired up with a girl who stands three and a half feet tall and is then expected to do a swing dance that requires him to sashay himself under her arm which he claims is a physical impossibility.

After the last dance he came home from he emphatically stated he would never go to another dance.

I must admit that I've strongly encouraged him to go to dances as I felt the activity would help his social skills.

So last night he told us he was going to a church dance in Pasco. I was shocked he was going and asked him why. He said the bishop asked all the young men to go and dance with the young women. I guess this was done to keep all the youth busy and not feeling left out.

So he wasn't going for the dance, He was going only out of respect for our good bishop. I marveled at the change in attitude this kid has gone through since he showed up here 5 years ago. It is almost a bigger change than Mike has experienced over the last couple of months in the MTC. I don't care what the naysayers say, church is good.

So he went. When he left, he claimed he was going to dance one or two dances and then come home. I was pleased to see him not get home until midnight. It must have been a good dance.

This morning I asked him how it went. He got a little huffy and said he danced quite a bit but one of the adult leaders continually harassed him to stay out on the floor. Every time Tyler came back to the sidelines from dancing, the guy would walk up to him and tell him to get back out there and dance. A couple of times the fellow grabbed and squeezed his shoulder blade which provided Tyler the temptation to do something that would put him back into the juvenile justice program. However, since Tyler is now 18, if he had punched the guy he might have ended up in a more adult environment. He was not happy about this dance-enforcement officer.

At one point the well-meaning man walked up and did the same to one of Tyler's friends. Tyler's bud turned to the guy and said "Number one, do not touch me again. Number two, do not tell me what to do." The fellow released his grip and walked away, probably looking for an easier mark like Tyler.

I have to admit, sometimes we as adults take it a little too far in trying to get our kids to follow our instructions.

Toward the end of the dance, Tyler was sitting at a table with his phone on the table. The previously-mentioned dance promoter walked by and saw Tyler's phone. I guess he took offense that Tyler would have his phone out instead of being out on the dance floor. He asked him if that was his phone. Tyler fibbed and said no. The guy said ok, looked a little bewildered and started to walk away.

Tyler reached for the phone to put it back in his pocket. His adult counterpart saw this from the corner of his eye and turned around and grabbed for it. They ended up in a tug-or-war with the phone being the rope. I guess the rubber cover of the phone started stretching out which escalated the tension between the combatants. Tyler told the gentleman to let go immediately. The guy must have realized he had overstepped his bounds and released his grip.

Another dance that Tyler didn't enjoy. Another dance where he probably didn't pick up much in the way of social skills.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bike Ride With Mitch

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Now for the post...

I ride a bike to work and home again most days. It's a 15-mile jaunt and I'm hoping it will eventually curtail the catcalls and comments from my supposed friends who are constantly loudly vocalizing observations that it looks like I'm in my 2nd trimester.

It can be a bugger of a ride, especially when I'm up against a good head wind. I've tried tacking back and forth against the wind like the sailboaters do but that exercise gets a little hairy. Every time I serpentine back and forth across the road in my sailboat mode I experience close calls with cars and trucks that refuse to do the serpentine with me.

Screeching of tires and naughty words from the glaring drivers are the auditory results from my tacking exercises. However, I have found many of these same drivers that have just scraped my handlebar or slid into the gutter as they went past seem to actually like what I'm doing with my excellent biking skills. As they drive away, they stick one and sometimes two hands out their window and signal that they think I'm #1 with their fingers. It makes my serpentining so much more worthwhile.

So today I battled a headwind all the way down to the shop. I was completely exhausted by the time I arrived and was unable to do much except lay on the couch that is in the office. My wife and I planned on riding our bikes back from the shop after I finished work. She showed up an hour or so later in the pickup with her bike that I had previously loaded into the back. She waited around for me to finish working and after another hour and a half, I got up off the couch and called it a day. I was ready to bike home with her.

We took off. I asked her if she wanted to ride in front and provide me with a little air slipstream advantage like the stock car racers do. She said "No, you're supposed to be out front as my protector." I kidded her a little and said "Protector? I guess I've had it wrong all these years. I thought I was supposed to be your antagonizer. Why didn't somebody tell me sooner?"

I laughed. She didn't laugh. She serpentined her bike over to the other side of the road and shifted into her silent mode.

We rode another 4 or 5 miles in silence. Then I noticed a construction worker ahead shoveling gravel next to the edge of the brand new pavement that has just been laid. He looked like he was working hard but his job still looked easier than the pedaling I had been doing all morning.

As we approached, I yelled out "Hey, you want to trade?" He looked up and I could see he was carefully considering whether he'd rather be biking or shoveling.

Before he could answer, I noticed the nice shiny backhoe that was parked alongside where he was shoveling. It was a beaut so as we rode past, I yelled "I don't want to trade jobs. I wondered if you wanted to trade your backhoe for my wife."

He laughed. I laughed. She didn't laugh. She was still over on the other side of the road, grinding gears in the silent mode.

We made it home. She fixed lunch but my sandwich tasted a little less like the baloney I'm used to and a little more like the mouse poison that's under the sink. My kool-aid had the same coloring and taste as the antifreeze that I keep in the back of my pickup.

I'm feeling a little sick so I'm heading for bed. I'll write more when I feel better.

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Healing An Old Wound

Maybe I'll just share a few daily experiences as I write my book.

Eldest son Derek helps me look for the key to something I need to unlock

I once heard a guy talk in church about how he had no ill feelings toward any other person. What an outstanding achievement! This guy was involved in many enterprises and relationships and yet he harbored no ill will.

Today, I must admit I have struggled with thoughts of a few people who, from my perspective, have done me wrong. I could go on and on about the wrongs done but I will save that for another day.

I'll just mention one instance that is fresh on my mind.

Somewhere around 15 years ago I got hung up on. A good friend that I had known since childhood cut off communication with me. I made many efforts to hook back up but it didn't happen. The more time went by, the more bugged I got. I had done nothing to sour the relationship but for reasons still not clear to me, my buddy was gone. I contacted his relatives but they told me to stay away.

The detective that I am, I started trying to pin reasons for this suddenly dysfunctional relationship. After a few years rolled by, I began assigning sinister motives to his silence. I needed to find answers to this mystery and with my active imagination, I soon had his life and actions toward me diagrammed out and etched in the black marble chalkboards of my mind.

It has not been healthy for me. I've spent an inordinate amount of time stewing and rolling this situation back and forth.

Finally, after some 15 years, I decided to move past the timid attempts at communicating that I had heretofore attempted. I wrote him a blistering email and told him just what my assumptions, feelings and conclusions were. I really let him have it!

The next day, as expected, I didn't hear back from him. I decided I had been a little harsh on the guy so I backed off a little bit and sent him an apology complete with further justification of my position. In hindsight, it really wasn't an apology because I was just expanding in a nicer way concerning my previous thoughts.

Last Saturday, I decided I had been a little too harsh so I wrote a real apology to him, at least in my way of thinking. I called up one of my brothers just to get some reinforcement on my take of the situation. I read him my letter figuring he would be understanding and maybe even congratulate me on the fine job I had done on saying I'm sorry.

I was surprised at his response. He said "I don't think I should tell you what I think."

I told him I wanted to hear. He offered several more refusals but after repeated promises to listen to his thoughts without bringing a grudge against him too, he let me have it.

"You should not send that letter. It is not a letter of apology. It is condescending and hurtful and will do absolutely no good. You should simply tell him it is your fault and that you are sorry for the previous messages you've sent him and ask for his forgiveness. Don't make it long but take 100% of the responsibility for the entire problem. Tell him you are truly sorry."

What kind of a brother is that? I started to argue but remembered my promise. We talked a while longer and by the time we hung up, I half-heatedly said I would carry out the task of his instructions.

I sat at my desk for a long time, thinking about the turn of events. Thinking back on previous experiences and realizing that I'm usually rong and this particular brother is usually wright, I softened and finally decided to go his way. However, I was absolutely positive that just as the last 15 years had been, I had already cooked my goose and there would never be a response back from the former friend.

Here is what I sent him...

Dear ---------

I know I told you my last letter would be my last. However, things have dramatically changed in my viewpoint and I must write this.

I am wrong. Completely wrong. This entire affair is none of my business. I was condescending, judgmental and completely out of turn. I humbly beg your forgiveness and promise to not bother you in the future. I apologize and am asking for your forgiveness.

I am impulsive, outspoken and suffer from the inability to make good judgments and decisions. I screwed up and am feeling deep pangs of regret. This matter will never be brought up or discussed by me again. Again, I ask for your forgiveness but do not expect you to respond.

I would appreciate a response from you simply letting me know that you have received it. I will not be offended if you don’t accept my apology. If I don’t receive a response, I will send you this letter via snail mail.


I got home from Church the next day and was absolutely shocked to see a long and kind letter from him. I didn't even read it. I walked away and blinked through the tears. What an absolutely shocking turn of events.

Perhaps more on our correspondence in a later post.

But what I'm wondering is, did I do the right thing?

    Friday, March 18, 2011

    A Dilemma

    Here's another clipping from a story of the old days. It was a doozy. However, I'm probably not going to post the story.

    Here's the situation. Over the last 15 years I've penned some 250 pages of my unorthodox history. Many people have told me I should write a book. Lately, I've had several people tell me to blog. So I blogged since it sounded easier and I thought I might make some money with it like some do.

    I allowed Google to post their ads on the blog as they promised a few cents would come my way every time someone clicked on the blog. I racked up a few hundred dollars in clicks from readers and then the other day they sent me notice that for an unannounced reason, they weren't going to pay.

    I signed with Google in the past to advertise for my co. and they promptly took all the money I had in my ad account with no accounting for where they advertised or what the money was used for. It was a poor investment since we didn't get a single call from those ads. From my limited experience, it looks like Google is taking ad money from the advertisers and then not paying the sites (at least mine) and pocketing the entire amount.

    I would guess that when and if they read this post, my blog will be gone.

    After I started this blog, for a couple of weeks I posted a donation button in case anyone enjoyed my stories enough to throw some change in the hat. Didn't make a dime. Do you know how embarrassing it is to stand there with holes in your jeans and broken shoelaces and your hat in your hand while the crowds pass by and not get a single dime?  A few clicks after my ego hit the suicidal level, I pulled the donation tab off.

    So why am I looking for a little dough? I've got a documentable million-plus tab on money people have weaseled out of me. I've spent another exorbitant sum on the asinine experiences contained in my "book", a few of which have been documented in this blog. Some of the best years of my life have been spent putting this stuff down on paper and so far no income.

    When I did the blog, I had some hopes a little ad money would come in, especially at first. The first couple of weeks the blog readership skyrocketed. I thought I had a great thing going as the hits exponentially multiplied. However, the shine wore off and things leveled out after 3 weeks or so. I also fished to link up with a few other sites to increase the readership and all I got was moss. I'm now thinking a historical account is not going to be a commercially successful blog.

    I asked one of my daughters the other night if she had read my blog. She said yes. I asked how many posts she had read and the answer was four. I've posted something like 25 or 30 posts.

    So what I'm saying is I have posted approximately 50 pages of material and I have approximately 200 pages left. I'm thinking I need to bag the blog and start putting the book together. Basically, I would like to find a way to make a little dough off this thing. Any ideas or suggestions?

    If anyone wants to be contacted after I finish the book, email 

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Those Pesky Mormon Elders

    When I was 13, I had a major event happen that made a lasting impact on my life. Many people come in contact with Mormon missionaries at one time or another in their life. Most of these contacts are brief, yet many times lives are changed from these contacts. My life was also changed in a big way by meeting the Mormon elders this particular day and way.

    June 1, 1968, the elders and I came in contact, although in a slightly different manner than one usually might meet the missionaries. School had just gotten out the day before. My brother and sisters and I had been entertaining ourselves for the last day or two by racing our bicycles around the driveway that surrounded our home, yard and garden. Part of this course led out to the county road for a couple hundred feet and then back on the driveway to the start/finish line. I would guess the entire length was 700-800 feet. We had an old clock in the shed to time ourselves.

    On this particular Saturday evening, I was getting ready to make a run. Mom called us in for dinner and I yelled back, “OK, I just want to go around one more time.” I took off for a life-changing rendezvous with the missionaries that wasn’t in their  appointment books and come to think of it, it wasn’t in mine either.

    Out where our driveway met the graveled county road, there were two tall poplar trees planted on each side of the drive. A line of trees also ran parallel with the road, in line with the poplar tree on the west side, effectively obscuring the line of sight of the road by anyone on the driveway.

    I guess we had never considered the possibility that someone would dare drive on part of our racecourse, even if it were the county road. Therefore, as we tried to beat the fastest time up to that point, we didn’t come to a complete stop and look both ways before venturing out of the driveway. In fact, we had the pedal to the metal through the entire length of our little course. Big mistake. A cop looking for stop sign violators would have had a grand time scribbling out tickets on that particular Friday and Saturday.

    Anyway, in a hurry to obey the dinner bell and set a world speed record for the Juniper Road race circuit, I came barreling around the turn at around 15-20 miles an hour. The Mormon elders were living a half mile down the road at Cook’s old barracks. They were probably going 35 mph when we met, head on.

    I don’t remember a thing. My sister Jill heard the collision and ran into the house screaming. My dad ran out to where I was laying, looked at me, and went back to the house. At impact, my momentum threw my head forward and my forehead most likely kissed the hood of the car. I would guess my left thigh hit the handlebar that had just been thrown into reverse with a momentum shift of around 45 or 50 mph. The impact from the car threw me back 35-40 feet in the direction I had just come from. This was not good for my race time. This was not good for me nor any of my limbs including the one on top of my neck.

    Dad told mom I was dead. She fainted. The family revived her and then went out to have a look-see. My forehead had a major bump on it protruding 3 or 4 inches out and foamy blood was coming out of my mouth. I was lying on my back and my left femur had a compound fracture. The leg was twisted around so my toes were in the dirt (I wasn’t wearing shoes.) I had some other broken bones and injuries but my head and leg were the serious ones.

    Mom walked out to the road with my dad and when she saw me not breathing, she knelt down and started coaxing me to breathe. Eventually, I started gasping for air. Dad and grandpa found a sheet of plywood and loaded me on it. They called the ambulance but had no idea when it would arrive so they loaded me and the plywood in the station wagon. My folks and our neighbor and bishop, Vern Cook, headed for town.

    After they had driven 6 or 8 miles, the ambulance caught up with them. The ambulance service at this time was all-volunteer. It consisted of farmers and fertilizer salesmen who were willing to haul casualties into town, kind of a scoop and run operation.

    The ambulance driver was a big, excitable guy who took one look at me and went crazy. He was looking at the bone that was sticking out of my leg and torn pants. “We’ve gotta cut it off right now!” he yelled. He neglected to mention that he was talking about my pants leg.

     My 5 foot 2 inch mother thought he was going to cut my leg off so she jumped in front of the 6 foot plus 250 pounder and prepared to fight a bare-knuckled round or two.

             You are not going to cut it off!” she exclaimed. Vern told me later that even though the situation was very serious, he couldn’t help but laugh at the big misunderstanding.

    They got me to the hospital. I was in a coma although I guess a few days later I started thrashing around and they had to tie my arms and good leg to the bed. A nurse had gotten too close at one point and I hit her, giving her a black eye.

    A few years ago I found this in the local Tri-City Herald newspaper archives

     Our stake president, Keith Barber came in to visit me and asked me if I knew who he was. I looked at his familiar face and said "Yes, you're Dwight David Eisenhower."

    Five or six days later I woke up. The first thing I remember was on June 6. I saw a newspaper laying on the bed stand in front of me with the pronouncement that Robert F. Kennedy had been shot and killed. Around this time, I also remember my mom talking to me and being very relieved that I was talking back.

    I spent the month of June in traction, flat on my back. It was miserable. I remember gazing outside the window at people walking and driving by the hospital and feeling so sad that I was immobile.  One day I looked out the window at a motorcycle that was orange and had a green gas tank. I thought that was the coolest color combination. To this day, when I see a color combination of orange and green, I think of that day.

    I yearned for freedom and the opportunity to be outside in the sunshine. I wanted to go home and change sprinklers which was an emotion I had never experienced before.

    During my stay, they brought in a roommate who had gotten a piece of metal in his eye. He had both eyes bandaged shut and couldn't see a thing. His large wife would come in and visit him every day. An hour or so later his much slimmer girlfriend named Rose would come in and visit him. She would pull the curtain shut between the two beds. The curtain effectively cut the line of sight but did nothing to cut down the hugging and kissing noise level. I didn't really understand what was going on over there but I figured something wasn't quite right. All I knew is he seemed to value his privacy a lot more when his girlfriend was there than when his wife was visiting. Never once did his wife pull the curtains shut.

    We had a nurse who was very nice and helpful but her cheeks looked like they were sucked in a little. Since she was so nice, my blind roomie asked me after she left our room one day what she looked like. The best description I could come up with was she looked like she had just swallowed a lemon because of her inset cheek situation.

    Soon after, she came back in the room. This turkey of a roommate immediately said "Hey, do you know what Ben said you looked like?"

    If I hadn't have been strapped to the traction frame and bed, I would have immediately jumped over and given him a knuckle sandwich that he wouldn't have seen coming. I was mortified that this turkey would tell this kind nurse that I said she looked like she had just swallowed a lemon. I knew my room service was about to head for rock bottom.

    Luckily, in a flash, I was inspired to interject and say "I said you looked like you were much too young to be a nurse." Now admittedly, I lied. She didn't look all that young. But I never regretted it.  And she enjoyed the compliment.

    I should have paid him back by asking his wife the next time she was in about the young, slim chick named Rose that popped in every day a bit after she left. I wonder if he would have thought up a response for his wife as fast as I did with our nurse.

    At the end of the month, they wheeled me to a room where they proceeded to put a body cast on me. It went around my chest and trunk and enclosed my entire left leg to my toes. It was the old plaster of Paris casts which weighed a lot more than the fiberglass casts of today.

    On the much anticipated morning of the day I was to get the body cast, they wheeled me down to an operating room and pulled the covers off. I had been without clothing for the past month and was now lying stark naked on my back for the doctor and nurses to do their thing.

    I didn't even care. I wanted that cast on and was not going to halt the progress by complaining about a lack of decorum. I think I might have moved one hand down to try to cover the goods.

    There was a metal pin that Dr. Pettee had driven through my left knee right after the wreck. Through the month, there had been weights hanging on a pulley pulling on both sides of that pin. I spent a lot of time each day of that month wondering how they were going to get that pin out after I was done with the traction phase. I was sure they would knock me out or at least give me a local anesthetic.

    No such luck. The doctor pulled out a pair of pliers, positioned himself so he could push against my leg while he pulled and yanked on the pin. I was aghast! It hurt! He didn't get it on the first try. He had to reposition himself several times as he tugged and pulled, trying to get my lower femur to release the pin.  Finally, he pulled it hard enough that it slid out.

    After 45 minutes or so of slapping gauze, material and wet plaster on me, they got the wet cast wrapped around me and I finally got a sheet pulled back over me. I was relieved the exhibition was over. A couple of guys then rolled me back up to my room.

    The next day they had me stand up on crutches next to my bed. Since I had been flat on my back for the last month, the blood rushed out of my head and I about went down in a heap of plaster. But I stayed up because I so badly wanted out of Kennewick General, ASAP.

    A day later, I was able to leave the hospital. I had become good friends with the nurses there and after arriving home that night, I cried because I missed them. I was a 13 year-old man and was bawling like a baby.

    On the first Sunday morning when I went back to church, we pulled in as all the Boy Scouts in the ward were pulling out to go to Scout camp. That was another bummer of that summer.

    The next couple of months, July and August, were hell. Every day I stewed in that bloody smelly cast. It was hot. The weather stayed in the 100 degree plus range most of the time.

    I was on crutches, lugging around a 100 lb. concrete enclosure, at least it seemed like that. I threatened several times to anyone who would listen that I was going to cut the cast off. At one point, I decided I was allergic to plaster of Paris and went out and got a hacksaw and started sawing. My folks put a quick stop to that. The hot summer nights found me laying in bed with major itches up and down my body. I soon stretched out a hanger, stuck it inside my cast and push it down past my chest and stomach. I could then scratch my leg, sometimes going clear down to my ankle and foot with the hanger.

    Summer of '68

    One day during this miserable period, I was standing outside leaning on my crutches, I was lighting firecrackers to pass the time. All of a sudden, I lost my balance and began falling backwards. Since I couldn’t bend my leg or torso, I realized I better just hang on for the ride. I tossed the firecracker on the way down, wrapped my arms around the cast on my chest and tilted my head forward so I wouldn’t smack it on impact. I was well aware that I had had my quota of head injuries for that year and didn't want a cast on my noggin as well.

    When I finally came to rest, I found my cast had cracked clear around my midsection. We took a trip back to the doctor for repairs and more plaster.

    There was a great day in August of that year. I don’t know what day it was, I just remember how wonderful it was when they finally took the full body cast off. I felt like I could fly, even though I was still on crutches. That night, after almost 3 months, I was able to take a bath. Getting clean after three months of hot summer sweat soaked into a body cast was the best. I still remember sitting in that tub, enjoying the warm water, and peeling large sections of dead skin off my bad leg just like a snake sheds its skin.

    The leg looked shriveled and malnourished. It took me a year to get over the limp but eventually I was able to participate in athletics and any other activity that materialized. The wide scar that wrapped around my thigh stayed numb for years. Since then, I often get a major charley horse or cramp in the muscles that were torn when the broken femur bone cut through them.

    After the accident, I would often get a sharp agonizing pain in the front of my head for 20 or 30 seconds. This continued for decades but doesn’t happen much anymore. Frontal lobe injuries can affect judgment skills, short-term memory and cause goofy personality characteristics. I am of the opinion that many of my crazy judgments and actions after the accident may have been influenced in one degree or another by the smack my forehead took on the hood of the elders car.

    Many times I have been in the doghouse with parents, teachers, principals, parents, friends, bankers, parents, bill collectors, government officials, parents, church leaders, lawyers, parents, cops, judges, and even once or twice in the last 32 years with my dear marital partner Michele. Did I mention parents? I am always asked why in the world did I do this or that? I never had an answer. Now, after much soul searching, contemplation, meditation and looking for any excuse that will fly, I can answer their question as to "Why?"

    Frontal Lobe Head Injury. Convenient excuse. Non-arguable, sympathy-evoking and maybe even true.

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    Max's School Bus


                  I would like to thank the local school district for providing a lifetime’s worth of entertainment through my junior high and high school years. This was during the late 60’s and early 70’s. We rode the school bus for an hour plus in the morning and an equal term again in the evening. The entire trip was filled with laughter and excitement as we entertained each other during the long commute. It was a place where we had minimal supervision and maximum latitude of expression. Some youngsters did homework but my circle of friends did not include any of the studying types. However, we did learn a lot during these bus rides.

                At school, when we did get caught and disciplined, we usually knew we had it coming. Even if we acted irresponsibly, we usually accepted responsibility.  For punishment, we often received hacks (“Bend over and grab your ankles and then WACK with a large wooden paddle.)  

    In today’s world, the bus driver would have been censured for yanking on our hair and yelling at us. Also, the teacher giving the paddling would definitely have been thrown in the clink for child abuse and gotten sued by the parents. In today’s world, many parents insist that their child is an innocent bystander, berating the other parents for what “their delinquent hellion did to our innocent child.” Back then, the parents just figured the kid probably had it coming. They were usually correct.

    The modern mentality and all-powerful but upside down legal system we allow and espouse in today’s world is bloated with greed and generally unfamiliar with common sense. Lawyers today always have a good chance of convincing a jury or judge of any desired conclusion, regardless of the truth and depending pretty much on how much their client can pay. Some of the decisions that are made in the judicial system of today make justice and common sense recoil with distress. This is exactly why I told my kid to go to the University of Virginia Law School. He went and graduated. Just like I did from high school. But enough of my take on the legal system.
                Our bus driver was named Max. He was a short little guy who knew hundreds of homespun poems by heart. I loved the guy! He would drive the bus and us to school each morning, do plumbing work in the little town of Connell all day and then haul us home in the evening. He stood about 4’10”. He had 2”x4” wood blocks wired to each of the clutch, brake and gas pedals so his feet could reach them. He spent more time looking in the mirror, trying to catch us at whatever we were up to than he did watching the road. He would yell instructions, reprimands and threats at us without pausing to breathe. Often, he would run out of air but kept yelling. There would be no sound but his mouth would still be moving. We thought this was great fun. It’s lucky he didn’t pass out from lack of oxygen.

                Spit wads were often the weapon of choice. Not only would we hit each other but at times the wads were directed at Max if we felt he deserved them. It became a contest. He constantly glared in his mirror to catch the “shooter” while we would see who could score a bull’s eye without getting caught.

    Countless were the opportunities we took for recreation. Often one or two of us would get turned in and be required to have our parents visit with the driver or the school principal. Once in a while we would get kicked off the bus and have to find another way to school for a week or two. I remember walking several miles each morning and night to a different bus route area because Max wouldn’t let me on his bus.

                In eighth grade, we had an especially memorable experience. At that time, in my group of friends, we each owned a chrome cigarette lighter. It was “the” thing to have. You didn’t have to smoke to be cool, you just had to have a lighter. We would grasp the lighter between our thumb and middle and forefingers. We would then snap our fingers off the top of the lighter and catch the base of it with our fingers and thumb. If we were successful, the top would pivot away from the lighter and a pleasant clicking sound would occur. This was all done with one hand. This maneuver took a little practice but once mastered, made us feel like we were pro-lighter operators.

                One afternoon after school, those of us who were in 7th and 8th grade got on the bus at the junior high school and then rode across town to the high school to pick the big kids up. My buddies and I were in the back of the bus. Scot #1 was in the back corner and Brian and I were sitting directly in front of him.

    For some reason, Scot #1 was trying to fill a balloon with gas from a butane lighter refill canister. As the high schoolers were loading into the front of the bus, Scot #1 accidentally snapped off the top of the gas canister. He yelled “What should I do?”

    Brian happened to have his lighter in his hand. He turned around and said “Here, let me light it!” Scot yelled “NO, NO, NO!” He then began the humanly impossible feat of frantically climbing up the curved backside of the bus with his own backside but it was too late--the play was in motion. Apparently Brian didn’t understand the meaning of the word “no”.


    The air around us was instantly filled with flames. It lasted just a couple of seconds but hung around long enough to singe our hair and eyebrows. Actually, a couple of seconds is all any good explosion takes.

    It also provided the oncoming high school students with a panoramic view of the back end of their very own school bus totally engulfed in flames. They started screaming and exiting en masse via the stampede method. The canister remained on fire and it rolled around on the floor spewing flames for a few seconds and then went out. I would guess 3 or 4 minutes elapsed before the commotion settled down and Max was able to find his extinguisher and get to the back of the bus. As volunteer but not-sworn-in firefighters, we had everything under control long before he arrived.

    We had everyone sworn to secrecy before Max’s arrival. Max didn’t get to use his fire extinguisher and his interrogation as to the identity of the perpetrators was fruitless (although he did have some mighty strong and correct suspicions).

    The next morning, Max reported the incident to the school. We were led in, one by one, to the principal’s office and thoroughly interrogated. An associate of ours, Scot #2, was also included even though he rode a different bus and had nothing to do with the explosion. He lived a good ten miles away from the rest of us. He had been included in the investigation because he was one of our friends. They suspected he was guilty because of his associates.

    When Mr. Johnson finally ascertained the guilt of those involved, he assigned the number of hacks each person was going to get. Brian was informed that he was going to get three hacks for detonating the gaseous vapors.  Scot #1 was informed he would get a couple of hacks for providing the explosive mixture. Scot #2 was informed that he also was going to get a couple of hacks.

    I might mention at this point that these “hacks” hurt in a big way. Each hack would take your breath away and bring tears to your eyes, no matter how tough you were. Red were the wide welts you would sport between your knees and your botox, I mean buttocks.

    Scot #2 was shocked. He protested that he was innocent. “What am I getting hacked for? I wasn’t even there!”

    The head teacher/vice principal paused, searching for a reason, and while shaking the paddle at him directly under his nose, responded “Well…well……you’ve got…” He thought and thought. Somewhere in these pauses, he must have realized Scot #2 had done nothing wrong. However, he was mad and also knew he needed to keep the upper hand. Besides that, he was just getting warmed up with his swing. “You’ve got…a bad attitude!” All the other kids laughed except innocent Scot #2. He got hacked with the rest.

                As the summer approached each year, the weather would turn hot. This brought out the water balloons. Of course, these were strictly forbidden but nevertheless fully utilized, becoming more prevalent as each day rolled by. Summer vacation was approaching and water fights were the order of the day. Air conditioners were the grown-ups way to fight the heat. Water balloons were the kids way to fight…the other kids.

    As the last days of school arrived, Max would look through each student’s carry-on baggage to verify there was no water contraband. Max was every bit as efficient as your everyday garden-variety Homeland Security baggage screener of today and besides that, Max had a personality.

    While this exercise was going on, kids outside the bus handed boxes filled with balloons to kids inside the back of the bus through the windows. For every water balloon Max confiscated at the front, 15 or 20 were shoveled in the back. This procedure in and of itself was great fun. I imagine Max would figure he had done a great job until the balloons started flying. He probably stayed awake at night wondering how that many balloons had slipped by him.

    By the time the first ten minutes had passed, several inches of water would be sloshing about on the floor of the bus. Whenever the bus turned, the water would rush to the side of the bus opposite the turn.  Everyone inside the bus was soaked, including Max. Once in a while, if we came on a road construction crew or went past a car stopped at a stop sign, it and anything else within range would get pelted. I remember a guy on a road construction crew waving to the nice kids on the bus only to get nailed in the chest with a water balloon. The busload of kids roared.  I think Scot #1 threw that particular cooling device.

    If and when I ever get to heaven, I’m going to find Max, apologize and then see if he wants to have a water balloon fight. If I don't get to heaven, it'll probably be because of something I did to Max on the bus.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    Fire In The Stack!

    When I was in 6th grade our cousins came up from Eugene, Oregon, to visit. My younger brother Brad and cousin David were out in the yard by our well house trying to build a boat out of old Army surplus ammunition boxes. Brad would have been about seven years old at the time. It was getting dark when I happened upon them. I figured I would offer some older brother-type help and asked them if they wanted some light. They said “Sure.” I hated to see such industriousness get stopped just because it was getting dark.   

    After rounding up some tin cans out of the trash barrel, I filled a bucket with gasoline from the farm fuel dispenser. After filling the cans with gas, I spread the volatile and topped-off cans in a large circle around their work area. Next, I lit a piece of cardboard on fire and lit the cans. Poof!  One at a time. The flames danced on top of the gas and the cans, flickering and providing the needed illumination for the seafaring work crew. 

    After a few minutes a breeze picked up and began hindering the flames. A few of the petroleum lanterns went out and I kept busy relighting them. I finally realized it was time for another invention. I went over to the large haystack by our corral and drug some 100 lb. hay bales over to the circle of cans. I placed them between the makeshift torches and the gusts of wind that were blowing them out. This was a wise move as the flames returned to normal. I congratulated myself on the brilliant lighting operations I was conducting. But the wisdom and tame flames lasted for only a few more minutes.

    Another problem soon surfaced. As the flames continued to burn, the gas heated up and soon began boiling. The fuel boiled over the top of the cans and began spreading out across the ground. Because of the wind, I had placed the hay bales right next to each of the cans and each of them soon caught fire from the spreading gasoline. 

    This was a big and immediate problem! Now I had an overabundance of light. I ran like a rookie fireman who's trying to impress the Chief over to the well house, grabbed a hose, turned the water on and started spraying the burning bales. Soon I had the fires on each of the hay bales put out. I no longer felt like a rookie. I felt like the Chief.

    My dad was in the house during this exciting progression of events. I knew that if he found out, I would be a dead duck, or more like a roasted dead duck. In fact, I had been taking a big chance because if anyone in the house had come out to check on us or call us to dinner, the scene outside would be immediately reported to him. 

    I decided to return the bales back to where they had originally came from. I drug the water-soaked now 150lb. bales back to the haystack and placed them with the burned sides hidden snugly up against the stack. The blackened evidence was now hidden. I threw the cans in the garbage. I felt secure in the knowledge that all was safely restored to its original condition. If he found the blackened sides of the bales on another day, I could deal with it then. Maybe I could blame it on spontaneous combustion which I'd heard periodically does burn haystacks down.

    I felt pretty good as a pyrotechnic manager/fire chief. I had had several problems crop up and had used all skills within my reach to solve them.

    Lack of illumination-Solved. Flame killing winds-Solved. Fire in the hay-Solved. Evidence of fire-Solved. 

    However, I was growing tired of being totally liable for the project. The wind was picking up. I didn't want to keep trying my luck so we went in the house.

    About a half hour later, someone started banging on our back door. It opened before we could get up to answer it and Clarence Phipps, one of our neighbors, ran into the house. Before anyone could tell him that it was quite rude to come in without being invited, he yelled “Your haystack’s on fire!”

    My heart sank. I wasn’t sure what had happened, but I was definitely sure that I was part of the problem. We ran out and found that Clarence was correct. There was a huge fireball in the same place where there had been a haystack and boat construction facility a half hour earlier. Neighbors were driving into the yard to help. The fire was visible for miles. 

    Dad began running around, trying to find water hoses and other solutions to this disaster. 

    It would be appropriate to stop for a moment and talk about religion. There is something that we as Mormons call the Word of Wisdom. Included in the Word of Wisdom are instructions to avoid tobacco use, among other harmful substances. If you are interested in living longer and healthier, look it up in the Doctrine and Covenants or Google it. So how does this relate to the hay fire? Well, at this particular moment, I was very interested in living longer.
    As dad ran by me in his search for more garden hose, he yelled “Were you out there smoking again?” I gave a meek response sprinkled with indignation, embarrassment and innocence, indicating as strongly as my guilty little voice could muster that his guess was incorrect. I was also just a little peeved that he had made the accusation in front of all the neighbors, including Bishop Cook. He was my ecclesiastical leader at the time and was also looking for more garden hose.

    Why in the world would dad accuse me of breaking a commandment and inhaling a harmful substance when we had a fire to put out?  I made sure I didn't act too peeved or I knew I would get another harmful substance placed on my posterior with a swift kick in the form of dad's boot.

    They managed to save some of the hay but most of it was lost. Dad had spent all summer growing, baling and hand-stacking the hay and I spent all of a half-hour destroying his work. It also burned some of the corrals and hay mangers that I had watched him in earlier years build with much effort. The charred remains can still be seen today, some 45 years later. Eventually they got the fire under control and part of my punishment was to stay out there all night and make sure it didn’t get out of control again. 

    There was plenty of light available to anyone who wanted to build boats out of ammunition boxes for the rest of that night.My illumination expertise was no longer needed.