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Thursday, September 11, 2014

THE ELIO - THE NEATEST CAR TO COME ALONG IN A LONG, LONG TIME.




Check out ELIO MOTORS.
I'm rhapsidic to be in line to get one next year!





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For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.


Monday, September 1, 2014

THE PERRINE BRIDGE, TWIN FALLS, IDAHO


A picture can't illustrate the tremendous height of the Perrine Bridge you cross as you go into Twin Falls, Idaho. Each time we drive through Idaho on Highway 84, we turn off toward Twin Falls to experience this splendid view once again, parking our car and walking out to the center of this bridge, 486 feet above the winding Snake River at the bottom of the canyon. It's so high that many have parachuted from the structure.

The last time we were there, we witnessed some excitement. Along the river ran four large animals. For a time we couldn't even tell what they were, it was so far down, but finally we saw it was three big dogs chasing a deer. Either the dogs were terribly fast or the deer was tiring, because the predators were gaining on their prey. Then suddenly the deer leapt into the water and began swimming across the wide Snake River. One dog stayed on the land, while two plunged in and swam after the deer. All three moved along at the same speed, and we were worried that they would catch the deer. And we were not the only ones. By that time other people had gathered beside us on the bridge, watching the action.

One dog soon gave up and circled back to the land, but the other kept on. Eventually it, too, had to abandon the chase. About a third of the way across, the dog finally turned and headed back to its defeated companions, as the deer kept on. Then all of us began to worry whether the deer could make it all the way to the other side.

The poor animal swam along slower and slower, while people 486 feet overhead bit their lips. Having outswam the dogs, the deer was now struggling with its own strength. More people gathered and watched. And finally the deer reached the other side of the Snake River, and stepped safely and triumphantly up onto the bank, no longer threatened by the frustrated dogs looking on. A cheer could be heard all along the sidewalk of the Perrine Bridge, as we all applauded the scene below and watched the deer trot off to freedom.

We'll never pass by the Twin Falls exit on Highway 84 without taking time out to walk the Perrine Bridge, experiencing the achievement of man, the awesomeness of God, and very possibly the freedom of nature.





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THE EXTINCT PASSENGER PIGEON



I've never seen one, and never will...yet I miss them. The Smithsonian Institute now reminds us...

"At the time of European arrival, Passenger Pigeons accounted for up to forty percent of the land birds of North America. Passenger Pigeons flew in vast flocks, numbering in the billions, sometimes eclipsing the sun from noon until nightfall. Flying sixty miles an hour, they migrated across their geographic range, which stretched from the northeastern and mid-western states and into Canada to the southern states.

"In the 19th Century, as American’s urban population grew and the demand for wild meat increased, thousands of men became full-time pigeon hunters. With nesting sites holding unimaginable numbers, hunters slaughtered the birds with great efficiency.

"It was inconceivable that in less than fifty years, the Passenger Pigeon would be nearly extinct. On March 24, 1900, a boy in Pike County, Ohio shot the last recorded wild Passenger Pigeon.

"Fourteen years later, under the watchful eyes of her keepers, the last captive Passenger Pigeon, Martha, died in her cage at the Cincinnati Zoo."

To see what a flock of Passenger Pigeons was like, click HERE.






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Saturday, August 30, 2014

THE FLAT TIRE


We have homeschooled our youngest daughter all her life, but it was her choice now to begin public school as a high school freshman. Of course we're worried, handing her over to a state-run school, but one week into her English class she was told this story by her teacher. We are encouraged.


From Fourteen Steps, by Hal Manwaring


On a dark night in August, 1971, it was raining when I started home, beating down hard on the car as I drove slowly down one of the less-traveled roads. Suddenly the steering wheel jumped in my hands as one of the tires burst with a bang. I fought the car to a stop and sat there as the terrible nature of the situation swept over me. It was impossible for me to change that tire! Utterly impossible!

A thought that a passing motorist might stop was dismissed at once. Why should anyone? I knew I wouldn't! Then I remembered that a short distance up a little side road was a house. I started the engine and drove slowly along until I came to the house; Lighted windows welcomed me as I pulled into the driveway and honked the horn.

The door opened and a little girl stood there, peering at me. I rolled down the window and called out that I had a flat and needed someone to change it for me because I had a crutch and couldn't do it myself.

She went into the house and a moment later came out bundled in raincoat and hat, followed by a man who called a cheerful greeting.

I sat there comfortable and dry, and felt a bit sorry for the man and the little girl working so hard in the storm. Well, I would pay them for it. The rain seemed to be easing a bit now, and I rolled down the window to watch. It seemed to me that they were awfully slow and I was beginning to become impatient. I heard the little girl's voice from the back of the car. "Here's the jack-handle, Grandpa." She was answered by the murmur of the man's lower voice and the slow tilting of the car as it was jacked up.

There followed a long interval of noises and low conversation from the back of the car, but finally it was done. I felt the car bump as the jack was removed, and I heard the slam of the trunk lid, and then they were standing at my car window.

He was an old man, bent and slightly built. The little girl was about eight or ten, I judged, with a merry face and a wide smile as she looked up at me.

He said, "This is a bad night for car trouble, but you're all set now."
"Thanks," I said, "thanks. How much do I owe you?"

He shook his head. "Nothing. Cynthia told me you were on crutches. Glad to be of help. I know you'd do the same for me. There's no charge, friend."

I held out a five-dollar bill. "No! I like to pay my way."

He made no effort to take it and the little girl stepped closer to the window and said quietly, "Grandpa can't see it."

In the next few frozen seconds the shame and horror of that moment penetrated, and I was sick with an intensity I had never felt before. A blind man and a child! Feeling with cold, wet fingers for bolts and tools in the dark—a darkness that for him would probably never end until death.

They changed a tire for me—changed it in the rain and wind, with me sitting in comfort in the car with my crutch. I don't remember how long I sat there after they said good night and left me, but it was long enough for me to search deep within myself and find some disturbing traits.

I realized that I was filled to overflowing with self-pity, selfishness, and indifference to the needs of others.

I sat there and said a prayer. I prayed for strength, for a greater understanding, for keener awareness of my shortcomings.

I prayed for blessings upon the blind man and his granddaughter. Finally I drove away, shaken in mind, humbled in spirit.

I am trying now...in my small way to help others. Someday, perhaps, I'll have the chance to help a blind man in equal difficulties—someone as blind as I had been.




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Friday, August 29, 2014

THE WITHERSPOON HOUSE



The Witherspoon house was scary. On my first day of Kindergarten at Blaine Elementary School, after my parents dropped me off and I stood terrified in a strange room full of strangers, I took off. I shot out the door and began running down Martin Street towards home. I got about as far as the Witherspoon house before my teacher, Mrs. McMillan, caught me and carried me back. She was overweight but diligent, and ran more than a block after me, leaving her class in the care of her assistant; and ever since then I had the feeling that I was one of her favorite students. When I was in my upper teens I hitchhiked up to Blaine to see my old hometown and went to visit Mrs. McMillan, then retired. She recognized me and hugged me.

I wasn't paying attention to the Witherspoon house that day, but for the next six years after that I walked to school, from my house on 4th Street, along the four blocks on Martin Street (then a dirt road) to the school, and each day passed the Witherspoon house on the northeast corner of Martin and Elm. Nowadays there's a nice house there, and a freeway has cut across and destroyed Martin Street and a neat gully beside it, but in the 1950's the Witherspoon house was unkempt and old, secreted in by high, untrimmed bushes. It was spooky, and would usually be talked about by passing children.

One day, while making that daily trip alone, I was too involved in the spooky Witherspoon house to notice the road at my feet, and found myself in the middle of a large "herd" of migrating woolly bear caterpillars crossing the road. I was terribly afraid of bugs and their ilk at that time, and had never before seen a woolly bear. Each one was black and orange and huge! I wondered if they were even native to Earth when I let out a series of screams and danced my way out of the invasion and ran back for home. I'm sure my parents wondered at the sanity of their son who couldn't get to school because of creepy things all over the road by the Witherspoon house.

The only time I paid no attention to the Witherspoon house was in my later elementary school years when I happened to walk home alongside a new girl across the road. She was fascinating, cute, quiet but talked a little, saying wonderful things, and I was completely enchanted. With the help of my older brother, I learned that she lived in the apartment above the post office and that her name was Rhonda. But I never saw her again.

I never did see or meet whoever lived in the Witherspoon house. Most likely the rumor was true that just an old lady lived there. Most likely I would have been afraid of her, too. For some reason I've never forgotten the house. Had it been nicely kept up with its yard well maintained, I never would have noticed it or remembered it. So I'm happy it was the way it was -- the stuff of stories.



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