Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas From All--and Now Happy New Year

Update January 15, 2007:

Hold on, folks--our blog just might soon be fixed. Check back tomorrow!

Update January 8, 2007:

We haven't heard a thing from the Blogger Employee in our Google Helps group since last Tuesday. He said he'd fix the problem. Meanwhile, many other people are saying they're having the same problem we are. We're all beginning to wonder if we'll ever get back on. Do keep checking back. One of these days ...

Update January 5, 2007:

Still no word from google, although their employee said he'd "fix" the problem. This is a glitch in their system. We are not the only ones experiencing this same problem of not being able to put up new posts. Sigh. Maybe we're in a line-up of 10 million other blogs requiring the same manual fix.


Update on January 4, 2007:

I'm still working with google to fix my problem of not being able to post. They tell me they're going to fix it. Hopefully, that will be this year... Please keep checking back!

-- Bailey

Update on January 2, 2007:

Happy New Year, all!

Over the holidays, I switched Scenes and Beans over to the new blogger. Everything looked fine. As you see, I can edit a past post. But guess what--I can't post a new one! I'm in contact with google and hope this issue will be resolved soon. Man, what a way to start the new year.

Love from us all, and please keep checking back!


From all our motley crew of posters here at Java Joint, we send you our warmest wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Scenes and Beans will be taking off all next week and New Years Day. We will start posting again on Tuesday, January 2--2007, can you believe it!

Here are some Christmas/New Years wishes from the Scenes and Beans posters to you:

Angie: Merry Christmas, all! Don't drink too much spiked eggnog on New Years. And for goodness sake--don't let your best friend surprise you with a dog as a gift.

Bev: Unless your best friend happens to know better than you. Merry Christmas, everyone.

Jake: Merry Christmas to you all. Thanks for reading us. Thanks for the gift ideas for the wife. Except for the diamonds. (All you women sure stick together.)

Wilbur: Happy snow and presents and warm fires to everybody on Christmas. Do a good deed. Hug a curmudgeon.

S-Man: I would wish you Merry Christmas in Saurian, but there's no such holiday in Sauria. So I'll just have to keep it in English.

Carla: Merry Christmas and a dazzling new year! Don't let any curmudgeons get you down. Hug one if you must, but you might find yourself having to kick him in the next minute.

Leslie: Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! My favorite time of the year. I'm wishing on ... the right man to kiss me under the mistletoe.

Sarah: Oh, it's my favorite time of the year, too. Everything's so beautiful and sparkly. And the store smells of spiced apple cider. Merry Christmas to everyone!

Jared: Merry Christmas and Happy New year. May the news you read in 2007 be more positive than in 2006.

Pastor Hank: Merry Christmas, wonderful Scenes and Beans readers. We are so grateful to have you in our lives.

Janet: Amen to what Hank said. Scenes and Beans has been a blessing to me this year because of all of you. Merry Christmas to you and your families.

And there you have it--greetings from all of us to all of you. See you in the new year!

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 11 comments links to this post
Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Decorations

Jake here. I told you all how Mable finally let Duke in the house, didn't I? Well, she did. Now she doesn't want me to tell this story, but I think it's only fair.

I made some real nice lures that day and used up all the beads I bought and had to go back for more. Mable told me to go and gave me a list of stuff to get at the grocery while I was in town and she said she'd keep Duke. She was in the middle of puttin' up the Christmas decorations and didn't want to go in town with no make up on. I'm glad I'm not a woman, I'll tell you that much.

I went to town, had a cup of coffee at Java Joint and got some good gossip on the latest goin' ons of the town. There's a lot been goin' on, too. I headed down and got the beads and then stopped at the grocery. Ran into Wilbur while I was there and told him about the fancy homemade spinner bait I was making and told him to stop by and see 'em.

When I got home, I found Mable sittin' on the couch holdin' Duke and just bawlin' her eyes out.

"What in tarnation? What's wrong, Mable honey?"

She just sniffed and snotted some more and couldn’t say a word. Big ol' tears just streaming down her face. Like to break my heart. I knelt down by her and rubbed Duke's head, and he whimpered.

"Mable, what is goin' on? You OK?"

"Duke. Oh Jake. I'm so sorry."

"Mable, you ain't makin' no sense. Take a deep breath and tell me what is goin on."

It seems she was singin' her heart out with Bing's White Christmas and puttin' the ornaments on the tree and sippin' her hot, spiced apple cider when between songs she heard Duke whimper. When she looked down, poor Duke had a Christmas ornament hook stuck through his lip. Mable was so upset with herself for not takin' care of the puppy properly that all she could do was cry.
She got the hook outta Duke's lip and just held him until I got home.

I hugged that sweet woman of mine and told her everything's all right. I think maybe we got us a rebellious pup who's been watching too many of these youngsters with all that steel hanging outta their lips and eyebrows and noses. Next thing ya know, Duke's gonna tell us he wants a tattoo!

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 8 comments links to this post
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What Was In Those Cookies?

Hi, all, Bailey with you today. The Singing Christmas Tree was last weekend--and it was wonderful as usual. John's solo was great as always. He can really mesmerize folks. Yes, I'm proud of him!

Do you know right now we have no snow on the ground? Wow. And it's supposed to be dry again today. Maybe some snow tomorrow--a little--but the rest of the weekend also looks dry. We might just end up with a green Christmas!

On Sunday I baked. John loves my reindeer brownies. I also made him some pretzel rods dipped in caramel, dark chocolate and drizzled with white chocolate, then sprinkled with nuts, cookie crumbs, or mini M&Ms. Yum! I've got a recipe for fruit and nut cookies that is out of this world, courtesy of a Taste of Home cookbook. If you beg me enough, I'll give you a copy.

When my parents came for a visit last year, I was in the process of retrieving my measuring cups for the 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar needed for the fruit/nut cookies. Right when I was ready to dip out the white stuff the doorbell rang, and I ended up talking to our neighbors for half an hour. Meanwhile, Daddy was shuffling around in the kitchen, but he was gone when I went in there. I went to dip out the 10X sugar and saw that the 1/2 cup was already full. I didn't think a thing about it and added the extra 1/2 cup of 10X needed for the glaze. Daddy came in as I was drizzling the cookies. He shuffled around, eyes stabbing this way and that (I’m a messy cook). He picked up a baggie next to my elbow and got a weird look on his face. I offered him one of the cookies. He took four and a tall glass of milk. Came back for four more and another glass of milk a little later. He kept smacking his lips together.

"Something wrong?"

"Taste a little funny."

I glanced over the recipe. "Might be the lemon juice." Maybe I'd put too much in or something.

Well, that night at dinner, Mom said Daddy wasn't feeling well, and they couldn't find his little baggie of GlycoLax.

"What does it look like?"

"White powdery stuff."

I shrugged and cleared the table, proudly setting the plate of the cookies in the center for all to enjoy with coffee. One bite warned me that what Dad said was true. Too much lemon. I only had two cookies. Mom had two. John had six. He didn't feel too good that night.

I'm sure you can figure out what happened. Apparently Mom had put the stuff in a baggie for easy packing. Daddy had brought it into the kitchen and used my measuring cup to determine how much he had and how he could divide it for the four days they were staying. Between my mess in the kitchen and his forgetfulness, he saw the empty 1/2 cup and started looking for the baggie, thinking his mind was playing tricks on him, but, of course, I'd already dumped the contents into the bowl for the glaze!

Oh, my. I'll never make cookies quite like that again.

Before I forget, I wanted you to know that I never did hear anything more from the guy who wanted me to take down my nativity scene. Yippee! I was seeing $$$ signs before my eyes when I called that lawyer friend of Hank's.

Love to all and Merry Christmas! Just watch what you put in your cookies.

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 7 comments links to this post
Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Killer Gift

It's Angie with you today. With a word for my friend Bev.

Love at first sight? Not quite. Bev gave me a dog. She thought she was being helpful. After the murder and all in Kanner Lake, she felt I needed protection. What I need is a friend who asks what I want before she takes it upon herself to give it to me. I mean, a dog is almost like a child. It wants love, attention, and someone to clean up its dookey.

I don't like dookey. I never have. I told Bev that I appreciated the thought and love behind it. I know she worries about me, but good grief, there was nothing to worry about before. No one was bothering me. I came and went as I pleased without incident.

Now, if I want to go out, I have to make sure Killer has water and food. Then I have to watch the clock like a worried mother. Have I been gone too long? Will Killer be lonely? Will Killer be hungry? Will Killer soil my cream berber carpet?

It turns out Killer has a bit of a weak bladder. When he gets excited, well... As far as I know, they don't make doggie Depends. Killer also likes to nibble my toes when I sleep. Bev thinks it's just the sweetest. I think it wakes me up with nightmares of being devoured by a bear. Scares the pants off me every morning!

I tried to take Killer back right after Bev left him and his leash with me. But once we got to the animal shelter, I couldn't leave him there. I saw all those other pathetic looking pups looking up at me with their sad eyes, hoping I was their salvation ... and then I looked down at Killer.

It probably defied the odds that he should be rescued from such a place. Imagine his relief at the moment that Bev chose him. But then to be brought back. Rejected. I just couldn't do that to him.

I guess he's good for a lot of things besides worrying me to death on whether or not I'm a suitable parent, er, dog-owner. He's a great snuggler. He lies right in bed with me. He's so warm. And he does bark like crazy whenever Bev or anyone else tries to sneak up on me. I can tell you no one would ever hurt his mama.

Okay, so I love Killer. I do. I admit it. And to thank Bev for giving me the best present I've ever received, I've decided to surprise her with one in return ... Mwahaha.

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 8 comments links to this post
Monday, December 18, 2006

Oh, My--Computers!

Here it is, Monday morning, and I, Bailey Truitt, should have a new post to put up for you. Except that I had some trouble with the computer, and everyone's posts that I had lined up are now all missing. How could this happen? Sometimes computers just boggle my mind.

I'm sure I will find the missing file. In the meantime, for today I beg your forgiveness in not posting one of the wonderful stories already submitted. Please come back tomorrow!

By the way, hope everyone's Christmas shopping is almost done. The stores are getting more crowded by the day. I'm glad to say I'm completely done.

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 4 comments links to this post
Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Gift for Mable

Well, it's me again--Jake. I thought this dang bloggin' idea of Bailey's was a crock, but I got to admit I'm hooked. Tell the truth, though, I could use some help from you people. I don't know what to get Mable for Christmas. Everyone says I come up with the dumbest gifts, but I just don't see it. I get practical fun gifts that I'd think any good woman would love. Not thoughtless gifts like some dolts buy their wives, but nice lovin' gifts.

Here's a for instance: Several years ago I got her a shotgun. They ain't cheap, I can tell you that. But I love my wife and money's no consequence. Not only did I give her the gift that keeps on giving--grouse, turkey, ducks & geese she can shoot, clean and cook for us, but it gives us quality man/wife time. See? Is that the gift of a thoughtless man? Everyone in town razzed me for months about it. They thought I should have given her something more feminine.

So, last year I bought her the cutest darn chain saw you ever did see. Lightweight so it don't hurt her arm when she carries it--real feminine. I figured she could limb up the low hangin' branches on the trees she'd been complaining were covering up her perennials. Some of those pine limbs grow clear to the ground. I chased her around for the first week she got it with my camera. I was so proud of my woman wielding her own chainsaw, I couldn't stop snapping pictures. Got one published, too. Front cover of Logger's World Magazine!

So what do you folks think Mabel might like this year? I thought maybe a fishin' pole and a promise to buy a couple dozen night crawlers once the weather turns warm next spring. That'd give us some more "together" time down at the pond, so this could be the romantic gift she's been waiting for. She could make us a big picnic basket, throw in a blanket and we could fish together all day.

I can't believe no one thinks I'm very romantic. I'll put off my shopping for a couple of days 'til I get some of your ideas. Hurry now! Not many more days 'til Christmas.


Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 8 comments links to this post
Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tough Chicks

Over the years, Hank and I have had the privilege of doing a bit of traveling, most of it with the church, doing missions projects. We have taken separate teams of men and women to do various kinds of work. While you might assume that the women may settle for "domestic" types of involvement, (and there has been lots of that!) you will be surprised to learn that New Community Church also has some 'tough chicks' in our midst. We took a trip to Jamaica a few years ago and mixed and poured concrete in a bucket brigade up a ladder and across a roof.

The men are gearing up for another trip to El Salvador in March. We have partnered with a missionary team there, helping build their campground. There are dormitories, a chapel, a prayer tower, cafeteria--everything you need to enjoy a great experience.

As I've reflected on our past trips, I thought it might be fun to share a couple humorous experiences with you.

Naturally if there's something funny it involves Larry Cellaway. You surely have by now come to know Larry as the Town Clown. He's loved by all, never vicious in his efforts to be funny, and ALWAYS effective at getting a laugh.

One trip, a few years back, the men were were heading to Honduras to help with the clean-up after Hurricane Mitch. We had a great group of guys, headed up by Hank and Larry and Bob Johnson. As is our usual tradition, the wives of the team members joined them at the church for a time of prayer before they headed for the airport. In a display of great ceremony, Larry took center stage. "Folks, we are pleased to have two new members on the team this year. Jim and Tom have not been with us before, and have never even flown before. I'd like to make a special presentation, to help them feel safe. I present each of them with this gift..." With that, Larry handed men a small, wrapped package. They each seemed a bit embarrassed by all the attention, but proceeded to open the find a single "Depends" undergarment.

I laughed about that all the way home.

Another time it was a women's trip to Jamaica. I was leading with another friend in the church, Sandy. Our flight took us to Chicago's O'Hare Airport where we were to connect on to Miami, then to Kingston.

The year was about 1993, I believe, and it was the spring of the NE "March Monster" blizzard that blasted the northeastern US. And I mean BLASTED. Airports all along the eastern seaboard were closed, and those flights had to be re-routed to various more-westerly airports. This meant a huge mess for every airport from the Midwest toward the east.

We got to Chicago with no problem, but we could not get out of Chicago. Our plane was grounded for about 5 hours. We finally were allowed to leave, and arrived in Miami at about 2:00 am. There were NO hotels to be had, no pillows or blankets left, and we were forced to sleep anywhere we could find a soft (or not!) place--floor, chair, any place to lay a tired body.

Because our luggage was still in the belly of the plane, most of us had no toiletries, meaning NO MAKE-UP! No toothbrush; no deodorant, some didn't even have a hairbrush. We were a gorgeous lot, I'll tell you.

The next day, at about the time we should have been checking in to the hotel in Kingston, we finally left Miami. By the time we dragged into the Kingston airport, we were so tired, so stiff, so irritable...and to make matters worse, one of our ladies overheard the security guards remarking about the ugly American women! Of all the nerve.

It was not a trip any of us will soon forget. Thankfully, we had a fruitful trip and accomplished a great deal for the church in Kingston. Our ladies proved themselves worth their salt. They poured concrete columns, sprayed concrete ceilings--'tough chick' work. The men were almost hard to convince of our troubles. Thankfully, our resident photographer, Carole Cellaway, took lots of pictures. And it was funny to see the looks on the men's faces when they saw their wives covered in cement mix and dirt. I think they were pretty proud of us.

So, if you think of it, pray for the Team in March, will you? It's the desire of New Community Church to show the Love of God in all corners of the world--and we have some awesome people to do it.

Let's just hope by next March airport security has loosened enough to allow us to take our toiletries in a carry-on.

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 1 comments links to this post
Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It's Leslie Again

Yup, I'm up again already. Apparently everyone else around here is too busy doing Christmasy things.

Speaking of Christmas, have you seen the number of people in the shopping malls these days? A gal can't even walk around without bumping into someone and their Christmas purchases. It's calmer here in Kanner Lake, of course; but when a friend in Coeur D'Alene wanted to go shopping together at the mall in downtown Spokane, I got my share of people, let me tell you.

I wonder why it is that parents just have to get the newest toys and fear that their children won't enjoy the holiday if they don't get them. (By the way, sometimes the "children" are adults.) Look at the craze over the latest video game systems. People at risk of robbery and personal harm, all for a specialized computer!

Ten years ago, when the first Tickle Me Elmo appeared in stores, one of my cousins had given it top spot on her Christmas wish list. Her dad waited in line for hours and still didn't get one. The store gave him a rain check, but the next order got snowed in at the warehouse. My mother told them not to worry and directed them instead to a local store making personalized dolls. They brought in a few photos when they placed their order and the doll maker sewed matching outfits. That doll became a much-loved toy and lasted far longer than the Elmo that finally showed up after New Year's.

It's not what's on the list of must-haves that matters most to kids and adults alike, so if some items aren't available this year, I won't panic.

Of course, I'm more about tradition at this time of year than toys. It's a Brymes thing, I guess. My parents always share the first glass of eggnog while decorating their tree, and each person who decorates has to place at least one ornament on the tree. Mine is a barely recognizable snowflake I made in third grade, while Mom puts an elaborate angel up because it's her favorite of all the decorations my dad has given her over the years.

And then there's Christmas Eve, when we pile into the minivan, crank up the Christmas tunes and tour Kanner Lake to see all the lights on the houses. When we're done, there's hot cocoa and cookies for us. Then we each pick a single gift to open before bedtime.

Dad always thinks he's in charge of the rest of the gift-opening the morning of the 25th, but Mom tends to tell him which gifts should be opened when. She also makes the traditional list of presents so that it's easy to make thank you cards later and know for sure who gave what.

And when Christmas is officially over, there are still traditions: traveling a few hours into Washington to see my dad's parents and a lot of cousins on the 26th, playing games and assembling jigsaw puzzles almost every evening left in December, eating way too many baked goods, and keeping the tree up until January 1st.

As with many things in life, Christmas is often what you make of it and we Brymes like to have a holiday full of family and fun. A toy here and there is great, but it's just icing on the cake, as they say!

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 0 comments links to this post
Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Why I Visit Jails

Merry Christmas. Pastor Hank with you today.

When I was young, long before my call to pastoral ministry, I had a good friend. I'll call him Jake. Jake and I grew up together and were friends since kindergarten. We did everything together. In the summer we threw the baseball and in the winter the football. We dreamed together about growing up to be fireman. We were as close as two boys could be. Then, just as we were entering junior high, Jake's mom and dad began to have marital problems. They were divorced when we were in eighth grade. Jake was devastated. It was the first time I ever saw him cry. We would have long conversations about what it was like not having his dad at home.

Our lives changed in the spring of eighth grade. Jake allowed distance to grow between us. He found new friends at school that were a part of a gang. Before I knew it Jake and I hardly saw each other at all. I ran into him one day at the bowling alley and we began to have a long discussion about the bad things that was doing with this gang. I was so afraid for him and tried to tell him to stop doing these things. Jake listened but I sensed he wouldn't change. Then on the last day of school the police showed up at our school, and I saw something that changed my life. My lifelong friend was being handcuffed and ushered out. No one should ever have to watch his friend be handcuffed.

Over the next few years Jake was in and out of juvenile detention facilities. I lost track of him but never forgot how much my heart hurt when I saw him in handcuffs. In high school I began to sense a call to pastoral ministry and enrolled in Bible College when I graduated. Four years later I graduated from college and took a role as an assistant pastor in that college town. One of my new responsibilities was a monthly visitation to the local jail, where I led a Bible study for some of the inmates. On my third visit I was entering the open common area when I looked up and locked eyes with Jake. Not sure that I can adequately relate the mixture of emotions that I felt. Jake tried to pass me by and not acknowledge our past connection, but God wouldn't let that happen.

I stopped Jake and engaged him in conversation. I asked him if I could visit him and he said it was okay. Over the next year Jake and I reconnected and something miraculous began to happen--not in Jake but in me. I began to experience levels of compassion that I never had before. God began to open my eyes to the pain in the world around me and in Jake specifically.

Jake was released from jail after that year and has experienced much success in his life. But I never felt a release from this ministry. Since that time I still visit jails and prisons once or twice a month. I have established relationships with several men and find that gift of compassion renewed each time that I visit with them. I hope I am a help to them. I surely know that God has used them to help me and teach me a few things.

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 3 comments links to this post
Monday, December 11, 2006

Our Christmas Tradition

Hey there, Leslie Brymes here at Java Joint, taking advantage of a few quiet moments.

I'm not the only one humming Christmas hymns, am I? As soon as the last football game is over and all the Thanksgiving leftovers have been divided among the family members I can't help but turn to the next holiday. And there's so much to do!

There are choir practices for the Christmas service at church, parties to attend, donations to collect for the food bank, decorations to hang and a tree to trim, treats to bake, cards and presents to mail out... It's a wonder I have time to listen to my favorite Christmas CDs and watch movies like White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life.

Oh, and there's one activity I absolutely cannot miss, no matter what's happening in December. Dad and I make a family of snowpeople on the front lawn each year. I'm responsible for the fashion of the snowman, his wife and their two kids, so old scarves, hats and even jackets are pulled out of storage for the season. It's just not the same if there's a green Christmas, but then we make do with broom and stick people. Fortunately that color Christmas is very rare!

Is there something fun your family does every year? Do tell. Maybe some of us in Kanner Lake will get a new idea or two.

For anyone else running around like crazy already, I salute you with a ginger spiced latte and one of Bailey's great pumpkin muffins. Have a great holiday!

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 3 comments links to this post
Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas at Java Joint

Hello, Bailey here.

The Christmas season is truly in full swing. That irrational post-Thanksgiving madness known as Black Friday (why do they call it that anyway?) is over and done with. For the first time ever, I braved the crowds at 5:00 a.m. (yes, 5:00 a.m.!) before I opened Java Joint to get myself a new pair of tennis shoes and grab my darling a few rock-bottom priced gifts. At least that was my plan. After getting shoved, tripped, elbowed, and poked by the hordes of people, I decided to close my eyes, grab what I could and RUN.

Never again.

I have three bruises, a sore backside, and the memory of a string of profanity hurled my way when I got the last pair of window sheers of an advertised sale. And, yes, this will become my husband's present. He can drape himself in them in lieu of the robe I planned to get him. LOL! Just kidding, the sheers are actually for our bedroom. I managed to get a pair of tennis shoes too. Both shoes in the same size, though I had to crawl on the ground to find the left size eight, while other combatants served up punches over my head.

Java Joint has not been immune to the increase in activity. I've been busier than a beaver building a new dam (thank you, Lord) getting the place ready for Christmas. We are offering a brand new menu of Christmas offerings: spiced cider, mint hot chocolate, eggnog, gingerbread cookies, and reindeer brownies, just to name a few. The decorations are all finished. As usual I put the nativity scene in the front window. I love everything about Christmas (even if the shopping can be brutal!) but there is something about seeing the setting of the first Christmas as I walk in the doors of Java Joint each day that keeps me focused on the reason for the season. It has created some extra work for me this year though. Every day I have to remove coffee beans that Wilbur slips in there. I've gotten more appreciation and compliments on that little scene than ever before (without the coffee beans, thank you).

But you can't please everybody. The other morning I received a phone call about the nativity scene. A man informed me that he was going to start a petition to make me remove it. He claims that since it was in the public view, it was offensive to non-Christians. I politely listened to him and then tried to explain my thoughts but he hung up on me. Suddenly I wasn't hearing Christmas bells or sleigh bells but alarm bells in my mind!

I called Hank immediately and he referred me to a lawyer he knows. Nice fella. He said that nobody could force me to take that scene down--it's on my own private property! For now I'm going to leave my scene up and play my Christmas music the same quiet way I always have. Java Joint is for the public but it is run by me. It is not like I am aggressively forcing my beliefs in exchange for coffee.

Oh dear. Wilbur got here early this morning, and out the corner of my eye, I'm seen him hanging around the front window. Better go check for coffee beans.

Have a blessed day.

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 7 comments links to this post
Thursday, December 07, 2006

Kum Ba Ya--Part 2

All afternoon, while the rest of the girls spent their free time swimming, canoeing and what not, little Becky made friends with that goliath tarantula. Myself, I couldn't get used to the idea of a giant spider crawling on my skin, let alone one the size of a dinner plate; but Becky took to the critter like it was a big, fluffy kitten. She even gave it a name--Mondo.

Well, enough of all that. You want to hear about the night that folks around these parts still talk about to this day. You see, the last thing before turning in, the tradition was then, and I'm pretty sure it still is today, that they build a big campfire, sing songs and drink hot cocoa. Then, on the very first night, the camp director stands up and tells a scary tale. Since Ol' Pete was laid-up, the duty fell to me.


The fire had burned down mostly to coals, and the dying flames gave off only enough light to cast eerie shadows on our faces. I held my flashlight against my chest, pointed it up at my chin and turned it on. A few girls giggled and more than one screamed, but most put on a brave face, although their eyes were wider than normal.

"This is the story of Mondo, queen of the spiders," I said in a grim tone. "It was a hundred years ago, somewhere in these very woods, a wagon train stopped on their way out west. Now on this wagon train there was a passel of kids, in all shapes and sizes, but there was only one Becky Lu. It turned out that Little Becky Lu was special because everywhere she went, wild animals would come right up to her.

"Now this made some of the other kids jealous. They ganged up on her, said mean things and loved to make her cry. No matter how hard Becky Lu tried to be nice to them, those kids just grew meaner and meaner. It got so that none of the other kids would play with her for fear those mean kids would pick on them too. Poor Becky got so lonely it broke her heart in two and she cried herself to sleep almost every night. Then one day she prayed for God to send her a friend all her own, someone who would protect her from all the mean kids."

I looked, and every eye belonging to the girls in Becky's group looked sad and guilty, that is, all of them but Mrs. McGraw. Her eyes burned holes right through me. She knew I was talking about her group, and she didn't like it one bit. (Well, if she'd only stopped the behavior, I wouldn't be tellin' this tale right now.)

"Then one night not far from here, the people from that wagon train was sitting around a campfire, just like this one. Some say God answered Becky Lu's prayer by sending an angel, and others say it weren't no kind of angel at all. But that very night Mondo, the giant queen spider dropped down from a tree and landed on top of Becky Lu's head.

"Mondo just sat there as friendly as can be. She liked Becky Lu. But when those ornery kids went to bed--oh, ho-ho, it was a different story! Mondo was busy all night. The meanest of those kids were found in the morning, all wrapped up like mummies in a cocoon of spider webs. Oh, they didn't die. Becky Lu wouldn't let Mondo eat them. But the giant spider did crawl all over their bodies while they was wrapped up. Might even have taken a nibble or two."

I looked around the campfire at all the girls, my voice lowering to a hush. "Don't you forget Mondo still lives in these woods. Now. To this very day."

Suddenly--a cry sounded on my right. The girls all screamed bloody murder and leapt to their feet. I whipped the flashlight around. Becky jumped from the shadows--with a huuuuge spider on top of her head.

"Ahhhhh!" I yelled. "It's Mondo!"

Becky ran into the midst of the stumbling girls. Mondo jumped from her head right onto Mrs. McGraw's face. Half blinded, she ran in circles like a chicken with its head chopped off. The girls screamed all the louder. Mondo got so excited, she jumped from one face to another. Some of those girls got so scared, they fell right down to the ground. The rest of 'em blazed trails to their cabins.

Finally, only Becky and I were left.

Mondo was gone. We looked but couldn't find her.

We knew where she'd gone. Into the woods. Where she'd wait and watch, looking for any girl who just might be mean to a fellow camper. Anybody who acted mean would bring the wrath of Mondo down on her head--literally. The next morning at breakfast that's exactly what I told the girls. They believed me, too. Some of 'em were still shakin' from the night before.

You wouldn't believe how nice those girls were to each other for the rest of the camp. Becky especially made a lot of new friends. Nobody wanted to mess with Becky.

I'd say that was the best $12.50 I ever spent.

--Wilbur Hucks

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 10 comments links to this post
Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Kum Ba Ya--Part 1

Wilbur Hucks here. This week I'm going to tell you about the time I faced a pack of the deadliest critters in all creation. Now, I've been snake bit, treed by a bull elk, and chased out of my own house by a hungry bear, but let me tell ya, hell hath no fury like that of a pack of nine-year-old girls out for blood.

It was Memorial Day weekend, 1969, and O' Pete Zellesky managed to break both his legs in a car accident. Pete was caretaker at Camp Paradise, on the far side of Kanner Lake. Girl scouts were coming from all over the Northwest, and he asked me to give him a hand.

"Just drive over to Spokane," he said, "and pick up the supplies. When you get back, all you have to do is baby-sit. If a light bulb burns out, put in a new one. That's all there is to it. Oh yeah, they are mighty timid about spiders, and the leaders are worse than the girls. You might get called on to kill one or two."

I drove to Spokane, picked up the supplies and then dropped by the five-and-dime store. I walked back out with two bags of plastic spiders in assorted sizes. I was feeling mighty pleased with myself until I saw a sign in the pet store window across the street: "Half off on all tarantulas." Suddenly, those plastic spiders lost their magic. I just had to go into the store.

There must have been a hundred of those big, wooly beasts crawling around inside a large aquarium. Even at half price, five bucks seemed steep for a spider. That's when I saw one in a tank all by himself, or I should say, herself? This one had a sign that read "Goliath Tarantula--$25" and she was big enough to wear as a hat. It was the best $12.50 I ever spent.

On registration day, girl scouts descended on the campgrounds like locusts. They arrived in station wagons, vans and buses. They all stood around singing "Kum Ba Yah." It was enough to make a man want to pull his hair out.

That's when I noticed a girl standing off to one side, crying her eyes out. The other girls from her group were busy taunting her, and their leader just stood by doing nothing. Before I knew it, my legs carried me across the campgrounds to where she stood. She had pasty white skin, oily brown hair and a pair of horn-rimmed glasses so thick she could see the man-on-the-moon.

"Bucky, bucky, bucky, sucking on her thumb," the other girls chanted. Their leader, a too-narrow-between-the-eyes, snooty-faced woman looked on with dancing eyes. Her thin lips curled into the cruelest smile I ever seen. What on earth was wrong with that woman?

I stopped in front of the girl and offered her my hanky. She just stared at it.

"Don't worry; it's fresh from the laundry," I said.

She inspected it warily and then blew her nose on it again and again. "Thank you, sir," she whimpered, and handed it back to me.

"You keep it. My name's Wilbur, what's yours?"

She pretended to smile. "Becky, but they call me Bucky because I got crooked teeth. I-I used to suck my thumb."

"Calling you names, now are they?" I winked at her. "Tell you what. How would you like to get even?"

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 10 comments links to this post
Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Saurian Tech--Karn Light Infantry Gear: Weaponry

Shnakvorum, Rikoyoch! (Greetings, friends!)

Book Update: Get your forks ready, this crazy thing is almost done! I can smell the end from here. Unless something crazy happens I only have about a chapter and a half left to go. That's only about 30 pages! Can you believe it? I know I can't. Seems like just yesterday when I was staring at that strange sketch on my cast--and now my first novel is nearly completed! Bailey's already started plans for a completion party. I just hope we don't scare away too many tourists. But then they're few and far between this time of year anyway (though there are some crazy ice fishermen who always show up, but I'm sure our own fishermen can fill you in on that).

Now for my Saurian weaponry.

Karnian Light Infantry use a wide assortment of weaponry, from simple blades to large assault cannons, determined by personal preference and their role within the spur. The vast majority use various blades as their weapon of choice. But since we're focusing on Rathe's gear, things are a bit more complex.

Rathe is unique in that he uses a sokae, a staff-like weapon with curving blades at each end, and which can be split into two halves. This weapon gives Rathe the flexibility of choosing broad sweeping strokes and keeping his enemies at a distance where their shorter weapons can't strike, or using quick swings for confined areas where maneuverability is limited. Rathe chose the sokae due to the unusual nature of its fighting style (giving him an edge over opponents unfamiliar with it) as well as the desire to prove his worth by taking on a challenging weapon.

But sometimes you don't want to get right in the face of your enemy, and Rathe has two other weapons for striking at a distance. The first is a simple brace of throwing spikes. These two-foot long metal spikes are perfectly balanced, and Rathe has become an expert at snapping off a short-range throw to wound or outright kill an opponent in the critical moments before they enter melee range.

The second is his kothas. This is a small mag-launcher affixed to his right gauntlet. It uses magnetic pulses to fire anti-personnel explosive quarrels. Each quarrel is tipped with a shaped charge in a fragmenting casing that is designed to throw the majority of the shrapnel away from the point of origin in order to let the kothas be used at relatively close range with some semblance of safety. The quarrels are loaded in clips of four, and are accurate up to a hundred and fifty feet (which isn't as far as it sounds when you have an angry Herian charging you).

Finally, Rathe also carries the basic loadout of grenades for the light infantry. Which is 2 smoke, 4 shock, and 6 explosive. Smoke grenades are basically what they sound like. Shock grenades emit an electric pulse that can kill an average sized Saurian within three feet, and incapacitate within ten. And explosive grenades are the basic anti-personnel grenades, with a kill radius of twenty to thirty yards, depending on the size of the Saurn.

In addition to his own weaponry, Rathe carries extra ammunition for the spur's Assault Cannon, carried by their heavy weapon's member. This is a massive gattling cannon and grenade launcher (on average around five feet long) that can lay down a withering spray of fire, covering the spurs retreat or halting an enemy charge in its tracks. Though it does this at the cost of longevity, as the average spur can only carry enough ammunition for 60 seconds worth of firing time. However, when a 3-second burst puts out over a thousand rounds, 60 seconds can go a long way.

All these weapons brought together within a tight night Light infantry spur, filled with Saurn who have trained with their weapons for at least 30 earth years, makes them a swift and deadly precision strike force.

-- S-man

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 3 comments links to this post
Monday, December 04, 2006

The Skiing Spirit

Pastor Hank here. Boy, it sure cooled off here over the last few weeks. The Idaho panhandle had its first real snowfall the weekend of Thanksgiving. The white blanket calms the surroundings and makes it so peaceful--until the people drive on it for the first time each year. Seems like every winter people forget that snow is slippery, so Sheriff Edwards and his crew spend the first storm chasing down all the wrecks.

The winter months are something northern Idaho looks forward to each year; it means that skiing season is finally here. I think everyone knows about Sun Valley in central Idaho, but there are many good places to ski throughout the state. One of the destinations for Kanner Lake denizens is
Silver Mountain, about an hour away.

I haven't done a lot of skiing in my life. It tends to be an expensive sport to keep up with, and weekends are when I do most of my work. However, when my girls hit their teens it was the cool thing to go skiing with their friends. We managed to save up for some ski equipment for them, but they had to save money from the summer if they wanted to go to the hill a lot.

Every winter during that time the girls got so excited for the first snowfall, instead of looking at the slush and cold as an inconvenience. Their enthusiasm became contagious. I started to appreciate the snow more, where I had gotten into a rut of complaining about something that wasn't going to change (winters in Idaho, that is). Soon that enthusiasm translated into curiosity, and I wanted to see what the girls were experiencing.

Now my dear Janet didn't think it was such a good idea for me to get up on a vertical slope of slippery stuff with slick sticks attached to my feet. I get something in my head though, and I can be tough to turn around. At least I wasn't stubborn about one thing: I signed up for ski lessons. I'd heard too many stories of people being told that their skiing friend would stay with them, only to be left alone on the top of some black diamond mogul run. My girls swore they wouldn't do that. A pastor's supposed to be a trusting person, but there's still a point when it turns to folly!

So the girls and I drive on up to Silver Mountain. The day is perfect: sunshine, calm skies, and soft groomed runs. I have a young gal as an instructor, only a few years older than Amy (my oldest). She assured me that she'd have me heading in the right direction in no time. Now, a push at the top of the lift would've sent me in the right direction too, but I decided to trust her and the Lord to get me through this adventure.

You know what happened next? I had an absolute blast! The beauty of the mountains, the crisp air biting your cheeks as you slide down the slopes, the freedom of moving down the mountain. I started in the typical "A" wedge for skiing, but soon was cutting back and forth across the bunny hill. I couldn't believe the exhilaration of flying down the peak.

There was one other thing that I really picked up from my time on the hill. During my lessons, I found that it is best to lean into the skis for control. That defies common sense. My initial reaction was to lean back. It's closer to the ground, and leaning forward points down. But the front of the skis is where the control is, and if you lean into the skis, lean down the hill, then you will be in control. Once we lean back, we actually lose control and are headed for a fall. It took a lot of prodding from my ski instructor to get over my tendency to lean back, but it was amazing once I had a little faith and aimed down the mountain.

There is a point to all of this. I bring up the skiing because it reminds me of life in the Holy Spirit. We all want to be in control, and think that pulling back from being too "spiritually minded" keeps us level. I believe that people are uncomfortable with the idea of letting God have too much control, so they "lean back" in their skis, thinking they are in control. But this is backwards. The only way to make it down the mountain safely, to make it through this life victorious, is to lean in to the Spirit. It takes faith to do this, because it looks like we're hanging over the edge. But the control is now in His hands, and it will guide us through the trees, moguls, and all the other obstacles that face us on this mountain. When we lean back, and take the steering power away, that is when we will crash. Lean into the Spirit, trust Him to guide us as we schuss down the slopes, and we will go places we've never thought possible.

That's my skiing lesson for today. I wish I could say that I'm still a skier. A couple of years later I was racing my kamikaze twelve-year-old Andy down the mountain when a nasty crash put me down. My fearless little girl swooshed down the hill, as I climbed out of a snow bank with a sprained knee. It's never been quite the same since. Now my skiing rush is of the spiritual variety, and let me tell you, it is a ride like no other!

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 7 comments links to this post
Friday, December 01, 2006

Big Boy Buck--Part 2

So there I was on the ground with my bow tied up, and I was sawin' away. I cut my bow free, afraid to unlatch it because of the awful metallic clang that would echo all over tarnation. I got my bow in my hand, steadied the arrow, and looked Big Boy Buck straight in the eye.

He grunted and stomped his foot, accepting the challenge of our meeting eyes. Now I ain't never got buck fever before. Big Boy Buck is a special case, though. He's the biggest whitetail I've ever seen that ain't been on the pages of my huntin' magazine my dear wife's always throwing away. My hands started shakin' and sweat dripped down my forehead. If I could just get a good shot, Big Boy Buck'd be in the record book for sure and he'd be mounted on my wall.

One thing's for sure about my lovely wife, she loves venison. and boy does she know how to cook it. People come from all over the county to get her recipes. So she doesn't mind me hunting. That's the good thing about women in Idaho. They ain't afraid of hardly nothin'. Wish I wasn't afraid of Big Boy Buck, but the way he was snortin' and stompin' and carryin' on, I thought he was gonna ram that huge rack of his in my chest.

I took a deep breath and got my hands to quit their shakin'. I drew back and released. Whoosh. The arrow went right over his back and he didn't even flinch. I know he heard it 'cause he took a step towards me and snorted a snort I'm still havin' nightmares about. I still can't believe I missed. I moved as slow as I could and got another arrow. I drew back and held it. I wasn't gonna miss again. No Siree Bob. I heard somethin' rustlin' behind me and I was in quite the conundrum. Do I take my eyes off Big Boy Buck? Well, it didn't take long for me to decide. All the commotion from behind got the best of me. I turned slow as ever.

There stood the ole Boy's doe. Seems he wasn't snorting at me, he was puttin' on a show for the lovely lady. He didn't even know I was there. I guess the rut's come a bit early this year. Now if you don't know it, this is a bad time of year for the ole bucks. Those doe's and their feminine wiles have the bucks so dumb and crazy they don't pay attention to nothin'. Seems that's why Mr. B3 didn't hear that arrow whizzin' over his back.

So my arrow's still drawn and I figure now's the time to get 'em while the object of his affection is behind me wooing him. Wouldn't ya know it. I hear another ruckus behind me. I was thinkin' it was just another doe trying to get B3's eye, when all of a sudden somethin' is jumpin on my back. Liked to scare me half to death. The arrow went flyin' out from my bow. I dropped the bow and thought I was gonna get ate by some creature of the forest because I felt something wet all over my neck. Turns out somehow little Duke got out of his kennel and decided to meet me out in the woods for a little playtime. Dadgum pup. He was all over me lickin' and and 'jumpin'. At first I was madder than I've been in a year of Sundays 'til I realized that Duke jumpin' on me and releasin' that arrow was the luckiest shot a man's ever made.

B3 was down.

I'm waiting for my Boone and Crockett s
core on ol' Big Boy Buck. Y'all should be proud to have a hunter of my stature amongst you.

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 8 comments links to this post