Norma's Wanderings around a small section of Montana
Hindsight is 2020. Last year was to be the year of perfect vision. How did that work for you? Montana is lucky, we have fewer cases than most of the USA. In fact, no masks are now required per the governor. Some places still ask that you wear one, but most are starting to not. |
Here in Montana, we have lots of open-air and open spaces. Hooray for the rural life!
So keep on writing everyone. 2021 has great potential. Come sit beside me on my porch as we consider life.
So honored and pleased to have my ponderings nominated for a 2020 Quill award. Thank you!
Friday, April 9
The Sims Family Murders in Tallahassee
On October 22, 1966, Robert and Helen Sims and their daughter, Joy, were found dead in their Tallahassee, Florida home by the Sims's oldest daughter, Jeanie, when she returned from a babysitting job. “A massive search was launched to find whoever committed the crime,” a local news station recounts. But the Sims had no enemies, there was no discernible motive to the crime, and although there were suspects, no one was ever charged.
Tell us what happened, who did it, and why.
Did you do it?
I can tell you I didn't do this. I was 15 years old. And I lived in Ohio. Now that's not to say a determined 15 year old couldn't get to Tallahassee and do a dastardly deed. And isn't it odd that the elder daughter shares my name? Hmm. Norma.
I came up with three theories.
1.The boyfriend of Jeanie did it. Father said “You’re not good enough for my daughter.
2.A customer was mad. He did it.
3.The oldest daughter did it. She was mad about being under the thumb of her father. Her father always took her babysitting money.
But with no real evidence, perhaps it was the Hebrew Death Laser from outer space that was in the news a few months ago. The gunshots were the real McGuffins, or red herrings if you please.
I still maintain my innocence. I have my birth certificate. I swear I was not 17 in 1966. Honest.
Thursday, April 8
Plain of Jars
Location: Xiangkhoang Plateau, Laos
More than 2,000 large ancient stone jars are spread across a plateau in Central Laos. Some stand 10 feet tall and weigh several tons. Archaeologists estimate the jars are 2,000 years old, but their purpose is unclear. The most common theories are that they were used as funeral urns.
What do you think these urns were for?
Missionaries from other religions made the mistake of trying to convince the Hmong folk that their religions were better. Now the Hmong at this ancient time were Animists. They held in high esteem the idea that plants and animals were gods. Among their gods were the tree god and the salamander god.
One day missionaries from the far-away country of Indus made the mistake of cutting down the sacred trees in a grove near one Hmong village. Then they roasted the large salamanders that wandered freely among the weeds nearby.
Hmong people were horrified at such sacrilege and wondered how they would appease the gods. As luck would have it, they had large stone jars nearby that were used for storing grain and water. But they were quickly put into use for another reason; for torturing the missionaries.
The large stone jars were filled with oil. The oil was heated with hot stones dropped into the jars. Once the oil was heated to boiling, they put the missionaries into the jars. The lids were then placed on top so the screams could not be heard.
After a time, the bones of the missionaries were taken out of the oil, the oil drained. The Hmong ground the bones to fertilize any sacred trees that still grew nearby. Salamanders soon came back to the village. They erected a shrine to the trees and salamanders. Oil from the stone jars was now considered holy and used in worship at the shrine.
Could be true? I have no idea. But my imagination had fun thinking of it.
Wednesday, April 7
The Flannan Isles Lighthouse Disappearances
In 1900, three keepers of the Flannan Isles Lighthouse off the west coast of Scotland disappeared under the strangest of circumstances. The lighthouse was manned by a three-person team (Thomas Marshall, James Ducat, and Donald MacArthur), with a fourth man rotating in from shore. On Boxing Day (December 26) of 1900, the relief keeper arrived to find none of the lighthouse keepers present. The only sign that anything was amiss was an overturned chair near the kitchen table. No bodies were ever found, which has led to endless speculation. Theories range from drownings to abduction by foreign spies, a ghost ship, or a giant sea monster. Whatever happened back in December 1900 at the Flannan Isles Lighthouse, we may never know.
So, tell us what happened to the lighthouse keepers!
The three keepers sat around a small lighthouse kitchen. Their Christmas gifts were put away. Now the ornaments needed boxed up. They put the tinsel carefully in the worn boxes. Huddled around the potbelly stove, Thomas started the storytelling. He had a few good ones. Then James brought out the old Scotch. Donald added another interesting yarn. Soon they were laughing and not paying attention to a small hornet’s nest above their heads.
This nest was there all summer, but never noticed by the busy men. With the heat of the potbelly stove, some of the hornets somehow were waking up. They worked their way out of the nest, began flying about.
It’s easy to not notice some flying insects after a few snorts of Scotch. The hornets flew around their heads. They batted them away. The hornets returned.
The three men again batted them away. The third time the hornets did not leave. They stung the lighthouse keepers. Thomas screamed, ran down the steps and threw himself into the sea. James fell off his chair and followed Thomas into the sea. Donald tried to use the chair to swat the hornets, but soon followed the others into the sea.
These three men never learned to swim so they soon perished in the high tide. Their bodies were washed out into the ocean.
Traveling in Wyoming today reminded me just how wide open and wonderful the West is. We traveled from Roundup, MT to Cheyenne, WY on our way to Ohio. We ran through rain, snow, rain, snow and rain combined, rain, and more snow, and then the sun and blue sky.
But Wyoming. My goodness. It is the least populous and least densely populated state in the contiguous US. As I looked this up on the internet, the population is only 586,000 and some. That would be a small city in most states.
Now Montana is sparsely populated as well, but much larger. We have over a million residents, and are the third least densely populated state. And the eighth least populated.
But after I thought about this a bit, we've had a lot of folks move into this part of the US the past few years. People want out of the cities, the more populated areas. So soon our towns will grow as well,
We are traveling to Ohio for a short stay. Hubby is then traveling on to Virginia for a day or so and then back to Ohio then back to Montana in another week or so. This is our big trip for the year. A trip to see my mother, probably for the last time. But it is also a time for her to meet her great-grandaughter and great-grandson. I pray that the planning we've made works out.
On through Nebraska tomorrow!
Prompt: Tuesday, April 6
Ghost Ship: The Mary Celeste
On December 4, 1872, a British-American ship called “the Mary Celeste” was found empty and adrift in the Atlantic. It was found to be seaworthy and with its cargo fully intact, except for a lifeboat, which it appeared had been boarded in an orderly fashion. But why? We may never know because no one on board was ever heard from again.
In November 1872, the Mary Celeste set sail from New York bound for Genoa, Italy. She was manned by Captain Benjamin Briggs and seven crew members, including Briggs’ wife and their 2-year-old daughter. Supplies on board were ample enough for six months, and luxurious—including a sewing machine and an upright piano. Commentators generally agree that to precipitate the abandonment of a seaworthy ship, some extraordinary and alarming circumstance must have arisen. However, the last entry on the ship’s daily log reveals nothing unusual, and inside the ship, all appeared to be in order.
Theories over the years have included mutiny, pirate attack, and an assault by a giant octopus or sea monster. In recent years, scientists have posed the theory that fumes from alcohol on board caused an explosion that, as a result of a scientific anomaly, did not leave behind signs of burning—but was terrifying enough that Briggs ordered everyone into the lifeboat.
Give us your opinion of what happened. Maybe you were even there?!
“Get on the boat, woman. We have no time for that.”
Hope Briggs stopped at the edge. She had in one arm Peace and in the other her sewing basket.
“But I have to gather the music, the sewing, all the clothes. We must have those things.”
Captain Briggs grabbed his wife. He threw her into the life boat. Their daughter, Peace, flew into the air. She was caught by a sailor on deck. The sewing basket fell into the sea, soon dropped out of sight.
“We have not the time! All into the boat!”
Soon the lifeboat was loaded and floated to the wide open ocean. The Mary Celeste grew smaller and smaller as they drifted away.
“We are doomed, doomed I say!” Hope Briggs grabbed her husband’s arm. “What of my sewing machine? My piano?”
“Good grief woman, we have bigger worries. Sit down. Be quiet.”
The men rowed, the Captain surveyed the ocean.
Suddenly the lifeboat bumped into a large round, gray object floating in the ocean.
“Stop here men. Get ready to be boarded.”
The gray object had a lid that opened. Several bodies stepped out. The occupants of the lifeboat suddenly found themselves floating through the air and down into the body of the floating gray object.
“Welcome aboard. We will take care of you now. Hope, we want to know how you make a second skin for your people. We also want to know how you make sounds from ivory, ebony and wire. You will teach us. Captain, you will teach us how to steer by your stars. We will teach Peace our knowledge. The other workers will be our slaves. Make yourselves comfortable. This may be a bumpy ride.” The bodies transformed themselves into the aliens known as Argons. The humans sat transfixed and uttered not a sound. The ship sped off through the air to the planet of the aliens.
This little known story of the Mary Celeste was hidden for a few centuries. It just now was revealed when Peace Briggs gave an interview on the Oprah network just last week. She wanted to talk about the aliens, but all Oprah was interested in was the fact she didn’t look a day over 144.
April 5, A Crooked Forest in West Pomerania in Poland
Who remembers this rhyme?
There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
and they all lived together in a little crooked house.
That was the first thing that popped into my feeble brain when I saw those trees. So they are in West Pomerania. Poland. Hmm. Of course I had to go on to the source of all knowledge now, the internet. Seems that West Pomerania is the fifth largest voivodeship, province, of Poland. And a claim to fame of that province, among others, is that crooked forest.
How did it come to be? No one seems to know.
I think it was the crooked man of the rhyme. He needed crooked trees to make his crooked house. And being a man of means, he was able to hire a crew to trim all the trees in the forest and train them to grow in a crooked way.
“But sir, that will take years for those trees to grow crookedly!” the workers complained to the crooked man.
Crooked man leaned his crooked staff and laughed his crooked laugh.
“I have many years to wait. I have nothing else to do. Cut the trees.”
And so the trees were cut. And so the trees grew in a crooked way.
All the trees weren’t cut for the crooked house. Some were left for a meeting place in the crooked forest. Crooked man had many family members. They all were in the West Pomerania area and hoped to some day settle nearby.
But alas, as life would have it, the family members left this earth before they could build their crooked houses. And so, the crooked trees remain to this day.
There is no other proof. Do you have a better story?
PROMPT March 30th
Congratulations on making it to the last day of the competition! What was your favorite prompt from the last month? What was the most rewarding aspect of participating in the competition?
What fun it was to learn a little more about all the participants. I now know where some of you live, where some of you work. I know that few of us like practical jokes, and few of us had vacations as children. Isn’t that curious?
I don’t think I had a favorite prompt. They were all interesting. The two food prompts were fun. But then the one about words was also unusual. I usually downloaded them to my Mac the night they were posted. Then I worked on the prompt the next day to post the next night.
I tried to post comments to every post. So I apologize if I didn’t get to everyone. I tried. I really did.
The most rewarding aspect of the competition was pushing myself to complete something. Every day. Every day had a deadline. And since I don’t have a ‘real’ job anymore, that seemed like a job. It gave me a purpose. Especially during this crazy mixed up abnormal period of history, we need a reason to get up in the morning and do something. Anything.
PROMPT March 29th
What did you like / dislike about where you grew up? What do you like / dislike about where you live now?
I grew up in Jefferson, Ohio. That is a small town in NE Ohio. My neighborhood was quiet. We had a small gang of kids that ran around in the woods or from house to house. Small school, great education I guess. My grandparents lived next door and an aunt and uncle next to them. Lots of family always around it seemed. But I left home as soon as I could.
I like the town I now live in. Roundup, MT is north of Billings. It reminds me of the town where I grew up. I like that I can walk or ride my bike everywhere. But I do wish I was closer to the mountains. I do like my little home. Hubby wanted to be out in the country. But we’re glad to be in town as we get older.
We are close to a big city for shopping, but live in a small town. We can always drive a ways to be in mountains if we wish. So I guess it is a good compromise.
PROMPT March 28th
We need your help filling the Challenge War Chest with prompts! In your entry today, write three of your own 30DBC prompts and then choose one to respond to.
Name three things in your bathroom right now.
How clean is your house right now?
You only have $50 left with nothing in the bank, nothing saved, and no more money coming any time soon. How will you spend it
I choose the bathroom prompt.
1. Right now I have lots of toilet paper. There is always a case in the bathroom. Hubby insists on buying a case every time we go to Billings. Every time. Extra cases are filling my second floor.
2. There are two open tubes of toothpaste. One tube for him, one for me. There used to be just one, but seems someone, who will remain nameless, was irritated that the tube never got squeezed correctly. (For the record, I never knew there was a method for that.)
3. There is a bath rug in front of the vanity that has suddenly decided to wrinkle every time you walk on it. After five years of lying flat, it now decides to act contrary. It is a handwoven-by-Amish rug made from old jeans. It should be heavy enough to lie flat. Annoying.
I never knew the bathroom could be so full of drama, did you?
PROMPT March 27th
In your entry today, write about one of the most frightening moments of your life.
Hubby and I had a few ugly words and I rushed out of the cabin. I headed up the mountain in the Jeep to pick up a friend for church. It was a Sunday in March 2008. It had snowed just a bit in Gardiner, MT. There was a bit of slush on the road.
The road up the mountain to Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park is a twisty turny one. It takes you from about 5,200 ft to about 6,700 ft in about five miles and follows the Gardner River. It also crosses the 45th parallel of latitude, halfway to the Arctic Circle.
I went a bit slow after passing through the North Gate. Glancing for a second off to the left at the river, a movement in front of me caught my attention.
Headed straight at me was a huge truck. I stomped on the brake, the clutch and screamed. Crash! The truck pushed the Jeep back hundreds of feet. Airbags went off. My seatbelt grabbed my chest, cut into my left thigh. I gripped the steering wheel. Screamed and screamed. My legs were still on the brake and clutch. The car’d died. The front end was a crumpled mess.
The other driver was now at my door. “Are you okay?”
I was shaking. No blood. But I was shaking. I was able to get out of the Jeep and walk around. But the pain in my leg and my chest were intense.
Someone asked me if I wanted an ambulance. But I just wanted someone to call my husband, he was at church. So he came.
Husband stayed with the Jeep and the park Rangers. The church pastor’s wife took me the 50 miles to the hospital. On the way there, I wished I had taken the ambulance. I was short of breath, and my leg really hurt.
Nothing was broken. But I had a bruised sternum and a huge bruise, seroma, in my upper thigh. I also sustained an injury in the lining of the left hip. The sternum bothered me for a few years. The seroma is a soft tissue compartmental injury. It bothers me still. I had surgery a few years after the accident to repair my hip injury.
The truck that hit me didn’t get a ticket. He was towing a trailer with snowmobiles and was traveling faster than the speed limit and was in my lane. The Rangers blamed the road condition at the time of the crash. But his insurance paid.
Scariest day of my life, so far. But I could also add the night my second husband had a stroke. We had to life-flight him to the hospital for emergency brain surgery. Or the night current husband told me to call the squad, and he almost had an appendix burst. Scary.
So kiss your beloved before they leave. Say a prayer before you take a car drive. You never know.