Friday, September 21, 2018

Highway Patrol Report – Week 2 – Part 1

Good morning FFFs,
It was raining when I woke up this morning, but things are quiet now. I think there's a chance for more rain, but we'll see.
This has been a good week. Rather exciting in some ways, even if I didn't quite get everything done I wanted to.
  • I got my proof copy of "His Law Is Love" ordered!! *squeals* I've only been waiting since January to get it put together and ordered. Now I just have to wait until it arrives. I know it's been shipped, so  . . .
  • I've been making steady progress on the last things for the Five Fall Favorites party. It's hard to believe it's coming up so quickly! I hope you all are ready for new stacks of books to add to your To-Read shelf.
  • I finally got to start writing my short story for November. I'm not very far into it, but it's started. That should count for something, right?
  • Writing classes were taught.
  • I posted the first "letter" from Priscilla de Silvosa yesterday from Tennessee. Not sure anyone's going to read it, but I posted it. If you read it, leave me a comment and let me know.
  • Last night my Dad and I attended our 3rd class with the Missouri State Highway Patrol Community Alliance. We got to shoot their guns and climb inside their SWAT vehicle. But you'll get more on that another time.
  • The one thing I didn't get finished that I really wanted to, was the book of letters between my grandparents from the 1940s. I did get the pictures all cropped, and know which pages of their scrapbooks need scanned. Then I have to add everything. We'll see how it goes.
And that's pretty much my week. How was your week?
This report was LONG. As in over 3k words long. So I decided to divide it into two weeks. Today you get the first half of our class, and next week the 2nd half. I hope you enjoy it.

September 13, 2018
Our second class of the Missouri Highway Patrol Community Alliance began at six with Sgt. Lueckenhoff saying a few things, checking on who would do what if there was an emergency, and then introducing our first instructor.
    Trooper Tony Sandoval began by a bit about himself. He was raised in New York City, but moved to Missouri since his wife’s family lives in Oklahoma, and the Missouri HP would mean the family would be close. After this introduction he began on the history of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
    In the 1920s and 30s citizens began asking for more law enforcement on the new roads that were being built because there were more cars being driven. Pennsylvania was the first state to start a highway patrol, but others began soon after. The biggest supporters of the new law enforcement agency in Missouri were the Missouri Bankers Association, the MO Auto Club, and Governor Caulfield. Those who strongly opposed the idea were the Labor groups, the bootleggers, and the sheriffs. The sheriffs were afraid a highway patrol would encroach on their job and undermine their authority. Finally, on April 24th, 1931, the Missouri State Highway Patrol was begun. The force started with only fifty-five men–49 Troopers, and 6 Captains. The pay was $125 per month. From the beginning the Missouri Highway Patrol worked under two guiding thoughts:
    “Gentlemen who enforce the law”
    “When in doubt, don’t.”
These two guidelines are still a part of the patrol to this day. All officers and troopers are expected to act like gentlemen as they carry out their duties. And if they are ever in doubt about something, be it making an arrest or stopping a car when they are the only trooper at work, they don’t.
    Trooper Tony told us that there have been times when he’s decided not to do something because he couldn’t get backup should he need it.
    The general Headquarters for the Highway Patrol started out in the state capitol building.
    At the beginning, in 1931, the troopers had no radios. Instead they used a “point of contact” such as a certain gas station or store. Every hour they were expected to go to that place and call up HQ to see if they had any calls they needed to take care of.
    Here is a look at some of the important dates in the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
    1933- The HP started using the public AM radio station. If a call came through for a trooper, it was announced on a certain station that the troopers had on all the time in their car. There was no way to make sure the message was received. A trooper might be out of his car at the time it came through. Later that same year the HP began using a state-owned radio station-WOS. But there was still no way to tell if a trooper had received the message.
    1936- The Police Radio began operating 24 hours a day for the first time. A crime lab was also created in two rooms of the Broadway Building in Jefferson City.
    1937- A Drivers License was first required and cost twenty-five cents. There was no test to prove you could drive, you just paid your money and got your license.
    1940- The Safety Squadron was started. This squadron, with its all white cars, motorcycles, and trailer, traveled to different cities and educated people about road safety.
    1942- The Missouri State Patrol created its first car door emblem. Also in this year, the Highway Patrol began Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, making sure that those vehicles complied with specific laws and regulations.
    During WWII the speed limit was 35 mph across the nation. No traveling 70 or above down the highway. This was done partly to conserve gas as it was a rationed commodity. With so many men off serving in the war, the HP began using women in communications.
    1946- The police FM and Repeater system was created. (This system was used until around 2007.) The hand-held radios the patrol officers carried were only 5 watts. This was not strong enough to be able to send a signal very far. However, their cars were equipped with a repeater system and 45 watts of power. This meant that if an officer used his radio away from his car, the message went to the car and then was repeated over the higher powered radio to HQ. During this year the first patrol aircraft was used.
    1947- School Bus Inspections started.
    1948- Car to Car communication became available. There was also a change of the emblem on the patrol cars to what it is today. (It was designed by a trooper who used to be an artist.)
    1952- They started having examinations to get a driver’s license. (I guess they decided people should know how to drive if they have a license.)
    1954- A riot broke out in the prison in Jefferson City, and a call went out at 7 p.m. to ALL Highway Patrol cars in the state. By 11:30 a.m. 265 State Troopers had arrived on scene. They had driven at maximum speed to reach the capital stopping only long enough to fill up their tanks with gas. As they neared the city the orange glow of the fire could be seen in the night sky. One leader in the riot refused to do as he was ordered and told the HP Lieutenant he wouldn’t comply. He was given one more chance, but when he again refused, the lieutenant shot and killed him on the spot. That act sobered the rest of the prisoners and the rioting stopped. As the inmates of the prison were marched to another building, the State Troopers were lined up along the street with their rifles in their hands just in case something started again. Nothing did. The prisoners realized that these men meant business.
    This year was also the beginning of the unmarked patrol cars.
    1959- The first helicopter came into use.
    1960- The first portable scale trucks were brought into use.
    1963- Headquarters moved from the state capitol building to it current location.
    1960-66- The Underwater Recovery Unit was formed.
    1965- Breathalyzer Training and Implied Consent law was enacted. This was also the year that the first black Trooper joined the force.
    1967- Motor Vehicle Inspections began.
    1970- Undercover Narcotics Units began operating, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol Academy Building was opened.
    1971- The Bomb and Arson Squad was formed.
    1974-75 brought the national speed limit up to 55 mph. It also saw the introduction of the moving radar (which is used to tell how fast a moving vehicle is going) and allowed left-handed troopers to be left-landed. Up until then, there were no left-handed holsters issued, and no one was allowed to wear their gun on their left side. Everything had to be done and worn just like a right-handed person would do and wear it.
    1975- This was the year the first two female state troopers joined.
    1982- Marijuana Eradication Program started. They said it was easier to spot the hidden fields where it was growing from the air, though Trooper Tony said everything looked the same to him from the air. It was all green.
    1983- DWI Checkpoints started to be used.
    1986- Drug Interdiction Program started.
    1988- K-9 Program began.
    1991- They changed the weapon the troopers carried.
    1997- The Major Crash Teams were formed. There are 16 teams state-wide, and these teams focus only on major crash scenes.
    2007- CVET Program (Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Team) started.
    2008- Motorcycle Program started again. These are only used in larger cities where there is heavy traffic, and the need for smaller, more maneuverable vehicles is greater.
    January 2011- This saw the merge of the Water Patrol with the Highway Patrol to become what is now known as Marine Operations.
    From the start of the Missouri Highway Patrol in 1931 until now (2018), 32 State Troopers have given the ultimate sacrifice.

    Here are a few fun facts about the MO HP: Their uniforms were patterned after the New Jersey State Police with the Sam Brown belt that crosses over their chest. They don’t wear badges, but they have them and carry them with them.

Will you be back next week?
What do you know about Your Highway Patrol?
Are you eager for the Five Fall Favorites party?

Friday, September 14, 2018

HIghway Patrol Report – Week 1

Hello, FFFs,
I don't have fiction for you today, but I do have something new. But before we get to that, let me tell you a bit about my week.
It was an average week. Nothing too exciting, or different. Writing classes went well. And, for those of you might have read the Travels of Priscilla blog, it's about to start up again. You see, the students in one of my writing classes are going to put what they've learned into practice by "joining" Priscilla on her travels. I hope to get the first letter up sometime soon. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, it's a virtual tour that a fictional character, "Miss Priscilla de Silvosa," is taking across the United States, spending 7 days in each state. You can learn some fun things about the states if you read the blog.

Today starts a busy weekend. Later this afternoon my grandpa is supposed to arrived on his bicycle having ridden the last stretch of his bike ride down from KC. We're also babysitting my 7 nieces and nephews this evening.
But tomorrow!
Tomorrow is the Big Bike Ride! The reason my grandpa came down, is to do this ride. And tomorrow my aunt and grandma are driving down from KC so my aunt can ride too. There's a trail near our house that used to be a railroad. It's a 3 1/2 mile stretch now of walking/biking path. We are going to have a 4 generation bike ride on Saturday. Grandpa (generation 1), my aunt, and dad (generation 2 even if my dad is an in-law), my brother and I (generation 3), and 5 of my nieces and nephews (generation 4). The ages will range from "Buddy" my 5 1/2 y-o nephew, to my 89 1/2-y-o Grandpa. At the end of the trail we'll head to Culver's for lunch and to celebrate my oldest niece's 12th birthday.
Whew! Like I said, busy.

Last night my dad and I attended the 2nd class of the Highway Patrol Community Alliance. Hopefully I'll be able to get my report for that written for next week. This week you can start off with a short news clip about the program. (Yes, you might be able to find my dad and I. Dad has a white beard.) And then you can read the report for the first week. Enjoy!

September 6, 2018
This was the start of the Missouri Highway Patrol Community Alliance program my dad and I had signed up for. The five-week class was designed to educate the local citizens about the aspects of the Highway Patrol that most never think or hear about. Since I had already attended the Citizens Police Academy and the Sheriff’s Citizens Academy, I was eager to see and hear about the Highway Patrol.
    It was a beautiful evening when Dad and I arrived. After finding the room where the class would be held, we found seats and waited for the final people to arrive. All together there are fifteen in the class.
    Once everyone arrived Sergeant Lueckenhoff introduced himself. (He is the one in charge of the program.) After a few quick remarks, he turned the class over to Captain David Hall who told us he was going to give us “the wow factor” with his presentation on MIAC. He then proceeded to do just that.
    MIAC stands for Missouri Information Analysis Center. To put it briefly, MIAC is the main hub for intelligence for the cities, counties, and State of Missouri. It also serves as the designated center for contact with federal agencies such as the FBI and the CIA across the United States, as well as INTERPOL. It is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Captain Hall said that someone is always there, but he couldn’t promise they were always awake.
    However, MIAC doesn’t just provide access to all that data, they add to it. They also have to put information from different sources together, much like trying to work a thousand puzzles without boxes that you got at garage sales, and you don’t know if all the pieces are there. That put things more in perspective. That’s a lot of brain work going on.
    Sgt. Lueckenhoff told us that if he were working a crash scene where a single car crashed into something and the driver fled on food leaving his passenger for dead, twenty or more years ago they wouldn’t be able to do much. Now, however, the sergeant said he would call up MIAC, tell them the car VIN, the license plate number, and the identity of the passenger. Within thirty minutes or so, MIAC would be able to tell him if the plates were stolen or not and who they belonged to, who the vehicle that crashed belonged to, and tell who the probable driver was, his parents’ names, where they lived, where the driver worked, lived, and his potential associates, and where the suspect was known to hang out. Talk about mind blowing! If someone saw the driver, MIAC could even do a photo line-up with other similar faces.
    Captain Hall did assure us that, while many people think that the government and law enforcement agencies are monitoring their every call, and know all about them, they don’t. “Wal-Mart knows more about you than we do!” he said. Now if you’ve been involved in criminal activities, that might be a bit different. They only collect information on suspects that hold a reasonable suspicion of being criminal.
    MIAC also receives tips and complaints from citizens in regard to criminal investigations, public health emergencies, homeland security issues, and natural disasters. That’s a lot of information from a lot of different places! MIAC is all about making connections because when you make the right connections, you can find that criminal, help that child, or even prevent a terrorist attack.
    We were encouraged to send in concerns or suspicious activity to our local law enforcement officials or to MIAC. There is an app called “see-send” that allows you to do that from your phone. There is a website with more information where Captain Hall told us they have pictures of wanted people on the side. “We’ve gotten many of these people just from putting their picture up here,” he said. “Someone sees the face and realizes they know where that person is, and call the police.”
    Do you know what the top two crimes are in the United States? The first is drug trafficking, and the second is human trafficking. There are people working at restaurants, hotels, and other jobs who are slaves. Someone else paid for them to come over, and the person is now working as an indentured servant, only they don’t know how much they have to pay, and they don’t know when they will be free.

    After Captain Hall had finished, my brain was full. That was a lot to take in. Sgt. Lueckenhoff then had each person introduce themselves and tell a little about why they came to the class. He was going to do this at the beginning, but he forgot. That was okay as it was a good break. It was fun to see just how many of the class had participated in the Citizen’s Police Academy and the Sheriff’s Citizens’ Academy. There was also another father/daughter duo, and a father/son. The sergeant’s wife is also taking the class.
    After a fifteen minute break where we got to visit, have some snacks and such, Sgt. Lueckenhoff introduced us to a trooper who talked a little about what he does. He’s a special member of the Highway Patrol, and his job is to check the big trucks. He told us he likes to leave  the inspections of trucks on the highways to the weight stations and travel on the less used roads as that’s where most of the trucks that are trying to avoid such checks travel. It can take a good two hours for him to completely check a truck. He has special scales that he can put in front of each wheel and have the truck drive up on. That way he can check to make sure it’s not too loaded or too heavy on one side. If he stops a truck and is going to do a full check on it, he’ll call a regular trooper to help him as he doesn’t have the authority to make an arrest if need be, but also just to keep an eye on the driver. I mean, if the trooper checking the truck is in the back of the semi looking for narcotics or something, what’s to stop the driver from shutting the doors and driving off with him?
    This officer also carries all sorts of tools in his truck. We were taken outside and got to see the truck and scales.
    Outside we were also introduced to other members of the Highway Patrol. One did road work, doing the things we normally think of Highway Patrol officers doing. He’s also a member of the HP SWAT team. Yes, the Highway Patrol has its own SWAT team. I didn’t know that. We got to take a look at his vehicle, hold his big gun, and feel or even try on his SWAT vest.
    The other officer was a member of the HP Marine division. Did you know that the HP patrolled the rivers and lakes? Well, they do. This officer and another one patrol the Elk River here in the state, and he said it’s pretty bad. The river has gotten a reputation for the place to drink, do drugs, and party. We got to see one of the boats the HP offers use on the river or during times of floods.
    Class ended early as we were just looking at the vehicles and asking questions or talking. It was a beautiful evening to be out.
    I hope you will join us next week as we learn even more about the Missouri Highway Patrol. Until then!

Friday, September 7, 2018

What's Up?

Good morning FFFs,
Sorry, I don't have a fiction story for you today. I have one ready to post, but I decided to wait since I'm hoping that next week I can share the report from the first night of the Highway Patrol Community Alliance class my Dad and I are taking. Our first class was last night. It's already been interesting, informative, and educational. I learned about aspects of the HP that I had no idea they did! Another thing, besides learning all sorts of new stuff, that will be great, will be seeing how the HP operates as compared to the Police or the Sheriff's deputies. I look forward to sharing more about it next week.

This week has disappeared in a stack of projects! It's been crazy! I'm trying to stay focused but then comes the question of what do I focus on? And let me tell you, it is hard to know sometimes especially when it feels like everything needs done Right Now.
For example:
I need to get the rest of my monthly stories written so I don't have to try to do them when I'm working on Christmas stories, or things like that. But I also need to write a "letter of Priscilla de Silvosa" for the writing classes I'm teaching.
The blog posts for the Five Fall Favorites (invitation on this post) need done, but I need to get a few blog posts ready for the rest of this month.
I need to design covers for the month stories, but I haven't written them all yet, so I can only do a couple.
I need to correct a story, format it, and get it ready to publish, but I have another story, a Christmas book, that needs corrected, formatted, and uploaded so I can get a proof copy, so I can get it published by Christmas.
I need to work on the formatting of the book of letters my grandparents wrote in the 1940s, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to get it uploaded to CreateSpace with their move to KDP.
I need to prepare for next week's writing classes, but we may be changing things with one student, so I can't fully finish getting ready. And I need to print and format some "letters" from the "Travels of Priscilla" blog. But I have the 40s book that needs formatted. And other things that need edited, and I need to write the letter, but I need to write stories, but I need to write the report from the class I just took last night, and . . .
Yeah, now you know what my brain is doing! Spinning in circles trying to figure out what is the important, and what is urgent.

But that's that.
Here's the exciting thing coming up! The annual Five Fall Favorites blog party! Kate and I had fun picking this year's genres. And we have new bloggers who will be sharing their Top 5 books. So be sure to mark your calendar, and tell all your friends, relatives, acquaintances, book store employees–you get the picture. This invitation is meant to be copied and shared. So enjoy! We'll look forward to seeing you at the Literary Lodge!

Friday, August 31, 2018

The Mysterious Solution - Part 2

Good morning FFFs!
It rained almost all day and was as dark as early morning or late evening almost all day. This morning the sun is coming up in a sky washed clear of storm clouds. the earth is wet from the showers, but the air is cool. We have the windows open now. I can hear a few cicadas and early birds. It looks like a beautiful morning. It's supposed to be hot later today so we'll enjoy the cool weather while we can.

How was your week? Mine was one of those weeks where you play "catch-up" all week. At least that's what it's felt like. I did teach on Tuesday, but 4 of my students weren't here, so that made the day a little shorter in the teaching realm. I've been trying to work on the FFF party, another book of family letters, prepare for more writing classes, write, get my September cover ready for the story, and get settled into this computer. I still don't have all my files on here, but I'm getting them added slowly as I need them. And I'm not putting on files that I don't use or need right now.

A few changes are taking place. One is the change of CreateSpace to KDP. I'm still unsure about this move. Part of the trouble right now for me is that I am planning on getting a few new things published soon, but I don't want to have proof copies on CS when the move comes. So I'm waiting to hear back from them. If the change isn't going to be until almost the new year, then I'm fine. If it's going to be in a few weeks, I'll wait. I'm just afraid it'll be happening right when I don't want it to. :P

The other change is going to be fun, exciting, and quite interesting, I'm sure. If you've been reading this blog for long, you'll know that my dad and I have participated in the Citizens' Police Academy, the Citizens' METZ Academy, and the Sheriff's Citizens' Academy. All three times were very interesting, and I learned a lot. Well, not too long ago my dad learned about a new program. It's kind of the same thing as the others, only this is the Highway Patrol! We just found out yesterday that we were in. Classes start next Thursday and last for 5 weeks. I'm hoping to get reports written after each class, but we'll see how things go. Would you be interested in reading my reports for the classes?

Well, here's the second half of this story. I hope you enjoy it. Perhaps it will even make you cry. :)

The Mysterious Solution
Part 2

Last week . . .

It wasn’t until late the next night that the professor again opened the door to his laboratory and entered. This time he wore no glasses.
Some time later, with tears streaming down his cheeks, he descended the stairs. “It works!” he cried. “Now to become famous! And then--” He was so excited that, even though it was nearly the middle of the night, he flung wide his front door and shouted, “Hear all you good people! I, Professor Stovkewetsky, your fellow townsman am about to be known all over the world! And you, my fine friends and neighbors shall all share in my glory!”
Before he had finished this joyful burst of news, windows had been flung wide up and down the street. There were murmuring voices heard, but the professor couldn’t tell what was being said. He naturally assumed it was congratulations and good wishes, so with a final shout he returned to his own house.

Very busy were the next few days for Professor Stovkewetsky. He carefully prepared the last of his new novel and dipped dozens and dozens of sheets of paper in his new mysterious solution and hung them up to dry.
At last the day came when Prof Stovkey loaded his old truck with boxes and drove off to the printer leaving the townsfolk shaking their heads.
“Oh, the poor man,” said one woman to her neighbor, “he is gone insane.”
“He has indeed. Imagine waking the whole town up in the middle of the night to say that he would be famous.”
“Yes,” added a third person with a shake of the head, “and now driving off with that load in his truck. I wouldn’t be surprised if he never made it back.”
“It is a pity,” yet another woman put in, “and he used to teach in the university too.”
“I suspect too much learning has driven him crazy.”

In spite of the dire predictions, Professor Stovkewetsky did make it back to the village two days later with a beaming face; he appeared in the market place the following day with a box of books.
“Come and buy my newest book,” he urged. “I guarantee it will make you cry. If it does not, your money will be given back to you. Now wouldn’t you like to try the story? It will be the most touching thing you have ever read.”
Many were the skeptical looks the professor and his books received, but a few persons, more out of pity than a desire to read what the professor had written, bought some books and the professor was satisfied. For several days Prof Stovkey sold his books in the village market, eagerly asking those who had purchased the book earlier if they had read it yet. No one had.
It wasn’t until fully two weeks and three days after he sold his first book that a villager came up to him in the market.
“I don’t know how you did it, Professor Stovkewetsky,” the man said shaking his head in wonder, “I never cry when I read books, but yours certainly made me cry. Why, I could hardly see the words for my tears.”
“Ah, I’m delighted you enjoyed it,” replied the professor in great satisfaction, rubbing his hands together. “I knew it would be a success.” He added as the reader of his book turned away, “Soon I’ll be able to hire a cook!” and he laughed gleefully in delight.
A crowd gathered around the village man who had read the book. “What was it like?”
“Did you really cry as he said you would?”
The man nodded. “I did cry, but why I don’t know. It is perplexing. When I think back on the story, I remember nothing that would make me cry, yet when I read the book, I couldn’t keep the tears away.”
“Ah, mysterious!”
“I must get one and try it.”
It wasn’t long before word of his touching novel spread throughout the village, and even those of the surrounding towns and cities began to come to buy this much talked of book. Soon the fame of it reached beyond Russia and Professor Stovkewetsky was kept busy preparing his special mixture, dipping and drying his papers, and taking truck load after truck load to the printer.
It was a joyful day for him when at last a cook was established in his kitchen. Many were the delightful meals that cook stirred up which were neither raw nor burned, and for many years Professor Stovkewetsky lived in great comfort from the sales of his last novel. Many a newsman came to interview the now famous author about his success, but Professor Stovkewetsky never would reveal his secret to them.
And the folks in the village marveled at the professor’s success and puzzled over the strange books, for when it was read aloud only the reader would cry while the others just looked on with dry eyes. It was certainly very mysterious.
It was only many years later that he told his cook what he had done. “You see,” he began, “I created this odorless mixture with which I saturate my pages. When those pages are before you, the undetected essence in them creates the need fro tears. Then the moving places in my book are printed on the special paper and my readers cry whether they want to or not. It has proved very effective.” He smiled. “And it has given me enough money to have a cook.” He sighed deeply and raised a large forkful of pie to his lips.
And so, Professor Stovkewetsky lived the remainder of his life eating food that was neither raw nor burnt and spending his days mixing his tear-jerking invention, dipping his papers and printing his novel. He never wrote another story. And people still puzzle over their tears, but only Professor Stovkewetsky and his cook know the mysterious solution.

Did you cry?
Have you ever attended a Citizens' Academy?
Are you ready for September to come?

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Mysterious Solution - Part 1

Did any of you even notice that today's post is not coming around 7:30 in the morning? You probably didn't even think about the fact that this is later than usual. Well, it is.

I'm on Vacation!!!!

This week I'm at my grandparents and all those projects I brought along to work on? Yeah, the ones that are still sitting in my bag. I haven't touched them. I wasn't planning to be this much on vacation, but when I was just exhausted and feeling emotional Sunday night, I knew I needed a break. There's been a lot of stress, craziness, and busyness the past few months. So on Monday I didn't do anything productive! I did check my emails a few times. It was wonderful! I did it again on Tuesday, and Wednesday, and . . . Well, you get the idea. It's amazing what a few days of vacation can do. I highly recommend it.

But, lest you think all I've been doing is sitting around doing nothing, here's a quick look at some of the things I've done. And they are not in order by days.
  • Worked Sudoku puzzles- Both the Regular and the Extreme
  • Bike riding to breakfast with my grandpa. We came home in the rain. :)
  • Walking almost every morning with my sister
  • Bringing up an old chair from the basement that my grandparents are getting rid of
  • Watching Little League World Series games
  • Finishing a "Sticker-by-Number" calendar for my aunt
  • Working jigsaw puzzles
  • Seeing an owl and a fox (Hey, this is the city folks, we don't see those things usually.)
What have you all been up to this week? Has school started in your neck of the woods?
This story is one I wrote a number of years ago. A friend told me she wanted a story that made her cry but not because of the usual things. This was my story.

The Mysterious Solution
Part 1
Rebekah M.

In a little town in Russia, there lived an odd, and if the reports are to be credited, rather eccentric man. For many years he had been a professor in a nearby university and had written and published many a novel, none of which had sold more than a hundred copies. However, it was not his writing which caused the whispers among the village folks, it was the strange rumors going around about his experiments.
Some people said he locked himself in his house for days at a time and wouldn’t answer the door. Others reported lights on in an upper room late into the night. In the market place the women talked together in low tones.
“Have you seen Prof Stovkewetsky?” asked one woman selling vegetables.
“Not for several days,” replied another behind her stand of potatoes.
“He came to my stand last week and bought all my red flowers. He would only take red,” chimed in a third mysteriously.
“And I heard,” a fourth spoke up as she joined the group with her market basket on her arm, “that several large packages have arrived for him from America.”
“You don’t say!”
“I wonder what he is about.”
“Is he writing another novel?” A sixth person, drawn by the low toned conversation had drawn near and added her question.
The second woman replied, “If he is, then why such secrecy and why did he buy all my red flowers?”
“My house is just across the road from his and things have been very mysterious.” And the speaker looked as though she could tell things of great interest if she so chose.

By himself, away from gossiping, wondering, speculating tongues, Professor Stovkewetsky was very busy in his laboratory on the second floor of his house. He was muttering half aloud as he carefully strained a strange looking mixture into a pan and began to heat it on his little stove. “Heat over low temperatures. Add Q plus ten spoonfuls of X. Stir the onions in cold water while the Q and X amalgamates. Cover R3G with . . .” So, muttering and murmuring, he shuffled here and there mixing, heating, stirring.
He had been at work for weeks, months even, trying to find the special formula which would make him world famous. With no one did he share his idea for fear they would find the correct mixture before he did, and if they did, well, his dreams would perish. The very thought of such a thing happening caused Professor Stovkewetsky to sigh and place a hand over his stomach while a look of dejection crept across his usually placid face.
Having retired from teaching, Professor Stovkewetsky or Prof Stofkey as his students called him behind his back, was now able to devote his entire time to his work. Days passed as the professor labored tirelessly day after day and often far into the nights. At last he was ready for the experiment.
Nearly giddy with excitement, Professor Stovkewetsky cleared a place on a table where he placed a large, square, glass dish. Stringing up some twine across the room, and getting a dozen sheets of plain paper out, he was ready. After donning glasses, a clean white frock, a face mask and gloves, he ever so carefully poured a clear mixture into the glass pan. It was only enough to cover the bottom of the dish about a quarter of an inch, but the professor smiled behind his mask. Then, with fingers which shook with excitement, he placed one sheet of paper into the liquid.
Watching the paper as it absorbed the moisture was a fascinating process which required all of Prof Stovkey’s attention. At just the right moment, with extreme care, the paper was removed, held dripping over the pan for exactly thirty seconds and then hung from the twine to dry while another paper was placed in the mixture. Each of the twelve pieces of paper received the same careful attention and treatment.
Taking off his gloves and face mask, though he left his glasses on, Professor Stovkewetsky sniffed.
“I don’t smell a thing. Maybe I have hit on it at last! But I must wait until the paper is dry before I can really test it.” So saying, he left the room, carefully shutting and locking the door behind him, and went downstairs to eat whatever he could find in the house.
He had not been a successful cook in his younger years, so now he ate everything raw or burned. “When I am rich and famous,” he would say to himself, “I’ll hire some good cook to work for me.” And he would sigh and place his hand over his stomach again.
It wasn’t until late the next night that the professor again opened the door to his laboratory and entered. This time he wore no glasses.

Have you read this story before?
What do you think the Professor is up to?
Did you notice that this post was later than usual?

Friday, August 17, 2018

It's Friday?

Good morning FFFs!
It's a rumbling, rainy morning here. It sounds like the perfect weather to curl up with a good book, or just go back to bed. :) But I have things to do. I always seem to have things to do.

This week has been a jumble of trying to get things done and other things.
Writing classes started this week, and I have 9 students in 4 different classes all on Tuesday morning. It was a bit crazy, but things went well.
I also got a new computer! I'm really liking it, except that the CD player won't pull in the disc all the way and play it. I may end up having to send the computer back because I use that player regularly. But I wanted to keep trying it a little longer and see if there is anything else that is a problem. That's one reason I haven't moved all my files over.

The rest of the week have been such a mixture of this and that, writing, editing, getting ready for writing classes, practicing the violin, and being distracted by Little League. Sometimes I felt overwhelmed by everything. I wanted to run away to a cabin and hide. Other times I wanted to get the entire list of things done. I was planning on getting a longer story for you this week, but with everything going on, that didn't happen. So I just picked one. It was one I thought of posting a few weeks ago, but never did.

But if you want something else, my August story, The Way to Go is Free today and tomorrow.


It was quite chilly when I crawled out of my sleeping bag and, unzipping my tent door, stepped out into the crisp morning. Everything was quiet and still. The brown grass at my feet crunched with each
footstep. Stately, old pine trees stood guard on the bit of land which juts out into the aqua and teal lake where scarcely a ripple disturbs its placid face. Across from my camping site, on the other side of the lake, march row upon row of trees, up the mountainside, until the snow-covered cliffs halt most of them.
     I gave a sigh of contentment. This was the first time I had gotten to be alone for more than fifteen minutes since the whirl of things began. I don’t know when the whirl started exactly, it just seemed to creep up and then I was in the midst of it all. Now at last maybe I can get some much needed rest, to try to sort things out, to understand, to consider, to decide. Out here alone I hope to be able to find the peace and joy I had. Alone? No, not really. My Heavenly Father is here and that is all I need. It was His hand that guided through all: weddings and funerals, births and deaths, over-work and no work at all, excitement of courtships and heartache of breakups, tornadoes and earthquakes, political unrest and political victories; all combined to frazzle a mind already bewildered with the many decisions of everyday life.
     I think I’ll just sit here today by my campfire and let the quietude of the mountains and water calm my feelings as I read the dearest book in the world. How can I help but grow refreshed when the Author of each word and thought is my Lover and Friend, my Father, my Savior, my Jesus? If I knew Him not, I would surely be the most miserable of all persons. Some people thought my coming away into this wilderness alone was just a way of trying to escape from everything and hide. They were somewhat right. I am hiding from everything. But not as they think. My Hiding Place is the Rock in a weary land, the Shelter in storms, a Tower, a Shield, a Refuge. No, I don’t expect everything to be perfect when I return, but it will be okay. The sun on those snow covered peaks is glorious!
     The birds are singing above me, and I hear a squirrel chattering somewhere. Maybe I’ll go sit on that rock in the sun. No worries, no cares, no thought for tomorrow. Isn’t that how life is supposed to be? I can echo the psalmist when he penned the words, “Oh that I had wings like a dove, then would I fly away and be at rest.” But it wouldn’t be the same rest which the Shepherd gives to His sheep. On the whole, I am glad, thankful even, that I have a heart which can feel pain and joy, love and sorrow, and my Savior’s matchless, boundless, endless mercy, grace and love!

My days alone here are ended. I’m going back to be ”in the world but not of it.” Peace and rest fill me as I go with my All-In-All.
Have you ever felt like you needed to get away from everything?
Have you ever actually gotten away?
What sort of story do you want next week?

Friday, August 10, 2018

What Am I?

Hello, FFFs,
How are you doing? I'm doing well. It's been a busy first part of the week, and then I've been trying to catch up on things, including sleep. ;)

Saturday– My dad, Sis, and I went out to help knock doors all Saturday morning with my brother, his family, and 7 others. It wasn't bad in the morning as there was a nice breeze, but it sure got hot later! We got a lot of doors knocked.

Sunday–A much needed day of rest! Usually I read all afternoon, but I was so tired that I had to take a few cat naps in the middle of my reading.

Monday–I spent the morning and afternoon working on projects. Then after supper I headed out to join my brother in knocking more doors. We worked until after 8:30. Then we met up with some others who were also knocking doors. Then it was time to put up some "Vote Today" signs. I put some up on the way home, but decided to get my dad before I went and put up the last signs at a polling place in a not so nice neighborhood.

Tuesday–Election Day! We started out by sign waving! Finally! A family joined us who had never done it before. The kids loved it! Even when it started raining. We just held umbrellas and our signs and kept on shouting. :D I went with my BF to vote. That was strange since I don't remember the last time when I actually voted on election day. Next my brother dropped two nephews off and the three of us headed to a polling place to hold signs. It rained off and on that morning. Then, after lunch, the sun came out. I now have a nice sunburn. We stayed there until 4:45. That evening we headed to my brother's watch party. It was late before the final results came in. He had lost by 46 votes. It was a bit of a shock at first, but then it really felt like the hand of God. He may have lost, but, as our sheriff told him, "You made a difference in the county. You and your family even if you didn't win." And it's okay. God has something different in store for him.

Wednesday–Trying to catch up on sleep, and different things. That night the church's puppet team (my oldest niece and nephew were a part this time) did their final performance for church, so we all went and watched. They did great!

Thursday–Trying to get more done, things worked on. I actually wrote last evening! I haven't written since the 2nd! You know what? It's rather fun to write. ;)

And that's a look at my week. How was your week?
I was looking through old stories trying to decide what to post when I came across this poem. I decided to share it today instead of a story. Leave a comment to tell me what you think the answer is.

What Am I?
Rebekah Morris

I have no wings, but I can fly,
Just close your eyes and I’ll slip by.
I use no fuel and eat no food,
I’m never late for that would be rude.
I never sleep yet am not awake,
And I’m sorry, you can’t toss me in the lake.
For love or money I can’t be bought,
Though more of me many have sought.
I race and I creep, I’m slow and I’m fast,
But I’m always the same as I’ve been in the past.
I’m certain to continue as when I began,
For though I am young, I’m older than man.
I’m tossed aside by the careless, looked down on with contempt,
Yet from my relentlessness no one is exempt.
I have no fear of danger,
To love I am a stranger,
You’ll use me every day until you die,
So tell me please, what am I?