Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Young Men and Fire

On August 5, 1949, in Mann Gulch, Montana, thirteen, young smoke jumpers died in a tragic fire. Norman Maclean saw the fire as “it still burned in mid-August 1949,” and years later he determined to find out what happened on the remote side of a hill in the wilderness.

Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean combines a little of Lewis and Clark, eye witness accounts, photographs, scientific research, and wildfire study in an attempt to uncover the specifics of how the United States Forest Service's airborne firefighters found themselves trapped in a “blow up.”
In the last fourteen years of his life and almost thirty years after the fire, Maclean visited the site of the fire numerous times, interviewed the sole living witnesses, dug through countless documents, and learned the ways of wildfires and the type of men who fight them in order to record a tragedy largely forgotten and covered up somewhat in controversy.

This non-fiction work, which was unfinished by Malean and published in 1992, two years after his death, reads like a man talking to himself as he works his way through the intricacies of a difficult problem. Part report, part conjecture, and part obsession, Malean worked tirelessly and with his whole heart to understand what happened that day and to memorialize the men who died.
Full of graphs, redundancies, ruminations, mathematics, and topography, this book is not for everyone. Perhaps if Maclean had lived long enough to edit, this might have been an easier read. In spite of that, I admired his doggedness and the fact that as a man in his seventies, he climbed the rugged and steep terrain of Mann Gulch many times in search of answers.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I finally have photos of my grand 'phew, born on December 9, 2012, in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Welcome Lukas!

We'll get to welcome him fully into the fold when he comes to the states in March.
Grand 'phew, I love your slippers.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Nobody does it like Sara Lee.

Don't laugh.

I learned that it's "Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee" instead of "Nobody does it like Sara Lee."

As I drove to the Marietta Square today, I happened to be behind an official Sara Lee truck toting some Sara Lee, and I laughed out loud when I read the inscription on the back of the truck --  "Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee."

All of these years, whether I heard the jingle on television or radio, in my head they were saying, "nobody does it like Sara Lee." After all, Sara Lee dishes up a decent pound cake, some delicious bread items, and apparently [see above image] a strawberry swirl. So Sara Lee "does it."

I'm just glad that I found this out today instead of when I'm in "the home," and I have one of those circuitous arguments with another inmate:

"I'm telling you Myrna, it's nobody does it like Sara Lee."


BTW: As an English teacher, I can't believe the Sara Lee ad people have a slogan with a double negative. In my head, I guess I automatically fixed it. :-)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Private Life

As the oldest of three sisters raised and trained for marriage, twenty-seven year old Margaret Mayfield considers herself an old maid. Set to live as a companion to her widowed mother, Margaret's taken by surprise when Missourian Captain Andrew Jackson Jefferson Early asks her to marry him. As the most famous man in their small town, who had "changed the universe," the reticent, yet gifted astronomer, seemed a decent match for the bookish Margaret.

Set from the 1880s to the early days of World War II, the novel A Private Life by Jane Smiley was a delightful and thoughtful examination of the expectations of marriage, a look at a tumultuous time and place, and a glimpse into the inner dialogue of a intelligent woman disappointed by what life brought her.

Margaret concludes, "Their lives were mostly private now, lived side by side as necessary, but whatever there had been for them both - in the earthquake or the moon break or their hopes - had dissipated the way certain qualities of light did."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

And again, it's over...

Amazing that again we had Christmas, and again it's over.

We did the usual.



Bryan bought the above puzzle at a yard sale for a dollar.
Except not.
A bear to assemble -- it took four days even with a system, an approach, and a process.
The pieces did not interlock. And there was a lot of blue. And trees in shadow. And just no.

Then they did four more puzzles in two.


 New game called "Factory Fun."
Bardwell, pictured above left, said, "Not fun. At all."

Another game played involved these figurines and nine thousand pieces and nineteen pages of instructions including a narrative. To me, it seemed a hybrid of Clue and Monsters and I Don't Want to Play This Ever.
One card said, " Inflict horror." Nice.

Took pictures.
Brother Hunter got a new camera for Christmas.

Those are someone's loose lips. I forgot whose.
Just as well.
The 'phews and the "others" gathered for a picture -- in the middle of the gals --my niece.

 I- Padded.
Opened gifts.

Nora made these for Kayla.

No kitchen is complete until it has a Spiderman spatula.
I hear food sticks to it.
We Ate.

This year, my niece in Germany had a baby on December 9, and the parents, my brother and sister-in-law spent time there. My brother made it back for Christmas, but my sister-in-law, niece, her husband, and new baby were not here...

I'm still waiting on a good picture of Lukas, the grand 'phew, for my blog.

The most, hilarious moment to me for the week was...
Well, let me set this up:
David entered a raffle and won an I-Pad. The first week with it, he and I were like two dogs barking at a robot, but we've gradually learned a few things....

like how to turn it on -- and charge it.

*rolls collective eyes*
My nephew Chapman, who has a great sense of humor,  had David's name for gift giving.
 Since Chapman knew that David would need some help with setting up and determining what he wished to do with the I-Pad, Chapman gave David this:

David's eyes lit up as he thought:
Now that's my kind of I-Pad mount.

Then he got a little more information.
Well, I laughed as you can see.
Happy New Year.