Conversations among Fooleryland siblings are almost always (by order of the courts) long-distance in nature. Occasionally we pick up the phone, but often we use e-mail, sometimes texts. Had a strung-out e-mail conversation the other day with the Fooleryland brothers, about a dude we used to know. I shall call him Jarvis Badpenny. While I haven't actually seen Jarvis in years, evidence of his existence is everywhere. I think he sheds his DNA around town. He and his Badpenny family are like VISA -- they're everywhere you want to be. When I least expected it, Facebook told me I ought to be Jarvis's friend. And told me, and told me, and told me. So I told my brothers.
Laurie: This struck me as funny.
Mantel Man: Just in case I needed another reason not to have a Facebook page...
Bocci:The Badpenny Factor even reaches into Facebook
Laurie: Yes it does, apparently, though this is new. I asked for the Badpenny-free Facebook version. It's just like MSG -- oh, they promise it's completely MSG-free, but you know better.
Bocci:We should call Zuckerberg and propose an “InbredFacebook."
Laurie: Wait, I thought this WAS Inbred Facebook?
Mantel Man: Is The Badpenny Factor anything like The O'Reilly Factor -- only more intellectual?
"...and the next time I see you, I'm gonna try not to laugh in your lil' inbred Facebook."
Bocci:The Badpenny Factor….is unfortunately more realistic.But, they don’t have their own show, yet.
Laurie: They used to. I think it was called "The Maury Povich Show."
Bocci:You weren’t supposed to know. Orland residents are automaticallyqualified…
InbredFacebook. Coming soon to a computer near you -- or, if you live near Fooleryland, it's already here.
The stories yet to be shared concern my grandparents' lives as adults, but there is one last story about my grandfather Carl (whom we kids called Papa) from his teenage years in the Redwood Empire of California, Humboldt County. (If you would like to read my grandmother's previous stories, start here. The whole series begins at this link, in reverse order.)
This is what my grandfather Carl looked like at the time this story took place:
* * * * *
When your Papa was a senior in high school he spent the summer working with the piledriver crew at Camp 19, which was out in the woods a few miles from Korbel, and quite a distance from home base -- Arcata.
After work on a Saturday, Papa, his friends Cecil Ripley*, Buck Townsend, Charlie Harpst, and the boss, borrowed a handcar and went pumping down the track after waving goodbye to the rest of the crew, who had to wait a while for the woods train. Taking a handcar made it possible for the men to get to Arcata earlier than the train did and to stay there much longer, thereby having more time to spend with family and girl friends.
In order to make really good time the boss tied up the brake so it wouldn't hold them back, and this was helped by the fact that it was downhill most of the way.
As they went cruising along at a fast clip they came to a high trestle on an S curve. There they spotted a piece of 2x4 on the one rail right at the beginning of the trestle. It must have been forgotten by the crew that had been working there.
There was no chance to stop the handcar so they hit the obstruction. Two of the men jumped off the car, ran beside it, finally falling on the track, picking up splinters and tearing their clothes. Papa was thrown to the track and skidded along the ties, ripping up his clothes. It was lucky that he was able to stay on the track, for the left side was the high side of the trestle, and he would have landed amid the boulders fifty feet down.
Cecil was thrown off the trestle and fell by a big rock, just as the handcar headed for him. He did a very quick roll over the boulder to the other side of the rock, which was just in time for the handcar to hit where he had been. The boss tried to stop the car by the handles, but it had too much speed and no brake, so he was thrown up and over the handcar, where he landed in the gully just in front of where the car hit.
The whole group felt lucky that none of them received any serious injury, though they did have to walk the rest of the way to Korbel to catch the train after all. Needless to say they were a raggedy bunch, for their clothes were torn and they were covered with dirt. Of course the rest of the crew on the train razzed them all the way to town.
*Cecil Ripley was one of my grandfather's lifelong friends.
This is Archduke Rudolf, who later became Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II of Austria, something like 450 years ago. He is wearing pluderhose ("pumpkin hose") with a codpiece. I guess every single thing he ever owned was in the wash.
King Louis XV of France as child. I have shoes just like that.
Prince William and his father Prince Charles of Wales could each potentially become the king of England. Whichever of the two is not crowned king has a good shot at RuPaul's Drag Race.
Finally, this was one week before Elvis discovered pomade.
This has been very educational. I know; I'm sorry. I'll try not to do it again.
Smedley took her camera outside yesterday morning to get pictures of the sunrise. Then she remembered that her camera takes movies, so she shot a 360 degree view from the fence line south of our house. The bathroom light? is mine. I was getting ready for work. Smedley missed the bus.
When I got home for work she showed me the movie she had taken after sundown. I cobbled them together with a Nick Drake song that seemed perfect. Ever the art director, Smedley insisted upon yellow for the typeface. Here is the result. Watch it carefully; you may wish to take some Dramamine first.
I will never understand what the world sees in Drew Barrymore. Just last night I commented to my husband that I just don't get her appeal. I mean, she's pretty and sexy and she has big boobs, but doesn't that describe 90% of the women in Hollywood? How she has achieved fame and a fan base, with her strange hair and clothing choices, I will never understand.
So today I saw a story about the cosmetic company Cover Girl celebrating its 50th anniversary, and there was Drew Barrymore among their spokesmodels, looking fantastic. I was surprised and intrigued, so I clicked on the article, and found more photos.
With gratitude to Mom, not just for her remembered stories, but also for telling them so well. This is the paraphrased version.
On New Year's Eve I had a long talk with my mom, over a glass of wine, about what her school days were like.
It started out as a discussion about cigars.
"When your Uncle Mal was the senior class president, he had to stand before the students and read the senior wills at the end of the year," Mom started, giggling already. Mal is her older brother, and she had been a freshman in that assembly. "He read the wills while smoking a cigar the whole time."
"What? Was this a legitimate school function?" I asked, incredulous. "Were there teachers there? How did they let him smoke?"
"Well, yes, I guess there were teachers there -- there must have been. But anyway, no one stopped him from smoking that cigar, and he just got sicker and sicker," she laughed.
I couldn't get past the idea that the administration allowed smoking in school. "Well, the principal at the time was a complete jerk, so I'm not surprised," Mom continued. "Not much later he was caught embezzling not only from the school funds, but also from the student body funds. They fired him immediately and he ended up in prison."
Wow, an embezzler in the early '50s. The more things change, the more they stay the same -- except maybe for the prison part. These days embezzlers seem to get slapped on the wrists.
"So the high school was suddenly without a principal, and they asked Dad to move up to be their principal," Mom continued. Mom's father was, at the time, her principal at her elementary school. If you think YOU had it rough in school, how would you like to be educated in a one-room school house with your mother as your teacher and your two siblings in class with you -- then move to an elementary school in which your father was the principal? That was my mother's school experience.
"What was Papa like as a principal?" I asked, knowing the stories but wanting to hear them again. Papa was a no-nonsense person for much of his life, and his creative punishments were legendary.
"Well, it wasn't so bad for me, because I stayed out of trouble," Mom answered, "but it was terrible for Patsy." Patsy was the youngest child, and she had a bit of a rebellious streak. "Patsy had Dad for a principal for most of her elementary school years, and was thrilled to be in high school and finally free of his watchful eye. But midway through her freshman year, Dad became her principal again. Poor Patsy," Mom said, laughing.
"I remember once in grade school when two boys brought water pistols to school," Mom went on. "They were having a great time until my dad caught them. He asked the boys, 'So you really like water pistols, huh?' and then he told them to meet him after lunch in front of the school office. When the boys got there, Dad had a bucket of water and he handed the boys their pistols. He instructed them to water the flowers by the office with the water guns, but each time they shot they had to say 'BANG!' Since they were right outside his office he was able to keep tabs on them, and since it was in front of the school the whole student body paraded past them and laughed."
"I'll bet they never brought those water guns to school again," I said. Mom agreed. BANG!
"And then there was the boy in high school who was a real cut-up. He was being loud and smart-alecky during a school assembly. Dad was seated behind him somewhere in the bleachers. Dad got up, went down to the kid's row and crooked his finger at him to follow. The kid followed Dad back to his seat, and Dad made him sit on his lap for the rest of the assembly!"
Act like a baby, get treated like a baby. That punishment could never, ever, ever happen these days, unfortunately.
"Do you remember hearing about Papa punishing Tim?" I asked Mom. (I associate this story with my cousin Tim, though I may be wrong and it may have been someone else.)
"No," said Mom.
"Tim did something wrong when Papa was in charge, and since it happened at the ocean -- Monterey or Fort Brag, I forget -- Papa made Tim sweep the beach."
"Really? I wonder what Tim did," said Mom.
"I dunno, but he probably never did it again!" I answered. (Original photo used by permission from Shiraz Chakera at Wikimedia Commons)
And there you have the most colorful part of my grandfather's administrative legacy. The more lasting results of his career include bringing that high school back from the mess it was after the embezzlement scandal, but that's just not as much fun to write about.
It snowed here New Year's Day. Not that we saw any of it; it was gone by the time the kids and I got up and we had to rely on Chas for the info. But Chas said there was half an inch on his car that had to be removed before he drove off in the predawn darkness.
Smedley was furious that she missed it. So, after the laundry was tackled and the kitchen was cleaned for the third time and rooms were tidied, the girls and I set off with Grandma (my mom) in search of snow.
Driving west to the Coast Range foothills doesn't take long, and we rose with the road up out of the valley.
Smedley took this one with her new camera. If it were a clear day you could see all the way across the valley, past Orland and our ranch to the foothills of the Sierra-Cascades on the east side. But it was threatening to rain or snow -- the temperature hovered between 36 and 39 degrees, startlingly cold for the middle of the day in our flat California valley -- and we could see only cows and deer grazing. Which is okay.
Once we passed Black Butte Lake we began to see snow beside the road. These foothills have always been magical to me, in any weather.
There isn't any place to park along Newville Road so we headed for our favorite old cemetery. Times must have changed since we were last here, and not only was there no place to park there either, but the place was locked up.
So we parked in someone's driveway and played in the snow, such as it was.
The girls have never played in snow. I know! They've touched it only once before, in fact.
After making and throwing a few snowballs they settled in to the only activity possible, since snow angels were completely out of the question: making a snowman.
This is the world's tiniest snowman. Too small for the cookie we tried to feed him, apparently. I'm guessing whoever lives up that driveway was a little bit puzzled by him.