Friday, June 29, 2012

The Rest of the Book Review

A few days ago I wrote a preliminary review of The Dark Monk by Oliver Potzsch, which I was still reading. I have now finished the book and will say a few more things about it.

Jakob Kuisl is the hangman of Schongau and the father of Magdalena Kuisl and a set of younger twins, with his wife Anna Maria. These names are all the names of real people, ancestors of the author of the book. Jakob was really the hangman; that job passed through many generations. There were at least 14 hangmen in the author's family line, and both the father and grandfather of Jakob were hangmen. The real Jakob Kuisl lived to age 82 and was survived by his wife for two more years--living that long was not very common in those days!

 As far as I know, Simon Fronwieser, the young doctor who was the romantic interest of Magdalena in the books, is a ficticious creation of the author. Although the Kuisl family was real, the stories are fiction.

Now, what did I think of the book? I liked parts of it very much. Some of it, not so much.

The positives. The characters, the setting, the details about life in in Bavaria in the 1600s.

The negatives. The basic plot is quite derivative. Although it starts with the murder of a village priest, it becomes another story where the protagonists realize there is an ancient clue to a "treasure" of some sort. They solve that clue, which leads to another, which leads to another, which ...etc, while being followed by the bad guys, who also want to find the long, lost "treasure." The clues and their locations are so implausible that it did detract from my enjoyment of the story. In some places the dialogue seems rather awkward, with the characters using slangy phrases that seem too modern for the times. This may be a fault of the translation from the German, rather than a fault of the author.

More positives.If you can shut off your critical faculties, it can be fun, rather like the movie National Treasure. There were, however, side plots that I liked better than the main plot. A gang of highwaymen is disrupting trade and causing hardship in Schongau, not to mention killing people. The townspeople are dying from a deadly disease, which the doctor is trying to find an effective treatment for. Magdalena defends herself against a lecher in a unique way. The hangman finds a way to keep his word to a condemned man.

At the end of the book the author provides a very interesting section about his family history and the locations he used in the novel. He gives details for touring the sites he used. For most of them he recommends touring by bicycle to get the most enjoyment from the beautiful country. He gives distances and approximate times it takes to bicycle from one point to another. He tells of his own problems in finding a waterfall he hoped to use as a setting. When he was scouting it out (hiking) he took a wrong turn and had to do a lot of backtracking, so he gives directions to make it easy to find. I'll never get to Bavaria, but I enjoyed reading about it.

Will I read another book by this author? Yes, I plan to read the first book in the series, The Hangman's Daughter, and he has another book about these characters in the works.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Renewing My Driver's License (or Keeping Better Files)

One week from today is my birthday, which meant that my driver's license would expire that day. Several weeks ago I received notice from the Wyoming Department of Motor Vehicles that I could renew my license by mail.

I thought that was great! I filled out the paperwork, wrote out the check, photocopied the documents they wanted (proof of residence), and was ready to seal the envelope. Then I realized that I needed the vision capability evidence. My eye doctors are in Rapid City, 150 miles away, so having them fill out the form was not practical.

Therefore, I took the documents and the form and the check and went in person to the local Driver's License office. There I learned that under the new Federal rules I would have to have a lot more documentation. I needed my social security card, my birth certificate, and my marriage certificate, as well as the two forms of proof of where I live. Having a current driver's license didn't make any difference. So, back home I came and began the search for my birth certificate and marriage certificate. I wasn't even sure I had a copy of my marriage certificate. They required it because of the name change from my birth certificate to my social security card (which happened 45 years ago).

After a good deal of searching, I finally did find the marriage certificate. I had gotten the certified copy after Jerry's death, when I needed it for getting my Social Security allotment sorted out. Not being in a real normal state of mind at that time, I had forgotten about doing that. I was searching for an original copy, which I don't think we ever had, or, if we did, I used it to change my Social Security information and get a new card in my married name. After 45 years, memory gets a little vague about those kinds of details. Anyway, during my search I found a certified copy in a file with the death certificate.

So--finally, Anne Marie and I went back to the DMV and I got my renewal.

I am going to file these important papers a little more logically and clearly!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Preliminary Book Review

This weekend I started reading a book by an author who is new to me. It is the second in the Hangman's Daughter series, but the first that I have read. The jury is still out in my mind as to my final opinion of the book, as I am only part of the way through it. But the part I have read is interesting; and it has centered my attention on what life was like in Europe in the 1600s.

The author is a descendant of the Hangman and the members of the Hangman's family really existed. However, other than their names and the fact that the job of Hangman was carried through many generations of his family, the author has invented the characteristics and life events of these people.

Human natures and characteristics don't change through the centuries. But knowledge, beliefs, and equipment have changed radically since the 1600s. It is always a surprise to realize the people really did believe that diseases and deaths were often caused by a witch. And a woman could be labeled a witch for almost any reason. And such a label could be deadly. Superstitions that seem really silly to us were both believed and taken very seriously by both the populace and the church. Very few people were literate, and the church and state thought that was a good thing, as it helped keep people in their proper places. Every society needed an executioner, but shunned the one they paid to do the dreadful job. Even the church refused baptism and burial in sacred ground to the hangman and anyone in his family. Living conditions were brutal for the masses, and not all that comfortable for those better off.

I contrast these conditions from 400 years ago with a court decision handed down by a French judge last week. That judge ruled that, despite the fact that French workers get four to six weeks vacation every year, if a person gets sick during his/her vacation, the employer must give additional vacation days for the days the vacationer was ill!

Anyway, I will finish reading this book, which has a mystery including a poisoned priest, the tomb of a Knight Templar, a missing treasure, and romantic problems for the Hangman's daughter! So far it is holding my interest.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Breakfast in the Urban Forest

This morning I had my breakfast of oatmeal and blueberries in the midst of the Urban Forest.

As I have mentioned before, we live on the prairie in a semi-arid climate. Trees cannot grow naturally on most of the prairie. But, in town, people have planted and watered and cared for trees.

My home is an apartment built as the second story of an over-sized three-car garage. My back doors open onto a large deck. This deck is more than ten feet above the ground. When I sit on the deck my view reaches across the treetops. I feel like I am sitting in the midst of a forest!

My pots of flowers are thriving; while they have not reached their fullness yet, they are filling the pots with foliage and flowers. And my one potted cherry tomato is growing vigorously--it has several little tomatoes on already.

As I sat on the deck with my breakfast, I was surrounded not only by tree tops and pots of flowers, but a variety of sounds. There was a light breeze rattling the cottonwood leaves. The air was filled with bird conversations from many different kinds of birds. Until I sit quietly outdoors, I forget how much cheerful noise birds make! To the south I heard the trains. I am so accustomed to the sound of trains carrying our coal throughout the land, that I rarely notice it on a conscious level unless I am just sitting quietly taking in the day. From time to time one (or more) of the neighborhood dogs speaks.

 Later in the day the air will ring with the sounds of the ballgames and BMX contests taking place to the north on the city recreational fields.

Hooray for summertime!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

December 1942

In December 1942 my Aunt Zudie and her four-year-old daughter, Mary Louise, bravely traveled from Texas to northern Wyoming by bus. I say bravely, because a 24-hour or more bus trip with a small child seems nothing less than nightmarish to me.

But then, I remember, Aunt Zudie spent much of the first thirteen years of her life traveling in and living out of a covered wagon. After their mother's death when Zudie was 3 1/2 and her brother Red was not yet two, they traveled around with their father as he went from job to job. Sometimes they stayed with relatives, sometimes they were on the road in the wagon, sometimes they were camped where their dad was working on a ranch breaking horses. So, perhaps, to Aunt Zudie a long bus trip was not such a bad way to travel!
The paper didn't get it quite right in their caption. Mary Louise
was not going to join her mother--she and her mother were going
to visit her uncle's family.

The trip took place just one year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the war was on every mind. When the bus had a layover in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a photographer from the Cheyenne newspaper, The Wyoming Eagle, snapped a picture of Mary Louise asleep in the bus station. It appeared on the front page of the December 4, 1942, edition as the human interest story for the day. Every other article on the front page of the paper concerned the war. Some of the headlines would be completely unacceptable today; in the midst of a desperate war with the outcome unknown, political correctness was not an issue.

The big headline was "Both Sides Lose Heavily in Tunisian Tank Battle," with the sub-head of "Axis Armies Reported to Have Won Control of Tebourba, Mateur." Other articles were titled: "Rusian Forces Capture Important Rail Station: Soviets Claim Fifty German Are Destroyed"; "Hoover Urges Europeans Be Fed at Once"; U.S. Announces Negro Soldiers are in Liberia"; Sees Rationing for Many Food, Clothing Items"; "Air Raid Siren to Mark Start of Test Blackout; Lights to go out at 9"; and above a photo, "Sworn in as Navy Lieutenant." And that is just the top half of the first page. 

Seeing this newspaper takes World War II out of the realm of ancient history and into a glimpse of the reality of the war. It was much different than what the state of the nation is today with the Middle Eastern conflicts we are involved in. They are terrible; they are not, at this time, the all-consuming wartime situation of the World Wars. My memories of my early childhood are colored by hearing about "war" and then having our father gone because of the war.

Zudie, Rose, Michelle, Grace, Mary Louise, Terry, Red
But even in such dire times, life does go on. Family still matters, perhaps more than ever. I was only 17 months old when Aunt Zudie and Mary Louise came to visit, so I have no memories of my own about it. But in the snapshots from that visit we children look happy and like we were having a good time together. The adults, too, show they are glad to be together.

Even in such difficult times, the human spirit finds comfort and joy in the love and presence of family.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day

Yesterday was a beautiful Father's Day. The sky was clear, the temperatures were warm, and everything was green and growing. At church it was Darryl Lynde’s last Sunday as the Interim Pastor and, as usual, his sermon was touching, apropos, humorous, and emotional. He expressed some of the "Dad guilt" he felt, wishing he'd been a more perfect father. I think every parent feels that way. Looking back we see the things we could have done better, but, the truth is, most of did the best we could with what we knew and what we were at the time. I know Jerry always thought he should have done better--his kids thought he was a wonderful dad. They adored him, looked up to him, respected him, and had fun teasing him. 

What better gift for Dad than a good hug!

Megan's gift to her Dad. She draws a lot
of dragons, which in her fantasy realm are
companions to humans. This one is shown with
reins for its rider's convenience.
Chad is the dad in our little family circle these days. He and his daughter, Megan, are close and he is teaching her a lot of practical things. He is also very creative. Megan is constantly drawing and thinking up projects to make; there is creativity in both her parents. I wish I had taken a photo of a gift Chad just finished for a friend. He took a collection of tools, war medals, buttons, photos, and other items from a mementos box of her father's, and made a shadow box of these things that illustrated her father's life. It is way cool!

For Chad's Father's Day it didn’t really seem quite fair, but he bought Father’s Day dinner—he was in the mood for Kentucky Fried Chicken and With It. So, nobody had to cook and we had a relaxed meal. 

Later in the afternoon Megan made a red velvet cake topped with slices of strawberries from her own plants, which we enjoyed. (Anne Marie made a gluten-free chocolate cake for herself, so she wasn’t left out.) There were plenty of leftovers, so no one cooked for supper either!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Good Hair Genes

Grandpa Mackey in his 70s,
with his winter beard.
I come from a family that has good hair genes. We have an abundance of hair (on our heads!), and a tendency to go gray rather late in life. I don't know which family line the hair gene follows, but I know my grandfather Mackey had it.

Grandma Mackey (nee, Hamilton) did not have such thick hair, but she still had threads of her dark color mixed with the gray until her death at age 87.

My mother inherited the thick dark hair from her father, and the long-lasting color from her mother. My father's hair thinned as he aged, but he never became bald, nor did he become fully gray--even after chemotherapy. My father was a redhead in his youth; his hair faded to a lighter color, more a strawberry blond, as he grew older. Of their six children, four of us had blond hair which darkened considerably as we grew up, two had dark brown hair. And we all have abundantly thick hair.

I passed the abundant hair gene on to my daughter and granddaughter.

Grace, Terry, Michelle with hair in
pin curls covered by scarves.
All this thinking about hair was kicked off by, again, my working with the old family photos. We have many photos of our mother with her first three daughters (there was a 5 1/2 year gap before any more came along), in which we all have nicely curled hair. That meant my mother was taking care of four heads of hair, lots of hair.

Those were the days before curlers became the standard for curling hair. There were no electric curling irons. Most curling was done with either rag curls or pin curls. I don't personally know how to make rag curls, but Mother did. The "rag" part referred to strips of fabric that somehow were used to form and hold curls in wet hair so that it dried curly. Pin curls involved winding wet hair around a finger, then pinning the coil  firmly to the head with bobby pins. Then Mother tied a folded scarf over the pin curls to keep them from coming loose. After the hair dried, it was curly. When we got old enough, we did our own pin curling, but when we were children Mother took care of all that hair.

How pin curls turned out--
Grace, Michelle, Terry
I do not particularly like messing with hair. It must be simple, quick, and easy for me. (Yeah, I know, it looks like it, too!)

All that hair care is just another thing that increases my admiration for the woman who was my mother.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I'm Not Always Thinking Great Thoughts

I know this may come as a shock to you--but I'm not always thinking great thoughts! J

Sometimes my brain just veg's out. 

Yesterday I gave myself a reading day. I finished one book, then started and finished another. Fun stuff, not great classic literature. Love being able to do that whenever I want!

Today I am in a very mundane state of mind. I'm doing a few household chores, and I plan to work on my old photo album project a bit. I took a cup of flavored tea out to the deck and enjoyed the beautiful day while my washing machine worked for me. I had a nice visit with my granddaughter when she joined me on the deck. Just everyday things, but I'm finding them most pleasant.

Maybe tomorrow I'll have more interesting thoughts. Or, maybe not. I might just talk about everyday things--although, as a retiree, a bookworm, and an introvert, my everyday things might not be interesting to anyone other than myself!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dog Speak

Sometimes I wish I understood dog language.

Not because I have a dog. I am somewhat allergic to most animals, and so I live pet free. My daughter's family, however, has four dogs--three chihuahuas and a pekingese mix. They are among the many dogs that live in our neighborhood.

Teddi, wearing a bit of frosting on her nose from a friend's
birthday cake.,
At almost any time, day or night, dogs can be heard. Sometimes it is a loud chorus of all the dogs who are outside. Sometimes it is just one or two. When my daughter's elderly peke mix, Teddi, goes outdoors and all is quiet, she will begin to bark. It is as though she is asking, "Who's out?" And when our next door neighbor's pugs are not out in their yard, Teddi will patrol the fence, barking as though to say, "Come out and play!" One of her favorite games is to run up and down her side of the wire fence, while the pugs run up and down on their side.

Two of the dogs that live on the other side of our house are outdoor dogs. They are always out. They bark a lot. Their enclosure is made of six-foot high board fence, which mean they are very limited as to what they can see. Therefore, they react to every sound. I think they must be barking because they want to know what is going on, or, because they can't see much, they are giving out warnings. Or, perhaps both. They are the dogs that so often are barking throughout the night. Sometimes they stir up dogs in backyards all up and down the alley.

With all the dog conversations going on around me, I'd like to know for sure what they are saying!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Sorrowful Place

Little Bighorn River Valley
This benign and peaceful, lovely piece of Montana is a place with a horrific history. The river valley is where a huge encampment of Cheyenne, Lakota, and Arapaho Indians was attacked by U.S. Cavalry troops. The hills and bluffs around the valley are where the troops fled as the Indian warriors responded in numbers far exceeding those of the cavalry.

On our way home from Billings yesterday, my daughter, Anne Marie, and I stopped for a short tour of the battlefield where the tragic events popularly known as "Custer's Last Stand" took place. I am no fan of Col. Custer's. My sympathies tend to lie with the Indians on this one. That makes the events of June 25, 1876, no less tragic--for both sides. The battle victory went to the Indians. But the victory was followed by a lot of tragedy for the Indians, and they ended up on reservations anyway. I'm not going to try to retell that story; it's been done by others much better and with more complete information. I just want to reflect on my reaction to visiting this place.

First we toured the museum section of the Visitor's Center. It was a fascinating, sobering, and busy place. One tiny lady, who appeared to me to be American Indian, was wiping tears from her eyes as she looked at the exhibits, many of which were of the Indian people involved.

Then we took the drive through the battlefield. My first surprise was the extent of the area where the battles took place. The fighting spread over a three-to-five-mile stretch of hills and valleys. From things I had read in the past, I had a mental picture of the Custer attack and the fight involving the Reno/Benteen troops as being widely separate. At the site, it was clear that it was all part of one event. Custer made the mistake of ignoring the advice of his Indian scouts, who advised against attacking such  a huge encampment, then he divided his troops. I suppose he thought he was going to attack from several directions. This did not work well for the small cavalry contingent. It worked great for the Indians, who had the numbers to surround the soldiers.

As we drove down the road, stopping at the numerous information stations, looking up from the illustrations to the actual hills and valleys, seeing the markers where combatants fell, a heavy lump of sorrow grew in my stomach. On a June day much like the one we were enjoying, these hills were full of the noise of battle, the smoke from the rifles clouded the air, men and horses screamed their battle cries, their pain, their fear, their death rattles. Blood soaked the hills.

And no good came from any of it. What a waste of lives, on both sides.

I was surprised by the strong emotional reaction I had to being there. It is a sorrowful place.

One of the battlefield markers. The cavalry markers are white, the Indian markers are red granite.
Cavalry markers are scattered from the Reno site (which had survivors) across to the Custer site
(no survivors).  Some are single, some in small groups, others in large groups, as at the place where
Custer and those with him died.
(American Indian losses reported by Sitting Bull's account were 36 killed and 168 wounded, while Red Horse made the count as 136 killed and 160 wounded. Custer, 15 of his officers, ten civilian scouts and 242 cavalry troopers lost their lives and another 55 were wounded.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Quick Trip

Today Anne Marie and I made a quick trip to Billings, Montana, for medical checkups. We took an interesting side trip on the way home.

I'll tell you about it tomorrow!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

That's Not Snow

It is not unknown for snow to fall here in June. However, this drift of white that the wind has swept up on my deck is not snow.

It is cottonwood "cotton." This is yesterday's accumulation, and we have not yet reached the real height of the cotton season.

Usually I complain about the pesky cottonwood seeds floating in the breeze. In a heavy cotton season going outside is a trial, because it is filling the air and collecting on everything; but the worst part is taking a breath and breathing in cotton. But I have been thinking about other aspects of the annual cottonwood cotton season. (OK, I'll still probably gripe just a little when I want to be outdoors and the air is full of cotton!)

Cottonwoods grow to be huge trees. One would expect their seeds to be big, maybe like an avocado seed. But the mighty cottonwood grows from a very tiny seed, and this works wonderfully well for the cottonwood. Cottonwoods make thousands (maybe millions) of seeds each year. Each tiny seed is wrapped in very fine, fragile white filaments--thus the cotton appearance. This bit of fluff on each seed is exceedingly efficient as a seed dispersal system. A seed can float a long time and over a considerable distance when there is a little breeze. This is important.

Our part of the world is semi-arid prairie. In town there are lots of trees that people have planted, watered, and cared for so that they can survive and thrive. But this is not naturally tree country. Out where nature is the planter and caretaker, there are only certain places where a tree such as the cottonwood can grow. You can see cottonwoods growing around lakes or reservoirs, along creeks, or in ravines (draws) where snow collects in winter and where rain runs off into. These are the only places with enough water to nourish and sustain a tree.

So those tiny seeds surrounded by fluff and stickiness, riding the breeze by the millions, are necessary to keep the species going. The vast majority of them will never make trees. Even though they are amazingly fast germinating, without enough water the seedlings will fail. Only the few that find the right combination of soil,  water, and space will get to grow.

Intelligent Design.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My Son, the Fisherman

My son lives in Rhode Island, which is about as far as you can get from his former home in Wyoming without falling into the ocean. And, now, sometimes he is on the ocean. He and his wife recently acquired kayaks to go out on the bay and fish.

Jeremy has always been an avid fisherman, but for a number of years did not have much opportunity to fish where he lives now. So it is good to see him able to once again enjoy fishing. It's just a different kind of fishing than he did in Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota.

Jeremy's wife, Ruth, took this photo. I hope she doesn't mind my sharing it. Jeremy is working with his bait, an eel. I guess no one caught any fish that day, but so much of the fun in fishing is just in the getting out and doing it.

(I love the shoreline view that forms the background of the photo.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Vacuum Cleaner Saga

I hope--I think--I'm pretty sure--I finally have a good vacuum cleaner! Most people don't really get excited about appliances, but I am excited about this.

For the last six years I have had a terrible time with vacuum cleaners.

I had a good Sears tank vacuum cleaner. It was nearly new and working great when I sold my house and moved into my new over-the-garage apartment. The new carpet looked great. It felt great underfoot. And it shed worse than any new carpet I have ever had. It promptly clogged the long hose on my vacuum to such an extent that I could neither clear the clog nor use the vacuum.

My son-in-law loves that type of vacuum, so I gave it to him. Chad is very clever and very persistent. He managed to clear the clog and is still using that vacuum.

I bought an upright vacuum (shorter hose, less apt to clog) of the bagless variety. I thought it would be great not to have to mess with vacuum bags, and it would be a money-saver not to have to always be buying bags. I was partly right. I did not have to buy bags and the hose did not clog. extra fuzz-shedding carpet would fill the tank every time I vacuumed. The carpet fuzz would wrap around the filter section and have to be scraped off. Emptying the tank was a wrestling match every time. I felt like I needed a shower after every emptying.

About that time I also bought one of those mini-vacs that are supposed to be good for small, quick pick-ups and easier to use on stairs (I have a lot of stairs). I took it out of the box and discovered that it had a piece broken off. Took it back to the store; got a different brand. Got it home and found that its extension hose had a slit in it.

While I was staying at my mother's as a companion/caretaker, I bought an inexpensive vacuum for my sister and me to use in the basement, so we did not have to lug Mother's vacuum up and down stairs. After her death I left it there for the final clean up, and was unable to retrieve it before the house was sold.

I struggled on with my vacuum, until a couple of weeks ago. I got it out to vacuum and it was depositing more stuff on the kitchen rug than it was picking up. I suppose there was something caught in its brushes, but I was having a bad back day and could not wrestle with the thing to see what I could fix. It was the last straw!

I went to Consumer Reports on line and checked out vacuums. I was glad I did. The brand I was thinking about buying was halfway down their rating list and cost three times what their top rated models did.

Then I went to Amazon--the source of practically everything--and ordered my new vacuum. Today I tried it out. Wow! So much better! It is a Hoover Wind Tunnel, self-propelled model, upright, with bag. It even has a little light that lets you know when you have hit a section where there is more dirt that needs a few extra passes.

I hope my vacuum cleaner curse has lifted!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

An Unsettled Mind

Yesterday and today I have thought about various topics for the blog. My mind has skittered from one thing to another. Here's just a sample of places my mind has gone:
Communion in church led to thinking about crucifixion which led to thoughts of why societies throughout history have chosen the most painful, gruesome methods imaginable for the execution of criminals or dissidents.
The miracle of the cottonwood seed.
The difference between personality and character.
A TV show I watched last night and the books it is based on.
Our North Carolina Sheriff ancestor.
In the end I just couldn't pull it together for any of these subjects. I may come back to some on other days. For today, I'm just going to share a favorite photo that is on my mind because I've been sorting through old photos trying to get them organized chronologically.

Red McLaughlin, home from the army January 1946, and his three daughters: Terry, Michelle,
and Grace. We were so happy to have him home after his stint in the Philippines at the end of WWII.



Friday, June 1, 2012

The Snake Pit

Today I read several blogs that were participating in a blog hop. One of the questions they answered was: What were you afraid of as a child?

I was a shy and timid child, with many fears--Farris wheels, people I didn't know well, strange dogs, and T-Rex dinosaurs. But my biggest fear of all came through dreams.

Michelle at about three years old
The Snake Pit!

When I was between two and four years old I had a terrifying recurring dream. The beginning of the dream varied. I might be walking along and the ground suddenly had a texture of rotting burlap. Or I might be asleep in bed and the bed would begin to whirl and fall. But whatever the beginning of the dream was, the ending was always the same. I was falling into a snake pit. The pit was always the same. It was a huge, very deep, cylinder. There was water in the bottom and the water was filled with huge snakes, all tangled and intertwined with one another. They were of variegated colors. As I fell, I was filled with terror and would wake up just before reaching the snakes.

The weird part of this is that at that age I had no knowledge of snakes such as giant anacondas or boas. I was a loved and cared for child, secure in my faith in my parents. I doubt that I had ever seen a real snake, and we did not have picture books with snakes in them.

So where did these dreams come from?