[Editor’s note: This was written and first published in 2007, when George W. Bush was President of the United States. Seeing that Jeb Bush is currently seeking that same office – and feeling that we shouldn’t expect him to be a great improvement over his brother – I thought a refresher of the “W Days” might be in order. – RC]

by Erin Abernethy

Spiders invaded our workplace here a few months ago, and we did what any red-blooded Americans would do. We declared war on them. After all, a spider-bite can kill you. OK, I admit I wasn’t 100% positive about that, but better safe than sorry, right? It seemed prudent to kill all of them, just in case.

“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, you spider-loving liberal!”

The invasion of the eight-legged terrorists began with a very sneaky variation of the old Trojan horse attack. A nearby office was closing; they said they’d give us the desk from their back room if we’d just come and pick it up. Anyone knows that writers need desk space, even ones who use laptops. In fact, we need more desk space than the average person because we tend to be messy; we make lots of notes and do lots of doodling on scrap paper, and print out pages of research off the internet, which we then stick into folders (maybe) and stack all over our desks so we can pretend we’ve accomplished something when all we’ve actually done all day is change a semicolon to a period and play Free Cell while listening to NPR and drinking too much coffee. But I digress; the point is, we need lots of desk space and we’ll do anything to get it. Some people go so far as to say we’re addicted to desk space, but I think that’s overstating the matter – and anyway, it’s not like these sideline critics are providing any viable alternatives. So when someone offers you a free desk, you jump at it. You wouldn’t turn down a free tank of gas, would you? I thought not.

We brought the desk in, and I made myself at home with it. I set up my computer. I stuffed the drawers with pens and sticky-notes and Kleenex and chocolate bars. I stashed a couple of reams of paper in the bottom drawer. I sat back, thinking about taking a nap on my new desk, and then I saw it: an ugly black spider scuttled along the edge and disappeared into one of the drawers. Naturally, I screamed bloody murder.

When everyone came running, I told them (from my perch on top of someone else’s desk) about the spider. “It’s horrible!” I said. “It’s as big as my hand! It had bloody fangs! It could eat your cat in one bite! Why, it could probably eat your neighbor’s dog!”

I knew I was exaggerating, but I also knew I had to convince them of how horribly dangerous it was if I expected to enlist their help.

They looked a little alarmed at my assessment of the situation. I knew I was ever-so-slightly exaggerating, but I also knew I had to convince them of how horribly dangerous it was if I expected to enlist their help to get rid of it. I was terrorized and traumatized, so I figured it was OK to misrepresent the facts just a little.

It worked. “It’s OK,” they quickly assured me, gathering an assortment of sharp sticks and rolling up some old magazines to use as weapons. “We’ll find it and kill it.”

They searched all around but didn’t see it. I pointed out the drawer where it had last been seen. They tore open the drawer, then some more drawers, but it was nowhere to be found. All the excitement, however, did flush out a half-dozen more of the little buggers. They’d apparently been hiding inside the desk, and as the search rousted more and more of them, we found ourselves dealing with not one spider but dozens.

“See there?” I said. “I told you we were under attack! We’ve got to wipe out these critters before they eat us alive!”

“This is ridiculous,” said our senior editor, as all work came to a halt while everyone ran around in a panic, swatting at spiders. “I will not stand for this workplace being terrorized by a bunch of spiders. I’m calling an exterminator.”

The exterminator couldn’t come right away, so in the meantime the spiders continued to run rampant. I was terrified to open a drawer or pick up a folder for fear that a spider would jump out and bite me. A couple of my co-workers got bored with watching for spiders that never seemed to appear when they were watching, so I kept them fired up with tales of the ones I’d seen. “Hideous things,” I insisted. “Legs the size of your arm! You don’t want to think about one of those waiting for you under the basement stairs.”

One of our more rational artists (now, there’s an oxymoron for you: “rational artist” – almost as good as “military intelligence”) tried to explain to me that not all spiders were bad. “Some of them are very good for gardens,” she said. “They eat insects that would ruin your plants.”

“That’s all fine and good, but these aren’t in the garden!” I pointed out. “They’re in here with us! When they’re indoors and there are no garden pests to eat, what do you think they eat then? Us, that’s what!”

She tried again. “Even if a spider did bite you, only two kinds are really poisonous,” she said. She brought out one of those pretty colored nature field guides and attempted to show me pictures so I could identify which ones were poisonous. She pointed out maps claiming that the poisonous ones don’t live around here. I told her she’d clearly received faulty intelligence on the matter, and I wasn’t buying into her pacifist propaganda.

“As far as I’m concerned, if they’re inside the house and they have eight legs, they’re a threat and they’ve got to go!” I yelled. I did a quick search online and printed out a couple of pictures for her. “See that?” I pointed triumphantly. “That’s the pinky finger of a woman who was bitten by a spider. A pinky finger isn’t supposed to look like an eggplant! Spiders are evil! It’s us or them! We’re in a war, here! If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, you spider-loving liberal!”

Some of these traitors seemed to think that if I’d followed advice, we wouldn’t be in this mess now. “Woulda, coulda, shoulda,” I sneered. “Playing the blame game won’t help win the war on spiders, people!”

Despite my attempts to keep everyone focused on the crisis, I noticed that some of my co-workers were beginning to lose interest and get back to work. To remind them of the facts, I used a dustpan to scoop up a couple of the dead spiders we’d managed to squash early in the battle, and I carried this around from desk to desk. “See? See? There really are spiders here, and you’d better believe they’ll crawl up your leg and bite you as soon as you let down your guard,” I warned.

“No one’s denying there are spiders all over the place,” they agreed, “but what do you expect us to do? We’ve got to get back to work and get on with our lives. We can’t stand around all day waiting for spiders to show up.”

As I made my rounds, displaying the mangled spider carcasses to anyone who would look, I became aware that others were just as terrified of the things as I was, but they didn’t think we could ever really be sure we’d found and killed them all. So I changed my tune a little. “We’re winning!” I declared. “These are just a couple of the ones we’ve killed! With a little more effort, if everyone pitches in and pulls together, we’ll get them all! We’re winning!”

This might have worked too, if it hadn’t been for that ugly diversionary rumor that started going around. Some voices of dissent seemed to recall that before the desk was brought inside, our senior editor had told me to make sure I cleaned it up because it had a few cobwebs and spider eggs on the bottom. Some of these traitors seemed to think that if I’d listened to him and followed his advice, we wouldn’t be in this mess now. “Woulda, coulda, shoulda,” I sneered. “Playing the blame game won’t help win the war on spiders, people! You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.”

Since things weren’t going so well and that exterminator didn’t seem to be showing up any time soon, I decided to get some outside help. I announced that I was appointing Blackie, the neighbor’s hound, to the newly-created post of Top Dog of Interior Security. A few people thought this was a little silly, so I figured I’d better justify my choice. “He’s imminently qualified for the position,” I explained. “After all, the job title is ‘Top Dog,’ and he’s a dog. Also, he’s black and furry like the spiders, so he probably understands the spider mentality better than we do. I expect everyone to cooperate fully so he can do his job here.”

What’s a little invasion of personal space compared to the peace of mind of knowing there aren’t any spiders lurking in your boots?

This didn’t work out quite as well as I’d hoped. Blackie was zealous about prowling around our workplace, diligently searching out spiders. Maybe he was more interested in the sandwich crumbs under our desks – I can’t really be sure – but I thought he did a bang-up job. Other people thought he was a little invasive. I heard a few complaints about him drooling in the coffee, slurping in the toilet bowl, and tipping over the wastebaskets to rummage through the garbage. “He’s just being thorough,” I assured everyone. Our editor’s wife complained that he rushed her at the front door and tried to hump her leg. “He’s only doing his job,” I insisted. “What’s a little invasion of personal space compared to the peace of mind of knowing there aren’t any spiders lurking in your boots?”

“He has fleas,” she informed me.

“I’m shocked,” I gasped. “I screened him so carefully for this job!”

She went to make another call to the exterminator. I went to tell the Top Dog that his services were no longer needed. “Heckuva job, Blackie,” I said. “I appoint you to get rid of spiders and you bring in fleas. I can’t tell you how embarrassing this is for me. Don’t let the door hit your tail on your way out.” On the up side, the Top Dog scandal did temporarily get everyone’s attention off how badly we were doing in the war on spiders.

An exterminator finally arrived. We had to empty all the cabinets and closets and vacate the building while he went around spraying the baseboards and setting off bug bombs. After twenty-four hours we were allowed to return, and we set about the task of restoring order. We’d been warned that we might run across some dead bugs while we were putting things away. What the exterminator hadn’t prepared us for were the still-very-much-alive spiders that kept charging out at us from hiding places deep within the files of papers we’d removed from the cabinets. Our reorganization efforts were punctuated by bloodcurdling screams and shrieks as one person after another was ambushed by ferocious insurgent spiders lying in wait among the office supplies.

I admit it: mistakes were made. We underestimated the spiders.

Our senior editor called the exterminator and put him on speakerphone so we could all hear. “We still have spiders,” he said. “They’re not gone. And we haven’t found any dead ones. In fact, I think you just made them mad.”

“Oh,” said the exterminator, “I didn’t know you wanted me to get rid of spiders. Your wife said to spray for fleas. Maybe you ought to get together on what you want before I come out again. Sounds like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand’s doing.”

Our senior editor snapped off the speaker and took the phone upstairs to continue the conversation where his wife could hear it. I picked up an extension from another desk to listen in. “Do you think you ought to be doing that?” someone asked me. “I think he took it upstairs so he could have a private conversation.”

“If his wife is going to divert resources to some pet project of hers and sabotage our war on spiders, I think we need to know about it,” I said. “During wartime, you have to expect the curtailing of a few civil liberties here and there.”

One of the writers checked his watch and started to pull on his coat. “Where do you think you’re going?” I demanded.

“Home,” he said. “I get off at six.”

“Not anymore,” I said. “We’ve got spiders to kill, man! Your comrades need you!”

“But I’m not trained to kill spiders. And I’ve been here since seven o’clock this morning,” he whined.

“Nobody leaves until the job’s done!” I said. “Believe me, I want us all to go home and sleep soundly tonight as much as any of you do. But we can’t do that until we know that every single spider here has been neutralized and we can once again nap on our desks without fear of being attacked!”

While everyone else went about the business of putting our workplace back together and waging war on spiders, I went upstairs to talk to our senior editor. He informed me that the exterminator could come back in two weeks and would spray for spiders then. In the meantime, he said, we’d just have to fend for ourselves.

“That’s OK,” I assured him. “I know now what we need to do. I admit it: mistakes were made. We underestimated the spiders. But I have a new plan.”

“What is it?” he asked warily.

“The problem,” I explained, “is that there are just too many spiders and too few of us. What we have to do is double our staff, and the new hires can hunt down the spiders and kill them while we get back to work.” He gave me a look that suggested he wasn’t entirely on-board with this plan. “Also,” I added, “I’m going to appoint Mr. Fuzzy as the new Top Dog of Interior Security.”

“You’re appointing our cat as Top Dog?” he asked. “That’s an… interesting choice.”

“Mr. Fuzzy will be even more zealous about hunting and killing spiders than Blackie was,” I pointed out, “but he understands the need for personal space, so we won’t have those privacy-invasion issues that kept coming up before.”

“Good, good,” he agreed. He patted me on the back. “You know, I think it’d be good for you to take some time off and get away from all this for a little while. I was thinking… my wife is an avid quail hunter, and she’s looking for someone to go out shooting with her next weekend. Maybe you could go with her.”

© Copyright 2007 by Erin Abernethy. Republished 2011, 2015.

Many thanks to Patrick Redding. Without his help, this probably would have turned out to be just another one of my rants instead of the heavy-handed satire he helped it become.

Artwork via Pixabay.

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This Week at Gatewood: June 14-20


Photo via Pixabay.

by Frasier MacKenzie

Hello, and thanks for stopping in! We’ve been doing some tweaks on our site this week, mainly in the Archives section. Everything from that page has now been moved to its home in the appropriate category, and the Archives option has been dropped from the menu. We hope this will make browsing easier and result in fewer Error 404 occurrences, as all pages and posts are now in the new format. If you have trouble finding anything, please do notify us (tweet to our Special Assistant Dr Nicholas, or email me at info (at) and we’ll get it sorted.

Also, we’ve made the font size slightly bigger for improved readability. Working with Rowan’s “Alzheimer’s Suite” material this week has made us realize that none of us are getting any younger, and being able to read the Journal more easily without squinting would be good.

Here are our features for the week of June 14-20:

Monday:Electric Spiral,” artwork by Xavier

Tuesday:Alzheimer’s Suite,” poetry by Rowan McConnell

Wednesday:Zen and the Art of Mousing,” humor from Steven Valentine & Patrick Redding

Friday:Eccentricities,” photography by P.L. Miller and quote from David Ogilvy

Remember, the Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

Be sure to follow our Special Assistant @docnicholas on Twitter for daily updates on Journal posts as well as humor, art and writing tidbits, and other items of interest. Dr Nicholas has asked me to mention that he’s going to try posting Journal links a bit more often. He didn’t want to annoy people by posting the same links incessantly, but since he now has followers in every time zone from U.S. Pacific Time to New Zealand Standard Time and most points in between, I think it’s reasonable to assume that most of his followers aren’t online at the same time and many probably don’t go back to catch up on tweets that are hours old. If I’m wrong about this and it becomes bothersome, let him know and he can have the pleasure of telling me, “I informed you thusly.”

That’s it for the Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up for the week of June 14-20. Enjoy your weekend, and visit us again soon!

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Zen and the Art of Mousing

zazen cat

Photo by Jamiecat. Licensed CC BY 2.0.

by Steven Valentine & Patrick Redding

When you are stalking a mouse, you must become one with the mouse. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by catnip or dingle-dangle toys.

A good meditative position is to sit quietly with the eyes closed and the tongue slightly hanging out. Take no notice of humans who giggle and point, thinking you have forgotten to pull in your tongue.

Do not allow others to impose their time structure on you. If you wish to sleep 17 hours straight, then go right ahead.

Pause now and then to contemplate the idea that your surroundings are an illusion and may not be as “real” as you assume. Pay no heed to the humans who dangle toys closer to you in an effort to draw you into their delusion of reality.

When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep. When cranky, yowl loudly.

Go with the flow. Those who lick their fur the wrong way only succeed in looking unkempt and foolish.

Zen masters must sometimes be harsh so that others may learn. Do not always pull in your claws when walking across your human. You are helping them become more enlightened creatures.

The bird that can be caught is not the true bird.

Zen is like the goldfish in the pond. As soon as you think you have grasped it, it has eluded you and you are left with nothing but wet paws. This is why some say that the essence of Zen is nothingness. It would be foolish to say that the essence of Zen is wet paws.

Zen allows one to transcend the ordinary state of being. The Cheshire Cat is said to have been an extraordinary master of the art of Zen.

Detach yourself from ordinary concerns. Do not run about here and there just because your humans are calling you.

Practice stilling your mind even in the midst of disturbance. A good way to do this is to drag the remains of your hunt onto the back porch and ignore the commotion that arises when your humans step on dead mice.

Purge yourself of attachments and desires, even if it means hacking up onto the new Persian rug a hairball containing the Monopoly game piece you swallowed earlier.

Remember that much of what you see is illusion or deception. Your humans may show you a nice pillow and a cat treat, but this may be only a trick to lure you into the car for a ride to the vet.

Talking about Zen all the time is like searching for mouse tracks in a goldfish bowl.

© Copyright 2001 by Steven Valentine & Patrick Redding. Republished 2013, 2015.

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This Week at Gatewood: May 17-23, 2015

Climbing up was easy

Photo via MorgueFile.

by Dr. Nicholas

Hi, everyone! It’s time for our Weekend Wrap-Up, so let’s get right to it.

Here are our features for the week of May 17-23:

Monday:Morning Fog,” photography by Nez. This is a beautiful shot that’s been in our gallery for awhile, but we just found a larger, higher-resolution file, and wanted to share it with you. It was shot in North Carolina, and I really like those colors in the mist.

Tuesday:Cartoons (A Few Words from the Artist),” poetry by R. Kane. This is an old piece from a box of archived papers. It was written back in 1990, but as you can see, still very relevant twenty-five years later. This is the first time it’s been published.

Wednesday:Mama Earlenes Business Proposition,” by Patrick Redding. This was something Patrick wrote while he was having a sort of “writer’s block” period on a couple of his more serious pieces. It’s a short, funny piece that goes along with the “Mama Earlene” Christmas letters he does from time to time, but you don’t have to be familiar with those to enjoy it. I like that line about Mama Earlene’s brothers becoming “entrepreneurs” because they aren’t good at anything useful.

Friday:Magic in the World,” photography by P.L. Miller and quote from Roald Dahl. Here’s an interesting fish-eye shot from a nearby forest, and a whimsical, thought-provoking quote about magic from the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, among other things.

As you probably know, our Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

At this point, the person who does our Weekend Wrap-Up usually posts some funny pictures I’ve shared recently, but I thought I’d do something a bit different this week. I really want to thank some folks who have been helping to spread the word by retweeting on Twitter, sharing articles, and generally helping widen the audience for our writers and artists. We greatly appreciate it!

Many thanks to:

Robin Sinclair and The Ghost of Mary at Robin Sinclair Books

Rick Dove at A Streaming of Consciousness

Mary Clark at Mary Clark, Writer

Tara Sparling at Tara Sparling Writes

Susan Mary Malone at

Robert Hookey at You’ve Been Hooked!

Jeannette Harris at A Country Rag

Give their websites a visit, and say hello from us!

Now, not everyone has a website, so if you happen to be on Twitter, check out these fine folks who’ve also been helping to spread the word:

@DavidHinn, @sc_mo, @HeloisedArgente, @spiggitzfan, @annalapointe, @Ghost_Of_Mary, and @kwikxand.

For daily updates on Journal posts, you can follow me, @docnicholas, on Twitter.

I understand it’s a holiday weekend in some parts of the world, so you’ve got some extra reading time. Sounds like a great time to check out some other things on our site, and share them with friends! Our creators would certainly appreciate it, and you know it beats cleaning the gutters, mowing the lawn, or whatever is on your to-do list, doesn’t it? Of course it does.

That’s it for the Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up for May 17-23. Enjoy your weekend, go easy on the ‘nip, and visit us again soon!

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Mama Earlene’s Business Proposition


Photos via Pixabay.

by Patrick Redding

Dear Mr. Cheever,

My name is Earlene Ledbetter, and I am writing to you on behalf of my brothers Cephus and Orly. They have an idea for a brand new business they would like to start up, but since they do not have any money and I am not going to lend them any more after not getting paid back from the last time I bailed them out of jail, I figured the least I could do would be to write to you, the head of our local Small Business Association, and see if you might be able to help these young men pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Ha, that’s a joke – it’s like pulling teeth to get these two to wear shoes in summer – but I guess they could pull themselves up by their overall straps just as well, and make something of themselves besides a nuisance.

Let me explain their idea to you. They have recently been in contact with a fellow from California who told them all about juice bars, and they think this is something they could do. It’s true that this fellow was their cellmate during their most recent incarceration, but I do not believe that we should hold that against him. Criminal activity does not mean you are no good at business; in fact, he was in jail for tax evasion, so clearly he is right up there with anyone on Wall Street when it comes to business smarts.

They would like to open a juice bar here in our town of Shady Creek. Cephus wants to call it “Juice Bar” but Orly came up with “Loosey Goose’s Real Good Juices.” They can fight over that later, if they actually get some start-up money. Right now, I am just glad they are interested in doing something that is not illegal, and I hope you might be able to help them get started.

We do not have any juice bars around here, so it would be a unique addition to our little town. And don’t worry, even though it has “bar” in the name, I understand that these are to be non-alcoholic beverages. I assure you that there is no way I would recommend my brothers to run a bar. Like many of our fine neighbors, they do not have good sense when they are around alcohol.

As I am sure you know, “juicing” is an easy way for people to get their fruits and vegetables, but I understand that any number of things can be liquified and made into a healthy juice drink, with a good recipe. I would have preferred that Orly hadn’t stuffed my sliced Sunday dinner ham into a blender to make this point, but the fact that Mama drank it anyway speaks to the tastiness of his concoction, I guess.

They would like to start small at first to see how it goes. They would need a juicer, of course. While anyone can pick up a blender at Wal*Mart for $40 or so, they would probably need a sturdier model that could stand up to constant use from two fellows who do not know the meaning of the word “careful.” I understand some of the fancier models run into the thousands of dollars, but there is a $300 model which I am sure would be just fine for getting them started.

There are a number of empty storefronts around town, and any one of those would be suitable for them. It is certainly not necessary for them to build a place from scratch, and I would do just about anything to keep them away from using power tools! The last time that happened, our house got a doggie door where one was never intended, and it was so bad we had to just build out from it and turn it into a breakfast nook (which I think is just too pretentious for folks like us, but it was better than having a hole in the wall that a black bear could have walked through at any time). Anyway, my point is, they could probably rent one of those empty shops pretty cheaply on a month-to-month basis. The old diner would probably work out just fine. I think the rat invasion that caused them to be closed down back in the ’90s is probably not there anymore, and it has been repainted a time or two since those folks from the EPA came in and found all that lead paint and asbestos in the place.

They would need some supplies, of course, and that would depend a lot on the menu. They have suggested that they could get produce from the farmer’s market that is run on weekends out at the old fairgrounds. I told them that they could grow their own vegetables but it seems that would be too much like work for them, ha ha, and I was kind of sorry I’d brought it up after I remembered that they had gotten in trouble for growing marijuana in buckets on their porch before. They will need to get some “to-go” cups and straws from a restaurant service place, I imagine. I have several dozen old glasses and jars that I told them they can use for serving while they are getting started, but they will need to watch out and not let people just carry them off. Some of those are antiques, and I need my canning jars in the summer.

Here is a sample menu that they have come up with. They have made all of these things here in the kitchen with my blender, and while I cannot say I liked all of them, I will vouch for the ingredients and their ability to make them.

juice menu

1. “Very Berry Slush.” This is a combination of all the different kinds of berries they found in the back of my freezer, which includes strawberries, raspberries, and I don’t know what-all else. It didn’t taste half as bad as any of the rest, and I wouldn’t mind having another one.

2. “Piña Colonic.” It’s supposed to taste like a piña colada but it does not have any alcohol. It has a lot of coconut and all kinds of stuff in it that would be real good if you were constipated. If you’re not, you might want to stay as far away from it as you can get. I was real impressed with their fancy little fruit garnishes stuck on the glass. Cephus was always good with knives.

3. “Gatorita.” Basically, it’s Gatorade and a bunch of other stuff mushed up together and served like a margarita but without alcohol. That’s salt on the rim of the glass but they said you can get it with sugar instead if it ain’t sweet enough for you.

4. “Hamburger Down the Hatch.” Here’s a burger lunch for those that don’t have time to sit down and eat like civilized people. It’s got all the usual hamburger fixin’s – mustard, lettuce, tomato, onions, mayonnaise, etc. – except the bun, all smooshed together and garnished with pickles. Yummy yum yum.

5. “Mac and Cheese Delite.” I did not think anybody could mess up macaroni and cheese but I reckon I was wrong. That is puréed cottage cheese on top, by the way.

6. “Morning Brew.” Here’s one to get you awake and going in the morning. It’s got orange juice, coffee, sweet tea, and some sort of secret ingredient that I don’t think I even want to know about. It might be allergy tablets ground up, or maybe diet pills. I don’t know and I’m not going to ask.

I am sure that they will add to their menu as they see what folks like (or as they find cheap things they can stick in a juicer) but this is what they plan to start with. They say they will be happy to bring some samples for you to try, and would even be willing to cater one of your Small Business Association meetings as a trial if you would rather put the “taste test” off on other people.

I hope that you will give these boys any help that you can. It is true that they have been in jail (more than once), and they did not do well with their plan to restore a car and race it at Bristol a few years ago, but they mean well and they are just plain too old to be coming back home to live with Mama. Now that they are out of jail, I would like to see them do something worthwhile, or at least stay out of trouble. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, as you know. Since they are felons, they have not been able to get jobs, and since they are not really very good at anything useful, it seems only logical that they start their own business and become entrepreneurs.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, Mr. Cheever, and I sure hope your wife does not find out about you and that massage “therapist” while you are deciding how you might be able to help these fine fellows get their new business going.

Yours truly,
Mrs. Earlene Ledbetter

© Copyright 2015 by Patrick Redding

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This Week at Gatewood: March 29 – April 4, 2015


by Frasier MacKenzie

Hello all! I think spring is finally making its way to our area after a harsh cold snap over the weekend. We’re starting to see some very pale green leaves on the trees, and the weather has been just about as close to perfect as you can get. It’s that very short time of year when it’s warm enough to have the windows open but not hot enough to need the air conditioner yet!

Here are our features for the week of March 29 – April 4:

Monday:Dry Falls,” photography by Teran

Tuesday:Chasing Smoke,” poetry by Alesia Tarkington

Wednesday:UFO Sighting in Moravian Falls,” by Patrick Redding

Friday:Serious Solitude,” photography by P.L. Miller and quote from Pablo Picasso

Remember, our Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

Here are some favorite memes posted by our Special Assistant Dr Nicholas this week:

taxy cats   jellicle calico

If you liked these, you’ll want to follow @docnicholas on Twitter for silliness, cat photos, tidbits about writing, and of course, daily updates on Journal posts.

That’s it for the Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up for March 29-April 4. Enjoy the weekend, and go easy on the Cadbury creme eggs. Visit us again soon, won’t you?

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UFO Sighting in Moravian Falls


Photo via MorgueFile.

A tongue-in-cheek report by Patrick Redding

“Almost every day I was there, I ate lunch at that diner, and became dear friends with the cook. He told me a story about the night you’re talking about. A man came into his place, sat down, ordered sweet potato pie, identified himself as FBI Agent Mulder. He then questioned my friend: ‘Ever seen a UFO in these parts?’ He then ordered piece after piece, each time asking another question. ‘Have you ever experienced a period of missing time? Do you ever have the suspicion that you’ve been abducted by aliens? Have you ever found a metal implant in your body? Have you checked everywhere?’ He ate a whole pie in that fashion, then got up and left. My friend never saw him again.”

The X-Files: “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space”

Some time back, I received a second-hand report about a UFO sighting in North Carolina. There wasn’t much to it, and it certainly wouldn’t have grabbed my attention if it hadn’t been for the location; I was going to be in Asheville the following week, and I wondered if this place, “Morvain Falls,” might be in the area.

I’d never heard of it, so I contacted a friend in Hickory, NC. “It’s probably a typo,” she informed me. “It’s probably supposed to be Moravian Falls. That’s not too far away.” She knew how to get there, and agreed to accompany me if I wanted to go and check it out.

Now, I’m neither a true believer nor a hard skeptic on the subject of UFOs. I prefer to remain open-minded. And taken literally, the definition of UFO (unidentified flying object) can certainly cover a lot of things. If you don’t know what it is, and it’s in the sky – well, then, technically you have a UFO. If someone else (anyone) knows what it is, then it ceases to be a UFO, by definition.

The literal definition, unfortunately, does not take into account whether one is knowledgeable of the celestial bodies commonly seen in the night skies or whether one is, to put it bluntly, a crackpot who, after a few drinks, might mistake the porch light for a secret military fighter plane.

Fortunately, some of the individuals who follow reports of UFOs tend to consider the possibilities overlooked by the strictest definition of the term, and allow for the fact that every “sighting” might not really be a sighting, per se.

This is not to say that the witnesses are hoaxing or lying (necessarily) – simply that mistakes can be made. Our eyes can fool us. Atmospheric conditions can alter the appearance of objects at a distance. And after all, most of the time when these things occur, it IS dark, and we are not gifted with the vision that cats have.

The object described in this case was round with a trail color that turned to blue. It was believed to have crashed near the construction site of a new school. I found it difficult to see how a such a crash could have gone unnoticed, but thought perhaps there might be an outside chance that others had seen it and simply not reported what they saw.

Another difficulty was that by the time I heard about it, it was roughly three weeks after the fact. The idea of investigating seemed rather pointless. If there had been a crash (which seemed increasingly doubtful), certainly it would have been cleared away by now. However, I was not discounting the possibility that the person who reported this may have seen something. And I was a little curious, so I picked up my friend (who happens to be a photographer), and one warm March morning we headed up to see what there was to see.

Moravian Falls is approximately 25 miles north of Hickory. It was settled, I was told, many years ago by immigrants from Scotland, Ireland and Moravia. Moravia is now more commonly known as a part of the Czech Republic (which, incidentally, has had its share of crop circle occurrences in recent years); it was also home to the religious group who became known as the Moravian Brethren.

While the Scots and Irish are often stereotypically credited with a reputation for “second sight” (resulting in many stories of fairy sightings and the like), and an equally strong reputation for being heavy drinkers, the Moravian Brethren were not, as far as I can determine, either drinkers or UFO fanatics. However, the people of Moravia (though not necessarily the church) are said to manufacture a very fine beer. Perhaps it was this that gave a common ground to these three ethnic groups all those years ago when they were congregating in the community of Moravian Falls.

This is all merely speculation on my part, of course – conversation which entertained us on the drive to the site in question. After all, one can only be amused for so long by a road sign pointing the way to Friendship Baptist Church located on Devil’s Track Road. Or a sign identifying a narrow lane as “Jolly Cemetery Road.” (I learned later that “Jolly” is a common surname in the area, but at the time, the Jolly Cemetery Road sign seemed perversely humorous.)

Soon enough we arrived in Moravian Falls, and the construction site was immediately on our right. It was approximately ten yards or so off the main road, easily visible. A construction crew was at work. Nothing appeared especially unusual. “Do you see anything we should check out?” I inquired of my companion.

“No, I do not,” said she.

“Shall I stop so you can get some photos?” I offered.

“Of what?”

“Do you think perhaps the aliens have shapeshifted and are disguised as construction workers in order to blend in easily?” I suggested.

“No, I do not,” she chuckled.

We agreed that this was apparently a dead end, and that it was past time for some breakfast. I stopped at a gas station. Gas stations in the South, you see, often serve the additional purpose of being roadside diners. Before we went in, I had to assure my companion that I did not feel it necessary to question anyone inside about whether they had seen any UFOs lately. We found drinks and food, and the pleasant lady working there broke off her conversation with the bread-truck driver long enough to ring us up and wish us a nice day.

We headed back to Hickory, eating our belated breakfast on the way. My friend told me that it was the best sweet-potato-pie-filled doughnut she had eaten in years.

© Copyright 2001 by Patrick Redding. Republished 2007, 201, 2015.

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