Evil Electricity, Squished Squirrels, and Sister Missionaries

Monday, September 29, 2008

Walking is part of being LDS.

We are the descendants of brave pioneers who walked...and walked...and walked...and waaaaaaaalllllked. Another Primary song teaches us that at least one member of the church often goes walking in meadows of clover and it fondly reminds her of her mother. I, on the other hand, get down right angry when I go walking through clumps of clover. This is mainly due to the fact that my clover are ugly weeds that are killing the grass in my front yard, not the type of vegetation that makes me reminisce about what my mother's fabric softener smelled like when I was in Kindergarten.

While I officially hate clover, I always look forward to taking our Sunday evening family walk through the neighborhood. We spend so much of Sunday cooped up in the house that it's a good way for us to be active without doing anything too inappropriate on the Sabbath. (On a side note - Can somebody please give me advice on how active is too active on Sunday? For example, my 7-year-old son loves to play tackle football with me in the backyard. On Sundays he will ask, "Dad, can we play tackle football?" and I will say, "No, that's not the best thing to do on a Sunday." He will then ask, "Well, can we just play catch?" and I say, "Sure, that sounds about right." Then he will ask one of those gray area Sunday questions, such as, "Well, can we play one-hand touch football and not keep score?" and I respond with, "Uhhhh...go get me an Old Testament and open up to Deuteronomy somewhere..." Please answer my poll question on the right to give me some advice on this vexing Sabbath observance question.)

Since every neighborhood has its own little quirks, I decided on our last couple of family walks to bring the camera and post some of the more humorous observations from our neck of the woods. Strap on your walking shoes. Get yourself a water bottle. Loosen up those hammies. Let's go on a leisurely stroll through my neighborhood:

Observation #1 - Electricity: The Meanest Utility on the Block
Nearly every house we walk past has a large electricity box (unit? housing? doo-dad? I'm useless) the size of a small dog house planted in the front yard. There is an ominous warning label on the outside that looks like this:
I love how aggressive and angry they make electricity look in this picture. It gives you the impression that electricity has the same disposition as a rabid, ill-tempered, hungry wolverine that will sucker punch you from behind without warning or provocation. These electrical boxes are double reinforced and locked with one of those huge locks that can withstand a bullet from a .45 Magnum. You would seriously have to be MacGyver or a bored raccoon to get the thing opened and expose yourself to possible electrical harm. Instead of making electricity look like the bad guy, I think the label should show an apologetic blob of electricity saying, "Dude! I tried to warn you! This is all on you, homie." The person smoldering on the ground would be wearning a dunce cap.

Observation #2: The Squirrel-ing
I have not seen M. Night Shyamalan's last movie, The Happening, but I have heard that people go insane and look for random, grotesque ways of killing themselves. Their thoughts were probably eerily similar to some of mine while taking Chem 101 at BYU. I am positive that the suicide-inducing epidemic from The Happening has infected every squirrel in North Carolina. Seriously. I honestly believe that every single one of them has a death wish. When I drive to church at 7:15 on Sunday mornings, the following disturbing event happens about ten times between my home and the meetinghouse:

1. I see a squirrel standing on his hing legs on the side of the road, frozen in fear.
2. I say, "Don't do it, squirrel, don't do it!"
3. The squirrel suddenly darts straight in front of my car and stops in the middle of the road.
4. I swerve within my lane to try to make the squirrel pass safely between wheels.
5. I feel a barely noticeable "thump...thump."
6. I close one eye and try not to look in the rear view mirror.
7. I look in the rear view mirror.
8. "Eeeeewwwww!"

I think I have killed 14,836 squirrels since I moved here in 2003 despite my best efforts to avoid the little buggers. During our walk we probably saw at least twenty of these sad little reminders of just how stupid squirrels can be. (I was going to post a road kill photo, but it was just a tad too gruesome even though I tried to keep the picture somewhat tasteful. I learned that some things, no matter how hard you may try, can never be tasteful. Road kill falls into this category.)

Observation #3: The Complexity of the 7-year-old Boy
One minute my son is completely transfixed by a smushed squirrel on the side of the road and we are having to prevent him from poking at it with a stick. The next moment he is pickig wildflowers and giving them to us in a bouquet. I'll never figure this kid out.
Observation #4: Sister Missionaries and a Life-and-Death Decision
We happened to bump into the Sister Missionaries during our walk, which is very rare with the large ward boundaries we have. Being the responsible parents that we are, we stopped in the middle of the road to chat with the Sisters. (If you are not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and have never spoken with the missionaries, you can chat live or call them at 1-800-537-6600. They are some of the best young people in the world and have a wonderful message to share.) As we were talking a car came around the corner and began heading right at us. For a moment I was terrified that it was being driven by 38 angry squirrels who were finally seeking their revenge on the person who has singlehandedly decimated their population.

As I processed the situation, I realized something terrible - my son's bike had fallen in the middle of the street and he was trying to pick it up, but couldn't. I was standing behind the stroller and instinctively ran into the road get my son and his bike out of the way. The only problem was that we were on a hill and the brakes on the stroller weren't on, so my daughter in the stroller started to zoom downhill the moment I sprang into action to get my son out of danger. Now both of my kids' lives were in jeopardy and I was left in that horrible parental predicament of, "I can only save one kid. Which one do I choose?" Well, I made my choice. Fortunately both kids survived. I will never, ever tell my kids which one of them got my help and which one got the shaft. I'm a horrible father.

Observation #5: I Will Get Blown Up One Day
We probably walked past as many discarded cigarette butts as we did dead rodents. North Carolina is home to cities like Winston, Salem, Tobaccoville, Cancerboro and Emphazymaville. I'm pretty sure Joe Camel was born in Charlotte and the Marlboro Man was Governor for 16 years. Needless to say, a lot of people smoke out here. One of my all-time pet peeves is when the driver in the car in front of me flips a cigarette butt out the window and it passes directly beneath my car. I am always afraid that I have a gas leak and the small spark from the butt will ignite the gas line, causing my car to burst into a mushroom cloud of smoke, fire and old Depeche Mode CD's. Maybe I played too much Spy Hunter as a kid. I'm pretty sure the cause of my untimely death will look like this:

Observation #6: Kids Are Gullible
One of our neighbors has an Invisible Fence to prevent their dog from leaving the yard. I'm pretty sure they also have an invisible dog, but that's beside the point. Our son saw the Invisible Fence sign beneath the mailbox and asked what it was. Being the dad that I am, I told my son that there was an invisible force field-type fence protecting their yard, kind of like on Star Wars. My son looked at me unconvinced, so I walked onto the lawn and put my hands up like a mime and pretended to push against the invisible fence. My son believed me and then came forward slowly reaching for the fence. When he realized I was pulling his leg, he immediately tried to trick his little sister into falling for the same prank. This is what it looks like to push against an invisible fence:

Ah, kids. The never ending comedic prop.

Well, my calves are burning, my hammies are aching, and I need a drink of water. Thanks for coming on a walk with me today. Now I just need to cross the street one final time to get home. Uh, oh, there's a squirrel right there! Don't do it, squirrel! Don't dart in front of me. I can't stop the stroller......!!!!!




-Andymann: You said that your rule for physical activity is that you should not do anything that cannot be done while wearing you Sunday best, therefore football is out. I can see the logic in this guideline. However, does this mean that you can coach football in the backyard? Mike Nolan of the 49ers coaches in his Sunday best. I also played a ton of soccer with little Chilean kids in the street during my mission, so soccer technically meets your definition of an appropriate Sunday activity. Does this mean that you wold endorse two-hand touch football?


Michelle said...

Hi there. I enjoy reading your blog, it's pretty funny. Well, as far as your football questions. . I put full-contact. It must be okay because my 3 girls play it every sunday while getting ready for church. Yes, they are fighting over who gets to brush their hair first, sit in the front seat on the way to church, where so and so put their shoes, she got more cereal than I did oh and my favorite . . .MOOOOOM, today is fast sunday and she ate breakfast (smack).

9:16 PM
Andymann said...

When I was a kid, the rule was you couldn't do anything that you couldn't do in your Sunday best. Playing football would definitely be out.

9:51 PM
kareninkorea said...

umm, shouldn't it be obvious that you need to STOP swerving?

The squirrels have calculated how fast to run in order to pass safely under the car... YOU are messing up the math!

10:45 PM
Amy said...

My dads answer to the Sunday activity question was this: If what you are doing could cause someone else to have to work on Sunday, it's a no go. So no swimming, sports, rough housin' or the like 'cause you might end up in the ER causin' someone to have to work on Sunday. Oh - and he'd probably rule out going for walks in your neighborhood - totally dangerous!

Now a days he has loosened up a bit. Golden Corral and Hometown Buffet are on the A-Okay List for Mother's Day, Birthdays that fall on a Sunday and anytime mom doesn't feel like cooking. But only if we're beamed there by Scotty, of course!

12:22 AM
Col.Smeag said...

I actually spend my Sundays with a good book, a large meal (I cook) and a long nap. But then again outside in Arizona in the summer is usually not a good idea.

On a side note while in Louisianna on my Mission I was showering one morning when the power went out. A squirrel had climbed a electric pole and had become Kentucky Fried. So don't feel bad for the squirrels it's not like they are the Einsteins of the animal kingdom.

12:33 AM
Doug said...

Try to think of your squirrel population as rats with designer tails. It reduces remorse.
Now, regarding the day of rest. I rationalize my activity in this manner.
It is a day of rest from our normal activities. You can't say that your Bishopric is getting any rest. I digress. If my normal activity is wake up, eat, talk on phone for 10 hours, eat some more, watch TV, wake up and go to bed, repeat, then perhaps a six mile hike before church would be a day of rest from the routine. It also gives time to reflect on the workmanship of the creators of this planet. I think I'll try scriptures on Ipod next. If I'm found in door number three, it won't be for sweating one day a week. I hope.

4:01 AM
Roxanne said...

I mostly spend my Sundays reading, watching a good movie or catching up on the weeks TV shows. Sometimes if its nice out, i go do some shopping but that usually means having to suffer the Sunday drivers!! As for the football question, im not much of a sports fan but my fiance is and usually he watches football on Sundays! So wouldnt that mean that football + Sunday = OK?
Poor squirells... they really dont have a chance, do they? Maybe its their destiny to be mangled by your car! :P
Keep writing, love your blog! :)

5:43 AM
Natalie said...

Those electriciy signs always scared me when I was little. And I always feel horrible when I run over a squirell even if it their own fault I hit them! The worst is when I am out on a run and pass a smushed squirell, it makes me yak.

6:08 AM
Melisa said...

I wouldn't base who I was saving on the kid, but on the danger level of the problem, ie. fast moving cars present more damage than a stroller falling over. Of course, a car that is in the process of stopping is much safer than a really steep hill with cactus at the bottom...

As for Sundays, if I went by what I could do in my Sunday best, feeding my children would be out. Walks with my family is the extent of our active activities.

6:09 AM
mama cow said...

On the note of cigarete butts why on earth do smokers think that their butts on the ground dont count as littering. And why the heck do my neighbors think that I want them to flick their cigarette cast offs into MY yard so my kids can find them and play with them. UGH I thought moving to Utah would at least get me away from that foul habit. The one saving grace of all these smokers in Southern Utah is everytime my 5 year old see or smells someone smoking she yells at the top of her lungs "Someone is smoking, GROSS"

Yeah right on Cassie!

7:34 AM
Tiffany said...

As per Sunday activity...I think that Sundays should be spent doing activities together as a family that help you grow closer. If your family can make it through a game of touch (or tackle) football and feel closer because of it (as opposed to getting madder at each other, as would have happened in my family growing up), then I definitely think its more appropriate for Sunday than just sitting around watching TV.

Squirrels are kind of scary...so I think that they get what's coming to them.

Also, I've decided that its dangerous to say hello to the missionaries when they're out and about. My aunt honked and waved to the missionaries once when they were out on their bikes and they got distracted waving back and got hit by a car! Luckily, they were okay...but the same thing almost happened to your son. I guess we just need to ignore the missionaries from now on..

8:09 AM
Hans-Juergen said...

A mission pretty much completely discredits the "Sunday Best" theory. Activities enjoyed in "Sunday best" on my mission included:

-100, 200, and 400 meter sprints (catching the bus, or streetcar, or train)
-Cross country running (after we missed the bus, or streetcar, or train)
-Powerlifting (transfer day)
-Fliers Up (rugby style)
-Tour de France bicycling
-BMX bicycling (shortcuts through the woods)
-Touch Football

And, since marrying and having kids, every Sunday morning (as mentioned by Michelle above) is a full contact sport.

9:23 AM
Paul said...

Pres. Faust said: "Keeping the Sabbath day holy is much more than just physical rest. It involves spiritual renewal and worship. President Spencer W. Kimball gave excellent counsel on Sabbath day observance. He said:

“The Sabbath is a holy day in which to do worthy and holy things. Abstinence from work and recreation is important but insufficient. The Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts, and if one merely lounges about doing nothing on the Sabbath, he is breaking it. To observe it, one will be on his knees in prayer, preparing lessons, studying the gospel, meditating, visiting the ill and distressed, sleeping, reading wholesome material, and attending all the meetings of that day to which he is expected. To fail to do these proper things is a transgression on the omission side.” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969, pp. 96–97.)

Over a lifetime of observation, it is clear to me that the farmer who observes the Sabbath day seems to get more done on his farm than he would if he worked seven days. The mechanic will be able to turn out more and better products in six days than in seven. The doctor, the lawyer, the dentist, the scientist will accomplish more by trying to rest on the Sabbath than if he tries to utilize every day of the week for his professional work. I would counsel all students, if they can, to arrange their schedules so that they do not study on the Sabbath. If students and other seekers after truth will do this, their minds will be quickened and the infinite Spirit will lead them to the verities they wish to learn. This is because God has hallowed his day and blessed it as a perpetual covenant of faithfulness. (See Ex. 31:16.)

On February 1, 1980, when the First Presidency announced the consolidated Sunday meeting schedule, the following counsel was given: “A greater responsibility will be placed upon the individual members and families for properly observing the Sabbath day. More time will be available for personal study of the scriptures and family-centered gospel study.

“Other appropriate Sabbath activities, such as strengthening family ties, visiting the sick and the homebound, giving service to others, writing personal and family histories, genealogical work, and missionary work, should be carefully planned and carried out.

“It is expected that this new schedule of meetings and activities will result in greater spiritual growth for members of the Church.” (Church News, 2 Feb. 1980, p. 3.) It is hoped that priesthood leaders and members of the Church will honor the spirit of more family togetherness on Sunday. "

10:22 AM
Sandy said...

We try to judge Sunday activities based on what attitude it promotes and just try to make Sunday different than the rest of the week...for example, because my husband has such a fondness for competitive sports - and because football is part of his paid-during-the-week-job, he doesn't generally watch sports (or play them in any form) on Sunday because it raises his blood pressure and causes him to want to scream obsenities. After a day of bishopric meetings and counseling people, he decided it was better to wind down by taking a nap:)

I have to say though, the older I get, the more I appreciate Sunday as a day of rest. I look forward to having a day where I don't have to scrub the toilet, do the laundry, go shopping, take the kids to soccer, etc., etc. And its the only day my husband gets a break (after his 10 hours at church of course...) and can actually be at the house for any period of time with nothing hanging over him.

BTW, "pop guts", as my husband calls them, are all over the place here, too...One time a bunny ran out in front of our car, landing under the right front tire. A second later, the bunny remains flew up and splattered across the front of the windshield (right in front of me, of course). I can honestly say it was one of the grossest, most disturbing moments of my life...and I've been hunting, watched surgeries and given birth to 3 children.

10:25 AM
The Peton's said...

Day of Rest? Between my husband being gone for high council, my yw lesson/calling, ward council, byc, brand new baby #3, and a youth fireside, I can hardly call it rest. Oh, and do it all while fasting.

About the squirrels, they really are like rats. We have tons out here in the northwest. I've learned to despise them. They bury nuts in my flower beds. So I let my children throw rocks at them. But not on Sunday. We're too busy.

10:55 AM
Pappy Yokum said...

I think Paul said it best in relation to the Sunday activity question. That said, I have found that as I have matured in the gospel, activities which I previously considered ok have found their way onto the "do not do" list. And other activities which were more yawn-inducing have become favorites. I think the reason we find ourselves changing is because at every level, the Lord currently accepts your attempts to keep His day holy, all the while simply prodding you on to reach up to the next level. Once you get to the next, you feel good about your move for a while and then His gentle prodding promotes further introspection at which point you determine to reach up to the next and so forth.

11:20 AM
Andymann said...

I guess the unwritten rule about Sunday activities would include scriptures. I guess if you can two hand touch with your scriptures in-hand, i guess that would be okay. The big joke was having your feet in the pool reading the scriptures.

8:39 PM
Angela said...

I totally think that those discarded cigarette butts are going to blow-up my car too. Lucky for me, we live in Utah and it doesn't happen much. Although it only takes one...

10:40 PM

I say that there is nothing wrong with enjoying physical activity on a Sunday, whether its a walk, a run or full contact football. My husband goes mountain biking on Sunday's after church. What could be wrong with spending time with your family outdoors in nature (all created by God I might add)? I don't think you should worry too much. I don't think you will be sent to purgatory for playing full contact with your son on a Sunday. There are certainly worse things you could be doing.

12:01 PM
Jamie said...

The rabbits in southern New Mexico are just as homicidal. On my birthday, at least 9 rabbits wrecked my no-kill record. The would see me coming, run into the road, and turn to go the same way I was going. Feeling the tires slip instead of a thump is weird.

5:20 PM
utmommy23 said...

I think that if you're doing it with your kid and neither are getting injured then it's all good! LOL! Sunday/Sabbath is for family time right?

9:57 PM
Jill said...

I have to wonder if every time there's a squirrel darting out in front of your car, that there's a small group of squirrels off the side of the road daring them to do it.
"Hey, come on Bob!"
"You're not a scaredy-cat are you?"
"What are you, chicken?"
"Run across the road, Bob!"
"Do it!"
"Do it!"
"I dare you!"

Poor squashed little squirrels. They just wanted to be a part of the group.

As for sunday activities, I teach the Sunbeams (7 of them) so I usually spend the rest of the day sleeping off a migraine.

9:23 AM
Mrs. B. Roth said...

You MUST see THIS!!!

3:14 PM
Somerset said...

Football on Sunday gets two-thumbs-up from me. My parents always said we were spending time as a family (bonding) so it was a.o.k.

Also, you're right about the squirrels in NC. I served my mission in Charlotte. You can't go more than a few feet without coming upon a squished squirrel. Well, until you get out in Boone or Caswell County and it becomes a close call between squirrel and possum.

9:00 PM

I wrote a paper in Biology once argueing that squrriels are depressed and commit suicide as a result of severe depression.

9:00 PM
Jen said...

Ha ha, fun blog, I'm glad I found it.

7:25 PM