Saturday, November 26, 2005


By Marion Kelley Bullock

Landon Snow, along with his parents and two sisters, travels to his grandparents’ home to celebrate his 11th birthday. That night, Landon explores a mysterious passage from his grandfather’s study to the local library. He meets talking books and finds The Auctor’s Riddle. He wonders: is life just an accident of nature? After Landon plunges into The Book of Meanings, he leaps from one adventure to another, meeting colorful, fascinating, and sometimes frightening, characters. How will he solve the riddle?
In an intriguing fantasy of happenings, comparable to Lemony Snicket or Alice in Wonderland, R. K. Mortenson combines theology with wit and wisdom to pen a clever story. He doesn’t talk down to younger readers, but rather, lifts them up to the level of his writing. In effect, he’s saying, “I know you’re intelligent enough to read and understand this.” And the imaginative reader will.
As the back of the book warns: “Don’t fall in. (This book may swallow.)" So heed the warning. Read it with care—and have fun!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


By Marion Kelley Bullock


One sharp report, but not loud. Still, it sounded ominous, like a gunshot! It came from outside my front door.

My husband, John, and I rushed outside and saw a police car parked across the street. A policeman advanced toward the house two houses down from us, on our side of the street. Gun back in his holster, he brandished a big stick. "Billy club," John said, later. What in the world had our neighbors done?

We watched as he stopped at a patch of grass and struck down with his stick. He then slashed it down on the other side of the sidewalk. Back and forth, back and forth. It was a fight to the death, and the policeman won.

"Bull snake," he told us and our neighbors. "He sure was aggressive."

We've had snake scares all over our neighborhood. A rattlesnake was killed recently at the end of our street, just two houses away, and another one on the next street over. A friend at the edge of town couldn't get his glass front door to open over the mat one morning. He reached down to move the mat. It was a rattlesnake, sluggish from the early morning cool temperature. When it woke up, it fought for all it was worth.

At my Sunday school class party last Thursday evening, we told rattlesnake tales. That night, I fully expected to step on one when I got out of bed. One of my friends confessed to turning on a flashlight before she'd walk across the room in the dark.

Yes, I get the shakes when I think of snakes. I live in West Texas.

"When I am afraid, I will trust in you" (Psalm 56:3)NIV.

Friday, November 04, 2005


by Marion Kelley Bullock

I'm one of those persons who tries to avoid deep controversial subjects such as whether or not restaurants should allow patrons to enter without wearing shirt and shoes, and whether cats should be allowed to run free or be restrained on leashes. So you can imagine my consternation when someone steers the conversation around to corporal punishment. There's the part of me that believes in moral justice. Then there's the other part of me that automatically sticks up for the underdog. I cry at the very thought of suffering.

On the other hand, I am extremely discriminatory against the species known as Musca domestica, i.e. the common housefly. I cringe when one enters the house. I moan when I see one land on any inside surface. In short, I'm practically psychotic about them. My hatred runs deep, having been inbred by a long line of flyswatter wielding mothers and grandmothers who believed that flylessness was next to godliness.
You could never accuse me of liking flies, but you'll have to admit, they are the underdog of all underdogs. As you can probably see, it could present a problem to hate flies and, at the same time, be a champion of the underdog. For this reason, I almost never let any inside my house. That goes for the travel trailer, too, since it's our home away from home.

The other day, though, we were camped at a delightful spot beside a trout stream. My husband was going in and out of our trailer, organizing his gear, and he held the screendoor open slightly longer than was absolutely necessary. Inevitably, a fly entered the trailer. I pointed this out to John, being careful not to attach any blame. "You let in a fly!" I said. "Oops, here come some more!" I quickly closed the screen after him.

When he came back in, he started in on me. "Back in the good old days," he began, with a smug grin on his face, "people didn't even have screens on their windows."

"So?" Sometimes I can't spot the relevance. I'd be willing to bet that people didn't have travel trailers back then, either.

"So, they didn't worry about a few flies taking up house space."

"Hmmm...." I forebore to point out that there's more space in a house. That would only prompt him to mention that I'm just as paranoid when we're not traveling.

He followed me as I went into the kitchen area to set out our lunch. Six flies munched at the table. I could see it was going to be one of those days. We armed ourselves with flyswatters and got ready for the slaughter.

"Help, help!" I heard the frightened little voices crying piteously.

"Hear that?" I asked, swerving and missing the culprit I had aimed at.

"Hear what?" He effortlessly hit the one I missed.

"Oh, nothing." I tried to sound nonchalant.

"Don't tell me you're hearing them talking again!" My
husband accuses me of not only having a split personality, but of being highly imaginative. He says my mind plays little tricks on me. Actually, I'm several months younger than he is.

I nodded sheepishly and tried to hit the one whose sticky little feet climbed steadily up the bay window. I missed, however, because he screamed just as I swatted.

"You're not very quick on the draw," my husband pointed out, hitting the window walker, kerplunk.

"Yucch!" That fly's fatal accident left the window more streaked than before.

"I'll swat, you clean," my husband directed. He hit another and another.

Their little voices rang in my ears. I put down my swatter, got out paper towels and disinfectant and cleaned the messy window.

Whap! He hit one as it begged for mercy.

"Five down and only one to go," he announced.

I decided I'd better help, or we'd never get any lunch. I picked up my swatter and there on the end of it reposed an exhausted fly. He was so depleted, his tongue was literally hanging out. I couldn't believe my luck. Even I could hit a half dead fly before he could flee. But no. He began to plead with me in the hoarsest little voice you ever heard.

"Please save me. Just carry me to the door and deposit me outside. I'll be forever grateful."

I did what he asked. I opened the screendoor wide and set him gently on the doorstep.

"Oh, no!" yelled my husband. "Here we go again." He glared at me.

I looked around to see him battling a new battalion of flies.

"I told you to let me swat," he growled. "Now, get out of here and let me take care of them."

So much for corporal punishment versus the underdog. I took the easy way out. I crawled into my loft bunk and hid my head under my pillow.

This article appeared in Mature Years