Morber High Life

The Champaign of Families---Crunchy. Conservative. Catholic. Consider yourself warned . . .

Saturday, January 07, 2012

The Wild Horse

Cavan's submission (see previous post for background):

The Wild Horse

by Cavan

Chapter 1

Back in 1870, Jack Woodman and his wife, Alice, were traveling in the countryside of Harrisburg, Illinois. They were riding in a buggy in the forest during the fall. Jack and Alice had a team of three horses, but one of the horses tripped over a sharp rock. They went to the doctor, who told them the horse was lame. Before they leave, they stay and listen to a story about a wild horse. Jack and Alice thought they could perhaps catch the wild horse (because a new horse would be too expensive). They also hear of a horse missing from a rich man; there is a handsome reward for the horse's return! First, they decide to search for the missing horse. With the reward, they're not sure if they'll just buy a new horse or try to tame the wild horse. Putting saddles on the remaining two horses from their team, they set off on horseback.

Chapter 2

During the search, it starts to rain hard. After a big storm, they get stuck in some mud in the middle of a pond. They can not just hop out of the pond. Jack remembers that he brought a long rope. He spots a big boulder, makes the rope into a lasso and throws it over the boulder. He pulls himself and Alice out, who were now both cold and wet. But, the horses they were riding were still stuck in the mud because they were too heavy to pull out of the pond. So, the Woodmans had to continue their search by foot.

Chapter 3

When they find the missing horse, it is in a clearing by a cabin, closer to the town of Harrisburg, Illinois. They say to themselves, “It's probably the thieves' house, who kidnapped the horse.” Jack and Alice decide that if they rescue the horse and turn in the robber, they would probably get more reward money. They creep quietly toward the horse, who doesn't even make a tiny whinny. Alice gets on the horse, while Jack leads them back to the pond (where their other two horses were still stuck). Jack takes the rope and makes it into a double-ended lasso, putting one end over the missing horse and one end over a horse from their team . He urges the horse to back up, and after a minute, he pulls the trapped horse out of the pond. Jack then does the same for the other horse.

Chapter 4

Once they have all the horses free, they go back into Harrisburg and ask for directions to the rich man's house. When they get the directions, they return the horse, feed and stable it, and receive the reward! Next, they show him where the thief lives and bring along the sheriff and policeman, who surround the cabin. The sheriff knocks on the door and the thief comes out quietly, not expecting to see the police. The sheriff ties him up and throws him in jail. The couple felt proud for helping the rich man and were happy to receive extra reward money too.

Chapter 5

The next morning, the Woodmans begin their search for the wild horse. In their journey, they come across a wild river and wonder how they will get across. Jack and Alice think together about what to do and decide to jump across the river on horseback, but will they make it? They back up their horses, then start the horses galloping as fast as they can go. When they near the river's edge, they jump. Alice's horse almost makes it across, but his back legs land in the river and the current is too strong for the horse. The river pulls both the horse and Alice in! The man thinks quickly and urges his horse forward, to get in front of the woman's horse. When he is in front, Jack spots a tree stump on the other side of the river and throws his long lasso over it. He tightens the rope, and as Alice and her horse approach the rope line, it stops them from going down a water fall in front of them. The woman urges her horse to get on the river bank. The horse tries his best and succeeds!

Chapter 6

They ride along into another forest and come to a clearing, with a quiet stream running through it. The Woodmans and their horses are hot, tired and hungry. They stop to drink at the stream and then go to pick wildberries for a meal later. When they return, they rest in the grass and eat some of the berries they found, while the horses continue drinking from the stream. After Alice feeds the horses some carrots from her pack, Jack gets out a little tent he packed that is big enough for him and his wife to sleep in.

Chapter 7

Jack finds his small ax and goes to chop down some firewood for the night. When he was finished, nightfall was only a few minutes away. He began to rub some rocks and wood together to start a fire. After a few small sparks begin to fall, the flames then grew into a big fire. The Woodmans go to sleep and rest from their big adventurous day.

Chapter 8

When Jack woke up, he saw a midnight black horse, standing near their horses. He silently awoke Alice. Could this be the wild horse? The Woodmans believed it was. They tried to quietly approach the black horse, but Jack stepped on a twig that snapped. The black horse turned, saw them and ran off into the woods. The Woodmans quickly packed up their camp and chased after the wild horse.

Chapter 9

They come upon another dusty clearing, near the edge of the forest and spot the wild horse. Jack creeps over to the horse, trying not to startle him. As he approached the wild horse, he gently reaches out his hand to try and pet the horse. The horse nervously backs up, unsure of Jack's hand. Jack slowly follows the horse, but this time, the horse stays. Alice then steadily walks over to where Jack and the wild horse stand. She continues to slowly walk over to the horse, who once again, backs away a little bit. She calmly continues and holds up her hand. Alice then gets close enough to softly pet the wild horse. While she is petting the horse and showing him kindness, Jack swiftly went to get a saddle. As his wife keeps the horse peaceful, Jack calmly places the saddle on the horse. After gently tightening the saddle, he tries to carefully climb on the horse, who shakes Jack off. Jack tries again, but this time he gives the horse a carrot while he climbs up. Jack succeeds in staying on the horse this time!

Chapter 10

The Woodmans were both glad they had found the wild black horse and were excited to take him to Champaign, Illinois (where they were going to live and start a family). Jack's cousin, an engineer, had previously offered the couple a ride on the train back to the Champaign depot. They could keep their horses on a special trailer car. The Woodmans were looking forward to an easier trip and settling down in Champaign together.

The Cold Night

Ah, our neglected blog . . .

Cavan took a class earlier this Fall learning about settlers and particularly their presence here in central Illinois. For a final project, he and I were asked to write a brief fictional story dealing with some of the things we learned in the class. Here's my contribution, with Cavan's to follow:

The Cold Night

Jacob could see his breath in front of him.

It wasn't uncommon in the midst of this harsh winter, but, as he sat shivering under a threadbare quilt in front of the dying embers of the hearth-fire, the feeling in the pit of his stomach wasn't just hunger: it was the prospect of complete loss.

Jacob glanced to his left, hoping that the empty woodpile would have replenished itself in the last minute since he had previously looked. Only a few splinters remained; one could hardly call the remnants “kindling.”

His mother moaned softly. Jacob jumped up and walked over to the palette on which she lay. He placed his cold hand upon her forehead. The warmth of her feverish skin was a relief to his numb fingers, but his worry took any pleasurable sensation away. The fever had not improved, but had grown worse in the past few hours.

He marveled at the fact that one could sustain such a high temperature in the midst of a freezing cabin, but such was the nature of the sickness. She was curled up on the floor, her body trembling with the cold and groaning from the pain of typhoid fever.

Jacob prayed over her again, seeking divine help that his mother may gain some relief. The fever had persisted for days, and his father, braving the treacherous weather to seek medical help, had yet to return after 2 days. Jacob had been given instructions to care for his mother, feeding her from their nearly-bare food supply, and giving her the occasional ice-chip, taken from the icicles hanging from their roof, to keep her hydrated.

But Jacob was not sure how he was to sustain the fire at this point; the temperature had dropped even further since his father left, and the woodpile, stacked five-feet high only days ago, was no more. The family was spending their year as homesteaders in Illinois, and found themselves unprepared for the ferocity of this particular mid-western winter. The wood was gone, food was low . . . all hope of survival seemed nearly lost.

Jacob tried not to fall into despair. He looked around the cabin, trying to find the next item that could be tossed into the fire. Anything to keep it going.

The room was dark, but his eyes settled on his most prized possession: his toy train, a gift from his parents before they made their trek from Georgia to Illinois. It had occupied him many days during the trip, and was always a pleasant diversion in the evenings after a hard day's work with his father. It was his only toy.

Jacob glanced around, hoping something else would find his attention . . . but nothing did. Many other wooden items had already met their demise in the hearth. The train was all that was expendable.

He walked over to it, picking it up and examining the intricate details that he had never noticed before. Though the train had clearly been assembled from “spare” pieces of wood and each side was not perfectly symmetrical, nevertheless, the maker had spent a good amount of time carefully planing the wood, sturdily assembling the train, and artfully painting a window here, some wheel spokes here. Jacob had always enjoyed the fact that it was durable, sustaining many crashes and falls, but now he admired the superb craftmanship, the time and love spent making this hodge-podge of wood into a little boy's constant companion.

Jacob ran the train along the ground one last time, ignoring the numbness in his fingers. One trip around the imaginary track was enough; Jacob lifted the engine, the three cars, the caboose, and quickly tossed them into the fire. At first, the embers seemed to be unaware of the train's presence, having already resigned itself to its fate. But after a few seconds, the wheel of the caboose ignited and soon the entire train was engulfed in flames.

The fire burned bright, and filled half of the cabin with newfound warmth. Jacob stared into the hearth, but only for a minute. He grabbed his quilt and laid next to his mother, her body heat warming him, and her presence comforting him. Jacob fell asleep, the occasional tear streaming down his cheek. Perhaps aided by angels, the train burned throughout the night.

Two months later, Jacob, his mother and father were all waiting at the Champaign depot for the next train to roll in. They were expecting Jacob's uncle Adam to arrive at any minute.

Jacob and his mother had slept safely through that night. His father had arrived the next morning, greeted by melting snow and the warmth of the sun. He had brought food, which was much needed, and medicine, which was not, as the mother's temperature had broken that night. Mother was up and about, eager to greet her husband and hold her son.

It was now April, and Jacob was without even a coat in the spring weather. Far off in the distance, he heard the shrill sound of a train whistle, and soon saw the locomotive itself pulling into the station. A throng of people exited the train, many greeted by loved ones. Adam descended onto the platform and caught the leaping Jacob, who had broke into a dead run when he saw his beloved uncle.

After a warm greeting from Jacob's parents, Adam asked, “Jacob, would you mind carrying my bag, please?” Jacob gladly agreed. He threw the bag over his shoulder, and began to walk towards their buggy. Jacob tossed the bag in, but was met with his Adam's gentle rebuke. “Gently, my boy! I have something special in there. Please take it out and show your parents.”

Jacob breathlessly reached into the bag . . . and pulled out a beautiful, hand-made train, superior even to the one that had been consumed in the fire.  

Monday, May 17, 2010

24 in the 1990's

Shan and I were both dismayed when we heard of the end of the line for one of our favorite TV series, 24. I found this video of a 24 "pilot" shot in the mid-90s. Hilarious!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sicut Cervus

An amazing thing happened last week at Mass.

Background info first: Very often, the choirs at St. John's will do a post-Communion meditation as the priest is cleaning the vessels at the altar. It's imperative that the director of each choir time the piece perfectly to finish before the priest is finished with the vessels; otherwise, the priest sits before the song is finished and everyone in the congregation will then rise from their kneeling position and sit down in the creaky pews. Between the shuffling, creaking, thumping of kneelers being returned to their upright position, etc., it makes for a brutal cacophony of sound right near the end of a meditative choral piece. Talk about ruining the mood.

Anyway, on Sunday, I cut our communion chant a bit short, as the priest presiding at Mass tended to be very "efficient" at cleaning the vessels, and I knew that we needed to start the post-Communion motet a bit earlier than usual. So the choir received Communion and then we started the piece. About halfway through, I started looking every 30 seconds or so to check to see where the priest was; at one point I got a sinking feeling in my stomach, as I knew that he was going to finish before we would, and the end of the piece would most likely be ruined by the congregation hurling themselves back into place. I turned back to the choir with a pained expression on my face and braced myself for the inevitable.

But it never came.

The ending of the piece was beautiful, and not a sound could be heard in the Church otherwise. I immediately looked back towards the front, and sure enough, Father had sat down . . . but the congregation stayed in place. No one had moved a muscle.

Now I've been doing choir stuff at St. John's for 7.5 years now combined, and this has NEVER happened. The congregation ALWAYS sits down . . . must have been the Holy Spirit not wanting to ruin this piece.

(No, this is not my choir! And we only did up to 3:33 of the video.)

As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God. (Ps. 41(42): 1)

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Spring! Spring! Spring!

The last couple of days have been so wonderful here . . . sun shining, birds chirping, snow melting! Really, spring is on its way. Hooray! This winter has been long and was getting tortuous. I know that since we live in the Midwest, we are not out of the woods yet, but praise God for the glorious bit of warm-er weather we've had!!!

Every Morber is ready to get out and play, including our youngest, Sebastian, who is walking. For some reason, both my boys have been earlier-than-average walkers. However, they have also both been my "late" babies. Perhaps this means they are late to arrive, but ready to get in the action. ;)

Here is a haiku about our adventures on Thursday:

Look! Look! Spring is near . . .
Beckons us outside to play
In the mud, I fear.

Hope all of you are able to enjoy the first promises of spring as well!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Humility of Motherhood

Yes, this blog has been sorely neglected these past two months. Basically, from Thanksgiving until now . . . My apologies! I am doing the best I can as a mother of 3. ;)

Today, the kiddos and I read some books on the human body and keeping ourselves healthy. With one of the books, there is an accompanying CD with various songs for children on the many amazing systems/parts of our bodies. I was looking for the CD to play in the background while the children finished a project. I knew it was either in our main CD shuffler or in the van. When I discovered it wasn't in the shuffler in the house, I said, "Well, that means it's in the van."

Cavan, my wise boy who is helping his mother chip away at the pride blocking her way to holiness, responded, "Mom, you could be wrong. Do you know why?" I left an appropriate pause waiting for what came next. Then, in a very simple and straightforward manner, he continued, "Because you're not God, Mom."

Despite my initial internal rejection of him postulating that *I* could be wrong, all I could say in response was "You're right, Cav." Good thing I have children intent on getting me to heaven! Otherwise, I'd be doomed. ;)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Teenagers' Brains

Now, if I read this blurb when I was a teenager, I would have been deeply offended and mad. But having been out of my teenage years for awhile, I can see how "immature" I was (even as someone who was ahead of her years overall).

The truth of the matter is that teenagers are emotional and *still developing* as people, which includes their brains. This is why they still need parental guidance. Most importantly, this is why it could be dangerous to simply provide them with all the various "safer sex" options and then let them go wild. How can you make a "rational" decision, which could have life-long consequences when your ability to reason is not thoroughly formed?

Just food for thought.