Bookmobile Geek

Granny Chick encouraged her children to read. She read to them, read with them, and made sure each one owned a library card.

Stick Chick’s English teacher worked with the school librarian to encourage her students’ reading. At the beginning of the year, she distributed a coloring-book style handout to each student. Pictured on the papers were bookcases divided into sections of books that loosely represented the Dewey decimal system classifications, and divisions of fiction like you might see today in your neighborhood Barnes and Noble.

The precious page occupied the front of Stick Chick’s notebook. The year’s assignment required reading 25 books each, at least two from each category, and no more than the maximum number of books shown in any one category.

Each Library day, Stick Chick and her friends in turn would sit with the librarian, answer questions about the books they had read and color in the corresponding book spine pictured on the shelf handout. Doing so allowed them to select a new book for the next week’s assignment.

Book Geek

This cleverly designed assignment forced the children to explore genres that they might not otherwise have chosen, but it allowed the students the freedom to choose titles that suited individual interest. It did not hurt that there was a little bit of math thrown in. (Not that it did Stick Chick any good. See New Math)

When living in the country, one night each week, Granny Chick schlepped her children off to the Bookmobile which parked in the lot in a nearby town at Jacksonville Pharmacy for a couple of hours.

The pharmacy was, aside from the place where their minds entertained foreign worlds and ideas, where they took the tidbits of their weekly allowance to buy contraband: shiny beads in tiny glass vials with which to string elastic necklaces and bracelets, bold blue mascara, an occasional box of TicTacs, and big green packs of Doublemint gum.

On Bookmobile nights in winter, when breath hung in wisps in the night air, they’d rush from their VW van (with its questionable heater) to the bookmobile, hurrying up its steps and closing the door behind them to keep the library-on-wheels warm. Stick Chick adored checking out books, frequently taking home the maximum allowed, or at least as many as she could carry. She probably only read a quarter of the ones she had chosen before it was time to take them back or renew. She personified the Bookmobile Geek, excited to let authors take her to places of dreams, of science fiction, and of romance.

Very well then Geek.

Return of the Flying Frog

Saturday morning marked the resurrection of a previously recurring event that Stick Chick had not thought about for a long while. Maybe the Flying Frog makes it less forgettable. To fully grasp its unusual nature, you must recall a time fifteen years ago.

Flying Frog

The cell phone in its infancy had just emerged beyond a military-style, corded contraption housed in a suitcase or as a limousine amenity; replaced by a black hand-held clunker with a telescoping antenna. Kids: this was before flip phones, before smart phones.

Most businesses and government entities had a fax machine. Individual pay phones stood crammed onto precious real estate of convenience stores, gas stations or city street corners. For a while, many people had a land-line and a cell. Doctors, attorneys and others who required immediate accessibility often had a pager too. An explosion of need for available phone numbers evolved.

If you moved from one area to another and needed a new land line, you had to give up your old number and replace it with a new local one. Usually for a year or so afterward, the phone company provided a recording on the old number citing the new one. But the ever-increasing need for local numbers forced carriers to reduce the time allowed before they snatched up old numbers. Consequently, your old number would be given to a new taker in short order.

About that time, Stick Chick and Loverboy moved to a new burg, complete with a new phone number.

Soon after, one Sunday morning while Stick Chick prepared pancakes for breakfast, the phone rang.

With half-stirred batter dripping off the wooden spoon, and a thought “Who would be calling at this hour on a Sunday?”, Stick Chick answered.


“Is this the Flying Frog?” asked the caller.

Giggling, she answered, “No, you must have the wrong number.”


Click. Dial tone.

Muttering, hung up and continued making breakfast.

Frequently on Sunday mornings, the phone rang. Each time the caller asked for The Flying Frog. Sometimes it was a female voice, other times male. Some callers insisted they had the right number, others asked whether Stick Chick might know whether they moved or even if she was the former proprietor.

Most times, in her pre first cup of coffee stupor, she had not the wherewithal to ask questions of them.

Finally, one morning, one came from a friendly caller.

Stick Chick answered, “Hello.”

“Is this the Flying Frog?”

This time SC answered, “No, you have the wrong number.”

The caller repeated the phone number which she thought she had dialed.

Stick Chick confirmed the number but explained it now belonged to Stick Chick and Loverboy, “But can I ask you what is the Flying Frog, and where are you calling from?”

“It’s an antique shoppe. I’m in California,” she answered.

After two years, the frequency of the calls decreased, until finally, they stopped altogether.

That is until yesterday.

Stick ChicShoweringk showered when the phone rang, so the answering machine picked up the call.

Later, she played it back.

“Hello. I’m calling for The Flying Frog Antiques and Collectibles. My number is…”

Today she recorded a new outgoing message for future Sunday mornings:

“Hello, you have not reached the Flying Frog. However, we have been told to take a flying leap from time to time, and if that’s close enough for you, then leave a message.”

The Flying Frog lives on.

Those Fun-Loving Finns

Stop the presses!

Stick Chick has found her next vacation destination.

The Finns have it all in hand with the upcoming 20th Eukonkannon MM-kisat Wife Carrying World Championships held in Sonkajärvi. Attracting local competitors, organizers also report participating couples hailing from Australia, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Estonia, and the United States. The rules clearly state, “All the participants must have fun.”

The Estonians, who are noted tough competitors, hold the record of 55.5 seconds to carry a wife 253.5 meters on a sand track punctuated by two dry obstacles and one meter-deep water impediment. That’s roughly the equivalent of three football fields.

The event, having gained increasing popularity since its 1992 inception, now offers a Wife Carrying Senior series for the so-inclined over 40 crowd. Competition applications will be accepted for the 2015 event beginning in January, so mark your calendar.

According to the organizers’ website, the festival “has deep roots in the local history. In the late 1800’s there was a brigand called Rosvo-Ronkainen living in the area. In his troops he is said to have accepted only the men who proved their worth on a challenging track. In those days, a common practice was to steal women from the neighbouring villages.”

Today’s female participants volunteer for their role. There is also a sprint competition and a team competition akin to a baton passing relay, except in this case baton = wife.

Photo Courtesy Markku/EPA via MSN

Photo Courtesy Markku/EPA via MSN

“At the exchange point, the carrier has to drink the official ‘wife carrying drink’ before continuing the race,” say the rules.

That made Stick Chick at least curious about what’s in it, but they don’t publicize it.

The fun fest caters to all ages. This year’s scheduled event included: dancing, DJ’s, food vendors, a bouncy house for the kids, several local performing artists, and The Conscript Band of Finnish Defence Forces, all for a reasonable about $34 for adults and $7 for kids under 15 (25 and 5 euros respectively.)

Aside from the races, an afternoon event entitled Rosvo Ronkainen’s auction of borrowed items caught Stick Chick’s eye. Those fun-loving Finnish people know how to party.

If you do nothing else, you owe it to yourself to read How to Become a Master in Wife Carrying. She’s guessing the 20th event on 3-4 July 2015 will be chock full of extra special good times. Get your passport ready. The question is, will Stick Chick be a participant or a spectator?




Reading Rainbow and the priorities of Common Core


If you have concerns about Common Core as I do and its potential impact on the next generation, I suggest taking a look at this excellent synopsis and opinion.

Originally posted on Accidental Devotional:

A few weeks ago all my online friends lost their minds. It seemed Levar Burton was trying to re-boot Reading Rainbow. Suddenly, everyone and their mom had some money to chip in. The kick starter raised over a million dollars in just 12 hours. It was insane. It was insane to see just how much we all loved Reading Rainbow, and it was insane to see the reason it was cancelled in the first place.

Apparently, Reading Rainbow was cancelled because all it did was teach kids a love of reading, and we don’t do that anymore in this country.   Because it did not teach kids how to read, Reading Rainbow was no longer important. . That was no longer the point of public television. And that is no longer the point of education. Check the Common Core standards. It is no longer in my job description…

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