Oh well

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page duanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

The most famous song of the Mormon pioneers ends with the stirring proclamation, “All is well. All is well.”

Well, maybe so.

“You can’t fight city hall,” so the saying goes. But I did.

I love my town, Provo Utah, but I also strongly believe the government should not roll over people; especially if what they (the government) want to do is illegal. This was. The state law prescribes that no city can annex land unless a majority of the land owners in the proposed area request it.

Our family and others lived in the county fairly close to the city boundaries. Most of us wanted to keep our open spaces and rural atmosphere. The city saw us as potential property tax income. They tried to persuade or pressure us to request annexation. In the case of our home, the pressure got uncomfortably personal. We could either join the city, or forego drinking, washing, and going to the bathroom. That is they would shut off the culinary water to our house.

Draping myself in an imaginary American revolutionary flag proclaiming “Don’t Tread on Me,” and whistling “Yankee Doodle,” I called the state house in Salt Lake City. The state hydrologist agreed with my position, and issued me a permit to drill a well. A well permit in our arid state is like having squatter’s rights on Sutter’s Mill stream where the California gold rush began.

However drilling a well is equivalent to building Sutter’s Mill. Every foot down costs a week’s worth of groceries. But I had set my flinty face against tyranny, or maybe I was just pig headed. Whatever, I hired a driller, and down went his bit, cachunk, cachunk, cachunk. Each cachunk was a twenty dollar bill flying out of my wallet. Ninety percent of American land has water within fifty feet down. We are part of the lucky ten percent, 100 feet, cachunk 200 feet cachunk, cachunk, 300 feet, I’m thinking, “Will we have to suck water from the Yangtze River in China?” At 305 feet a tiny dribble, 325 feet a modest underground seep. I decided to go with that. “And so we lived happily ever after…”

Except that paraphrasing the old English proverb, “There’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip;” likewise much slippage twixt the well and the faucet.

Driving a six inch casing pipe into the ground is just the beginning of the fun especially if you are a naive do it yourselfer like me always looking for new thrills. After the well is dug, you have to lower a pump and connecting steel pipe down to the bottom of the well. This is done by the well drilling company, but of course for a price. I said, “I can do that. What could go wrong?” Don’t ask. You may find out.

I bought three long pipes from a scrap yard, and bolted them into a tripod tepee over the well pipe. I hooked a hand powered pulling tool called a “come along” to the top. I screwed a hefty submersible well pump onto a 20 foot long, 60 pound section of pipe, hoisted the whole operation up and hooked it to the come along at the top of the tepee. I climbed up the tepee, set the come along to extend mode, and lifted the handle. The pipe descended toward the well about half an inch. So far so good. Another lift of the handle, another half inch. In only 480 lifts and lowerings of the come along handle I had the first pipe and the well pump dangling from the top of the well casing. Only 15 more pipe sections to go. Or in another image which I preferred to not think about, it would be like crawling across a football field, (including one end zone) with your fingers taking half inch steps, and hoping not to be whip lashed by speeding snails coming up behind you. But, hey, after only 7,680 pumps on the come along I had the pump snugly at the bottom of the well (actually a few feet above so I didn’t pump dirt off the bottom.)

The good part about drilling a well on our property is that we have no rocks for about 50 feet, and few for about 275 feet down. We were able to drill the well straight. But at that depth we met a big rock, and had to lower and explode a bundle of dynamite to break it up. This allowed the casing to slip by the shattered rock, but this Do-si-do of pipe and rock bent the pipe slightly. As I lowered the pump, the bent casing scraped bare the wires attached to the pump, and shorted out the connection when the pump was submerged in the water. That meant inching back up the football field to fix it. Which I did.

The trip back down was made easier with a block and tackle my friend Don Buidge lent to me. It was not freeway speed. I still had to climb up the tripod, and screw on the pipe sections, but I was getting better at the process.

Until at about 200 feet down. The pipe slipped off its hook and a thousand pounds of pump and pipe headed for middle earth. Instinctively (euphemism for stupidly) I grabbed the pipe. The brace at the end of the pipe slammed down onto the iron well casing within half a hair of making me a four fingered no thumb guitar player. It instantly turned my thumbnail black and caused me to exclaim something like, “My, my, this is an interesting development.” or words to that effect.

I took off a few days to recuperate, then returned to the project, lowered the pump, flipped the switch, and…nothing happened. The fall had killed the pump.

My performing partner Dick Davis and I had a tour on the east coast, so I reluctantly parted with the joys of well digging for a couple of weeks. My luck traveled with me. At Cornell University in Ithaca New York, we parked our truck and camper on an incline. The road was icy so we blocked one wheel with a big stone. That worked well except we also dropped the rock on my foot breaking two toes. A local medical clinic fitted me with a cast and crutches. As true troupers we did the show that night, finished the tour. I went back to the well.

It was early winter now, snow flurries sometimes whipped around me as I dragged my cast up and down the tripod; unscrewed pipes on the way up fixed the motor and screwed pipes together on the way down. I flipped the switch not daring to expect anything.

Miracle! Water gushed up the well and into a hose I had attached. Three hundred pounds of water pressure turned the hose into a twenty foot snake weaving and whipping above me. I was a Hindu snake charmer with a snake on steroids. I hadn’t hooked up the pressure limiter on the well, and frankly wasn’t interested in doing so. I was having too much fun. Finally I reluctantly turned the pump off, then turned it on a few more times to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.

The well worked perfectly until once when I was on tour, the children turned it on by mistake, ran the pump dry and burned out the motor. I pulled it out, but it was toast.

Meanwhile, the city changed tactics. They realigned their proposed annexation boundaries to include a big section of land owned by developers who wanted to put their property into the city. This made my neighbors and me a minority of the property holders, so we could be swept in against our will.

So yes, you can fight city hall. You just can’t win. But Provo is a fine city full of great people, and they left our house water on. I am presently using a more primitive system on the well as a backup to obtain water in an emergency.

Shakespeare wrote, “All’s well that ends well.” I ended with a well and a story to tell. I guess Shakespeare would be pleased.

 Your next installment is: Helping Freedom Ring

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?
The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.

Did you ever misplace a child?

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page duanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

Twice; once when we were headed for our little farm 16 miles down the road near the town of Salem. Our daughter, according to her account, was busy doing important work for the betterment of the family in the back yard. Too late she heard our Volkswagen bus puttering down the road toward the slave labor camp, as the children described, it in thought if not in word.

Our daughter ran frantically to the middle of the street, waved her arms, but to no avail. She resigned herself to being left alone. Her only comfort was what the refrigerator, the cookie jar, and the television set might offer.

As the sun dipped low behind the mountains across the lake the tired farm crew pulled up. The weary boys automatically went for the milk buckets. Diane and the girls headed for the kitchen to have dinner ready when the milkers returned.

The abandoned daughter had watched the sun, turned off the TV early enough that it would be cool when we returned, and stacked most, and washed some of the breakfast dishes to blunt any accusations that she had deliberately dodged the work detail. Her efforts achieved their purpose. We still don’t know, and now we don’t care what her motives were.

Our young son, on the other hand was undoubtedly lost; lost in thought, not only this time but fairly frequently. We were on a holiday breakfast picnic in Provo canyon. He was wandering, and exploring, pondering weighty matters such as, “Why is there air? Where does the white go when the snow melts? What did people throw before there were rocks?” He was a child of nature, and nature beckoned him to pursue the nearest mystery of bugs, tree roots, cloud formations, and far off bird voices. At length he returned to the picnic ground and subsequently became vaguely aware that the group now accompanying him was smaller in number, and rather larger in size than his siblings, and more wrinkled. Also this group was inquisitive of things they should know, such as what was his name, and did he remember his home address and/or phone number? He didn’t.

Meanwhile back at the homestead, his brothers and sisters having returned from the picnic were rejoicing in a day out of school if not out of paper routes and goat milking. Supper was a hamburger cook out, and enjoying family togetherness. Then the phone rang. A very official sounding voice interrogated if I was Duane Hiatt. I confirmed his suspicions. He asked if I had a small son named Benjamin. Lightening struck my memory bank. “I’ll be right there.”

Contentedly licking his who knows how manyeth ice cream cone, my son smiled at me as I burst into the police office.

“Thank you officers for taking care of our son,” I said.

“A couple brought him in this afternoon. He finally remembered his phone number.”

“Thank you very much. We’ll be going now.” I looked at my son. He was still smiling, but not as broadly, more like a boy who just realized this might be the end of eating treats he didn’t have to share with 14 other people. I hoped the police were not noticing. They were not. They were focused on me.

“Not so fast Mr. Hiatt. We have questions you need to answer. Have you ever been arrested for child abuse?

No.

“Domestic violence?”

“Look officer. Do I look like a child abuser or a wife beater? Benji, tell the nice policeman I’m a good daddy.”

He smiled through his ice cream drools.

“Ever been booked for child abandonment before?”

“Seriously?”

“No, not seriously; you’re obviously a good father, but we get all kinds in here, and we, like you, care about kids. Have a good night little guy. Thanks for being our guest here in the station house. Maybe you’ll grow up to be a policeman some day.”

Following that night, we never put the car in gear until every child counted off in order using his or her name, or for the smallest ones a goo or a giggle.

Your next installment is: Oh well

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?
The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.

Meanwhile back at the ranch

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page duanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

Those of you who go back to the days of cowboy shows on the radio may remember the phrase, “Meanwhile back at the ranch.” The Lone Ranger, or some other straight shooter would be chasing bad guys on their latest adventure. Then to thicken the always thin plot, the announcer would take us back to the ranch for the sub plot developing there.

As an entertainer, presenter, and writer I have done a bit of traveling. As a husband and father I have tried to fulfill my most important role by keeping track of what was going on “meanwhile back at the ranch.”

And incredibly in my absence our children have always behaved with complete obedience and maturity. I firmly believe this. I also firmly believe that our goats never jump the fence and prune the neighbors’ landscaping, and that any child’s squabble in our family was always the other person’s fault. Under the tutelage of my children I almost believe that “F” on a report card means fine, “D” means dandy, and “I” stands for incredible.

So I was taken aback somewhat by stories our children related at one of our annual family conferences. They agreed to share after I agreed that the statute of limitations had run out on all childhood mischief.

One of the rules our family grew up under was that you could watch anything on television. All you had to do was get it approved, and schedule it. We never had to worry about approving because nobody ever scheduled anything ever. Except me; as a public service I scheduled Brigham Young University football and basketball games. This was to show other members of the family that television can be an educational and uplifting experience; unless the Cougars fumble away the game winning touchdown or slam dunk Then the TV can make us grumpy for days.

I thought our children understood and supported this enlightened management of the television set until my wife and I came home one night. As expected, the children were reading, conversing, and studying, as uplifting music softly played in the background. But for some reason, two scenes popped through my mind, one was Jack Palance, one of my favorite gritty actors. In a war movie titled “Attack.” Sergeant Jack looks down from a hill on a sleepy German town, turns to his patrol and mutters, “Quiet down there. Too quiet.” It was.

The second scene was from the old Lone Ranger radio shows mentioned above. LR and his faithful companion Tonto were always riding up on an outlaw camp only to find the bad guys had left. Trail wise Tonto would leap off his pony, feel the ground under the ashes and report, “Not long gone Kimo Sabe. Campfire still warm.”

So Tonto-like, I went into the living room. I felt the top of the TV and announced to the children, “Not long turned off Kimo Sabe. TV still warm.”

That solved the problem. After that, the TV was always cool on top when we came home. Like Sergeant Jack, I should have been more suspicious, something like, “Cool here, too cool,” Or as Tonto might have surmised, “Campfire cold Kimo Sabe. Like maybe they left last winter.”

Turns out, I learned from our family conference story times, that the children would still watch unscheduled TV when we were out, but they would put an ice cube tray on top of the TV to cover their tracks. The famous law of unintended consequences had kicked in. I was teaching obedience. They were learning creativity.

And I was learning that whatever important outside business we may be involved in, nothing is as important as what goes on “meanwhile back at the ranch.”

 Your next installment is: Did you ever misplace a child?

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?
The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.

Family Calamities

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page duanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

I was once asked to give a pep talk to a Red Cross meeting. Before I spoke they gave a report on the goodly works they had performed that year. Among their rescues, humanitarian efforts and community services, they mentioned a considerable number of what they titled “Single Family Disasters.” In my opening remarks I said, “Thank you for giving me the proper title for Single Family Disasters. We have been calling ours “Family Home Evening.”

If “Family Home Evening” is a new phrase to you, it’s a Mormon practice where we gather on Monday evening for counsel, activities, and a treat. It has sometimes been described as an evening of arguing that begins and ends with prayer. But even as we joke about it, we all agree that years of weekly home evenings chronicle some of our most treasured memories and character development.

And like most families, we have experienced stiffer crises than an evening of wiggles, pokes, jokes and “he/she started it.”

I remember the larger crises best by the tag lines with which they were brought to my attention. :

“Let me tell you first that we are all still alive”

“You can still shut the door if you use both hands.”

“I wondered why they weren’t eating as much.”

The first of the above lines was spoken to me by one of our sons when he and a few other siblings joined us a bit late for a family gathering out of town.

Since I generally assume our family members are all alive unless I hear differently, my fatherly sense told me this announcement might be a set up for a bigger story.

It was

Our barn is up a hill behind our house. The truck hauling hay up to the barn was spinning its wheels on the grade so our son hooked the tractor to the truck’s front bumper. His younger brother was the designated driver of the truck. Older son jumped on to the tractor seat, revved the engine and popped the clutch. The tractor leaped. Chained to the truck it couldn’t go forward, so it rotated on its back wheels like a rearing horse, launched its nose into the air and performed a back flip on to the hood of the truck.

Cat-like reflexes he didn’t even know he had launched older son off the bucking tractor seat safely to the ground. Younger son froze in fright as the somersaulting tractor crashed down inches from the windshield. Younger son flipped open the “unsafety” belt holding him to the seat and flew out the door to join his brother on the ground.

And speaking of car doors, they are not the best tools for knocking down trees. Diane, my wife discovered that while backing up near a husky trunk. She was looking over her right shoulder out the back window with the driver’s side door partly open, then totally open, then partly folded between the tree and the front fender. Her opening line to me was, “You can still close it using both hands.” A rump bump also helps we found later. Full disclosure, I did something similar to the right rear view mirror of another car a few years later.

Egg production was slipping day by day in the hen house. I went to check. One possible reason was the chicken bones I found littering the coop. Some varmint (we’re suspecting a badger) dug up out of the ground every morning, enjoyed a chicken breakfast, and went back down his hole until the next day. Apparently this had been going on for some time. There appeared to be more bones in the coop than chickens.

I asked a busy and oft distracted son whose chore was feeding the chickens about this. He answered, “I wondered why they weren’t eating as much.” (The chickens I assumed, not the badger.)

Family calamities; some tragic, some funny; often the difference is how long ago they happened.

Your next installment is: Meanwhile back at the ranch

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?
The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.

Our “Lego ®” Home

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page duanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

Typical newlyweds, we rented an apartment, outgrew it, then a house and another one while we saved for a down payment on a home of our own. We learned of a promising house in northeast Provo. It was for sale, not for rent, but we decided to check it out anyway. We were not ready to buy yet, but the house was ready for us. We drove up into the drive way. We looked at each other. This time the Spirit spoke to both of us, “This is your home.”

It was a very non imposing grey shake shingle bungalow with a built on extension. But it was sitting at the mouth of a little gulch in the Wasatch Mountain foothills that called out, “Bring me some children. I’m ready to play a lot and work some.” We had three young boys, a toddler boy, and two enthusiastic parents ready to answer this call.

It turns out the Spirit is, among other things a capable and trustworthy financial counselor sometimes. Two weeks later mortgage interests jumped from 6 ½ % and didn’t stop until they topped out at above 12%, sometimes as high as 16%. We would have paid for the house three times over at those rates. A few years later houses doubled, then quadrupled in price. Our income did not keep pace. We are grateful for the nudge we got from whichever angels deal in real estate.

We stretched our modest nest egg into a down payment, and bought the gulch and the humble house. “We can always adapt the house to our needs and tastes, but we can’t build our own little canyon,” we reasoned. We noted as we examined the house further that we were not the first to think that way. Every owner, it seemed wanted to “do it yourself” the place into a new configuration. The reckless abandon of building, unbuilding, and rebuilding of the house reminded me of our children on Christmas morning with a new box of Legos®.

The little house had done its best to oblige. Originally it had a garage at the side with a flat roof patio over that. Inside, it was your basic small house, not exciting but efficient; two bedrooms; a bath, a kitchen and a living room. The builder and his family sold out and moved on. The next family wanted a different configuration. They turned the two average size bedrooms into three rather small ones. The three bedroom family sold it to a family big on cleanliness. They moved the walls around and put in a convenient laundry room which was inconvenient for the next family who moved the laundry room to expand the kitchen. The front porch steps were too steep and too far south for somebody. They left the stairs but put a porch rail at the top, so there was really no place to go when you finished your climb. They built another set of stairs ten feet to the north. We covered the “stairs to nowhere” with a wood deck.

While the structure and floor plan were trying to keep up with the whims of each succeeding owner, the same process was going on outside the house. One family wanted grass where another wanted gardens. Trees and bushes were planted and transplanted. The driveway was moved from one side of the house to the other and from the front to the back.

For pure creativity, no owners excelled the folks we bought it from. Max Golightly was a theatre director and a poet. His wife, Beverly, was equally creative with interiors and antiques.

A scenery and set designer does not view walls the way most people do. He or she is used to rearranging space by shifting a flat here, a door there, and changing the scenery with the change of a scene. A man who lives his professional life with one wall only imagined and an audience looking on through that open wall is not intimidated by a few two-by-fours and a slab of dry wall. Max and Beverly rearranged house architecture the way most people rearrange furniture.

They saw the little gray house as needing a few minor changes. They moved the kitchen from the back of the house to one side. They added a dining area by walling in the patio over the garage which became no longer a garage but a little studio apartment; the former kitchen became the living room; the living room became sort of a step down parlor only shorter because one end of it was walled off to make a small children’s bedroom.

All these changes had interesting side effects. One was convenience, another fire safety. There were enough plumbing pipes under the floor now to locate virtually anything anywhere. In case of fire there was little danger of being trapped. Everybody who remodeled added a few more doors for convenience. Now there are almost as many outside doors as there are rooms. The only door that wasn’t convenient was the front door which now opened up into the little kids’ bedroom. This could be a shock to any visitor given the normal state of our kids’ rooms. But visitors might not notice because the room was dark, having no windows but a small peekaboo glass in the front door.

But with all its eccentricities, the house had an open, adaptable and livable feeling which we loved and still do. We undid some of the things Max did, but still enjoy much of his creativity.

We needed more room, as both the family and the children grew. I added a few contributions but even so found we could procreate faster than I could build. But the little house and the big family helped bond us together.

I had a well dug (325 feet before we hit water), built a barn, chicken coop, and horse corral out of parts and lumber from buildings they were tearing down in an orchard nearby. They couldn’t sell them (the barn still says “4-sale” in faded letters on the front) so they gave them to me. I borrowed a tractor and trailer and moved them home in sections. I hauled them up the back yard on a road I dug out of the hillside by hand in a truck I made out of two wrecked 1953 Chevy half tons. I dug a carport in the sloping front yard, and built a truck, tractor and trailer port in back where the original carport sat.

Space wasn’t a problem when the children were smaller and fewer. Our experience has been that no matter how much room they have, children spend a good part of their day playing around Mom. And at night they don’t need much more space than a bureau drawer to cuddle down in. (I never did bed them down in a drawer, but I considered it once or twice.)

Little children like to be close enough so that at the first peek of a bogie man, sound of a monster under the bed, bad dream from a late snack, and certainly at the first crack of thunder they can streak like homing pigeons to the parents’ bed. The universe can collapse around a kid when he is snuggled up next to Mom and Dad with his head under the covers, and he’ll still be safe. I would rather my children have too little space in the home and in the family than too much.

The funny house and fun-filled backyard have been everything we hoped for. Tree houses, trails, huts, and hideouts are a calendar of our children’s growth. Like the lines we have on our bedroom closet wall to measure how tall each child was on what date, these special places in the backyard chronicle the growth and development of every period in our children’s lives.

A few days after we signed the papers that transferred this little house and gulch to the Hiatts and the bank, we all gathered on a little flat up above our home. It was dusk, a beautiful autumn evening; quiet and very private there. The little jewels of lights winked at us from the city in the valley. In the subdivision just below our home we could see the warm glow of lighted windows. But in our backyard we were alone. The foothills on either side of our little gulch rose above us. They were two powerful shoulders on which the earth would bear our home and family. They whispered protection and insulation from the outside world. We felt that whatever difficulties, disruptions, vice and violence might go on beyond the borders of this spot of earth, here we could make a home, a haven and a bit of heaven.

We knelt on the ground in a circle with our arms around each other. I blessed our home to this end by the power of the priesthood. It was a beautiful moment. I wondered at the time whether or not it would mean anything to the children; they were so small. But a few years later, Diane and I were lying in bed when I heard the children’s bedroom door open. Little feet pattered toward the living room looking for Mom. Instead of Mom little Lucy found her big brother Bob. He has a willing ear, a supportive shoulder and a soft heart for kids. So Lucy poured out her tale of terror to her big brother. I was standing outside the room, but I didn’t go in because Bob was doing such a good job of comforting her. One thing you learn with a large family is if the kids can solve the problem themselves, you never butt in. You give thanks for one fewer thing to worry about. I just listened. There was a monster under Lucy’s bed or in her closet or outside hanging in the tree. Maybe it was a whole herd of monsters; I’ve forgotten the details. Bob listened patiently to her, then cuddled her in his arms and told her, “A long time ago when we first bought this house, we went up in the backyard where the garden is now. Dad blessed our home with Heavenly Father’s priesthood, so Heavenly Father watches over you and our home and protects us from bad things. You don’t have to be afraid of monsters in our home.”

Little Bobby was listening that day. He had since been to college and on a mission, learned to survive in big cities and grown to be six feet three inches tall; but he never forgot that quiet night. I think now that Lucy never forgot either.

I believe every child deserves to have a place where he can be a hero, where she can be safe, where heavenly powers protect them and they know it. This place of joy and refuge should be their home.

Your next installment is: Family Calamities

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?
The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary

4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to

5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.

Memorable wedding

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web pageduanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

My first memorable event of our wedding was being late for the reception line and finding my third and fourth grade school teachers waiting for me. I remembered how many times I had seen that look before. I was about to make an excuse for being late, then I realized I had used them all in their classes. Would they believe that the dog ate our marriage license like he used to eat my homework? Probably not this time. My problem in grade school was that we lived only a block from the school. Not far enough to hurry and beat the bell. My former teachers gave me the kindly smile and sigh of resignation that had endeared them to me back then.

My communication professors in college had us ponder with furrowed brows the proposition, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” The question is vital to the metaphysics of communication theory.

The visual equivalent to that question in Diane’s family is, “If an event takes place, and no one is there to take pictures, did it really happen?” Their decision was, “No.” They love to take pictures of events large, small and microscopic. We have been blessed by their obsession with treasured photographs and movies of their and our family.

To her older brothers, it was unthinkable that their little sister could be married without a proper pictorial record. Diane’s brother-in-law Dale came armed and determined. Compared to today’s low light, miniscule digital video cameras, photography equipment back then was one small step advanced from cave wall painting. Dale had a light bar attached to his movie camera with a brace of flood lights that lit up the room like a tanning bed…

For about 45 seconds.

Then everything went black. Dale scurried down the basement t stairs searching for the circuit breaker. The guests in the wedding line fumbled in the darkness for the next hand to shake. Finally the lights reappeared as did Dale a few minutes later. Fortunately Dale now knew where the box was so it took him fewer minutes the next times he blew the breakers. After several black outs, we got more used to it.

Not to be outdone in memorable moments, my side of the family contributed. My father’s aunt reached the top step of the porch, slumped and was helped into a bedroom near the front door where she peacefully passed away. This, the Jex branch of our family, is known for their faith, optimism, and composure in adversity. They showed it that night. They brought in the doctor, then the mortician, then carried my aunt’s last mortal remains to be prepared for her burial with the finesse of a smooth CIA operation. Most of the wedding guests were unaware of the back stage/front bedroom drama.

At my aunt’s funeral the next week her family members were profusely apologetic. I assured them that her passing added to the significance and the profundity of the occasion. We were made more grateful for marriage and families that continue beyond the grave.

In addition to their other accomplishments, the Jex family has a well developed sense of humor. So I felt safe adding. “Marriage and death are surely two of the three most important events in this life. I just wish someone in the reception line could have given birth to complete the trilogy.”

I also told them that Diane’s brothers offered their apologies that they didn’t get any film footage of their mother’s passing.

Your next installment is: Our “Lego ®” Home

 

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?
The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts

3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary

4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to

5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.

Shouting of the Spirit

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web pageduanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

I believe in the whispering of the Spirit to guide us. I also believe in the shouting of the Spirit for those who don’t listen to whisperings.

That would be me about age twenty three, returned from my mission, and pursuing an education, and my greatest mission, to become a husband and father. This was not an easy project. Looking for a desirable companion at Brigham Young University was like fishing at a hatchery, swarms of marvelous potential catches. Lest that sound chauvinistic, the catcher wasn’t always the man and the catchee the woman. I saw many of my male friends take the bait and jump happily in the matrimonial net.  Nevertheless, for me BYU was a bachelor’s embarrassment of riches.

According to legend, the indomitable Winston Churchill, former prime minister of England was at a pub with an old friend. The friend looked around them and said, “Winston, by my calculations if we totaled the bourbon you have consumed in your lifetime, it would fill this pub two thirds of the way to the ceiling.”

“Churchill sighed and answered, “So much to do. So little time.”

Churchill and I shared the same challenge except that I was inebriated by the desirability and goodness of my coed fellow students instead of alcohol. Within the limits of my available time and financial resources, I was pursuing the task, but it seemed wonderfully impossible.

Then one day I knocked on the door of a women’s residence hall looking for my sister Diane.

Diane answered the door, but she was another Diane; blond hair, fetching smile, dark eyes, with a hint of the Gibson Girls, the standard of beauty in New York at the turn of the twentieth century. In the words of Shakespeare, “Her voice was ever soft, gentle and low, an excellent thing in women.” (King Lear Act 5 scene 3)

She said, “Hello, can I help you.”

I said something. I don’t know what it was because the voice of the Spirit was thundering in no uncertain terms, “This is your future wife.” He may have also said, “Don’t blow it.” Or maybe that was the voice inside my own head speaking.

I said, “Is Diane here?”

She said, “I’m Diane.”

I thought, “Great she thinks I’m an insurance peddler working out of the student phone book.”

We settled the Diane confusion and chuckled about it. In our short conversation, I looked for clues that the divine messenger had brought her the same announcement. That would have shortened and simplified a lot of things.

He hadn’t, and it didn’t. It would take a year and a half of serious wooing to complete what he could have done in ten seconds. But I suppose if you are keeping time with an eternal clock and calendar as they do up there, a couple of years is less than an eye blink. He had delivered his message, now it was apparently up to me to work out the details.

Actually I wasn’t starting at square one. It was square one minus one. Diane and I had been on a date before, only I was with someone else, and she was with my friend Ross. I didn’t remember the occasion. That must have impressed her. Nevertheless, she accepted my invitation to go for a walk, and to take in a movie the following Friday. If I had any qualms about the Spirit’s message, Friday blew them away. Unfortunately for me her next two weekends were booked. That was a long fortnight for me.

In tough competition it’s good strategy to separate yourself from the pack, and bend the game toward your strengths. I showed her the newspaper whenever I got a byline on a front page story of The Deseret News, the Salt Lake City newspaper where I was working as an intern. To a journalist a byline is a big deal if you’re a cub reporter on a big newspaper it’s a really big deal. But for the average reader it’s just a few letters in small type for a day; half a step above having your name in the obituaries.

The Three D’s would one day make a modest contribution to the entertainment world. But at this time we were just students singing for fun, a few bucks, and an occasional free meal. Often when Diane accepted my invitation that was our version of a “dinner and a show” date. But we had fun.

Another challenge was that she was serious with an exemplary young man from a fine family who had a bright future in business waiting for him when he returned from his mission.

I had been fortunate enough to win a few prizes and trophies in my life, but nothing remotely as important as this. But even my saintly mother had her misgivings about my chances.

“Troubles, Duane?”

“Hi Mom, no just life.”

“Diane?”

“Yeah.”

“You know you’ve had a lot of good things come your way. Maybe this time…”

“Mom that doesn’t sound like you after you spent twenty-four years convincing me I could do anything I set my mind to.”

“It’s not just your mind this time. It’s hers too. If you do get hurt, just try to get through it and grow from it. Sometimes we have to learn how to come in second.”

“In this contest Mom, there is no second place.”

In games of sports, life, and love it’s best to play to your strengths, but it can also help to work on the other persons vulnerabilities, such as her sympathy.

“Hi, Diane? Duane here. Do you have a minute? Thanks. I need your help. It’s my week to cook in the apartment and I’m making this kind of chicken stew thing for the guys. It looks pretty ghastly, and I thought if I threw some dumplings on top of it that would help cover it up in case the board of health raids the place. How do I make dumplings? Ok, yeah, mmhmm. Hey thanks. I really appreciate it. You know so many things. I mean not just things, but wise things. You’re so mature and understanding and fun and witty, and pretty. I don’t know what I’d do without your help.”

And sometimes you just hang in there and give it your best shot over and over again.

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

“Fancy meeting you right here on this corner of the quad.”

“And fancy meeting you here.”

“And fancy meeting you here every day this whole semester.”

“Fancy meeting you here red faced and breathless from running up the field house stairs to get here before I pass on my way to class.”

“Fancy you coming all the way from the other side of campus and then going back again just to pass this corner.”

“Fancy us.”

“Yeah, fancy us.”

George Bernard Shaw successful playwright and political activist once said,”To win a debate, don’t argue, just restate your premise.”

“Diane, a future in the entertainment business isn’t exactly your high percentage shot. I don’t know if we’ll be rich or poor, live in a mansion or a cottage. But I do know this. I can make you happy and I will make you happy. I love you.”

“Give me some time to think.”

“Of course. Take what ever time you need. I love you.”

“Let’s see about it next summer when you get out of school.”

“Sounds good to me. I love you.”

“I’d like to be a June bride.”

“You would be a beautiful June bride. I love you.”

“April is a pretty month.”

“A beautiful month; spring, things coming alive; April is a great time to launch important and eternal things. I love you.”

“Shouldn’t we wait until the Christmas semester break?”

“Excellent planning; good thinking, a winter wonderland wedding; I love you.”

We pooled our resources, and came up with $30 for a marriage license. Diane insisted she didn’t like diamonds, so we got a gold band. I was uncomfortable with that, but she convinced me.

And thus on December fifteenth in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and sixty-one, Diane and I gave ourselves to each other for Christmas. The night before the big day she was a little nervous, but I was “calm as a summer’s morn.” That’s why on the way out I enthusiastically closed her heavy oak front door and forgot to pull my hand out first; almost ended my guitar picking career.

It was the perfect day for us to get married as would have been any other of the 364 days that year or any year. December 15 dawned bright and cold. We rode to the temple with my parents because we weren’t sure my ancient Plymouth had 110 miles left in it. The Salt Lake Temple didn’t rent my size (14) white shoes. I squeezed into a pair of 13’s. We said the right words at the right time, and came out of the temple as man and wife forever.

Our wedding night was spent in beautiful midtown Springville Utah in our basement apartment for which we had scraped up a month’s rent. It was festively decorated in daubed honey, short sheets, whoopee cushions and rubber spiders from my younger siblings and others who had somehow broken the code and found the place. After we had cleaned up the rubble a little we stumbled exhausted into bed, blissfully happy and eternally married.

“Did I mention I love you?”

We honeymooned in our basement apartment. We told each other truthfully we could do scenery some other time. We just wanted to see each other forever. That was life in living color. Anything else was pastel pabulum.

Oh yes, the wedding; Diane wanted a quiet wedding reception at home. This also fit her widowed mother’s situation. But our families were determined that we should have a memorable wedding.

They succeeded.

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?

“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?

The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.

2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts

3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary

4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to

5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.

Your next installment is: Memorable wedding

A Palangi in Tonga

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web pageduanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

“Pa” (edge) “Langi” (sky) shouted the big brown man as he pointed far out on the Pacific Ocean. At the line where the sky meets the sea the mast of a sailing ship was appearing over the horizon. Not large by ocean going vessels of our day, but mammoth compared to their “poupau” outrigger canoes. The ship anchored off shore. The English sailors who rowed in, from the ship, were small and pale skinned compared to the natives. The brown people who greeted them were so hospitable that the English ship captain, James Cook named these “The Friendly Islands.” According to one account, the friendly natives were soon secretly planning to murder the captain and crew, and confiscate his ship. He left before they could pull it off, and never suspected the plot. And so the name stuck, and it fits, at least that was my experience. They have big hearts in their big bodies.

The natives migrated from islands north of them. We know this because they named their tiny islands “Tonga” which means “south” in their language. They christened their visitors, “Palangi” the people who came from the edge of the sky. Later when some of them learned English, the rechristened their visitors “Europeans.”

As time passed the Tongans were still hospitable, but careful. They saw how the New Zealand Maoris, the Hawaiians, and others lost their culture to an incoming flood of foreigners. The Tongans told me they had preserved their kingdom and culture at no small cost. They had conquered the Lau Islands, which lie between them and Fiji, and traded these to the English in exchange for remaining an independent kingdom. They were strict about who could come and how long they stayed. Their law allowed only one foreign minister for every thousand members a church had. In 1957 there were 3,000 Mormons in Tonga.

That same year there was one Mormon in Payson Utah waiting, and waitng by the mail box. One day the phone rang.

“Be patient. You are worthy, and you will receive a call, but we are working out some things concerning where you will be sent,” said the friendly man calling from Salt Lake City.

The counsel of the Brethren is not always easy to follow, and being patient is not an inherent trait of 20 year old men, at least not this one. But I labored at that virtue and continued my work as a life guard at the city swimming pool and then as a government fruit inspector in Orem, Utah. Eventually the letter came. The call was not to Brazil where my two uncles had served and I anticipated I might.

It was to no place I had ever heard of; tiny dots on the map of the South Pacific Ocean. My voyage there would cost me one of the Christmases of my life. I crossed the International Date Line on December 24, and arrived in Tonga the next day on December 26. Of course I picked up an extra day when I passed back across the line on my way home. I received an extra Friday the 13th. On certain grumbly days I wonder if that exchange was an omen on my life.

The 176 islands of the Kingdom of Tonga consist of 289 square miles washed by 270,000 square miles of the Pacific. The “big” island uses up 100 square miles. That leaves the other 175 with a little more than a square mile apiece on average. The first year I spent on the big island of Tongatabu (Sacred land of the south.) It is a coral rock flat as the top of a pool table. You can climb a palm tree anywhere and be the tallest person on the island unless somebody else climbs a taller one.

The last year and a half I lived in the beautiful volcanic islands of Vava’u. My home island was about two miles by three. Other smaller islands surrounded us at various distances. The beautiful deep harbor wound its way among the islands protecting it from the big waves of the open sea.

Tongans are adventurers of the sea, and fierce competitors in a contest. Beating within their chest is the “loto mafana,” The hot heart. This can be translated as enthusiasm or raging temper depending on if they are on your team or the opposition. Brigham Young University began tapping the Polynesian pipeline years ago for their football teams. It helped them become number one in the nation in 1984. Now the strapping, speedy, hard hitting men of the islands with the long names are everywhere on the top university teams, and the National Football League.

But with all this, I was (with a couple of exceptions) always treated with kindness and respect even when I did odd things like having my hair cut flat on top, and cutting my toenails straight across.

Today missionaries learn the language of their destination from expert teachers in some of the world’s premier facilities. My first experience with the language was on location; at supper with a mimeographed dictionary at my elbow. My companion across the table was a Tongan boy who, if he knew a word of English was too shy to speak it. I was a little concerned that I might starve before I learned to say, “Please pass the….”

The Tongans I knew in 1957 to 1960 were gifted, enthusiastic; very good at sports, and fearless in learning. An entrepreneur on my island dumped a pile of asphalt on the ground, smoothed it somewhat into a circle bought a few skates and opened the first roller rink they had ever seen. The place was immediately a mass of sliding, stumbling, laughing bodies. As an average American youth, I had spent some portion of my growing up years on roller skates. I became the star of the show when I ventured out. They cleared a spot for me, watched, cheered and applauded. But mostly they studied my actions. I didn’t make it back there for a few weeks. When I did, I was no longer the star of the show. I wouldn’t have made the chorus line. I was amazed how they could turn, jump, and skate backwards.

Polynesians can scamper up a palm tree with just their hands and bare feet, which they often did to bring me a coconut to drink. With no running water on the island, and the cistern rainwater too potent for a Palangi, I enjoyed drinking from a lot of green coconuts. They told me in a gentle almost condescending manner that my system was not strong enough to handle their water. I proved the wisdom of their kindness by picking up a tropical fever bug that left my eyes yellow for years, and almost sent me home in a palm box.

Sometimes the irresistible force of their “loto mafana” meets the immovable object of their polite manner to visitors. Then something has to give. I saw that one day discussing our concept of God with an elderly minister of another faith. It was obvious he didn’t want to let my companion and me into his grass hut, but his Tongan politeness prevailed and we sat down on the mats on his dirt floor. As I explained our doctrine, that Jesus had a perfected body after his resurrection. He got more and more agitated. Finally the “loto mafana” could not be bottled up any longer. He spat out, “Oku i ai ai ngaahi kasele i hevani?” (Are there toilets in heaven?) I was a bit taken aback. Such a question in our society would be marginally inappropriate in polite conversation. But multiply it by an infinite factor in the Tongan culture where such subjects are beyond vulgar. Even the word “navel” is considered crude. For a man of the cloth to broach such a subject was a verbal slap in my face.

I gave the true answer, “I don’t know.” But I could have done better. I might have added, “I only know what the scriptures and the prophets have written and said about the afterlife. But I think we can assume that since everything else in heaven is beautiful, comely, and decorous, surely whatever celestial bodily functions occur there are similarly accomplished.”

I wasn’t sent there to speculate, so I would never have told him my opinion that the unpleasant aspects of our bodily functions are in the same category as weeds, flies, and poison snakes. They are things out of their correct places. This is one of the results of the fall that occurred when Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit and were cast out of the Garden of Eden. We expel substances because our bodies can’t use them. When all things are restored to their rightful place, all food and drink will be used by the body and nothing need be disposed of as waste.

The Pacific islands are often called paradise. The Tonga I knew was such a place. But not for the reasons we usually think. The sunsets, the pristine beaches, the deep blue oceans with their rolling white capped waves are definitely celestial picture post cards. On the other hand, the fleas jumping off the pigs that camped under the floor of my wooden shanty and chewed on my legs were not paradisiacal. The heat and humidity, the occasional hurricane, the mosquitoes bearing the leg ballooning curse of elephantiasis, these and other tropical irritations and miseries will never pass the Pearly Gates until they change their habits. And the people were not perfect. They had a jail. But since it was on its own island, there was a sign outside. “Prisoners not in by nightfall will be locked out.”

But what was a vision of heaven were the best characteristics of these people. Their willingness to sacrifice to do the Lord’s will. Their simple faith that they could approach their Heavenly Father in prayer, and he would answer them, and their unselfish care one for another; these were glimpses of the better world to come.

Their custom of “kole” in the old days was that if a man admired another’s shirt, or canoe the person gave it to him without hesitation. The law of the kingdom was you could eat of any of the fruit of the trees and the produce of the land belonging to anyone so long as you did it on the site.

Perhaps the most moving example I saw was one night when my companion, a young Tongan man named Alama, and I were visiting a family with eight beautiful children. I commented to the father how fortunate he was to have such a family. He said, “Yes, we are very blessed. My wife and I were unable to have children, so each of our neighbors gave us a baby.”

When we learn to love and care for each other at that level, the world will be heaven no matter what the scenery is like.

Novelist Thomas Wolfe added to the English language the statement, “You can’t go home again.” The Tonga I knew is no more. They have electricity, and many more live in “European houses,” less comfortable but more prestigious. They have more paved roads than the several 100 yards or so in front of the royal palace. They even had an uprising a few years ago quelled by the New Zealand army summoned there by the king. Instead of a weekly boat from the outside world, they have an airport. I assume they are more comfortable.

Of worldly wealth they had little when I was there, but of riches of life their cup ran over. Among their natural talents is a love of music, and the ability to express it. The women sing well. And virtually every man carries within his throat and rib cage a pipe organ worthy of a cathedral. When they gather on the dock and sing to you as your boat pulls away for the last time, “God be with you ‘till we meet again,” you are never the same person.

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?

“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?

The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.

2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts

3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary

4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to

5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.

Your next installment is: Shouting of the Spirit