Incidental Details

Raising kids can be an unpredictable adventure. Now they are gone, I have time to muse over some of the things that occurred, and to figure out just what went wrong.

Betsy broke her hand. She and Adriene had asked to go to the Library, and had permission to walk the four blocks down and back, together. Of course, they did not interpret it that way. They figured they had permission to GO.

And I would not have minded if they had taken their bikes and gone. What they did NOT say was pretty important that day.

They did NOT say, “Hey Mom! Can we tie one of those little bitty scooters with the tiny wheels to the back of Adriene’s bike so she can ride and I can go fast enough to keep up while we book down that gravel road to the library?”.

Trust me, I WOULD have said NO!

But smart kids that they are, they learned NOT to do that, and it only cost a trip to the ER, and a trip to the Bone and Joint clinic, and six weeks in a cast, for them to learn it. For Betsy that is. Adriene just felt ALL THE GUILT!

If they had only just TOLD ME.

That Gamey Smell

He called about half an hour before Kevin got home. Better than half a deer. Skinned and hung. Did we want it?

Of course.

But wild game is never convenient. You take it when it comes in. Even at midnight (no exaggeration, it has happened!), even when you are enjoying company. Because that is the only way you get it!

Kevin worked half the day (his usual day off), and when he came home he was tired. But after lunch, we went and loaded up the deer. The front half with one backstrap missing, and one back quarter. Tossed onto a sheet of clear plastic in the back of the van. Halfway home the smell of it has come to the front of the car, and we know there’s a deer back there. Not strong. But definitely wild.

Into the house, and onto the floor, on that same sheet of clear plastic. We cut it up on a low card table, with Kevin sawing up the carcass and boning out the meat, me trimming and cutting. This time we just boned it out, chunked it (plus some steaks), bagged it, and put it into the freezer.  We’ll thaw it and chunk it to can or grind into burger when time is more flexible.

Six small backstrap steaks went into the fridge, to cook an hour later. I go back to working on the computer. My hands smell of deer, even after washing up. Not strongly, but enough that I notice.

Dinner is fettucini noodles and deer steaks. Fried in butter, with Real Salt Seasoning Salt.

Just a little chewier than I prefer, but not gamey at all. Tasty. Meaty.

That smell. In the car. In the house. On my hands.

More than just one meal. Thirty odd pounds of meat, which will save us the cost and trouble of shopping for beef, for a few months. Gratitude seems an inadequate word for our appreciation.

That smell, and the backache that always goes with processing an animal.

It is worth it.

The Prisms Of My Perceptions

I did a “painting” today. It was Oil Pastel, so it isn’t exactly a drawing, it is more of a painting.

I copied it from the work of another artist. His painting was rough, but elegant. It had subtle colors throughout, and I wanted to intensify that effect some.

I certainly did that. Because Oil Pastels have the colors they have. You don’t get to mix custom colors. You can blend them, and overlay them, and come up with something similar, but they are just the colors they are, for the most part. I have three sets, to make sure I have “all the colors” I am most likely to need. More than 80 of them. You’d think that I’d have a periwinkle blue, and a burgundy in there, right?

So I painted. And it came out so different than his. The media is part of that, because his palette knife oil painting WOULD just be different than something done in Oil Pastel. But it was SOOOO different.

I am made to ponder. Why is it that I sit down to paint a thing I’ve already studied, and I’ve already worked out how to do it, to get a similar result, but when I finish, it is NOTHING LIKE the thing I started to create!

The brushstrokes are smaller… Or larger. The colors refuse to cooperate. They want to be something OTHER than the colors the other artist used. The paper curls, the canvas pulls at the brush, or the crayons are hard and refuse to blend (Oil Pastel is a crayon).

I am struggling with subtle colors. Mine are more garish, less elegant than the ones I admire. The colors of paints have changed, and they are now FAR harder to work with. The texture of the paint has also changed, and the brushes I used to use are now very hard to get. It just makes the process that much more difficult than it should be. I do remember having to LEARN to use these things… but I do not remember it being so HARD to get them to be something predictable.

But I think, even if they WERE the same as what I learned with years ago, I’d still struggle to get my mind and hands to create the thing I see in someone else’s work. I think the real challenge IS my hands, and my perception. It just filters their work and runs it through a rendering engine that makes it something other than what I envisioned. Or what THEY did!

I have had to learn to just WORK the painting until it becomes SOMETHING that looks good, whether it is as I intended or not. This time, that meant keeping on fussing with the water until it looked like water instead of a colorful ditch full of dirt.

This is named Meander. It is not as I intended. But I am coming to terms with what it IS. The name seems somehow appropriate for how it was created, as well as what it is.


Busy, Busy, Busy

I’ve been cranking out the artwork. It has been fun. Somewhat outrageous.

I made a decision to make what I am intrigued by. To paint what thrills me. To engage with what interests me.

The results have been somewhat surprising. Nothing EVER turns out like I planned. I am wrestling with colors, warring with shapes, and just agonizing over textures and brushstrokes that do not want to do what I need them to do.

Everything has changed. The brushes, the paint colors, the paint consistencies, the mediums entire performance.

I use a range of mediums and styles. If I love it enough, and think I CAN paint it, I do.

I paint in oil, acrylic, and watercolor, using many methods and techniques. I make paintings with oil pastel, chalk, colored pencil, and felt pen. I sketch. I do line and wash. I’m experimenting with several other methods.

Two recent works:

This is Dark Fall, and it is a textured oil painting. Unfortunately, the camera DESTROYED the coloring, and it does not show the texturing. But the overall image does show what I painted. Based on the works of another artist.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

This is Blossom Melodrama, and making WAS kind of a melodrama. I put in purple, and then hot pink, and then chose the closest lighter pink that I had that might work. It was a somewhat salmon pink. The thing colored in SCREAMING ORANGE! But I worked it anyway, it is a strangely cool flower. There is no purple in it anymore, the orange blended the purple to a near black. But the camera, once again destroyed the painting, and added in neon PURPLE.  This “painting” (they are all paintings, you know), has no white. It is all colored. The highlights are just lighter colors. It is a fun style to work, but painstaking, and very meticulous.


I’ll have more, as soon as I roll up my sleeves and load my palette. I have works in progress which I am motivated to finish, and works I just really want to do, all lined up ready to slather with paint or glue, or ink, or crayon.

You can find these works at:

No One Goes To Wyoming For The Changing Of The Leaves

I was taking my daughter to work in Laramie, driving her there in the morning, driving her home in the evening. One hour each way. Sixty full miles, because that is how Wyoming is.

We passed Rock River each day, and there is a creek with trees running down it. We had been in to Laramie on Sunday, I forget why, and the trees were GREEN, all the way to the top. This is somewhere about September, in Wyoming.

Monday morning, the tops of the trees are just starting to yellow. It was kind of cool, they were just pale greeny yellow. By evening, they were bright yellow.

Tuesday, the tops of the trees are starting to brown, and the upper half is all yellow.

Wednesday the bottoms are green, the mid section yellow, and the tops are fully brown.

Thursday, the tops are starting to shed, the upper middle is brown, the lower middle is yellow, and there is barely any green left at the bottom, and it is kinda yellowy. If you were to paint a picture of Autumn in Wyoming, this would be all the trees.

Friday morning the trees are just barely yellow at the bottom, and the top half of all of them is completely bare. By the time my daughter comes home from work, the trees are branches, and there are no leaves on them.

Five days, from yellow green tops, to fully bare.

There are no golds, there are no oranges, and there are no reds. Just greeny yellow, bright yellow, brown, and bare.

There are no avenues of golden aspens either. The aspens do the same thing. Corridors of trees that go from yellow tops, to bare, in just a few days.

No splendor. No grandeur. Just an unbelievably rapid decline and fall. You can almost hear the “Whump!” as the trees shed their leaves and they pile upon the ground.

No, no one goes to Wyoming for the changing of the leaves. Even if you could predict JUST the five days in which it will occur, it happens so fast it is anything but lovely.

The Face Of My Art

There’s a thing in painting and drawing. Sometimes there are “artifacts” in the work, that were unintended. Sometimes we use color artifacts to create effects, but the thing that distresses me is that with the shapes that occur in art, sometimes they add up to something.

It was an ocean scene. Nothing but water and one rock. When it finally resolved at 6 ft distance from it, into a sea-like order, I was pleased. When I saw a face in it a few days later, I was NOT PLEASED!

A gargoylish face. Once seen, it could not be UNSEEN. My enjoyment of the painting was gone. It has not returned.

Waves and water are famous for forming faces. Rocks do sometimes too.

I don’t mind the wailing ghost in another wave scene of mine. It is fairly benevolent.

But when I created a moody and turbulent waterfall, and stood back from it, there was such a face in it that I could not tolerate it! A monster with a twisted scornful scowl. And it consumed so much of the painting that I could no longer love the waterfall that contained it.

I dragged it out again a few days later and inflicted my own torment upon the beast. I tugged and teased at the mouth, and shadowed the nose, and blotted one eye. My efforts were not in vain, the scowl turned to a quirky grin. (It also appears from a certain angle, to have a hellacious booger hauling out of one nostril.) Sigh.

It was a really nice painting! I promise you, it was! Until it was possessed by a demon who refuses to leave.

I’ve also discovered a second face in it. In the rocks. Gorignac lurks amidst the cliffs.

I’ve seen such things in the works of other artists. I’ve grieved as a painting I loved turned to a thing I could not bear to look at. And here am I, bullied into their ranks by a monster I cannot banish from my painting.

I’ve got a few more paintings lined up to complete. None of them have faces in them. I’ll be praying that my brush does not uwittingly invite them. They are not welcome there!

This is the Painting, it is called Cascada, and you can find it at:


UPDATE: I sat down that very evening, to study out another waterfall, painted by another artist. Right there, in the middle, sat Rip Van Winkle. Scowling and creepy looking. Above him, a space man with glowing eyes perched on a cliff. A Shrieking Eel wove its way up beneath the Spaceman, and Cat Man Do grinned from the opposite cliff. Einstein hid next to  Cat Man Do, and Mr. Squeers lurked above them all. Uncle Tolberg howled from one side of the painting, and Rostafario peered from under his dreadlocks on the other side. Lippy the Puppy sort of merges with Wilford Brimley, and Wallace’s Friend and the Wispy Ghost decorate other spots in the painting. Falkor, a Neanderthal, the Woolly Bear, Jabba’s Cousin, and various other visages make their way out of the cliff faces every time you stop to study any area. There are several that are not distinct enough, or not unique enough to deserve mention. Just when you think you’ve caught them all, there’s Sammy, with a large glossy eye, a short curled nose, thick lips, and a full black beard. I’ve never seen a painting with so many facial artifacts in it, and especially when they are so identifiable as something familiar to us.

This is the original painting:


This is my rendition:

KODAK Digital Still Camera


I Am Author

I am Author, Laura Wheeler. Amazon says so.

I have been writing since the seventh grade. Pretty sad stuff, really, until I began writing instructional materials. And then nothing to send out to all the relatives, just stuff that I wanted my clients to know. Viral books to attract new clients.

Now, it is everything. I write about everything. It spills out of my fingers as though I were talking to someone across the room, trying to get it ALL out in an organized manner. Sometimes instructional. Sometimes fanciful. Sometimes poetic or lyrical. Sometimes just a story that I am compelled to write.

I am never that good. Not really. But I am Author. It is now such a large part of me that it cannot be suppressed, even when I feel my worst. Maybe BECAUSE sometimes I feel my worst.

So now I write THIS. And frankly, it is not because I am in a musing frame of mind. It is more mercenary than that. It is because I am publishing. ALL the writing. ALL the art.

And all this really is, is a puff piece to stand there holding up the sandwich board that says, “Book shop! Come in and browse!”.

Amazon has almost all of it. What they do not have, my bookstore does, at Firelight Heritage Farm. That’s Dot Com to you.

Exploit On eBay – Breaking News Today

eBay is experiencing user account blocks, where username for an account is non-functional. You are greeted with “Oops, that’s not a match.“. This is NOT eBay’s error message.

You cannot login, nor can you do anything about it, because you cannot get past the username, and there is NO forgot username function anywhere.

This is a lockout exploit.

If you have an eBay account, watch for anomalies, and be careful who you deal with, and the details you reveal in order to resolve the issue.

Creamed Peas A’La Mode

It does not mean Ice Cream, it means “Of the trend”.

I don’t know what made my mother make creamed peas with dinner, she was never that ambitious about the vegetables. Oh, some scalloped corn now and again (and not even any bacon in it), but veggies were usually straight out of the can.

But she did. We ate them. We were like that. All six of us kids, and Pa too.

Pa finished dinner and left the table, and there were just a few of us left at the table. I think just April, Ma, and I.

I moved around to the end where Pa sat, and Ma was on the other end. April was right next to Ma, there were three seats on each side of the table.

I’m not quite sure what preceded the incident, but April apparently had it coming, at least a little. I must have been in Jr. High somewhere, to have the nerve, I guess.

She annoyed me some, and I was in a good mood. Decided to take my chance.

Loaded the tip of my spoon with ONE PEA. A saucy one.

Fired that pea, catapult style, at April.

That pea had no sense of proper direction, and hit my mother right in the middle of her forehead, just above where her eyebrows considered meeting up. She sat there stunned as that pea stuck, and then slid slowly down her nose, right between her eyes, and then took the slope to one side of her nose.

She didn’t say a word, she just got up and left the table. I was never sure if she went to laugh herself to tears with my dad or not… She does insist that I was the one who ended up doing the dishes that night. But I suspect it was my night anyway, she wasn’t the type to let someone else off the chore roster to punish another.

I don’t know how I escaped the wrath of mother wronged, but somehow I did. I remember that as well as I remember that pea sliding down between her eyes, and my own sense of horror at the retribution that I KNEW absolutely MUST follow such a thing! Food fights in our dining room were SIMPLY NOT DONE! No one would DARE!

April got off Scot Free, and seemed to do a lot of smirking that evening. I never again attempted such a thing, I knew that if I did, Ma WOULD NOT HOLD BACK! The shock that held her helpless this time simply would not be THERE a second time.

I remember telling this story to my own children. I had no fear in doing so.

You see, I NEVER made creamed peas.

Never As I Expect

My eye is being trained, and my hand is getting practice.

I have no working scanner, so my camera must do, and it produces a grayed out image, lacking the vibrance of the original work, and completely obscuring the pale yellow color of the paper it is drawn upon. But it is close enough to see what I am able to do after years of hibernation as an artist.


Laura’s Artwork is available through our store – Laura’s Art

An Indifferent Artist


Jute, Ribbon, and Elm Twig Basket

I am not sure if Indifferent is the right word or not, impatient may be accurate also, but I’ve been an artist on and off my whole life, from the time my mother taught me to draw a face in profile in about the third grade and someone proclaimed me to be “talented”.

I’d sketch, paint some, and then abandon it for a year or two. When I went back, I’d mature a little more as an artist, and do more amazing things. Well, it seemed so, anyway.

In between I’d do other things, just getting busy with other interests, and a lot of reading. I never considered myself to be “creative”, I’d have to have a pattern, a photo, or someone else’s idea to be able to work out something to make. But I also sewed, crocheted, knitted, repaired things, did woodworking, and writing.

When I had kids it was harder, but I worked in some sketching and painting, some of it which I was fairly pleased with. Bob Ross rocked my world for a time, when I finally learned to paint a landscape, though never as well as I wanted.

When I began web development, it took everything. It took my reading, my writing, my organizational skills, and my artistry. I poured it all into my clients’ needs. I just had nothing left over for anything else, but it was fulfilling in all of those things! It was all my work and all my hobbies, wrapped up in a business, and I loved it! It is the thing that taught me to work out my own ideas and become more creative in a way I loved.

Then we got knocked out, and I’ve done just a few things since then, mostly with the Wacom and PhotoShop, but not much. Everything we owned was stolen and we got almost nothing back. I had no paints, no equipment, barely had a computer, and it took years just to get a Wacom again. I’ve been weary, and have had no resources for art. I have brittle bones, and a mitochondrial condition that progressed during those terrible years, which takes much of my energy and leaves me unable to contemplate a large project. So I’ve done mostly small things.

The business faded, for reasons I could not control, and today I am making a basket. I learned basket weaving from my mother many years ago, but this is something different. It is not the thing she taught me, and I am not using a pattern. I am mostly pleased with the results.

I have paints again, finally, my birthday present from my husband. Brushes, paints, an easel, and totes to put it all in. Basket reed too. No small investment, and I am not sure whether I can realize any kind of return on it other than revitalizing some skills – and a piece of my soul, perhaps.

I struggle to find the words to explain what it really means for me to be filled with inspiration to paint a thing, to make a thing that takes ENERGY to complete. Heck, it takes energy just to get the stuff out and organized into a project.

But I have an idea. Not an original one, but MINE. I’ve never painted still life art before, and I have an idea of a type I’d like to try. It seems achievable without overwhelming my body.

I have a few more things to arrive before I can carry out the grand plan (not so grand after all, but which involves more than one type of art work), so today I am making a basket out of sisal and jute, and it is looking far better than I thought it might.

I’m still an impatient and indifferent artist. But last week when I felt the desire to DO this growing in my heart and mind, I knew one thing. I AM an artist. And I always will be.

Whether I can ever produce any works of note matters to me. I’d like to create something worth preserving for posterity. But if I don’t, I know it is part of a recovery. Of more than just gaining strength. And if it never turns a profit, it will likely lead to something that does. I’m blessed with a husband who sustains that. And I’m ok with it also.

Why Shoes?

Just one of the questions regarding this strange custom.

Grade school was a hard place for me. I was THAT girl. The one that everyone thought they could pick on when they felt the need to make themselves feel bigger by making someone else feel small.

There was Matt. The regular tormenter. It seemed every year the Principal’s office got together and placed the students for the next year into classes, and every year, I think they personally said, “If we put Laura and Matt into the same class again, maybe just maybe he will decide not to hit and kick her and call her ugly names just for sport. The fact that he has always done this, and never has stopped, no matter the threat, is irrelevant. She just needs more toughening up, and he just needs more chances to learn to be a person instead of a quarreling dog.” I don’t know how they planned it, but he was in EVERY CLASS from first to sixth grade.

It was not until Jr. High that I had any classes without him. Because in Jr. High you get separated by ability, and I had it, and he did not.

He was not the only one, he could always find someone, boy or girl, to join in, often the entire class.

Somewhere about 4th grade, Sherill and I landed in the same class, and became fast friends for three years (Jr. High school sent us different directions, and we stayed friends, but were not as close.). It was sheer self-preservation! She and I were both that kind of girl, who just always got picked on and insulted. Daily. Not just sometimes. All the time.

Now, I must take you into my confidence. You must understand the seriousness of what I am about to tell you, and that this MEANT something. Something so deep, I could NEVER confess it in Grade School, or even in Jr. High, or Highschool.

They wrote V.O.E. on their shoes, for US. For Sherill and I.

They didn’t just do it once in a while, they did it REGULARLY. They wrote it again in the same place almost EVERY DAY to make sure they warded off the cooties that we carried. Just to make sure WE KNEW we were that kind of unacceptable!

Now, nobody knew what it meant. V.O.E.? What the heck does that mean? I mean, yeah, you can reason out that it means you are NOT POPULAR. But seriously, nobody knows what it actually means.

But they do it anyway. They do it very determinedly and seriously. Because it is V.O.E..

They also called us the Terrible Twosome. Not because we were mean or bad, but because we stank. They said so. Even if we smelled good, we stank. Because this was Grade School. SOMEBODY had to stink.

Today, this is hysterical. Then, it was just part of the human struggle to grow up and actually live through it. Academically, Grade School was just a slide. It was easy stuff. But socially, it was brutal.

Sherill and I did it too. We wrote it on our shoes. Just to be sure, you know, that if there was anything lower than us, that it could not damage us. We also secretly did it to ward off THEM… The ones who were doing it to us. But you couldn’t say THAT.

Dozens of pairs of tennis shoes with V.O.E. inscribed on the edge of the soles, that I threw down to the dump when I wore them out. Thousands of them in the landfills. You know those canvas deck shoes? Those. Plenty of room to write it. Always on the instep. Because that is where you can reach at recess, and your mother doesn’t notice it as soon. In ink pen. Just so you know it will last until you can do it at recess the next day, all over again.

We asked if anybody knew what it meant, and there was never a satisfactory answer. You could not even MAKE UP your own, with letters like that!

Morrie says he knows what it means. He says it means, “Vox On Everyone.”.

Well, that’s what they said it meant in third grade. But nobody ever believes THAT one!

He says, “Vox means Plague.” I’m not sure if he has any credibility or not!

If it does mean that, I can’t see why writing in on your shoes gives it any particular mystic power!

My father finally confesses that he knows what it means. It is “Vermin”. Still makes no more sense.

My uncle Gerry says, “No, it is ‘Vengeance’.”. We still aren’t getting anywhere.

My father’s friend Ed says, “Vermouth. Pickle them straight up!”.

His wife says, “Pick a word that starts with V, and go for it! It still won’t explain why you write it on your shoes if you hate someone in particular!”.

Kelly says they did it in California. There were kids in California, she insists, who wrote it on their shoes, solely because she persisted in going to school every day. They didn’t know what it meant either!

Boyd says they did it in Seattle, where all the cool kids lived in the state of Washington. He says kids who were not cool were not allowed to live in Seattle, so he doesn’t know what it was they were warding off, and they could never tell him what it actually meant either! But it was trendy. So they had to do it!

Donald says it swept Iowa every year, but only in the third grade. First graders and second graders didn’t do it, even the more precocious of them. But then, in Iowa that is mostly because first graders hadn’t learned their alphabet well enough to get to V yet, and second graders could not yet spell well enough to write V.O.E., so by third grade, they were poxing and plaguing on their shoes. By fourth grade they had to work on writing longer words, so they were writing other things on their shoes.

Ted says his kids are homeschooled, so they don’t pick up things like this. All the really cool and nasty trends seem to pass them by. One of his girls stays overnight with a friend. This friend goes to public school. She comes home with V.O.E. on her shoes. This is about 10 years ago. She doesn’t know what it means, it is just a thing you do when you dislike someone, she says. And it is the brother of her friend, who likes to spit on people’s things, and wipe boogers on them. She is now in college, and this is one of the things in her social coping toolbox that she has taken to college with her. She reports that she’s not weird or anything, she finds shoes everywhere with this on it. Of course, this is an Eastern College, and kids are kinda behind here.

Phil says it is old, and from the time they had schools in Hawaii, they did this in Hawaii. He assures me that Morrie’s translation is correct… For English. It comes out somewhat different in Hawaiian. More like “Look Above the Bugs”. He says, “Whatever, it works either way.” He looks down. “Some days, you run into THOSE people, and you just want a pair of tennis shoes and an ink pen.”

Tracy was one of the popular girls. She doesn’t think it is any big deal to have that written on shoes because of you, personally. She says, her sisters did that to her! I suppose then, she HAD to do it to other people! She became a ringleader, with very much power. In High School, she was a cheerleader. All because of V.O.E., I’m sure.

Another girl from my grade school said she gets home from school one day, and there is her mother, writing V.O.E on the bottom of her father’s shoes. The girl confronts her mother, and asks why she is doing this. “The mill is laying off. I thought it couldn’t hurt.” her mother confesses. Her father is laid off the next day. But in a fortuitous stroke of good luck, they have laid off too many, and they hire him back the following day. The girl finds her mother in the kitchen singing, “Then I saw his shoes… Now I’m a believer!”. (And this is probably why it just won’t go away!)

I hear it does not work well in Utah schools. Mormons just don’t go in for that kind of cursing of their fellow man. They just shun them, and if they were going to write anything on their shoes, it would be, “God does not approve.”. That is the curse they level at anyone who steps out of the finely crafted box of Mormon acceptability, which is a good deal smaller than God ever intended THAT to be (and some of them would write it on OTHER people’s shoes). (No, I don’t mean transgenderism, or abortion, I mean things that have NOTHING to do with whether you are righteous or not, like homeschooling, herbal medicine, personal revelation, home business, and other things that God certainly DOES inspire people to do, but which Mormons, especially Utah Mormons, despise and criticize for.)

It apparently does not get far in Idaho either, but that is because of Potatoes. Every mother knows that if you cut off a piece of potato, and scrub the shoe with the potato, it will remove the ink, no matter what kind of ink. Sometimes you have to use other things with the potato, but the potato always works if you scrub it hard enough. Kid puts V.O.E. on their shoes, and they spend two hours that night scrubbing the shoes with a potato. (It is on account of Potatoes, incidentally, that my father never wrote V.O.E. on HIS shoes more than once, and he didn’t even live in Idaho!)

There is an exception to the Utah Mormon thing, and it is BYU (apparently they are late bloomers). They credit this to the unhealthy influence of Mormon students who come from states that are less refined Mormonically than Utah. It makes the round on BYU campuses every 20 years or so, frequently when a batch of teachers retires, and a group of younger teachers are hired. Administration reports that V.O.E. never gets a foothold on campus unless there are immature teachers involved in fomenting it. BYU Admin is certain though, that they hold the record for most creative use of V.O.E., in part due to the sarcastic response of the more responsible members of the student body. For a short time in the 1940s, V.O.E. was a popular Halloween Costume, and when a Performing Arts Event was particularly bad, someone would write V.O.E. on the advertising posters around the campus. When the water failed a water test in the middle of summer, someone wrote it on the water tower, in letters 3 ft high. In actual John Deere Green. It also made the rounds in Valentine’s Bouquets for about a decade in the 50s to 60s. Valentines On Everyone. Bet that never occurred to you either!

And then, when George Albert Smith was President of the LDS Church, a member of the DUP became very angry with him. She was responsible for writing educational pamphlets regarding Mormon and Utah history. She had borrowed several items of his mother’s, to photograph and document. He asked for them back, and she said they had been stolen. When he visited her home, he found his mother’s items in her livingroom, and her husband threw him out before he could collect more than a few. He looked them over good, to be sure they were his mother’s (which had been marked), and found that the woman had painted V.O.E. in red fingernail polish over his mother’s initials. She was removed from the DUP, sued for the rest of the belongings (all similarly marked). He got them back, and sent her a note with a single word on it. “Victory.”

The Catholic Church (this is the Vatican) is reputed to claim credit for V.O.E.. They joke that it originally meant “Vatican On Everyone”, but of course, it was in Latin, not in English. In truth, there are those in the Catholic church who say that the curse originated in the Abbeys and Monasteries, and the designation of “everyone” applied to those outside the Cloisters. They also say it was not “everyone” at all, but “enemy”. It was a curse they sent OUT, not a curse they delivered in person, hence, writing it on your shoes meant it applied when you were GOING somewhere. I can’t say I buy into this, but it is as plausible as anything else regarding V.O.E.. (For the record, the Vatican has always spoken Italian and English as base languages, with French as the backup, and German only when forced to.) Cursing was a big deal in the Middle Ages, and the Catholic Church did teach how to do so, and how to give “blessings”. So if V.O.E. really did start with them, one wonders what other treasures of malice have been lost to the ages.

Recent reports from Catholic Social Services indicate that cursing is alive and well among the disgruntled, and V.O.E. has reared it’s ambiguous head there as well.

Long ago, someone started V.O.E. in Subway. When Admin would send out Company Bulletins, some of the Store Owners and Consultants would send back venomous or outraged replies, and they’d sign their name, and put V.O.E. below it. (It never occurred to me to use it as part of my sig line. I’ve been an Online Business Consultant and Webmaster for more than 20 years, and it never crossed my mind that I’ve cheated my clients and followers out of a powerful tool for conquering an online domain!) One of the owners of Subway got tired of it, and emailed all the people who had done that, and she put V.O.E. at the bottom of hers as a joke. Fully half of them wrote back, saying something to the effect of, “We thought you were more mature than that.”. “You can’t do that to me.” was another popular reply.

The latest update from Subway is that, as they go about making brand changes, that both Franchisees and former Consultants are throwing tantrums that include V.O.E..

A publisher I know tells of an author who submitted a manuscript for a book. It was not readable, the writing skills of the author were not up to the task of conveying a story that was interesting or actually WENT anywhere, not to mention actually READABLE (too many spelling and grammar errors). The publisher sent it back, with a curt letter explaining that if your spelling and grammar are so bad it gives the editor a headache to try to figure out what you are saying, you aren’t going to get published. She then writes, “I do give you full marks for spelling V.O.E. correctly on 2/3 of the pages that you wrote it on the bottom of. The other third, I’m not sure it WAS actually V.O.E..” (This publisher is NOT overly picky, she also says, “Dangling participles happen. I came to terms with that half a century ago, I’m sure you can too.”)

I have heard that it is alive and well on some Army Bases. Beverly reports that there were girls in her class in Basic, who wrote this on their shoes, in black ink. Black ink, on black shoes, just impressed in. Their drill Sergeant had to get really mean about it, but they still would not quit, like this was third grade. So Beverly used white roller ball paint pens to write it on the soles of their shoes when they were sleeping.

Normal Swartzkopf reports that V.O.E. makes the rounds regularly in the Military, especially among elite troops. It carries the same intimidation factor as a death threat.

Mary Kay had this sweep through just after the turn of the 21st Century. It began in Corporate just below the level of the illustrious head of the company, and swept through the distributorships, so hard and maliciously that she had to release a Corporate Bulletin to disconnect the writing of curses on shoes with the image of Mary Kay products. Not less than 143 women, with no pattern for age of the woman, had distributorships revoked, and 13 fully grown women, and 12 older men were fired from Corporate Employment. Apparently there were several versions of vile phrases running around, but V.O.E. was once again the champion.

Sometimes it reputedly makes its way into the halls of lesser Congresses, and this state or that one will have entire issues decided over which party writes V.O.E on their shoes the most vigorously. Speed limits have been reduced, school lunches revised, and medical care for children has been obliterated and then restored again, entirely on the presence or absence of V.O.E.. One U.S. Congresswoman says, “Don’t assume it happens only at the state level. Immaturity knows no bounds when it comes to the political arena.”. She suspects that V.O.E. makes it so high in the ranks in part because it doesn’t mean anything sensible, and if you use it, maybe you are smart enough to know what it means, giving you an additional layer of superiority over those whom you are cursing. “Poop on you” just can’t equal the mystery and power of V.O.E..

Mia Love reports that the Millenials who hang out in the Congressional Offices pretending to have a purpose there, have caught on to V.O.E.. Something without a real meaning is about all they can get their little brains around, apparently, and she has witnessed two people standing there arguing about just who gave the other V.O.E. first, in a very prolonged and heated argument that eventually swelled to a dozen people on each side screaming at each other. No one hit anyone, they all thought that V.O.E. had more power to damage. She asked.

My mother says there is just something really vengefully powerful about writing things like that, that gives you that surge of satisfaction when you are really angry. She says they did that when she was in school. It didn’t fade out until you were a Senior in High School. I had completely forgotten it by the time I was in the Eighth grade (because in 7th grade, at the Jr. High School, V.O.E. does not even EXIST anymore), but she still had it going on in the 11th grade, so by the time she married and had children, it was still fresh enough to have some power, apparently.

She was very mad one day at Ruth, because Ruth had said something inconsiderate, that was so true, my mother had no defenses. She had four small children at home, and one in school, who had been coming home with that on her shoes (She was only in first grade, proving that Longview schools outshone Iowa). So my mother sits down, takes off her shoe, and uses a black pen to write V.O.E. on the bottom of her shoe where nobody will see it. “There! That for Ruth!” she declared, and put the shoe back on, and stomped off to finish her chores, especially hard on THAT foot, confident that nobody need ever know.

(Could it possibly mean “Venom”?)

That evening, she sits in her recliner, and my father walks past, and happens to see the bottom of her shoe. Brown sole with black felt pen on it. He looks at it, and looks at her, and says, “Now, Ellie!”.

She replies, “Sometimes, you just have to do it!”. He laughs, and says, “Well, if that’s what it takes!”.

The next day, Ruth has a stomach ache all day, and can barely keep from throwing up. But so did my mother, and quite a few other ladies in the Ward. Tainted potato salad at a Relief Society Luncheon.

Vox. Who knew? I wonder if it still has a use?

Update: I have been told that 4 hours after publishing my blog, V.O.E. reared it’s head on 4 military bases that had been otherwise peaceful up until that moment. I guess it took V.O.E. to give me the power to influence the world.

This has never been a thing at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii. This is just not how Islanders levy curses – their shoes (if they wear them) don’t accommodate this kind of venomous writing well either. A short 24 hours after this blog was published, V.O.E appeared written on the side of a serving table, right where the suckling pig was supposed to be served. Investigation shows that there are native men on campus there, with V.O.E. written on their FEET. The more abashed of them have it on their soles. The more daring wear it on the instep, or sometimes on the outside edge of their feet. One has written it on his toenails. The first three. He said he wanted to go every other toe with a period in between, but he could not fit the E on the little toenail, and the V would not go either. He has blacked them out, tacit proof of his claim. Three of the women have it written on their kneecaps, and one on the back of her knees. Apparently she did it using a mirror, it is kind of backward. Within another two days it is everywhere, seen and unseen. They brag about having it where you cannot see it. (Take THAT!) On the fourth day, they served up a pig that had not been fully cooked (someone forgot to put it in on time), and it spread intestinal MERSA through the staff and guests. (This will usually give you a yucky stomach ache, but rarely makes you throw up. It just makes you lightly miserable for about six weeks unless you get a good antibiotic or Calendula tea.) A fight broke out the next day, the cook is blaming four other people on campus for the disaster, who have never been near the food. He insists that if they had not written V.O.E. on pictures of a pig, that it would not have happened.

This has reputedly stopped on the grounds of the Polynesian Cultural Center, because they now fear writing it, for fear THEY will become ill themselves!

On day 4, Longview schools once again blew up with V.O.E. It started in the faculty and spread to the Admin building, where not less than 3 secretaries were found at the end of the day with V.O.E. written on their shoes. When asked, they all went sullen, and silent. Finally one sulked, “They did it first.”.

According to one local source, V.O.E. is now at full throttle once again in Longview.

U.S Steel has only about 12% female workers. The rest are male, of all ages. They recently cleaned house, and fired 50% of their unproductive workers, and did NOT rehire. They simply told the rest that the quota was what it was, and they were required to meet it. They did. And 20% of the remaining workers were still found taking standing breaks and talking on their cell phones. They were fired, and things got even MORE productive (now that they were not distracting the actual workers). The day after this blog was published, the General Manager reports that there’s a rumble going down on the casting floor just before lunch time. He goes to investigate, and finds two women down wrestling over a shoe. It is a child’s shoe, and it has been decorated, with flowers, and swirlies, all woven in around multiple instances of V.O.E. It takes a loaded firearm to persuade them to get up and act like adults. One of them has created this for her daughter, multiple pairs, and they are trendy at the grade school, and even in Jr. High in a nearby district. One of the women has tucked it into her pocket to carry with her today, as a potent talisman against we know not what. The other has seen it, and accused the first of having stolen it from HER daughter. Turns out the second one is the one who decorates the shoes, and the first one’s daughter has stolen the shoe from the second one’s daughter. More than 1/3 of the kids at the grade school have this on their shoes, decorated with other things around it, in either felt pen, or raised acrylic paint. It is very popular on the heel. The Manager takes the shoe, and puts it in his office. They are not happy, but they go back to work. At lunch hour, they come to the office and accuse HIM of stealing the shoe. He laughs and says he does not need a child’s shoe. Both of them insist he did it so he would be protected. “Against what? Grade school children with mass insanity? Psychotic Barbie Dolls? Transformers with deadly computers?”. They look at each other, and one shakes her head like you do when someone is about to give away the secret. One takes the shoe, and they walk out of the office. The other one leans over and whispers to the first, “You can’t trust him. He doesn’t get it.”. The Manager follows them, and hands them each a firing notice. The sad thing is, these are people who are now considered to be BETTER workers than average.

An Update on US Steel, six months later, it breaks out again. Once again, two of his workers (new hires) are fighting over a pair of shoes. Turns out these two women are the daughters of the women who were fighting just months earlier. Their OLDER daughters, who have been wearing V.O.E. and hearts and flowers on their shoes every day since they began a week earlier.

Further Update: Two new home businesses in the same town as this US Steel facility sell hand decorated shoes, and both offer a V.O.E. model.

Two days after publishing V.O.E. here, Subway has another rash of it going around in emails, and being whispered behind hands behind the counter. Never mind spitting in the sandwich to get revenge on someone, you can just write V.O.E. on the sandwich with the mustard and your triumph is complete.

One Fortune 500 business woman says, “If you knew what V.O.E. really meant, you would not write it on your shoes.”. We aren’t sure if she just means intelligent people don’t do that because it does not make sense, or if we should be really worried.

Southern Virginia University (the Mormon One) reports that 1 year after this blog was published, a teacher read this post to her class, and V.O.E broke out in a campus wide rash. The University has worked hard to ensure that their Honor Code is kept, and so many students are sent home because of serious (often criminal) violations, that they have taken to holding Monday Morning Honor Code Rallies. Really! Rah! Rah! We Can Be GOOD! (Sad that they have to tell THESE kids that.)

The morning after the reading, four girls crash the Rally, and run across the stage wearing Daisy Dukes with V.O.E. written on the outside of their legs. They are expelled from school (they were also drunk as skunks, and one of them lays down and rolls instead of doing the summersault she intended).

The following day, not less than 22 girls, and 1 teacher, have V.O.E on their shoes. The teacher is the one who read the story, and she has it in purple ink, with the rest of the words written vertically between the initials. She has “Victory Over Enteritis”, because MERSA has been found in the Mayonnaise in the Mess Hall. By noon, her version is on the large red bulletin on the Cafeteria Door, along with instructions to report to the Nurse at the Clinic for a prescription of Penicillin and Calendula (Calendula brings faster relief).

The girls with it are oblivious to the alternate wording, saying when they see it, “That’s not what it means!”. (Not one of them can tell you what it DOES mean though.)

It then sweeps the campus, and fights break out, over all kinds of things. Two boys are found fighting over whether one can like the lunch the other one hates, three girls are wrestling over a shoe while their steady dates (they don’t call them boyfriends here) cheer and referee from the sidelines. The office staff all writes guilty curses on their high heeled shoes (on the back of the heels… in sparkly Sharpie), and the Home Ec department teaches the girls how to decorate sneakers with flowers and leaves and sparkly bling, and all of the students (including the boys in the class) use it for embellished V.O.E..

The Administration takes desperate action at the next Rally, giving a flaming address on the evils of Priestcraft. It is not enough. Only 2 students go to their Bishops to ask, tearfully, how does one STOP V.O.E. in their lives?

The Administration quickly releases an invitation to a Campus Sponsored Family Home Evening, in the Rec Hall, where they will be serving reduced priced Ice Cream Floats (any flavor!), which always brings out a strong attendance (they like free better, but they didn’t deserve that, and this University believes in consequences). They deliver a powerfully moving address on Obeying the Commandments, and exactly HOW one does that (by NOT doing things that are DISOBEDIENT To the Commandments…. I know. But these ARE Millenials).

The following day, 4 Bishops report that they have students calling to schedule counseling sessions for repentance, at record numbers, and V.O.E slinks shamefully off the campus. Much of the student body is found wearing shoes for P.E. with lettering picked off and replaced with C.T.R. instead.

Campus Admin threatens to consign any shoes with V.O.E. to the fires of hell if they see them. Within days, there are students running barefoot on campus.

And then there is Fred Meyer. The man, not the chain. He reports that V.O.E. spawned in his stores on the West Coast about 9 months after the blog post was published. It starts with the cashiers, and within a day, has swept through Produce, Janitorial, and up through his management structure, all the way to his Regional Execs. It hits his office the following day with ferocity, coming in through emails, packages (one with a small bomb… it just left smoke marks on the envelope), and phone messages left in a whispered voice that was mean to sound sinister.

They just write it on their shoes, but they get MEAN when they do. Theft from registers soars, and shoplifting increases. Customers are now coming in with it on day 4, on their shoes. He says he’s pretty certain it started in the Longview store, but Seattle wants to claim the credit (we are not surprised at this).

Fred just sends out a Company Bulletin. He says, “Grade school venom on espadrilles is not in keeping with Corporate dress standard.”. That was all. It did not disappear. But it faded. If he sees it on shoes in his stores, he fires the wearer. As a consequence, he finds it on his OWN shoes, written there by his daughter, whom he had to fire when he found her writing V.O.E. on merchandise in his store.

The owner of Safeway Stores had a similar experience, but it stopped after two stores. He hires a grandmother as his regional executive (you do not want to meet HER in a dark alley, she supported four children in San Diego as a Detective, after working her way up from beat Cop). The minute she knows V.O.E. is on the loose in her region she storms the Managers and tells them if they let that happen they’ll be supervising a bunch of cranky toddlers! She drives the point home, and then drives it out of the two stores who’s managers end up fired for letting their workers hurl it across the store at the top of their lungs any time they are annoyed.

Rawlins Wyoming has a grocery store from a major chain, which has a sudden increase in holdups, register thefts, shoplifting, and shorted orders. Corporate comes in to investigate, and finds that 22 employees are sporting V.O.E. on their shoes, and one has it tattooed on his elbow (it is the only place left for a new tattoo, apparently). He is fresh out of prison, and a former Crips member from L.A,, though he always says Miami. He says it means “Venom Over Easy”. He doesn’t have much imagination, he really wanted “V Means Me”, but it didn’t work.

The agent sent from Corporate unearths a brand new ex-prison gang, and finds that all 22 employees are either former cons, on probation, or have a spouse in the Wyoming Penitentiary. All are fired. 11 new employees show up with it on their shoes on the first day and are refused a clock-in. They do find enough evidence to put the pathetic ringleader away again, and after the third hiring round, the manager just starts asking them what V.O.E. means, and weeds out most of them. He says about every 10th job candidate will tell them it means “V Means Me”. V.O.E. has now apparently become the ultimate weapon in gang warfare. It is more powerful, it appears, than “V Means Me” as a platform for world domination.

Home Depot reports an outbreak of contagious V.O.E about 6 months after the blog was posted. It sweeps through with the ferocity of a vaccination plague, with people lining up to get sick (his words). It is in 22 stores (popular number for V.O.E.). It shows up first as an increase in cash register thefts, and then as I.O.U notes left in place of stolen cash. Investigations are easy. Every single person who does this sports the curse on their shoes. So far NOT ONE OF THEM has been smart enough to not have it there! They can’t resist. After all, if you are a thief like that, you need all the help you can get!

Hobby Lobby has two stores that break out in V.O.E., and they find the curse on merchandise, and in I.O.U.s in the cash registers (most of them signed). They also just trace it by shoes, and it works EVERY TIME.

Colt Manufacturing has an increase in ammo thefts from a specific storage bay, and on investigation, they find V.O.E. on Colt business cards (meant for write in names for new agents) left on the boxes. Those cards are pretty closely guarded, so only certain people can get at them. They investigate and find two new sales agents with V.O.E. written on their shoes and on the backs of their ties. Case closed… Slam Dunk.

Browning has a similar issue with sales agents, and the things being stolen are only from the sales office. They track it to two old agents, both of whom have V.O.E. written on their ANKLES. In Sharpie, so it won’t all wash off at once and leave them unprotected.

Ted Cruz tells of three Congressional Aids who are discovered with V.O.E. written on their ankles… is this really a thing? All three are female, and wear short skirts with nylons. (I wonder if anyone ever told them about kneecaps?) They are all fired for trying to write it on various pieces of legislative paperwork before the President signs them.

Donald Trump has a secretary who is behaving strangely. His business is losing money, and it isn’t because sales are down, they are UP. But all the bookwork shows losses. He searches the secretary’s desk one morning and finds a notebook with V.O.E. written on it, with notes on embezzlement. It is very thorough. Enough for him to track the money and pull it back into his own accounts and lock it down.

She comes in the following morning screaming a blue streak, and the thing she can’t understand is how he could read the notebook. “I put V.O.E. on it! Boy are you gonna pay for it!” she screams. She doesn’t seem to notice the two Federal agents on the other side of the room until one has cuffed her. Then she’s really mad. She also has it on HER SHOES! she screams. They are unconcerned with the curse, unaware, it seems of the danger they are courting.

They take her to jail, where she keeps whispering to the officers, “You have to let me go! I have V.O.E.!”. One listens seriously, and says, “Sorry. We can’t get a Doctor for you until you are booked in completely.”. She responds with, “Boy are you stupid.”.

Another Trump Story, he owns a Subway, and works it himself frequently. He says that the customers in this Subway are decidedly abnormal, and sub-par on intellect. They will tip, but usually it is a malicious one. They’ve taken to tipping with a $1 bill with V.O.E. written on it. One of them assures him that this is a powerful invocation that will cause the tip to return to the pocket of the tipper. So far it hasn’t happened, but the man still insists that it works.

A woman who refuses to tip takes the receipt and writes V.O.E. on it, and insists that it will automatically chargeback. The thing is, this is an all cash business, there IS no chargeback. But she’s pretty sure the money is going to return to her debit card, despite the fact that Donald does not have the access info for the debit card!

Standard Oil is still in operation, supplying refined fuel to many of the major petroleum distributors. V.O.E. breaks out in their distribution yard, and sixteen truckers are found to have it written somewhere inside the cab of their company owned truck. The state Department of Licensing calls the Administration office and reports to the owner that someone has attempted to purchase license plates for 16 trucks owned by Standard Oil, with various permutations of VOE on the plates. She informs him that this sequence of letters is on the banned list, and you simply cannot get plates with profanities in this state!


The List…. Just so you can be really worried:

Vox; No, we still don’t know what that means, but everyone says it.

Vengeance: Sounds pretty reasonable.

Venom: Because really mean responses are too much work.

Vascillation: So your enemies can be caught in a state of perpetual indecision.

Vituperation: Just a really cool word meaning something like retaliation.

Vicks: That’s one way to get even!

Vexation: Same to you but more of it.

Vileness:  Since you can’t smear boogers on them.

Varmint: Cats, and rats and elephants, and sure as you’re born… Oh, but elephants aren’t really Varmints.

Varnish: When the whole thing needs a good cover up.

Vacation: Well, that’s one way to get them to go away.

Vittles: Trust me, Vittles ARE a curse for the gourmand.

Vespers: When you pray that they’ll leave by nightfall.

Violence: May the mills of the Gods grind on…

Violets: Overpower them with fluffiness.

Violins: From the bows of beginners…

Volcanoes: Sacrificing your enemies to the wrath of churning bowels.

Vocations: Maybe they can take up something more productive.

Villainy: Perhaps they already have that one!

Vagabonds: Beggars plucking endlessly at their sleeves.

Vegetables: It works for two-year olds!

Vestibules: Cursed to always be confined to the entryway of everything.

Ventriloquists: Bad ones. Whose lips move.

Volumes: The Neverending Story part 20.

Violets: A powerful curse on teenage boys.

Viacom: Bad cell service isn’t confined to this one.

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