The Alien Deception


Ever since I discovered a field mouse squatting in our mailbox (approximately a year after I grasped for the mail and was stung by a carpenter bee)…

I began to look before reaching.

That’s why I noticed the book in the mailbox.

I assumed it was a loaner on return, and I tossed it onto Pigpen’s passenger seat —  a receptacle for mail and the kids’ discarded clothing. (Rarely do I subject a human passenger to that unairconditioned rattletrap.)

Anyway, a week passed before I removed the dirty clothes and unearthed the stack of mail.

The book cover was forgettable, but the lump inside gave me pause. I assumed it was a note from the borrower; but it was actually a DVD entitled: Exo-Vaticana — The Alien Deception.

Now that stopped me and I scrutinized the book… which wasn’t your typical Jehovah’s Witness lit.


As for the accompanying disc… I wasn’t brave enough to stick something called The Alien Deception into my DVD player. So I turned to Google.

Exo-Vaticana is a book authored by two writers who claim that the Catholic Church has begun a global dialogue with extraterrestrial life, and that Pope Francis will ultimately disclose ET’s existence to the world. Specifically, they claim that the Pope is preparing to lead the Catholic Church to embrace the returning/visiting aliens as “space brothers of Christ.” 


In contrast, the book, Knowing God, was banal. Apparently, it’s a must-read for Evangelicals.

It brings together two important facets of the Christian faith― knowing God and [sic] God’s close relationship with the person of Jesus Christ,” wrote one reviewer.

A quote from the author J.I. Packer stated: “Christians have become enchanted by modern skepticism and have joined the ‘gigantic conspiracy of misdirection’ by failing to put first things first.

Another reviewer said that Knowing God“puts the hay where the sheep can reach it — showing ordinary folks what it means to know God.”

None of those comments wowed me.

The relationship between God and Jesus Christ? Not exactly a novel concept.

And the sheep metaphor was offensive. During our last snowstorm, I’d put hay where the sheep could reach it, and those stupid sheep were too dense to eat it. Please, select another domesticated species to represent me.

As for the “gigantic conspiracy of misdirection?” Sounds like the current presidential race.

So, what do to with this mailbox liturgy?

I found that Amazon sells Knowing God for $11.96. If our neighbors have also been blessed with this bounty, we could pool our paperback stash and make some money.

As for the homemade, pirated version of the Exo-Vaticana DVD? It’s hard to put a price on that.

So far, The Alien Deception makes a handy drink coaster.

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All Before 9 AM

A few mornings ago, I got out of bed and found this on the kitchen table:


There was no reason to doubt its legitimacy. I recognized Martin’s handwriting and he was up before me.

Plus, no one has time to pull a prank at that hour.

I surveyed the box — he could’ve weighed down the lid with a bowl or a plate — but the top appeared to be undisturbed….

So I shoved it aside and started packing lunches.

A short while later, the kids emerged. They gobbled down their cereal and carried the box outdoors.


I later learned that Martin discovered the corn snake while mucking stalls. The creature was coiled around the pitchfork handle, attempting an ascent to a bird’s nest.

As punishment, Martin decided that the snake should spend time with the kids. So he placed it where it wouldn’t be missed.

After being stuffed in a shoebox, the snake was less than thrilled to be poked and prodded on the deck.


When Cayden tried to detain him, the snake bit his hand.

So we released the reptile on his own recognizance, and he vanished into the pumpkin patch.


After that we piled into the car, but pulled over within a few miles to watch Pigpen’s odometer hit the 250,000 mark. We shouted out the open windows. I photographed the event.

Hadley thought we should celebrate with ice cream.


From there, it was off to camp.

But not before The Boy shed his braces at the orthodontist’s office.

And all before 9 AM.


Serial Shredder


The riding lawnmower and I do NOT get along.

Whenever I’m paired with it, something gets broken, knocked loose, bent or shredded. This problematic relationship dates back years ago, to its maiden voyage with me: I mowed over a metal jump cup and bent the blade.

Since then, the casualties have been less costly  — tennis balls, kids’ toys, ornamental plants and a few garden hoses. Still, Martin never asks me to cut the grass.

And he’s mystified by my inability to start the mower, despite several tutorials. I guess he figures that ineptitude hobbles my usage.

(And starting it is one reason why I hate the thing. In my defense, the icons are inane. The choke symbol — two hash marks and a diagonal line? It’s meaningless. Equally baffling is the tortoise and hare symbol for the throttle. I never know which lever should be where, and typically the engine fires but doesn’t catch.)

But on Monday, I had a stroke of luck. Martin was bush-hogging with the tractor, creeping along and stopping frequently to scrape seed heads from the radiator or to clear his lungs of the carbon monoxide, billowing from the broken exhaust.

I felt sorry for him, so I shoved the key into the mower’s ignition, toggled the levers this way and that and — for once — the thing growled to life. Success!

I commenced mowing, tracing the fence line, so Martin could witness my good deed. He was nearly done bush-hogging and soon could chill out.

I made one more pass then took a path around the boxwoods. Almost immediately, the engine shrieked and ground to a stop with a violent shudder. I sat on the silent machine as a plume reeking of burnt rubber rose around me. In the distance, the tractor was still chugging along.

I hiked into the field and flagged Martin down.

“So there I was, minding my own business, cutting the grass when suddenly, the hose by the magnolia tree flung itself in front of the mower!” I said, waving my arms for emphasis.

“Another hose?” he asked before surveying the crime scene. “Jesus, Jo! You got the hammock in there, too?”

It’s true, both yard items teamed up in this brutal attack.


After that, Martin didn’t say much. He rolled around on the ground, stuck his arm beneath the mower, grumbled a lot and finally freed the blades from the tangle of rubber and rope.


Promising to be more careful, I took off cutting grass before he could say much else.

I was on high-alert for toys near the jungle gym, and that’s why it took a minute to realize that the mower was rearing up on its hind wheels. Perplexed, I pushed the steering levers forward and the mower really popped a wheelie. So I quickly yanked it backwards and it came down, hitting the ground with a bang.

Somehow, I’d snagged the mowing deck on the two-seater swing on the jungle gym.

I quickly glanced around to make sure that Martin was on the tractor, out of sight.

He was standing right behind me, mouth agape.

What could I do?

I peeled out there, taking refuge behind the boxwoods.

I still hate that damn mower, but at least it moves fast.