Cauli Le Chat

Cauli Le Chat
Cauli Le Chat, MPL Roving Reporter

Monday, September 29, 2014

Exploring Morgan-Monroe Forest

Yesterday my minions, "Flat" Cauli VII (Flat Seven for short), and I explored Morgan-Monroe State Forest, just a few miles south of Martinsville, Indiana.

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We explored many interesting places.  Here I am at Cherry Lake and its shelter house.  You can see Flat Seven peeking out the window.  That's the Lady With the Red Hair walking toward the shelter house.

What a beautiful area for hiking and camping.  Not too busy, either!  I recommend a visit there, especially in the coming weeks, when Fall colors will be in full splendor.

Your Roving Reporter On The Go,

Cauli Le Chat

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Taking a Stepp Into the Unknown

Halloween is still a month away, but it was such a nice day to visit a haunted cemetery.  So this afternoon, my minions and I, along with "Flat" Cauli (probably Flat VII, although they all look alike, even to moi), visited famous Stepp Cemetery in the Morgan-Monroe State Forest, just a few miles south of Martinsville, Indiana.

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According to the History of Lawrence and Monroe Counties, Indiana: Their People, Industries and Institutions (Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Co., 1914), Reuben Stepp purchased land patents in sections 21 and 6 (1835 and 1836, respectively) of Benton Township (later split off as Marion Township) of Monroe County, Indiana.  Savoy Stepp purchased land in section 9 in 1837.  The cemetery is located on one of Reuben Stepp's tracts.  The State of Indiana acquired the land in 1929.

Monroe County, Indiana Map (1876)
(Showing Marion Township Above Benton Township)

Since at least the 1950s, people have claimed to have experienced paranormal events in the cemetery near the grave of "Baby Lester," who died in 1937.  According to folklore, night visitors have seen a spectral "woman in black" sitting on a tree stump near the grave.  This was supposedly the ghost of Baby Lester's mother, who purportedly haunts the cemetery.  It has become common practice for visitors to leave tributes or relics at the grave site.  We saw many such items on display.

Baby Lester's Grave

Since Baby Lester's grave is situated among many Adkins graves, we presumed that Lester was a member of the Adkins family.  There seems to be some discrepancy between the older and newer headstones for Joseph and Florence, however.  Just saying.

The tree stump has long since rotted away, but folks continue to claim to experience haunting phenomena after dark in the cemetery.  Some claim to have photographed orbs floating in the air and to have recorded electronic voice phenomena (EVP).  (My Library has books about orbs and EVP--you know where to click.)  We didn't see or hear any such activities, but it was daytime.

We found a YouTube video that summarizes the haunted history of Stepp Cemetery.

"Stepp Cemetery" Video (2008)
by Robert Greg Lyon

Unfortunately, many of the oldest tombstones were vandalized over the years, damaging the cemetery both genealogically and aesthetically. Cemetery vandalism is a disgrace.  People should show more respect for the departed.  Happily, thanks to the efforts of cemetery revitalization groups, we saw many new or restored grave markers.  There were also several recent burials (within the last 20 years--a few as recently as two years ago).  My minions snapped a few photos.

Also living in the cemetery were two partially rotted trees that have been hollowed out--one struck by lightning--and would make great hiding places for small critters.  The Lady With the Red Hair, "Flat" Cauli, and I investigated.

It's amazing that the lightning tree is still alive, given the severity of the burns.  Ironically, the tree's in a cemetery.  Go figure.

Maybe Stepp Cemetery is really haunted, but I don't think we'll be going back after dark. Those trees would look plenty spooky at night.  Not that I'm a scaredy-cat or anything.  I am a black kitty, after all.

Your Roving Reporter On The Go,

Cauli Le Chat

A WW I Slobberdog Hero

During the first world war, in Paris, France, Rags was a stray slobberdog (I call all canines slobberdogs, because they slobber, you know).  He lived by dumpster diving (who hasn't among us four-legged outdoors explorers?), only the trash cans were smaller than today's dumpsters.  One dark night, purely by chance, he encountered an American soldier, Private (soon-to-become Sergeant) James Donovan, who stepped on the slobberdog's foot. A policeman happened along, and since Donovan was out after curfew, he had to think fast lest he be arrested.  So Donovan invented a story that the slobberdog was his division mascot who had wandered off-base.  Donovan had been searching for him.  The policeman was suspicious--the slobberdog looked like a ragged cur, he observed--but Donovan had a quick response:  "That's his very name!  Rags!"  So the policeman allowed them to return to base together.

Donovan was sent to the front, and Rags was allowed to accompany him. Donovan was a signalman--he laid telephone cable so the combat trenches could communicate with the rear artillery and command centers--and Rags became his inseparable partner.  Rags would run messages tied to his collar, keeping communications open when lines were down--an incredibly dangerous duty, given the munitions raining from the skies.  He warned of incoming artillery shells--he could hear the high-pitched whine before human soldiers could--and, by ducking down, his human comrades knew to hit the dirt, too.  He caught mice in the trenches and kept fellow soldiers in the U.S. Army First Division company.  He even saved Donovan by biting an enemy soldier's leg.

While on a dangerous mission, Donovan and Rags were injured by poison gas and an exploding shell.  What happened next you will discover when you read the children's picture book, Rags: Hero Dog of WW I (a True Story), written by Margot Theis Raven and illustrated by Petra Brown.  Our book trailer elaborates.

MPL Book Trailer #210
Rags: Hero Dog of WW I (a True Story)
by Margot Theis Raven & Petra Brown

Rags lived to be 20 years old (1916-1936)--an incredibly old age for slobberdogs.  He was a decorated war hero honored in post-war parades. Tens of thousands of slobberdogs served in World War I, and many were heroes like Rags.  It is an inspiring story showing the bonds of loyalty, duty, and friendship between humans and slobberdogs.

Your Roving Reporter On The Go,

Cauli Le Chat

Sunday, September 21, 2014

It's All Uphill From Here

A few miles west of Mooresville, Indiana, is Gravity Hill (sometimes called Magnetic Hill).  Since horseless carriage days, people have discovered that their motor vehicles, if placed in neutral, will roll uphill by themselves.  At least, so it appears.  Round objects, too, will do the same.

My Library has many digitized newspaper clippings and handouts describing the phenomenon over the years.  You know where to click.

 Click Images to Bigify

Gravity Hill is along Keller Hill Road, which is a really busy highway these days.  Drivers race along at around 60 miles per hour (although we didn't officially use radar to clock their speeds, they all exceeded the posted speed limit of 40 m.p.h.).  Given that, and the lack of any convenient pull-offs at Gravity Hill, my minions considered it unsafe to attempt even a photo, let alone allowing a car to roll uphill.  Thanks to the Internet, however, there are plenty of videos and photographs.

"Gravity Hill," from Episode #209 of Across Indiana (1991)
(Courtesy of WFYI-Channel 20 Indianapolis)

"Gravity Hill" (2009) by Lekshmi Radhakrishnan

"Mooresville, IN Gravity Hill" (2011) by Interesting Ted

It's an optical illusion, of course.  You could try it out for yourselves, but, frankly, I think it's too dangerous, what with all the busy traffic careening along the road WAAAAAAAY too fast. It's your call.

Your Roving Reporter On The Go,

Cauli Le Chat

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Banned Books Meet the Domino Effect

Since 2010, my Library has been making promo trailers to celebrate your freedom to choose what to read during (and before and after, actually) the American Library Association's Banned Books Week.  This year's video is no exception.

MPL Promo Trailer
2014 ALA Banned Books Week
(Sept. 21-27, 2014)

Here's our "banned book" video playlist if you'd like to watch our older promo trailers or book trailers for several banned or challenged books.

A banned book begins a domino effect.  Don't let others decide which books will fall from your selection possibilities.  Exercise your freedom to read what you want at your favorite library or bookstore.

Your Roving Reporter On The Go,

Cauli Le Chat

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cat-to-Cat Advice From the Late, Great Sparkle

When Sparkle the Designer Cat passed last month, we remembered that we had not yet gotten around to making that book trailer showcasing two of Sparkle's popular cat-to-cat advice books.  So we made one yesterday.  I wish we had made it much sooner.

MPL Book Trailer #209
Dear Sparkle (Two Books)

These are wonderfully funny and insightful guides.  My Library has both books available to check-out for Evergreen Indiana cardholders. Others should purchase copies from  Visit the store on Sparkle's website (now featuring Summer) for other fun items to purchase.

Your Roving Reporter On The Go,

Cauli Le Chat

A Castaway Mystery Adventure

Human castaways on deserted Pacific islands (or in other oceans, for that matter) have always been a staple of 18th and 19th century adventure literature.  Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Johann David Wyss' The Swiss Family Robinson, among many others, must have influenced Jules Verne to attempt his own version in The Mysterious Island.  Although Verne characterized this as his "geographical novel," it is more than survivalist fiction.  It is a mystery, filled with suspense and excitement.  Our book trailer elaborates.

MPL Book Trailer #208
The Mysterious Island, by Jules Verne

It's a massive tome--over 600 pages in my Library's copy--so it's not a casual evening read. It is filled with scientific detail typical of Verne's "science adventure" novels (he was, if not the originator of the genre, one of its earliest masters).  It is, more or less, a sequel to Verne's wildly popular Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, although, admittedly, there are several plot and character inconsistencies.  Still, for Verne fans, it should be loads of fun.

Your Roving Reporter On The Go,

Cauli Le Chat

Friday, September 5, 2014

Gedrocht Performs Library's Composer

Danny Buckley, the composer who writes soundtracks for our library videos, whom I call the Music Man, has his original musical scores performed around the world.  One latest recording comes from Gedrocht (Danny van Straten), a pianist from Utrecht, the Netherlands.  It is Buckley's "Moonlight Funeral (Diana's Final Breath)," from Touch of Winter: 10 Journeys Through White Magick (2010), which is available (music CD and scores) to check-out from our Evergreen Indiana online catalog.

For a review of this recording, click here.

Your Roving Reporter On The Go,

Cauli Le Chat

P.S.  We used "Moonlight Funeral" as the soundtrack to our book trailer for The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams.