Oogie’s New Foolproof Plan – Conclusion

Ralphie looked around and, sure enough, they were. And so was everything else in the room. Oogie was trying to swim through the air over toward the bacon but only got himself completely turned around and was about to bump into the wall, nose end first.

“Oogie, my stomach doesn’t feel so good!” complained Raph.

Lucille was now floating over toward Ralphie and Oogie, “Hey, this isn’t so bad once you get the hang of it.”

“Well, maybe not for you, Lucille, but we still haven’t gotten any bacon, and it looks like you’re going to miss out on the cream you wanted too.” said Oogie.

“Don’t be too sure about that Oogie, I have myself aimed right at it and will soon have all I want. You just need to get planted on one of the walls so that you can launch yourself toward what you want and the cream is just about mine.”

Lucille was approaching the cream and opening up her mouth to capture one of the floating globs of cream.

“Yummy!” she purred. “Now to get to the other wall and launch myself back for more.”

Oogie watched closely and then twisted himself around and tried to kick off the wall so that he would be aimed at one of the pieces of floating bacon. But he pushed off too hard and flew right past the piece he wanted. It was just out of his reach.

“Darn, I need to push off a little lighter.” he said to himself as he twisted around to get another shot at the bacon of his dreams.

He was just about to push off when Ralphie sailed by and snatched the piece he wanted.

“Mmm-hmm! Thish ish really good bacon, Oogie!” Ralphie said while chomping the delicious morsel down.

“I take it your stomach is doing better now, Ralph?”

“It sure is! That bacon really hit the spot!” Ralphie said with a chuckle.

“Whee! This is fun!” squealed Lucille as she shot by gobbling up another floating blob of cream.

“It sure is!” said Ralphie as he zoomed by and snatching pieces two and three out of the air.

Oogie took aim at the last piece of bacon and was careful not to push too hard this time. He had his aim just right and was just about to snatch it when the alarm stopped sounding, and the whirling lights retracted back into the ceiling. At the same time, things stopped floating in the air and headed straight for whatever was beneath them. The gravity was back on, and Oogie missed his mark and fell to the floor instead.

The last thing he saw was the bacon dropping alongside him and then…nothing.

When Oogie’s eyes opened again, the kitchen was a complete shambles with stuff scattered everywhere on the floor, table top and counters. His head was pounding, and his stomach was growling.

“Oogie, are you ok?” Ralphie asked.

“I think so, everything is a little blurry,” Oogie replied.

“Well, it’s good to know that a knock on the head just knocks you out and doesn’t kill you. I guess your head’s too hard for that.” Lucille said with a little laugh in her voice.

“I almost had that last piece of bacon too, darn!” moaned Oogie.

“Yeah, you came mighty close.” Lucille snickered.

“Yeah, Oogie, about that last piece…um.” said Ralphie almost under his breath.

“Where is it, Ralphie? You got the other three, where is the last one?”

“Umm … well, you see it was like this—”

“Like what? I saw it falling with me. I almost had it.”

Lucille started walking away and snickered. “I’ll just let you two sort this out. Bye, fellas! Call me the next time you have a big foolproof plan.”

“Ralphie?”

“Oogie, don’t get mad. It wasn’t my fault.”

Oogie stood up and moved close to Ralphie until they were almost nose to nose.

“What wasn’t your fault? Come on, Ralphie, where is that last piece of bacon?”

“It’s just that it landed … right … in … my … mouth. It was an accident!”

“What? How can a piece of bacon just land in your mouth?”

“Well, I sort of landed on top of you with my mouth up and – well – it just dropped right into my mouth. I—just—gobbled it down out of reflex. I’m sorry, Oogie.”

“Of all the bad luck …”

“Oh no, Oogie. This really was your best plan ever!”

Oogie just turned away and muttered to himself. “All my planning, down the drain. Gonna have to think of another plan now… Hmmm, that just might work!”

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Oogie’s New Foolproof Plan – Part 2

“Say Oogie, you know what? I’m … I’m … gonna head … outside to look for that lost bone. I think it’s in the hydroponics lab,” said Ralphie heading out the pet door.

“Oh, come on Lucille, I was just explaining it to Ralphie in a way he would understand. You know he wasn’t the brightest pup in the litter.”

“Well, neither were you Oogie. So tell me, what’s in this for me if I decide to help you?”

“Uh, Lucille, I hadn’t really thought about that. What would you like?”

“It did occur to me that, in addition to bacon being on the table at breakfast time, they also put a pitcher of cream for their coffee. I’ll provide a distraction for you if you’ll also get that down for me. Do we have a deal?”

“Well, I don’t know …”

“Oogie, all you have to do is knock over the cream pitcher.”

“Um … um … I don’t know …”

“Oogie, all you have to do is knock over the cream pitcher. I’ll take care of the rest.”

“Can Ralphie and I get a taste of the cream too?”

“Oh sure, you can grab some to go with the bacon. It’s a little hard to carry.”

“Oh … yeah … Ok, we’ll do it for you. Here’s the plan, first thing tomorrow morning …”

The next morning, Oogie and Ralphie headed to the kitchen just like they did every morning. But, Lucille was nowhere to be seen.

Ralphie looked at Oogie and said, “What do we do if she doesn’t show?”

“We go back to our first plan and just hope we’re fast enough to get away with it …”

“I hope so because that bacon smells really good and it’s makin’ me extra hungry … but …”

“But what?”

“I keep thinking about that broom over there. I got spots that still hurt.”

“Oh look, Ralphie, there she is. It’s showtime as soon as that bacon hits the table.”

“The bacon is going to hit the table? What if it bounces someplace we can’t get to it? That would be horrible.”

“Huh? What?”

“We’d probably get blamed for it and then get hit with that broom again!”

“No Ralphie, it’s just an expression meaning that the bacon will be put onto the table. It’s not going to bounce anywhere until we knock it off the table.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. Now quiet down, I need to keep an eye on Lucille.”

“Oogie …”

“Shh, quiet Ralphie, I’m watching. What? Where’d she go?”

“Ha! Not so foolproof — again!”

“You’re not helping, Ralph!”

“Oogie …”

“Quiet Ralphie, I’m thinking …”

“Oogie …”

Ralphie, I’m …”

“Oogie, I found Lucille.”

“Huh? What? Where?”

“Look up at the ceiling.”

Oogie looked up at the kitchen ceiling and saw Lucille floating gracefully through the air in a sort of spiral pattern. She was clawing the air frantically trying to get right-side up but, she just continued to rotate over and over.

“Oogie, is this what you meant when you said your new foolproof plan was going to be completely different?”

A shrill wavering siren began to blare, and a swirling flashing red light lowered itself from the ceiling.

“That doesn’t sound good, Oogie.”

“It doesn’t look so good either. I think the space station gravity system is broken again.”

“The what? How do you know that?”

“Because we’re floating now too.”

Oogie’s New Foolproof Plan – Part 1

Oogie’s New Foolproof Plan

“Oogie, are you sure this is gonna work? Your last idea landed us in the doghouse for a solid week.”

“Ralphie, we’re dogs, we always sleep in the doghouse.”

“Yeah, but it’s worse when they put you on half rations.”

“Oh Ralphie, forget all that. This is the best plan I had ever had. It is foolproof. It…is…stupendous!”

“No way! Your last plan was foolproof too. I still have bruises from the broom swats.”

“That won’t happen this time. No brooms, no way!”

“Well, all right…but only if you’re sure.”

“I’m sure.”

“So, how is this plan different? You scare me when you get this excited about one of your plans ‘cause I’m always the one that gets hurt.”

“That won’t happen this time. No way!”

“Ok, you said that already. What is this foolproof plan, Mr. Big Brains?”

“Last time we went after the bacon too soon.”

“Too soon?”

“Yes, too so. We tried to get it from that pan on the stove. We knocked it over, and bacon grease went flying everywhere.”

“Everywhere but our mouths. Most of it landed on the floor.”

“Uh, yeah. So when we did get the bacon, we couldn’t get away with it because of the grease all over the floor too. It was too slippery. We got caught.”

We knocked it over? Let’s get that part straight right now. You knocked it over!”

“Ok, ok, I knocked it over, but you were supposed to grab it and run away with it.”

“Oh yeah, I was just supposed to grab it before it hit the floor. But, it turned out to be impossible with that pan flying straight at me.”

“I suppose my aim could have been a little better.”

“Yeah, and that grease was hot too! I nearly got splattered with it, after I dodged the pan. Then, when I did grab the bacon, I couldn’t get any traction on the floor because of the grease… And then…there was the broom. Ewww! It makes me shiver all over just to think about it.”

“Never mind all that. This time it’s going to be completely different.”

“Ok, maybe. How?”

“I got it all figured out.”

“You do, huh?”

“Yeah, think about it. What happens to the bacon after they cook it?”

“Doh! They eat it!”

“Slow down speedy brain. What happens to it before that?”

“I dunno. They just put it on a plate and eat it. That’s all.”

“That’s right. What happens after they put it on the plate and before they eat it? Think!”

“Hmmm…it sits and cools off while they get the rest of their breakfast ready?”

“Exactly. And we need to get to it while they are distracted with the eggs, toast, juice and coffee.”

“Hey! That’s right! That plan could…wait a minute. How are we going to get it off the plate without being noticed?”

“Heh heh heh! That’s the fun part. We use the cat for a diversion. I’m a genius! That’s what I am, a gen-ee-us!”

“Hold on just a minute, Mister Genius! How are we going to get Lucille to go along with helping us? Her whole mission in life is to make us miserable.”

“That right, and so we play a little trick on her, and she plays right into our plan without even knowing it.”

“Oh, we are huh? And just how will we do that Mr. Genius?”

“Yes, just how were planning on doing that Oogie?” came a feline voice from the kitchen counter above Oogie.

“Huh? Oh hi, Lucille! How is my favorite feline?”

“Don’t even bother trying to be nice to me, Oogie. I know how you feel. I overheard you trying to set me up for the blame on your next bacon caper.”

A Bump on the Head – Conclusion

“Young man, just who are you addressing in that insolent tone?”

Josh turned around to see Mrs. Harbaugh towering over him. She stood with her hands on her hips and her graying hair pulled in a bun so tight she always looked like her face was going to rip.

Josh felt his face flush, “No one, Mrs. Harbaugh. I was just talking to myself. Sorry if I was too loud.”

Mrs. Harbaugh harrumphed, “I thought you might have been talking to Louie. He gets a bit snarky from time to time but we should always be polite to him.”

“He gets snarky?”

“Yes, it means smart-alecky. He has something of a twisted sense of humor. Don’t let him get to you. Just ignore him if he is rude.”

“You mean, you’ve heard him talk?”

The whole class began to laugh.

“Oh yes, all the time! I have tried to teach him some manners but, he doesn’t seem to understand etiquette.”

“How did I not know that?”

Louie’s voice came from behind him. “You’ve got a short attention span, or so I’ve been told.”

Mrs. Harbaugh spoke again, “See what I mean. Snarky. But enough of that, we have a class to conduct.” She turned on her heels and began addressing the class about the next lesson.

Louie said, “I am not snarky. I just have a weird sense of humor.”

Josh peeked at him, “It’s kind of rude if you ask me.”

The class got down to the business of the geography of Peru but Josh’s head began to hurt badly and he asked permission to go see the school nurse.

Sitting in the nurse’s office, Josh began to hear strangely muffled voices that sounded like they had bubbles in them.

“So you think that’s him, Thelma?”

“I sure do, Daphne. He matches the description I heard from Oscar.”

Josh started looking around to see where the voices were coming from and then noticed the two big goldfish in the nurse’s fish tank looked like they were staring at him. As soon as he looked at them, they swam off in opposite directions.

He shook his head as if he could make the voices go away but just made his head hurt worse.

The nurse came in and examined Josh.

“So young man, it looks like you got yourself quite an egg on your head. What happened?”

“I was ducking under a low branch on my way to school and didn’t duck low enough.”

“I’ll say you didn’t! That’s quite an egg on your head. Are you having any pain?”

“Yes, ma’am. I’ve been having a pretty bad headache and …”

“And what?”

“Nothing. I just have a really bad headache.”

“Well, I think that’s enough to send you home so your mom can take care of you. I don’t think you have a concussion. But you do need to rest and let the swelling go down.”

“I live real close by, I can walk home.”

“All right, but I’m going to call your Mom and let her know you are on your way.”

“Ok, thanks …”

Josh got two notes from the nurse, one for his teacher and one for his mom. He went back to his classroom and gave Mrs. Harbaugh the one for her.

She read it and told him to pack up his things and go home. As he was doing that, he looked at Louie and the hamster stuck his tongue out at him.

“See ‘ya later kiddo!”

A wave of pain shot through Josh’s head, so he ignored Louie, threw his backpack over his shoulder and headed home.

Instead of just a few animals talking, there now seemed to be a whole chorus of animal talk going on. It was like being in a crowded airport with all sorts of conversations going on around him. It made his head hurt even more.

Josh decided to take the same short cut home through Mr. Binkley’s yard and only had to duck under that low branch on the maple tree when . . .

Crunch!!

“Ooooowwww!! That … hurt …” Josh put his hand on his head and felt a two very sore lumps the size of a small egg, saw stars and dancing chickens and then … everything went dark.

“Hey buddy, are you ok?” Josh thought he heard someone say and then he felt a big, wet tongue on his face. When he opened his eyes, he saw Howie; Mr. Brinkley’s dog licking his face.

He pushed the dog away and started to sit up when he saw his mom’s face. She was kneeling next to him and said, “Buddy? Are you ok? Mrs. Binkley called me and said that you knocked yourself cold ducking under this old tree limb.”

Josh looked at Howie and Howie just twisted his head, smiled curiously and let out a small “woof!”

“Is that all you have to say, Howie?”

Josh reached into his pocket for the note the nurse gave him for his mom and nothing was there. He then hurriedly checked all the rest of his pockets and looked around on the ground to see if he had dropped it.

His mom asked, “What are you looking for, Josh?”

Josh looked at his mom and said, “I guess nothing. You know, I think I just had a bad dream while I was knocked out. I had this dream that I heard …”

Josh put his hand on his head, but only felt one very sore lump.

Howie responded with another “woof.”

The cat said “meow” and the robin said “chirp.”

“Heard what?” his mom asked.

“Oh, nothing … maybe I better go home and lay down for a while.”

“I think that’s a really good idea. I’ll call the school and tell them you’ll be home sick today and then I’ll call the doctor to see if he wants to see you.”

As they walked toward home, Josh thought he heard Howie say, “See ‘ya later Buddy.”

A Bump on the Head – Part 1

Josh was late for school…again. He was running faster than usual, taking his usual shortcut through Mr. Binkley’s yard and only had to duck under that low branch on the maple tree when . . .

Crunch!!

“Ooooowwww!! That . . . hurt . . .” Josh put his hand on his head, felt a very sore lump the size of a small egg, saw stars and dancing chickens and then . . . everything went dark.

“Hey buddy, are you ok?” Josh thought he heard someone say and then he felt a big, wet tongue on his face. When he opened his eyes, he saw Howie; Mr. Brinkley’s dog licking his face.

He pushed the dog away and sat up.

“Ok that’s enough, boy.”

“Alright, I’m just makin’ sure you’re ok,” he heard someone say.

Josh looked around and saw no one.

“Ok, who said that?”

His hand went back to the sore spot on the top of his head.

“Ouch! That must have been some conk on the head! Now, I’m hearing things.”

Just then a small voice came from up in the tree. “I don’t think he heard you, Howie.”

The dog looked up and saw a robin up in the tree. “I know, Hawthorne. They always act like they don’t understand.”

Josh looked first at the dog and then up at the robin and then back to the dog. “Are you guys talking?”

Howie and Hawthorne looked at each other and then at Josh and both said, “Yes! Are you…?”

They both stopped at the same time and then Howie continued, “You could understand us?”

Just then Mrs. Abernathy’s orange cat Norman came into view, “Hey guys, what’s up. This kid conk his noggin’ on that low branch?”

Josh looked at Norman and his mouth fell open and he started scooting himself back quickly with his hands. “Whoa! I must be dreaming! This can’t be real!”

Josh started to shake his head, as if to shake off this strange new reality, but quickly grabbed his head with both hands. “Oh! That hurt and made me dizzy at the same time!”

Howie moved closer to the boy, “Maybe you should just rest for a few minutes, Josh.”

Josh’s eyes widened as he looked at the dog, “Y…y…you know my name? H…h…how come I never heard you talk before?”

Howie sat down, looked at the boy and cocked his head to one side. “Well…”

Hawthorne flew to the ground and said, “Maybe you just never listened before.”

Norman came up and sat next to Josh opposite Howie, wrapped his tail around his paws and said, “I think he’s got an attention span problem.”

“Joshie, why you layin’ down in the grass?”

Josh turned toward the house to see little Lizzie Brinkley, rag doll hanging from her chubby little hand. “Hi Lizzie, I was cutting through your yard and hit my head on the low branch and was just…”

“Why?”

“I was on my way to school, Lizzie.”

“Oh. Who’re ya’ talkin’ to, Joshie?”

“I was talkin’ . . . talking to . . .”

Howie emitted a soft “leave us out of this” that sounded like a low growl.

“I was talking to myself. I do it sometimes when I’m alone.”

“Oh, okay.”

Josh jumped up, careful to avoid the tree branch.

“I’m going to be late for school if I don’t hurry. You should go back inside, Lizzie.” he said as he rushed off.

He looked back and saw Lizzie waving goodbye, he waved back at her.

All the way to school he wondered about what had happened.

“Maybe I was delirious. Animals don’t talk, that’s just crazy.” he said to himself.

Josh heard other voices as he rushed to school. His head rotated like a bobble head doll each time he heard a new one.

“It’s mine!”

“No it’s not, I found it first!” He saw two birds arguing over a worm.

There was a dog sniffing all around a grassy yard and mumbling.

“Where did I leave that juicy, tasty bone?”

Then he heard laughter. “It looks like the old, hound dog lost his bone again.”

Two cats were sitting on a fence, laughing at the dog.

All morning long in school, Josh wondered about what had happened and just when he thought he was feeling normal again . . . he heard a small, strange voice.

“So, I hear you can understand us when we talk.”

Josh looked around to see who was speaking.

“Hey! Look down here, it’s Louie…you know…the hamster!”

“Oh no, not you too! How did you find out about me?”

“Easy, the windows are open. I heard it from a little birdie! Ha ha ha, I heard it from a little birdie. I am sooo funny!”

Josh looked down into the hamster cage and saw Louie rolling around laughing and holding his sides.

“Shhh! Somebody will hear you!”

(Still laughing) “Who cares? Nobody can understand me but you. Hahaha, this is too good! I heard it from a little birdie!”

Josh rolled his head back and looked up. “Oh man! This is NOT happening to me!”

“Hey, Josh, who are you talking to?” said Scott in the next row.

“Oh…um…nobody…just talking to myself.”

“That’s right, pretend you can’t hear me.” said the Louie.

Josh put his hand over his ear in attempt to not hear Louie.

“Just thinking out loud Scott.”

“You’re seriously in denial, that’s what you are,” said Louie.

Josh turned toward the hamster cage and tried to whisper, “I am not! I didn’t ask for this. I don’t want to hear or understand animals when they talk. Now, leave me alone!”

Night Lights in the Forest

I am resuming some activity even though my health issue is not yet resolved. I am going to be working on one of my unfinished stories and, to that end, on this blog, I will be posting a draft version of the story one chapter at a time. Here we go . . .

Night Lights in the Forest

By: Steve Mathisen

Chapter One

They’re back! And right on schedule, too! Emmy put a check in the upper right-hand corner of the date on her calendar, picked up her journal, opened it to the page for today and began to write.

If I’m right, it’s the last night of the five-night cycle for this month, and I need to find out what they are. My mind is made up. I’m going tonight! Emmy closed her journal, laid it on her bed and waited for her sister to fall asleep.

She had asked for her father’s permission. His response was clear and emphatic, “No! There are things out there at night Emmy, wild and dangerous things!” That only made her more curious.

Emmy hadn’t seen any wild and dangerous things from her window. So, she determined to sneak out to see what the dancing lights and tinkling bells were all about.

She had noticed they only showed up for the five nights around the full moon cycle. This was the third month running and tonight was the final night of the cycle. If she didn’t go tonight, she’d have to wait another month . . . if they came back.

Emmy sat in the window seat watching the lights and listening for her little sister’s breathing to become slow and steady. Nine-year-old Gigi normally followed her everywhere. She didn’t want her tagging along tonight.

When Gigi finally seemed to be asleep, Emmy slipped quietly out of bed, dressed, grabbed a flashlight and crept slowly down the back stairs being careful to tightly grip the worn wooden rail so she could step over the two steps that creaked.

In the kitchen, Emmy headed for the back door. Booger’s head came up immediately, and she shushed their old hound dog. As she attempted to open the door and step over him, Booger chose that precise moment to stand so that she was awkwardly straddling him and trying to hold on to the door knob so she wouldn’t fall. She stifled a giggle and swung her left leg over him and step onto the stoop. Booger turned to follow her. She bent down, took his head between her hands and looked into the eyes of her old friend. She could see his determination to follow wherever she was going. Her constant companion for many years was now mostly old and tired. Sleeping in the kitchen seemed to be all he had energy for, until now.

Rather than argue, Emmy decided taking Booger along wasn’t such a bad idea. He might not be able to fight off any night creatures, but he could still howl with the best of ‘em. So she held the door open for him to come out and then let it go. Then suddenly remembered, reached out and caught the screen door just before it slammed. Tragedy avoided, she grabbed her chest and held her breath for just a moment to force her heart to slow down. Then she headed off into the darkness toward the night lights in the forest with Booger following close behind.

Crossing the field, Emmy thought about all the nights she spent watching what she thought were fireflies. Somewhere in the back of her mind she remembered something odd that Daddy had said when she talked about watching the fireflies. She couldn’t remember exactly what it was. Mostly she remembered the faraway look he got in his eyes and the fear that flashed across his face. Emmy momentarily shivered at the thought of Daddy being afraid of anything.

Emmy looked up into the millions of stars twinkling in the clear night sky. A full moon peeked out from behind a solitary cloud. She inhaled the sweet, late summer air and noticed just a hint of the smell of the creek that ran through their farm.

Her jeans kept the tall grass from thrashing her legs as she walked through it. The air was warm and moist but cooler than in the house. Crickets chirped and fireflies swarmed so, for the first time, she noticed that fireflies were much smaller than the lights she had seen from her window. That realization strengthened her resolve.

The Promises of God with Stanley – Part 2

Stanley:                       Oh yes! How about David when he had to face the giant Goliath?

Mr. Mathisen:             That is good, Stanley. Let’s see what was David doing before that?

Stanley:                       Wasn’t he a shepherd?

Mr. Mathisen:             Yes, all of David’s older brothers were fighting in the army while David was back home taking care of the sheep.

Stanley:                       That must have been boring.

Mr. Mathisen:             Not really, you see sometimes David had to fight off lions and…

Stanley:                       Lions and tigers and bears?

Mr. Mathisen:             Almost, it was just lions and bears. You see, sometimes a lion would try to capture one of the sheep and David would have to go whack the lion and get the lamb back from him. Sometimes he had to kill the lion. Other times he had to fight off a hungry bear. But you see, lot’s of people would think about what mighty warriors they were if they could do that, but David knew that it was God that was helping him. He knew that God was giving him the courage and the strength to fight them off, and that is a pretty important thing to know.

His father asked him to go to the battlefield to take some food to his brothers and to see how they were doing.

As David arrives at the battle camp, the Israelites and Philistines are lined up on opposite sides of the valley hurling sticks and stones and insults at each other. On the Philistine side Goliath, a giant twelve feet tall, is lined up in the middle of their line. He is yelling something at the Israelites. “I have put the armies of Israel to shame this day. Send your champion out to fight me. If I win, you will become our slaves. If your champion wins, we will become your slaves.” Then all of the Philistines yelled insults at the Israelites. Goliath then said very loudly, “I think that you all are a bunch of cowards and your God is a fake!”

When David heard that, he became very angry. He knew that his God was not a fake. David had spent many hours in prayer while he was with the sheep. God had given him courage and strength to fight wild animals. God was not a fake.

David went immediately to where his brothers were to deliver the food. He could see that they were afraid of Goliath.

Goliath stepped out and yelled again, “I think that you all are a bunch of cowards, and your God is a fake!”

This made David even madder, and he asked “who is this Philistine, that he has put shame on the armies of the living God?”

David went to King Saul and asked permission to fight Goliath. King Saul gave David his own armor to wear in the battle against him. But, when David put it on, it was way too large and kept him from moving around, so he took it off. He said to the king, I am not used to fighting in all this armor. God will protect me as He always has.

So David, wearing his normal shepherd clothes took his walking stick and stopped to pick up five small round smooth stones from the bed of the stream that ran through the valley.