Thursday, March 5, 2015


We don’t buy toys for our grandchildren. We buy dirt. Once or twice a year, we call the dump truck man and have him bring his giant belching, clanking dump truck full of white sand to our back yard, where he dumps it—as high and as deep as he can make it. We call it the Mountain, and then we unleash the grandkids on it.

“Go play on the Mountain,” we say.

“Don’t dig in that nasty horse poop. Go dig up the Mountain,” we instruct.

“Of course you can make a tiger pit on the Mountain,” we encourage.

The Mountain is worth its weight in cash, check, or charge.

The Mountain is a kid-friendly, adult-free zone. There is only one rule that governs the hill of white sand community.

“Thou shalt not throw sand.”  That’s it.

We don’t tell them how deep to dig, or what size shovel they should use, or whether they should build a sand castle or a wombat nest. We don’t care if they cart sand around in buckets or build a sand fort or bury each other up to their neck bones.

“Thou shalt not throw sand.”

That single mountain commandment is specific and limited in scope. It is patterned after the Ten Commandments, “the [Mosaic] law has a modest function; the law is limited, and therefore the state is limited. The state, as the enforcing agency, is limited to dealing with evil, not controlling all men.” (Old Testament Student Manual; the page after 137; the part about rules we should all follow.)

As the official representative of “the state” in our backyard, I like the whole setup. I can sit in the sun, read a book, drift off to sleep, dream about Aruba, and eat grilled cheese sandwiches—most of the time, until someone throws sand, until someone EVIL throws sand.

Then the State steps in . . .

It always starts with a grubby kid on The Mountain standing up straight as a stick, hands clenched to fists, eyes squeezed to sandy slits, and mouth open—howling. One hand slowly extends like a ghost newly crawled from an open grave, finger pointing, “He/She/They threw sand,” the howling mouth howls. Inherent in the howl is the demand for justice.

Shading my eyes with my paperback, I say, “Wipe your eyes with your shirt tail.”

The howler tries to comply. Sand is ground deeper into sockets.

The howler screams, “Arrrrrrrrrrrrgggggg!”

Denials fly.  “I didn’t do it. He did it. The dog did it. Mavis the Goat did it. A chicken did it. No one did it. It just happened.”

The howler, now the screamer, continues to wipe and wail.

At this point, the State is forced to put down her lemonade, egg salad, paperback, bonbons, umbrella, and intervene.

Evil is a pain in the eye sockets. It takes time and energy and attention to control “all men” also women. It costs money. It’s a drain on leisure activities. It’s depressing. It’s exhausting.

The Ten Commandments have gotten a bad rap over the years. (I blame wicked people.) It’s too sad really; because they are not a bad deal. Thou shalt not steal. Doesn’t tell you how to spend your money or how to earn it or how to use it or donate it or squirrel it away—all it says is that you shouldn’t take my money or your neighbor’s money with the great looking ass (as in donkey.)

That’s it. Thou. Shalt. Not.

Not a single thou shalt. People want to tell you that the Ten Commandments are repressive. They are wrong and probably are all about coveting your ass (as in donkey.)

Thou shalt pay income taxes to the federal government to be doled out by liars, cheaters, and thieves in a district hundreds of miles away from your front door or thou shalt go to big, fat jail; that’s repressive.

Or as I like to say, “You let me know which one of those Ten Commandments you most object to, and I’ll know whether to hide my purse or my husband.”

Other than that, here’s your sand pail; the Mountain is out back.

Linda (Sand Storm) Zern


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