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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Angus Meets Nur Nur and Fur Fur

(This post is a gift from my son Jesse, father of Angus.)

"Once upon a time, in the Land of Mur Mur, Nur Nur and Fur Fur were taking a walk in the woods... "

Storytime with Dadiu

by jsmcdougall 

The other night Daddy-Duncan (shortened to Dadiu), gave us a real treat. He came over to visit us in Vermont and—after helping with the requisite farm project—made dinner and joined us for out nighttime bedtime ritual.
I asked Dad if he'd be wiling to read the bedtime story, and he said he'd love to. But then he had a better idea.
(I recommend allowing the video to load for a bit. Also the fullscreen button is in the lower-right.)
For those of you who don't know, all six McDougall children grew up listening to Dad's wonderful tales of Nurnur and Furfur in the land of Murmur at bedtime. In fact, I have a hard time even typing that phrase without falling asleep.
I apologize for stopping the video 30 seconds prematurely. My iPhone is and was chock full. Enjoy! (And Piper...stop crying.)
jsmcdougall | January 25, 2014 at 10:03

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

From Utah Beach to VE Day: The Path of Basil Kimball

Shirl's late father, Basil Kimball, grew up on the Kimball Farm in then-rural Westborough, Maswsachusetts. During the 1930s, he earned a degree in electrical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  Before Pearl Harbor, but when he knew he'd likely soon be drafted, Basil volunteered for service in the U.S. Army. After basic training and Officer's Candidate School, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U. S. Army.

You'd think that such a man would be placed in the Army Engineers, but since Basil's records showed that he was familiar with horses, he was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division, and sent to train in the mountains of North Carolina in charge of a team of Army mules.

Shortly after Pearl Harbor, Basil and his beloved girlfriend from home, Barbara Landon, got married, guessing that Basil would soon be sent overseas.  As it happened, that event had to wait a couple of years.  During those years, the Army finally recognized Basil's engineering talents, and transferred him into the 13th Field Artillery Observation Battalion, where he led a unit that operated sound-ranging equipment to pinpoint the location of enemy artillery pieces.

The 13th Field Artillery fought in the Pacific, in several campaigns, including the reconquest of The Philippines.  But Basil was not there with them, because his group within their Observation Battalion was detached, and sent to England to take part in Operation Overlord (the code name of the invasion of Normandy that was to establish a Western Front in the war against Hitler's Nazi Germany).  Thus it was that my father-in-law landed on Utah Beach on D-Day +1, at about 2:00 in the afternoon.

I only talked with Basil once about the war.  But, born in 1943, I have always been fascinated by WWII history, so I listened intently that day.

Basil said that at that afternoon hour on June 7th, 1944, they did not have to fight their way ashore. He later stayed in Europe, as he put it, "with Ike, but Ike was usually 20 miles behind us," until the end of the war in Europe, VE Day, 8 May, 1945.

My wife Shirley Kimball McDougall, our son Alex, and I are presently planning to go to Utah Beach in May, before  the area becomes overcrowded with 70th Anniversary visitors in early June.  We then hope to trace as much of the path across France of the 13th Field Artillery Observation Battalion as we can.  It is our way of honoring her dad, and his service to our country.  Hence, I am presently trying to learn as much as I can about that path.  Any leads you can give me will be much appreciated.  Please e-mail your suggestions to

Friday, January 17, 2014

Caffeine Catharsis

Perhaps you have wondered,
(Perhaps you have not),
Why this prolific blogger,
Has failed to post squat.

For over a week now,
His silence has said,
"What's happened to Duncan?
Sure hope he's not dead!"

Well, dear Blogspot fans,
I write now to confess,
That a dearth of black coffee,
Has made me a mess.

Repeated arrhythmia,
Blood pressure, too,
Convinced me this week,
That caffeine is taboo.

But getting off coffee,
In an addict like me,
Nearly put me to sleep,

By Duncan C. McDougall, Copyright 2013, All rights reserved.
(Special permission is hereby granted to readers of this post to share this poem with proper citation of its author, and of this web site:

Monday, January 6, 2014

Two Perspectives, Two Truths.

Today the following picture appeared on Facebook, shared by my niece, Talya McDougall.  I liked it very much, but also saw another side.  That response is below the picture.

I did, but:

In those days, my friends were all local, rather than all around the world. We shared our narrowness, prejudices, and ignorance of the wider world. Protestants felt guilty if they entered a Catholic church. Catholics feared eternal damnation if they reciprocated. If we were lucky, our parents were educated well, and instilled human values that allowed us to see past those sorts of prejudices, but if not, we became nasty little bigots.  It took bleeding together in Vietnam to teach us that whites and blacks are simply men and women, and that all are in the same bind. We are all here on Earth, mortal, and we all are just trying to do our best for ourselves and for our families. What I like best about the Internet is that it has made us more aware of those facts. Wherever you are, my friends on Facebook [or here in my blog], you have my respect. For together, we share the human condition.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Last Night's Dream

Shirl's SAAB is a good car, a solid one, too.
Its turbocharged two-liter powers it well.
I drove it last night, down a corkscrew to Hell.

The road bent right, a smooth gravel surface,
As we started downward, I drove with abandon.
Fast but controlled, I steered gently, enjoying.
Feeling the slippage of pebbles and sand on,
The curve that continued, spiraling down,
The surface turned muddy, rocks rose from the ground,
But all were avoided as deftly I found,
Our way through that minefield, so sticky and brown.

Limited traction, as a dirt-biker knows,
Increases the thrill that the rough-rider feels.
Or a skier must sense when cold the snow blows,
As schussing a mountain trail, 'round turns she reels.
But my road's bend grew tighter, the rocks bigger still,
With sharp edges threatening, and deep mud as well.

I'm thinking, “There is no way back on this road.
So there must be a tunnel ahead, round the bend.
I foresee an end here I might well forebode,
A 'corkscrew bridge' maybe, will let me descend.
Like that which we found in Dakota last year,
As we rode through the wilderness, far, far from here."

“A bridge to release this road from its spiral, 
and allow us to find a straight stretch, for a while. 
A road that will lead me to villages new,
Where I'll stop for warm ciorba, and meet people, too.
Share tea, chat awhile, and leave with new friends,
Surely that bridge is around this next bend!”

Then under a mud bank the SAAB became stuck.
I got out and pondered my plight in the muck.
Two men stood quite near me, and one of them said,
“Your car is a goner. Good thing you're not dead.”
By Duncan C. McDougall, 5 January 2014

(A poem-in-process; but my actual dream.)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Tragedy, and A Philosophy

The Tragedy:

On New Year's Day Craig Zamzow's grandson Ben, 9, who came east from Colorado to attend his grandfather's funeral last September, died in a snowmobile accident.  Craig had loved Ben very much.  I cannot imagine Ben's parents' pain.
Dear God,  
Please help the Zamzow family through their time of grief, the second in four months.   If there be any comfort, it is in knowing that Craig and Ben are together in Heaven.  

The Philosophy:

"There are so many legitimate causes for misery in our lives, that if you cannot point to your active cause of misery, that fact, in itself, is a reason to be happy."   -Duncan C. McDougall