Woodland_Vole_Microtus_Pinetorum (1)

Mysterious! Oooooooo!

Today’s letter arrived in a brindle-brown envelope. The addressee’s name is obscured–as is often the case with this mis-delivered mail. There is no return address. Merely an animal print of some sort. It reads:

Dear Brother or Sister,

Welcome and congratulations regarding your impending initiation into the Sacred Lodges of the Mysterious Vole. You are fortunate and honored to join one of the world’s oldest secretive organizations whose members have included Egyptian pharoahs, Russian czars, hangmen, leaders of professional dentist organizations, presidents, Irish authors and kleptomaniacs, and at least one major prophet to one major world religion. (Try to guess who. We think you’ll be surprised!)

Enclosed are two pair of official initiation ceremony pants (one size fits all). Please bring both pair to your initiation ceremony. You’ll know why when it happens. [note from John: I don’t see any pants. Just as well.

The secret and mysterious handshake for members of the Sacred Lodges of the Mysterious Vole is as follows:

  • two high fives
  • cracking of knuckles
  • simultaneous punches to left shoulder, then right shoulder
  • a loud guffaw
  • gentle kiss to forehead (elder member initiates)
  • two low fives

Yes, the handshake doesn’t lend itself well to secrecy, but it’s still plenty mysterious.

There is a lodge here somewhere.

As members often have to move around a lot, we do not assigned individual members to individual lodge locations. Lodges exist in most major cities and national parks. Just look for the numbers 1, 6,and 7. The password of the day will be whatever color I’m thinking of right now. (Hint: It’s not red.)

With membership come responsibilities. Such responsibilities include providing alibis, comfort and succor, pocket change, proofreading, and the occasional back shave.

But with responsibility also come privileges. Among the many privileges you’ll enjoy are: horse racing tips, low deli numbers, free usage of the term “raison d’etre”, boxing gloves on demand, and 10% off admission to all zoos. There are more (and like-wise more responsibilities), of course. You’ll be introduced to these by your lodge mentor.

Member since 1534 BC.

Member since 1534 BC.

Your lodge mentor is a ghost. Deal with it and try not to bring it up too often.

Welcome to a road to adventure and knowledge. Approach membership with an open mind. It makes it easier.


–Ron Bothright
Membership Secretary
Sacred Lodges of the Mysterious Vole


And back work. A lot of projects underway. Here’s but a sampling: