Ow!

hay1The hay shed was finished by June, and nearly the whole neighborhood showed up to help put up the first hay which ever went into it. Two of the Allisons brought over an extra hay loader apiece, and after a long private discussion about safety and responsibilities and not getting carried away in front of everyone, Dad allowed me to drive the hay loader. I nearly burst my buttons.

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I drove Old Crip in first gear, idling astraddle the windrow, pulling the hay wagon which in turn pulled the hay loader along behind, languidly clanking and squeaking, feeding up the hay. Two men forked and tramped the hay from the loader onto a sledge which covered the back half of the wagon. When they had a stack that rose three feet or better above the loader, I stopped the tractor, un-hitched the wagon and pulled the sledge and hay to the front half of the wagon bed with the tractor and a cable. Then I hitched up the wagon and we were under way again, the men loading the back half.

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The load of hay was drawn alongside of the end of the hay shed and parked under its hood. Dad stood by the wagon and pulled hand over hand on a trip rope which ran up into the shed under the hood to a heavy two tined fork suspended by a carriage which scurried toward the hood along an iron track under the ridgepole. The carriage reached the end of the track under the hood and tripped, dropping the fork to the wagon. It fell fluidly, feeding itself a long loop of heavy hay rope.

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Dad mounted the wagon and drove the fork into the center of the front half of the load. After tramping it home, he pulled up a couple of levers, setting trip fingers in the hay, near the points of the tines. He took up the trip rope and slid off the side of the load with a bound, hollering: “All right!”

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On the far side of the shed, a hand started his tractor and began backing, taking slack out of the hay rope which ran to the foot of the building, up to the eave, then along the track under the ridge pole to the carriage under the hood and down in a loop to the pulley atop the fork. As he backed, a large dollop of hay broke free of the wagon load, rising to the hood. The neighbors clapped and cheered as the fork engaged the carriage, jerking the hay inside. Dad waited a moment for the hay to travel to the far end of the shed before yanking the trip rope, dropping the hay to the mow floor.

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When the hay was up and the neighbors gone, Dad went up into the mow to pull the rope inside. He crawled along in the tight space atop the hay, just below the track and ridge pole. From below we heard a muffled: “Ow…! Ow…! God…! Ow…damned… son of a bitch!” He appeared in the doorway shortly, squeezing shut one eye with streaks of blood running from the crown of his bald head.

What on earth happened up there, Harry?” said our hand. “Of course you don’t look much like ye want to talk about it.” 

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“Well,” said Dad with a rumpled glance about with his good eye, “I was a-crawling along, and damned if a son of a bitchin’ straw didn’t poke me in the eye. Well I reared up with a jerk, and damned if a son of a bitchin’ nail a-stickin through the roof didn’t stick me in the top of my head. Then I jerked back and poked my eye again on that same cursed straw, which made me run my God damned head into that same God damned, son of a bitchin’ nail again!” 

 

Tom Phipps

Who is Abaddon?

 Part One

greuze_Portrait-of-Count-Stroganov-as-a-Child

Abaddon is the son of King James of Loxmere and the witch queen Spitemorta of Goll. He is also the great-grandson of the fearsome Demonica, the most powerful sorceress of all time. 

Stone_Heart_Cover_for_KindleDemonica abandoned Spitemorta’s mother Ugleeuh at birth and returned to her keep across the sea in Head to continue her pursuit of power through her fortune in mines and arms. She has long dreamed of ruling the world, but she knows that in order to do that, she will need the Great The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_KindleStaff of Power and its Crystal Heart. When she hears that her very granddaughter has the Staff in Stone Heart, she becomes Abaddon’s nanny. In time, she and Spitemorta leave Abaddon in the care of King James and go off on a hunt to find the Heart. Whilst120904655645652 they are away, James discovers that Spitemorta is a witch and that her influence over Abaddon is evil. In an effort to save him in The Burgeoning, he has his steward Lance hide Abaddon. When The Reaper Witch 01 copySpitemorta finds out, she tortures James and puts him in the dungeon.       

Lance takes Abaddon to his childhood home in Mount Bedd to see the Fairy sisters who raised him. They find Abaddon to be dark and troubled and in the sway of the Pitmaster, but under their influence he decides to help Lance find King James and get him to safety, out of Spitemorta’s reach and thereby begins a transformation which continues throughout The Reaper Witch and eventually turns him into a hero.

 

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Ahead of Their Time

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In February we went to the woods for oak poles to build a new hay shed. Dad tramped all over the woods, measuring trees at breast height, carrying an axe to mark the ones which suited. He hauled out the cross-cut saws, setting and filing their teeth. He mounted aCrosscut Sawwooden box over the drawbar of one of the tractors and loaded it with chains, axes, mauls, wedges, a jug of kerosene, a sack of corn cobs and a small sack of potatoes, and we were off to the timber.

We crashed through a thicket that had grown across the lane where it entered the woods, following a large hogback. We left the lane well into the woods, making our way to a group of marked trees, saplings springing upright behind the tractor.

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“Here,” said Dad, handing me a cross-cut saw. He walked slowly around the first tree, looking fig01up into its crown. Presently he chopped out a wedge shaped notch from the side of the tree’s trunk facing where it was to fall. He took the saw and started it at the inside of the notch. “All right,” he said, “you take your end. Don’t struggle with it. You let me do the cutting. Just follow me back and forth to keep the saw from binding.”

Dust trickled into a pile on the roots in front of me. “That’s the time,” he said. “Now you’re a-getting it. Now let’s change sides. When I say, ‘timber,’ you run for the tractor, right now.”

Pulling out of the cut which was about a third of the way through the tree, we started from the other side, about an inch further up the trunk. When we reached the first cut, he took a quick step back away from the tree and hollered: “Timber! Go on, get!” With a groan and a pop, the tree slowly settled toward the notch. Then picking up speed, it furiously crashed to the ground.

I rushed back to smell the cut and stand on the stump.  

“Here. Hold this right here at the end,” he said, feeding out his measuring tape along the trunk. He marked a spot with his axe and stood, reeling in his tape whilst I scampered up and down the trunk.

We heard a tractor coming into the woods. Directly, Grandpa appeared with the hired hand on the fender. He dismounted and shuffled up with a mallet and a heavy spade-like chisel.

“What’s that, Grandpa?” I asked.images

“A spud.”

“Good,” said Dad, looking up.

Grandpa set to work at the opposite end of the log from Dad, driving the spud along the trunk under the bark with his mallet, quickly peeling it away.

Dad and the hand disappeared into the woods for a time, talking as they went. Grandpa fastened a chain around the large end of the log. I lay down on my back, idly shoving at the massive pole with my feet.

“Hey!” said Grandpa. “You don’t want to do that. If you get that thing to rocking, it could come down on ye. That old cu’se is heavy. It’d kill ye.” He gave a chuckle and slowly sat down on the images (1)stump. “When your Uncle Jake and I were kids, we were looking after some calves that we were a-running in the big hollow. There was a big old hollow gum tree, a-lying there, near where we were a-fooling around. It had its top cut off and was still a-resting on its stump, like this ‘n’ here. Jake went to lying in the leaves on the downhill side, a-doing just what you were a-doing. Well directly, it rolled off the stump and on over him. It’s a good thing he was in kind of a soft low spot, ’cause all it did was mash him into the mud and leaves.” He paused with twinkling eyes.

“Well, he wasn’t through. Directly he crawled clear up inside it. It rocked a little as he went along, and then, doggoned if it didn’t take off a-rolling and bouncing down the hill. It really went a-kiting! Boom, boom! Bang! It was one dickens of a long way down to the creek. I tore off down the hill to see if he was all right, about the time the log came up right smart again the trunks of a couple of large ironwoods that stood on the bank of the branch.

“When I got to him, he’d crawled out white as a sheet, just a-reeling, steadying himself again one of the ironwoods. I said: ‘Are ye dizzy?’ And he said: ‘This ain’t dizzy!’”

Later in the morning, I looked up with a start to see an old man who looked like a tall version of my granddad standing there, watching me work.

“Look ‘ee there at that rotten old carcass your dog just drug up, Tom,” said Grandpa.

“I had to walk over here to make sure that thing there didn’t cause Harry and his hand too many headaches,” said the old man with a spit and a nod at Grandpa.

“Grandpa just told me about you a-rolling down a hill in a log when you were a kid,” I said.

“I was just ahead o’ my time is all.”

“How’s that?”

“Well back before the first automobile, I had to come up with some way o’ going for a spin. ‘Course, your uncle Albert ‘as done one better ‘n that.”

“So what did he do?”  

“Well,” he said, “he and his older brother were down in the bottom early March, and they came across this crow’s nest, ‘way up in the crown of a yellow poplar. Well Albert’s older brother, a-being full of piss an’ vinegar, decided for to shinny up to it. He worked and scuffled and strained, and after so long a time, he peeped over the edge of the nest and hollered that theah was a mess o’ young ones.

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“Well by then, your uncle Albert was on his way up, too. He come up just below his brother and said, ‘Let me see.’ So his brother got hold of a fist full of young crow, all belly and pin feathers and held it out, as far as he could manage. Albert craned his head ‘way back with his mouth open like this, in time for the crow to kerdobble right square into his mouth. Well he let go right now and dropped clean to the ground.images (2)

“Now you might ‘ave allowed that I was ahead o’ my time, but Albert flew neigh thirty year before the Wright Brothers ever got off the ground.”

 

Tom Phipps

 

No Feeble Magic for Hubba Hubba!

امازون دبل يلو

Part Five

 

Hubba Hubba slowly ran his beak along the length of the back of a chair in the empty parlour and turned square about to run it all the way back. “All right, all right,” he said, pausing to give his feathers a shake before strutting on. “I said I would, I said I would. I did, I did. But now that it comes to it, I don’t know what I think about being a crow again. And what if something goes corvowrong? What if Razzmorten is so weak that he can’t handle the spell and turns me into a roach or a maggot? What if his spell gives out just as I fly in to spy on Spitemorta and Demonica? They’ll kill me, is what. Pull out my feathers and wring my neck.”

Without warning a long blade sliced the air near his head. “Help!” he quacked as he tumbled into a gasping heap of feathers on the floor. “Hey Queen! What is this, a test of my mortality or what? As you can see, I can handle apoplexy but my head would come right off with that thing.”

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“Hubba Hubba!” she cried, stopping amidst her next swing. “I didn’t see you!”

Hubba Hubba quacked again and backed under the chair.Buddy_3985_Warning

“I’m so sorry! I just had Hebraun’s claymore and…!”

“Minuet, what is all of this?” said Razzmorten, appearing as much without warning as she had.

“Why must these big missions always threaten to take off my head?” said Hubba Hubba, bristling and panting from the shadows.

“I’ll learn this now, Father,” said Minuet. “When Niarg goes to battle, they’ll still have the crown to lead them forth.”

Edward Kelley Biography“No!” said Razzmorten with a look of shock “Niarg needs you here. It can’t afford to lose both Hebraun and you. If Spitemorta…”

“Ha!” barked Minuet bitterly, echoing in the arches of the ceiling. “Spitemorta! Yes! Let her come! When she does, I will cut out her black heart and feed it to the hogs. She took the light of my life and she’ll meet her doom if she dares come at me.”

“I will not cooperate with sweet and sour parrot. Traumatized, yes. Compliant? No. I refuse, I refuse. Queen, you and your awful sister…”

“What?” said Minuet as she stopped short to peer under the chair.

“I’ll have you know that I’m not being dilatory,” said Hubba Hubba with his tail fanned wide as he marched out from under the chair, running his beak along the floor as he came. “I’m right ready to set out on this mission without hesitation. I will not be threatened further…”

“Minuet please,” said Razzmorten. “Hebraun would never have you do such a thing. For the love of the Fates, daughter, it’s the very thing that got him killed.”

“Yes, I know,” she said, turning to face him, “and she did it. And that’s exactly why I have to do this. You love me and don’t want to lose me, so you want to stop me. Please know that I would never cause you grief. I own that I’m being vengeful, but you can rest assured that I’m not being rash. I’m set! You could ease my burden enormously by supporting my decision. If you can’t, I’ll not be resentful, but I’ll not stray from my path.”

“I’m going, I’m going!” said Hubba Hubba, pushing his beak around in circles on the floor. “You don’t have to threaten me…”

“Hubba Hubba,” said Minuet, “What makes you think I’m threatening you?”

“Right. Ugleeuh wasn’t threatening me either. She was merely distraught. And you’re just what, vengeful did you say?”

“Hubba Hubba! Here I’ve gone and had a grand packet of food made up for you…”

“What? With all my favorite treats?”

“Well yes…”

“See? Runs in the family. Put away your blade. I’m ready! I’m ready!”

300px-Amazona_-two_species_-captive_in_Mexico-8a“And what are you doing down there?” said Pebbles as she and the chicks alighted on the back of the chair.

“Here’s Herio,” said Minuet as she scooped up Hubba Hubba and gave him a scratch before letting him step off onto the chair. “Looks like he’s ready.”

“Well, so am I,” said Hubba Hubba with a confused look as Pebbles rattled her2782516016_d92bbc36e2_o beak through his cheek feathers. 

“Ready enough for me to change you into a crow?” said Razzmorten.

Ch. 9, The BurgeoningThe_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindle

 

 

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Hubba Hubba and Pebbles Find Unicorns

tumblr_md141l9FCe1rjjflvo1_400 Part Four

“I know you tried Wiz, but this is disgusting,” said Hubba Hubba, jerking back with a drool-flinging shake of his beak and ruffled feathers. “What are you eating, giant stinking sow bugs or what?”

Shelled-Fresh-Shrimps

“That’s shrimp, Hubba Hubba,” said Razzmorten.

“It’s out of the sea, you silly bird, not out from under some old rotting board in a barn lot,” said Lukus with a laugh, as everyone else broke out with titters.

“All right, all right,” said Hubba Hubba, as Pebbles stepped back from hers with watery eyes andamazon_sammy wiped her beak. “Dogs gobble up much worse, and they don’t know any better than to offer you ones the same rot they eat. I’m sorry Wiz, you’ve just got me gagging, here.”

“What did you find?” said Razzmorten quickly to spare Hubba Hubba’s feelings.

“That old Elf has four unicorns in a large paddock near the wharf where his fishing boat is docked. He’d just come in with his catch and was at the fence giving them a scratch, when we lit and asked him if he was Kie. He answered to it, but we sure gave him a start. It might have been dangerous to do but it was quick. Anyway, he does have unicorns to sell and he’ll be there if we don’t fool around.”

“Very good, you two,” said Razzmorten, as he gave them each a scratch.

In short order they were on their way to Fen, on a sand swept lane meandering along the coast just inland from the furthest reaches of the high tide. Rose and Fuzz rode Mystique through the saw grass to follow along on the beach for a spell. Sandpipers trotted ahead. Crabs scuttled sideways into holes. Rose rested her head against Fuzz’s shoulders and gave him a squeeze. Soon they were dismounting in front of a cottage that smelt vaguely of rotting fish, where Hubba Hubba and Pebbles circled overhead.

They found the Elf feeding his unicorns. “Hoy there, Kie!” called Razzmorten. We are travelers on our way to see King Neron, and we’d like very much to purchase two of your unicorns to speed us over the mountains, if you’ve any for sale.”

امازون دبل يلو“How is it that you and your green birds know my name and I know not yours?” said Kie, pushing back his floppy hat with a squint as he spit across the fence.

“A young fellow by the name of Galor told us about you, sir,” said Fuzz.

“Good lad,” said Kie, shifting his chew into his other cheek as he put his foot on the fence. “Well folks, I really hadn’t planned on selling these unicorns. You know they’re my pets, I’m afraid. I’ve had these here since they were colts.”

“Oh she’s darling,” said Rose as she scratched a short-legged one who had just come to investigate. “We’ll take good care of them, sir.”

Ch. 29, Stone HeartStone_Heart_Cover_for_Kindle

 

 

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom phipps

 

Niarg’s Longbow

longbow

When King Hebraun of Niarg comes to the throne in Good Sister, Bad Sister  , he promisesGood_Sister,_Bad_Sis_Cover_for_KindleEuropean_Longbow_and_Arrows-600806-model that his subjects will have a say in the important matters of the kingdom, and he promises to lead them into battle himself if ever they are forced into war. To discourage that from ever happening, Hebraun decrees that every citizen keep a longbow in his house and practice with it at the public butts at least once a month. Anyone who participates in such practices is given the privilege of voting in public gatherings by raising his bow over his head to allow his vote to be counted. 

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Hebraun knows well that longbowmen can loose better than twice as many arrows in a given period of time than crossbowmen can shoot bolts, and are generally more able to hit targets atmerlin_soldiers long range. Meanwhile, kingdoms surrounding Niarg prefer crossbows for their own armies because crossbows require far less practice by soldiers who are denied the right to keep arms in their own homes.

The people of Niarg spend nearly the entire time Hebraun is on the throne living in a prosperous peace. And they take him and their right to vote very seriously indeed. 

longbow (1)Everyone practices at the butts, and everyone turns out to be counted when a vote is to be taken. Competitions and war games are soon part of the monthly practices, with parades and prizes to celebrate the winners. Before long, Niarg is known far and wide as a nation of keen archers. When word gets out about whole squads of them hitting targets at ranges well beyond the reach of crossbows, those with dark designs grumble and leave Niarg to its prosperity. 

The_Collector_Witch_Cover_for_KindleAfter a time, a new queen of Goll comes to the throne by murdering her parents, in The Collector Witch.  She is much too vain and drunk on the power shown to her byStone_Heart_Cover_for_Kindle her sorceress grandmother to notice Niarg’s skills before sending her army to their doorstep to be slaughtered, in Stone Heart. In The Burgeoning, her grandmother replaces her army The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindlewith a division of Gwaelic regulars and a division of Gwaelic mercenaries. In The Reaper Witch, she sends both Gwaelic armies to surprise the Niarg army, campedThe Reaper Witch 01 copy along the Loxmere River. The regulars accidently arrive before the mercenaries and are thoroughly decimated by Niarg’s longbowmen, in spite of Gwael’s advantage.

 

 Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

 

Ugleeuh Loves her Bloated Hubba Hubba

 Part Three

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Lukus swelled up with a rejoinder, but dropped it at the sight of ol’ Ma’am returning with an Scan10067armload of blankets. On her shoulder perched a huge smug crow. “What a conceited fowl,” he thought.

“Here’s my dearest,” she said grandly. “His name is Hubba Hubba and he is such a darling, but I’m afraid he enjoys eating more than he does flying. He’s just a bit too plump to get off the ground these days…”

Ch. 10, The Collector Witch 

***

“Yea,” said Hubba Hubba with pompous arrogance. “Time to eat.” 

Rose bolted upright, wide eyed. “It talks!” she said, flinging back her covers. “I thought only parrots could do that, and not even all of them.”

Ugleeuh and Hubba Hubba turned to glare at her with one icy accord, reminding her so much of a pair of glaciers, that without thinking she pulled her blankets back over her legs.

“My name is Hubba Hubba,” he said with a flash of his eyes, as he straightened his heft beneath his bristling mantle of feathers. “I am not a thing. Do not refer to me as ‘It!’” 

Ugleeuh swelled up with a hiss through her nose to glower down at Rose.

Rose shrank back into her bed roll.

“I don’t like parrots,” she snarled. “I would never have one, and I prefer not to discuss the vile creatures. Crows, particularly this one, have far greater command of language than any parrot. And from now on, if either of you talks about or speaks to my dearest, you’ll call him Hubba Hubba. Is that perfectly clear?”

Ch. 10, The Collector Witch

 ****

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“So,” said Hubba Hubba with a rasp like a rusty hinge as he leveled a derisive squint. “Just how much of the time which you just spent outside was actually taken up by deciding if your unicorns were indeed gone? At this rate, I’ll be lucky to get into the air before Ugleeuh gets back. Why, she might not even see me up there and crash into me. Chaos and mayhem. I’d be dead and you two would be to blame. She’d never get over it. She’d never forgive you. Never let you go if she even let you live.”

“Don’t you dare threaten us with that old sow witch of yours, Lard Ball!” shouted Lukus, lunging at him with a stamp. “What I want to know is what the old bat’s done with our unicorns. She has no right to take them! She could hang for it, don’t you know. Where are they? She has no…”

“Careful there snot,” he said as he leant forward, following Lukus’s movements minutely. “You’re repeating yourself. And I’d also advise you to be cautious about how you speak to me and how you treat me, because Ugleeuh will hear of it. In fact, she’s told me to give her a complete report of your entire behavior upon her return, and I must say that it’s not very favorable, so far.”

Ch. 11, The Collector Witch

 

 ***

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“Good,” she said. “Then I suppose we have no choice for our next step but to hitch up the sparrows.” She shuddered as she looked about and found them, shackled to their iron balls, pecking at crumbs on the floor. “So then, Hubba Hubba, just how does one wrangle venomous little birds into harnesses and make them do your bidding without getting poisoned in the process?”

He made no reply, but Rose’s comment stopped all three sparrows at once. They gazed up at her, keenly absorbed in what she was up to. He leant forward, clacked his beak and leered at them, but the grumpy gesture caused them to break out in a titter. He ruffled up with a heavy shake and hoisted himself into an aloof posture.                   

Rose turned to Lukus. He shrugged, making it quite clear that he knew no more about the matter than she.

“Well,” said Hubba Hubba from under a half opened eye, “they might not be quite as deadly as Ugleeuh led you to believe.”

“Just how much risk is there to handling them?” said Rose.

“Practically none,” he said, almost meekly.

“Practically!” yelped Lukus. “What does that mean? Either the birds are dangerous or they aren’t, Tubbo!”

“Name calling is very childish and rude,” said Hubba Hubba as he drew himself up on his perch, obviously stung by Lukus’s taunts about his corpulence. “It was not I, dear impetuous one, who told you that tale about the slaves, you know.”

“No, but you’re the one who’s refused to be clear about it, yet.”

“Lukus! None of this is getting us anywhere,” said Rose. “Hubba Hubba, are the sparrows poisonous or not?” 

“Not in the least,” he sighed. “Chirp, Tweet and Squeak merely have small minds.”

Ch. 11, The Collector WitchThe_Collector_Witch_Cover_for_Kindle

 

 

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Ugleeuh Hates Hubba Hubba: Part Two

 footnote-12

“Happy birthday!” cried Wizard Razzmorten with a grand whirl of his cape, leaving a round wooden box with a gawking baby parrot sitting on the board by the cake.

Ugleeuh 3“What is that thing, Father?”

“Why a popinjay, dear. They’re almost impossible to come by…”

“It’s all pinfeathers. You surely don’t intend for it to actually be my gift, do you?”

“Well it’s right young, Leeuh,” he said. “When you start with them at that age, they can actually be talking to you before they’re quite a year old.”

“Not if I drown it first…”

“Lee-Lee!” cried her sister. “You don’t mean that! What an awful way to treat your Father…”

“Oh go on! He surely knows better. Here I am, still waiting for you to serve me, and he runs up and plops down this dirty box full of muslin, fowl and green poop, right where I was expecting my cake. And by the way, dearest Minuet, just how long are you going to stand there with my saucer in your hand? It is my birthday, don’t you know. And since that thing in the box is my birthday gift, I certainly get to drown it.”

“Don’t you dare!” said Minuet. “I’ll take it if you don’t want it…”

“Please!” said Razzmorten, throwing up his hands. “Let’s you and I take the morning tomorrow and find you something special in the market, or if you know of something better just…”

Ugleeuh wasn’t listening. “You can have the stinking popinjay, Minuet, if you give me my cake before it slides off the saucer.”

“You mean it?”

“Sure sister dear. The cake now, and it’s yours, but you’ll still owe me.”

Ch. 1, Good Sister, Bad Sister

 ***

Ugleeuh came to Razzmorten’s door and opened it. A pungent smell of old paper whirled through the room on a rush of air from the window, bright with yellow maple leaves. “Oh, he’s busy with his stupid still,” she said. She skipped down the hallway to Minuet’s room and peered in. “No Minny-Min,” she said, clasping her hands together. “She’s off somewhere, busy at being just too, too.” She stopped short at the sight of Hubba Hubba on his perch by the bed. “But the stinking popinjay’s sure here.”

Hubba Hubba went skinny as she crossed the room.

“Hold still, popinjay,” she said as she crept up to the perch. “It’s high time we drowned you, don’t you think?”

He stood upright with wide orange eyes, leaning back away from her as she drew near. The magna10-5-99moment she grabbed for him, he bit the web of her hand and flew away into the hallway, screaming: “Minuet! Minuet! Minuet!”

“I’m not done with you, stinker!” shouted Ugleeuh as she grabbed her bleeding hand. “How about spending eternity as a crow?”

Suddenly Minuet stepped into the doorway, out of breath.

“Minny-Min!” cried Ugleeuh, as if she’d just stepped out of a coach. “I’m home!”

Ch 17, Good Sister, Bad Sister

 ****

Minuet stood inside the doorway catching her breath, as a whir of wings flew ’round the corner from the hallway. She held up her finger to collect the landing flurry of feathers without taking her eyes off Ugleeuh.

“Minuet!” shrieked Hubba Hubba between pants. “Bad bear witch!”

“Well you certainly excited Hubba Hubba, Leeuh,” said Minuet. “What happened? Did Uncle Razzorbauch disappoint you, or did you disappoint him?”

“Bad!” growled Hubba Hubba.

“No, no sweetness,” said Ugleeuh with a pampered tone. “You disappoint me. You failed as big sister. I’ve tried and tried so hard as little sister, but you’re just too, too.”

“Bad witch!” growled Hubba Hubba. 

“Do you really expect a warm welcome after the way you left? You didn’t even tell Father.”

“Right!” she scoffed as she brushed passed Minuet on her way to the door. “As if I owed him. He’s hardly been a father. What would he care? Always trying to make me to fit the goody-goody mold, just like big sister. He’s the one who owes me.”

Ch. 18, Good Sister, Bad SisterGood_Sister,_Bad_Sis_Cover_for_Kindle

 

 

 

 

 

 Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

 

Guest Post: A Forest Path, a Living Throne and a Magic Fairy Stone

A Forest Path, a Living Throne and a Magic Fairy Stone

by Susan Waterwyk

 March 30 2014 032

Our little acre in the Sierra Nevada is called Dragonwood for the twisted serpentine manzanita trees that live in the shadows of towering ponderosa pines and other evergreens. From my bedroom window I can see a path into the forest…a magic path.

The magic begins each morning when I open up the drapes. The morning sun sends glory-rays that penetrate the shadows and light the path to tempt me to walk into woods. Every path into the forest is a path to magic, for every forest is a kingdom of shadows, cool, silent, sheltering life.

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The deer that visit me each day are the ones that made the path. Soon the mother doe will be followed by the spotted fawns, and every Spring, one or two mothers will find shelter in my woods and birth their babies here. To see a newborn fawn take its first steps in life is magic indeed.

mama deer 005

Walking down the shaded path, I soon reach my little brook, dry now and waiting for the rain to return so it can flow again. Across a two-plank redwood bridge and up the other bank is a magic place —the Throne of the Goddess.

I named the twisted manzanita, the Throne of the Goddess, because the first time I sat on it, seventeen years ago, I felt like a goddess watching all the life around me, the butterflies and bees visiting the tiny pink bell-shaped flowers of the manzanita, and listening to the ever-present bluejays and the tap-tap-tap of the woodpecker.

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I told Hubby I wanted stones steps leading up to the throne with white crystal quartz on either side of the stairs. I had planned to sit here often and think divine thoughts and create beauty in the Universe. That’s what a goddess does, right?

“Stone steps, lined with quartz, I can do that,” he said. “Is there anything else Your Divinity requests?”

“Yes, I want a pool to reflect the moon so I can invite the fairies to dance.”

“A small pond, I can do that,” he nodded thoughtfully, “but it’ll only be seasonal with the rains….”

“And I want a mighty waterfall to plunge into the moonlit pool.”

“A mighty waterfall?” his voice full of doubt.

“Yes… at least eight hundred and fifty millimeters high.”

He did the math. “Okay, I can do that.”

That was seventeen years ago. Working on the weekends, a little at a time, everything came to pass. We even placed standing-stones next to the throne and a small stone bench next to the pond. When my granddaughters were born, I held them in my arms while I sat on the throne and told them a fairy tale or two When they grew older they sat on the throne and created their own stories of princesses, castles, dragons and fairies.

blog pic, Waterwyk

The years pass quickly…. Time took its toll on me. These old bones don’t walk the path as often as before. It takes more effort to climb the steps and sit upon the throne, but I feel blessed to have experienced so many magic moments here at Dragonwood.

I’ve sat beside the little pond at night and seen falling stars reflected in the water. I’ve listened to the soul-soothing music of my little waterfall.  Magic mushrooms and fairy rings have appeared over the years. Last Easter, the fairies gave me mushrooms shaped like little brown cups. My husband said maybe they were offering cups of love and hope. We needed it then, and we need it even more now. This may be our last Spring at Dragonwood.

Easter 012

The full moon just before the Spring Equinox was perfect for the fairies to come visit. We decided to walk the path and look for mushroom fairy rings and to take some pictures for this blog.  Alas, not one mushroom was found.

“When it was wet it was too cold. Now it’s warm but too dry,” he said.

“I’m still wishing for a fairy ring.  This time we’ll take some pictures.”

“If we get more rain… if the fairies show up… if they decide to give you a fairy ring and not something else like the cups last year.”

“Don’t be so pessimistic! They always show up.”

“Maybe they’ve already been here.” He pointed to the ground near the standing stones.

“A lichen covered rock, pretty.”

“Not the big one! The smaller one.” He picked it up and gave it to me.

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It looked like it had been hand painted with lichen!! I promise with all my heart that we did nothing to enhance the features. We picked up the stone and just took the picture. The smiling face was a gift of love. Then, in the lower center, I noticed an image that looks like a side view of a butterfly. I told Hubby that is the gift of hope! He said the image on the lower left looked like a symbol for our home, a tree on a hill with distant snowy mountains above it.

“Maybe the fairies are telling us to not give up yet. Maybe we will be able to keep Dragonwood,” he said.

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“Where there is love, there is always hope.”

Blessings of life,

Susan Waterwyk

P.S. My magic path into the woods inspired me to paint pictures, write poems, and eventually led to writing books. Here is my favorite poem and painting.

photo (6)

 Twilight Magic

 Along a winding shaded path

As twilight deepens into night

The trees begin their evening song

And from the branches fairies come

To guide me with their glowing light.

Now strolling down this magic path,

Where flowers only bloom at night,

I watch the fairies tender care

Of blossoms in the pale moonlight.

A flicker here…a glimmer there

Of wings a-flutter on the air.

From hollow trunk and mushroom top,

The fairy folk observe my walk,

And as I pass beyond the wood

Into a glade, I hear

The music of the pipes and flute

Come drifting to my ears….

 

The multi-talented Susan is also the author or two wonderful fantasy/sci-fi books, Lantamyra and A Tale of Two Worlds. She is currently writing the third and final book of this magical trilogy.

Large Lantamyra cover

Blurb for Lantamyra

For the chance to journey to another world, Tylya Lansing is willing to give up everything on Earth, including her lover, Josh Hamilton. All she has to do is find her grandmother’s crystal scepter, lost for decades in a rugged Sierra Nevada canyon. Since she was a child, she has heard stories of Lantamyra, a world where magic is created with myra crystals, where mind expansion is granted crystal powers, where keepers and wards respect and protect life. Once the scepter is found, she journeys to this earth-like world that is recovering from an ice age. Areas of the planet have been terra-formed by the mysterious Keepers of Akosh to provide sanctuary for the endangered species of two other worlds—humans from Earth and dragons from Lanluong. She learns that Earth is about to experience catastrophic changes from earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and Lantamyra may provide the only hope for humankind to survive. Tylya is determined to learn the ancient Akoshic Secrets of the Ways, a mind-expanding process necessary to control the power of myra crystals and to become a keeper of dragons.

Excerpt from Chapter Five: Annoyed that her warning was shrugged off so easily, the queen brought her head close to Tylya. “You will pay for your training with your labor, but you will pay a higher price to become a keeper. It will change you in ways you cannot imagine…”

Lantamyra is an intriguing story with plenty of drama, humor and memorable characters and exciting scenes. Written for mature adults more than young adults, Lantamyra is not formula fantasy, no stereotypical evil villains.

Excerpt from Chapter Eight—Nightkeeper Kyra Starszyn: “This night belongs to lovers and dreamers, a night when threads of love are woven into a tapestry of fantasy, a night to magically transform in the character you wish to play.”

My Review for Lantamyra

Fall in Love with Lantamyra; I Did

 

Lantamyra is uniquely different from most other fantasy worlds. It is not break-neck action or violence racing you and your heart through every page. It is, rather,  a page-turner of discovery and delight. The author, Susan Waterwyk, masterfully crafted the magical and at times whimsical world, to enchant, captivate and fill your senses with a place alluringly different, peopled with characters and creatures so fascinating that you can’t help falling in love…with Lantamyra.

From the moment Josh Hamilton, Tylya Lansing’s long-time love, finds her grandmother’s crystal scepter you are catapulted into a world where dragons rule and humans serve. But there is neither tyranny nor coercion involved in the relationship, which is almost a symbioses of harmony in which they live and work to achieve their common goals and the welfare of all.

Lantamyra is full of great wonders like the crystal star-ships and the vast myra crystals that are so powerful they are not only energy for the ships but give the keepers and the dragons their magical abilities. You’ll even meet the Keepers of Akosh, ancient magical beings and the founders of Lantamyra who have  the ability to open doorways into the crystal realm. It was they who originally discovered the amazing giant myra crystals on Lantamyra which are capable of powering vast star-ships to search for more “living worlds”.

Many other marvels will captivate and astound you during your visit to this incredible world, such as the wee fairy folk (not too bright, but definitely beguiling), the mants (rather frightening and venomous beasties), and the scarp (a seafood delight of monstrous magnitude) and much, much more.

So what are you waiting for? Open a portal and send for a dragon to carry you away to Lantamyra today. But be warned: you may not want to leave.

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Worlds, Amazon Imae

Blurb for A Tale of Two Worlds

“The Earth, once asleep, has awakened, from deep in her belly come cries; her mountains and valleys are shaken and seas rise up to the skies.”

The ancient Keepers of Akosh can do nothing to prevent the catastrophes. They have known since the sinking of Atlantis that the living world of Earth would awaken. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis threaten the people of the Earth so the Keepers spent thousands of years terraforming the primitive world of Lantamyra to serve as a sanctuary for the refugees from Earth. Now the Gathering begins.

The dragons that rule the three Great Houses of Lantamyra need the giant myra crystals from Atlantis to strengthen the large array in the House of Gaia Jade to be able to return to their homeworld, Lanluong. The Keepers of Akosh authorize a mission to Earth to locate and retrieve the crystals before the earthquakes bury them deeper in the abysmal depths of the Atlantic Ocean.

Recently arrived from Earth, Tylya Lansing has been trained in the Secrets of the Ways and knows how to use the powerful myra crystals. She is now a keeper of dragons in the House of Gaia Jade, and her first-hand knowledge of modern Earth makes her the best candidate to command the mission to find and retrieve the lost crystals of Atlantis.

Tylya’s lover, Josh Hamilton is also from Earth and trained in the Ways but chose not to serve the dragons. He is a crystalseeker working in the mine at Queen’s Heart located near an active volcano. The job is extremely dangerous since long exposure to myra crystals causes crystal sickness, and worst of all, ghosts of seekers are hungry for living energy and they wait in the myra crystals to feed on him.

My Review of A Tale Of Two Worlds

I was enthralled from the very opening paragraph of a Tale of Two Worlds by Susan Waterwyk. This author artfully weaves together just the right balance of descriptive prose and dialogue. She creates a world so vivid and tangible the reader soon feels like a participant in the tale, rather than a mere observer.

A Tale of Two Worlds is the second book of Waterwyk’s planned trilogy about the fantastic world of Lantamyra where dragons rule fairly and justly over the humans that share that world with them. But, Lantamyra’s history is tied to two other “living worlds”, the dragon homeworld, Lanluong, and the human’s homeworld, Earth.

Long ago when the Keepers of Akosh learned to travel between the stars in their fantastic spaceships powered by giant myra crystals, they searched far and wide for other “living worlds” like their own.  In time they found a number of these “living worlds” and used their great myra crystals to open portals to travel between them. Unwittingly, the keepers upset the balance of the dragon homeworld causing great upheavals which threatened the very existence of the dragons by the constant use of the portals.

As soon as the Keepers of Akosh realized what they had done they set about rescuing as many of the dragons as they could, relocating them to the safety of Lantamyra where the dragons ruled and lived in peace with the Keepers of Akosh and humans who had come there from Earth to serve dragonkind.

But the dragons longed for the day they might return to their own world of Lanluong and the Keepers felt honor bound to fulfill the dragon’s wish as soon as it was feasible. First however, they had to recover some of the giant myra crystals from the ancient site of Atlantis where the crystals had been submerged under the sea since the isle’s untimely demise.

Once the myra crystals were recovered there was one problem. There would be repercussions for using the crystals on such a massive scale again, only this time it would be planet Earth that would undergo horrendous upheavals that could entirely wipe out the human population. So the Keepers of Akosh had trained a number of chosen humans to aid in the “gathering” of a select number of the human race in order to prevent their extinction from the coming disaster and transport them to Lantamyra where they would be safe. In A Tale of Two Worlds this destined time is at hand.

A Tale of Two Worlds is a highly imaginative and enchanting tale surely destined to become a classic that the reader will remember long after the final page. It is time for “the gathering”. Read A Tale of Two Worlds and hope you won’t be left behind.

 

Fletcher Fawkes Told Me That it Was My Turn

3_fiddlers_in_silhouette

Gary Harrison stumbled into quite a gold mine for old fiddle tunes in its twilight, a weekly hqdefaultgathering of old musicians and people who came to listen, in a one room school house in a little place called Bible Grove (once known as Georgetown). There was always quite a crowd, though they were nearly all elderly. We drove down there quite often and learnt quite a few tunes.

One evening we found the place more packed than usual, with folks milling about, having pie whilst waiting for the musicians to get settled in their circle of chairs with their 5492092_3530UDPNTinstruments. Since I grew up on a dairy farm with fresh skimmed milk in my tea, I passed by their smelly fat homogenized stuff and got a Styrofoam cup of black coffee and sat down with it next to Fletcher Fawkes, an old bald headed fiddler known to everyone as Guy. Guy gave me a nod from behind his crooked spectacles as he shifted a fresh chaw of tobacco around in his mouth, 450866spitting into a Styrofoam cup of his own. As usual, he had his fiddle all wired up with electrical tape to a dinky little speaker which always made his instrument sound shrill. He would have been much better off without it, but I always allowed that it made him feel up to date.

PhotoheadingOTThe music began with a flourish of microphone feedback as Bud Ingerham with his flattop and brilliant red bow tie played a boisterous Dixieland rendition of Wabash Cannonball on his tenor banjo as the rest of us $T2eC16J,!)EE9s2ufWcHBQ)NtMgitg~~60_35followed along the best we could. The next tune, Natchez Under the Hill (Turkey in the Straw) was led on the fiddle by old Benny Sutton who sat in the chair to Bud’s left.

On it went chair by chair, until it got around to Guy. He bashfully beamed, spit in his cup and shifted about on his seat as he thumbed his strings and raised his fiddle to his collar bone. He began playing Town Hall Jig. I would be next.

3healthrisksI picked up my coffee from the floor beside me. “Funny it’s gone cold, just like that,” I thought as I took a swig. “Better drink ‘er down quick.”

Suddenly, I could see how it all was. “Holy rollercoaster in a cup! God forbid!” I thought as I spied my hot cup of coffee on the other side of my chair whilst vomitous waves played up and down my throat. “Mercy, mercy! You putrid old grasshopper! You ghastly foul old fart!” I thought as I considered the gustatory nuances of his sputum, his overpowering bouquet of fetid, sugary rot clinging to my lips. “Oh how could I already have it swallowed…!”

Guy gave me a gentle poke. “Look alive Tom,” he said innocently enough. “It’s your turn.”

large_EarlScruggs-453As a rush of prickles came up my spine, I raised my banjo in my cold sweaty hands and played an urgently feeble version of Silver Bell.

Tom Phipps