Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Saurian Tech & Culture: A Merchant's Foot
Book Update: Had a blast over the last few weeks putting my characters through some crazy stuff, not the least of which was meeting some crazy spika who were worshipping a bit of ancient technology. I'm around probably just shy of three-fourths of the way done now, if I'm able to keep up this pace the book will be done before Christmas! Seems hard to think that not too long ago this book was nothing but a blank file.
Oh, Bailey also insists that I let everyone know that my cast is off, and has been for a while now (no more clumping around Kanner Lake for me). Though I have gotten into the habit of needing to have my left leg propped up on a chair to feel comfortable when writing.
But keeping in the theme of feet, today's post will be about the artificial foot on that stubborn merchant that gave me so much trouble in the past. After all, little details like this can help flesh out a culture, even if you never use even a 10th of it in the actual book.
Now a Saurian leg isn't built like ours. They have normal knees, but they walk on their toes, so the ankle is held high off the ground (with a small "spur toe" on the lower side of the ankle). Goshren (that's the merchant) lost part of his right leg when he was just a hatchling, barely over one aboyoch (a Saurian year) old, so his leg ends just below the knee.
So Goshren's artificial leg extends for part of the middle "calf" section of his leg, and has a complex joint for his ankle that also allows the "toes" to flex naturally during weight distribution. All this held in place by a leather casing and magnetic strips. The main body of the "foot" is made up of a hard steel, using springs and magnetic repulsion technology (where we might use hydraulics) to give a natural flex. The three toes are capped in removable leather sheathes.
You see Karnian culture (one of the major cultures on Sauria) is a very militaristic society, and even the merchants are expected to know how to fight. Even though they are made up mostly of elder Saurn or those with injuries like Goshren's and who aren't allowed to serve in the Karn army. So the artificial limbs often double as weapons. So where most Saurians use their toe claws as a weapon in combat, Goshren can trump all but the Deinon clan with his dagger like foot in a kick.
Anyway, that's a quick look at some minor piece of tech that fits the theme of broken legs and walking again. Next time I'll be dealing with some much more interesting topic of the Karnian Light infantry battle gear. After all everyone should know their tathnak from their kothas!
Monday, October 30, 2006
A Different Fall Classic
Hi, Pastor Hank with you today.
I've already talked about helping to coach little league baseball here in Kanner Lake. It seems I have an interest in throwing things around. In the summer, it is baseballs. In the fall, I start to divide my time between baseballs and footballs. I was always better at baseball. It is the national pastime, after all. There's just something about the crunch of leaves on the grass that pulls me to the pigskin during autumn.
I've mentioned my three girls in a prior post. I love my girls, and wouldn't trade them for anything. But they did have to learn a few things they may not have in another home, since I didn't have a boy. All of the girls were game enough to throw the ball with their old man. Not surprisingly, it was my youngest spitfire Andy who showed the most aptitude for it.
The older girls humored me for a little while, but soon found excuses to slip into the house to beg hot chocolate from Janet. Not Animal Andy. She always managed to throw herself around after our little Nerf when she was little. I tried to tell her the purpose of the game is to throw the ball, but she delighted in launching herself in the air.
Many times our chucking sessions involved a day when I was raking leaves into big piles, either at our house or the church. The game evolved into my sending the football sailing toward one of the piles, and Andy happily diving into the crunchy leaves.
The problem came when my baby girl got too big to keep deciduous diving with me. She was off with her friends, doing the school thing, or whatever that kept teen girls occupied. I'd get her maybe once or twice in the autumn, but not very often. However, I always kept a ball in my pick-up, just in case someone was up for a little game.
Turns out though, I was able to parlay this game into a little neighborhood outreach. You see, I couldn't help but throw a few balls into the piles of leaves, to keep up practice. Some boys were walking by the house and saw me chucking away one day. They thought this was amusing, and stuck around to watch. Well, I soon finagled them into catching a few with me. First I started throwing the ball to them. Then I asked them to make it more interesting by running routes. Then it was into the leaves. I never ran into a boy that could resist the temptation to dive for the ball. All I had to do is lead them a little with the pass, right where I wanted. They'd jump for the pigskin, and end up with leaves sticking to their hair or caps. Ha! Good fun.
I've had some returning friends this way, catching me each fall for a little leaf-ball. I think some have gotten wise to me, but there's always a new pack of boys running around that haven't figured out ol' Pastor Hank yet.
I still get Andy too, when she's back from college. I think you're never too old to fall into leaves. And Kanner Lake has some of the best around.
-- Hank Detcher
Friday, October 27, 2006
Maybe I Should Have Showered First
Hi, Carla here. You know those days you think you'll just run an errand and not worry too much about your appearance? And you know how inevitably you regret that decision? I had one of those days last month. I was working out over at a gym in Coeur d'Alene. I remembered a great blouse that I had my eye on at a certain store. I wasn't going to be back in town for a couple days and wanted to save some gas by getting the blouse while I was already there.
So, I brushed my hair. A little. And jumped in my car. It was such a nice day I rolled my windows all down. By the time I got to the store, my hair was in wild disarray. You know how when your hair is all sweaty and then it dries. Yuck.
Oh well, I thought to myself, it's Coeur d'Alene. What are the chances I'll see someone I know.
I ran in the store looking for the blouse. I found it quickly and made my way to the counter.
I heard my name called and knew the voice before I even turned around. It was an old colleague. I will refrain from mentioning her name. This is the woman who had me fired from my job when I worked at a large agency in Coeur d'Alene. I’m not going to go into what she did, that's a story for another day. Anyway, she was standing there with this handsome man probably 15 to twenty years younger than she. Clearly together, at least by the hand he had around her waist. She was not only dressed impeccably, her hair and makeup were perfect. There I stood in my workout pants and tank, probably stinking to high heaven--and I had to run into her. Uh, do I have a kick me sign somewhere on my back?
She looked me up and down and smiled. "Well, Carla, look at you. You look just great." Her young man snorted. I so wanted to wipe that grin off her face. So, I did the next best thing. I gave her my best smile.
"You too. And how nice to see you still volunteer for the Big Brother/Big Sister program."
Her glared could have skinned a cat. His too.
Okay, I know it was childish. I just can't help myself. Sometimes I wonder if my sarcasm is going to be the death of me.
So make me feel better. Tell me something childish you've done. (I can't be the only one like that in this world.)
Thursday, October 26, 2006
It Won't All Come Out in the Wash
Hello, Jared Moore with you today.
When Tricia and I first married, we both had a bit to learn about thoroughness. For Tricia it was about laundry. Raised by a single father who had little time or energy for domestic chores after his twelve-hour shifts at the mill, and having no mother to train her in the ways of home-making, poor Tricia didn't know where to start. I'd met her while on assignment in California, then moved her out here to Kanner Lake when we married, so the poor girl didn't have any girlfriends yet to help her out. I certainly wasn't any help; my mother had been a cross between Betty Crocker and Martha Stewart. Her pie crust was flaky, my dad's shirts and mine were starched and gleaming white, and the house was spotless. I had no idea how Mom did those things. I was just glad she did them, and I assumed my wife would do them too (don't lynch me, ladies. I've learned an awful lot since then.)
It all started with the first load of laundry. The morning after we returned from our honeymoon, I did what I'd always done at my parents' house--left my dirty clothes on the floor by the bed and went about my business. Later that day I suggested that my new bride and I go out to lunch. Tricia was thrilled and disappeared into the bathroom to get ready (a process I'd never realized could be so lengthy. My stomach growled louder and louder while I waited for my darling to emerge from the bathroom, but I didn't mind. I was in love after all. I figured I'd grab my wallet and wait out on the porch, but my wallet was nowhere to be found. I hunted high and low. No wallet.
When Tricia finally came out, glowing and gorgeous, I asked where she'd put my wallet. She said she hadn't put it anywhere.
"Well, where are my pants?" I asked.
"The ones you left on the floor? I put them in the wash."
"Didn't you take my wallet out of the pocket?"
Well, she hadn't. Nor had she taken out my pack of Wrigley's gum. No lunch was had that day. My driver's license and photos were ruined along with my laundered money and minty fresh, gooey clothes. I'll never forget that day. It was our first fight--me telling her she should have checked the pockets, her crying her little eyes out and saying I should have used the hamper and checked my own pockets. I did apologize and promised to check my pockets, but I'll admit I still used the floor more than the hamper.
There were more laundry incidents, like the time her new red sweater turned all my white shirts pink. My friends loved that one. And the time she didn't check her pockets and her lipstick came open in the dryer. Through the years, she's learned to whiten whites with the best of them. She taught me too, so I could do laundry when she decided to go back to school. I was sure thankful she showed me more grace than I showed her when I shrank a load of her sweaters. Turns out checking those little tags that give you washing instructions is just as important as checking pockets.
In some future post I may tell you what I've learned about careful checking while working on the paper. I was a reporter who couldn't spell in the days before spellcheck ...
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Let's Get Physical ... Or Not
Hi all! Angie Brendt here. I want to thank all you lovely Kanner Lake ladies one more time for those delicious pies you sent Frank Jr.'s way. I may have tasted a few and they were all delicious. Especially the apple crumbs. Mm-mm.
The only thing is now I'm carrying around some extra pounds. Normally it wouldn't bother me. I've been plump all my life. However, a certain dinner companion made a comment. He said, "You look different."
Different. I knew exactly what he meant by that.
Now, before you start assuming that I care what he thinks about my appearance, let me tell you that's not it. I think I've just been feeling a little uncomfortable lately and his observation reminded me why.
When Angie is unhappy, she does something about it. So, I've decided to take off a few. Announcing it to friends is supposed to help you reach your weight-loss goal because friends hold you accountable. So, Kanner Lake, hold me. Accountable that is, tee-hee. Letting folks know that I was on a diet is part of my game plan, and so is exercise.
I read in a lady's magazine that jumping rope is supposed to be one of the best ways to lose weight and it gives you a great cardiac workout to boot.
Jumping rope? I used to love to do that as a girl. I'd spend hours hopping over a rope without realizing I was exercising, because it was so much fun. I figured it was the perfect choice for me.
I thought wrong.
I tripped over the thing more times than I successfully hurled my undisclosed amount of weight over it. Then I whapped myself in the head with the plastic handle when it flew out of my hand. Eventually I got the hang of it, though, and today I've never felt better. Except for the bruised knee and sore spot on the side of my head.
All in all I'd say it was a success. It was certainly the best three-minute workout I've ever had.
I might even try it again next month.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Russell Fink--Part 2
I survived the shooting.
Apparently, the blonde crazy woman wasn't trying to kill me, just going for dramatic effect. As I picked myself off the floor, my purpose had now become two-fold: 1) get the scoop, and 2) not die. My iced mocha, however, wasn't so lucky. And my favorite pair of jeans were now speckled with white ceiling tile foam.
When my annoyance fully eclipsed my fear, I turned to the blond gun-woman. "This story had better be good. Or you owe me an iced mocha and a new pair of jeans."
Her grimace faded when she spotted the tape recorder. "A reporter, eh? Perfect! My name is Karen Boothe--that's with an e."
The sound of heavy boots, barking orders, and cocking rifles grabbed my attention. The police, in full riot gear, were setting up at The Gap, knocking over that rack of cute jeans in the process. They motioned for me to come over, but I turned back to Karen. Her eyes were red and welts were developing on her neck. Was she allergic to animals? This crisis wasn't going to last long unless she started demanding Benadryl.
My gaze alternated between the small arsenal pointed at the designer stitching on the back pocket of my jeans and the one Karen was pointing at my chest. "Well, seems like you've created quite the situation here," I said. "What is it you're trying to prove?"
"What I want is Russell Fink to get down here. Now. Or the basset hound gets it." She punctuated her sentences with the business end of her pistol. The basset hound at her feet wasn't as dumb as he looked because he kept ducking. At some point she noticed my cell phone, pointed the gun at my waistband, and said, "Does that thing work?"
A quick call to the local NBC affiliate gave them a run-down on the situation, my role in it, and Karen's taped demands. I closed my phone. "So who's this Russell?"
"My boyfriend. He's a talented artist and--thanks to me and my keen eye for publicity--will be part of the big art show coming to town next month." She began pacing while I wracked my brain for more questions. This was the weirdest situation I'd ever been in.
Suddenly her eyes lit up. A young man who looked like Hugh Grant with a double chin broke through the police line. He was carrying a box of Krispy Kremes and a to-go coffee. I assumed this was Russell.
She grabbed him and pulled him behind the aquariums. Snatches of whispered conversation drifted my way. A few minutes later they emerged, Karen Booth-With-An-E holding a gun on Russell. What? Was this some sort of love triangle? She winked at me over her shoulder, and I got the feeling we were all being manipulated like actors in a play, but Karen was the only one with the script.
She opened her mouth to say something but sneezed and tripped. She and Russell fell. Two gunshots rang out.
Six months later I saw a short article in the paper about opening night at the exhibition of Russell Fink's work. This was apparently the final act of publicity for Karen Fink, nee Boothe-With-An-E, that netted her a job as spokesperson for Pet Planet, a dismissed court case, a couple of B-movie offers, and a husband. All that for the price of a bullet through the side. But now she has a scar with an exciting story behind it, kind of like someone here in Kanner Lake.
Sometimes I think about my ruined jeans and wasted mocha and have to smile. I guess it beats a bullet through the side, but I didn't even get a shared byline. The NBC affiliate just referred to me as an eyewitness on the scene.
Russell Fink--Part 1
Hi everyone! Leslie here. Thanks for all the compliments I've been getting lately on handling our recent "situation." What some of you may not know is that this wasn't the first time I've dealt with the big city media. Last summer, I begged Jared to let me take a media-training seminar in Spokane. He reluctantly agreed, and I was determined to prove it would be worth it.
After two days my brain was on overload so at lunch I headed to the mall for some much needed shopping therapy. I was checking out some cute jeans at The Gap and sipping an iced mocha (not nearly as good as Bailey's) when I heard yelling coming from the Pet Planet next door. My journalistic instinct came to life, and I had to see what was going on.
People were running past me, one of which kept screaming nonsense about some guy named Russell Fink.The commotion piqued my interest. I was the only reporter around after all. Maybe this would be a great opportunity to get an inside scoop and prove to Jared that he was right to send me here.
I spotted Radio Shack and had an idea. The store was empty, so I left my business card with a scribbled note, grabbed a tape recorder, and ripped open a package of tapes. I slipped my Kanner Lake Times press pass out of my purse and into my pocket. Then, wielding a my new recorder in one hand and the iced mocha in the other, I made like Casper and inched toward Pet Planet, which reeked of pet dander, chlorine, and dog poop.
The young blonde woman came into view, tricked out in designer jeans, a hip tunic top, and too much makeup. Her gaze landed on me. Then she raised what looked like an exact replica of my new tape recorder. "Get out of here!"
That's when I noticed her tape recorder had a muzzle and a trigger on it. "My name is Leslie Brymes." My voice came out all squeaky. "I'm a reporter. Maybe I can help."
She studied me for a minute then lowered the gun. I took that as a good sign and pressed on, clicking the record button. "What's your name? And what are you--"
That's when the gun erupted.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Woodworkin' Ain't for Lumberjacks
Howdy, Jake here. You might remember I talked about trying wood working. With this retirement gig, I've got all kinds of free time to fill. And my darling wife insists I get out of her house before I muss it up.How does one muss up a house, I wonder! All I was doing was sitting in my recliner, kicked back with the paper spread around me. Anyway ...
I hopped in my pick-up and headed to the local lumber yard. Picked up some right nice cherry. Not cheap wood for my honey. No siree. Instead, I get this strong cherry and have visions of a right nice hutch floating in my mind's eye. About six feet tall, four feet wide with fancy little doors to cover the bottom two shelves. The top open for her to display her fancy plates.
I pull up to the garage and hustle round to the back. I heft a few pieces on to my shoulder. The cherry feels mighty light after the huge hunks of tree I carted around at the lumber yard. The problem came when I tried to walk through the door. I totally miscalculated just how long those planks were. Next thing I know I'm spinning around like a kid who's just stepped off the whirly rides at the fair. Then I'm flat on my back, planks dancing on their ends before they slice through the air and land on me.
As soon as I got my air back, I started hollering like a stuck pig. Disgusted with myself, I pushed them planks to the side and stood just as my sweetie came out to see what all the ruckus was about.
"Nothin'. Just making your hutch."
All this before I got into my workshop and started working with the tools I'd borrowed from folks around the lake. Those dainty tools were too smile for my hands. By the time I was done hacking up the wood, that fancy china hutch had shrunk to a couch-side table.
It looks mighty nice if you like a square on stubby legs.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
A Lifetime of Love
I would like to pass along a story about a precious saint we lost a while back, and just give you a picture of some of the Kanner Lake residents you won't see on the blog. There are wonderful people in every corner here, and Elmer and Gloria Hollings are some of the finest.
Elmer and Gloria are what I would call pillars of the New Community Church. They were some of the founding members and are two of the reasons our church is the beacon it is today. Married for 66 years, they displayed such love for each other. Just recently, Gloria told me that one day not long ago Elmer said to her, "Just let me look at you. you're so lovely." Oh my goodness. That brought tears to my eyes. That's what a lifetime of loving someone looks like. A real-life portrait of the Steven Curtis Chapman song, "I Will Be Here."
Elmer was a prayer warrior like no other and could always be counted on to bombard heaven for every need that came to his ear. Having been a frequent guest for breakfast since Hank and I came to Kanner Lake, I know that before breakfast every morning, Elmer and Gloria knelt at their dining room chairs and spent no less than 30 minutes interceding for their family and those others who had come to their attention. In that little retirement apartment, it was a prayer meeting it its own right, and a person would feel they'd actually been to church after breakfast with Elmer and Gloria. Each time I left, Elmer would give me a tender kiss on the cheek and grasp my hand.
Elmer and Gloria haven't been able to come to church at NCC for some time, but when they did, Hank would ask Elmer to give the morning pastoral prayer. He would stand in the second pew, face the congregation and lean on the pew in back of him and lead us in prayer. Elmer had such a beautiful and personal way of talking to God. Every body of believers should have a couple like this to observe and emulate. They exuded God's love to all. I know that today Elmer is rejoicing in the presence of the Lord he loved above all. And I also know that Hank and I both feel we hope to be like Elmer and Gloria when we grow up!
On a side note, it should be mentioned that our sanctuary was PACKED for Elmer's funeral. There were people there who do not attend our church, but they left there with a final picture of Elmer's faith and his love for Gloria. Elmer's work here is done, but heaven is rejoicing in the legacy of his earthly life.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Making New Friends
Hey here, folks. Bailey here again. I can't tell you how good it feels to sit down and take a break. We've had a constant flow of traffic the last few days. More tourists than I've seen in ten years. I know a lot of them are here because of "recent events," and you know I've made my stand clear on that issue, but overall I'm pleased with the sense of respect our welcomed visitors are displaying. Nothing wrong with being curious, but there is a fine line between curiosity and nosiness. Can we all agree on that?
Last week I was really surprised by one wonderful visitor. At first, she displayed mild curiosity about the murder. I whipped up a latte for her and gave her vague responses. I kept thinking she looked so familiar. She had dark short hair and full cheeks--that's my polite way of saying she wasn't a skinny-minny. (Thank goodness, too! I'm so tired of seeing all that. Have you seen those new Gap commercials with Audrey Hepburn and the "skinny black pants?" Oh, don't get me started.)
Anyway, she started to ask me some questions about Edna San and what this community thought of our departed celebrity. Now I'm a firm believer in the saying that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Luckily, I wasn't in that position. I told her Edna had been a "quiet" support to me and my John. You would not believe what happened next. This dear woman crumpled into tears. I drew her to a table and sat her down. As the light from outside hit her face, I suddenly realized why she seemed familiar. It was the actress Kathy Bates! (Yes, this sweet lady said I could share this on Scenes and Beans.)
Ms. Bates (who told me to call her Kathy, but I just can't bring myself to do that.) began to tell me how Edna San used to be a mentor for her. I had no idea! Like she had for me, Edna had been a quiet force in Ms. Bates' life and acting career. We agreed Edna wasn't the most affectionate of people, but she did care in her own way.
She ordered another latte and made herself at home for another hour at Scenes and Beans. I warmed a cranberry apple muffin for her and handed her a copy of our local paper. (Jared and Leslie work so hard. They deserve a little exposure.) Ms. Bates left when her latte and muffin were mostly gone. I think she used the time to prepare herself for driving by Edna's property as a way of paying condolences. (As most of you know, Edna's grave is in southern California.)
My prayer is that Scenes and Beans ministered to Ms. Bates a tiny bit that day. We are all on this walk of life and cross paths daily with strangers. It's nice when we can turn one of our visitors into a friend of Kanner Lake.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
My Tenth Anniversary
Hello, it's Sarah Wray here. I really must tell you about my husband. He is a wonderful man. And I don't say that just because our tenth anniversary was last week. He really is wonderful.
He doesn't like me to get fussy about making the perfect dinner. He likes things more relaxed. I, on the other hand, wanted to celebrate our anniversary with some pizzazz. So, I had to come up with a compromise. For our anniversary dinner, I'd planned to use the silver Shimmering Place Mats I sell at Simple Pleasures. I knew they would look great over our solid navy table cloth in the dining room. In my mind, it was the perfect combination of shimmering pizzazz and relaxed blue. I folded up the yellow, green and blue plaid runner from the table and took off the bright yellow flower arrangement and set them on the pine top sideboard against the wall. I had a couple of silver candlesticks and a few other things to dress the table with.
"He won't notice," I thought. But he did. He mentioned those place mats twice during the meal. That's really something for a guy. He told me he thought I did a great job dressing up the table.
He didn't talk about the gossip of the day. The Good Lord knows there's plenty of that around. He didn't talk about his kids or grandchildren or my regret at not having any of my own. He simply told me how much I've meant to him these "ten long years." He's such a tease. But I almost wept at the sincerity in his eyes when he told me how he felt about me. No Hollywood star could've out-shined my husband that night. He can be Mr. Romance when he wants to be.
Of course after the meal was over and I began cleaning off the table, I expected Mr. Romance to grab the remote control to see what was on TV. While I put away the place mats and put the flowers and runner back on the table, what was my wonderful husband doing? He was singing. If you know him, you know this is so out of character. But I loved it. He sang tunes from Nat King Cole, The Righteous Brothers, and Frank Sinatra. I was finished in the kitchen when he started up Dean Martin's Volare. He grabbed me and we danced into the living room.
I think I'll keep him.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Celery and the Wasp
Wilbur Hucks here, saying howdy once again from Kanner Lake. I was figuring on complaining about all the lingering Edna San hullabaloo, but Bailey says there's enough about it everywhere you turn--even all these weeks later--and folks need something to make them laugh. She wants me to tell another story, so I remembered a good one for you.
When you've grown up in a small town like Kanner Lake and you get to be as old as me, you just naturally know things about folks they'd just as soon you'd forget. This is such a story. It's about Larry Cellaway's grandpa. You remember Larry--the guy who flashed his polka dot undies at the Fourth of July parade?
His grandpa's name was Fitzgerald P. Cellaway, but he preferred to be called Celery, so we all did. Celery and I were driving down Main Street one day when a wasp flew in the window and landed in his hair. The man got real agitated, swatting everywhere. I had to grab the wheel to keep us from going off the road.
"Where'd it go?" Larry yelled.
I couldn't see the thing anymore. "It must have flown out the window."
But that wasp hadn't gone anywhere. Turns out, that evil critter followed south down the path made famous when a plumber bends over. All the sudden Celery got wide eyed. He let go of the wheel, stepped on the brakes and grabbed his backsides with both hands."Agghhh!" he started screaming like a girl, "It went down my britches. Get it out!"
"Are you crazy? I ain't gettin' that wasp!"
We screeched to a stop and ol' Celery just about tore the door off the hinges getting out. He started unhitching his britches when he noticed Freda Johnson and her parents staring wide-eyed from the sidewalk. I'll never forget that sick look of panic on his face. His lips were twisted, his eyes bugging out and his nostrils a-flaring like a racehorse.
I waved him back into the pickup and we took off down toward the city beach. He had one hand down the back of his pants and the other on the wheel. He lost control, and we bumped over the curb and over sand, headed straight for the lake.
"Owww!" he yelped and stepped on the gas.We hit the water with a splash. He was out the door before we even came to a stop in three feet of water. Ol' Celery disappeared under water and came out with his britches in one hand and his undies in the other. I swear half the town came a running to see what happened. I never laughed so hard in all my life.
Well, there you have it and every word of it's true. Celery's wife, Freda, and I still chuckle about it from time to time. You could ask ol' Celery himself if you don't believe me. But not 'til you reach the pearly gates.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Saurian Tech -- The Shirka Insertion Transport
Shnakvorum rikoyoch (Greetings, friends),
Book Update: My science fiction novel, Starfire, is rushing along at a crazy pace now. I've just passed the halfway point and things are really getting intense for Rathe and the rest of his companions. I'd tell you more, but it will probably be better for you to just discover it all on your own when you read the published book. (It can't hurt to be optimistic).
But to celebrate the passing of the halfway mark and seeing the end finally being closer than the beginning I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the Saurian technology used in Starfire. (You may remember I've developed a whole language for my Saurian world.)
I'm going to start off with one of my favorite Karn military transports, the shirka. Here's the official definition from my ever growing glossary:
Shirka: A Karnian shock troop transport, the shirka was designed to insert reinforcements directly to the front lines or in the very midst of the enemy. With the ability to approach low and silently, the transport is most effective at catching an enemy unaware. But during the insertion process its engines are specifically designed to create auditory distress to any unprepared Saurian on the ground in an effort to sow chaos and terror in enemy troops.
That's a rather technical and bland description though, nothing compared to the beauty of the craft in actual use. Most Saurian planes aren't built like a human plane. I mean the basic shape would be recognizable: fuselage, wings, front back (though there are just as many planes with the rudder on the front as on the back in Saurian society, if not more due to Dactyl influence [note: Dactyls are the flying clans of Saurians, ranging from the tiny Ramf to the massive Kwetzl]).
The trick to the shirka is that it doesn't have fixed (or even solid) wings, the leading edge is rigid, but the bulk of the wing is made of a thin and flexible material. It also has a flexible "neck" between the main fuselage and the cockpit (a common trait on Saurian planes with forward rudders). While on approach shirka's glide in silently with their air-jet engines turned off, sweeping in low over the ground. Once they have reached their objective they do something rather odd. The pilot keys on the drop mode, maneuvering the plane so that the fuselage is at a very steep angle to the ground, while the fixed edge of the wings and the "head" remain level with the ground. Some of the engine's force is re-directed at the wings, filling the membrane with super-heated air, in order to inflate them and cause both lift and drag. The plane's inertia and the main force of the shrieking engines (blowing the normal chilled air at the ground) keep the plane aloft for a few precious seconds, long enough for the soldiers to make the short drop to the ground and assault any enemy positions.
Once the soldiers are clear the head and wings snap in line with the fuselage and the plane rockets into the air.
The main reason I developed this craft is because I needed an insertion craft, but didn't want to use the more human helicopter, and saurian parachutes would look silly, I mean they just aren't built for the kind we know of, and ... whoa ... hang on a sec ...
OK, back. Sorry about that, I just realized what Saurian infantry parachutes would actually be. Well, for the soldiers anyway. I already knew about the safety chutes built into the planes ... but that'll have to wait for another time. I've got to get back and work on the crash that was about to happen when Bailey reminded me that she needed this post.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Hi, it's Carla. I almost didn't write this after Pastor Hank's fish post. But I have to admit--I'm a killer. A cold-hearted fish killer.
It all started when I went to Fins 'n Feathers Pet Shop. My fellow real estate agent, Audrey Jenks, told me she got her husband a great aquarium for his birthday, complete with the pump, rocks, everything. She said hearing the bubbling pump and watching the fish swim back and forth really soothe their stress after a long day of work.
I've had trouble sleeping since what happened here in Kanner Lake. I don't know if anyone else has, but I've had bags under my eyes big enough to tote around. Not a nice impression on clients. I got an alarm service installed (and I've got a story about that, but that's for another post), just to see if it would help ease my worry. Kanner Lake's police force is wonderful, and they'd be at my place within five minutes if I called. But there's something nice about knowing help is only a push-button away.
After hearing about Audrey's success with the aquarium route to relaxation, I figured I'd try pet therapy. I have zero time for a dog, and I don't want to even think about cleaning a litter box, so a cat was out, too. Fins and Feathers set me up with a small fish tank and a few goldfish. I was assured all I had to do was sprinkle food into the water, and the fish would take care of the rest.
All went well this past week. Fish are really quite entertaining, believe it or not. I sat there last night, enjoying the sounds of a light jazz CD, and stared at their antics. The one with the googly black eyes kept staring back. I think I even tapped the glass and called him Blackie once. After I made a cup of tea, I settled onto the couch. I must have dozed off until 1:00 or so. I woke, shivering and fumbling for a sweater, my tea long grown cold.
Kanner Lake's weather right now brings chilly nights, and I'd left the living window open, the one next to the fish tank. (Told you I was relaxed--I was ready to hug Audrey for suggesting the fish.) Normally I go around and check the windows and doors twice in the evenings. This time when I went to shut the window, I screamed.
My entire brood of goldfish bobbed on the surface of the water like Wilbur's fishing lures (in miniature). I cried a few tears, something I don't do easily. I'll admit this to the entire blogosphere since today's post is a confession, after all. So I dried my eyes, covered the tank with a bath towel. I couldn't bear to look at Blackie. This morning I told Audrey the whole sorry tale. She and her hubby are stopping by tonight so he can scoop out the dead fish. I told him he could have the tank as payment for his trouble.
I'm a bad fish mom. I don't deserve pets. A good fish mom would have made sure the window was closed. I just never would have believed that an open window could kill my fish like that. The poor things. The next time I see the lady who runs Fins and Feathers, I don't think I'll have the heart to tell her what I did.
Hope she's not reading this blog.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Resonating with the Written Word
"There's no greater power than that which is generated by the combination of ink and paper." As I have said before, I think often of this phrase my grandfather passed on to me. When I was younger, I assumed it to be specifically tied to his love for reporting. Now, as I have grown older, it has come so much more than that to me. The written word, whether it be a news reports, novel, a poem or even lyrics for a song, is something that resonates within each reader. As the words are taken in, they in turn stir up passion, awaken memories, evoke emotion and find completion in the mind and heart of the reader.
Normally, concert or music coverage falls under Leslie's tasks due to the more age appropriate perspective, but this one I wanted all for myself. As a member of the press, I got a pass to attend the Wherever You Are tour with Third Day and David Crowder Band. All I can say is that I was reminded in a big way of the power of those words when they are woven together with a melodic thread. My grandfather's quote resonated in the back of my mind as I experienced talented musicians passionately conveying a message of hope of healing through songs aptly titled "Cry Out To Jesus" and "Mountain Of God."
As our community of Kanner Lake continues to heal from such a difficult summer, we look forward to celebrating hope for our future. As the songwriter in the band wrote:
"Even though the journey's long
And I know the road is hard
Well, the One who's gone before me
He will help me carry on.
After all that I've been through
Now I realize the truth--
That I must go through the valley
To stand upon the mountain of God."
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Pie to the Sky -- Part 2
Frank Jr. said some things that he never says in front of his mother. Tommy and the man broke out laughing. Then they all looked at me and I realized that Joe Thompson was the 'lady.' I must have looked white, because all three of those boys ran over and walked me to a chair.
Tommy was laughing so hard he was having trouble standing up, and Joe sat down on the floor and continued to roar. Frank Jr. did not look at all pleased. As soon as he caught his breath, Tom started going on and on about all of Frank Jr.'s female admirers. Finally Frank asked how the whole town knew he was coming home and why all the pies? Tom replied, "Don't you read your mom's entries in the Scenes and Beans blog?"
I knew I was toast. I started to back out of the room when Frank Jr. said "Mom, what's going on here?"
I replied, "It was just a little post. I didn't think anyone would take me seriously."
"Show me--now." It's amazing how that boy sounds just like his father sometimes.
I watched as he opened his laptop and read the post. I swear there was smoke coming out of his ears, and his face was redder than any strawberry-rhubarb pie. Just as he was getting ready to light into me, Tommy spoke up. "Frank, it's not your mom's doing. Sure, she wrote the post, but nobody knew when you were coming home, except me. I set you up. Of course the single ladies didn't hesitate too much, nor did 'Josephina.' You didn't even recognize him until he pulled off the wig."
Well, Frank Jr. just sat right back down in my vacated chair and looked like he was either going to kill someone or pass out. Tommy, Joe, and I just stood there and held our breath. There's a local suspense author over in Coeur D'Alene with the motto "Don't forget to breathe..." Well, we forgot. Finally, Frank looked up and looked at me, then looked at Tommy, and then Joe. I saw something forming in his mouth. I grabbed the back of the sofa and waited for the blast.
Then it came. He started laughing and got up and slapped Tommy on the back. "You really got me, Bro. Joe, just tell me you don't really dress up like this all the time."
It goes without saying that we had pie for dessert than night, and the next, and the next. We also provided dessert for a couple of churches that feed the poor over in Spokane.
Oh, and the best, incredible news! Frank Jr. is moving back to Kanner Lake! It turns out he really hasn't been happy in Chicago for a while now and has decided to become a freelance copywriter. He was meeting with a new client in Spokane on Friday and has several others lined up across the country. His things are on their way in Pods that will go into storage until he finds his own place. He said that he had been thinking about moving home since his dad died, then after everything that happened in July, he wanted to be back here in case I needed him. That explains the two big suitcases.
And ladies, Frank Jr. is now the most eligible bachelor in Kanner Lake! Much more so than that other Frank. But don't tell him you read it here. I'm already in enough hot water.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Pie to the Sky -- Part 1
It's me, Angie Brendt again, and boy do I have a big surprise. But we'll get to that later. First let me tell you about Frank Jr.'s trip home.
After I told you that Frank Jr. was coming home in my last post, he called and told me he didn't know exactly when he would be arriving due to something at work. My heart just fell. I didn't realize how excited I was over his visit. I tried to choke back the tears and keep my voice normal, but he knows me too well. He told me the good news--this change meant he would be staying a little longer since he had some business over in Spokane. Needless to say I brightened up then.
He finally arrived last Thursday night, flying into Spokane. He had a business meeting in Spokane the next morning, so he stayed in town with Melissa, my daughter, and her family. Friday morning at Java Joint Bev kept commenting on how I just couldn't sit still.
I was so excited when Frank pulled up in the driveway Friday afternoon and unloaded two big suitcases, plus his computer bag, and a backpack out of the car. That evening he took me out to a wonderful dinner at Brix over in Coeur D'Alene and we spent some time catching up. Of course, I didn't mention my last entry in this blog and fortunately, he didn't ask.
Saturday morning, Frank Jr. told me to go on ahead and go to the Java Joint with Bev. His best friend, Tom, (they grew up together and have stayed in touch over the years) was coming over and he wanted to just relax and get caught up on everything. After coffee, I ran some errands and then headed home.
When I arrived home, I saw Savannah Elliot driving away in her car. I pulled into the garage and got out of the car and entered the house through the kitchen. As soon as I set foot on the tile, the smell of sugar assaulted me. I froze at what I saw. Pies. Pies on the counters. Pies on the table. Pies on the refrigerator. Pies stacked two and three deep. Then I remembered my post in this blog and started wondering how I was going to explain this one. In that post I invited the single women to vie for Frank Jr.'s favor by bringing him a pie. I was just kidding. I never dreamed anyone would actually show up, but it looked like every single woman in Kanner Lake, and Spirit Lake too, had shown up, pies in hand. I was glad that Frank hadn't announced I was home. I was going to need a little bit of time to prepare myself before I faced my son.
I became aware of voices coming from the living room. It sounded like Frank Jr. and Tom weren't alone. I quietly stepped over by door, pushed it slightly, and peeked through the crack. Frank Jr. sat on the couch, and there was a woman sitting next to him trying to feed him some pie. He kept trying to politely refuse, and she just kept getting closer and closer, putting her hands on his arm, and talking to him. Within a few seconds he was trapped by the arm of the couch on one side and the arm and body of this woman on the other. She was certainly no frail, petite little thing, and she had a deep voice for a lady. They were sitting with their backs to me, so I couldn't see who she was, but trust me, I was starting to get upset by this hussy who obviously couldn't get the hint and back off. I would have walked in and put a stop to the foolishness, but I remembered I still had some explaining to do and didn't have an explanation as of yet. I glanced over at Tom and was surprised that he looked like he was going to laugh out loud. What kind of a friend would laugh at his friend who was obviously in a very uncomfortable spot and trying to be polite?
As I watched, the gal got closer and closer and put her arm around my baby boy. He was practically leaning over the side of the couch trying to get away. Then she pushed it too far and asked him to kiss her to thank her for the pie. I pushed open the door and walked in the room just as this hussy swooped down as if she was going to plant a big one on him. I stopped and watched--and suddenly, off came her hair in her hand.
That's when I realized "she" was a man.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Learning to Drive -- Part 2
Up ahead the road curved to the left. I was going a good speed by now and managing to keep relatively to the middle of the track. When it started curving I started turning the wheel. Only problem was, the truck didn't want to respond to my action. Dad was yelling at me to turn, I was tugging on the wheel, and the truck was going straight toward the ditch. We finally came to a stop when the front wheels bounced up the other side of the ditch, the hood just inches from a fence.
Poor Dad. His fingers gripped the dash, his face white. It took him a while to speak. And then it was a curt demand to switch places. But he wasn't put off. He just decided it would be better to teach me somewhere flat.
We headed back down to the camping area. It was a slow time of year, so there was nobody around and lots of open space. Perfect.
We swapped places, and after assuring Dad I remembered how to work everything, we set off again. Things went pretty good for a while. I finally managed to get the truck to turn where I wanted it too, with a little muscle power. No power steering in that vehicle. And then I blew it.
I only shifted my eyes for a minute, but it was enough.
I snapped my attention back to where I was headed and there in front of me was this huge tree! And I mean HUGE.
I don't know what happened. I guess I panicked. Everything Dad told me just flew out my head. My arms froze, I went blank. He was yelling for me to stop and I couldn't remember which pedal was the brake. I stomped down on a pedal and the truck accelerated.
Dad yanked on the wheel. The truck swerved and the tree trunk scratched against the side as we passed by.
That was the one and only driving lesson Dad would give me in the Ranchero. He made me wait until I completed my driving training courses and then taught me in Mom's Honda Accord. I've never been allowed to drive his Ranchero since.
Mom later told me why Dad was so attached to that vehicle. His first truck was the same model and year, and he and Mom had their first date in it. I guess it brought back memories for him. A Sunday doesn't go by without him and Mom going out for a drive in the Ranchero.
And they always come back a little more in love than when they left.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Learning to Drive -- Part 1
Hi, it's me, Leslie, posting again. Bailey's got me sitting here, saying it's time I wrote up another entry. She even refused to make my nonfat biggie latte until I got started. I wasn't sure what I was going to say, and then I looked out the window and saw my VW. That sparked a memory of my first driving lesson.
The minute I hit 15, I was itching to get behind the wheel of a car. Mom wasn't thrilled at the idea; I guess she wanted me to wait a bit longer. But Dad, well he's in insurance, so he sees a lot of claims on cars driven by young people. He figured I'd be better off learning as soon as I could to get some experience under my belt. Of course, here in Idaho if you're under 17 you have to sit through all these driver training courses before you can get your driver's permit. But I just wanted to DRIVE!
So anyway, one weekend just after my fifteenth birthday, Dad took me with him to visit his friend Kevin who owns a camping ground up in the forest just out of town. Kevin has this shed where he accumulates old cars. He likes to think he's saved them from the scrap yard. In his spare time he restores some of the better cars and then sells them. At the time Dad had a 1962 Ford Falcon Ranchero sitting in Kevin's shed that he liked to go and work on. Now, my VW is my baby, but Dad's Ranchero, wow. I just about had to compete with a vehicle to get his attention.
Okay, I might be exaggerating a little. But Dad loved that truck and talked about it nonstop. It wasn't until later that I learned why this truck meant so much to him.
Anyway, back to the driving lesson. We were at Kevin's place and Dad had finally got this Ranchero to run. It wasn't exactly purring like a kitten, but at least the engine wasn't cutting out every two minutes. Dad was keen to see how well the truck drove, and since Kevin's place has all these private roads going through the forest that only the campers use, it was a pretty safe place for a test drive.
For half an hour we traveled over the dirt tracks, the truck running smoothly, and Dad with a big grin on his face. That's when he got the idea to give me my first driving lesson. We sat there on the deserted track for another half an hour while he explained how the gear shift and the pedals worked. When he was finally satisfied I knew how to work everything, he handed me the key and said, "Start her up." I got the truck started, shifted her into first, eased off the brake, and pushed down on the accelerator.
We inched forward.
"Give her more gas," Dad said.
I pressed down, careful not to push too hard. The engine revved.
"Change to second."
Not a problem.
By now I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I was driving! I could actually do this.
Then came the first disaster.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Funeral for a Fish
Greetings. Pastor Hank with you today.
Pastors have many duties. Most of them are joyous, but if there is one aspect of the job that is the most difficult, it is conducting a funeral. I take them very seriously, because that is also one of the times when I can make the biggest difference in people's lives, or can provide the greatest amount of comfort.
One of my other duties has been to my three wonderful girls. I know I haven't been the perfect father, but I have always tried to take their concerns to heart, and be there for them when they need me.
Sometimes, the worlds of pastor and father collide.
The start of my second year here in Kanner Lake began on a somber note, as a beloved matriarch of the church, Ruth Bowman, died. We had only been in the church a short time, but she had adopted my girls as her own grandchildren. Her funeral was the first one I conducted while at this church.
My older daughters were 14 and 11, and they strongly wanted to be there to pay their respects to "Gramma Bow." Amy and Abby were old enough to understand and were very sincere, so I acquiesced. However, this meant our youngest darling, Andrea (Andy), really wanted to go as well. Being 6, she had to be wherever her older sisters were, doing whatever they were doing. We didn't always give in, but this time, despite my misgivings, we let her come as well.
It was a beautiful service, and the girls did very well. I was touched by their concern, and I think it helped them understand that we would see Gramma Bow again when, as she put it, "these old bones have glory dressing on!" Afterwards, Janet and I watched for any signs of trouble, but my sweethearts were trooping on.
Then Jonah died.
Jonah was the most stubborn goldfish I'd ever seen. (The girls thought it was oh-so-clever to name the fish Jonah. They had a disturbingly good grasp on irony.) This fish outlasted so many bowl-mates, I thought he'd be buried with me. Now, we'd never had trouble when the other fish died. Usually Janet or I would find one "resting" as we called it, and we'd send him to the porcelain pool.
Mondays were my morning to sleep in. Dreaming of the whopper I'd pulled out of Cooper Creek with Wilbur recently, I was awakened by the sounds of sobbing next to my bed. I forced my eyes opened, only to be confronted by a dripping orange thing in my face.
"Daddy!" Our daughter wailed. "Jonah won't swim anymore!"
I jumped out of bed and gave my tenderheart a long cuddle to comfort her over the fish's death. I asked her what she wanted to do, since it was bothering her so much.
She wanted a funeral.
Not just a little recitation in the bathroom. She wanted it at the church. She wanted organ music. She asked if she and her sisters could be "ball-bearers."
I made the mistake of asking if a sensitive backyard service would be enough. Oh, the wailing and gnashing of teeth (the latter was mostly mine).
Thankfully it was Monday, and no one was at the church. I got my finest suit on. The girls dressed in black. Janet knew enough organ to make it sound like she played. I emptied a matchbox and fastened straws to it so we could have our "ball-bearers."
Andy braved the loss well. Everyone spoke of their favorite moments of Jonah. These mostly consisted of him swimming around with his mouth open. We did have to draw the line at getting a headstone though.
My girls are all grown up now, but we can always get a laugh out of the famous Fish Funeral.
Janet's Side of the Fish Funeral Story
Listen, I practiced all of about 30 minutes on that organ music. Well, the truth is, I just played some chords on the lower octaves, to make it sound really dirge-y. I took about three organ lessons when I was a young girl, but my years of piano actually paid off for once. The girls didn't seem to notice, since all their attention and emotion was focused on that little fish.
Hank did a superb job, laid it on pretty thick, and satisfied the girls' need for closure. All in all, it was a very fine funeral--worthy of a fish named Jonah.
But you know, now I can't even remember where in the yard that fish is buried . . .
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
The Reflections (and Rants) of a Retired Teacher
Most of the time, I don't miss teaching.
Who would? The kids, much less the schedules and regulations and meetings, would try the patience of Job himself. Disruptive students. Rude students. Note-passing students. Arm-folding, "I dare you to flunk me" students (which I usually did). Students who couldn't tell the difference between Dickens and Dickinson (shall we start with spelling?). Students with parents who can't understand how their "precious angel" could have gotten a D on her last assignment (how about a three-day late, illegible essay on The Taming of the Shrew expounding the meaning of "to be or not to be?").
No, I definitely don't miss that. Or the early rises to teach bleary-eyed students who partied instead of studying. Or the staying up late to read essays written from CliffsNotes.
Retirement, on the other hand, lets me linger over my coffee at Java Joint on a crisp morning or savor Poe's The Tell-tale Heart during a thunderstorm. Granted, it also allows Angie to drag me after psuedo-stars--but you-ve heard enough on that.
However, despite all this, when autumn comes and youngsters lug their brand-new backpacks past Java Joint-s windows--well, a small part of me wishes to join them.
I especially loved the first day. The gold and dross haven't yet separated and hope always exists I'll find an exceptionally precious nugget. Like my second year of teaching, before I moved to Kanner Lake.
That year Emily L. slipped into my eleventh grade English Literature course undetected. She was quiet, unassuming, and unremarkable in appearance or participation. Then she turned in her first essay, the traditional "The best book you read during the summer and why."
Forty years later I still remember her choice--A Tale of Two Cities, a book that she openly admitted left her unsettled. But, she said, the writing exceeded anything else she'd read during the summer, and she went on to describe why in a detailed analysis.
It was a teacher's dream essay. Clear, accurate, well thought through, beautifully phrased. I was hard pressed to correct anything, and every assignment that followed was the same way. Soon I was shuffling her work to the bottom of my papers to grade so I could look forward to something.
We kept in touch through the next year until she graduated and I moved to Kanner Lake. Last I heard, (which was now many years ago), she was teaching creative writing at the University of Iowa. Perhaps we'll see a Pulitzer Prize winner out of her someday.
Yes, it was students like Emily who kept me teaching for so many years. And to this day I still treasure autumn.
-- Bev Trexel
Monday, October 02, 2006
War of Words at Java Joint
Hey, all, this is Jake. It's my turn again. Somehow Bailey thinks I need to spill my pearls of wisdom before you. Problem is I don't have many to share.
I get a chuckle out of reading the posts though. You should see the arguments that rage in Java Joint over what this or that person said. People are always fighting about sitting at Bailey's computer over at the corner table to read the latest post. That thing's getting might gooey with latte spill, not to mention Bev's and Angie's sticky fingers from all their pastries.
Wilbur and Carla just go at each other. It's quite a show. And then Leslie and Bailey try to get between them. Well, at least verbally between them. It's hard for Bailey 'cause she's flying around behind that counter making drinks and sandwiches for all the tourists. And before long Leslie forgets she's trying to mediate and starts whaling at Wilbur, too. If only the girls understood that's exactly what Wilbur wants. The sly old guy loves to be the center of attention--ANY kind of attention. And he pokes -em in all the right places to keep it going.
There now. I've spent an entire post avoiding the subject of how I'm using my time now that I'm retired. You know I was going to try woodworking. So how'd it go, you ask?
It flopped. Like a fish outta water.
Maybe next time I'll tell ya the sordid details.
Bailey Truitt ~ Java Joint owner
Leslie Brymes ~ reporter extraordinaire
Carla Radling ~ realtor at your service
Wilbur Hucks ~ ya gotta love him
Jake Tremaine ~ retired logger
Ted Dawson (S-Man) ~ sci-fi writer
Hank Detcher ~ pastor and friend
Janet Detcher ~ keeps Hank in line
Bev Trexel ~ retired teacher
Angie Brendt ~ Bev's best pal
Sarah Wray ~ Simple Pleasures owner
Jared Moore ~ Kanner Lake Times
LEARN MORE ABOUT KANNER LAKE
A Christian Worldview of Fiction
Mary Ann Diorio
Girl's Write Out
Joy in the Litter Box
A Life in Pages
Pieces of Me
Readin N Writin with Patricia
Robin Lee Hatcher's Write Thinking
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