Wednesday, January 31, 2007
 

Proposed Hotel for Kanner Lake


Greetings from Jared Moore--in my first post for 2007.

Here in Kanner Lake we suddenly find ourselves facing some controversy. No, I'm not talking about the murder of Edna San last July, and all the repercussions of that crime, which still have to play out. I'm talking about the age-old argument between those who want to keep the environment as unfettered as possible and those who see new building as a form of needed progress.

Now as a reporter and the owner of Kanner Lake Times, I'm not going to take sides in the argument. My job is to report both sides and leave the reader to make his/her own decision in the matter. So here are the basic facts:

An outside developer has proposed building a hotel next to the city beach. This beach is one block south of Main Street--the downtown area that houses Java Joint, the KL Times office and many other shops and businesses. Right now on the site is merely shoreline. It gets a little rocky in that area, so it's not beach property.

The "pro-hotel" folk see this as a wonderful opportunity for the town, especially the business owners on Main. Right now we have no big hotel in town. We do have scattered B&Bs around town and the lake, but our tourist numbers are rising, and the B&Bs are often maxed out. This argument is founded on the "If we built it, they will come" mentality. The pro-hotel people cite the increase in tax revenues for the town through the hotel alone, not to mention all the more sales that will occur on Main Street as a result of the increase in foot traffic from the hotel. With those tax dollars we can do more to support our schools, mend our roads, etc. Most of the shop owners on Main whom I've spoken with are in support of the hotel.

The "anti" folks cite the environment, extra traffic considerations, more noise, and the obvious loss of some scenic shoreline so close to town. They counter the "more tax dollars" argument with "yes, but do you want more money at the expense of natural beauty and quiet in our town, which is exactly why tourists come here in the first place?" So many scenic small towns are suddenly "discovered," they argue--and look what happens to them. Building everywhere--until the scenery that first attracted everyone is all but eaten away. What sad irony.

Studies are being done to determine more exactly the environmental impact of the proposed hotel, and the tax revenues such a business could bring the town. People on both sides of the argument will be addressing the city council, who ultimately will have to make this decision. I have no idea how this will play out, but it already seems to be heating up as a major point of contention between people in the town. Everywhere I go folks are arguing about it--Java Joint included. Seems 2007 is going to be an interesting year.

I'm aware you readers across the country can't understand all the issues as we in Kanner Lake can--but what would be your general opinion to this type of change in a small town?

-- Jared Moore



Posted by Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 3 comments links to this post
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
 

My First 2007 Post!


Hello, Sarah Wray with you today. And happy to be here! I read Wilbur's post yesterday and had to laugh. I felt like he did--so mad that our blog had been hijacked. We're all very glad to have it back.

Wilbur mentioned how Bailey's been getting more business around Java Joint since so many people starting reading Scenes and Beans. I have to say the same for Simple Pleasures. We had a great Christmas season! I can't tell you how many tourists have come in and said they were so glad to finally meet me and see my store. Makes me mighty happy. I love meeting all of you.

Now let me just say this one thing--very nicely, I can assure you. Yes, Paige still works for me. I love having her, and she loves being there. She will be off for some time in February, that's true. I don't need to tell you the reason--if you've been reading the papers you know. I know I'm speaking for just about everybody in town when I say I hope she can resume her duties at Simple Pleasures when everything's all said and done next month. In the meantime, while she's still there--please don't come in and ask her any questions about the whole matter. Paige is a very private person and hates the publicity. She doesn't want to talk to anybody about it, okay?

So--before you know it, it'll be Valentine's Day. What have you bought for your honey? Men, want a beautiful, glitzy purse for your gal? Or a necklace or earrings or bracelet? How about a super soft, warm throw blanket for her? And women, you'd be surprised what you might find for your men in Simple Pleasures. Some knickknack with a hunting or fishing theme, for example. Or special martini glasses, perhaps. Come on in and have a look around. And whether you buy anything or not, we'll be most pleased to meet you and have you in our shop.

Here's to a wonderful 2007 for all of you!

-- Sarah Wray


Posted by Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 4 comments links to this post
Monday, January 29, 2007
 

Finally--a Decent Post on This Blog


Howdy on a Monday. Wilbur Hucks here. It's about time I got back on this thing. First Scenes and Beans gets lost in outer space somewhere. I kept askin' Bailey--where is it? Just gone, she says, disappeared. Pfffft. Now how does that happen? A whole durn file of stories just gone? If a kept a filing cabinet at my house full of stories, I can guarantee you I wouldn't wake up one morning and just find the whole thing vanished into thin air. I never will understand these computers. All the same, they do allow me to talk to you, sitting at your breakfast table in some fancy New York City apartment or wherever, so I guess I should be grateful. But you think they'd make 'em so they wouldn't up and eat somebody's entire blog.

Anyway, after the thing reappeared--just pffft and there it was--then folks like Bev started yappin' about writing a book analysis (whatever that is) and memorizing poems and all kind of craziness. Then Angie gets on and tells the silly tale of how she got Bev a bird, because Bev got her a dog ...


What is this blog comin' to? We get the thing back, and all we're spouting is nonsense. People are gonna start thinkin' we're total idiots.

So finally--here I am. Guess what I got for the new year. A new typist. She may last awhile if I don't choke her silly. Since Scenes and Beans started, Bailey was typing my posts for me whilst I dictated. (I never could type and I ain't learnin' now.) Then the blog started workin' a little too well. Meaning more and more of you Ts (tourists, if you don't know our lingo) started comin' round to meet the famous folk at Java Joint. Especially me. (I'll talk more about that in a minute.) Anyway now Bailey's too busy serving everybody to sit down at the corner computer table and let me dictate. So guess who's helping me--Carla Radling. That's right, Miss Know-it-All Realtor who can't go two minutes without giving me some yap. [Carla here--he's about to see just how bad my yap can be.] I'm grateful for her help and all, mind you. But she starts typing things I don't say and insertin' her own little how-do-ya-do remarks, she's gonna owe me a month's worth of coffee. [It'll be worth it.]

Now back to all you Ts who are gracin' us with your presence. Please be sure to know you're welcome. If I didn't tell you that, Bailey'd have my hide. Besides, she needs the money. Did you know this café supports her and her husband, since he's home sick and on disability? So come and buy lots of coffee and pastries in the morning, then pop back for sandwiches at lunch. But here's the thing, and you'd best not forget it. There are four stools lined up at the counter. The farthest on the left is mine. Got that? Nobody else sits on that stool when I'm around. And I happen to be around every morning, so don't push it. I don't take kindly to waltzing in on a fine morning and first thing you know, I'm havin' to push some T's big behind off my stool. And while I'm at it, I might as well stick up for Jake and tell you his stool is next to mine.

The other two stools--the ones closest to the front windows--are up for grabs as far as I'm concerned. Leslie or Carla or most of the other Scenes and Beans bloggers will take 'em if they're empty, but they won't fight you for them. There are three bloggers who don't sit there. Angie and Bev have their own table across the café, where they can sit and gossip about everybody and his brother. And fight with each other. For "best friends," those two sure know how to stir things up. And S-Man's always over at his table near the back wall, typing away and muttering crazy comments to himself in some language nobody ever heard of.

Well, I guess that's about it for me for today. I'm glad to be here with you in 2007--now that it's almost February.

-- Wilbur Hucks



Posted by Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 5 comments links to this post
Friday, January 26, 2007
 

A Gift in Turn


Happy New Year, everyone! Angie here again. Actually, we're already almost clean through January, but time has just zoomed by, ever since Thanksgiving.

I don't know how I'll ever have time to keep up with this blog, what with my new little puppy-friend and all. I named him Cosmos, because he causes the most trouble you can imagine for a puppy. (My first name of "Killer" was just a little too harsh for the little guy.) Every time I turn around, he's chewing on something or chasing one of Nutty's family members. Those poor little squirrels!

As much as I love Cosmos, I knew I needed a special gift for Bev to thank her properly. I couldn't go out and just get her another dog. That would be boring, wouldn't it? I thought about a monkey, too, but they are just too expensive--and besides, with all the legal stuff about transporting them, I just didn't have the gumption to pull it off. So, I did something even better.

I asked Bev to doggy-sit for me while I did some shopping in Post Falls. I could tell she was more than happy to do it for me, as she just loves the pooch. Almost as much as I do. Little did she know I was on a mission to get her a present she'll never forget.

There's a quirky old lady in Post Falls that sells exotic birds. I saw her on the news last summer. So, after I dropped off the pooch, I drove down there to find the loudest, most obnoxious bird she had.

And what a find! The lady, Mrs. Abrahms, was only too happy to show me her array of birds. I settled on a Lutino cockatiel, a beautiful white bird with an orange and yellow face. Mrs. Abrahms even threw in a starter cage for free. It seemed like she was only too happy to get rid of this feathery creature.

I wrapped the cage carefully with a towel, then carried it out to the car. I put it in the front seat, then secured it with a seatbelt. When we had gotten on the road and the car had warmed up some, I pulled down the towel. I figured I had only a short time to train it, so I'd better give it some intense lessons.

The whole way home I repeated only one phrase out loud. "Bev should mind her own business." The bird was silent, though I wished with all my might he'd repeat it--just once.

Pulling into Kanner Lake, I decided to grab some coffee. I pulled up to Java Joint and parked. Wilber was razzing Carla again. "Wilber, you old coot," I muttered. I covered the bird up and slipped inside for a peppermint mocha.

Ten minutes later, on the drive over to Bev's house, I left the bird covered up. If he hadn't learned to say, "Bev should mind her own business," by now, more talking lessons wouldn't do any good, anyway. I consoled myself with the thought of the mere presence of the bird. Surely it would be more than enough to get my point across, right? I could hardly wait to see the look on her face.

Bev opened her door and I could hear Cosmos barking to be let out of the back room. She peeked out, and her eyes were drawn immediately to the covered cage in my hand.

"I'm back!" I beamed, trying hard to suppress a chuckle.

She did not look as amused as I was. "What is that you've got there, Angie Brent?"

"Just a little present for my best friend."

I breezed past her, ignoring the barking dog and her squeaky protests. After I set the cage on the table, I yanked off the cover.

For a moment, we all stared at each other in shocked silence. The bird blinked his eyes, taking in his new surroundings. Cosmos was quiet on the other side of the door, as if he could sense something monumental was occurring. I stood there, an all-too-pleased-with-myself grin stretching across my face.

For the first time in her life, Bev was speechless. She looked as though she could burst, but fought hard to maintain her composure.

Finally, the bird broke the silence. It turned out I'd taught him to say something after all. "You old coot!"


Posted by Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 5 comments links to this post
Thursday, January 25, 2007
 

My Confession


Today, much to my chagrin, I--Bev Trexel--have a confession to make: I am a packrat.

Remember my first goal for the year? To "clean out the boxes leftover from teaching." My most reasonable resolution, I thought at the time. So this morning I had my husband bring down the boxes from the attic to the spare bedroom. I expected five, maybe ten boxes. But the boxes kept coming--fifteen, twenty, twenty-five! I guess this project will take a little longer than anticipated. (Angie, quit your gloating.)

But I know certain people wouldn't let me live it down if I turned back now. So I dug into my first box--which I will have you know was well labeled as from my first year of teaching.

It was only about three-quarters full, mostly with paper. Memos from other teachers. A notebook I started of dos and do-not's. Copies of the school paper and programs from school plays. Stacks of worthless notes from school meetings, board meetings, teacher meetings. Goodness! I never realized how much time I wasted in worthless meetings.

But in the bottom of the box, wrapped in tissue paper, was a small wooden apple ornament with eyeglasses etched into the surface. Tucked beside it was the tag "from Gregory James."

He was one of those problem students from day one. He always acted up in class, landed in the principal's office once a week, and declared loudly how much he hated English, hated books, and hated anything to do with reading.

Then one day I caught him in the library, trying to read the book I'd assigned him. His nose nearly touched the page. No wonder he hated books so much. He couldn't see to read them!

So by the next class, a pair of glasses ended up on his desk. I never saw him wear them, but his grade went from a D to an A in one quarter, and at the end of the year, I found the apple on my desk.

Maybe being a packrat isn't such a bad thing after all.

--Bev

Bev's tidbits:

Word of the Day: Consanguineous—adjective meaning of the same blood or origin, or descended from the same ancestor.

Grammar Rule of the Week: Do not spell out dates or other serial numbers except when they appear in dialogue.

Poem of the Month: "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost

Classic Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Posted by Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 3 comments links to this post
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
 

God's Compassion


Happy 2007! This is Janet Detcher. As last year came to a close, I was reflecting on how amazingly God draws people to Himself ... people who, by human standards, might be overlooked or discounted. But God misses no one. He sees every life in all its darkness and in all its need, and He has compassion.

We have a couple in our church, who I'll call Tom and Daisy. (I'm telling this with their permission, by the way.) As they put it Tom and Daisy lived most of their lives as "hell-raisers." They had a rocky marriage for the first 20+ years; they raised their kids with little clue about how to do so, and had difficulty holding down a decent job.

Tom is a recovering alcoholic and Daisy was a smoker for years. But she will testify that God took that craving away the very moment she asked Him into her heart. That was about seven years ago now, and it came because someone was praying for them. That someone happened to be Daisy's sister, who I'll call Martha. Martha came to the Lord about 10 years ago. Her life was transformed and she was an immediate 'missionary-evangelist' to her friends and family.

Martha and her husband, Frank, live in Colorado. It was from there that Martha called Daisy to tell her about her new-found faith. To hear Daisy tell it, Martha was a "Jesus Freak." Daisy wanted nothing to do with it. And she told Martha so. But Martha's burden for Daisy and Tom would not be quieted.

Martha and Frank had come to Kanner Lake for a visit, met up with Bailey at Java Joint, and asked about a good, local church. Hank and I were on vacation when Martha and Frank were in town, but Bailey told her about New Community Church, and shortly after that I got a letter from Martha, telling me about Daisy and Tom, and asking if we'd visit them.

We did. We were received tentatively. They thanked us for our visit but made it clear that they were not interested in church.

Well, that was then, and this is now. Today, in spite of Tom's now-good-paying job as a mechanic, (thanks to a wonderful businessman in our church), he and Daisy have chosen to remain in their long-time neighborhood so they can be LIGHT to the hopelessness they see there everyday.

For the past 4 or 5 summers, Daisy has enthusiastically hosted a backyard Vacation Bible School. She goes door-to-door, handing out the invitation flyers and little gifts for every child. I've personally seen as many as 30 children attend VBS at Miss Daisy's. Other days, there are as few as a dozen.

But you know, the important thing is that every child is hearing that Jesus loves them. Every child is hearing, maybe for the first time, that he or she is important to someone. That he matters. That she is beautiful. That there can be more than what they can see or imagine. Daisy's heart is to direct a child toward God's best, speaking the Truth that God has a plan for his or her life. She wants them to avoid the pain that she and Tom lived for so many years. A life apart from God can be that--full of disappointment, with a dull, lifeless ache in the pit of your stomach. Of course, there is sometimes pain in a life lived with God, but there is also peace that comes only from having Him walking with us in that pain. That is something you can’t find anywhere else.

What would our world be if there were more Daisys? On the other hand, maybe you are simply the water for the Daisy in your life. If so, give it all you've got. We are the hands and feet of Christ to a hurting world. We are all a critical part in God's plan to reach the lost. Tom and Daisy are precious examples of what God can do when His people pray.

I pray that 2007 will be your year of answered prayer. That you will pray as you have never prayed before. And that God will answer in ways you never dreamed possible. He can, you know.
------------------------

Read "My Journey Toward a Trusting Heart," the blog by the author of this post.


Posted by Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 2 comments links to this post
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
 

The Fang--Part 3


Final part from S-Man's introductory story of Sauria:
----------------------------

"Beware of belittling the guide! Yi know not of whom you speak. Yea there are many who have lost sight of the way, wallowing instead in their own misery, though the guide is still there, waiting only for them to lift their eyes and follow. Others claim to follow the guide, but are naught but mockeries, following twisted paths."

Wracking coughs shook the beast, when they passed his voice had softened again. "But it is not about them that yi should be concerned, for their paths are their own. Your path lies ahead of you, it is surrounded by storms and trouble and there are many pitfalls awaiting yi."


Another fit of coughing tore through the Jerkenak's broken body, and a gush of blood issued from his ruined mouth.

"Let my fang, that yi hold, bear testimony that I have warned yi. Seek the guide and follow the way, or your path to doom will be certain. My journey is done. I am home." A final rattled breath issued from the best and then he lay still.

The words were so soft that Rathe wasn't sure they were spoken aloud. He stood above the dead Jerkrenak trying to shake its final words, but they stuck, gnawing at his mind. With a roar of frustration he threw the Jerkrenak's fang away and swung his sokae, sinking the curved blade deep into the dead beast's neck.

As Rathe turned away from the corpse a quiet whimper issued from one of the darker corners of the cavern. Cautiously he walked toward the corner letting his eyes adjust. A male hatchling of the Barniks clan, not yet grown into his markings lay in the shadow. His long flat snout gaped, sucking in shallow breaths. His eyes stared ahead in an empty gaze. As Rathe knelt down beside the hatchling he discovered its right leg bitten off just below the knee.

Rathe stared at the leg, then looked back at the dead Jerkrenak. Rumors had circulated for weeks about hatchlings vanishing. He snarled as he saw the truth behind them. The Jerkrenak had been snatching away the young to feast upon. The Grakil must have picked up on the beast’s trail and followed it to this cave and fought to save this hatchling's life, giving his own in sacrifice.

Rathe cursed himself for listening to the Jerkrenak. "He was probably just stalling, hoping this hatchling would bleed to death before I realized the truth."

A stifled cry drew his attention back to the hatchling. Rathe scooped up a handful of ash and pressed it to the leg stump. The hatchling screamed, then fainted. Satisfied that the bleeding was stemmed, Rathe scooped the youngster into his arms. As he did so a glint of light caught his eye. The Jerkrenak's fang lay propped against a small rock, it’s glossy surface reflecting the dim light.

Rathe smiled as a plan formed. Capture meant nothing now. His sokae stood with its blade buried in the Jerkrenak's neck. And this fang would be a great trophy. It could be the means to which he finally proved himself. He scooped the black spike up, his mind whirring with the tale he would tell of slaying the beast, and rescuing this hatchling.

Yet in the back of his plotting mind a single voice wormed.

"Your path to doom will be certain."

***

So there you have it. Rathe of Yanguch's destiny has been put in motion, and his life will be one beyond anything he could ever imagine. Just a few short Saurian years after this encounter Rathe will discover an ancient secret of Sauria’s past and will be forced to decide between dooming his Empire or dooming his world.

That is the tale found within the pages of Starfire. I truly hope that one day everyone here can share in that adventure with me.

--S-man

--------------------

Read "Riter's Bloc," the personal blog by the author of this post.



Posted by Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 5 comments links to this post
Monday, January 22, 2007
 

The Fang--Part 2


Part 2 of 3 from S-Man's introductory story:
----------------------------
Guided by the touch of stone and probing with his sokae, Rathe followed the winding passage of the cave. He strained for any sound other than the quiet click of his claws on stone. Time distorted each second drawing out for eternity, each step a lifetime, while at the same time it seemed only moments had passed since he left the entrance.

All at once the savage sound of two creatures locked in combat rebounded through the tunnel. Rathe froze in his steps, listening as the unseen beasts tore at each other. His breath froze when he recognized words among the roars ..."the only"..."abomination" and others too muddled to understand, yet clearly speech.

Silence abruptly claimed the tunnels again, and for a moment the darkness seemed to deepen. Rathe remained still, barely daring to breathe, for a long moment. Waiting for the victor to spring forward and rip him to shreds. But death did not come springing from the black to claim him. Finally, Rathe eased his way forward once more. He rounded a near corner to discover the glow of daylight illuminating an archway leading into a large cavern.

As he edged closer, Rathe could see a large hole in the ceiling that spilled the sunlight across the cavern below, flecks of ash dusting the beam. Two large forms lay on the bloody floor below. His blood chilled as he recognized the mangled bodies.

A Grakil Chae lay nearest, its grey flesh shredded, its two thick legs splayed at odd angles. The noble warrior's long tail trailed away behind it, clawed fist at the end stained with the blood of his enemy. His bulky head and thick neck lay twisted at an impossible angle. Two ugly gashes rent the back of the neck.

Beyond the Grakil Chae lay a beast right out of Rathe's nightmares, a Jerkrenak. Many a nights as a hatchling he had woken screaming as the vicious creatures hunted him down. Blood enemies of the Grakil, no Jerkrenak had been seen this deep within the empire in years. But there was no doubting that is what this creature was. Its narrow snout sported a long horn, and above the crushed lower jaw, Rathe could see one of the beast's killer fangs. Short, thick spines covered its body from the shoulders to the tip of its tail from which sprouted four rear-arching spikes.

Rathe slipped into the chamber, a morbid curiosity drawing him closer to the carnage. He stooped over the corpse of the Grakil. Even in death he could sense the sheer power the warrior wielded in life. The sheer number of grievous wounds that the body bore was testament to his endurance.

A black protrusion from one of the gashes on the neck drew Rathe's gaze. He grasped the object and pulled it free. A foot long fang glistened wetly in his hand.

"Be careful how yi hanle that, boy."

Rathe jumped back, instantly regretting it as pain flaired through his side. The harsh and muffled voice spoke with a strange, slurred accent. His eyes locked on the Jerkrenak, now propped up on a foreleg, looking at Rathe.

"What’s the matter yi never hird someone talkin afore?"

"You’re dead!" Rathe said, cursing himself internally for letting his guard down.

"Oy we’ve git irselves a smart one here." A fit of coughing wracked the Jerkrenak's body.

The light shifted slightly and Rathe saw the extent of the Jerkrenak's wounds. A horrible blow had crushed the entire left side of the creature's face, skin ripped away showing bone, an eye missing from its socket. That the beast was alive, let alone able to form words seemed impossible to Rathe.

He looked back at the ravaged corpse of the Grakil and noted the bloody trails in the ash-strewn floor that marked the course of the battle. "Jerkrenak." The name twisted on Rathe's tongue. "You are aptly named."

"Jerkrenak is what I am, 'tis not mi name." Eyes filled with endless pain fixed on Rathe's. "Yea I am a Beast of Slaughter, though not in the way that yir thinking. Call mi Durston, as that is the name I’m known by."

"You murdered this Grakil, a loyal warrior of the Empire!"

"Loyal! Hah, thir jist usin' thi 'mpire to fulfill thir own ends."

Rathe roared in anger. "The Empire gives life to those who serve it, the Grakil know this. They have served since the first Melgor's ascension. They're loyalty is beyond reproach."”

"Ah the stubbornness of youth. So certain that you know evertyhing." Durstin's head dropped to his foreleg and his voice softened, "Listen to mi hatchlin', I was old when the Saurn first looked to the stars, I saw the Dread fill their hearts and lived through the Chaos. I’ve seen the rise and fall of more Melgor than you know lived, and have fought the Grakil since before I can remember.

"There is more to this world than you know or can see. The path that your precious Melgor walks will lead this world to great peril..."

Rathe snarled. "You speak words of poison Durstin..."

"Yea, poison!" Durstin snarled in return. "Poison not meant for yi but the shroud that covers yir soul and entangles yir feet. My journey is near over, as it is will all my kind, the coming storm will sweep us aside for our pilgrimage is complete and our destination at hand. But yir's is just beginnin', make sure yi know who yer guide is, there is only one true guide for this pilgrimage, and only one path."

"Your words are lost on me, beast." Rathe grinned at the dying Jerkrenak. "You intend to confuse me and sway me into betrayal of my people. I have heard the tales of your kind, speaking with a sweet tongue, luring the simple minded and weak willed into snares and turning them against their own. I have seen them myself, wallowing in their own self-pity in the Skereta mines, their wasting beliefs eating them faster than even the poison in their veins can. Your guide is doing precious little to light their paths."

Anger burned in the Jerkrenak's eyes and Rathe flinched back, certain the beast was about to lunge...

----------------------

Read "Riter's Bloc," the blog by the author of this post.

Posted by Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 5 comments links to this post
Thursday, January 18, 2007
 

The Fang--Part 1


Shnakvorum Rikoyoch! (Greetings, friends.)

I did it over the holidays--finished my manuscript! Still feeling a little buzzed. I mean, sure there’s still lots of editing that needs to happen, but the fact that the story is actually written out in a complete form still boggles me a bit.

Many of you have stated that you can’t wait until you get to read Starfire, however that day is still sometime off in the future. However, Bailey is graciously allowing me to share a short story set on Sauria here on Scenes & Beans. It will run today, and next Monday and Tuesday.

The Fang is sort of a prequel to Starfire. It was a piece I wrote to help me get to know Rathe, the protagonist of this story and of my novel.

I hope you enjoy this little glimpse of Sauria.

***

Rough stone tore Rathe's palms as he stumbled through the gaping maw of the cave. He tore away the makeshift leaf filter that covered his mouth and sucked in the cool underground air, soothing his burning lungs. Pain lanced through his side with each breath, testament to cracked ribs on his right side.

He turned to the entrance and gazed into the ash-clogged air outside. Grey blanketed the world like a shroud, quickly covering any tracks or scent that would lead the trackers to him. Satisfied that he would be safe for the duration of the ash fall, Rathe staggered farther into the cave. His claws echoed hollowly on the stone floor, their quiet clack, clack, clack bouncing into the darkness.

The musical trickle of water sounded nearby, and Rathe angled toward it. Sudden wetness at his feet alerted him to the presence of a shallow pool. He lowered gingerly to the ground and stuck his snout into the chill liquid, easing his thirst, though the effort intensified the pain in his ribs. The cool, moist rock felt good against his hot skin, and he rolled onto his left side, stretching out to his full twelve-foot length. His tail-tip lazily slapped against the ground as drowsiness flowed over him, and the water's flow sung him to sleep.

A shrill cry jolted Rathe from soothing darkness, pain seared through his right side and down his tail. Through the agony the fading echo of the cry played at the edges of his mind. He groaned as he rolled onto his belly and forced a few swallows of water despite the fire in his side.

After a moment's rest he pushed to his feet, swaying slightly as his stiff muscled adjusted to his weight. He cocked his head and listened, but whatever had made the sound had gone silent, or the cry had been only the vestige of a nightmare.


A glint of light drew his attention to the cave entrance. The remaining half of his sokae lay just inside the entrance. The curved blade winking in the renewed light filtering through a lessened ash fall. He staggered to the entrance and slowly retrieved the weapon. Hefting its five-foot shaft gave him a renewed sense of confidence.

His gaze wandered the gray-toned landscape outside the cave. Ash blanketed the valley, yet even now bright flecks of color began stirring, as klants uprooted themselves and began skittering about, feasting on the bounty, their light-red fronds swaying as if in a gentle breeze. Other plants joined in, some slowly moving about, others making due with what fell nearby, slowly leeching away at the nutrients expelled from the earth.

Just down the slope the Hekaret river rushed along its course, choked with the ash. Rathe marveled at the fortune that had washed him ashore so near to this shelter. By all rights he never should have emerged from the torrent after his failed fording. But the same rock that had cracked his ribs had enabled him to reach the shore. And though he had lost half his weapon, and all of his gear, at least he was still alive.

Rathe craned his neck and surveyed the damage done to his right side. A wide black-green bruise spread from just behind his shoulder, over his hip to just past the base of his tail. The skin over his ribs was torn, but he was close enough to shedding that only a few scrapes showed blood, already scabbing over.

A klant wandered close to the cave entrance, little spurts of dust spouted from under its hard shell as it moved. With a quick thrust, Rathe speared the plant on the end of his sokae. He grimaced as the impaled plant's legs continued moving as if nothing had happened. A savage jerk tore one wrigling leg free, releasing a pungent odor and dripping sap. Rathe's lips formed an involuntary snarl as he lifted the limb, crushed the hard exterior between his teeth, and sucked the pulp out.

Three legs later he tossed the boxy plant back into the ash-covered valley. Despite a slight queasiness Rathe felt more energized. He turned his gaze back to the landscape, scanning for any movement that wasn't a plant.

A bloodcurdling scream tore out of the depths of the cavern, chased by a savage roar. Rathe spun around, scouring the darkness behind him. But the cries echoed into a skin-crawling silence. He backed toward the entrance a step at a time, but then froze as a new sound reached his ears.

The guttural cry of thorniks on the hunt sounded from the valley. A group of trackers, barely holding the beasts under control, appeared from behind a grouping of rocks on the far side of the river. There was no way they would have missed the scream, or the roar. Rathe shrunk back into the shadow of the cave entrance, as the group stared in his direction. Three weeks of dodging and hiding, and now he was finally trapped. It would take time for the trackers to cross the river, but even so, with his cracked ribs he'd never be able to outrun them.

He turned back to the black cave depths. Death waited within the abyss, he felt it. But better to chance death than face the humiliation of capture. With his sokae held in front of him and his right hand pressed to the stone wall, he took soft steps into the dark...

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Visit "Riters Bloc," the personal blog of the author of this post

Posted by Bailey Truitt @ 8:47 PM 6 comments links to this post
 

Helping All Year Long


Hey there everyone. Pastor Hank here with a belated Happy New Year to all.

Well, like the rest of the Scenes and Beans bloggers, I had an after-Christmas post written, which now seems a little late. But actually, this post is about Christmas all year long.

In Kanner Lake lots of folks give generously to the needy at Christmastime. Kanner Lake is not a large town, and New Community Church is not a large congregation. However, I love my flock because they have a large heart, and it shows in so many ways. Kanner Lake depended a lot on the lumber trade, and with all of the regulations and environmental concerns of the last couple of decades, the business is not as lucrative as it has been in the past. We are not a rich town, and there are a fair number of families in need.

For many years we did the traditional food basket for a needy family in the town. It was a nice gesture, but it seemed like we could do a little more. Then about seven years ago a dear saint suggested that Jesus didn't just care about people around His birthday. He loved them all year long. As a pastor, I was challenged in a big way with that word. And I'm proud to say the church was too, and stepped up to the challenge.

Now each year we watch carefully for any families that our people may know of that are struggling. Maybe the husband is out of work or the wife is sick. Whatever the reason, we find a family we can "adopt." We start with a special collection of food at Christmas, along with clothes or toys that may be appropriate. But we don't stop at Christmas. We agree to partner with the family for the next year to see what we can do to help them with whatever their needs. If the mom needs some babysitting to be able to work or go to the store, we help with that. The church bookkeeper may help them with budgeting skills. So many times they have just had a bad run, and knowing there is someone watching their back helps them get back on their feet.

We have also had the joy of having some of these families become part of our church and be able to help others as they were helped. That to me is just awesome. Not every family has decided to be a part of us, and that was never a requirement. Jesus told us to love people, not to make them exactly like us. We're not super holy here, but we try to do the best we can with what we're given. We have people with good hearts, and they truly make this outreach happen. I can't do it all as the pastor.

And we wouldn't be doing it at all if it weren't for a baby in a manger 2007 years ago.
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Visit "Spoiled for the Ordinary"--the personal blog of the author of this post

Posted by Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 2 comments links to this post
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
 

New Years Resolutions of a Retired English Teacher


Well, finally, we're back on. None of us took too kindly to our blog being hijacked. Computers. Really, I think the world was better without them. Anyway, although it's rather late now to run a New Years resolution post--it's what I had ready two weeks ago; therefore 'tis what you will get:

If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it, as my mother always said. So it’s about time that I start exercising this mind of mine before I lose it--like certain other people I know. So here are ten of my New Year resolutions:

1. Clean out the boxes leftover from teaching.


2. Sign up for one of those high-tech word-a-day lists.

3. Buy an updated copy of my writing manual.

4. Memorize one grammar rule every week.

5. Read two classic books every month.

6. Write a book analysis every month for the library’s “What’s New?” newsletter.

7. Memorize a new poem once a month.

8. Encourage my best friend to stretch her literary horizons once a week.

9. Post biweekly how my resolutions are going.

10. Write a 1,000-word essay on why anyone would be crazy enough to keep these resolutions.

As you can see, I'd rather just ring in the new year and leave it at that.

--Bev Trexel

Posted by Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 6 comments links to this post
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
 

Is This Thing On?


Yes, I'm "tapping the mic" to see if it's turned on. Suddenly it appears our blog might be fixed. We received no notice of such, but when I tried something that never worked before (posting a draft) it worked! So now I'm trying to post for real. If you're reading this--yup, it's on. Which means we'll be back tomorrow with our regular roundup of bloggers. We've missed you! Hope you've missed us, too.

-- Bailey

Posted by Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 3 comments links to this post