Friday, January 30, 2009

Books and More Books

Okay, Mom and I just recounted our books. Take a guess on how many books we have in our house. This does not include cookbooks. Have fun!

At the Foot of the Falls

Since today in Friday again, here is another story. This is the first "assignment" story. Anna was so kind as to make "assignments" for my short stories. Here is the assignment, picture and the story. That way you can all see how well I followed my instructions. What grade would you give this story?

Picture #1
Characters: 3 children
Word count: 1000 min. 1500 max (my count was 1123)
Tense: 3rd Special Instructions:
Story should occur in one setting

Time Given to Complete Story: 2 weeks. (I began on the 25th and finished yesterday 29th)

At the Foot of the Falls

“Come on you guys, hurry up!” Kelly hollered racing to the middle of the green meadow, her eyes on the cascading water which fell with a thunderous roar down the cliff before her. Never in all her ten years had she seen anything like it. It was fascinating, incredible!
“Kelly, wait for us!”
Kelly stopped, her eyes never leaving those falls for an instant as she waited for her brothers. Kyle, though faster than his sister when it came to running, was now going slowly, helping Kerry carefully across the grass towards the open meadow were Kelly now stood.
“Oh,” Kerry breathed, when at last the two boys had reached their sister. “How ... how... I can’t describe it! Can’t we sit down right here? It makes me dizzy looking up so far at it.”
With great care and gentleness Kyle assisted Kerry to a seat on the sun warmed earth. For several minutes the children sat without saying a word as they stared mesmerized at the beautiful Yosemite Falls. All three children looked more or less alike: nut brown hair, brown eyes and a sprinkling of freckles. They were all the same height but while the other two looked robust and full of life, Kerry was thin and pale. He had just spent the last five months in a hospital recovering from a serious illness and had only been released a few days ago.
“Kyle,” Kelly broke the stillness. “What do you think of it?”
Kyle shook his head. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Can you imagine what the first white man who saw this thought? Maybe he camped right here.”
“He would have had plenty of water,” chuckled Kerry. “Just listen to it roar.”
“Sounds kind of like the trains back home.”
Kelly giggled. “Only this one doesn’t have a whistle.”
Kerry looked sober “I don’t remember what a train sounds like really. All I got to hear were the sirens, beeping monitors, squeaky shoes on the hard white tiles and voices of strangers. I’m more than ready to go home.” He looked at his thin white hands which he knew were so weak that he couldn’t even hold a full water bottle for long.
All three fell silent. Birds twittered and sang in the trees, and a bee buzzed around the few flowers in the grass. Kerry picked a small yellow flower absently and looked at it, thinking of all the hot house flowers he had in the hospital and his longing for something real, something that had grown out in the sun and wind, even a dandelion. The bee buzzed closer and alighted on his flower. Kerry didn’t move as the bee crawled around the flower and at last flew away.
“We missed you,” Kelly whispered softly remembering the ache she had felt each meal time when Kerry’s seat was empty.
“I wonder,” Kyle began when the stillness had become almost unbearable. “Does that waterfall ever stop? I mean does the river or wherever that water is coming from ever dry up?”
“I don’t know. Let’s ask Dad when he comes back.”
Quietness once again descended on the triplets, each one busy with his or her own thoughts. This was the first time they had been alone together for more than fifteen minutes since Kerry had become sick. Now together, they didn’t seem to know what to say. They felt different now, older, more grown up and, though no one would have admitted it for the world, they all felt just a little shy of each other.
Kerry was beginning to get tired from all the excitement and lay back in the grass. He squinted and finally shut his eyes as the sun’s bright rays shone in his face. Kyle at once moved so that his shadow would fall on his brother’s face. Kerry opened his eyes and smiled.
“I didn’t think I would get this tired of sitting so soon.”
“Do you want to go back?” Kyle asked anxiously. “We can if you want to.”
Kerry shook his head. “No, I like it here.” He paused and looked at the towering cliffs. “Do you think,” he began slowly, his eyes moving to his brother’s and then to his sister’s face, “that I will ever be strong enough to climb something like that?”
Kelly and Kyle looked at each other. What should they say? They didn’t know what the doctor had told Mom and Dad before they left the hospital.
Kerry was watching their faces. “Do you?” he asked again.
Kyle spoke then, “I don’t know. Maybe you will.”
“You are already climbing mountains,” Kelly said softly. “We all are. Mom said each year has many mountains. Some are higher than others and more rugged. I guess kind of like those right by the falls. You know, where it looks impossible to ever get up. And others are gentle with good, well worn trails. Like the ones we used to climb back home. She said the harder the mountain looks, the more we learn to lean on Jesus for help to climb it. And the higher the mountain top is, the closer we become to God on the top. She told me this one day when... when...” her voice choked a little, and she blinked back the tears. “Well, it was when you were so sick. At the first I mean, and I... I asked Mom why... it all happened, and she said it was a mountain range.” Kelly looked away from her brothers and fought back the tears that threatened to spill.
Kerry reached out and gently squeezed her hand.
“Dad told me the same thing,” Kyle added. “Only he also said that there were valleys after each mountain. Some, he said, were dry and like a desert and took a lot of courage to go through, and some were green, like this meadow, and were given so we could rest and gain strength for the next mountain ahead. I think we are in a green valley now.” He smiled at Kerry.
Kerry smiled back and after a few minutes spoke. “Well, we will rest then in our green valley and then together, with God’s help, we’ll climb the next mountain. Who knows, maybe there will be a thirst refreshing waterfall on it.”
The three children smiled at one another and then gazed once more at the magnificent scene before them. Though they were young, they were learning to face each mountain before them with faith and trust in their Saviour and Guide. Knowing that if He went with them, there was nothing to fear, and they could climb the highest mountain and cross the driest valley, for the river of life would be there when most needed.

Friday, January 23, 2009

In A Nest

It is time I put another story up. Don't laugh too hard at this one.:) And as a side note, this story was published before in the Pickwick Paper. It is based partly on a true story shared with me by someone who lives in Colorado. Have fun!

It was a lovely spring morning on the farm. The older boys and Papa were out in the barn milking the cows. Louise had gone out to gather the eggs as Annette, who usually gathered them, was sick in bed. Louise enjoyed gathering eggs especially on such a pretty morning. Everything was still waking up, the grass was damp with the night’s dew, and a meadowlark sang loudly on a nearby fence rail. Louise’s thoughts were not on the eggs she was placing in her basket. A breeze tossed her dark hair and whipped her dress around her ankles. It was a perfect day.
Louise had gathered almost a dozen eggs, when reaching into the next nest she felt something move! She let out a shriek and almost dropped her basket. Staring at the nest in horror she thought, “What have I just touched?” She didn’t dare put her hand in the nest again. On seeing a slight movement among the straw, she screamed once more just as Luke, James, Andrew and Papa arrived.
“What happened?” they demanded a little breathlessly.
“Something moved in that nest,” Louise shuddered, pointing with a trembling hand to the straw which was still moving slightly. James reached boldly in and dragged out a large black snake! Stifling another cry that rose to her lips, Louise looked away. How the boys laughed!
“Louise,” Luke laughed at his twin. “It was just a nice little black snake.”
“I don’t care, he scared me!” Louise had a dread of snakes which her brothers thought ridiculous. “I don’t think I dare gather any more eggs.”
After a little more teasing from the three boys and even some from Papa, Luke stayed to help her. He put his hand into the next nest and exclaimed, “Oh!” in a startled voice.
Louise gave a stifled squeal.
“Oh, it was only an egg,” Luke said with a teasing little grin.
“You!” Louise exclaimed and gave him a slight push.
When there were only three nests left, Luke tried coaxing his twin to get the eggs again. Louise shivered and shook her head.
“Look,” he reasoned reaching confidently into another nest, “there aren’t any more snakes.”
Only two lone nests remained unchecked. “Come on, Louise,” he urged. “I’ll get these, and you gather from that last one.”
Slowly, with great reluctance, Louise reached into the last nest. Immediately she let out a piercing scream and jumped back in terror! There was another snake! Luke doubled over with laughter, but Louise shrieked again as the snake poked his head out, his small red tongue flicking in and out and his black beady eyes gleaming. Luke was of no help, for he was bent double with laughter while tears ran down his cheeks from his merriment. As the snake began to wriggle out of the nest, Louise’s scream rose in a crescendo louder and louder, and she whirled around to run to the house. As she turned, she bumped into Andrew.
“Andrew!” Louise implored clutching his arm frantically, “Do something!”
For a moment, he looked at her, the snake, and Luke. Striding over, he caught the snake, which really wasn’t very big, and without a moment’s hesitation dropped it down the back of Luke’s shirt! The sight of his face made Louise stand still for a minute and watch. Luke’s laughter stopped suddenly as he felt the snake wriggling against his skin. One look at Andrew and he burst into uncontrollable laughter once more. Shaking with mirth he untucked his shirt and let the snake fall to the ground. At that Andrew joined in the laughter. So Louise left the two of them to their merriment and their snakes and went inside. “See if I ever gather eggs again!” she thought as the boys’ laughter still rang out from inside the safe, quiet kitchen.
The End

Sunday, January 18, 2009

"Home Fires of the Great War" just a snipit...

Here is a glimps of my book in the writing. This happens in 1916, in the second year of "letters."

A sudden sound has caused me to turn. There on a rock near the edge of the cliff is Alan in full Scotch attire playing his bagpipe. He too seems to be lost in watching the sunset, for only soft notes come from his instrument. Now the notes have become a song, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” Oh, Emma, I can’t describe the music. It is different somehow from Alan’s usual playing. The notes are full and rich yet have a tender yearning or longing in them as they float out over the water and the village. When I look behind me, I can see the doors of the village houses opening and quietly the people gather to listen and watch. I can see Mama, Edith and Mark on our porch, but not a sound can be heard except the bagpipe and the waves breaking against the rocks. Alan has ended “Amazing Grace” and has begun “Auld Lang Syne.” Emma, I know now what he is doing, he is saying good bye. Good bye to all the people and places he loves, for tomorrow morning he and Finlay leave for war. Will he come back? Will either of them come back? Oh, I pray the Lord would keep them safe, and Papa. Emma, I. . . The notes are breaking! Don’t break now, Alan, keep it strong. There is a step behind me. Mr. McLean has come up to join his son. Nothing is missing from his attire as a scotchman. Kilt, bray, sporran, claymore at his side and bagpipe over his shoulder. With firm even steps he approaches Alan. Shoulder to shoulder they stand. There is no break now in the music. The song ends and is carried away on the evening breeze.
“Aye lad,” Mr. McLean’s voice comes to me in the stillness. “We’ll ne’er be forgettin’ thee, donnae ye ken that?”
“Aye,” Alan’s voice is steady now.
“Then donnae break ye’re mither’s hert wi’ such dreeful songs. Her een are upon ye frae oor hame, an’ it’s sair her hert will be if ye are gang far to war wi’ out singin’ oor favorite hymn. Be ye able to sing?”
There is silence. Alan is gazing out over the water. His shoulders straighten, and he replies, “Aye, wi’ David I am.” He now turns his gaze to the village while a lively march comes from his bagpipe. David and Mrs. McLean are coming out of the village. The others linger and now are turning back to their houses, no doubt thinking that this farewell has become too personal to watch. I had best be going too; the light is fading though it will be a little while before it is completely gone. Alan had just called down to the villagers asking them to please stay. Mr. McLean has begun a melody. Alan’s rich tenor and David’s perfect harmony blend together in “My Ain Countrie.”
“I am far frae my hame, an’ I’m weary aften whiles,
For the langed-for hame-bringin’, an’ my Faither’s welcome smiles.”
Oh, Emma, I couldn’t write the song while they sang it. And I couldn’t describe it either. I could only sit motionless as the music swelled and dipped around me. Thoughts floated through my mind, “Would we ever hear that rich and beautiful voice again? Would Alan ever come back to this “hame” or would he be “gangin’ noo, unto his Saviour’s breast.” I know we will somewhere meet again. If not on earth “flecked wi’ flowers, mony tinted, fresh an’ gay” than in “oor ain countrie.”

Friday, January 16, 2009

First Story - No Title

Here is the first story from this year based on a calendar picture. And sorry, I couldn't think of a title. Let me know if you come up with one. Enjoy!

A bitter wind struck the two riders full in the face as they crested the ridge. The view of the Sierra Blanca was partly obscured by the low clouds which had moved in after dawn. The towering peaks were still visible, the white of their snow etched against the deep blue sky. The riders reined in, ignoring the frigid bite of the wind to take in the scene. The valley lay before them in the shadow of the clouds while the ridge they were on was in full sunlight. The horses stamped with impatience, tossing their heads, each breath a frosty white cloud in the clear air, and the saddles jingled. The older rider pulled his hat lower over his face to try to block the wind and glanced back over his shoulder at the way they had just come.
“Let’s ride,” he said, noting the impatience of his companion.
No need to urge the horses, for only a slight hint was needed to set them both off at a brisk canter. The sound of the frozen grasses under the horses’ hoofs was almost the only sound to be heard for miles. Scarcely a word was spoken between the two riders who had been up long before dawn. For over an hour they rode, the younger rider paying no attention to either the scene around them or the clouds above. It was the older rider who kept alert, first glancing around and behind them as they rode and then looking with growing anxiety at the fast gathering clouds that blotted out the towering mountain peaks above them. On they rode, ever on, scarcely slackening their horses brisk pace for anything.
The wind was growing more bitter with each passing moment, and the older rider sensed a storm was on its way.
“There’s a cabin aint too far from here,” he announced, speaking loudly to be heard through the wind. “We can rest the horses an’ have a bite to eat.”
His companion made no answer save for a slight inclination of the head.
The horses were blowing hard when the two riders pulled them to a halt in front of a ramshackle cabin. No smoke came from the chimney and the latchstring of the door was out. A tiny shed built onto the cabin was just large enough for the two horses.
The older man soon had a fire blazing in the fireplace and pulled out some cold meat from his pack.
“Come on,” he called to his comrade. “Set yerself down here and get a bite or two. This fire ought to thaw ya out ‘for long.”
The friend thus urged removed his hat and took a seat on a three legged stool near the fire. He was a dark haired man, rugged in looks with a full dark beard and the build of a man who had spent most of his life out in the wilds. He ate rapidly and in silence, every now and then turning to glance out the one window.
The wind shook the old cabin and whistled and roared around the chimney. The younger man suddenly sprang to his feet knocking over the stool and strode to the door saying,
“I’ll go saddle up.”
“Tain’t any use, Ty.” called out his companion. “We’d never make it. That storm is bound to hit ‘for too long. I’ve been watching it all morning. It be a sight better to jest stay here the night and strike out first thing in the morning. We’d never make it tonight,” he said again.
Ty turned, and his voice was almost harsh as he said, “You can stay if you want, Carson. I can’t. We don’t know how long that letter took to reach us. Anything could have happened by now. I’m going. Come or stay as you please.” The wind slammed the door back against the side of the cabin as Ty strode out to the shed.
For a moment Carson sat where he was, staring at the open door. Then with a sigh he stood, picked up his pack and put out the fire. He could understand his companion’s impatience to be off, though it seemed rather foolish to leave the cabin in weather like this.
Several hours later, after traveling with what speed they could through the bitterly cold wind, blowing snow and growing darkness, Ty suddenly reined in his horse.
“I know the trail. Follow me,” was all he said, or shouted rather, and turning his horse to the left, he set off with Carson right behind. Soon they reached a wooded area and were somewhat sheltered from the fierce winds and driving snow. The trail twisted and turned, now going up the side of the mountain and now back down. At last a light glimmered through the trees in front of them. Both men, more from long habit than anything else, pulled up their horses and in silence looked searchingly at the light, listening all the while. Then, still in silence, they slowly approached. A cabin made of roughly hued logs stood in a little clearing, sheltered behind by a towering cliff which somewhat blocked the fierceness of the winter storm. Light streamed through two small windows as the riders approached. Ty dismounted, and with one hand on his gun, called out,
The door flew open, and a young girl stood in the doorway peering into the dark. In another moment Ty was beside her and had her in his arms, while she clung, laughing and crying to his neck.
“I’m back, Sally. Everything will be all right now,” Ty soothed.
Carson, without a word, took his horse as well as Ty’s, and disappeared in the direction of the small barn he had noticed. Ty, with Sally still clinging to him, entered the cabin, and the door closed behind them.

In the Beginning

Well, this is really a first. I have never done a blog before, and I am still a little unsure about this. As you will quickly find out, this is not a "share all about me and tell you all what I have been doing" blog. This is a reading room blog. It is for me to post my stories, poems and I might even give you small samples of my book "Home Fires of the Great War." Another thing you should know is that this blog won't be updated everyday. I thought I would mention that fact before I get started too far. (nice grammer) You see, I can't write stories all day, every day. But when I get a story or poem written that I am willing to share, I will post it. It will save a lot of emails. And if you want to read it, fine. If not, that is fine too. Comments would be helpful as I wish to improve my writing. And so, to end this very first blog post (I don't know if I like the sound of that) I will put on one of my favorite poems. This poem was written in one evening in summer.

There are bugs upon the rooftops
There are bugs beneath the floors
There are bugs within the bedrooms
There are bugs behind the doors!

There are bugs inside each closet
There are bugs in every drawer
There are bugs all down the hallway
There are bugs and bugs galore!

There are bugs within the showers
There are bugs down in the sink
There are bugs that sting and bite me
There are even bugs that stink!

There are bugs when I am sleeping
There are bugs when I do dine
There are bugs when I am working
Of the creepy, crawly kind!

There are bugs with lots of colors
There are bugs with lots of legs
There are bugs that look quite ugly
And all of them lay eggs!

There are bugs that I can step on
There are bugs that I can smash
There are bugs I dread to look at
Like the ones within the trash!

Oh, I wish the bugs would leave me
That all would go away
That they would cease to bug me
All twenty-four hours a day!