Terry Persun, the author of The Doublesight series: http://www.terrypersun.com/#!fantasy/c1bjl will be posting a guest blog post on my site tomorrow morning during a two week long Blogswap tour announcement for his newest released novel, Gargoyle. I will be also guest posting a blog page on his site Friday. I’ve had the honor of reading an earlier edition of Gargoyle and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves the Fantasy or Science fiction genre’s. You can see more of the guest posts by other fellow Booktrope authors on his page, http://www.terrypersun.com/ and you can see all his works on his website as well. Hope you all drop by and see what wisdom Terry has to share, and don’t forget to check out my post Friday on his blog!
Here I was in our office yesterday, re-pre-editing chapter thirteen of Atolovus, titled Crossroads, before I recreate the manuscript for my new editor when I hear a noise in the bathroom/ laundryroom. It’s nothing much, just enough to gain my attention and make me swivel about in my chair to scan the two rooms through the open doors. I’m listening for anything more, but all is silent. What the? I think as my curiosity gets the better of me.
I finish the sentence on I’m working on, “As the Darkfeeder’s attention returns to Tau, realization of her situation reflects in her sultry green eyes.” I get up and cautiously wander into the two antechambers, scanning them as I try to find whatever made the noise.
Nothing on the floor, the toilet, the file cabinet or the safe that is out of place. Nothing knocked over either, same is true of the laundry room. “Weird!” I say aloud before running upstairs to get a cup of coffee. Getting back to work, things go along fine for a time, then I’m interrupted again: Tank, Clatter, grind, grind, grind. Now I spring to my feet, and dart to the bathroom, flicking on the light.
Ah-haa! My shaving cream is laying on the floor below the white pedestal sink! How did that haaaapppennn…. I ask myself suspiciously, looking up to the narrow shelf I keep my shaving cream and hydrometer protected behind five thick hinge-top wine-bottles. Yes…they are all empty, and have been for many years, the product of Christmas gifts years back when my brother was trying to make mead.
And then it moves, and my heart jumps a few beats.
Winding behind the bottles and peeking out from where my shaving cream was is the head of a snake! “Seriously?? How the frick did you get in here,” I ask it as it tilts its head as if asking me the same thing. It moves a bit while flicking its tongue at me. It’s got similar markings to a boa, but they are a light brown and the snake is about two-and–a half feet long. Just a bull snake, quite harmless really, I’d like to wait till it slips out a bit more before I just grab it behind the neck, but if it struggles I’m going to have a mess. Fine, I need another solution. I need something to put it into, and something to both hold it while I do that.
To the shop I hurriedly go; lest it slip into some other spot even more difficult to extract it from. Walking slowly past my heavy bags while scanning for the right thing to hold it, I discover a narrow but deep box. Perfect! I grab it, now looking for the right tool to guide it into the box with. I see nothing I like. Hey! Maybe a pair of tongs would do the trick, Hmmmm I have some long ones in the kitchen.
Sooo, back across the deck, and up the stairs where my eyes land on my collapsible rake. It’s a small form of one, and the perfect length and size for my need, *Snatch!* and off I go back to the bathroom.
When I arrive, the snake is busy climbing the wall toward the ceiling and freezes as I pop around the door. It’s making its way over the mirror, and into the cubby selves on the right. As soon as I put the box down and stand up, it stares at me.
“Welllll…” I say curiously with a friendly tone, “What do you think you are doing? This is not a good place for you. There’s no food that you are going to like in here. I’m not going to hurt you, I’m just going to move you back outside where you’ll be much happier.”
I raise the rake slowly so as not to frighten it, but it knows what I’m doing, or at the very least, it doesn’t like the look of the rake, and elects to slither quickly up into the cubbies.
Finally, I can see most of its body; Nice! I try to get the far prong behind it’s body then lift it up and place it in the box, but that only caused it to bolt for the highest cubby which is full of rolls of old coins I’ve collected for my son. I’ll give all of them to him when I transcend this reality for the next.
But now I am faced with a quandary. All four rolls are open, and standing on end, quarter, dime, nickel, and penny. All the half dollars and silver dollars are in the safe. My visitor has decided to wrap itself around the rolls and curl up behind them. Fantastic! I can’t get to it without spilling coins all over the bathroom, the sink, and the toilet. I have to get the rolls out of the way to reach it, but how………….?
The tongs! I’ll lift them off the shelf with the tongs, and if it strikes, well I’ll just have to hope I don’t have to take the sink apart to collect the coins. I return shortly with the tongs. As I reach up toward the rolls, it sticks its head out between the quarter and dime rolls and hisses at me loudly. Ahhh, it knows what I’m up to! Interesting.
I start talking to it in a calm, even tone, reassuring it I wish it no harm, and I’m only interested in taking it back where it will be most comfortable as I grasp the first roll. Picking it up, I place it down by the bottles. Then I repeat the process with the dimes. It has now wound itself up and looks like a lumpy and deflated six-pound Valeo ball.
“Almost there, I tell it, just be cool, nothing bad is going to happen to you. You’ll be just fine.” I manage to get the nickel roll out of the way, but now, it’s had enough. The barricade is practically gone and safety isn’t any longer assured. It bolts for the top of the cubby trying to climb the wall toward the ceiling once again. When it stretches enough, I’ll be able to get the prongs under it, and it’ll all be good.
With my right, I’m trying to get the rake under it and with my left, I’m trying to get the last roll, but the snake decides to wrap its tail around the penny roll as I get the rake under it. There go the pennies everywhere.
Ignoring them, I pick the snake up and gently direct it in to the box. Closing it, I take it out back down to the blackberry bushes and the creek where I coax it out of the box by talking to it, and staying clear of the opening. After a couple minutes it cautiously moves toward the mouth of the box, stopping from time to time to glance up at me, trying to gauge my intentions, and finally slithers off into the brush.
Now I just need to clean up the mess. I find all the coins, everything goes back where it should, and then it strikes me; our basement is solid concrete. It has two small windows, both closed, and my wife refers to it as the dungeon. How did that snake get into our dungeon? There is absolutely no way for it to get in. If it had somehow come from upstairs, it would have had to slink past three cats and a dog. We don’t have carpet for obvious reasons, so no cover there. How weird! Maybe… I think to myself, it’s a blink snake at least that has plausibility.
So what is a Blink Snake you ask? It’s similar to the Blink Dog. They basically teleport over short distances, say fifteen or twenty feet, but they can do it over long periods of time when they must, and they are not susceptible to dizziness, nausea, or lengthy disorientation. They travel in packs, and use their ability for hunting and defense. They themselves are not known to be evil, but then, anything can happen—even blink snakes!
Blink snakes are now listed in my digest of unique Solanarian creatures, and just as a side thought, who knows what blink species you may find in your worlds 🙂
We got back late Monday evening after touring Glacier National Park and Yellowstone. It was a nine-day experience, and of the two, I preferred Glacier National Park hands down. If you haven’t been there, make it a point to see it. What glaciers are left will be gone in about three decades along with all the phenomenal waterfalls that come from them. The views were beyond breathtaking, and I was within a hands reach of a mother and baby mountain goat, and within ten feet of a herd of Bighorn sheep—I have the photos to prove it.
While we were gone, half our yard burned up in the usual summer heat in our clay-based dirt. My grapevine has flourished, a rather hard to find green grape from Germany that is hailed for the Rieslings made from them, and I’ll have quite a crop to turn into wine this year. Last year I ended up with fifty gallons.
All the rest of our fauna gardens blossomed into wild bushes of leaves and flowers and berries. I spent half my week pruning, mowing, picking, watering, weeding, and anything else you can imagine in order to get caught up and straighten things out. In my mind, cultivation, like writing, is an art, and that’s why I practice both. I have found over the years, and I’m betting the same is true of many of you, that in both cases, the quality of your tools chases off many headaches. So here are a couple that you may not have heard of that I have recently put to the test. I purchased the two from Amazon:
The Hoe has worked well beyond my expectations as I found uses for it that had nothing to do with landscaping. Its shape is very versatile, so much so, I used it to navigate our blackberry bushes back by the creek. Normally, I wear a thick glove on one hand and pick with the gloveless one. But this year I was able to reach further in than I would normally be able to and not bleed out from multiple thorn wounds. Poison oak vines wind their way amid that mess; thus, I normally have to cut them off with a set of pruners—but not this year. This year I used the long edges of the landscaping tool which happen to be every bit as sharp as a store sharpened blade. It only took a slight wack and away went the poison oak. I also used it to dig trenches around my rosebushes, so I could put rose food down and cover it up. Usually I do this with my hand because it’s close quarters, but this year I just reached in with the landscaping triangle without having my hands torn up by thorns and easily dug a trench around the base of the rosebush. When I was finished with the food, I just had to reach back in and push the dirt over into the trench—simple.
The only problem I found with it thus far is that the handle is actually quite smooth. If I was barehanded and I was working in the sun, it’s very likely that the handle would slide out of my hand even if I was gripping it tightly. I usually use thermal layer Atlas gloves for any kind of outside work even construction. I like the rubber layer on the fingers and the palms as it helps with grip. My advice for those who don’t like gloves, and thus do not use them, would be to wrap some hockey-stick grip-tape around the lower part of the handle. You shouldn’t have any further problems, and for the record, I’m going to do that anyway myself.
The second tool, Hori Hori, looks like a good-sized knife, and in truth, it is on one side as sharp as the hoe and on the other serrated like a saw blade. You can use it to saw through limbs and the like. The back part of the blade is smooth while the front part concaves enough that you can use it like a trowel. Another nice feature about this tool is that it actually has measurements like a tape measure that tell you how deep in the ground you are going which allows you to plant your bulbs more precisely.
The only problem I have with this is the sheath. Contrary to what they say on the site, it is carried or stored in a thin “black vinyl plastic sheet and belt loop.” Given its size and sharpness, I expected something thicker, and I’ll probably have somebody make me something considerably more durable as they are not kidding about camping applications. It would be a good knife to stroll around in the forest with. Given that, I would put a hole in the bottom of the sheath to slip a thick string through to wrap around my leg and tie off the bottom of the knife.
I don’t normally give five-star-ratings a huge explanation. The reason for that is I’m very picky; I expect high quality in a reasonable price. I’m tired of cheap items designed to break down in short periods of time to maximize profits. But I can tell you in complete honesty these two tools are worth every penny that you’re going to pay, and if for some reason you don’t believe me, hit those links and read the customer reviews. Whether you’re a professional landscaper or just a garden enthusiast, or a casual or serious outdoorsman these two will make your jobs much easier. Who knows what you’ll find them worth using for!
We took our son on a week-long Alaskan cruise for his graduation recently, having just gotten back the 23rd. None of us have ever done anything like it, nor had my wife and I ever thought we would ever be able to, so it was as much an adventure for us as it was for our son. We went to the inside passage which is the southernmost part of Alaska. The ocean and two day trip was beautiful and we saw whales, dolphin, and Orcas from time to time along with seals, bears, Bald eagles, glaciers, tree infested islands, and deep blue icebergs. There were incredible cascading waterfalls everywhere, cutting their way down to the sea and at night, the sounds of the water passing by made it easy to fall asleep.
We had the fortune of sharing our evening meals with a couple from Illinois who are both teachers, and had a great time with them and the wife’s mother who was the reason they were taking the cruise. Morning and noon meals were in the common cafeteria section of the ship. There were people from all over the globe, both enjoying the cruise, and working. Every day we saw people we recognized, had gotten to know, and people we had never even seen. Our Steward, a Chinese gentleman, named Jia, took great care of us, and we even had time to get to know each other a bit too to such a degree that his daughter sent me some Tai Chi video’s which I’m still trying to figure out how to open
Because it was cooler than many other cruises, many people preferred to wear light coats or huddle up in slate-blue wicker chairs along the sides of the upper outside decks. The chairs were quite interesting in that each was half a sphere and could hold up to four people, provided you squeezed everyone in. Sometimes it rained, and was often quite cloudy on the open ocean, but that changed when we docked in Skagway.
We were told by the locals and our tour guides, really nice down to earth people, that the warm sunny weather was quite unusual as we began our first mini adventure; a train ride followed by a hike that got us near a glacier, after which we returned to town on a similar train and had a few hours left to explore the small town littered with tourist shops. We were amazed by the number of jewelry stores for a town that size, a ratio of almost 9 to every one regular shop. It seemed rather twilight-zoneish really, given that no one local actually wore any of it! After purchasing dinner, we headed back to the ship and prepared to move on south to Juneau. I’ll write about that tomorrow.
I’ve been trying to figure out what I would write for this blog post all morning. I surfed world news, found things like Guatemalan mobs taking to burning people alive as punishments for crimes, in this case a sixteen year-old girl for participating in the theft of a taxi driver’s money with her two accomplices, neither of which were caught. Apparently this is a common practice; strange that this is the first I’ve heard of it. You’d think that would have become front page news years ago! There is a story behind that, but we’ll only see it if our media wants us to.
While Texas is a deluge of rampant waterways, India’s roads are melting it’s so hot and dry. Something like twelve hundred people have already been baked alive like potatoes in an oven, most of them poor with nowhere to hide from our life-giving star, and its relentless heat, made worse by dry winds from arid regions to the northeast. Why? Climate change, you know, the science fictional global conspiracy that isn’t really happening? That same thing isn’t really happening in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, California, the Mexican border, and elsewhere across the globe—it’s all a ruse to keep everyone from focusing on the real issue, the Ukraine bent on conquering Russia, and Russia’s desperate fight to hold them back.
Taking a break to meander about the kitchen while aimlessly looking for something I was craving to eat that I already knew wasn’t there, I continued to debate what to write about. Thankfully, life provided my son and I with front seats to a real reality show from our kitchen window as two kids walking past our house were approached by, we assume their family, in a maroon sedan with peeling paint. They pulled up in front of our house where the family rolled down the windows and proceeded to carry on an argument about something.
It was heated, and members got in and out the car, pulled out a gallon of water laying on the front passenger-side floorboard which they passed around throughout the conflict while they pointed fingers, yelled, and waved their hands around like baby birds strengthening their wings for their first flight. Since the air conditioner was going right next to us, we heard none of the conversation, but when it finally concluded, the two kids walked back up the street, and the rest of them all piled back in the car before the driver put it in reverse and retreated up the road, presumably to their house.
Basically, the whole family got in their car to drive five or six houses down, so they could finish whatever argument they began at home. Only in America, I thought as I watched them back up, are we so lazy we have to drive down the street to complete a family fight. After that, I looked at my son and said, “Put some dialogue to that!” We laughed as I walked back through the kitchen.