Sunday, November 20, 2005

I know it's been a while

I've been a busy girl! I'm now published, like with a paying gig...but first people have to actually buy the story...anyway details!

"Fire and Water" is on sale at Ocean's Mist Press. It's a fantasy/erotica short story. So if you're underage or shy, don't go looking for it! ;-) How I ever actually got brave enough to submit to OMP, I'll never know. But, there it is.

Also! I've a new homepage! Check out the latest news on my musings at:

And if you're dying to know what I'm thinking about in the NASCAR world check out NASCAR NOTES 2005. It's all new and snazzy with homemade graphics and photos from the track!

Friday, June 24, 2005

SpeedWorld on sale!

Check out your local bookstore (the big ones like Barnes & Noble) for SpeedWorld Magazine with Jimmie Johnson's #48 on the cover. Inside you will find driver interviews and articles about your favorite teams. And most the SpeedRead section you will find an article "How NASCAR Saved Us $$" by S.D. Grady. That's me!I had to toot my horn and hope that you will give the magazine a shot. I'm already winding up to submit another article for the next issue due out in September.Catch ya'll later (after qualifying) ...

Monday, June 13, 2005

Want to see more?

A few more photos of our weekend at Pocono and more NASCAR related entries are located @

Carl Edwards- the Winner!- during Practice Posted by Hello

Sunday June 12, 2005


Don’t go to the pits on Sunday at Pocono. We didn’t see anything. We stood nose to back with thousands of other fans trying to walk on pit lane. Rich and I shortly gave up trying to take photos of pit boxes, etc. and returned to the RV for lunch. I felt sorry for anybody on a guided tour, they wouldn’t have seen anything, either.

The race:

Our seats were at the entrance to pit road about five rows down from the Terrace Club. Not bad. We could see a decent amount of the track and the Nextel Vision definitely assisted us in watching the action. The benches are narrow with no backs. You can rent a cushioned seat with a back for $7.00. I dunno $80 and I need to spend more to sit marginally comfy? Gimme a break.

Carl Edwards! I got to watch him do a backflip! He definitely had the dominant car. He worked his way from the rear of the field, slowly eating up the competition. The other leaders, notably Vickers and Waltrip, drove away from the field. Edwards was the only one that actually caught the leader- three times over.

Maybe the new gear rules required some rookie mentality to figure it all out. Edwards was told repeatedly by his spotter to just stand on the pedal. That worked. When Vickers saw Edwards coming for the second time, he cried over the radio “How many times could I shift every lap and not hurt the engine?”

He was told, “Zero.”

There was a pause…he despondently replied, “Oh.”

The end of it all was staring him in the rear view mirror. This was Carl’s day.

Bad days…there were a few. Lil E’- had three tires go flat on him. His radio was awful silent after the first one caused him to lose the lead lap.

Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Ricky Rudd, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Scott Riggs all suffered various tire and engine maladies. Bobby Labonte’s Lap 199 crash was beyond cruel. Jason Leffler as well- none of that was anyone’s fault. Good video from the wreck, though.

Jeff Gordon. A 9th place finish was a hard day’s work. Impressive in its refusal to give up. Hendrick in general had a great day: Vickers 2nd, Busch 5th, Johnson 7th, Gordon 9th and even Terry Labonte 12th. If that isn’t dominance, I don’t know what is.

Vickers, Busch and Johnson had cars that were simply as good as where they finished. The entire day was spent generally in the same spot.

Biffle! How could I forget! His engine! Jimmie gets to keep his lead.

Tires…Goodyear said the cars were running too far down and the rumble strips were chewing up the front lefts. That’s supposedly why we say so many dramatic blow-outs. I guess we’ll see what happens when the Cup series returns to Pocono in a few more weeks.

Well, I guess that’s about it. Burgers are cooking and the traffic jam is on.

My ultimate decision: Pocono is well worth visiting. Watching the race here is no better or worse than other facilities I’ve visited. If you want up-close action, then visit a local track. But if you want to see the big boys, enjoy yourself in the Pocono mountains. say the least

Yesterday, after setting up, cooking supper and generally looking forward to the rest of the weekend, Mother Nature stuck her nose into the mix, again.In the form of a severe thunderstorm.

The clouds built for hours, looking black but skirting us to the south- away behind the Grandstands. Then it came. High winds, steady rain. We pulled down the awning (the pair of newlyweds down the way already had theirs blow over the top of the RV, bending parts and shattering a roof vent.) We generally secured the site. Then sat down.

Rich asked, “Do you think I should take down the flags?”Lightning flashed and thunder boomed. We agreed that now would not be a good time to do that. Water came down in sideways sheets (again), wind howled and the skies flickered. We lost sight of the grandstands. If you take a look at the attached photo, that’s pretty significant. We sat on our dinette listening to the torrents. Then a flash of light, a bang that reverberated in our skulls and a strange tingling sensation remained on my tongue.We looked at each other. Did we? Nah…we didn’t. Did we?

When the skies let up we poked our heads out of the trailer and about 5 neighbors were running over to us. Yes, apparently we did get hit.Our flag pole served nicely as the point of entry. Our trailer, I believe, served as an insulated cage for us, but the refrigerator propane ignition system and the AC/DC converter died. We found the ground of the bolt at the base of the DirecTV dish. The truck has an assortment of idiot lights on as well. I guess we’ll find out how crucial they are on Monday, on our way home. The neighbor’s air conditioning fried, as well.

Meanwhile, we are grateful, once again, for our little generator. It is keeping our food at least reasonably cold. We probably won’t be keeping up with racing stuff on the TV, though. *sigh* And we’ll be going to bed early, unless I manage a cheerful campfire for entertainment. Yep, I think we are really camping.

Pocono also has this silly idea that once you are in the infield, you stay for the weekend. They have a saying, “The only way out is in the back of an ambulance or a police cruiser.” It’s OK. We have enough gas to keep the generator running for a good deal of the time and I have books with me.

This morning, Mother Nature continued to tease us with fog. Again, the grandstands were nowhere to be seen. We doubted that practice would arrive. Jet dryers were deployed even as sprinkles continued to rain down. But the racing gods were here to cooperate today.

Seeing a race at Pocono:The grandstand is humungous! It runs almost the entire length of the straightaway. You will definitely need binoculars to see anything anywhere else on the track. You need binoculars just to see the other end of the front stretch!Watching the race from the infield: While it’s a neat idea, you won’t see much unless you have a platform on top of your RV. And even then, you’ll be following little ants in a circle for the majority of the day. However, for somebody who has never actually watched a race from the infield, it’s entertaining and unique. And you’ll be paying as much for infield access (or more) than if you bought the family grandstand tickets.

Pit/Paddock Access:OK. I have done this at Watkins Glen and Atlanta. It’s cool. Pay $30 and you’re allowed behind pit wall on pit lane while the cars practice. This is awesome! And Pocono has the Paddock Areas. These are wonderfully conceived in a manner that encourages fan access. The fenced Paddock areas are facing the Cup garages. You get to watch your favorite driver’s team get their car ready. Then there is the Paddock Alley. A perfect vantage from which to watch the cars come and go during practice and qualifying. Though I prefer pit road for qualifying.

Today, after returning from first Cup practice, an ARCA car smashed into the wall at the exit to Turn 3. Repairs had to be made to the wall. I found it amusing that we used to get out torches and lengths of guardrail when repairing the wall was needed. Today we toss large bits of pink Styrofoam around and off we go. Progress.

We’ll be watching the ARCA race tomorrow from our campsite. It’s plenty loud. Later!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Tadpoles and Sunshine

We went driving down the scenic roads of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. At a picnic stop we climbed down to the river to see what would be seen. Tadpoles! By the thousands in the slow shallows. And some deer tracks. The air was heavy and hot. Shortly we climbed back in the truck and set out for some "park approved" overlooks.

This was disappointing. On Rte. 611 all the overlooks are now overgrown. Trees block any view of the river and the cliffs that form the Gap. It looks like the only way to see it is from the water. This is fine, its better for the river. But the overlooks should be taken off the tourist maps.

Tonight, sit by the pool and do some final grocery shopping for the track. Catch ya'll next week!
Delaware River near Delaware River Gap Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Camelback Mountain

As usual, Richard left the daily planning to me. I read about Camelback Mountain. There's an auto road that loops around the summit and a restaurant. We went. And as usual I wanted to do a little bit of hiking.

Now, I have this tendancy for choosing nearly vertical or extensive hikes. And considering that neither of us is in good shape, it normally results in a lot of moaning. Yesterday I did well with the waterfalls. Some stairs and climbing, but no backwoods adventures. I ran out of luck today.

The hike on the state park map indicated it was a 1.3 mile loop suitable for biking. It didn't say anything about ups and downs, except not to take the RED trail. This was the orange trail. I figured it couldn't be too bad. However, as the descent continued downward for more than fifteen minutes, I started to worry. Then there were the rocks, large boulders really. And the moss covered, leaf covered slopes. We weren't complaining until we reached the bottom of the loop and started back up.... I suppose I've never mountain biked, so I just don't understand how that was a bike path.

Besides all that, the view was well worth it, if hazy. The Pocono Mountains lay beneath us in all directions in a dense green carpet. White fluffy clouds slowly crossed the sky, earning our forgiveness for the intense thunderstorms of last night. Birds and chipmunks skittered nearby. Fairly bucolic.

And finally. The mountain laurel is nearly blooming everywhere. Next week it will be a bright infusion of pink and white amidst the green scrub oaks.

Ants- everywhere there were ants. We stopped at one anthill to watch the army trying to shove a thick white grub down the hill. The grub didn't want to go. A tortuous death for sure.

After the hike, we were ready for lunch. Except the summit restaurant was closed...we ended up getting some pizza in town. Great Stuff. Look for Amici's Pizza when in Tannersville.
Mountain Laurel on top of Camelback Mountain 06/07/05 Posted by Hello

Monday, June 06, 2005

Moss Covered Ravine

Today, with thunderstorms threatening for the late afternoon, we set out for something fun and short to do. We found Bushkill Falls. As you can see, beautiful. We chose the moderate trail and the stairs were plenty challenging.

The deep ravine is covered in rhododendron, moss, lichen, ferns and Spruce. It reminded us of walking through those "tropical islands" in some of the larger zoos. The roar of the falls was broken only by the purr of a generator. Repairs were being made on the many man-made bridges and stairways that make this point of interest accessible to the usual tourist.

For the stout hiker, there is a path that leads up to another set of falls. We didn't take the challenge.

With temps in the high 80's and thick humidity, we were puffing after two hours of exploration. We wanted to find lunch. We stopped at a local "diner". It was really nothing more than a bar. A few regulars were taking a liquid lunch while we munched on our sandwiches.

The rains arrived. Lots of wind and sideways sheets of water. The lights flickered repeatedly. The bartender lady got a call her house had lost power. We figured the campground would be in similar straights. That's OK. We brought the Lord of the Rings and a generator for rainy day entertainment.

We saw another live deer today. That's 2. I hope we balance the sheet by the end of the week.
Bushkill Falls, PA Posted by Hello

An afterthought

A little bit later…

There was this strange boom. Maybe somebody shot the bagpipe player…

Another boom. That must be the bagpipes.

Mount Vista Campground- Poconos

The sun has set over the woods of the Pocono Mountains and one of our RV neighbors is playing the Flintstones on his bagpipes…need I say more?

This has been the first true weekend of the Summer; meaning the sun was actually shining and the temperature climbed into the 80’s. Surely a good omen for our vacation. We left Haverhill about 10:30 this morning and headed west. The still new Chevy Silverado Duramax Diesel handled the Appalachian Mountains and Pocono Mountains without a thought. Why we ever thought that the little Dodge Dakota could pull a trailer…I guess we were wishing.

Oh deer…

As the miles flew by we saw more roadkill than ever before. By the time we turned onto Rte. 402 in Pennsylvania we counted 6 dead deer on the side of the road. In my experience, a dead deer is usually no more than an ugly puddle of blood in the road. These poor creatures had all been flung to the breakdown lane in one piece. I was thinking it must be a population explosion to see this many expired deer.

Finally we turned into the campground and saw a live deer nibbling on the edge of the woods. I guess this is a good place. The deer are alive.

Our cell phone doesn’t work out here. It’s 40 miles to the interstate and the town is so small it boasts one of those General Store/Hunting License/Post Office/Luncheonette/Propane and Gifts stores. I’m looking forward to poking my nose into it. The bullfrogs are making noise in the pond and they apparently share it with several koi “THIS BIG”. I saw a wild turkey. We’re waiting for the stars to come out.

We keep looking for things to do around here…but we’ve almost settled on doing not much of anything for the next couple days. We lost the radio broadcast of the race running in Dover somewhere in New York and finally lost all radio in the Delaware State Forest. The frogs make for good background noise, though.

Richard discovered some Lemon Diet Coke at the local grocer…maybe this is the last of it in the area. The flavor was discontinued in Massachusetts.

More updates tomorrow! With photos, I’m sure. On the agenda for Monday: Find a propane distributor that doesn’t do the tank exchange. Other than that, a dip in the pool and staring at some trees…nothing too demanding.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Don't Forget About Me!

Like I could. This is Betty. Betty will not be ignored, unless she wants to be.

While Emerson stole my heart at first site, Betty had to try a little harder. She came home because the tiger kitten in the bin with Emerson was already sold. We brought her home so Emerson would have a friend. She was supposed to be hubby's cat, since Emerson was obviously mine. Betty had other plans.

Two weeks after coming home with us, the kittens had been given the run of the house. I was comfortably ensconced on the couch crocheting. This meant entirely wrapped up in my oversized red bathrobe with only my head and hands showing.

Betty bounced into the room. Sort of like Tigger, that's how she arrived, bouncing. She walked over to me and meowed. It's not the sweet little "I love you" meh that Emerson excels at. It's a "Hey! I think you left me alone and I don't like that" yowl. I would say, "Hi, Betty." And she would yell again. It became a game. At length she tired of the conversation and climbed onto the couch (yes using all available claws). Her motor was on full throttle. She purred in my ear, then put a paw ever so lightly on my arm. Her head moved under my throat. The next paw encroached. Eventually she wormed her way into the bathrobe and fell asleep in the sleeve (I did say it was oversized).

To this day, if the red bathrobe does not have me in it, it usually has a cat on it. Getting all the cat fur out is a lost battle. However, Betty won hers. We still have a lengthy conversation upon my return from work. Now it includes tricks; waving of paws, standing on hind feet, head butting my knees and standing on any box or stool to give her better eye contact. But she knows, I haven't forgot my Betty.

Comfort and friendship

Emerson. That's his name. Actually, sometimes he's referred to as "Smudge". You can see why.

We met at the pet store across the road. He walked up to the edge of the bin, put his tiny paws on the side, looked at me and quite clearly said, "Meh!" I smiled, picked him up and he immediately collapsed into my arms, purring like a sewing machine. I couldn't budge him. What else could I do besides bring him home?

That was, by the way, one of the loudest meows ever extracted from him. (Except by the vet. He yowled then!)

His name was decided because he never had that kittenish, gangly, clutzy look about him. He has always sat perfectly upright, his fluffy tail wrapped tightly around his feet, his fur never in a tangle and viewed the world with an air of wisdom and decorum. I had to find a name befitting such an obviously with it cat. So I turned to my mentors in life and named him after the great writer and orator, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Eight years later, he still maintains an impeccable coat, a sleek fit body and comes to purr on my lap. I will forgive him the "let's hide in the shadows! Mom'll trip on us!" games. The "I'll sleep in Mom's bathrobe" ploys and the thoroughly irritating, "I can't touch the cat litter" deal.

Mostly because when I come home, he walks right up to me and says quite clearly, "Meh!" Which interpreted is, "It's my friend! And I'm so glad she's home."

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Knight's Chapter 7

Chapter 7

Jared stared down at the bloody mass of Harry. His ears rang with the fire of the battle. He didn’t feel the new cuts, bruises and scratches yet. He never did until later; when the roaring calmed and he could feel once again the beating of his own lifeblood in his veins.

The gravel behind him crunched.

“Who goes there!” he demanded as he spun, sword poised to counter an attack.

Socrates blinked in the flickering firelight, nodded his head and issued a soft whuffle.

Jared sighed. The girl was perched upon the horse’s back; her head snuggled against the neck, her hands clasped fiercely to the mane.

Safe! He thought for a moment. Socrates nudged his shoulder, his feed bag dangling at an awkward angle. Jared removed the sack and walked back towards the fire. Socrates followed at his heels. Only then did he see the other attacker.

Mick sat in a huddle, trying to be invisible against the boulders. His shoulder looked decidedly askew. Of course the blood dripping from his just below his left eye did nothing for his appearance.

Jared looked down at his feet. A long, curved dagger gleamed against the trampled snow. He picked it up, studying the well crafted blade paying particular attention to the runes etched in the metal. He eyed the miserable man.

“Not just simple thieves, were you?” he said as he tilted the blade to catch the light of the fire, a knowing glint in his eye. “Nobody carries the blade of The Lady by mistake. Why attack us? I’m no man of the King. Even my mount bears the Dragon’s Eye.”

Socrates sidled so that his blanket was illuminated in the firelight. The fiery red eye of the Dragon’s Hoard was picked out in luminous thread. Most men would steer clear of such a blatant display of piracy.

Mick gritted his teeth, clearly considering what he might tell his captor. Socrates walked closer, his massive body overshadowing the cowering brigand. Mick’s eyes darted about him, searching for possible escape. He shifted his weight carefully, returning his gaze to Jared’s hard stance.

Jared shook his head, “I wouldn’t even try it,” as he tossed the dagger in the air, reflexively catching it in a throwing hold. “All those years at sea, I had plenty of time to practice throwing a dagger. The Lady’s steel would end this night in your skull.”

Mick paled. “I reckon I believe you,” he croaked as he settled back on his heels.

Jared crept closer to the cretin. “Now, hows about some plain talking, my good man,” he stated in a low, calm voice.

The brigand swallowed several times. “It wasn’t you we was coming for.”

Jared smiled a crooked, evil grin. “I guess you’re gonna be telling me it’s me horse you’re wanting.”

“Nay!” the man squeaked as his own blade was put against his throat. “Tis the girl! She’s not what you think! The Lady’s wantin’ her dead.”

Jared did not let the dagger waver as he looked sideways at Julia still passed out on Socrates. He turned back to his captive, “I suggest you try again, mate. She’s nothing but a bit of baggage. A penniless orphan of your Lady’s war.”

Mick attempted to shake his head, only to find the sharp blade nicking his chin. Sucking in a sharp breath of pain, “Even you she’s bewitched! She’s the last remaining member of the Royal family save the King. And his health fails even as we speak.”

“You lie!” Jared growled, pressing harder.

Panic entered the man’s eyes as the blade crushed his throat.

Jared eased off. Truth reflected plainly in Mick’s eyes. At the very least the man believed what he had been told. Jared stood, considering his next move for only moments.

He walked to Socrates, rummaged in the saddle pack and located a bit of rope. As a second thought he also grabbed a handkerchief. In short order, the brigand was bound and gagged and left near the dying embers of the fire. Jared packed up the campsite and mounted behind Julia.

As a farewell he growled at the miserable wretch, “When you free yourself of my bindings, you might want to be burying your friend. He died an honorable death at my sword.” He then kneed Socrates forward into the cold, starless night.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Knight's Chapter 6

The Knight
Chapter 6

The wind sent a chill down Julia’s spine as she huddled in the flickering light of the meager campfire. Jared had declared the spot in the lee of two boulders the best they could do for shelter for the night. Socrates stood on the other side of the fire ring, his bulky body blocking the worst of the breeze. The pirate lounged against one of the boulders as he sharpened his dagger. His sword lay between them in its worn scabbard.

Julia looked into the sky. The silent stars mocked her. For an entire summer she had lived alone in the tiny cabin, praying that the war would not knock on her door. It never had. In fact, nobody had. Just a horse.

And now that she was in the company of another person, she didn’t know what to say. She shivered a bit more. Socrates nickered softly.

“Cold, are ya?” the pirate asked.

Julia nodded. He went to Socrates, rummaged in the saddle pack and pulled out a large woolen blanket. Without a word he walked to Julia, sat down close to her and wrapped the blanket around the two of them.

Julia stopped breathing. The pirate chuckled.

“Not to worry, lass. I haven’t a mind to strip down in the middle of a snowbank. Just sit close, and we’ll keep warm enough.”

Julia’s neck snapped around to glare at the pirate. Only to meet that wicked, black, laughing smile.

“Disappointed, are you?” he teased.

“Not in the least.” She huddled a little deeper into the blanket, her shoulder rubbing against his.

“Should be.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” the question escaping her lips before she thought.

Jared shrugged as he settled himself a little. “I figured with all that pretty blonde hair, the sweetest green eyes and a round little figure, you’d have had plenty of offers.”

Julia gaped for several moments. She struggled to decide if she should be insulted or preening over the obvious complement. Finally a blush settled over her features, “No man has ever asked for my hand. Da rather scared them off.” She swallowed as tears threatened.

“Then the right man didn’t ask.” Jared reached into his surcoat and extracted a bag. He opened the sack and began munching on some nuts. In companionable silence he offered the treat.

Julia accepted.

“What will become of me in the city?” she asked in a quiet voice.

“Durned if I know. The Sisters at the Chapel will know the right of it, I expect. I hear they take in maids without prospects from time to time.”

Julia thought about that. It didn’t seem too bad. The Sisters were known to be charitable and kind to all people throughout the land. Perhaps she would be found a position as a maid in a fine house or as a governess. Maybe in the city she would even be able to find a husband to support her.

The warmth of Jared’s body seeped through the many layers of cloak, shawl and dress. Her eyes drooped. She didn’t hear his low laugh as she toppled into his lap.


Julia’s eyes snapped open as a rough hand covered her mouth.

“Nary a whisper, luv,” an oily voice grated in her ear.

Instinctively striking out, she found her arms held tightly to her sides by the unseen assailant. She stared down at the blanket. The pirate was not asleep. He was nowhere to be seen.

“Not to worry, luv. Your man just went to take a leak. Me friend’s keepin’ him company.” The voice tickled at her ear.

The man was a monster, judging by the bulk that held Julia from behind. Terror cleared her mind quickly. She looked across the fire at Socrates. The horse chewed at his feedbag, blinking idly at Julia. She squirmed and kicked at the shins of her captor.

“None of that, luv!” he commanded as his arms became bands of steel around her chest.

Hysteria began to eat at her thoughts. Her breath came is short gasps. Knowing control was key to her survival, Julia sagged against the man and let her head hang. His hand still kept her silent. Julia felt her cheeks bruising. The pain calmed her fear and fed her anger.

Sounds of a distant fight could be heard. Julia listened closely. Grunts, moans, gasps, the slap of flesh on flesh all echoed over the boulders. Julia blinked when she realized there was no ring of the clash of steel. Keeping her head down she searched the rumpled bed. She could just see the hilt of Jared’s sword under the blanket.

Socrates whuffled as Jared was pushed into the ring of light. The horse’s head slewing to take in his owner’s rumpled state.

His right eye was swelling shut and blood trickled down his cheek where the brigand’s glove connected. Julia did not notice Jared limping.

“What ‘cha got, Harry?” Julia’s captor asked.

“Seems like this here pirate was havin’ hisself a little holiday!” Harry leered as he kicked Jared.

Jared sprawled next to the fire, his hands bound with crude rope. He spared only a moment’s glance at Julia before erupting.

Jared rolled to the left as he grabbed the hilt of his sword with both hands. He brought the weapon up in a wide sweeping arc as he gained his feet. The swing was awkward, but effective. Harry, caught off guard, jumped back even as he pulled a dagger from inside his jerkin. Jared and Harry began circling each other. Socrates backed up to give the combatants more room.

“Now see here, we’s got your woman,” Harry talked as he sized up his opponent. “I could have Mick there cut her throat.”

Jared sneered, “Alive or dead, she’s worth about the same to me.”

Julia sucked in a sharp breath. She was going to die! She bit down on the hand in her mouth.

“Bloody hell!” Mick cried.

Julia danced away from him only to trip over the blanket. Desperate, she rolled away, even as a boot connected with her ribs. She cried out in pain. Jared’s sword sang as it connected with Harry’s dagger. Socrates whinnied.

Pain, panic, and anger filled Julia’s thoughts. Scrabbling at rock, dirt, blanket, cloaks; she searched for a weapon. Her hand found a crust of bread. Then the small knife she used to cut it. A hand wrapped around her ankle and pulled.

“I won’t go!” she growled. Even as she was hauled back towards Mick, she kicked out with the other foot. Mick swore some more. Julia swiped at her attacker with the knife.

A cry of pain rent the air.

“The little bitch cut me!” Mick yelled.

The swordfight continued.

Julia rolled onto her back. Mick loomed over her. His face dripped blood as the firelight cast evil shadows over it. He held a long, curved dagger over her. Julia screamed as she realized her end had come.

In the next instant she blinked. Mick was gone. Then a large nose “whoofed” in her face. Socrates’ large brown eyes blinked.

Julia looked for Mick. He groaned in a semi-conscious state piled against the boulders a good six feet away. He held his hand against his ribs.

Socrates nodded.

Julia grabbed at his bridle and scrambled onto his back.

A man’s mortal scream sounded.

Socrates turned towards the scene of the sword fight. A single man stood over a corpse. Julia gasped, then realizing that it was excruciating to breathe. She tried a deeper breath. The man’s form blurred as he turned towards her. Circles of light argued with black spots.

Julia wilted, hoping it was the right man that won.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

It's a surprise every year.

It's only a hint of green, in the final weeks of March. A small shoot here and there in the yard. And then April comes with softer days and nights that don't curl your toes. It's lighter and brighter. You smile as you drive home from work thinking there just might be enough energy in you to work in the yard a bit. You grab the rake, the gloves and the clippers. You pull back the layer of leaves left from Autumn's final winds and discover...a whole new world waking up.

It amazes me every year how much hides just out of sight until April. The trees are still brown. The grass is still ragged. But look! Really look. The whole world was waiting for this one day, and it can't wait anymore.

As you can see, the crocus are blooming. Daffodils, tulips, sedum, iris, lilies, bleeding hearts, astors, daisies, pennywort, vinca, violets and endless other unnamed wonders were only waiting for me to pull away the dead to let the young and new try their wings.

The other thing that happens as I smile at my forgotten but newfound friends is my mind wanders. I'll try to think of practical things. But that is not what the garden lends itself to. Instead, flights of fancy tug at my brain. My fingers itch to share those whimsical thoughts. And I come back into the house to write.

Such is Spring. A fount of energy and promise. It would be derelict of me to pass by the opportunity.

Happy days!

Thursday, March 31, 2005

I figured it out!

Well, that only took two days. But there it is! A picture. Possibly of My Domain. Possibly of your dreams. And now that I know how, I'll be able to pretty up my posts more often. Ain't that cool!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

And finally Chapter 5

A Knight Without the Shining Armor
Chapter 5

“Well, let’s see,” Jared pondered for a moment before beginning his tale. “I guess I’ll have to tell you a bit to have this all make sense.”

You see, I’m on a quest, of sorts.”


He nodded, shifting her in his arms, looking for a more comfortable arrangement. “Aye. I needed something to pay back my captain for savin’ my skin the last time out. He suggested that The Maryellen would recompense him for the loss of his ship.”

“The Maryellen?” Julia questioned.

Jared sighed. “There’s so much to this tale, it’s hard to decide where to begin.” He looked down at the girl in his arms, “You wanted to know about Socrates. I’ll tell you that. I’ll save the tale of The Maryellen for another day. Bargain?”

Julia craned her neck around. The pirate blinked. She smirked, “As it looks like our travels will take some time, it’s a bargain.”

“Our party had just arrived in Port Orin. Things bein what they were at the moment, I hung back from the captain, waiting for him to head towards his chosen lodging house. I thought it best that I choose a different one, seeing as he was a bit irate over the loss of his ship, the Sarajane. I figured apologies could be made in the morning.”

He paused as Socrates navigated a steep, gravel covered slope. Once the horse was on even footing again, Jared resumed his narrative.

“Well, I wandered up the hill away from the docks looking for a hospitable establishment. I noticed a dray standing on the cobbles. You could say I noticed the beer kegs on the dray,” he chuckled. “Socrates here was hitched to that wagon. His master came out of a shop carrying a keg and tossed it on that old battered cart. I guess it was one times too many for that cart, though. The axle gave way under the extra weight.”

Jared paused.

“Well, go on!” Julia pleaded.

Sure of his audience, Jared continued, “The beer went everywhere! A river of golden ale poured down the hill towards the docks. I guess you could say there was quite a to do then. Sailors and workmen chased after the treat with mugs, cups and anything else they might scoop a bit o’ refreshment up with.” Jared chuckled at the memory.

“Socrates here, clever fella that he is, simply waited for his master to set things back to right. I offered my assistance in rolling the kegs out of the street. I mean, there would probably be a small liquid reward if I ingratiated myself to the poor man.” Jared sucked in a heavy breath. “But that man didn’t know help when he saw it. He cursed his poor luck, declared the end of his business and walked away. Just walked off!”

Jared shook his head. “Can you imagine? There were still ten or so kegs that had not been breeched. As far as I could see, his business was still a good thing. Well, there is that old saying, isn’t there? About gift horses? I sold the good kegs to a nearby tavern, at a fairly reduced rate and took Socrates to the nearest stable. He weren’t nothing more than a dusty, grey animal. But the hostler, he cleaned my boy up nicely and gave him an extra feeding of oats. Damned if this here horse didn’t smile at me the next morning when I asked his if he felt like going on a quest.” Jared slapped Socrates’ neck fondly.

Julia stared at the horse. “So, you stole him.”

“What? Didn’t you listen? His master walked off! What was I to do?” Jared blinked.

“Take him back to his rightful master.”

Jared clucked his tongue. “Can’t you see that that don’t make any sense, Miss? He would be owned by a man with no means to care for him, since the business was a bust. This means that brewer’s burden is lightened. He doesn’t need to feed this fine steed anymore.”

Julia crossed her arms. “He could have sold Socrates and fed himself with the proceeds.”

Unable to stop, Jared bickered back, “Then he shouldn’t have left such a useful asset alone on the street at the docks. Heck, miss, if I didn’t take him somebody else would’ve made glue out of him.”

Julia sat silent. The pirate’s logic nearly made sense. Except that Socrates really did belong to some poor man in Orin. She stewed as the horse continued on its way.

Jared remained silent as well.

Finally Julia could bear it no longer, “Do you steal things often?”

“Stealing is such a negative word.”

“Well?” Julia would not be put off.

“A pirate looks at it as the proper reallocation of assets.”

“Proper? How could it be proper?”

Jared grimaced. Arguing with idealists was not his strong point. “Well, as in things get to where they will be used and appreciated.” He smiled. She surely couldn’t argue that point.

A scowl colored her cheeks, “Have I been ‘properly reallocated’?”

Jared ran his hand through his hair. He seemed to remember his father sayin’ as how arguing with a woman was a good waste of a man’s day. He grumbled, “I’m working on that. Now hush.”

She sat silent for some time. At long last the tension flowed from her shoulders. Jared tried to get a look at her face, to fathom what she was thinking about now. She shrugged to loosen his grip on her. “I’m hungry.”

Jared sighed. The road to Ritrain would be long and tiresome. He only hoped he would be able to “reallocate” the chit when they arrived in the city.

Chapter 4

The Knight Chapter 4

Julia pulled at the dry meat. Meat! She swiped her cheek as she chewed with singular concentration. The porridge had been forgotten. Only after she swallowed the last bite did she look up.

The giant glowered across the table.

“When was the last meat you had?” His voice a near whisper.

Julia gulped, her throat dry she reached for the bowl that held the drinking water. She considered hiding her desperation. She peeked out from her hair. She didn’t think those shrewd pewter eyes would believe her.

“I ate the last of the horse more than a month ago.”

He continued to glare.

“The crops were taken by the armies. I haven’t anything left. Thank you for your generosity.”

He grimaced. In the light of the day Julia watched him carefully. Her initial perception of a knight of the King’s Army bravely deposited by his steed on her doorstep had withered. Now she saw more than she cared to. Fearing that he would sense her trepidation she kept the conversation going, “And you? I’ve never heard of a pirate riding a horse in a landlocked land. What would you be looking to plunder?”

He waved off the query. “What of your family?”

“It was only me and my da. Ma died some while ago, I guess it’s been years now. Da had to go with the Army. That was Spring.”

Both diners looked out at the pristine blanket of snow that covered the flood plain of the Great River Sain.

“What were you to do if I didn’t feed you today?”

She shrugged. “I guess I would have trapped a rabbit or maybe shot a crow. I can get along.”

She stood, collecting the few remains of their meal and carried them to the pantry area in the corner. After wiping the bowls down she neatly stacked them on the shelf. She could feel him continuing to stare at her.

“I have been wondering about the War, though.” She bravely stated. “You clearly met some soldiers. Do you know who is winning?”
His eyes closed. He hung his head over his fists clasped on the table top. “Lay, lass. There was no winner on that field. It seemed to me that I was the only one breathing at the end of the day. I couldn’t begin to say who the victor was.”

Julia looked again into the blinding day. “Was it far?” She shook, thinking perhaps Da had been close. A sheath of steel slid over her spine. “I will go today.”

The pirate only glared some more. He eventually stated, “I will carry you on Socrates.”


It simply wasn’t a sight that Julia ever imagined could be real. Socrates stood on a rise over the battlefield not a mile from her cabin. The snow softened the shapes on the ground. A shadow swept over the observers. Julia looked up to see a large bird circle over the carnage. It glided down, settling on an awkward shape. Far in the recesses of her mind, Julia thought it might be a leg.

The white snow was broken every few feet by black spots, the blood frozen as it puddled. Horseflesh lie strewn about with the human. It stretched beyond the horizon. Julia shuddered. The countless bodies…she shook her head. The only way to know was to see.

As Socrates picked his slow way down into the stinking field, Julia became aware that their trio were not the only living beings looking through the bodies. Her neighbors moved methodically from man to man. Minutes later Julia gasped.

“What is it?” the pirate asked.

“They don’t have any sons in the army.”

The pirate nodded his understanding. Every man did odd things in odd times. The wealth of past battles lay on the bodies of the slain. “Your neighbors will need the pillage to survive until the next harvest. These men will never miss the gold, now.”

Julia turned her head away for only a moment before accepting the evil truth.

The sun rose high into the sky before she found what she feared she would. The sun set as she wept over the beaten and bloodied body of her Da.

The pirate stood over her, his arms crossed and his brow wrinkled. Whether he liked it or not, Jared was now the protector of a young lass. He sighed.


Julia awoke in the small hours of the dawn, as she always did. The fire burned brightly in the fireplace. The pirate rummaged through her wardrobe, placing warm clothes on the table. His saddle bag on the floor lay open.

“What are you doing?” Julia ran across the room, trying to close the wardrobe.

The pirate merely forced the door open again. “I’m packing the things you’ll need.”

“Why do I need anything? This is my home!” she leaned her entire body against the panel as she reached for her shawl in his hands. “You pirate! You can’t take those.”

He stopped for a moment. “But you can’t stay here.”

Julia blinked. “Why not?”

“You’ve no food, no family and no neighbor will take you in. They’re starving, too.”

Julia thought furiously, trying to come up with something. She merely sputtered.

“You will be coming with me.” His huge hands settled on her shoulders and moved her to the side. “I have enough in my pack to feed us until we make Ritrain. Perhaps you can find a job there.”

“I can’t go with you.” Her denial was final.

“Why not?”

She lifted her hands and began counting on her fingers, “One, I don’t know your name. Two, you are a pirate and as such I have no inclination of putting myself under your protection,” the derision in her voice could not be avoided. “Three,” she paused, “Three…”

“Yes?” he asked eagerly.

“I’m thinking!” she crossed her arms.

He continued to empty the wardrobe. “My name is Jared, sometimes known as Jared the Black, depending on the waters I am in. I am a pirate through misadventure, as it was that or die.” He paused his packing and turned back to her. “It seems you have a similar decision before you.”

A mutinous glower was the best she could do.

“Do you want to die, lass?”

She shook her head.
“Then you’re coming with me.”

They closed the door to the cabin at mid-day. Julia sat before Jared on the great horse, Socrates. She thought that though her parents were dead, her life was just getting interesting.

They turned to the south and crossed over the River Sain as the sun dipped below the horizon. The horse continued to plod on tirelessly. Julia fought to remain awake. Desperate for distraction she begged a story, “Where did you get Socrates? Surely a pirate does not keep a horse on his ship?”

Jared merely paused before beginning…

Chapter 3 for the Knight

The dull light of dawn cast the cabin in shades of gray. Julia stretched and listened. The knight was snoring. The last coals of the fire sizzled, smoke hanging heavy in the room. Wind? There was no wind.

“Thanks be for the small things,” she muttered. She rolled over, the boards biting into her back. Now that she was awake, the pervasive cold ate into her flesh. The shawl and horse blanket provided poor protection from the night.

She stood and peered down at him. His large frame overflowed the small cot.

“Pity you had to use it. It doesn’t fit you.”

After tucking her one good quilt around his giant body last night, Julia had tried to ignore him. Her fear of the large warrior fought with the desperate need to talk to someone—anyone! Now in the light of day, she remained torn. She knew it would be best to wake him up and send him on his way with his odd horse. He snuffled and tossed. Even in his sleep he sounded fearsome.
Her stomach growled. “Yes, I know,” she informed it. “I have a little left. It’ll be enough for today.” She set about freshening the fire and setting a kettle to boil. The sack of oats lay limp in the corner. But there was enough for one last meal. She poured the contents into a pot.

A small trap hung over the mantle. “Maybe I can find a rabbit or two,” she wished aloud.

The boards creaked behind her. She turned to meet her unwanted guest. He towered over her, but he no longer weaved on his feet.

“Where’s Socrates?” he demanded.


“The horse. Where’d you put him?” He scratched at his chest.

Julia turned back to the fire, stirring her breakfast. “I sent him out back to the shed.”

“mmmrph,” was the only word he replied with.

Julia stirred the porridge some more. More than it needed. She was nervous. He grunted and there was some stomping as he put on his boots. The door opened and closed.

Julia cast a glance at the cot. His armor and steel were still there. He hadn’t left. He had only went to see to his horse.

As the cabin warmed, she cracked open the shutter of the small window next to the door, letting more light into the room. Brilliant sun poured in. His surcoat sat in a splash of morning light.
Thinking she could now determine the crest on it, she lifted the heavy wool garment.

“Is it a hart? Or a gryphon?” she asked nobody in particular, angling the surcoat in the sunshine.

“It’s a dragon.”

Julia dropped the garment as she spun to meet the stranger’s questioning gaze.

He smiled a very crooked and wicked smile as he pulled a heavy gold chain from beneath his tunic.

Julia swallowed. She closed her eyes, wishing she would not see the pendant that would surely be dangling from it. Knowing the moment of truth was at hand, she opened one eye.
A gold coin swung from the chain. Pressed into the pendant was a golden dragon entwined about a sword. A ruby glittered from the beast’s eye.

He was even worse than an enemy soldier.

“I saved a bloody pirate,” she whispered.

His grin deepened. “Aye, that you did, my dear. Lucky for you, I’m a well-fed pirate.” With his other hand, he held a small sack of dried meat out to his hostess. “Why don’t we sit for a bit and introduce ourselves?”

And Chapter 2

A Knight’s Chapter Two

Julia closed the door on the swirling snow and the curious steed. The gloom of the evening settled once again over the tiny cabin, the only light coming from the fire. She shivered once before turning to the unmoving man on her floor. She nudged him with her shoe. He didn’t even moan.

“What am I to do now?” she wondered at her guest. The cold crept under the door catching at her ankles. “Right,” she complained to the night and set about doing what she was doing before being interrupted by—she looked over her shoulder—a very unnerving thing. She shoved the braided rugs against the bottom of the door and fed pieces of flannel into the larger cracks between the boards of the rough door. Only when she was confident she could detect no further drafts did she worry about the man on the floor.

“Come on then,” she shook him roughly. “I can’t help you up by myself. Your armor weighs more than I do!”

He groaned.

The snow had melted into his surcoat, leaving it a dark blue stained here and there by…Julia closed her eyes on the thought. Of course men bled on the battle field. She knew that! But why did that blood have to be in her cabin?

Forcing her mind back to the matter at hand she tried to remember what colors were associated with what knights in The King’s army. She was sure Father had mentioned it before he left… His voice came back to her, “Remember, my precious Jules, green is for His Majesty’s archers, red for his guard and brown with gold braid for the Royal Cavalry. Any other color, you must be cautious of. The Lady’s men are not known for their chivalry!”

She looked closer. The blood covered the crest on his chest. A knight of the Realm might wear his own colors, but the crest would show where his loyalty lay for certain.

Julia shook the man harder. He groaned louder.

There was nothing for it. She couldn’t go to sleep with an unconscious man on her floor. She walked over to her small pantry and took a dipper of precious water. “You’re wet anyway,” she explained to the man before pouring it on his face.

Jared sputtered, waving away the annoying drips of water. It must be raining, his foggy brain informed him. He turned over and reached for the accustomed warmth of Socrates. However, the flow of water increased and a shod foot prodded his leg. Years of campaigning woke him with a start. He sat up, his dagger in his hand as he tried to focus on his enemy.

Julia jumped back, the heavy sword she took from his side scraping the floor. “Goodness me!” she squeaked.

Jared blinked several times as he attempted to decide which of the seven or eight men in front of him was armed with his sword. He made the decision to move now and question later, settling on the most solid form to his left. The dagger flashed left in a feint designed to make his target move. When it did, he tackled the man.

The man screamed.

The fog cleared immediately from Jared’s mind. “Blessed be, you’re a girl!”

She looked at him, quite scared out of her wits he thought. Only when she turned an alarming shade of blue did he realize that he was squashing the air out of her. However, she was still hanging onto his sword.

“Just give that little toy to me, me dear, and then we’ll talk.” He pressured her fingers to release the weapon. She gave without much of a fight. His mail probably bruised he thought with a grimace.

He stood up. “Where the blazes did that horse leave me now?”

The girl lay on the floor gasping. Looking down at her, Jared felt dizzy. He spied a small cot behind him and sat abruptly. While the girl collected herself, he proceeded to carefully remove his gauntlets, surcoat, boots and mail shirt as he took stock of his injuries. While his ribs ached abominably, the worst pain resided in his head.

Reaching up, Jared found a goose egg behind his ear. His hair was sticky and wet. Fighting back a wave of nausea he asked, “Who got me?”

The girl heaved herself up on her elbows and glared at him. “It looks like I do.”

Jared stared at her for a moment, wondering why she would be so angry about that. Then passed out again.

For lack of anything better to do...

Having decided that I haven't a clue what to do with this blog, I've decided to simply use it as a place to put a story that I'm working on. The title? "A Knight Without the Shining Armor". It's not supposed to be particularly clever, or well edited or earth shattering. It's something to keep my muse motivated until I can focus on my more formal works. So, sit back and enjoy!

A Knight Without the Shining Armor
Chapter 1

The wind howled. The view out the window was no more than a white canvas, a blank piece of paper for Julia’s mind to fill with daydreams and nightmares. With the power out and no school, there was nothing else to occupy her active imagination. She began painting on the snowflakes in the dull afternoon light…

There should be a knight on a horse, she thought. However, he should not be riding atop a white horse. It would get lost in the snow. How about a bay. Bay was a pretty horse color. And the knight…well he should be tall (of course) and strong and maybe hurt. Yes! He’s hurt. Maybe the knight needs rescuing! Oh that would be a good way to pass the afternoon, rescuing a knight.

Julia settled back in the oversized wing chair, smiling, and told herself a story.

Jared sagged in the saddle as his sturdy steed, Socrates, picked his slow way through the blizzard. Jared couldn’t remember when the wind wasn’t howling. It had been screaming for an eternity, it seemed. At least since he fell from his saddle. Why had he fell? His aching skull still chased the memory from recall.

The rhythm of Socrates careful walk stopped. Jared peered into the blizzard. He could discern no difference. He nudged Socrates, “Come on, boy. We gotta keep going.”

Socrates shook his head before dropping it. Jared leaned forward, wincing as his sore ribs pulled. “Tired are you?” he asked his four-footed friend. Socrates whuffled, then pawed at something solid just beyond Jared’s sight. The horse waited a moment longer before repeating the odd action.

Jared thought the white whirling mass of snow darkened. He shook his head, trying to clear his sight. And promptly fell off his horse for the second time in his life.

Julia paused before pulling the door of her small cabin closed again. She thought that the banging was the door rattling in the wind. She opened it to slam it, so that she could pack more rugs around the drafty portal. However, she had not been expecting to open the door and see a horse’s face.

She blew out a short breath. “My!” Was that what one said to a horse that knocked on your door in the storm? She wasn’t sure.

The horse nodded at her.

Julia started to pull the door closed, hoping that if she opened it a second time, the odd apparition would vanish. Horses did not appear on one’s doorstep in the middle of a blizzard or a war.

The horse quickly placed a very large, very solid hoof in the doorway, preventing Julia from closing the door. It then looked behind it.

Julia blinked. Was that? Could it be?

The snow was quickly covering a man lying on the ground. He moaned.

“Oh dear.” Julia muttered. This was the first person she had seen in months and she was reduced to monosyllables. But, then again, she thought, what did he care? His horse was doing the introductions.

“I guess there’s nothing for it,” she complained. Leaving the door open, she went to the wardrobe and pulled out her heavy shawl. Wrapping it around herself twice (mother had been a very large woman) she stepped onto her front porch and studied the man in the snow.

The snow dusted a muscular frame larger than any man Julia had ever seen. She thought maybe his stern jaw and hawk like nose would soften when he was awake. But, the chain mail and long sword belied that thought. All she could hope for was that he was a member of the King’s Army, not a lost soldier from the Lady’s Entourage. His surcoat bore no crest and the color was undetermined in the grey afternoon. The horse nudged her shoulder.

“Yes, yes. Inside. I know.” She muttered to nobody in particular. She was not, she thought, talking to a horse.

She grabbed hold of the mystery man’s booted feet and pulled. For naught.

It must be the mail, she thought. Her fingers were already going numb in the vicious storm. She doubted her cabin would ever warm up tonight. A dangling stirrup caught her eye. After some grunting, complaining and wrapping, Julia managed to attach the stranger’s foot to his horse’s stirrup.

She opened the door wide. “Now, if you would just bring him in, we could all get warm,” she invited the horse in.

Her jaw dropped as the horse promptly trotted inside, dragging his rider behind. Then she grimaced as the poor man’s head bumped several times over the rough wood floor. The horse stopped near the only cot and waited, turning his large brown eyes on the tiny woman.

Julia didn’t wait to think about this. She would give more careful consideration to the idea of a horse that understood people tomorrow, after the wind stopped blowing and she could hunt for some food. For now, she just detached the stranger from the saddle and opened the door one last time, “I’m sorry, my handsome horse, but you cannot stay in here tonight. The shed behind the house is open and is well shielded from the worst of the wind.”

The horse appeared to sigh. But wearily walked back into the storm. Julia noted that the horse turned towards the rear of the house.

One strange thing taken care of. Now, she thought, for the strange man with the gruesome weapons….

Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Novel News

It's a newsletter for the up and coming novelist. Full of ideas, help, support and fun. A new edition will be be releasing Feb. 1 :-)