A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Forty)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

The Captain and the rest of the shore crew, along with what’s left of the Surprise, stagger back to the pinnace.  Master Jo Anne notices that the ‘Harlot’ and Humphrey are missing, and so is ‘Dizzying Blade’.  She looks quizzically at the Captain.

The Captain gives her an archaic smile and staggers up to her.  “We can’t call her ‘Harlot’ anymore.  The Horse People are letting her and Humphrey stay together in one of their strange stalk huts made from a plant similar to sugarcane.”  The Captain shrugs and sighs so that Master Jo Anne can smell the heavy sent of brandy on her breath.  “And…after much drinking, ‘Dizzying Blade’, sparred with one of the Horse Woman and won; though I told her to lose.  Now she has to stay with them until the Surprise is ready to sail and teach them her fighting skills.  Silly girl, it’s her fault, she refuses to lose to anyone.  However, she told me Arsema and Amelie can replace her.  So we’ll have two Master-at-arms now.  At least until the Surprise drops her and the ‘Harl—.” The Captain slaps the side of her own head with the palm of her hand, “Thelma.”

“We could caller her Sewer, Stitcher, or even Flag Weaver from now on,” Master Jo Anne suggests.

“’Flag Weaver’,” the Captain says thoughtfully.  “That would do.  Two days from now we’re going to use our pinnace and the other one that’s amongst the Aloe Vera, if it still floats, to get the Surprise free.  ‘Ship Builder’ says we need to do it during the end of high tide.”

“So we’re staying?”  Everyone knows time is precious to attack Barthadrow and take over another ship before heading towards the Pregnancy Ship.  She spits and can see the Captain knows who she was thinking of.

She and the Captain both stop talking.  Baffled at the sight of the Cannibal woman Melinda sauntering up to Captain Peg leg. 

“Get your rapier ready,” the Captain tells her as she starts to draw her own out.

Dumbfounded she watches Melinda kneel before Captain Peg leg and take his wrapped hand or what’s left of it in her owns hands. 

“You could have tried to eat me,” the Cannibal woman says in a soothing voice.

Captain Peg leg’s eyes grow wide as the Cannibal girl stands back up, with his wrapped hand still in hers.  “I wanted to feast on the one who stole some of my crew.  You know what happened to them, when they were put in that barrel.”

“I do,” Captain Peg leg says before gulping.

“Listen,” the Captain says.  “Take our pinnace with ‘Wheel Turner’ and return to the Nague now.  We’ll be here a few days, so I want you to go back to the ship and tell ‘One Eye’,” the Captain continues, while still watching the surreal scene between Captain Peg leg and the Cannibal, “that we need to drop the nets and catch some fish.  And let Amelie know she’s Master-at-Arms until ‘Dizzying Blade’ returns.  However, our guest,” and the Captain nods towards the Cannibal, “will stay in ‘Dizzying Blade’s’ room sans the weapons.”

“Not Arsema?”  To her Arsema always came across as closest to ‘Dizzying Blade’.

“Arsema is going to train with ‘Ship Protector’ as Master-at-Arms of the Sea,” the Captain replies in a drunken, but thoughtful tone.  “I want Arsema along with ‘Ship Protector’ to dive down and investigate the damage to the Surprise.  We’ll also need them to help the ‘Ship Builder’ get the ropes in place to release the Surprise from that rock.  I want this done as soon-as-possible.  We need to prepare to attack—you know who.”

She and the Captain both spit on the ground.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

Interview with Darren Joy, author of the epic, dark fantasy book A Viral Imperium

Interview with Darren Joy, author of the epic, dark fantasy book A Viral Imperium:  The Plagueborn Series: Book One

by Dan Watt

The fantastic first book, of the Plagueborn series by Darren Joy, A Viral Imperium.

As I read through Darren Joy’s, A Viral Imperium: The Plagueborn Series: Book One, I was immediately caught up in the imagery and banter.  Joy has written a book that pulls you into a world where magic and undead make sense.  There is also an introduction to Viralic and Spectralic magic, and the combination of the two.  The characters are not always who, or what they seem to be, nor is it always clear if they are good, bad, or complicated.  As the story progresses, you’ll find yourself reading long past your bedtime. 

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a story that caught my attention and held it to the very end.  How long have you worked on A Viral Imperium?

I began this book way back in 2014. I had written three unpublished novels before it, so technically this was my fourth book. It should have been completed much sooner, but due to illness, I had to shelve it for a time in 2016. I managed to finish it last year. Overall, it’s taken almost three years.

Your description of characters, creatures, buildings, and sceneries is both vivid and engrossing.  How do you go about writing those scenes?

A lot of rewriting, lots and lots of rewriting. No kidding. That’s how. What’s in my head never translates to the screen as I write it, or at least, I’m never happy. So going back and reworking those descriptions, and the novel as a whole is essential, and that’s what I put it down to. That, and I read a lot, so descriptions in other books do grab me. I try not to write paragraphs of description too often, but blend it in with the ongoing story wherever possible.

Within the main plot there are many subplots.  The webs and layers of George R.R. Martin’s: A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones TV series); Ken Follett’s:  Pillars of the Earth, and Edward Rutherford’s: Sarum come to mind when I consider the plots within A Viral Imperium.  Did you sketch these out beforehand or did you find them writing themselves?

 Well, put simply, ’I’m a pantser. I write from the hip, not having much of a clue where it’s going to go. Well, maybe a little clue, but I certainly don’t have it all planned out. This means I have to do heavy rewrites. Ideal? Probably not, but I tried planning novels in the early days, and I never finished those. I tend to plan as I go, adding in notes to the first draft, and rewrite drafts, which I then read as I go through the book the next time, also making more notes. It’s my process, and I don’t know if other writers work that way. It works for me though. I also write each main character’s storyline as a separate manuscript before combining them later, so as to make sure the structure for each story is as I want it.

If I was a publisher I would be contacting you and Amazon books to work out a deal.  How do readers and publishers contact you and where is A Viral Imperium available?

For the moment, it is only available on Amazon, but I am strongly considering having it available on other platforms soon. I don’t know if any publishers will contact me, but anyone including readers can get me through the contact page on my website at: www.darrenjoy.com

I also understand you have the second book in the series coming out.  Could you tell us when and if there’s a pre order?

Yep, anyone can pre order it now on Amazon. It’s called A Malignant Fetch and it is on sale for 99cents from the 8th of November this year, so not long to go. I’m getting nervous all over again. Easiest way to pre order it is to just pop over to my website, www.darrenjoy.com, and there is a link from there.

Available November 8th, 2021

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.  I’m very much looking forward to reading A Malignant Fetch!  

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Nine)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“What was the plan,” ‘Wheel Turner’ asks passing over a biscuit and a wooden cup full of diluted rum.

Master Jo Anne watches in utter surprise as Melinda’s expression blossoms into hate and rage as she replies, “To feast on Barthadrow and his crew.”

Everyone, including Melinda spits.

“Worthy task,” she hears ‘Wheel Turner’ say with a nod.  “Well our Captain is impatient so the ‘Ship Builder’ and I will just lug this casket of liquid gold to the talk.” 

Master Jo Anne sees the ‘Ship Builder’ glance her way with concern.

‘I’ll be fine,’ she mouths back to him.

“I think the Navigator will agree with me when I say we are a Sisterhood,” Zala says.

“Aye,” she replies turning away from the ‘Ship Builder’.

“What sort of religion do you follow?” Zala asks the Cannibal.

“I follow the most righteous religion,” Melinda replies.  “Drebee is my goddess.  All other religions are backwards and despicable.”  Leaning forward the Cannibal adds conspiratorially, “They eat their own children.”

“But you said your world is overpopulated,” Zala says. 

Master Jo Anne smiles.  A real thinker is Zala.

Melinda’s mouth opens and she stares off with a confused expression on her face.  “Well, that’s what our priests tale us,” she starts to explain but then hesitates again.  Then she perks up and says enthusiastically, “They don’t take care of themselves and die of disease.  And the couples hate each other.”

“Should you be eating them then?” Zala asks.

“Let us talk about something else,” Melinda says and her smile is charming and persuasive although her mauve irises grow darker and the red specks increase in size.

“Yes,” she hears Zala agree.  She sees Zala move slightly farther away from Melinda.

“The one with the lost gaze and strangely misplaced missing finger seems handsome in a pitiful kind of way,” Melinda says with a smile that causes her canine shaped fangs to glint in the light of the two moons.  “Is he spoken for?”

“Yes,” Master Jo Anne replies curtly and before Zala can say anything.

“Here?” Melinda asks looking back at the Nagua.

Master Jo Anne slides her hand over the pommel of her rapier and partially withdraws it.  “It’s not to be discussed,” she warns through gritted teeth. 

“Well, no matter,” Melinda replies.  The look in Melinda’s eyes cause Master Jo Anne to think of a painting of the Greek or is it Roman deity, Apollo.  She shakes her head to clear her thoughts.

“So,” Melinda continues without any show of fear.  “Have you ever been in a place where one day it stops raining and the surrounding villages won’t let you in?”

“No,” Master Jo Anne hears Zala reply in a very inquisitive like tone.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Nine)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“What was the plan,” ‘Wheel Turner’ asks passing over a biscuit and a wooden cup full of diluted rum.

Master Jo Anne watches in utter surprise as Melinda’s expression blossoms into hate and rage as she replies, “To feast on Barthadrow and his crew.”

Everyone, including Melinda spits.

“Worthy task,” she hears ‘Wheel Turner’ say with a nod.  “Well our Captain is impatient so the ‘Ship Builder’ and I will just lug this casket of liquid gold to the talk.” 

Master Jo Anne sees the ‘Ship Builder’ glance her way with concern.

‘I’ll be fine,’ she mouths back to him.

“I think the Navigator will agree with me when I say we are a Sisterhood,” Zala says.

“Aye,” she replies turning away from the ‘Ship Builder’.

“What sort of religion do you follow?” Zala asks the Cannibal.

“I follow the most righteous religion,” Melinda replies.  “Drebee is my goddess.  All other religions are backwards and despicable.”  Leaning forward the Cannibal adds conspiratorially, “They eat their own children.”

“But you said your world is overpopulated,” Zala says. 

Master Jo Anne smiles.  A real thinker is Zala.

Melinda’s mouth opens and she stares off with a confused expression on her face.  “Well, that’s what our priests tale us,” she starts to explain but then hesitates again.  Then she perks up and says enthusiastically, “They don’t take care of themselves and die of disease.  And the couples hate each other.”

“Should you be eating them then?” Zala asks.

“Let us talk about something else,” Melinda says and her smile is charming and persuasive although her mauve irises grow darker and the red specks increase in size.

“Yes,” she hears Zala agree.  She sees Zala move slightly farther away from Melinda.

“The one with the lost gaze and strangely misplaced missing finger seems handsome in a pitiful kind of way,” Melinda says with a smile that causes her canine shaped fangs to glint in the light of the two moons.  “Is he spoken for?”

“Yes,” Master Jo Anne replies curtly and before Zala can say anything.

“Here?” Melinda asks looking back at the Nagua.

Master Jo Anne slides her hand over the pommel of her rapier and partially withdraws it.  “It’s not to be discussed,” she warns through gritted teeth. 

“Well, no matter,” Melinda replies.  The look in Melinda’s eyes cause Master Jo Anne to think of a painting of the Greek or is it Roman deity, Apollo.  She shakes her head to clear her thoughts.

“So,” Melinda continues without any show of fear.  “Have you ever been in a place where one day it stops raining and the surrounding villages won’t let you in?”

“No,” Master Jo Anne hears Zala reply in a very inquisitive like tone.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Eight)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Eight)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“You were eating Peg leg’s left hand?” she hears Zala ask the Cannibal girl as they catch sight of ‘Wheel Turner’ talking to the ‘Ship Builder’.  She notices that they brought the pinnace farther up the stony shore now that the tide is in.

“Before coming here I lived in a land with too many people,” the Cannibal girl replies.  “You notice the Horse People will only allow us to land to trade.”

“But it’s the same for us,” she hears Zala say.

“Some of your men told the Horse People how pale skins, like myself, and your friend with the interesting sword hilt, would claim their lands as they did in the world you came from.  Now the Horse People won’t allow my people to land because when the brandy moon moves in front of the milky one we have to feed. “

“Where we came from there was disease and war,” Zala says.  “Didn’t that stop you from having too many people?”

“Some of us are not affected by disease or got it and survived,” the Cannibal girl says indifferently.  “We tried war but that didn’t work.  Some of the members of the warring tribes fell in love with each other and we like to make little ones too much.  So a month before the three moons become one, we stop eating and only drink.  Then during the eclipse, because we are starving, each tribe attacks another.  We do not hunt down the children but adopt them afterwards.  Unlike the Horse People we do not bury those killed.   We eat them as nature intended.  Afterwards we are horrified and apologize to the children that we ate their parents.  Mostly we are a caring and loving people.”

It makes Master Jo Anne queasy when she realizes what the Cannibal girl says makes sense.  She worries, as she knows the Captain does, that overpopulation on the ships will bring trouble.  “What is your name?” she asks.

“Melinda,” the Cannibal girl answers.

Master Jo Anne notices her glancing at the ‘Ship Builder’, especially at his missing finger.

“We did that?” Melinda asks.  “That would be an awkward finger to get at without eating the others?”

“No one knows what happened exactly,” Zala replies, looking at Master Jo Anne for confirmation.

“It was something else,” she says.  If they ever find the Witch, everyone will understand.  She turns to ‘Wheel Turner’ and the ‘Ship Builder’ and tells them, “This is Melinda, she came from the other ship,” she tells them.  “She ate part of Peg leg’s left hand but she’s better now.”  Deftly she uses her knife to cut the vines binding Melinda’s wrists.

“Are you hungry?” ‘Wheel Turner’ asks everyone.  Master Jo Anne knows this is a test to see if the madness is out of Melinda, or not.

“Very much so,” Melinda replies, “and thirsty!”

“We have biscuits and dried fish to eat,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says, noticeably keeping her body turned sideways to Melinda.  “As for drink, there’s watered down rum.”

“I don’t eat flesh,” Melinda says, “So some rum and a biscuit would be wonderful.”

Master Jo Anne is shocked at Melinda’s reply.  “You don’t eat flesh?” she asks.

“That’s only once a year, to cull the population, otherwise I abhor it,” Melinda replies.  “Sadly the two moons did not converge as planned.”

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Seven)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Seven)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“This one is injured,” says the tall, dark Horse Man with the bulging chest muscles that ripple as he speaks down towards the Captain.  “She gnawed on wood leg’s left hand between sensual whispers.  A girl, must be one of yours?”  The last statement was definitely a question made plain by the Horse Man’s arched left eyebrow.

“We’ll take her,” the Captain says with a frown and after a pause, “and the others.  In our boat we have a casket of liquid sunlight.”  The Captain shakes her head, making it clear; she’s losing greatly in this deal.

The Horse Man raises his square shaped chin so his eyes are half lidded.  His tail whips side to side.  “Bring gift, and we will share a meal to seal deal.”  The Horse Woman says something to him in their language with much vigour.  With a voice torn between lust and regret he adds, “And take the pointed ear one with succulent canine back to your boat, now.  She may not come back.”  The Horse Man raises his hands before his face and independently moves them as if to make sure that all his fingers are still there.

“Master Jo Anne, you and Zala take our guest back to the pinnace with you,” the Captain tells her.  “And ask Synthia and the ‘Ship Builder’ to return with our special gift.”  She notices the Captain doesn’t give Synthia’s title.

The Horse Woman makes a nod behind her and a male Horse Teen trots up to the tree.  Like the others he has shaggy hair.  He carries an obsidian dagger that he uses to release everyone but the Cannibal girl.  After a moment of hesitation the vines that encircle the tree around her and the gag in her mouth are cut, but not the vine that binds her wrists.  Master Jo Anne notices the teen is very cautious around the Cannibal girl.

“I won’t hurt you,” the Cannibal girl says to her and Zala in such a sweet and honest voice that Master Jo Anne instantly believes her.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Six)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Six)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Its sunset and she knows the bugs will smell their sweat once they move past the wind that always touches the shore.  The red rimmed eyes of the ‘Harlot’ are heartbreaking.  The poor girl holds her bow with knocked arrow pointing at the ground as she furtively tries to glance everywhere at once for signs of her lover.  There are two known dangers on the island.  One is the Cannibals whose ship they didn’t see anywhere; the other is the Horse People who live here.

The sound of a hoof striking a rock is unmistakable.  With only the two moons to give light and the faint mist that blankets everything it’s hard to decide if what she sees is a tree, a plant, or something on two or four legs.

There are two more distinct strikes of the hoof and an impatient cough.

She sees the Captain raise an arm.  Zala also raises her arm to make sure everyone sees.  “I am Captain Alejandra of the Nagua we come to negotiate the release of any survivors of the Surprise.  The ship stuck on the rocks near your shore.”

“You are not welcome here,” says a cocky baritone voice.  “Drop weapons and clothes and–,” there’s a loud oomph sound from the speaker.  An angry feminine voice says something in a different language.

“Keep all clothes on and everything,” says the voice in a much higher tone.  There’s silence then, “Put hands above head.”

“I think his wife just gave him a toe or knuckle reminder of who his eyes should stay on,” whispers ‘Wheel Turner’ with a snicker.

As she sheathes her rapier and raises her arms above her head Master Jo Anne has to chew on her lower lip to not laugh out loud.

“I bet I can reach my throwing knife and implant it into his throat before he could let off an arrow,” she hears ‘Dizzying Blade’ tell the ‘Harlot’.

“Where do we go?” the Captain asks.

There’s some inaudible conversation between the female and male voice.  “Forward ten paces,” the male voice demands.  There’s a pause.  “Twenty of yours.”

As she walks with the Captain and the others through the mist, passing glimpses of tree trunks and bushes, Master Jo Anne realizes they are entering an opening with a giant tree before them.  There’s the sound of the hoof against a rock again.  To her right about ten paces away she sees the shadowy image of a well-endowed massive horse body with a torso of an equally large man.  Beside him, perhaps three-quarters the size, is a buxomly female.  The male is holding a spear and the female a longbow with a knocked arrow.  

The tree’s trunk is clothed in thick vines that grow vertically up its trunk.  As she gets closer she sees Captain Peg leg with a leaf wrapped around his left hand.  Humphrey and some others from the Surprise are tied and gagged with vines against other trees.  The ‘Harlot’ cries out and dashes to Humphrey.  Master Jo Anne tears up as she watches the ‘Harlot’ caressing her lover’s cheek but smart enough to know not to try to cut the vines.

Master Jo Anne follows the others to the other side of the tree.

The Horse People couple are closer now, along with others.  The male who spoke to them, is as tall as a Shire horse.  At least nineteen hands tall at the horse’s shoulder and another seven hands to the crown of his head.  In the mist his skin is dark and glistening.  Long, auburn curls fall around his broad shoulders.  His irises are green or grey.  She can see the muscles in his cheeks twitch confidently as he smiles through thick lips that show off his shiny white buck teeth.

She hears a hiss and turns her attention to the female, who is now glowering at her with wide hazel eyes.  The girl’s dark brown hair flows around her bare chest and farther down until it leads Master Jo Anne’s eyes to the arrow aimed at her own chest. 

“Navigator,” she hears the Captain whisper.

Quickly she turns her attention back to the tree.  A lush young woman is tied there.  The woman is wearing a similar mix match of clothing that everyone on the Nague wears: a vest from here, capris from there, a laced shirt from somewhere else.  The girl’s irises are a peculiar mauve with specks of red.  The girl glances back at Master Jo Anne inquisitively.  In the mist the freckles on her long narrow nose and full cheeks are only visible intermittently.  The vine gag shows her long, thick canines.   She must be one of the Cannibals.  Because the girl has what looks like curly slate grey hair in the mist, tied back in a bun, her long pointy ears are clearly visible.  They twitch causing Master Jo Anne to involuntarily step back.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Five)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Five)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

The Surprise rests against an outcropping of rocks with minimal damage to her port side.  Master Jo Anne agrees with the Captain and ‘Ship Builder’ that the ship can be salvaged with enough help.  From the hold she hears the ‘Ship Builder’ call up that the crew’s personal chests are locked.  A short time later she hears him shout up that the barrels in the cargo hold are all tied and untouched.

Once on deck she hears him say in his deep, solemn voice, “The Cannibals just wanted meat it seems.”

She notices that there’s no other sign of death but for the chipped beams from obvious sword and knife fighting.  She thought there would be blood.  It was so long ago but she remembers now that when the Cannibals killed and ate all of Barthadrow’s men on the Nagua, there were few signs except for a few pieces of flesh and a tooth here and there.

As they head towards the island she realizes the pinnace is loaded with a motley crew.  The Captain and Zala sit on the front seat facing towards the rocky beach they head towards.  On the middle seat are ‘Wheel Turner’ and the ‘Ship Builder’.  She wonders if his finger makes rowing harder.  With her, seated at the very back, is ‘Dizzying Blade’ with the ‘Harlot’ between them.  Watching ‘Dizzying Blade’ slide a flint stone along the blade of one of her throwing knives is very intimidating.  The ‘Harlot’ is sitting forward with an intent stare. 

In the centre of the pinnace is the metal fire pit for the ‘Ship Protector’, two sacks, and a barrel of sustenance very dear to the Captain.  One of the sacks is full of biscuits and dried fish.  The other contains a few of the bows and arrows the Captain asked to be made.  The arrow heads are coated in a resin Nippi made from a plant called Bell Iron.  The husk of the plant is thick and hairy like a coconut but bell shaped.  Inside is an inedible and viscous liquid that smells horrible but hardens the tips to the strength of iron.  She remembers looking inside an open fruit and seeing fibers that hold the large seed inside.  The fibres are soft like silver but extremely strong.  The ‘Harlot’ made some jewellery from the fibres.

A light drizzle makes everything glisten.  But the wind is a zephyr and warm.  As always the water has a stench from the rotting vegetation left by low tide.

Partially hidden amongst some giant Aloe Vera growing near the shore is another pinnace. 

“We’ll land between those two boulders,” she hears the Captain call in a soft voice. 

‘Dizzying Blade’ puts away her sharpening stone.  Zala takes out a bow and a quiver with six arrows from the one sack.  She tosses the ‘Harlot’ another bow and quiver.  Everyone else but the rowers draws out whatever type of rapier or sword they have. 

Once the pinnace slides into the pebbled shore the Captain and Zala leap out first.  ‘Dizzying Blade’, herself, and the ‘Harlot’ leap into the shallow water next.  As they all head towards shore ‘Wheel Turner’ and the ‘Ship Builder’ pull the pinnace farther onto shore and spike its rope into the ground.  They won’t be coming with them.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Four)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Four)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Master Jo Anne grimaces.  An idea comes to her that could save her life—for a moment at least.  She finds Janet asleep in the hold beside Nippie.  Gently she shakes Janet and whispers, “I need you to sing for me, m’love.”

Janet wakes up with a stir and Master Jo Anne is shocked by the absolute look of hate and terror she sees in Janet’s eyes.  But the glaring stare softness with recognition. 

“You want me to sing?” Janet asks in a sweet, grumpy voice.

“Aye lass, a lovely tune,” Master Jo Anne says with a kind smile.  With tender steps so as not to wake the rum infused girls sleeping, she leads Janet to the deck.

They walk past the girls who are raising the sails to ‘One Eye’s’ singing and mandolin playing.   Master Jo Anne holds a hand up for Janet to stay just outside of ‘Dizzying Blade’s’ room.  “Don’t out sing First Mate Olanis,” She tells Janet, “but sing that lovely song you sing during full moons.  Our Master-at-arms loves that song and it’s her birthday soon.”  She has no idea when anyone’s birthday is but it could be true.

“My heart is broken,” Janet sings in a soprano voice full of sorrow.

For the full moon reminds

Reminds me of cannon ball fire

Reminds me of rape and pillage

Master Jo Anne covers her ears as Janet wails:

Why!?

Why!?

Does the moon grow full…

“Oh, shut your trap!  Please Janet!” she hears ‘Dizzying Blade’ cry out. “I hate that song!” Master Jo Anne hears lament in ‘Dizzying Blade’s’ voice.

Janet turns to her.  “You said she loves this song.”  Master Jo Anne doesn’t miss the accusatory look now on Janet’s face.

“She loves it,” she assures Janet, “but maybe only on full moons.”  Turning to ‘Dizzying Blade’s’ door she shouts.  “Captain wants you on the pinnace.”

There’s a sound of something banging and an unmentionable string of words from ‘Dizzying Blade’.  “I’ll be there in a moment but I need to use the Head first.  Now where’s that throwing knife I was sharpening.”

“Go back to bed now Janet,” Master Jo Anne says with a thankful smile.  “You did awfully wonderful for me.”

“Okay, but that was strange,” Janet says as she walks off with groggy steps.

Master Jo Anne wonders if Janet is the only one that doesn’t have to say “Aye, aye sir.”

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-three)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-three)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Master Jo Anne clenches the scrying ball in her left hand as she sits on the bowsprit with her chin jutting out as she peers through the wet wind.  Raven had called out that a ship was stuck and listing near the shore of an island called Nasty To Get Off.  

She can now see that the mainmast was broken off just below the crow’s nest.  She wonders if Peg leg’s Surprise had cannon shot or did the Cannibals?  As the Nagua gets closer she knows it isn’t the Cannibal ship but the Surprise.  She turns to the ‘Harlot’ and sees the red rimmed eyes under her hand that she uses as a visor.  The ‘Harlot’s’ lips are also cracked.

“Is that the Surprise?” the ‘Harlot’ asks in a raspy voice full of worry.

“It is,” Master Jo Anne replies.  “But there’s no pinnace aboard and they had two.”

“I want to go ashore,” the ‘Harlot’ says and there’s no room for argument.

“We need to get to the Surprise first, see what’s usable before we check the shore.”  Master Jo Anne reaches back and pats the ‘Harlot’s’ shoulder.  “The Surprise is listing Northeast!” she shouts.

Surprise Northeast!” she hears Umi shout from the fo’c’sle, “Wake Captain!  Surprise listing!”

Faintly from a distance she hears Aarini’s ragged voice reply, “Aye, aye, ‘Ship Protector’!”

“I’m going to get the Master-at-Arms to teach me how to kill if they ate my Humphrey,” the ‘Harlot’ croaks out.  “If they did, by Crazy Bumbee’s hairy arse, I’ll kill them all!”

“You’ll need to eat first and no more rum!” Master Jo Anne tells her with true concern in her voice.  Never has she seen the ‘Harlot’ appear so distraught. 

As the Nagua nears the Surprise Master Jo Anne hears Aarini shout out the Captain’s orders.  “Lower the sails and prepare to drop anchor!”  ‘One Eye’ and Zala must still be sleeping if Aarini is repeating the Captian.  “Roll call for the pinnace is–,” Aarini continues to shout when the ‘Harlot’ takes off down the fo’c’sle’s steps.

“Me!” Master Jo Anne hears the ‘Harlot’ cries out.

There’s silence for a moment.  A moment later Aarini shouts out: “Thelma is chosen!  Navigator wake the Master-at-Arms, and if you live wake Zala.”  Drunken laughter erupts through the ship.  “First Mate Olanis will be in charge of the ship,” Aarini continues, “with me as her First Mate.  Our most esteemed Captain will be joining the others on the pinnace.  The Captain says, and I quote, ‘A final rule me lovely crew of Mary Reads, if you see any horsemen cantering on the shore, especially if they’re starkers, no catcalls!’”

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Four)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Thirty-Two)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Thirty-Two)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“I’ll take me kip now,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says with a glance up at the sky where the much closer Eau-de-vie blocks the milky white of the much farther away Cachaça.

Oli sees Aarini gulp.  “Steady lass,” Oli says reassuringly.  “We see this once a year.”

“I saw what they did to Barthadrow’s crew on the Nagua—before we took it–and the Queen of Pirates gave it to the Captain,” Aarini says shivering as she stares up into the sky now the colour of brandy.  “The only thing left was the blood stains mixed with bits of skin and slivers of bone.  Is that what happened to the ‘Ship Builder’s’ finger?  He had to fight off the Cannibals when Eau-de-vie covered Cachaça?”

“Best forget that,” Oli hears ‘Wheel Turner’ say in a stern tone.  “Captain and Navigator don’t like talk of what happened to the ‘Ship Builder’s’ finger.  Besides, I don’t need nightmares before a potential battle.”

“Ah!  The girls Zala has chosen have arrived,” Oli says with a sigh, glad to change the subject.  “Off to bed for you Zala,” Oli says to the girl she is sure will be a captain someday.”

“Aye, aye, First Mate,” Zala replies.

As ‘Wheel Turner’ and Zala leave Oli turns to the waiting girls.  The younger ones already look woozy from the rum.

“Four of you older and bigger girls get on the spokes of the capstan and help Cook Nippie and Janet get that anchor aboard,” she shouts out.  “Ye others get pulling the ropes to raise the sails and be prepared to pull on the sheets.  Except you Kitkun,” she says to a tall, lean girl who is deep into her child bearing years. 

Her nickname is Raven, both because of the meaning of her name and her and keen eyesight.  “We need you in the Crows ‘Nest.” 

Kitkun once told her she came from a giant Island off the shore of an even larger island.  Where her people made totems poles and warred with the tribes from the other island.  She had also told Oli her parents gave her the name Kitkun because ravens circled over her mother as she gave birth to her. 

“You’ve got the eyes of the raven lass,” Oli reminds Kitkun.

“Aye, aye, First Mate” Kitkun replies as she clambers up the rope ladder of the main mast.

Oli plucks the strings of her mandolin and sings:  “Have you heard the tale of Whimpering Isaac?”

“We have,” the girls sing back, “but tell us again First Mate Olanis.”

Oli swings her mandolin behind her and climbs the steps to the fo’c’sle.  On the bowsprit sits The Navigator, Master Jo Ann, and beside her huddled in a canvas sheet is the ‘Harlot’.

“He was the first pirate to survive the Cannibals.  Well most of him.”  She sings.  She pauses, entranced as the ‘Harlot’ glances her way; with a stare so familiar.  Oh, she thinks, I know whose eyes the ‘Harlot’s reflect.  That look of devotion, and of determination, of desperation, and fear of never seeing her lover again.  The ‘Harlot’ might lose her nickname if this is true.  I think she’s smitten with Humphrey.  That pained face the ‘Harlot’ wears as the growing wind whips her hair into her face, is the spitting image of the one she so often sees, on ‘The Shipbuilder’s’.

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Thirty-Two)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Thirty-Two)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“I’ll take me kip now,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says with a glance up at the sky where the much closer Eau-de-vie blocks the milky white of the much farther away Cachaça.

Oli sees Aarini gulp.  “Steady lass,” Oli says reassuringly.  “We see this once a year.”

“I saw what they did to Barthadrow’s crew on the Nagua—before we took it–and the Queen of Pirates gave it to the Captain,” Aarini says shivering as she stares up into the sky now the colour of brandy.  “The only thing left was the blood stains mixed with bits of skin and slivers of bone.  Is that what happened to the ‘Ship Builder’s’ finger?  He had to fight off the Cannibals when Eau-de-vie covered Cachaça?”

“Best forget that,” Oli hears ‘Wheel Turner’ say in a stern tone.  “Captain and Navigator don’t like talk of what happened to the ‘Ship Builder’s’ finger.  Besides, I don’t need nightmares before a potential battle.”

“Ah!  The girls Zala has chosen have arrived,” Oli says with a sigh, glad to change the subject.  “Off to bed for you Zala,” Oli says to the girl she is sure will be a captain someday.”

“Aye, aye, First Mate,” Zala replies.

As ‘Wheel Turner’ and Zala leave Oli turns to the waiting girls.  The younger ones already look woozy from the rum.

“Four of you older and bigger girls get on the spokes of the capstan and help Cook Nippie and Janet get that anchor aboard,” she shouts out.  “Ye others get pulling the ropes to raise the sails and be prepared to pull on the sheets.  Except you Kitkun,” she says to a tall, lean girl who is deep into her child bearing years. 

Her nickname is Raven, both because of the meaning of her name and her and keen eyesight.  “We need you in the Crows ‘Nest.” 

Kitkun once told her she came from a giant Island off the shore of an even larger island.  Where her people made totems poles and warred with the tribes from the other island.  She had also told Oli her parents gave her the name Kitkun because ravens circled over her mother as she gave birth to her. 

“You’ve got the eyes of the raven lass,” Oli reminds Kitkun.

“Aye, aye, First Mate” Kitkun replies as she clambers up the rope ladder of the main mast.

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Thirty-one)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Thirty-one)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“We have a pact with Peg leg,” Oli says.

“Aye, we do,” the Captain agrees.  “Forget your eye patch and pull out your mandolin my First Mate.  The girls will need a song to carry them through the next while.”  Oli watches as the Captain stares into the sky.  “And a storm is brewing.  I’ll take first sleep so you’re in charge.”

“Aye, aye Captain,” Oli says with a grin.

Oli feels a nudge against her shoulder.

“Sir,” the ‘Harlot’ says to her with tear streaked cheeks and a determined stare.  “I wish to help pull the sheets and whatever else it takes to make the Nague fly towards Captain Peg leg’s ship the Surprise.

“Aye sister,” Oli replies.  “Help make them bows twang with the Master-at-Arms and the Shipbuilder.  We’ll handle lowering and raising the sails.”

“But we need to hurry,” the ‘Harlot’ says in a tone that surprises Oli; there’s no sarcasm only worry in it.

“We’ll make haste and if he hasn’t been eaten yet save your heart,” Oli assures her.

“Thank you sir,” the ‘Harlot’ says with a shake of her now clasped hands. 

Oli goes to her room under the fo’c’sle and straps her mandolin over her shoulder.

“Lasses all, hear me!” Oli shouts out as she walks towards the post of the main mast while lightly strumming the strings of her mandolin.  “We must save our friends on the Surprise from our friends the Cannibals.”  She starts strumming the strings of her mandolin with more vigor.  “There’s a wind building and a storm brewing, so we must hurry.  Now see Cook Nippie and Janet and receive your quota of rum for this wild ride.”  Zala and Aarini step to either side of her.  “Zala will choose which of you rest and which of you stay on deck to work.  We’ll be doing shifts of eight hours.  Helmswoman Synthia has turned the first hourglass over.  Those of you resting get as much kip as you can.  The rest of you!  It’s time to fly!”

“With me Aarini,” Oli sings as she saunters over to the Poop Deck where ‘Wheel Turner’ is waiting for them.  “You’ll be pulling the spokes one way or the other,” Oli says as ‘Wheel Turner’ steps back so Aarini can take the wheel.  “Zala will be calling the direction from the fo’c’sle where Master Jo Ann our beloved Navigator will tell her which way we wants to go.”

“Where will you be sir?” Aarini asks with a mixture of concern and excitement in her voice and on her face.

“I’ll be nearby,” Oli replies with a wink, “Giving orders between singing a song.”

The planks of the deck, the sails, and everything else are suddenly tinted a semi-translucent brandy colour.

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Thirty)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Thirty)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“You’re a genius First Mate Olanis,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says and slaps her on the shoulder.  “Up you go while I pass the skin sacks to you.”

Oli grunts as ‘Wheel Turner’ gives her the sacks.  “If we really wanted to get fresh water we would need to hook up a pulley and use buckets,” she says through gritting teeth.

“There’s a wind coming up and dark clouds in the sky that says are time here is up,” ‘Wheel Turner’ replies with her own grunt.

“I’m thinking we tie a string to the sacks and place them on some of the broad leaves so we can slide them down,” Oli says wiping perspiration from her forehead.  You might be able to carry them but they’re too heavy for me to lug down.”

“Aye,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says. 

Oli sees ‘Wheel Turner’ hack off a couple of leaves from unfamiliar plant.  The leaves are as long and wide as she is. 

Once they get to the water Oli makes one of Umi’s Ama whistles.  In a short time she sees the pinnace being rowed their way.

The growing waves rock the pinnace as it makes it back to the Nagua.  Once the two water sacks, seaweed, and dogweed are loaded Oli goes with ‘Wheel Turner’ to see the Captain on the Fo’c’sle.

“Captain and Navigator,” she and ‘Wheel Turner’ say in unison.

“There’s fruit and fresh water and we found a new people,” Oli tells the Captain.

“Taller than the Real Talls and with a dorsal fin along their backs,” ‘Wheel Turner’ adds.

“Well,” the Captain says as she pinches her chin in thought.  “All we saw was Peg leg’s Surprise pass us with the Cannibals’ ship close behind.”

“And there are full moons crossing,” ‘Storm Caller’ says ominously.

“Ah!” Oli cries out.  “All of us women will be howling at the moon.  It will be a crazy ship for the next while.  Poor, poor ‘Ship Builder’.  He’ll be hiding more than normal.”  She laughs.

“And Janet will be singing her lamenting songs,” ‘Wheel Turner’ adds with a groan.

“Two full moons crossing one another,” ‘Storm Caller’ says again.

Everyone goes silent.

“The Cannibals will be wanting to feed,” the Captain says in a wearisome tone.

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Review of The Tomorrow War

Review of The Tomorrow War

by Dan Watt

Picture only used for this post

The movie starts off with Chris Pratt’s character, Dan Forester, waiting to find out if he has a new teaching job.  Everything is normal until individuals from the future show up.

The script by Zach Dean (Deadfall, 24 Hours To Live) is about a future war with aliens but with a twist. 

I really enjoyed the human reaction to everything that goes on in The Tomorrow War.  The interaction between the characters reminds me of George Lucas’s 1978 Star Wars (Episode IV).  In Star Wars the characters are so endearing because they act like we would to situations.  Dan’s interaction with his wife and attitude towards his father is down to Earth and real.  I also enjoyed Dan’s interaction with his daughter(s).  The casting for this film was right on.  Everyone makes the scenes believable. 

Unlike the screenplay by Edward Neumeier (Robocop) for Starship Troopers (based on the book of the same name by Robert Heinlein) the social and political comments aren’t commercials or newsreels but ones we make to each other daily.  In The Tomorrow War lack of faith in world leaders and NATO is brought forth by individual comments.

The battle scenes are similar to Ridley Scott’s Blackhawk Down.  The director, Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie) makes sure you’re right there. 

A pivotal realization in the movie made me think of Neill Blomkamp (Elysium) and Terri Tatchell’s (Chappie) screenplay for District 9.  And for anyone who has read Liu Cixin’s Dark Forest, the movie suggests another terrifying possibility.   

The Tomorrow War gives me hope that Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War can finally be made.

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Nine)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Nine)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

‘Wheel Turner’ pops her knife out of her mouth and with a shake of her head whispers, “The ‘Harlot’ would be hypnotized by the pendulum swing of the one fellow down there.”

Oli almost spits out her knife as she holds back a laugh.  She takes her own knife out of her mouth.  “How many leagues do you think we climbed to get to the pond?”

“About ten at least,” ‘Wheel Turner’ replies.

“Then how tall do you figure them peoples down there are?”

She sees a mind churning expression on ‘Wheel Turner’s’ face.

“Maybe three, three-and-a-half for some.  They’re all different heights.”

“How tall would you say the Real Talls are?”  Oli asks, desperate for another peek but knowing its best she doesn’t.

“Two, two-and-a-half tops.”

“The Real Talls don’t have dorsal fins on their back, or wide hands with webbing between though, do they?” Oli asks conspiratorially.

“They don’t have feathery things for hair or wide splayed feet, or walk around nude either,” ‘Wheel Turner’ adds.  “Thought I saw an opening at the far end of the lagoon but couldn’t be sure with all the foliage.  Do you think they’re newbies and still haven’t found their way around?”

“There was some poorly made huts,” Oli replies thoughtfully.  Could be their ship was dashed to pieces and they’re all that’s left.”

“Really want to take another look,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says while she clasps her hands into fists.

Oli glances up into the sky.  “Best we get some water and relate all this to the Captain,” she says with a finger to her lips.

She and ‘Wheel Turner’ take turns filling their water sacks.  While one fills the other keeps an eye on the far side of the pond.

“Would have liked to lay nude and all and let the sun dry me but we best get back,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says with a sigh.  “Do you think we’ll ever be safe to do what we want?”

“What fun is it to do what we want and be safe,” Oli says with her head tilted to the side and a wide grin on her face.

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Eight)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Oli sees that Eau-de-vie is not far from Cachaça.  She helps ‘Wheel Turner’ climb down then without waiting drops down herself.  The pond is only a few steps away.  She glances around as she waits for ‘Wheel Turner’ to taste the water.  There’s plants growing in the water but no fish, a good sign its fresh water.  At the far end there’s a V-shaped gap where she guesses any overflow of water from rain flows down to whatever is below.

“It’s fresh,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says.

Oli glances up at the sky then strips off her clothes.  “Who knows when we’ll be able to bathe in fresh water again,” she says.

“Aye,” ‘Wheel Turner’ agrees pulling off her own clothes.

Oli notices the pool is only a league deep near the shore where she and ‘Wheel Turner’ frolic for a moment, splashing water at each other.

“Let’s see what’s over the other ridge,” Oli suggests.  She dunks her head in the water.  When she surfaces she shakes her hair.  “This water feels so good,” she laments.

“Off to the edge of the world,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says with a whiny voice followed by a laugh.

Oli grabs her knife.  She sees ‘Wheel Turner’ follow suit.  Never good to be weaponless, as ‘Dizzying Blade’ has reminded her many times. 

With her knife blade in her mouth Oli pulls aside some fern leaves.  Her eyes widen as she stares down a precipice.  On the far side she sees a waterfall pour into a pool.  Around the pool are very peculiar looking people.  With much diligence she lets the leaves of the fern fall back into place.  She glances at ‘Wheel Turner’ whose bulging eyes she imagines are a reflection of her own.

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Seven)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Seven)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

As she and ‘Wheel Turner’ make their way towards the top of the ridge Oli notices there are numerous birds and flowering insects.  Many of the trees and other plants she recognizes but there are also many she doesn’t.

“You think if the Real Talls, Sames, and Cannibals,” she says gasping for breath, “came from another world, they also brought animals, insects, and plants with them as the Captain suggests?”

“Why not,” ‘Wheel Turner’ replies, wiping perspiration from her face.  “We did.”

“But there’s the Deep Dwellers, fish-tails, dolphin-tails, horsepeople, and giants,” Oli says.

“And those are just the ones we know of,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says as they reach the crest.

“What happens when we defeat Barthadrow?”  Oli asks and spits on the ground.

“It’s the other one I’m worried about,” ‘Wheel Turner replies.  “Comparable to a first mate, that one–.”

Without thinking Oli has ‘Wheel Turner’ on her back.  She blinks perspiration away and realizes the point of her dagger is imprinting the skin at the side of ‘Wheel Turner’s’ neck.

“Didn’t mean comparable, as in to you, but in how close that person is to Barthadrow.”  ‘Wheel Turner’ instinctively spits sideways.

“Aye,” Oli says with a grin and a shake of her head.  She gets up, re-sheathes her dagger and offers ‘Wheel Turner’ her hand.

‘Wheel Turner’ shows her strength and Oli grimaces as she’s thrown onto her chest and face.  Before she can catch her wind ‘Wheel Turner’ is kneeling on her shoulder blades with the point of her own knife poking just behind the flap of Oli’s right ear.

“Ye’re like my sister,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says in a soft, deadly voice.  “You didn’t run me through, not even nick me so I’ll do as like.  But never, ever, think I would compare you to that monsters second-in-command.  Agreed?”

Oli gulps, “Agreed.”

When Oli is on her feet again she places her hand on the hilt of her rapier.  She sees ‘Wheel Turner’ do the same.  And they both laugh.

“I could never kill you ‘One Eye’,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says giving her a bear hug.

“Nor I you,” Oli says laughing hugging her back.  

“Now if either of us had been ‘Dizzying Blade’,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says.

“Either one of us would be dead now,” Oli finishes for her.

“I swear, I see that one whose eyes could be either light grey or green pending on the clothes she wears, always scoping everyone.”  ‘Wheel Turner’ says with a wearisome shake of her head.  “All the years we’ve known her and I’ve still never felt safe around her.”

As she chuckles Oli says, “And she’s our Master-at-Arms.”

“Crazy Bumbee’s bollocks I’m glad she’s on our side.

Oli hears something beyond the dense foliage in front of them.  “Shhh,” she whispers.

She and ‘Wheel Turner’ carefully part the foliage until they come to the other side of the ridge.  Glancing through the long, rib-like leaves of some kind of fern Oli sees a half league down a large circular pond.  At the far edge of the pond is a row of palm mixed with banana and other trees.  “I think past the pond is a precipice,” she says.

“Help me down and I’ll taste the water,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says.  “If it’s fresh I’ll help you down.”  ‘Wheel Turner’ stares up into the sky.  “We’ll have to head back soon.”

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

DANCER

Concept art for the poem.

He stands in the doorway of a hexagonal room

The sea air wafts through the open windows

Its night with only a crystal chandelier to give light

To his left is a wall of weapons

To his right a fireplace

He walks to the front of the fireplace

Atop its mantle is a chessboard

The squares are made of cararra and fior di bosco marble

He places a long necked vase onto the Queen’s space

Asiatic lilies are painted all around the base

He uncorks the vase and slides the cork into his right breast pocket

From the wall of weapons he pulls off a Tai Chi sword

He raises the blade above his head with his right arm

While simultaneously lifting his left arm and leg

He pinches together all but the index and middle finger of his left hand

“For the World,” he calls into the air

The song from the Hero soundtrack by Tan Dun plays loud and clear

He slides his left foot back as the knee of his right leg bends

He simultaneously thrusts the sword and his left arm forward

The Tai Chi sword moves fluidly as he uses the sword and his feet to attack

To ward off imaginary enemies he transits the sword to his left hand

When his body is warm he returns the flexible Tai Chi sword to its rack

Now he takes hold of a katana that was folded a thousand times

He slips its sheath through the belt of his dress pants

“Seven Samurai,” he says

Fumio Hayasaka’s music plays all around him

The blade’s sharp edge is up as he draws it out

He moves rapidly, mostly with both hands on the hilt

The steel on his tap shoes click with every lunging movement he makes

But he is not interested in the rapidness of a fighting style right now

Instead the attack and defense movements are drawn out

To emphasize emotion

When he is done he kneels and places the sword before him

He sets his left hand followed by his right onto the floor 

And bows deeply

He sits up placing his right hand on his right thigh first

With another slight bow he places the sheathed katana back on its rack

Now he stands with soft knees

“Play,” he says

Falls from Ennio Morricone’s The Mission soundtrack fills the room

He inhales as he raises his arms above his head

His wrists flex so the tops can be used to block

When his arms reach above his head he begins to exhale

Pressing down with his wrists extended to strike

Three times he repeats this movement

Closing his eyes he waits to a count of seven

Before raising his right hand to take her left

He encircles her upper back with his left arm

He feels her right hand resting on his left shoulder

Inhaling deeply he smells the intoxicating scent of lilacs from her hair

The sound of Wallace Courts Murron from James Horner’s Braveheart soundtrack pours through the room

He feels her body press up against his

The beat of her heart matches his

Both increasing as they move faster

Her voice hums to the sound of Am I Not Merciful from Hans Zimmer’s Gladiator soundtrack

Causing his steps to falter but for a moment

Her hips squeeze firmly into his as Promontory from Randy Edelman and Trevor Jones’ The Last of the Mohicans soundtrack blares through the room

She moves away from him so only their hands are touching

They hold up each other’s weight as they dance in circles

He pulls her closer again and she lays her cheek onto his chest as Elysium from Hans Zimmer’s Gladiator soundtrack plays

When the song ends his hands hold only empty air

His eyes open and at first he feels disoriented

Soon he takes out the cork and kisses it

Diligently he presses it into the top of the vase with his left hand

Not realizing his right hand is resting on the King’s square

D.W. June 2021

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Six)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Six)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“You look like a sick peacock!” ‘Wheel Turner’ shouts at the bird as she runs after it.

“Barthadrow’s barrel!” the bird screams back at her and makes a spitting sound.

“I give up,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says turning her back to the bird and taking a seat beside Oli.

Oli passes her some mulberries.  “Best we keep going,” she says getting up and dusting herself off.

“Aye,” ‘Wheel Turner’ replies with a sigh.  “Work, work, work, is all we do.”

“It’s a sad world,” Oli sings as she playfully nudges ‘Wheel Turner’ with her shoulder.  “Crazy Bumbee had it right,” she continues to sing as they trudge deeper into the forested area of the atoll.

Captain Crazy Bumbee he was

Flirted with our Captain

Tried touching without her consent

And our Captain in her wisdom

Gave him a permanent grin

Oh, Crazy Bumbee

We miss your cackle

We miss your wild tales

We miss even the madness in your eyes

Captain Crazy Bumbee he was

Smiling all the while

As he and his insane crew

Shot through the rapids

In sealed barrels

Right over the watery precipice

Of the Endless Waterfalls

“Lovely song First Mate,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says as they work their way to the top of the ridge that surrounds the atoll.

“Been working on it, silently, inside my head,” Oli replies with a prideful grin.

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog twenty-five)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part fIve: Blog twenty-five)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“At least it’s sandy here,” Oli hears ‘Wheel Turner’ say as they trudge through the water.

“Fresh water is heavier than salt water so it will be fun dragging the bags back,” Oli says. 

As they get closer to the dry sand of the atoll she sniffs; there’s a faint smell of rotting vegetable where partially wet seaweed rots along the shore.  She notices more birds amongst the pine trees and other plants she thinks only exist on this planet. 

“Look!” ‘Wheel Turner’ shouts and points at an area on the shore between two Indian Mulberry trees.  “That colour bird with the long legs and really long tails with markings like a fish’s scales.  I swear that’s a liarbird!”

Oli notices the Indian Mulberry have fruit and her mouth salivates.  She glances at the ground and sees a bird dashing around.  “Lyrebird with a ‘Y’ instead of an ‘A’ or an ‘I’ Oli corrects ‘Wheel Turner’, or at least hopes she does.

“If it doesn’t tell me the truth it’s a liarbird,” ‘Wheel Turner’ snarls back.

Oli’s squints with determination as she replies, “Well let’s capture it and find out what it has to say.”

“Maybe there’s some parrots too,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says. 

On the shore Oli turns to ‘Wheel Turner’.  “You go after the liar and I’ll collect some of them mulberries.”

As ‘Wheel Turner’ tries to capture the lyrebird, Oli shimmies up the Indian Mulberry tree.  She has to climb around because the first berries she sees have silk worms all over the leaves surrounding them.

She cuts off a branch with only a few silkworms on it and lets it drop to the ground.  She tosses the mulberries she plucks off the tree onto the leafy branch.  Before she descends back down she glances around.  Peering through the leaves she sees a screw pine a bit deeper in.  Her eyes alight.  If the weather is good and the Captain allows it she’ll come back with more of the girls.  Even if they don’t find fresh water there’s lots of fruit to eat.

On the ground she sees ‘Wheel Turner’ facing off with the lyrebird.

“Come here you lyingbird!” ‘Wheel Turner’ shouts at it.

“You lyingbird!” the lyrebird shouts back.

“I’ll put you in Barthadrow’s barrel!” ‘Wheel Turner’ screams at the bird before spitting on the ground.

Oli sits back against the trunk of a coconut tree.  She glances up and sees the coconuts are unripe.  Now she can concentrate on the interaction between ‘Wheel Turner’ and the lyrebird.  Leaning forward with eyes wide she scoops in a mouthful of the mulberries.

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog twenty-four)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part fIVe: Blog twenty-four)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“Cachaça is getting full and Eau-de-vie is getting closer,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says as she wraps leather around her clogs to keep them from getting damaged.

Oli gazes up into the clear sky at the milky white colour of Cachaça.  She reaches up with both hands and opens them so it looks like she’s holding the moon.  The moon is so large it takes up most of her sight.  “Wonder if anything lives on her?” she asks.  ‘Wheel Turner’ doesn’t reply so she turns her head to the east.  “Makes me thirsty,” she says staring at the burgundy coloured Eau-de-vie.

“We’ll get you as close as possible, sirs,” Zala says.  Oli smiles at the tall girl in her violet robe, taken from somewhere, maybe from a wreckage.  It makes Zala look noble and in control.  Aarini who wears a nearly see through silk blouse and Chesah in her own kimono could be princesses; pirate princesses. 

Oli sees Umi checking over the fire box in the middle of the pinnace.  Next the waterproof buckets and ropes.  Lastly Oli sees Umi have each girl stand up and unfasten their robes to check that their knives are secured tightly. 

Peering over the side of the boat into the water as they get closer to the shore Umi raises her hand.  “Halt!” she commands.  “There is a sandy stretch towards the atoll here.”

Oli climbs over the side followed by ‘Wheel Turner’ as the girls lean the opposite way to counterbalance.  Once in the water Oli realizes it only reaches just above her knees.  Zala passes her and ‘Wheel Turner’ each a water sack made from sheep stomach.  Oli realizes that the sacks are older than she is since they came from Earth.  She and ‘Wheel Turner’ tie the mouth strings of the sacks to their waists and swing the body of the sacks over their shoulders.  Next Zala passes them each a chord of thin rope, and wrapped biscuits which Oli and ‘Wheel Turner’ tuck into their tops. 

“When Eau-de-vie is in front of Cachaça,” she hears ‘Wheel Turner’ tells Zala.

“Aye, aye, Helmswoman,” Zala replies.

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part five: Blog twenty-Three)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part five: Blog twenty-Three)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Zala follows her up the stairs to the fo’c’sle where the Captain is conversing with Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne.

“Afternoon my ‘First Mate’ Olanis, and Zala” the Captain says with a jovial tone to her voice.

“Captain, Navigator,” Oli says.

“Sir,” Zala says.

“How’s our supply of fresh water in the hold?”  The Captain asks.

“I went with Aarini the other day to sound the barrels and they’re about eight of ten full.”

“It would be good to mark in another place for fresh water.  Do you think that atoll has any inside her?” the Captain asks with a hopeful smile.

“We can look tomorrow,” Oli replies.  “’Wheel Turner’ would like to come along.  We could get the boat close enough to walk to shore I think.”

“Wear clogs and wrap your hands,” the Captain warns.  “Might be things like sea urchins and there’s certainly coral.  Bring some water skins just in case.”

“Will do Captain,” she replies.

“Than it’s you, ‘Wheel Turner’, Umi, Zala, Chesah, and this time take Aarini.”  The Captain turns to Zala.  “You can dive with Umi to learn how it’s done.  When she’s in the water you’re in charge of the boat.”

“Aye, aye, Captain,” Zala says and Oli sees a gleam in her eyes.

“Zala?” the Captain asks, “how do we collect fresh water while at sea?”

“Dew off the old sail sheets we hang over the sides at night and buckets if it rains, sir,” Zala replies with so much confidence Oli is relieved.  If everything goes as planned Zala will be a captain of her own ship soon.

“Should a captain and first mate ever leave the ship at the same time?” The Captain asks Zala.  Oli can see the strain in her face.

“Not unless there’s a fire or the ship is being careened for repairs, sir.” 

Oli believes Zala will be wearing her own tricorn hat soon.

“Very good.”  The Captain glances at her and Zala.  “Let Umi know and prepare for tomorrow.”

“Aye, aye Captain,” Oli says at the same time Zala does.

“Don’t get too giddy,” Oli says to Zala as they head towards the Poop Deck to give ‘Wheel Turn’ the news.

“Why would you say that?” Zala asks with suspicion in her voice.

“Because soon you’ll outrank me and I won’t be able to talk to you like that anymore,” Oli says patting the now beaming Zala on the shoulder.

“Oh, I don’t think it will be I captaining the next ship, sir,” Zala says turning and looking down at her with admiration.  “But I wouldn’t mind being your First Mate.”

For the very first time First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis is dumbfounded.

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

The Reason I Wrote:  Healing the Temple of the Soul (a story about body image and eating disorders)

The Reason I Wrote:  Healing the Temple of the Soul

(A story about body image and eating disorders)

By D. Watt, B.A., PT

I remember volunteering at a YMCA when a very thin girl came up to me.  She grabbed the skin of her arm and asked me how she could lose fat.  I could see her bone through her skin.  I knew very little about eating disorders then so I told her she didn’t need to lose fat but needed to add muscle.

On TV there would be fashion shows.  I expected to see eye appealing curves and femininity.  What I saw instead was skin and bone; androgynous wraiths wearing clothing that hung on their emaciated bodies.   

Initially I didn’t find many books about girls with eating disorders so I wrote a book about a girl struggling with an eating disorder and body image.  Knowing, that as a male, I could only take what I had heard, seen, and read and bounce it back to create the main character Cynthia, I decided to ask women I knew to read it.  It was strange to have women who had and were dealing with an eating disorder tell me I was on track while professionals who worked with individuals with eating disorders told me I was far off track.

Over the years I did find some books on eating disorders.  The one that stayed with me is Joan Ryan’s Little Girls In Pretty Boxes.  Ryan did research on female gymnasts and figure skaters and interviewed some of the athletes.  After mentioning the book to women I knew or trained my view of what causes eating disorders and body image struggles altered greatly.  Up to that point I had thought eating disorders were only a symptom of trying to control body weight and appearance.  I was shocked when I was told that much of it is caused because of physical, psychological, or/and sexual abuse at a young age.  Healing the Temple of the Soul deals more with the need to belong, attention, and sports.       

A client told me about a model friend of hers who was giving a seminar on modeling.  This was another eye opener.  Programs like Photoshop allow editors to completely change the physical attributes of a model.  A size three can become a size zero, facial features like freckles can be removed, bosoms can be enlarged or shrunk, and the neck and waist can be made thinner.  I am not a fan of what I would call the “mannequin” look. 

I wanted the cover to represent a scene in the book so I asked my Goddaughter to model for the cover of Healing the Temple of the Soul.  She looked healthy and vibrant in the picture so Stephanie McColl did an amazing pointillism portrait of her looking gaunt.

There’s a song I include in the book by Alanis Morissette called Mary Jane.  A verse in the song says what so many people who care are:

I hear you’re losing weight again Mary Jane
Do you ever wonder who you’re losing it for

Arcade Fire’s Creature Comfort points out the need for attention:

Some girls hate their bodies
Stand in the mirror and wait for the feedback

Now there’s a new song/message from Billie Eilish called Not My Responsibility in which she deals directly with body image and weight:

Is my value based only on your perception?

Or is your opinion of me?

Not my responsibility

Body shaming can come in many forms: too heavy, too light, showing too much skin, or not enough.  Sexual attraction is natural but it needs to be surrounded by respect.  The movie The Fifth Element comes to mind when discussing sexuality and respect.  Bruce Willis’s character Korben reaches out to touch a mostly naked Leeloo played by Milla Jorovich.  Leeloo grabs Korben in a strangle hold and tells him, “Never without my permission.”

The goal of Healing the Garden of the Body is to encourage anyone with an eating disorder or body image struggle that they can overcome their fears.                                                                                                                                                                                                I also wanted to point out that everyone has struggles and the importance of support.  Mostly though, I want people who are struggling to understand that there are others who care about them, including men.

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty-Two)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty-Two)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Oli sees Zala and Chesah pull harder than they should have to.  Because Zala is stronger the pinnace turns east.

“It’s dragging,” Zala says.  Oli sees her stop pulling so hard.

“Well my sea dwelling sisters we haven’t sprung a leak,” Oli says with a shrug, “so struggle on, we’re nearly up to our ship.”

“So hard,” Chesah gasps, heaving on the handle of her oar.  As she does the boat suddenly spins in a circle. 

Oli grabs onto the bottom of her seat as the girls raise the paddles of their oars out of the water.  ‘Ship Protector’ Umi also has a hold onto the bottom of her seat.

“Whatever was causing the boat to drag seems to be gone,” she says taking in deep breaths. 

Taking a calming breath herself Oli tells Zala and Chesah, “Let’s try rowing again.”

As they get near the Nagua Oli shouts out, “Ahoy you sleeping sea pixies!” 

From the gunwale of the Nagua she sees ‘Harlot’ Thelma peer down.

“All hand hoy!” The ‘Harlot’ shouts out.  “First Mate Olanis and her crew of misfit and naughty nymphs are returned!”

 Oli drops cork bricks held on by short ropes over the side of the pinnace closest to the ship’s hull.  Thick ropes with hooks are lowered using pulleys.  Oli wraps the ropes around the bundles of dogweed and seaweed as Umi, Zala, and Chesah stable the pinnace by holding other lowered ropes.

“Captain wants to talk to you,” Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia tells Oli once she’s on deck.  “Many biters?”

Oli skips and claps her hands as she replies, “No, but its shallow a long way from the atoll.”

“I could use a swim,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says.

“Maybe if Umi and Zala get enough dogweed and seaweed tomorrow we can go back before it gets dark.”  Oli says patting the muscular shoulder of ‘Wheel Turner’.

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty-One)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty-One)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Once she has cut through three stems of dogweed she swims up with them.  On the surface she uses the isobue technique of the Ama.  She blows out whatever air she has left making a high pitched whistling sound.  She passes the dogweed to ‘One Eye’.  Taking in another deep breath she dives back down.   

Ten more times she returns to the surface with three long stems; each time making the high squealing sound.  There is no more dogweed nearby so she cuts off the stems of some seaweed instead.  The fiber of the seaweed will be made to make strings for the bows and repair rope for the sails and anchors.  The leaves will be used as salty herbs for ‘Unibrows’ soup to ward off scurvy.

On her twentieth time returning to the surface ‘One Eye’ shouts to her, “Full!”  ‘One Eye’ helps her on board as Zala and Chesah lean to the other side as counter balance.

Umi sits between Zala and Chesah to use their body heat to get warm as ‘One Eye’ puts more wood on the embers.

“Tomorrow, if weather is good, I teach Zala and Chesah,” Umi says as she helps the girls tie the stacks of dogweed and seaweed.

“When you’re ready ‘Ship Protector’,” ‘One Eye’ says as she passes around battered salted fish between sliced Hardtack biscuits.  She uncorks and hands Umi a clay jug full of beer to drink from first.

 “We try sushi tomorrow!” Umi says with a devilish laugh as she puts her kimono robe back on and ties it tight with the sash.   

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Umi sees ‘One Eye’ drops an anchor on the port side and another on the starboard.  Once the boat is gently bobbing more-or-less in place Umi slips her awabi-okoshi through her fundoshi or as ‘One Eye’ calls it, a chastity belt in case a dolphin tail male seeks her out.  The long handle of the awabi-okoshi was originally used by Ama to scrape abalone off surfaces.  She keeps it to scrape off whatever grows on the outside of the hull.  Next she slips a Nihonto Tanto knife through the fundoshi; a gift from her dying father after he fought off three of Barthadrow’s men.  She grimaces at the memory of him thrusting it hilt first towards her as blood poured out of his numerous wounds.  Memories of all the horrible things Barthadrow has done and caused makes her blood boil.  She spits into the water. 

Lastly she ties a thin but strong rope around her waist.  Next she ties the other end onto the handle of a wooden basket caulked so it floats.  At the bow of the pinnace ‘One Eye’ ties another rope through an eyehook a top the gunwale to the basket then places it onto the surface.

“One pull I’m coming up, two pull me up,” Umi reminds Zala and Chesah.

 She rolls her shoulders back and lifts her heels alternately off the bottom of the boat while taking in controlled breaths.  When it feels right she takes in a deep breath and dives into the water.

It’s cold but also refreshing as it covers her mostly naked body.  She doesn’t wear clothing because it absorbs water and captures air.  It also keeps the coldness in when she exits the water.

She’ll cut off long lengths of the dogweed first.  The hope is that the weed will keep both its strength and flexibility for the bows and arrows the Captain wants made.  The rope to the portside anchor is taught and near her.  As she cuts near the bottom of a dogweed stem with her Nihonto Tanto she feels a gush of water against her back.  She glances back but doesn’t see anything.

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog nineteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog nineteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

As the Nagua moves beyond the visibility of the city Umi’s thoughts turn to the next day when she will dive for the wooded plants ‘Dizzying Blade’ wants for the bow and arrows.  “You will come on the boat with us tomorrow Zala and Chesah.”  She smiles at the others.  “The rest of you, we try next time.”

She hears the other girls grumble that they won’t be going.  Umi smiles at the sight of Zala putting her arm around Chesah and asking her if she’s excited about the coming morning.  Only a few of the girls are willing to swim.  Most are terrified of putting their head below the surface.  She chuckles under her breath at the memory of the ‘Harlot’ telling her, she would rather eat ‘Unibrow’s’ wormy fish meal, like they were forced to years ago, than learn to be an Ama.

The Nagua is anchored about a mile from the shore of an atoll.  Umi is wearing a kimono robe with images of the leaves from a sakaki tree stitched on.   She closes her eyes and takes in deep, even breaths of the salty air. 

She opens her eyes and sees ‘One Eye’ who isn’t currently wearing her eyepatch looking back at her from the bow of the pinnace with a lopsided grin.  “We’ll keep the embers going while you dive,” ‘One Eye’ says with as she swipes away one of the flying insects that live near the shore. 

Umi stares into the yellow sky.  Pelicans with their long thick beaks swoop nearby.  She can also see frigatebirds with their thin pointed beaks and long tails.  Nearby a yellow beaked masked booby, with its wings drawn in, dives into the water.  Most of the other birds she has seen on this world keep closer to shore.  She remembers the Captain saying she wonders if they’re originally from Earth and were resting on the ships when the whirlpools pulled them to this planet.

Before her, in a cast iron box made from one of the unused cannons, are the embers of a fire.  She’ll need the warmth when she leaves the water.  She undoes her sash and lets the sun shine on her mostly bare skin.  She ties a tenugui over her head to keep her hair out of her eyes.  She is already wearing a fundoshi below.  Over the side she can see the sunlight piercing the water.  About two fathoms down the tops of seaweed flow back and forth in the current.   Growing in-between the seaweed are the hard and straight stands of what the Queen of Pirates named dogweed.

To the stern of the pinnace sit Zala and Chesah rowing.  ‘One Eye’ is navigator.  Zala’s eyes are bright and observant.  Chesah appears a bit squeamish. 

“First Mate Olanis knows that if I tug the rope once, I’m coming up, but if I tug twice I’m to be pulled up,” she tells the girls.

“And if we see danger we tug twice, wait for a tug back from Umi, then pull her back to the surface like Crazy Bumbee would,” ‘One Eye’ adds.

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Four: Blog Eighteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Four: Blog Eighteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

‘Ship Protector’ Umi stares over the starboard side of the Nagua.  The Captain insisted she only have five girls with her, including Zala and Aarini.  Zala and Aarini would have to learn the secrets of the Ama just as the Captain had insisted Umi teach her, ‘One Eye’, ‘Storm Caller’, ‘Wheel Turner’, and ‘Dizzying Blade’.  She knew, as the other leaders did that the Captain planned on obtaining another ship from the monster Barthadrow’s fleet.  That would mean splitting up the crew.  The idea both excited and saddened her.  This crew was her family and she knew the rest felt the same.

The other girls she chose included Chesah from the Philippines.  Chesah is short like Umi and grew up near the sea.  Next she chose Bayu from Indonesia.  She too is short.  Her final choice was Hayami, another girl from Japan.  All the girls are around twelve to fourteen.  Old enough to learn the ways of the Ama.  There were other girls she wanted to bring.  Amelie was born in Southern France.  Tall, lean and fearless but still needs maturity.  Arsema, from Eritrea.  Arsema is also tall and very clever.  Umi didn’t invite her because ‘Dizzying Blade’ has had her eyes on Arsema as an understudy.  ‘Dizzying Blade’ is the only gaijin who reminds her of the samurai that terrified her whenever they entered her village.

“Does it matter if we talk?” Chesah asks in a whisper.

“No.  However, maybe some of you remember when the Captain had a knotted rope attached to a cannon ball lowered towards the orange glow of a Deep Dwellers’ city.  At fifty fathoms the cannon ball went no lower.  Do any of you remember what happened?”  She asks with her eyes wide with mock terror.

“No,” all the sisters reply in unison.

“Something or things pulled on the lowered rope so hard,” Umi spreads her arms wide, “So hard that the ship nearly capsized.  We were in great peril!  That’s when Helmswoman Sadie ran up with an axe and with her great strength chopped through the rope.”  She peeks over the gunwale.  Through the water she can see the bright orange glow of a Deep Dwellers’ city.  “Look!”

The girls scramble to look.

“Let your eyes adjust and you’ll see things moving inside.  We have not been here in years so I could not show anyone before now.”

“There are tiny things moving inside,” Zala says, stretching her long body farther over the gunwale. 

“According to the dolphin tails the fish tails inter—inter-act with the Deep Dwellers, and say they are hugeous,” Umi says struggling with the English but emphasizing every word anyway. 

“Is it the only city of the Deep Dwellers?” Chesah asks peering even farther over the gunwale.

“No but it is the only one we see from the surface so far,” Umi says so all the girls hear her reply.  “The dolphin tails say there are many more but they are so deep their light never reaches surface.”

“Why don’t they come to shore?” Zala asks, as she too leans farther over the gunwale.

“The dolphin tails say the Deep Dwellers cannot survive above a hundred and fifty fathoms because there is not enough water above them to keep them alive.”  Umi sighs.  “Carrying a weighted stone I have never dived beyond ten fathoms.”

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog Seventeen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog Seventeen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

The deck is filling up with most of the girls.  Sadie hears ‘One Eye’ playing her mandolin as she instructs Aarini how to turn the wheel.  “Straight ahead, for the wind is directly behind us,” ‘One Eye’ instructs in a sing-song voice.

Umi is at the starboard gunwale with a few of the girls pointing out into the calm waters.

“Ship Protector Umi,” she calls out, “a word.”

 Umi says something to the girl and comes over to her.  “Mornin’ Master-at-arms.”

“Mornin’ to you as well.  Need more seaweed for the ‘Harlot’ to make bow strings.”

“I’ll get ready,” Umi replies, “as soon as we’re near the shallows.”

“Bugs and birds,” Sadie says with a groan.

“Aye, and all sorts of sea creatures,” Umi adds.  “I’d think the Deep Dwellers homes will be visible tonight.  Do you think you could put in a word with the Captain to let me show some of the girls?”

“Will do,” she replies.  “Pick the girls you want.  I’ll talk to the Captain first than teach some of these motley sisters how to fight and hoist the sails.”

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog Sixteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog Sixteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

She inhales the mixed scent of fish guts and baking bread once more than turns to one of the long tables where the ‘Harlot’ is chatting to Althea.  They’re making string from the kelp that ‘Ship Protector’ Umi brought out of the sea. 

“Grab the string and stretch your arms apart so it’s tight,” Sadie says to Althea.

Althea grimaces as she holds the string apart as hard as she can while Sadie pulls on it.  Turning to the ‘Harlot’ she says with a nod, “Not bad.  We’ll test it with wood in about a week from now.”

“The ‘Ship Protector’ will need to get us more,” the ‘Harlot’ says with a sarcastic grin.

“I’ll let her know,” Sadie replies.  “Betty’s your aunt and she’ll bake you a pie,” she says as a further compliment.  She turns towards the kitchen and shouts out, “I don’t want any bones in my soup this time Nippie!”

“Aye, aye ‘Dizzying Blade’,” Nippie shouts back with an accent no one’s been able to figure out yet.

As she steps out of the galley she hears Mesi cry out, “I’ve knicked me ‘self!”

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

And Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part three Blog fifteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog fifteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Sadie can smell raw fish and baking bread as she steps into the galley.  In the very fore of the galley, past the few long tables and fixed chairs where the ‘Harlot’ and Althea are sitting together, she sees a single window with a wide serving ledge.  To the far right is the entrance into the kitchen itself.  She knows from helping Nippie out when she was younger that there’s a stove, and a pantry with flower, spices, and salted fish.  The kitchen also has a distiller, an oven, and grills.  

She hears Mesi complaining to Nippie about Janet hitting her wrist with a spoon instead of just telling her when she guts a fish wrong.  As she steps closer she hears Nippie say in her boisterous caustic voice, “Janet doesn’t talk she only sings.”  Sadie peeks through the window.  She sees they are gutting large fish that have the length of a pike but the shape of a wide mouth bass. 

Janet has her head turned slightly towards Mesi.  Janet is a tall girl.  She wears a mix match of clothing under a robin egg coloured apron.  The sleeves of her white cotton shirt are rolled up.  Although her shirt is worn loosely it still can’t hide her ample bosom.  Nor do the loose fitting brown capris hide her round hips.  Her hair is the colour of flax and escapes the plain olive green bandana that covers her head.  Her face is smooth and brown with large pouting lips.  The simple string necklace the ‘Harlot’ made for her dangles loosely from her neck.  The one with the tooth the Captain obtained from the young rascal, who tried to take Janet without her permission. 

Janet glances back at her and Sadie realizes that from a distance its Janet’s body that draws attention first, but up close, it’s the green iris of her eyes with the faint circle of brown around the pupils.  Janet received the best physical attributes from her Creole parents.  Sadie wonders what Janet would have been like if Barthadrow hadn’t captured her when she was a child.

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne

And Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part three Blog fourteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog fourteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Master-at-arms ‘Dizzying Speed’ Sadie stands beside Zala on the foc’s’cle with her mouth wide open in awe.  She’s completely engrossed in the fight between the tiny, busty Filipino girl Althea, and the tall wide hipped Egyptian girl Mesi.  The two girls are screaming at each other in a mixture of English and their ancestral language.  Suddenly Althea trips over a bucket.  Mesi grabs Althea’s hair and yanks Althea back to her feet.  Althea jumps to her feet smashing the crown of her head under Mesi’s chin.  Althea starts crying while holding the top of her head while she points an accusatory finger at Althea.  At the same moment Althea is rubbing her chin with one hand while pointing the finger of her free hand at Mesi. 

“Sir?” Sadie hears Zala says but waves her off.

Mesi is staggering and shifting her lower jaw side-to-side while Althea is pointing at the top of her head and crying while she shouts at Mesi.  Mesi punches Althea in the stomach with her thumb wrapped under her fingers.  Both girls cry out.  Althea is now holding her stomach and Mesi is rubbing her thumb.

“Shouldn’t you be breaking this up, sir?” Zala says, her voice a bit louder this time.

“But…,” Sadie says.

“They might hurt each other sir,” Zala warns her.

Mesi charges Althea with her head just as Althea slips on the wet deck.  They both crash into a very angry looking ‘Unibrow’ Nippie whose wielding a ladle.

“I’ve never seen such a horribly bad fight,” Sadie says in awe.  “Not even a pretend fight,” she continues as she climbs down to the deck.

“Great fight,” she hears ‘One Eye’ cackle across the ship from the Helm.

“Absolutely amazing,” Sadie agrees absent mindedly.  Her very concise mind is still pondering how two people could fight with such imprecision.  She knows some of the other girls are Egyptian and Filipino but none of them fight as horribly as these two.

“Mesi!  Althea!” she shouts out at them then after a moment of thought continues, “And Nippie!  Stand down!”  She walks briskly towards them.

‘Unibrow’ is snarling at the girls as she taps the spoon of the ladle against her palm.

“We wish to duel sir,” Mesi says with her chin held high.

“To the death,” Althea adds.

“The problem with that,” Sadie says in a quiet, mocking tone, “Is that you would probably kill yourselves instead of each other.  Mesi, you’re to go with ‘Cook’ Nippie and work with her and Janet in the Galley.  Althea, you’ll find ‘Harlot’ Thelma and help her make strings.  Now!”

She hears ‘One-Eye’ laughing from the helm.  “We could send them to Barthodrow if he wasn’t such a bilge-sucking rapescillion,” ‘One-Eye’ shouts.

“That would make it too easy to defeat him,” Sadie shouts back.  “Everyone’s got a talent.  Well met sailing sister, got to go and carve bows so they shoot arrows that sing like banshees.”

“Keep sturdy on your feet,” ‘One-Eye’ says as she turns the wheel counter clock-wise.

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne

And Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor

Fire & Steel (medieval rapier): https://fireandsteel.ca/

Morning Always Comes: Grace MacGowan Cooke

Morning Always Comes

Grace MacGowan Cooke

There has never been a night so long and dark and fearsome but at last it came to an end.  A smiling, laughing sun is for ever creeping up to the ridge of some hill to bid a hopeful good morning to a weary-from-watching world.

The surest thing in the world is sun-shine.  It rolls away the darkness, dissipates the fog, and makes crystals of joy shine in the melting tears of night.

Morning always comes.  That is a good thought for any time, but it is a particularly consoling thought when your heart is heavy, and you imagine that you are carrying more than your share of the burdens of life.  If we would only be as sure of the other things in life as we are of the return of the sunshine, it would make it much easier, especially for those whose faith in the goodness of things is not sufficiently strong to enable them to smile.

Morning always comes.  Don’t be down-hearted.  Set your alarum, and get up and greet it with a smile.

Grace MacGowan Cooke’s Morning Always Comes “The Girl’s Own Annual” p. 29

  • The book is signed: To Eva From Father & Mother 1918

(Eva was known as Nanny, our father’s mother)

I grabbed an old looking book for a picture to use in a story.  Out of curiosity I started flipping through the pages and came across Grace MacGowan Cooke’s Morning Always Comes.  A needed reminder for these times.

 Grace MacGowan Cooke was born Sept. 11 1863.  She and her sister Alice MacGowan collaborated on numerous books and short stories. Although this poem was published more than 100 years ago I consider it the property of the MacGowan Cooke’s family.

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part three Blog thirteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog thirteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

“That means landing near the Horse People,” Sadie warns in a similar whispery tone.

“That it does Master-at-arms.  Best ask the First Mate to make sure we have enough cloth to blindfold everyone, including you the day before we land so your sight is night worthy.”

“Can’t just trade?” she asks.  The idea of walking around in the daylight blindfolded isn’t her favourite option.

“You saw how the horsemen gazed and drooled at ‘Harlot’ Thelma and the rest of us.

“’One Eye’ told me the ‘Harlot’ was staring right back with the same intensity until ‘One Eye’ reminded her the horsemen would probably split her in two.”

The Captain puts the back of her hand over her mouth to stifle her laughter.  “What did the ‘Harlot’ reply?”

“’One Eye’ said she answered, ‘thank ye for protecting me sir,’ with much sarcasm.”

The sound of two girls screaming at each other reaches Sadie’s ears.  She turns to look back at the same moment as the Captain does.

“Is that Althea and Mesi at it again?” the Captain asks.

“Aye,” Sadie replies in frustration. 

“They’re twelve or thirteen years old now?” the Captain asks.

“Aye,” Sadie replies again.  “I’ll have a word with them–again.”

“That would be good,” the Captain replies and gives her a sympathetic pat on the shoulder.

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne

And Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor

Fire & Steel (medieval rapier): https://fireandsteel.ca/

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part three Blog twelve)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog twelve)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

PART THREE

Master-at-arms ‘Dizzying Blade’ Sadie yawns as she buckles on her rapier and slips throwing knives into each of her boots.  Next she clasps a thick silver necklace with a detachable letter opener over her neck.  As she clips a corkscrew into her hair she sighs.  She feels sorry about almost killing the Navigator but ‘Storm Caller’ should know better.  In her pierced ears she puts in jewellery that can easily bend into lock picks.  However, if she did accidentally kill—well not kill but maim—maybe just permanently damage ‘Storm Caller’s’ fighting hand, she could have that marvelous rapier her father gave her.  She sighs again.  ‘Storm Caller’ is her friend, her sister in their common quest to kill Barthadrow.  Sadie’s glad she didn’t kill or maim her.

Barthadrow.  The foul name that touches everyday of their lives.  She was eight, maybe nine when the Queen of Pirates rescued her from the criminal ship both she and Alejandra were imprisoned on.  She grimaces at the memory of her drunken father using most of the meager funds made from the small farm they rented in Wales to buy cheap mead.  Her mother was another story: strong, fierce, and determined.  She made that farm work as best she could.  Still there was never enough food so Sadie took to stealing.  A mistake when the British Empire decided they wanted to increase the Celtic population in Australia.

As drunk as he got her father was still a skilled swordsman and light infantry.  Now that she’s much older she realizes the wounds he took as a soldier in the War of the Spanish Succession led him to his drinking problems.  Since she was the only child he and her mother begot, he taught her from a young age how to use a sword—more of a dowel of wood at the time.  He also taught her how use a bow, and how to load a rifle.  She was too young to actually fire the rifle.  It was the Queen of Pirates that made her the weapons expert she is now.

“Mornin,” First Mate Oli,” she calls to ‘One Eye’ who isn’t currently wearing an eyepatch.

“Mornin,” Master-at-arms Sadie ‘One Eye’ shouts back with a tired grin as she stands on the Poop Deck with her hands on two of the wheels spokes.

“Zala,” she says as she climbs up to the fo’c’sle and heads towards the bowsprit where the captain watches the water with a spyglass.

“Mornin’ Master-at-arms,” Zala replies.  She looks terribly bored.

“Not much to call out?” she asks.

“Pretty still.  Only excitement is watching the Sames trying to keep ahead of the Canibals.”

“Tristan’s ship and the Real Talls are out of sight?”

“Aye sir, heard that’s to be expected.”

“Well, keep alert Zala, our lives depend on it.”

“Looking forward to the glow of the Deep Dwellers sir.”  That, Sadie notices, Zala says with some excitement in her voice.

“Comforting glow of colours that is,” Sadie says as she heads over to the Captain.

“Captain,” she says staring off into the clear horizon.  She can see the Cannibals hurrying towards the Sames as Zala pointed out.  With a glance back she can see Captain Peg legs’ Surprise trying to catch up.

“We’re almost out of gunpowder Master-at-arms,” the Captain says, as she continues to look through the spyglass.  “And we need a ranged alternative so ‘Harlot’ Thelma is making string.  What we need to do is find a shoreline that has wood we can turn into bows and maybe even crossbows.”

Sadie glances at the size of the deck and the length of the Nagua.  “We could also make catapults and ballista.  Or try to.”

“Talk to the Ship Builder and Navigator Master Jo Ann and see if between the three of you that’s worth doing but I want the bows made priority.”

“Aye, aye Captain.”

  “We need them before we get close to Dread Island,” the Captain says in a whisper that she would have missed if there had been a stronger wind.

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor

Fire & Steel (medieval rapier): https://fireandsteel.ca/

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part two Blog eleven)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part two Blog eleven)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

As she and ‘Wheel Turner’ head towards the stern Master Jo Anne grabs a mop from a chest fixed under the main mast.

“I saw her take out three of Barthadrow’s men when we stole the pregnancy ship for the Queen of Pirates,” She hears ‘Wheel Turner’ warn.

“I’m pretty fast myself,” she says patting the pommel of her rapier.

“Aye, but I can see your movements.  Take my word.  Poke her gently and hop back.”  

“You tackle her if she comes at me.”  They’re almost to the stern of the boat and she can see the door to the cabin the Master-at-arms sleeps in.  ‘Dizzying Blade’ is curled up in a ball with just a powder blue sheet over her egg white night gown.

“Most likely I’ll drag you back and shut the door closed,”  ‘Wheel Turner’ says.

She glances back and sees no humour in ‘Wheel Turner’s’ face.  She lifts the latch and opens the door.  Inside there are no window, just all sorts of weapons latched or tied firmly to the wall.  She looks back to make sure ‘Wheel Turner’ is holding the door open for her to escape through. 

‘Wheel Turner’ nods at her.

“’Dizzying Blade’,” she calls softly.  The Master-at-arms turns onto her back and mumbles.  She spreads her feet with her knees slightly ready to dash and pokes the Master-at-arms.

She is almost through the door when a hand grabs the back of her shirt and pulls her to the floor.  She hears a gasp of disbelief from ‘Wheel Turner’ as she feels the edge of a knife pressing against her throat.

“The Captain wants to see you,” she gasps as she turns her head and stares with bulging eyes up into the crazy glare in the Master-at-arms’ eyes.

“Oh, that’s okay than,” the Master-at-arms says helping her back onto her feet.

“I’m just going to my cabin now and sleep,” she says dusting herself off before hurrying out the door.

“What does the Captain want me for?” the Master-at-arms asks.

“Don’t know but the ‘Harlot’ is making strings for bows and cross-bows,” she says.

“Warned you,” ‘Wheel Turner’ whispers to her.  “Mornin’ Master-at-arms Sadie,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says jovially to ‘Dizzying blade’.

“Mornin’ ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia,” the Master-at-arm replies.

She walks with ‘Wheel Turner’ to her cabin when she hears a sad song emit up from the hull:

If you didn’t like what was done to you

Why would you do it to another?

Shouldn’t you be protecting others from that fate?

All the people who try to escape what they hate

All the people who embrace what destroyed their childhood

You’re a foul thing Barhadrow

Using others’ hurt to get what you want…

“Janet’s up,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says in a dour tone.

“Aye, and if she keeps that up so will we be,” she says feeling her heart sink at the song’s words.  “Good-night ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia, and thanks for almost saving me life.”

“It was well worth the try,” she hears ‘Wheel Turner’ say with a chuckle.  And as ‘Wheel Turner’ walks away she suggests, “Maybe just throw a bucket at her next time so you make through the door.”

As she covers her head with her pillow to block out Janet’s song Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Jo Ann thinks, some of us evolve Barthadrow and we protect those you abuse.  Eventually we’ll bring a storm to wash away your monstrous ways.

With thanks to:

Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor

Fire & Steel (medieval rapier): https://fireandsteel.ca/

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part two Blog ten)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part two Blog ten)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

As the horizon grows redder Master Jo Anne is shocked to see Captain Peg leg’s Surprise less than ten fathoms away. 

“Mornin’ Kyaputen, Zala,” she hears Umi say.

“Morning Umi,” the Captain replies groggily.

She hears the Captain walk up to her. 

“Bastards are trying to take our wind now that we’re in the open,” the Captain says.  “You are officially relieved to sleep Master Jo Anne.”

“I thanks you Captain Alejandra,” she replies passing the Captain the telescope.  “Zala will call for you?”

“Aye,” the Captain replies rubbing sleep from her eyes.  “Could you send our ‘Master-at-arms’ to me?”

“Aye Captain Alejandra, that I will.”  She and the Captain consider each other sisters.  In front of the crew she will only say ‘Captain’ but alone they refer to each other by title and true name.  A reminder that they are no different than any of the other girls. 

As she walks towards the stairs she says, “Morning Zala.”

“Mornin’ ‘Navigator’,” Zala replies wavering on her feet.

On the deck she sees ‘One Eye’ talking to ‘Wheel Turner’ and the ‘Harlot’.  ‘One Eye’ has her mandolin strapped around her shoulders.

“Looks like Humphrey peeing over the gunwale,” She hears ‘One Eye’ say mischievously.

“That’s who I want,” the ‘Harlot’ says followed by a cooing sound.  The ‘Harlot’ steps up to the deck’s starboard gunwale, and making a funnel with her hands shouts out.  “Looks more like a mushroom than a carrot.”

“I’ll carrot you, you flat chested harpy.”  She can just hear Humphrey shout back at the ‘Harlot’.

The ‘Harlot’ undoes her blouse and shakes her chest in reply.

“What are you doing?” ‘One Eye’ asks as she bends over laughing.

“He’s seen it a few years ago,” the ‘Harlot’ replies with a shrug.

“Did you try to get pregnant than?” ‘One Eye’ asks.

“Nay, was too young, made him pull out.  Kinda regret that now.  But I’d want to keep him with me and that’s not allowed.  Well my mischievous sisterlies, I’m off to make strings for bows and crossbows.”  The ‘Harlot’ nonchalantly sways her hips as she walks away.

“Why would she be making strings for bows and crossbows?”  ‘Wheel Turner’ asks.  “And a bit of regret in that last statement.  Wonder if we ever get a permanent place on the mainland if she’ll surrender her sea feet to have a land bound family.”

“Wouldn’t surprise me,” ‘One Eye’ says.

“Her last statement reminds me.  I’ve got to wake the ‘Master-at-arms’ before I can sleep,” Master Jo Anne says as she wonders what the Captain has in store for the crew.

“I’ll go with you,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says.

“Both of you be careful,” ‘One Eye’ warns them.  “She sleeps with a knife.”

“I’ll poke her with a mop handle,” Master Jo Anne tells ‘One Eye’ with a grin.

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part two Blog nine)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part two Blog nine)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

The water in the channel to the sea has white caps now.  She bites her lower lip in concentration.  In the light of the two moons she can see boulders to the port and starboard.  “Stay be forward ye cranky dawdler!” she shouts out. 

“Keep ye straight ye long haired nilly!” she hears Umi shout out in her Japanese accented English and nearly chokes with laughter.

“I’m be straight ahead ye incompetent lassies!” she can just make out ‘Wheel Turner’ shout back.

She finds it hilarious hearing the girls argue in a variety of accents mostly in English.  But often as not the girls will incorporate a few words of their native tongue.  A boulder comes into sight right in line with the Nagua’s bow.  “Turn ye port like a banshee!”

“Port ye Yōsei!” she hears Yumi scream out.

She stops breathing, clenches onto the scrying ball, and stares eyes wide as the boulder looms ever closer.  Then the ship turns and she exhales.  She closes her eyes and thanks the two moons that ‘Wheel Turner’ is so fit and strong.  “Thank ye Eau-de-vie,” she says to the smaller cognac coloured moon, “And ye Cachaça,” to the larger whitish coloured moon.

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part Two Blog eight)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part One Blog eight)

She laments how a single moment can damage someone so badly.  Until they’re ready to fight Barthadrow the Ship Builder will have no closure.  She on the other hand keeps memories close, to give her strength.

Her father was coerced into sailing to Australia on a ship of criminals.  For her it was an adventure.  She had lost her mother to Scarlet Fever when she was four.  So her father brought her up in his blacksmith shop.  As they sailed her father told her that a lot of the ‘criminals’ were people who were caught stealing food in order to survive.   

Somewhere on the Indian Ocean their galleon, the New World, was attacked by a pirate galleon.  Sailing nearby by though, was Captain Barthadrow’s dreaded Corrupta; a hundred canon galleon.  There were also five more, smaller galleons in his fleet.  So the Ship Builder told her when she was older. 

It was a desperate fight for the pirates, whose ship was rotting.  They used grapples to attack the ship.  As they fought the Spanish soldiers and British mercenaries aboard, the chained criminals cheered and cried out to them.  She remembers her young eyes widening with wonder when a woman with flowing brunette hair and icy blue eyes dressed in a shimmering robin egg robe climbed aboard the ship.  The fascinating woman stole a ring of keys from the main jailor as he was fighting the Ship Builder and started unlocking the criminals.  Meanwhile, her father was stabbed in the chest.  He managed to defeat the soldier he was fighting and unbuckle the belt that held the sheath of his rapier.  He tossed the belt and his rapier to her and in a fading voice yelled, “Hide!”

That’s when a shooting star flew overhead, alighting the sky in a cobalt blue glow.  At the same time a funnel as wide as the eye could see appeared over the sea.  She watched, mesmerized, as it pushed into the water until there was only a massive whirlpool.  That’s all she remembers until the Ship Builder and the Witch saved her and Alejandra at the other end of the Milky Way.   

They told her they had found an abandoned bilander and swam to it.  Three other men, all former prisoners on the New World joined them: Jandamarra, who was captured from Western Australia; Drissa from the Ivory Coast; and Esadowa from somewhere between the Northeast of the Thirteen Colonies and Southeast of Canada.

She remembers gazing over the gunwale at the wreckage of ships.  Later the Witch would tell her they may have come from different time periods; perhaps different worlds.  She wondered if the shooting star kept the earlier ships and people swirling in the whirlwinds before letting them all go at once into the sea of this world. 

Jandamarra, Drissa, and Esadowa now live among the horsepeople.  All three men warned the horsepeople about Barthadrow and the European idea that if they disembark on your land they can claim it.  It made finding a land base difficult but it also stopped Barthadrow from taking over anything on the mainland.  So far Barthadrow only controlls a single island, she and the other pirates call Dread Island.  The Ship Builder told her that peaceful giants with long arms and big bellies let Barthadrow and his crew land on their shores to trade.  But Barthadrow struck a Spanish flag and a smaller British flag for the mercenaries into the land and claimed it for Spain.  The giants were butchered until they submitted and became slaves.

The only good outcome of the battle was that Barthadrow used up most of his cannon shot and so far no alternative to gunpowder has been discovered on this world.  Oh well, there’s always trouble on whatever planet your on she supposes.   

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part Two Blog seven)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Part Two Blog seven)

Part Two

The sun is down and the two moons visible,” Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne sings as she stands at the base of the bowsprit peering into the darkening horizon with a telescope.  “Smell the salt in the air to know how close to shore you are.”

Compare the direction of the wind to the movement of the waves

And you’ll know where you’re heading even in thick fog

Learn the stars that are the same but just off from those you remember seeing on lost Earth

Then take another sip of rum and you’ll see dolphin-tails and fish-tails even when there are none.”

 She hears the Captain talking to the Ship Builder behind her.  The Captain will sleep through the night before taking over her role as navigator in the morning.  ‘One Eye’ will take ‘Wheel Turner’s’ position during the day until they get through the deadly shallows of what is secretly called Hidden Cove Strait.  She watches the rapid water flowing between the barren island No Life and the cliffs that contain the cove they just left, known as Only Death Lives Here.

She glances back just as Umi climbs up to the fo’c’sle with a dim lantern.  Umi will be the caller for the night until they get through the shoals.  She has quite the lungs for such a quiet girl.  Normally Master Jo Anne only sees her dressed in a white loin cloth; white to ward off sharks or whatever swims below in this world.   Right now Umi’s in a mix match of capris, fish boots, and a blanket.  What she’s wearing under the blanket Master Jo Anne can’t tell.  She sees the Ship Builder nod at the Captain and Umi as walks her way.

The Ship Builder stands beside her with a rolled cloth.  “In case you need it,” he says in halting words.

“I’m good,” she replies tapping the coiled hand guard of her rapier.  Her gaze stays on his missing finger.  “I miss her too,” she says.  She looks up and notices his face drawn in.  “Look,” she continues as she lifts a small scrying ball attached to a thick silver necklace from her shirt.  His expression turns to admonishment.  “I didn’t steal it, she gave it to me,” she says hurriedly.  “She was teaching me how to use it.  When I’m out here alone it helps me to focus.  I don’t think it tells me what is about to happen.  More it clears my thoughts so I can predict what is up ahead based on what I already see in front of me.”

She notices his lips quiver before he takes in a deep breath and tells her, “I’ll leave you to it then.”  She watches him climb down the ladder of the fo’c’sle.

Book Review of Barak Obama’s “A Promised Land”

Book Review of Barak Obama’s “A Promised Land”

By Dan Watt, B.A. Anthropology and History, W.L.U.

“Here’s the thing,” I would say.  “Most people, wherever they’re from whatever they look like, are looking for the same thing. They’re not trying to get filthy rich.  They don’t expect someone else to do what they can do for themselves.

“But they do expect that if they’re willing to work, they should be able to find a job that supports a family.  They expect that they shouldn’t go bankrupt just because they get sick.  They expect that their kids should be able to get a good education, one that prepares them for this new economy, and they should be able to afford college if they’ve put in the effort.  They want to be safe, from criminals or terrorists.  And they figure that after a lifetime of work, they should be able to retire with dignity and respect.”  – Barak Obama (p. 48)

A Promised Land is an insightful autobiography of national and international politics that gives you a front row seat to what it’s like to be a political leader.  Obama describes where his values came from and his evolution as a person and politician.  He doesn’t claim everything he did succeeded but he does demonstrate how his team did the best they could under the circumstances.  He gives examples of what his goals were and the necessity to often make compromises to reach those goals. 

The book is in chronological order with historical inserts of social, political, environmental, military, and economic history to help the reader understand why certain events like the economic crash in 2008 happened, and why the war in Afghanistan continued.

Throughout A Promised Land Obama refers to the influences his mother, Ann Dunham, and his maternal grandmother, Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham, had on his belief system. 

When he was a child and his mother found out he had been part of a group teasing another kid his mother sat him down and told him:  “You know, Barry (his nickname), there are people in the world who think only about themselves.  They don’t care what happens to other people so long as they get what they want.  They put other people down to make themselves feel important.  Then there are people who do the opposite, who are able to imagine how others must feel, and make sure that they don’t do things that hurt people.  So, which kind of person do you want to be?”  (6-7)  From his maternal grandmother he learned stoicism:  “She taught me to marry passion with reason, to not get overly excited when life was going well, and to not get too down when it went badly.” (114) 

Obama gives credit to those who helped him along the way.

Such as his Chief of Staff during his early senator days, Pete Rouse, who helped him recruit “a topflight staff”.   (55)  David Axelrod, media consultant (43) and Robert Gibbs, communications director (50) along with a host of others are mentioned throughout the book giving a sense that a democratic leadership is really a ‘We’ government.  

He also talks about how surprise moments drove home his belief in himself and that he could become the next leader of the United States.  In Greenwood, South Carolina, he was preparing to give a speech when he heard Edith Childs shout out: “Fired up!” and the gathering reply with: “Ready to go!”  Obama admits hearing the chant energized him.  The chant became the rallying call throughout his candidacy for the presidency.  (97, 196)  The chant was also a reminder throughout his campaign that he wasn’t just running for the presidency but that upholding belief in the Declaration of Independence still meant something. 

He mentions that “a burly, bearded guy in biker garb and covered with tattoos strode up to me after an event and shoved something into my hand.  It was his lucky metal poker chip…”  As others gave him their tokens or lucky charms he started keeping them in his pocket during speeches.  (p. 190)

Obama demonstrates his willingness to work with individuals in a bipartisan manner and his thankfulness to those who stood up for him when others were attacking his character.

In his junior year as a senator Obama connected with Dick Lugar, a Republican from Indiana and the chair of Foreign Relations Committee.  Lugar and Democratic Senator Sam Nunn were able to pass legislation that allowed America to help the Soviet Union deactivate nuclear warheads.  Lugar invited Obama to travel with him to Russia to see where nuclear weapons were deactivated.  He mentions how Lugar opened his eyes to the difference a senator could really make.  (60-61)  

When Sarah Palin started accusing Obama of “palling around with terrorists who would target their own country” and other false accusations it was John McCain, his Republican competitor for the presidency, who stood up for him.  At a rally in Minnesota McCain told the audience, “I have to tell you, he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States.”  (195)

Obama lets future leaders know that anything you do in a public place will be made into news.

At the Western Wall in Jerusalem he wrote a prayer on a piece of paper and placed it into the wall.  It was meant as a private message to God but someone dug it out after he departed and gave it to an Israeli newspaper who printed it.  (160)   

Keeping grounded is something Obama truly believes in. 

When Michelle asked her mother Marian Shields Robinson to help take care of the girls and also so she has someone to talk to Obama embraces the idea.  “My mother-in-law didn’t act like she was better than anybody else, so our daughters never even considered that an option.”  (223)

Obama made sure he visited Walter Reed and Bethesda naval hospitals throughout his tenure as president.  Seeing up close what war can do to an individual reminded him to be as sure as he could be, that the decisions he made, were the right ones.  Not all the sons and daughters in the United States military came back alive, and many others that did, didn’t always come home whole.  He mentions visiting a soldier so bandaged up the soldier’s mother had to remind Obama that he and her son had met before.  (576-577)

Obama learned early in life to reverse the roles so he could try to understand another person or groups perspective. 

He demonstrates this often in the book so the reader sees both sides of an argument.  On why the Tea Party seemed such an attraction to working and middle class whites he points out that: “Many of the working- and middle-class whites gravitating to the Tea Party had suffered for decades from sluggish wages, rising costs and the loss of the steady blue-collar work that provided secure retirements.”  (404)

To initiate a program to protect the environment Obama once more demonstrated that getting the job done was his first priority.   

He used the cap-and-trade system initiated by the Republican President George H. W. Bush’s administration in 1990 as a template.  In Obama’s words Bush’s system worked, because “Despite dire predictions that the measure would lead to factory closures and mass layoffs, the offending companies had quickly figured out cost-efficient ways to retrofit their factories, and within a few years, the problem of acid rain had all but disappeared.” (501)

There is so much in this book I have not mentioned.  It took me a long time to read, not because it’s a big book at 700 odd pages but because Obama deals with so many aspects of his personal and political life.  His grandmother and mother’s influence; his love for his wife Michelle and their two girls Sasha and Malia Ann; his gratefulness towards all the hard work the people he collaborated with on his journey to the senate and then the presidency; and how his knowledge of national and world affairs helped him to see from different perspectives that allowed him to negotiate whenever possible but demand if necessary.

This book answered a lot of questions I had about a number of events over the last twenty years.  I still remember watching a meeting Obama was holding at a town on TV.  To paraphrase, I heard him say: This is what people are asking and this how I reply.  I had never heard a leader say that before.  And he did answer.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in taking political science, or simply wanting to learn what leadership should be like.

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part One Blog six)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part One Blog six)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Oli nods at the Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turn’ Synthia who is standing before the helm.  The spoked wheel is almost as tall as she is.  Next she and Aarini climb up the steps to the fo’c’sle where the Captain is holding Oli’s mandolin and standing with the Navigator and Zala.  Together they watch as the girls pour up the stairs of the hold to the deck.  Making sure they line up properly is the Master-at-arms.

 “We’re a sisterhood of pirates,” the Captain whispers into her ear as she passes Oli her mandolin.

Ahoy, me hearties!” Oli sings down to the crew.

We’re a sisterhood of pirates!

The Captain says it’s time to sail

Turn the capstan to lift the anchor

Unfurl the masts it’s time to go

 “Aye, aye, Captain,” the crew sings.

We’re a sisterhood of pirates,” they continue as the Master-at-Arms grabs a hold of one of the capstan’s bars.  The cook, ‘Unibrow’ Nippie joins in along with some of the teenagers.

Round and round clockwise we go!” They sing over and over again.

The surgeons get some of the younger girls to climb the masts and help unfurl the main and mizzen sail.

Once the anchor is locked into place at the side of the forecastle Oli changes the song:

Heave the sheets to open the sails

And watch the position of the sun in day

And the stars at night

While we search for things to steal

From that Monstrous Captain Barthadrow!

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part One Blog five)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part One Blog five)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Oli flips open the covering to the stairs to the hold.  She doesn’t need to switch the eyepatch yet, there’s enough sun seeping through the canon windows left open by the girls.  “All hand hoy!” she shouts out at the rows of hammocks hanging from the hold’s beams.  Some are two abreast a side.  She slaps the thick wooden pillars and shouts out again “All hand hoy!”  Some of the younger girls wake up with a start and fall out of their hammocks onto the chest below that contains all their belongings. 

She goes farther into the hold, occasionally with her hands above her head running her fingers along the thick ropes that connect the helm wheel to the anchor.  Her eyes methodically check the condition of the overhead rope that attaches the capstan to the chain of the anchor.  Once she reaches the section of the hold where the teenage girls sleep, she shouts, “Zala!” to a tall girl originally from Ethiopia.  “Go immediately to the Captain.  Aarini, you’re with me,” she says shoving the hammock of a girl born to a fishing family in India.

Aarini follows her as she walks farther along.  She finds the surgeons Canneta and Areso already out of their single extra wide hammock.  Canneta is so tall her head nearly touches the ceiling of the hold.  Oli has always been fascinated by Canneta’s appearance.  The surgeon has short orange hair and blue eyes with dark skin that Oli could only wish she could get tanning in the sun.  Canneta was ten in Nigeria when her father took her and her mother on his fishing boat to escape a battle between local tribes.  Areso on the other hand is much shorter than Canneta.  Oli thinks of the attractiveness of Tristan’s crew when she sees Areso.  Long dark hair flows over Areso’s shoulders and her face is mesmerizing.  She too was on her father’s fishing boat to escape fighting in North Korea when a whirlpool in the Japanese Sea sucked them into this world.   Both girls are attractive and smart and yet they cannot continue their hereditary by being together.  Oh well, Oli thinks.  Life is full of mysteries.

Past another set of wooden pillars is ‘Unibrow the Cook’ Nippie and her helper Janice.  Janice tosses and turns in her cot.  Maybe the string necklace the Captain asked ‘Harlot’ Thelma to make with the boy Dirst’s molar will set her at ease.  Nippie was on a ship full of orphans heading from Britain to Australia when it was sucked into a whirlpool.  Nippie doesn’t know her age or just refuses to tell anyone.  Where exactly she’s from is another mystery.  She’s tall and stalky and strong.  Her voice is harsh and boisterous.  Most of the time she keeps to herself so the galley is a perfect spot for her.  However, every girl has to work with her at some time.  Learning to cook and salt fish and other meats, knowing the right amount of beer or wine to add to fresh water to keep it safe, and how much vodka to add to fruits is imperative to survival on a ship.  ‘Unibrow Nippie’ is still snoring so Oli shakes her awake.

Next Oli wakes up ‘Ship Protector’ Umi.  Umi, a Japanese Ama pearl diver was on the ocean floor collecting oysters when she was pulled into a whirlpool.  Tiny and very fit, Umi is the only one who can search the ship for damage or ocean passengers.  She is also the one who communicates with the dolphin-tails and occasionally the fish-tails.

Lastly Oli gets to the stern of the hold where a door leads to the room where the Ship Builder sleeps and works.  She bangs on the door and shouts, “All hands hoy!  The bow of the ship has a funny smell.  Could be one of the sitsees in the Head is clogged!”  Inside the room she hears a thud she is sure is his head hitting one of the overhead beams.  Grinning she returns to the deck with Aarini.

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part One Blog three)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part One Blog three)

“I asked her,” Oli says with frustration, “I swear that one is the child of Lust.  She got drunk on rum and admits she may have opened herself willingly to Captain Peg leg’s crew.  It’s Janice I worry about.  One of Captain Peg leg’s younger men decided she was willing when she was not.  “Wheel Turn” Sylvia stopped him before he could get on top of her.”  As she worried would happen the Captain once again spits into the water.

“Master Navigator Jo Anne,” she hears the Captain call out with a voice full of icy decision.  Their Navigator ties back her long brunette hair with a blue ribbon as she saunters towards them.  Oli notices how the Navigator already has her hand wrapped around the hilt of her rapier.  The hand guard is a marvel of coiled metal.

“She sleeps with that rapier,” Oli says, hoping it will dwindle down the deathly coldness she feels emitting from the Captain.  “I asked her if I could try it to see how smoothly it wields.  She took a step back and partially withdrew it.  I won’t ask her again after that.”

“It was her father’s,” the Captain says, “the last reminder of him from Earth.  We’re off to see Captain Peg leg,” the Captain says to both her and the Navigator.  “Our dear Helmswoman, “Wheel Turn” Synthia, will be in command.”  Oli follows the gaze of the Captain as she peers over the railing of the fo’c’sle where a female figure is slouched against the base of the foremast with her right hand still holding a bottle of rum.  “Or our Master-at-Arms “Dizzying Blade” Sadie.”  Oli once again follows the Captain’s gaze.  This time towards the centre of the deck, where their Master-at-Arms is sprawled against the capstan.    In her right hand she is grasping the hilt of her rapier and in the other a jug of rum.

“Thelma,” the Captain calls to the girl sewing the battens into the extra mainsail.

Oli is always amazed how Thelma’s skin constantly glows with sensuality now that’s she’s a young woman.

“Yes, Oh Captain my Captain,” Thelma replies while continuing to sew.

“Your encounter with Captain Peg leg and his crew, was it consensual?” 

“Aye Captain, it was.  Not all seeds sown grow.  So I can’t rely on a single sower can I?”

Oli is as surprised as the Captain by Thelma’s nonchalant words.

“You want to get pregnant?” the Captain asks.

“What about the Ship Builder,” Oli blurts out.  She wishes she hadn’t as the Captain is now giving her a dark look.

“You wouldn’t know this because you moved out of the hold years ago,” Thelma says to her.  “But he’s like an absent father, the kind who is always around.  We’ve known him since we were children and never has he abused any of us.  I thought he was just arrogant, only ever speaking to the Navigator and Captain.”  Oli didn’t miss the sarcasm.  “However,” Thelma continues, “when the Captain told me to sew up a torn sail with poor instruction–.”

“I was never good at it,” the Captain interrupts.

“The Ship Builder came over to me, and in his deep, hesitant voice, kindly showed me how.  I’ve been excellent ever since.  Also, where he’s missing a finger is creepy.  How do you only lose that finger—it makes no sense.”

Oli gasps at the sudden paleness on the Captain’s face.

“So you want to get pregnant?” the Captain asks regaining her composure.

“I do.  I want to sail with the Pirate Queen again.”

“You don’t like it with us?”  Oli can hear the hurt in the Captain’s voice.

“It’s more I don’t just want to have a baby I also want to be around them.”

“Well, by the time we reach the Pregnancy Ship we’ll know if that’s to be or not,” the Captain says.  It’s the first time Oli has seen the Captain flustered.  “By the way, until the Helmswoman or Master-at-arms wakes, you’re in charge.”

“Lovely,” Thelma replies.

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part One Blog two)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part One Blog two)

“Aye, and when Barthadrow tried to put him into the evil barrel he escaped with some of the other boys.  After telling us his story he talked of consent and that as he built up his crew any of the original boys who prefer the opposite sex were allowed to join other ships.”

 “Tristan is a good man,” the Captain says.  “We would have been captured or killed by Barthadrow’s crew a number of times without him.”

“He is,” Oli says with a smirk.  “Probably because our surgeons Canneta and Areso are mated his crew thinks ours is like theirs and we prefer to partner with other females.  The exception being the Ship Builder of course, the only male you let live on the Nagua.  I know you and he are close, as is our Navigator is to both of you, but he doesn’t seem to fit our motley crew and I sense he would not be a fit on the Unbroken

“You and the Pirate Queen saved me when I was ten and I would guess at least ten years have passed since then.  I was so busy trying to prove myself all that time that I never bothered to ask about him before.  Yours and the Navigator’s relationship to him, is hard to grasp.  Not a lover, not a father figure, nor an older brother but I’ve always sensed a deep comradery between the three of you.  And it’s an interesting finger he is missing.”

Oli sees an anguished look cross the Captain’s face.  “You are like my sister,” the Captain says in a faraway voice, “You and the Navigator, but I think it’s best to keep that story hidden for now First Mate.”

“I don’t understand the desire to be with the same sex,” Oli continues.  She realizes drinking so much brandy the other night has loosened her tongue.  “So many of them are good looking and intelligent and we are not a large population yet.  However, at least they have their mates with them.”  Oli hears the lament in her own voice.  “Yours and mine are currently captaining ships hardly larger than sloops.  Not favourable odds when you consider they’re guarding the Pregnancy Ship against Barthadrow’s fleet.”

“We’ll be departing tomorrow.”  The Captain reassures her.  “As for your other point, I think as long as there are enough children on the Pregnancy Boat, it won’t matter.  They could always begrudgingly mate for the sake of continuance.  What’s important is Tristan considers children sacred while Barthadrow treats them the same as adults.”  The Captain spits into the water and changes the subject.  “We have quite the variety of ship crews in the cove.”  The Captain points at the farthest ship to their left.  “The Cannibals, vegan until they go mad during the crossover of the two moons.  We want to stay far away from them.”

“From a distance we saw a few of the other crews trading for flour and other goods with the Cannibals,” Oli says.  “I used the spyglass you gave me and all the Cannibals look anemic.  It’s too bad we can’t get them to attack the island Barthadrow has captured and made into a home base.”

“Perhaps the crossing of the two moons tells them they are missing something in their diet.”  The Captain points at the next galleon.  The Sames have the complete range of human skin colours.  Midnight blue to almost translucent skin, some even have patches of different colours.”

“But they all have the curly blonde hair of the poodles from Earth, or like some of us have below,” Oli adds with mischief in her voice.

They both laugh.

She sees the Captain gaze far to the right.  A ship so huge it seems unreal bobs up and down there.  “The Real Talls should make it to the Pregnancy Ship first.  I know we and others were sucked into the whirlpool during the giant shooting star that caused Luna to turn a cobalt blue colour.  I think though, the Real Talls, Sames, and Cannibals are from somewhere else.  Did you get caulking along with the other supplies?”  Oli follows the Captain’s gaze as it wanders to a nearby galleon, one just a bit larger than the Nagua.  Captain Nathan Peg leg’s Surprise.

“I bartered some of the excess spiked orange we had in the barrels from trading with the Horse People with Captain Peg leg for caulking,” she says.  “Most of our supplies we bartered with Tristan.” 

“Any problems?” the Captain asks.

This is the part of the conversation Oli is dreading.  “Yes,” she replies with a tremble in her voice.

“Someone has wronged one of our crew?  Our Harlot, Thelma?”

They both look down at the deck where a buxom girl with her blouse partially undone sits needling battens into a spare mainsail while a lit lantern swings from an overhead rope. 

Rita Walker: Australia (Blog Seven) by Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker: Australia (Blog Seven) by Dan Watt and Taylor Norris (reference links at bottom)

As Australia and the rest of the world learn how to better harness the sun’s power more electricity will come from solar energy and less from other sources.

A woman with frizzly natural blonde hair and devilish green eyes opens the door for Rita.  “Iluka told us you were here,” the woman says in a wonderful New South Wales accent.

Rita is confused.  “Iluka?  You are Professor Aurora Martin aren’t you?”

“Yes, yes come in, and call me Aurora or it will be confusing when you meet my husband Oliver.  It’s too hot to walk during the day so he’s out with Taz right now.  As for Iluka she is a Yawkyawk.”

Rita wants to know who Iluka is and what Aurora means by a Yawkyawk but her feet are killing her so she steps into a hall with silky oak flooring and a carpeted staircase that goes up.  She notices pictures from places around the world line the walls and up on the ceiling a fan blows much appreciated cool air over her.

“We use solar energy for the fan,” Aurora tells her.  “I just made some ice tea, would like some, and have you eaten?”

“I would love some ice tea, and something to eat would be fantastic,” Rita replies as she follows Aurora into a kitchen with lots of Wollemi Pine cupboards and an extensive hung wine rack just underneath.

Aurora gestures for Rita to sit down on one the high back chairs at an square table made of eucalyptus.  Rita places her dilly bag beside her and takes in a long tired but relaxing breath.

“Chicken Parmigiana okay with you?” Aurora asks.

“Anything,” Rita replies with a thankful sigh.  She unintentionally guzzles the ice tea down.

“Is that all the clothing you have?” Aurora asks as she heats up a plate of food in the microwave. 

“Yes,” Rita replies. 

“Well, I think we’ll get you fitted with some clothes tomorrow morning before we bring you over to meet Iluka.” 

As Aurora is talking Rita hears the sound of a man whispering to a dog as it barks excitedly.

“Stay!” the man shouts as she hears the scrapping sound of a dog pulling and getting away.

The next moment a chocolate brown Australian Kelpie is stalking around her sniffing.  Occasionally he looks up at her with cognac brown eyes.

“Hello,” says a man with disheveled dark brown hair with a streak of white on the left side.  Rita notices that Oliver Martin’s eye colour is similar to his wife’s but with more of a thoughtful stare.  “I don’t think Taz quite knows what to make of you,” he says as he kisses his wife.

https://nga.gov.au/exhibition/niat07/detail.cfm?IRN=163786

https://arena.gov.au/renewable-energy/solar/

Blue Mountain Jenolan Caves background pic by Peter Samuel with Rita Walker body makeup by @amasonart Alannah Mason, model Taylor Norris, picture of model by Dan Watt

Caedar-writing-artwork.com

Mythruin.simplesite.com

Fallen (from the as yet unpublished 4th book in the Children of the Myth Machine series)

(From “Miya” the as yet unpublished 4th book in the Children of the Myth Machine series)

Fallen

I rebelled against destiny

So Father Sky severed my wings

And I plummeted into Mother Nature

Who chained me to her bosom

In vines dense with iron

But still I rebelled

So they gouged out my eyes

And I can no longer see the future

Now as I wander with these chains around my neck

Listening to the betrayals and laments

I grow tired

Of killing my insides

So you feel safe

I never belonged to you

Nor do I answer to you

Though I answer

And as my destiny nears its end

I will listen

I will encourage and promote

And if necessary

I will judge

Listen with keen ears and remember

If you follow your destiny

You will have the choice to return or not

But if you don’t

You will have no choice but to return

And I won’t be here when you do

  • DW

Rita Walker: Australia (Blog Six) by Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker: Australia (Blog Six) by Dan Watt and Taylor Norris (reference links at bottom)

Dhimurru Rangers trying to keep land clean while saving wildlife.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/may/15/monstrous-indigenous-rangers-struggle-against-the-plastic-ruining-arnhem-land-beaches

At night she climbs up onto a dock near the Sydney Opera House and waits by one of the docked boats until she changes back.

Figure 1 Sydney Opera House by Peter Samuel 9

In the sky she sees stars in the shape of two serpents and follows their touching tails towards where she hopes the professors Aurora and Oliver Martin live.

She’s thankful it’s nighttime so the pavement is cooler on the soles of her feet.  She’s faring better than Marlo who only had on swimming shorts when he changed on Haida Gwaii.   

Although she wants to protect Mother Earth she also understands that countries rely on strong economics.  It isn’t as easy as saying shut down coal mines and stop using it.  There could be technological advances that allow countries to keep or improve their economic situation while decreasing the use of environmentally damaging energy sources.  Then there’s plastic.  She wonders if Marlo is discovering any solutions.

If factories can be converted to using renewable resources with low to no pollutants than everyday use items such as water bottles can be designed to break down without leaving micro particles that can be ingested and accumulated in plants and tiny animals.  She looks into the sky and sees the snake tails glowing.  In front of her is an older style townhouse with a number 16 written in bold letters over the lintel of a door with many indigenous symbols.  There are too many symbols to count quickly.  She wonders if there is a symbol for each of the 500 plus clan groups.        

https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/04/nsw-and-queensland-coal-industry-uses-as-much-water-as-all-sydney-households-report-finds

https://skepticalscience.com/Australia-coal.html

https://www.statista.com/statistics/271748/the-largest-emitters-of-co2-in-the-world/

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/habitats/plastic-pollution/

Sydney Opera House background pic by Peter Samuel with Rita Walker body makeup by @amasonart Alannah Mason, model Taylor Norris, picture of model by Dan Watt

Caedar-writing-artwork.com

Mythruin.simplesite.com