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