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/

Dragon: the Emerald of Light is available for free until Feb. 28 2021

Dragon: the Emerald of Light is a medieval spoof written from the viewpoint of dragons: Sharpclaw and Burnwood.

Burnwood must turn into a little one–a human to save Glistenscale from the dreaded Plague Knight.

You can read more at Amazon.ca Books.

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!