Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Rose is Three

Sudeley-Castle-web1
Robins scolded in the growing shadows of the rose garden beneath the balcony, as a little girl held her breath and carefully tickled the red crown feathers offered by the newly fledged parrot. "Mamma!" she gasped, drawing back with dancing eyes. "She likes me." She clapped her hands with a bounce of her curls of tow. "See? She's still holding out her head feathers. Can I hold her now?"
20130213-043355"Of course," said Minuet. "Just hold out your finger as I showed you, Rose, and wait for Pebbles to step on."
Rose nodded and held out her finger, giving Minuet and Hebraun each a very solemn look before offering it to Pebbles, who carefully stepped on.
"Very good," said Minuet with a glance at the door. "Bethan's here, I see. It's time to let her get you ready for bed."
"Can I put Pebbles on her perch, Mamma?"
"As long as you're real easy, sweetheart."
Rose crept to the perch with all of the sober reserve of some great ceremony.
Pebbles looked quickly here and there at her feet, not knowing quite what was expected as theygreen-cheeked-amazon-parrot-01 arrived.
"A bird is not posed to be dilatory in a castle," said Rose as Pebbles took an uncertain step onto the perch. "You have to set an essample."
Minuet looked up to share her amusement and found that the butler already had Hebraun's attention. "Now go straightaway with Bethan, Rose," she said. "We'll be along directly to tuck you in."          
 ****
"So," she said. "She's undoubtedly got her baggy eyes from the sukere. And she stands a very good chance of being deeply involved with some evil design involving sukere with Razzorbauch and Demonica." She leant aside to see to Rose. "Oh sweetheart. You've got cherries all down your front."
"They still taste good that way, Mamma. See? Here's a really good one."
"I'll take care of her," said Bethan. "You've got things to discuss."
4ud2"Mamma? When Grandma Bethan gets me cleaned up, can she take me to show Real Grandma how I can sit on Mystique?"
"You just got your new unicorn, dear. I want to be there with you until you've had some real experience riding."
"I understand," said Rose as Bethan led her away. "Grandma? You'll have to learn to be patient. Mamma's just being a queen like you used to be." 
 ****
They found Hebraun and Minuet already well into a breakfast of boiled eggs and hot rye bread. As Razzmorten seated her, Ugleeuh saw Bethan leading out a striking and immaculately polite little tow-headed girl. "That's their little shit," she thought, as an orderly rushed to the board with plates and another bowl of boiled eggs. "Too bad, little shit!"   

Monday, February 8, 2016

It's Either Kill Trolls or Pack for Home


df8e67504802514821c6de82d606eb0d
The breeze rattled the cottonwood leaves overhead as it chased through the tall big bluestem grass beyond the butt and died away. Rose drew her bowstring to her cheek,
hesitated and planted her eighth arrow in the target. A warbling vireo went back to its
meandering medley from the crown of the cottonwood. Rose nocked her next arrow and
found the target with her eyes.
"My word!" said Fuzz as he walked up behind her. "That's a whole bouquet of arrows in the bull's eye. That looks like forty yard."
group
Rose nodded and lowered her bow. "Father always had us practice," she said.
"I remember seeing that light longbow of yours back home, but we were in such a rush that I never once saw you use it," he said with a nod at the target. "You're just plain good, particularly with this breeze. Have you missed any at all?"
"I've not yet been to the target."
Fuzz whistled. "Well what do you think of Olloo's spare bow? I'm all done feeding the birds, by the way."
Rose raised her bow and quickly put another arrow in the bull's eye. "I like it," she said, letting the breeze blow a strand of hair out of her face as she turned to look at him. "But it's not at all like the one Soraya had. This thing's longer and shoots almost like a proper 9204cacfb3a66323628d914d5330f62clongbow."
"Well that makes sense, out here in the open in the Strah," he said, giving her a quick peck on the cheek. "I knew Inney had got it for you, but I never asked you why. Are you wanting to be ready for Spitemorta or Demonica sometime after we get home?"
"I was thinking trolls."
"The raid..."
"Damned right!" she said with a fiery look. "Those were the sweetest three little kids I think I ever saw. That little towhead Aalin trotted up with her ringlets just a-bouncing and gave me a fistful of asters the very afternoon before the trolls came. I still see her face." she thrust out her chin and picked up another arrow. "You know, that makes four men, three young ladies, one of them about to be wed, and six little scoots like Aalin since we got here. They're going to get wiped out at this rate."
"Probably not. They've been out here doing this for the last thousand years."
Rose turned to face the target to find an old ewe and her pair of lambs in the way. "Yea?" Ewe and lambsshe said. "Well what about our wee baban on the way, aye? One of those trolls gets too close to our little girl to be, and I'll want to puncture the curse."
"So that's what this is about," said Fuzz. "Have you forgotten that trolls don't eat humans?"
"You think they'll look at her ears after they grab her up? And can you imagine any trolls raiding Balley Cheerey who'd check each little girl for pointed ears before stealing her away? They'd just grab her up, right? And if they saw their mistake, do you reckon they'd dutifully fetch her back here? They'd either eat her for dessert or kick her out in the woods with the wolves."
"Well, you're right," he said, squatting beside her and pulling a timothy head. "So what do you want to do?"
"Fight back!" she said, dropping to her knees beside him. "Or at least be able to. You Warbling Vireo, singing_6444know, I don't really understand why the Elves haven't wiped them out by now, Fuzz. Inney told me once about when they almost did. They tracked the monsters to their
stinking caves and killed nearly every one of the curses where they slept before the
handful which survived got away. And when they can do nearly everything just a little
better than we can, why didn't they ever hunt down those survivors and end the menace?
When I think of little Aalin, it makes me want to cry."
"Tramman was telling me about that, once," he said as he watched the ewe graze bite by bite to the foot of the target. "He said that they did indeed hunt down the trolls that got away and they were right certain they'd got all of them, too. So when the next troll raid occurred years and years later, they were completely unprepared and lost eleven children all in one night. Can you imagine?"
"Oh Fuzz, what are we going to do? It's a true paradise here without the troll raids. I've never in my life been around such wonderful, wonderful people. Inney's the sweetest kid I've ever known. And I really did want to have the baby right here. But the trolls scare me. And I find myself missing Niarg more, day by day. I keep thinking we should be there for the birth. It's where we really belong."
Neanderthal-Man_121713-617x416
Fuzz scooted closer, picked up her hand and closed his eyes as he kissed her wrist. "Then maybe we should go home, dear," he said. "The Elves have told Karl-Veur and me that we might well hire a fishing boat from Gwael to take us across the sea." He paused to look at her. "And there's nothing to stop us from doing it right now if we were to buy our
passage with some of the jewelry that washed up on the beach in your trunk. Now believe
me, I'd never just up and tell you to do such a thing..."
"I'll give every blooming jewel I thought was long lost if it takes it," she said. "Well, not the emerald necklace from Mother nor your earrings that match. Well. You know, I'd almost give those to go home."
"Then it sounds as though you might be serious. Well if you think it over and..."
"That would just waste time. I'm ready to go pack."
"Then I'll go talk to Tramman right now."
"Fuzz," she said, putting her hand on his arm before he got to his feet. "I will stay if you want."
"You really would, wouldn't you?"
“Of course I would.”
“That's why I'm crazy about you, Rose,” said Fuzz. “But I miss Edward. I mean, what must he think after all this time?”
Suddenly two half grown strike falcons appeared out of the grass and came dashing up to them across the butts with a rabbit apiece, startling the sheep.
"Carrey and Sidoor!" she said, shooting to her feet to hug Carrey's fluffy neck. "How'd Phororhacosthey get out?"
"Sidoor kept putting images of fat rabbits in my head, so I thought about you out here and turned them out."
“So what about our birds, Fuzz? We can’t leave them behind.”
“Of course not," he said as he watched the birds drop their rabbits and rip them into pieces small enough to swallow. "They go with us, and that’s all there is to it. Now, I think we should find Karl-Veur and see if he wants to go with us or stay here.”
"Or go back to the Dark Continent. After all, you know he misses Yuna and young Yann-Ber. I think we should let him know that it’s all right with us if he changes his mind about trying to get into Demonica’s good graces.”
“Oh sure. But I’ve got a feeling he's set on doing what he came with us to do, in spite of the price he has to pay.”
“Let's go,” said Rose as she unstrung her bow and picked up her quiver.
“Then we talk to Tramman and Obbree about hiring a fishing boat,” he said, taking her by The Reaper Witch 01 copythe hand.
“I’m for that,” she said, squeezing his arm.








Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Friday, February 5, 2016

Neanderthal Under the Bridge

Group of neanderthal hunting a bison
In spite of what some people insisted twenty years ago, Neanderthals are not members of our species. They are Homo neanderthalensis and we are Homo sapiens. We are closely related but different species, not different races of the same species. Thousands of years in chilly overcast Europe selected for lots of Neanderthal characteristics similar to those of modern White humans, but now that we are able to compare actual Neanderthal DNA to ours, we find that these similarities are derived altogether differently. Neanderthals used entirely different DNA for their red hair than we use for ours.
Neanderthals' DNA differs from ours by 27.2 gene substitutions. Chimpanzees' DNA differs from ours by 55.0 gene substitutions. This means that Neanderthals were half as distantly related to us as chimpanzees. In spite of how much graphic representations such as Popeye look like humans to us, we would not have been inclined to breed with the Neanderthals we chanced upon, because they were simply too different.
Neanderthal vs modern human
If one is lucky enough to compare actual Neanderthal skulls to those of humans, he sees that Neanderthals had brow ridges and rounded chins, all right, but he also sees that Neanderthals had huge eye sockets and a ballooned-out cranium in back, called an occipital bun. Casual observers seem to miss this, but to me this strongly suggests that Neanderthals were nocturnal. Nocturnal animals have larger eyes and enlarged visual areas of the brain which the bun would have housed.
Neanderthal fossils have an exceptional amount of healed fractures. When I was a crazy kid, we had a sport. We'd go out into the pasture where the cattle were bedded down in the moonlight to pick out a cow, jump astride her and see how long we could hang on when she got to her feet. Is this how Neanderthals hunted wooly mammoths?
Neanderthals showed up in Europe about 200,000 years ago and persisted until 28,000-24,000 years ago. We showed up about 35,000 years ago and warily shared the same habitat with them, for anywhere from 7,000 to 11,000 years. That's a long time to avoid running into them in the shadows. We've only farmed and had towns for what, 8,000 years?
24,000 years is an awfully long time ago, but do you reckon that the troll under the bridge is some sort of ancient cultural memory? Is that why trolls are supposed to turn to stone in daylight? What do you think?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ocker Teaches Blodwwen


667e59a6c2281beead7c203e2db08f5a
The moment Blodwen leant aside for more apples for her pan of water, Ocker and Urr-Urr rushed at her other pan and snapped up several apple slices apiece."Hey fowl!" she cried, hoplessly too late as they buoyed themselves above the reach of her swat with a couple of flaps and settled at the far end of the board.
bn_raven"Yea?" said Ocker as he gobbled down his slices. "Ravens is the kind we happen to be, if ye want to sound like you know things, dear. And by the way, nice apples."
"Thieving vermin is what," she growled. "Ye're damned well told, nice apples! I sliced 'em."
"Good for you, sweetheart," he said as he lunged into the air to hover over her shoulder. "You owe us."
"Just how in all the chiming bells of Golltowre is that?" she said, turning square
about on her seat in time for Urr-Urr to grab out more slices from her pan and lungeimages
into the air.
"Damn you varmints!" she cried, wheeling back to her pan.
"Listen quiente," he said, hovering at her ear, "you owe us because Meri Greenwood would never have got here without us. And if you had any sense you'd see hit. And while you're a-wising up, shouldn't someone be looking after Meri?"
"What?" she said.
"What's going to keep him from going all crazy and beating up the old hag,anyway?" he said, settling onto the table by Urr-Urr to take one of her slices. "If she's as
confounded ugly as these two, he might."
Closeup_North_Amer_Crow_t700"Look 'ee here!" cried Hubba Hubba. "These old ladies are nice!"
"Yea?" rattled Ocker. "What do you know about it, fraud? You ain't even a bird."
"I'll have you know I'm a double yellow-head Amazon..."
"Popinjays never made it all the way to birddom, hole!"
"And nobody owes you the time o' day..."
"Well Hubba Hubba," said Minuet, "I do owe him my life..."
"He's that very Ocker?"
Minuet and Razzmorten both nodded with twinkling eyes.
"Well maybe if he just watched his mouth..."
"Hey, I'm just distracted, Yellow Crow," said Ocker with wide-eyed smacks of his beak, gobbling down another slice of apple. "I mean, we brought Meri all the way here,and now his whole world just caved in on him, don't ye know..."
il_570xN.408687206_rfku"Whosoes woreld hath juste kaaved in?" said Meri as everyone in the room stopped short at the sight of the radiantly gorgeous Celeste on his arm.
"You fixed her," awked Ocker. "You going to pretty up the other Fairies, too?"
"Ich didde nat," he said as he and Celeste knelt before a speechless Minuet. "My gracious Queene. Wolt thou us to marye this verray howre? In dede, wolt thou plesebeauty-blue-hair-emo-green-hair-Favim.com-1014236
marye us byforn weo risen fro oure knees?"
"Why, there's nothing I'd enjoy more!"
"Thanne byforn weo to risen, plese do," said Meri.
"But you need a bouquet," said Nacea.
"And shulden nat weo for this to reherse?" said Alvita.long-blue-green-hair
"Swyven off, you two!" said Ocker. "They want to nest."
"Plese," said Celeste. "Byforn my lokes dekay. Everych oon plese stant with us. Ocker, perchestow on Meri, if thou woldest. Every brid on a shulder. Ceidwad and Lladdwr, my derre children, plese yeve me awey."
The room hushed at once to hear the joyous vows.
***
They heard wings in time for Ocker to land on the board in front of Blodwen. "Hello, Apple-Slice," he said, running his beak down a flight feather.
162767579_a-basket-of-apples-giclee-print-by-august-laux"No!" snapped Blodwen, covering her pan with her arms. "Beat it!"
"Hey Apple-Slice," he croaked, walking right up to her pan with a cock of his head. "Better look out for Urr-Urr."
At the sound of wings behind her, she threw her chin to her shoulder to see.Quarter-the-Apples
Ocker grabbed up a huge beakful of slices and flew to the mantle.
"Look out Blodwen!" cawed Hubba Hubba, right before Urr-Urr grabbed a slice from the other side of the pan.
"Shut up Two-Head," said Ocker, setting his mouthful at his feet.
"You're in on it too, Hubba-Hubba?" said Blodwen as she watched Urr-Urr fly away with her prize.
"No!" cawed Hubba-Hubba. "I was only trying..."
"Thanks Two-Head," said Ocker. "Urr-Urr would never 'ave got hers without yourhelp."
"Hey! I was not trying to help Urr-Urr."
"Don't you birds ever learn?" said Blodwen as she covered her pan with a bread board.
"You're the one who won't learn, quiente," said Ocker. "We had you figured out the The Reaper Witch 01 copymoment we saw you. That's why we're still having to give you lessons."



Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps



Monday, February 1, 2016

Fuzz Can't Imagine


Stone_Heart_Cover_for_Kindle

Fuzz the Bear sets out across the countryside in a frantic effort to keep the Heart out of the hands of the evil sorceresses Demonica and Spitemorta in Stone Heart. Along the way, he stumbles into a magical ward set by Demonica and is restored to his human form. He has not yet gotten used to being a human when Wizard Razzmorten and his party with Rose and Lukus find him and decide to help him recover the Heart...
"It's really great to see you, Fuzz," said Lukus, as Tors bore him alongside. "Maybe we can talk, now that we don't have to go single file. How long have you been changed back?" He realized that this might be an awkward question in the midst of asking it. "You've no idea how much Rose and I have missed you."
"Actually," said Fuzz as he stretched his neck, "my transformation is right recent and I'm not sure I've completely adjusted to the change. I was a bear for a lot of years, but I've no reason not to expect that things will all come back to me in time." He nodded at Rose.  "You know I'm finally beginning to question whether she's missed me or not. This change of mine still has me feeling awkward all over, but have I done something to offend her?"
"Don't you see?" said Lukus with an amused look.
"See what?"    
"Rose is eaten up with jealousy."
"Just how?" sputtered Fuzz. "Me? Surely not."
"Absolutely," said Lukus rocking forward with a chuckle.
medieval-woman-with-long-hair

"But my word. What could Rose possibly see in the likes of an old bear like me?"
"You're not a bear for one thing."
"Well, I suppose not, but that is all she's known me as, Lukus, and I'm old enough to be her grandfather. She can't possibly think of me in any other way."
"Ha! I don't remember a looking glass in your den, Fuzz, but if there is one, I'd lay great odds you've not peeped in it. You may be old as the hills in years, but you don't look much older than Rose. It looks like you stopped aging when Ugleeuh turned you into a bear. Why, you're downright handsome."
"Well, yes, I guess that's what they used to say," said Fuzz, with an uncomfortable blush, "but I'd still think that would be unlikely quick for Rose to..."
"Wrong again," said Lukus, bouncing with glee on Tors's back, as Tors swung a sympathetic look in Fuzz's direction. "Remember Spark's glamourie in the Grog Meadows?"
"Oh, you're right," said Fuzz with very wide eyes. "She saw me as I was when I was still Captain of the Guard at Castle Niarg, when we were trying to deceive the Grogs."
"Yea. And she's had a thing for you ever since that she refuses to admit...just like you've had for her. Ah...ah...ah, don't deny it. Don't you dare deny it, 'cause it was written all over your face back then, just as it is this very minute."
"You seem to have turned into an Elf, Lukus, reading me like that."
Lukus threw back his head with a vigorous laugh. "I'm married to one, actually."
"My word. Could it possibly be the very one Rose would pester you about those years ago when we were fleeing together?" said Fuzz, as Taflu suddenly fluttered into the air, escaping his notice altogether.
"Indeed. She's my utter ecstasy. And we expect a son."
"Oh, wonderful. I'm so very happy for you..."
"Yea, thank you. And you're dodging, Fuzz. I can't believe you didn't know Rose felt the same way about you."
images


"I..."
"That's all right, Fuzz," said Lukus with a merry smile. "I'm not trying to give you a hard time. Rose is doing that. And don't worry, she'll come right around as soon as you convince her that there's nothing between you and Myrtlebell."
"Myrtlebell!" gasped Fuzz. "Of course there's nothing between Myrtlebell and me. She and Edward were in dire need and I took her in. I'm her friend, but only in a patronly sort of way, don't you know. Nothing more. Is that what she thinks, that Myrtlebell and I are lovers? Good word! I was beginning to think this was about Rotundra."
Lukus threw back his head for another laugh as Fuzz peered at Rose in shock. "That's what's got her all huffed up. But it'll work out, Fuzz. You'll see," he said, on the verge of another eruption of laughter.
"I swear," said Fuzz. "You've become more of an Elf than you may realize."

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Friday, January 29, 2016

Fuzz Loves Rose's Rows of Buttons


matthew
The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_KindleFuzz and Rose are newly married in The Burgeoning, but instead of a proper honeymoon, they must make an urgent voyage instead. Even so...
The sound of the latch of the door of their berth woke Rose. She opened her eyes to see Fuzz coming quietly to the side of their bed. "It's a perfect day, Rose," he said with a smile as he knelt to put his arm around her and give her forehead a kiss. "Absolutely perfect. We may have had a storm last night, but it's not at all cold as one would expect it to be. It's plain balmy out, just like spring."
"It probably means that there's more storm on its way," she said, sitting up with a yawn.
"Oh I expect so, particularly since the wind is in the very same direction that it was in yesterday evening..."
"Did I just hear birds outside?" she said, suddenly alert.8-11-IMG_1422
"Terns. We've been helping the cook fling slop to 'em. They showed up right after the sun. I saw gulls, too. We're coming to land. The captain and Yann-Ber say that these winds will have us at Dark's Cove by noon or even before. So come up on deck with me and enjoy this last lovely bit of air and sunshine over the water before we land."
"I think you just want my company."
"Oh I crave it."
"Well then, just give me a moment or two and I'll be right up."
"Splendid," he said as he sat on the edge of the bed. "I'll just wait for you right here though, if you don't mind. Yann-Ber's up there pacing and champing at the bit and worrying to the point that it's calmer here."
doublet_buttons
"Even with my buttons?"
"Oh, I look forward to your buttons."
"Then I'll have a row for you, directly," she said, throwing aside her covers and putting her feet onto the floor. She felt the swell and fall of the sea through the boards as she always did the first time she stood up. She went to her great trunk, set on end and 156148312051794935_9bDzYXu3_bopened out like a folding wardrobe and fished amongst her dresses. "My," she thought, "The same ones day in and day out." She glanced aside at Fuzz, staring at the backs of his hands and grabbed out one at random. "I just can't keep my mind on anything since
Lukus's message globe came with news of Father..."
Fuzz was on his feet at once, putting his arms around her. They each gave a sigh. It had all been said. She turned aside and stepped into her dress. She could read his concern as she did so, even from the corner of her eye. She offered him her row of buttons. He was getting quick. When he fastened her top button, he gave her a quick hug and released her to brush her hair.
"Sorry I took so long," she said, looking up with a cheerful smile to cover up her somber sigh. "Shall we go?"
He nodded, following her out and up the cramped stair.
"Oh, it is nice out," she said, taking his hand and squeezing it, as she closed her eyes and turnedBlack-Terns-1-Tropical-Atlantic-Ocean-27-Sep-2012
 her face into the wind and sun. "You always know just what I need."
"And you my dear, give me far more credit than I deserve. Nevertheless, I shall shamelessly romp and wallow in your praise if you must." Ch 5 The Burgeoning

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps