Monday, September 29, 2014

Tandem Bicycle as a Writing Tool


 
When I was really little, my mom told me that somewhere there was a little girl who was going to be my wife. When I was fifteen, I got carried away and drew her. Years later when I met Carol, I had this eerie feeling that I already knew her.
We were married at once. When I was helping her move her things in, I was stopped short by the sight of a photograph. "Who on earth is that?" I said.
"Why that's me, when I was a senior in high school," she said, looking puzzled.
"Well, the reason for my stupid remark is that the picture happens to be the very drawing I made once of the girl of my dreams, only it's a photograph!"
We  commemorated our wedding by buying the tandem bicycle which we still ride in the morning on the days when we do our best writing. Some things do indeed work better together than separate, don't you think?
 Tom Phipps

Friday, September 26, 2014

"SPOTLIGHT" Author Blog Tour for Michelle Abbott


 
 
 
Poetry

 

I’m not a poet, although I did use to write poems back when I was a teen. For the last day of my tour, I thought I’d share with you a poem I write for a poetry contest here are RRBC in which we had to write a poem that included the words ‘April Showers’ and ‘Is it April Fools.’ I didn’t win, nor did I expect to, but it was fun to try my hand at poetry again after so many years.

 

Darkened skies, April showers

 Pattering against my window pane

 Feet sloshing through wet puddles

 Blinking droplets from my eyelashes

 The smell of damp hair

 Plastered to my head

 Forgot my umbrella...again

 They forecast sun, not rain

 Is it April Fools?

 

Michelle’s Sites:





 
 
 
 

 

Author Bio
Michelle Abbott lives in the UK and hates describing herself in 3rd person. She's a self-published author who loves to write new adult romance about heroes who begin as the underdog and are protective of their girl. She's an avid reader of romance, is addicted to coffee and loves wine and chocolate, so yeah, not the most healthy eating and drinking habits :-) She spends way too much time online when she should be writing. She collects teddy bears and occasionally knits a couple of rows on a sweater she started years ago, which she may eventually finish in time to wear for her funeral.

 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Strike Falcons



Strike falcon - shawk spoogh, shawkyn spooghey, pl. (Gwaelic Elven), Phororhacos longissimus R., an 8-9 foot tall, flightless gruiform raptor, a member of the True Bird (Adar Gwir) Dynasty, indigenous to the open tall grass strah of the Eastern Continent, where it was the top predator of the biome, a strict carnivore capable of bringing down mammals weighing up to 450 pounds or more. Though it usually hunted singly or in pairs, it was known to form into formidable foraging packs on rare occasions. Human habitation and livestock grazing remained utterly impossible on the Great Strah until all strike falcons were exterminated in the wild, only three Elven generations ago (1000 yrs.). Today all known strike falcons live symbiotically with the Gwaelic Elves, where each bird is assigned upon hatching to its personal, life-long Elven trainer called an austringa. The falcon is placed at hatching with the austringa within mere hours of the austringa's seventh naming day (99th birthday), and they remain in perpetual contact with one another until the death of one of them. Strike falcon and austringa form a deadly military assault unit for the defense of the Gwaelic Elves, particularly from the ravages of the Elf Killers, Homo neanderthalinsis gwaelii R., also known as social trolls.
Olloo was the one who first hatched and raised a strike falcon when the Elves fled the trolls to take up a new life, far out in the Great Strah. He named his fuzzy new pet "Baase" which meant "death" in Gwaelic Elven. Baase impressed Olloo with his alertness and loyalty, ardently following him on his heels everywhere he went. By the time Baase was half grown, he was communicating with Olloo by exchanging mental pictures. When the trolls found where the Elves were living in the Strah and attacked, Baase and the other strike falcons astonished everyone by killing every single troll.

Are you fortunate enough to live in partnership with a bird of some sort? What sort of experience is it? Do you hunt with it?    
 
Carol Marrs Phipps &Tom Phipps

Monday, September 22, 2014

ESP in Harris's Hawks and Big Kitties


Years ago, an article in This Week Magazine proved to us that extra sensory perception (ESP) was indeed real. An article in the magazine provided two sets of six cards to cut out, with a colored picture of a different simple object on each card. One person spread out his six cards and stared at any single one of them for one minute. Out of sight in the next room, another person stared at the entire lot of his matching cards for the same minute, then picked out the card which matched the one he felt the person in the other room had been staring at. There were several trials for each pair of people being tested, and scores were kept. The scores showed without a doubt that most of the time I knew what cards my mom and dad were looking at, but I seldom knew what card my brother-in-law was looking at.
From that time on, I was convinced that ESP existed, but I rarely saw instances where it was likely at work. We humans are so feebly endowed with ESP that I did graduate work in Ethology (comparative animal behavior) without once running across a paper about ESP in animals.
Carol and I lived for a short time, out in the sagebrush on the Paiute reservation in Schurz, Nevada. Every day we would turn out our two ravens with clipped wings into the chain-link fenced yard. Once in a while, a Harris's hawk would alight on the fence and eye the ravens without making a sound. Our ravens would hide at once in their carrier until one of us came out to get them. If we watched from the living room window, the hawk would be joined before long by several others. I soon discovered that they were flying in from all sorts of different directions at once to land on the fence and help stare at the ravens' box. But what was astonishing was that they arrived from places totally out of sight of one another.
I have carefully watched them assemble in this manner better than twenty times. Without calls of any sort, how could they ever coordinate such a thing? The simplest explanation would be that they scatter widely to scour the countryside and use ESP to converge upon game. I have no proof whatsoever of their using ESP, but it certainly requires a vastly more complicated explanation to describe how they might manage this without ESP.
I also have watched several detailed films which documented prides of lions hunting wildebeest. I grew up driving cattle out in the open, and the striking thing to me about the lions on film is how very much their maneuvers resemble what drovers do, handling cattle. Most of a drover's work is indeed independent of other drovers, but there is inescapably calling back and forth to make certain that a given cow is turned before she gets away. Lions don't call back and forth during their hunt. If they ever had so much as our feeble ESP ability in the distant past, I would think that Nature might just select to enhance it for the sake of their survival, wouldn't you?  
Tom Phipps

Friday, September 19, 2014

Mary The White Witch Rides A Diatryma


 Mary and Diatrymas
Diatryma - Diatryma gigantia R., ten foot tall, flightless birds, members of the Thunderbird (Adar Taranus) Dynasty which originally escaped extinction by the Mwyaf Fawr Llosg or Greatest Burning, when the rest of the Dynasty was exterminated, only to mysteriously become extinct a few million years later. They were accidentally revived from fine Eocene shales by the wizard Razzorbauch when he penetrated the Earth's crust while forming the magma chamber for the Fudge Volcano. They are omnivorous, opportunistic feeders that are capable of downing and dismembering small ungulates. They are covered with deep iridescent green plumage. Their tail feathers and primary flight feathers have brilliant red and yellow patches on each feather's trailing blade that remain completely hidden unless the bird 
is displaying. Their bony tails are not entirely fused into a pygostyle as in modern birds, but rather consist of a pygostylic terminus at the end of ten un-fused vertebrae, giving the birds a fan of feathers that can be waved about on the end of a flexible tail. There is nearly no sexual dimorphism, though males tend to be a few percent heavier and have deeper voices than the females. They are exceptionally intelligent, having a brain cavity of about 650cc, or roughly half the volume of modern humans. However, being far less fatty than a mammalian brain, this is a very respectable computer. Possibly due to natural selection pressures favoring the keeping track of stashes of food morsels, diatrymas seem to have little or no barrier between the conscious and subconscious minds and have instantaneous recall of all the details that they once observed during any previous experience.
 
Mary the White Witch's mounts and closest friends are Ceidwad the female diatryma, who is the wife of Lladdwr and the mother of Arwr, their cockerel. Razzmorten describes these three as the most intelligent beings he has ever been in the presence of, and they become key characters in the tale of The Heart of the Staff. Ceidwad and Lladder were brought back to life by accident by the evil Wizard Razzorbauch and were raised by the Fairy sisters in Mount Bed before their association with Mary. Perhaps their most stunning talent is being able to listen to a language for a short while and then suddenly start speaking it fluently.
 
What sorts of birds tower in your imagination? Do they play a role in your dreams?

Tom Phipps

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fairy Tongue


Fairy Ring
Our green haired Fairies including Meri Greenwood speak what the people of Niarg know as Archaic Modern Niarg, the ancestor of what they were speaking at the time of our epic tale. It sounds like some sort of Germanic or Nordic language, yet it is quite easy to understand and it makes the Fairies come to life.
 Green Man
What Archaic Modern Niarg happens to be is Middle English with most of the obsolete words eliminated so that the uninitiated modern reader can read it without difficulty. It is no harder to read than a note full of misspellings passed by grammar school kids, yet it would be understood at once by people in the London area, six hundred years ago, since we have based its spelling, grammar and word order on the writings of John Wycliffe and Geoffrey Chaucer. 
Humans and Fairies dancing 'round A Fairy Ring 
Thirty years ago, I learnt to read Middle English using the rules of pronunciation based on a vowel shift which was thought to have occurred by the widely respected E. T. Donaldson and others, which made the language patently incomprehensible to the ear, and made Chaucer's poetry not rhyme very well. As a Botany major, I had no stake in revering his work and I didn't think he supported his claim very well. So, I started reading it with Appalachian vowels and found that it not only rhymed much better, it was now easy to understand when one listened to it.
Another Fairy Ring 
When I read some Middle English to my Navajo students, they thought it was eerie because it sounded like a foreign language except that they could understand it perfectly well.
 Green Man
Please have a look at some of the chapters in The Burgeoning and let us know what you think.
Lovely Woodland Fairy Ring

Monday, September 15, 2014

Forever Four


I woke up four years old on a gorgeous June day alive with bird songs, and hollyhocks brushing the bottom of my window. I scampered out to the end of the sidewalk in the garden to meet Mom and Dad coming up the lane from the milking parlour on one of their Ford Fergusons to fix breakfast. "Good morning four year old!" called Mom from atop a fender. It was a most special day.
As we were eating breakfast, I remember them saying that I'd likely not remember a bit of the day when I got older, in spite of how very important it was to be four years old. What was I to do?
After breakfast I went outside and played amongst the snapdragons for a while. Suddenly I knew. I would perform a ritual that I would remember forever, or at least for as long as I would be able to. I ran to the rusty round bin we used for chicken feed and climbed half way up the ladder which was leaning against it. I paused, listening to the purple martins and the meadowlarks. Then I waved my leg in the air off the side of the ladder four deliberate times, one for each of my years. 
I do remember a much earlier sunny day. Perhaps I was two. I had my black and white teddy bear, wandering amongst honey bees tending the red clover, along the ditch of the South Road, a half mile away from the house.
 Mom heard a loon cry at the pond and thought it was me, so when the old black '40 Ford which pinched the holy shit out of my finger suddenly stopped across the ditch, she boiled out in her apron with a face like a hornet and swept me off my feet with a hug.
So what happened when your memory came alive? Please let us know.
 Tom Phipps

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Our Theropod Dragons



Our dragon, Harpi tyrannus. R., is a relative of  Archaeopteryx and Deinonychus, which survived the Mwyaf Fawr Llosg or Greatest Burning and is traditionally classified as an Adar Drwg ("bad bird" in Old Niarg Standard) by such Niarg naturalists as Razzmorten Dewin. It is an eight to twenty foot long (six to thirteen foot tall) feathered flying Jurassic bird with teeth, fingered claws on the wrists of its wings and a long un-fused (non-pygostylic) bony tail. Long ago it developed the ability to produce, store and ignite large volumes of methane gas which enabled it to toast and make palatable the naturally occurring sukere cana in its original habitat on the Dark Continent.                      
Dragons' brains are about a third of the volume of human brains, however dragon brains are mostly cerebellum, where ours are mostly cerebrum. Since the tissue of the cerebrum is far more fatty and has fewer neurons in it per given volume, dragons have about as many synaptic junctions as we have, giving them an equivalent intelligence to ours. Indeed, they have true speech and they write and produce graphic art and sculpture. In spite of this, their behavior can seem strange and bird-like to us at times, since it consists of far more fixed-action patterns than does our behavior.  
Dragons arose in the southern mountains of the Dark Continent in the Age of Birds before the worldwide conflagration known as the Mwyaf Fawr Llosg. Beginning in early recorded times, they lived within a territory at the southern end of those mountains known as the Mammvro (Homeland in Headlandish). One of the emperors of the House of Dark sold the Mammvro to the sorceress Demonica as partial payment for arms. When the evil Wizard Razzorbauch turned the Forest Primeval into a vast sukre canna plantation, he needed a labor force capable of burning off the canna for harvesting the lucrative and seriously addictive sukere. Dragons were ideal for this, so Demonica invested in his enterprise by turning over the entire Mammvro dragon population to him, helping him render them featherless to keep them docile and by providing the ships to haul them to his plantation on the Northern Continent. In time, the dragons were freed and became fast allies of the kingdom of Niarg.                   
Did you ever imagine that dragons were a kind of primeval bird, an airborne dinosaur? What sort of dragons intrigue you? What sort of dragons do you fear?
Tom Phipps

Monday, September 8, 2014

Minuet Sends Herio with Bernard

edmund-blair
Part Nine
The castle barn owl flew in like a ghost from under the ridge pole to pause on a truss, staring at the echoing voices below before giving a couple of circular bobs with his head and lunging into a glide to his nest with his mouse.
"I don't understand, Your Majesty," said Herio, looking anxiously from Razzmorten and Captain Bernard to Minuet. "I'm sworn to protect you. Why must I evacuate? Haven't I proven myself?"
"Oh, Herio," said Minuet, her voice full of admiration as she sat beside him and took up his hand, "a most worthy knight of this house you be, but truth to tell, you're far more than that. Since you are now my adopted son and a potential heir to the throne, you cannot be risked. Besides, I need you to go with Captain Bernard and help protect our people."
"But, King Hebraun charged me to protect you, my Queen...uh, Minuet," he said, casting a hopeful look at Hubba Hubba, who was carefully following everything from Razzmorten's shoulder, "and since you're now my mother, hit's even a family matter."
Hubba Hubba let go of a black feather with a silky snap as he eyed the owl gliding from timber to timber on his way back out. "Queen's got the right of it," he rattled. "We've lost track of Lukus. We reckon he's alive, but we don't know that for sure, and Rose already says she won't sit on the throne. You're 'way more important than just a knight, now that you're part of the House of Niarg, Prince Herio. Got 'o do what she wants this time. Besides, I'd feel better having you with me."
Herio nodded resolutely at Minuet and squared his shoulders.
"You'll do right well, Prince of Niarg," she said with a look of fierce pride. "Go now and keep our people safe." She gave him a quick hug and then took Razzmorten's arm as they rose and filed outdoors, with Hubba Hubba, Pebbles and both their broods, each one of them now in crow form, fluttering along overhead.
Gwynt was waiting beside Captain Bernard as the mounted throng surrounding them fell to a hush. Herio found his stirrup, threw his leg over the cantle and as soon as the crows had all found their places, nodded at Bernard. At a grand and silent wave from Bernard, the The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindlemultitude began ambling toward the gate. Herio did not look back, but he could feel Minuet's eyes on him for a very long time.
Ch. 38, The Burgeoning



Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Friday, September 5, 2014

Minuet Sends a Surprise to Spitemorta

red-hair-babe-in-armor
Part Eight
Captain Bernard peered about at the landscape of Cwm Eryr, wincing here and there at recollections as his massive march streiciwr brenhinol stepped carefully amongst the tumbled armor and bones, staying abreast of Queen Minuet on hers. "I can't believe her grit," he thought, pretending not to glance aside at her. "She's almost serene, all decked out in her gleaming armor astride Vindicator's snow-white twin sister."
"Captain," said Minuet. "look yonder, by the dead tree. Could that possibly be...?"
"Ol' Brutus?" he said with a grunt, as he dismounted to go see. "Oh, you got that one right first try, Your Majesty. Has to be, head and all. Right where King Hebraun left him, though someone's been along in the last day or two and smashed him up pretty good. And that someone probably knew him, don't you reckon? Well, I mean Brutus was one of those as never could get beat up enough to match what he had a-coming to him..."
Minuet dismounted and removed her helm, letting fly her fiery red hair in the breeze. "Did you think to pick out a bivouac on the way down here, Captain?" she said as she thoughtfully rocked back and forth Brutus's smashed hauberk, gorget and breastplate with her toe. "I realize it's early."
"I'm afraid not, Your Majesty, for as you said..."
"Well what I need for you to do is to position them out of sight over that rise, yonder and come right back here without them. It doesn't matter how you do it."
Bernard left her where she was and set about at once getting the troop beyond the rise. Presently he returned to find her carefully examining the smashed skull and helm.
"Well," she said, standing up and brushing her hands as he dismounted, "guess what? There are some person's tracks all over, which I think you already noticed, but did you see the bird tracks? Big ones and little ones. Come look. Couldn't they be crow and sparrow? And here's a nice big black feather."
"Oh, that's them. I'm surprised that this amount of smashing up Brutus's remains is all..." Suddenly he had lost track and was gaping at what Minuet was doing.
She knelt and slapped the helm, leaving her coronary seal glowing and smoking in the metal. She set it beside the rest of the armor and smacked breastplate as well, leaving her seal to glow and turn blue as it cooled.
"My!" said Bernard, shifting to his other foot. "That's..."
"Ffwrdd a ni!" she roared, springing to her feet with a fling of her arms, sending the armor leaping into the sky to shoot away south beyond the horizon.
Bernard looked wide eyed and pale.
"I didn't mean to alarm you, Captain. I just thought Brutus should return to his queen. Do you think she will be pleased?"
"You sent those bones and armor clean back to Castle Goll?"
"They're already there."
"Oh!" he said with a spreading grin. "I think that was a right noble gesture, Your Majesty."
"Yes. And it's between us. That's why you moved the troop."
"I always knew you were Razzmorten's daughter, but I swear I never knew..."
"I vowed not to use my powers as queen, Captain, but their time has come, and I don't The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindlewant it known, yet. Did you give the order to bivouac?"
"No."
"Then let's go. This is no place for us to be. We might actually have enough light to stop at Ash Fork and pay our respects to Hebraun."
Ch. 22, The Burgeoning

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps