We are excited to reveal our fabulous new cover, designed by our amazing graphic artist, Marija Vilotijevic, for our Heart of the Staff: Complete Series.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Monday, September 21, 2015
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.
"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?
Friday, September 11, 2015
When I came out of the grocery store with three gallons of milk and was standing beside the car fumbling with my keys, a woman hailed me. "I just hate it when people do that!" she called out as she walked by.
"What?" I said, setting down the milk.
"Leaving a poor little dog locked up to die in a hot car, like that!"
"Well, better the dog than some little kid, maybe..." I said.
"No it isn't!" she huffed, pausing long enough to plant her fists on her hips. "At least a child can talk!" And with that, she stumped around the corner and vanished.
"My!" I thought as I looked down the curb at the Chihuahua, standing at the wheel of the next car, not even panting. It must've come whilst I was inside, paying for my milk. I'll bet you money that anyone who loves his dog enough to be driving around with it would take it inside the grocery store if only he were allowed to. And you know very well that he was doing his best to hurry right back out to it.
One always thinks of these things too late, but after she was long gone, it occurred to me that I should have said: "Shame on you ma'am! Where's your humanity? Where's your love and trust of your neighbors?"
Friday, September 4, 2015
The stinky beefy boy slowed to a walk with a skip and happily patted his game bag full of Hubba Hubba. Whistling a giddy tune fit for the tone deaf, he left the path through a gap in the hedge to cut across a freshly ploughed field. Chirp and Squeak followed 'round the outside in the tops of trees grown up in the hedge. The boy scampered through new oats, a meadow and a fresh cow pile, pausing to rinse his feet in a gurgling creek before dashing triumphantly across an orchard to a fiery haired woman and two boys, hoeing in a broad vegetable garden.
"Mom!" hollered the stinky boy as she bent to pull a weed. "Get wood on the fire! I bagged fresh meat for supper!"
"Look Mom! I got him with my sling! I knocked 'im clean out of the air! I'm gettin' good, aye?"
"I'll say Frankin," she said, peering into his bag. "I've been watching you get better day by day. This is game to remember, all right, particularly when you may go the rest of your life and not get another on the wing like that."
"Well Frankin, someone without your sharp eye would certainly have an empty bag right now..."
"Ha!" he crowed with a leap. "I'm really somethin' with my sling, and you know it."
"I've just hung the tea-kettle over the fire," she said, ruffling up his hair. "You could wash up for a nice cup o' tea before you dress your bird, if you don't dally."
Frankin raced to the back door, hung Hubba Hubba on the latch and wheeled 'round to go to the well in time to find his little brothers following. "Hey Poopkink!" he snarled. "If you and Poopdink have to sneak along behind me, don't you dare touch the game bag."
"Help!" cawed Hubba Hubba, coming to in total blackness. "I'm dead again! I can't see!" He hysterically thrashed and flogged his wings against the insides of the cramped box they had him in, pausing to go light in the head, gasping for want of air.
Someone heard his cries and threw open the box. "Kawk!" he cried as four chubby hands crowded in after him. "Have some respect! Can't you idiots tell I'm wounded here?"
Both boys squealed and yanked back, dropping the lid on Hubba Hubba.
"Hey! I object! This is abuse! Here I am, smashed in the head..."
"Hit does talk!" they cried in wide-eyed chorus.
"You got it!" shouted Hubba Hubba. "And do you ones listen? Here I am smashed in the head, some drooling gnoff strangles me 'till I black out, maybe die, and here you ones whack me in the head again... Is this the stinkin' Pit, or what? Well?"
Suddenly they lunged at the box. Hubba Hubba exploded into frantic flight about the room, landing on a quilting frame drawn up by twine to the overhead beams. "All right," he rattled. "At least I can see this is some rotten old kitchen, somewhere, and not the Pit. And whatever you two are, I am not some kind of 'it!' I'm one right proud crow and I'm traveling with a young man who ought to here directly to cut off your stinkin' heads for doing this to me...!"
"Hey you little gwrteithiau!" yelled Frankin as he threw open the door. "What'd I tell you about my game bag? And why weren't you out helping us drive in the six sheep which just now got out in the garden? Which one of you left the gate open anyway...?"
"Close the door!" cried Dink.
"I am not an 'it,'" rattled Hubba Hubba.
"Taran!" shouted Frankin as he slammed the door and began glancing about. "So you not only let the sheep out, you got into my bag and turned the crow loose! If he gets clean away, you'll not only be cachu, I'll find something really disgusting and make you each eat its cachu!"
"He's right over your head," said Dink.
Frankin wheeled 'round and looked up. "Mom!" he bellowed, "Come in here and see what they did now!" He lunged and missed Hubba Hubba, whacking the quilting frame madly about on the ends of its short twines.
Frankin leaped again, snapping a twine and knocking down the frame to smash a huge crock of soupy cottage cheese onto the floor.
"You bloated idiot!" cawed Hubba Hubba, springing into flight about the room. He spied a board nailed across the timbers and landed on that with his back to the ceiling. "You stinking armpit maggot..."
"So you're some kind of magic crow, aye?" he said, taking out his sling. "Well it doesn't matter, bird-o. You'll never get out of this room, 'cause when I knock you down, I'm goin' 'o jerk your ugly head out o' your shoulders!"
"No!" cried Kink and Dink together.
"Frankin!" cried their mom as she stepped in the door to go apoplectically wide eyed. "My stars! That's fifteen gallons of cottage cheese, all over!"
"They did it!" wailed Frankin. "They got into my bag when I told them not to and turned loose the crow. I've got to kill it quick..."
"No!" cried Dink. "Hit's magic...!"
"Hit talks!" cried Kink.
"And they've gotten windy as kites in the process, too, I see. Well you two, what have I told you about making up things...?"
"I think you two need to take this stack of bowls and scoop up as much clean cheese as you can get off the floor for your next several meals. Then, you need to mop up every bit of what's left."
"But we aren't making it up!" wailed Dink, as his mom thrust a stack of bowls into his arms and steered him toward the slumping mound of cheese and crock chards.
"Now, freak bird, hit's your turn," said Frankin, fitting a stone into his sling.
"Kawk!" cried Hubba Hubba. "Lady, lady! Please listen to your little fellows!"
"That's not the least bit amusing, Frankin," she said, wheeling 'round to glare at him.
"But I didn't..."
"No, no, no, no!" cawed Hubba Hubba. "I did! I'm not some game animal to be beaned and chucked in the kettle. Hey! I've got brains here."
"Mercy!" she gasped. "You do talk!"
"Hit's a trick, Mom, said Frankin.
"Right. So where's the minstrel puppeteer?"
"Come on, Mom! Somebody taught him to talk..."
"Absolutely!" rattled Hubba Hubba. "Just like they did you, only I didn't need to be taught how to think, and you've yet to manage."
"Don't touch the bird," she said, snatching away his sling. "Do not harm him, understand?"
"But he'll get away!"
"We're going to be real good to him 'till we figure him out," she said. "Now go fetch me a good sized box to put him in, and make sure there are a right smart amount of air holes in it."
"Air holes?" cried Hubba Hubba. "What kind of 'real good' to me is that? No wonder you haven't taught maggot boy here how to think, yet! And I don't care what he brings back, you're going to have to come up here and get me!"
Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps