Monday, December 22, 2014

Copper Christmas Clapper

A Flickertail and Paint tale from 2008, inspired by an old Johnny Carson skit.

Flickertail & Paint, Private Investigators: A Christmas Caper

“The clapper from our copper Christmas bell has been copped,” cried the cleric when he called.
 “Please don't cry.” Flickertail the llama and Paint the horse tried to comfort him.
 “We'll need your name,” said Paint.
“Father Claude.”
“What is the name of your church?”
 “St. Clementine’s Cathedral in Cleveland.”
“Have you called your local constabulary?”
 “The cops have all been called away on a clock crime.”
“A clock crime!”
 “Yes, the courthouse clock was clipped causing concern among the citizens.”
“So a courthouse clock and the clapper from a copper Christmas bell have both been copped from Cleveland.”
 “Yes, in the courtyard,” confirmed the inconsolable clergyman.
 Could the same crook or a couple of kleptomaniacs have clipped them? Flickertail and Paint considered the caper and caught a cab to Cleveland to conduct the case.
Upon arriving at the Cleveland Courthouse and St. Clementine’s Cathedral they questioned a croquet coach, a consultant, a columnist, a counselor, and a concierge. Concluding their questioning, they left the confined, colonnaded cloister when they were clobbered by a cloak clad clown carrying a cumbersome container, covered with a crimson cloth.
Quickly recovering consciousness, Paint clip clopped after the clown with Flickertail in close pursuit. The couple caught up to the clown just as he attempted to enter a concealed closet. Confiscating the container, they disclosed the copper clapper.
“I'm colorblind,” complained the clown. “I thought it was my clarinet.”

 Although Flickertail and Paint concluded that his story sounded concocted, they agreed that they would have to leave the case to the courts.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving with Flickertail, Paint, & G.G.

“You’re putting up the tree already! It’s only Thanksgiving,” said G.G. the cat.
“Paint and Paintbrush are visiting for a few days. They should be here any minute and I thought they’d enjoy decorating the tree,” Flickertail the llama said.
“Oh, I can’t wait to see the baby.”
“So, the filly’s name is Paintbrush? That’s cute,” gobbled William the turkey.
“Well, I haven’t heard what the humans named her but our friend, Sheila came up with a few suggestions and Paint liked Brush best, so she calls her Paintbrush or Brush,” explained Flickertail.
“Hi William,” G.G. said. “How come you’re not in hiding?”
“Hi G.G. Didn’t Flickertail tell you? Mary and Tom decided not to have turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas any more because it makes me nervous.”
“It’s a good thing too because Paint and I were running out of ideas and places to hide him,” said Flickertail.
“I remember you turning him into a peacock last year.” G.G. laughed
“That was my favorite disguise.” William smiled.
A movement at the barn door caught Flickertail’s attention. “Come on in Paint. Did you and Paintbrush have a good trip?”
“Fine,” said Paint. “Hi everybody. Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Happy Thanksgiving!”
"Aww! Paintbrush is beautiful,” G.G. exclaimed.
“Thank you. She’s a bit shy, yet,” said Paint as Paintbrush peeked out from behind her mother.
“We were just about to decorate the tree. Want to help?” asked Flickertail.
“Of course.” Paint picked up one of the larger ornaments in her mouth and placed it on an upper branch as high as she could reach.
“Oops,” said Flickertail. “I can see we are going to have a problem. The tree is too big for any of us to reach the top branches.”
“I can climb up with the smaller ornaments,” offered G.G.
“Maybe Paintbrush would like to help decorate some of the lower branches,” suggested Flickertail, “while Paint and I get the middle branches.”
“I can help Paintbrush,” offered William.
When they had placed all the ornaments, Flickertail looked at the top branch and said to Paint, “Well, what do you think, star or angel this year?”
“Star,” decided Paint. “But how are we going to get it up there?”
“Good question. It’s too big for G.G. to carry and we are too heavy to climb the tree.“
“Can you fly, William?” asked G.G.
“Not high enough. You’d need a wild turkey for that,” explained William.
Paintbrush tugged at her mother’s leg. “What, sweetie?”
“Can you lift me high enough?”
“Yes, you clever girl!”
“Hey, look at me,” yelled G.G. from the top branch. “I’m a star!”
“Good thing we didn’t go with the angel this year, then,” Paint whispered to Flickertail.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Flickertail's New Assistant

“Did I tell you Paint is retiring to raise a family?” Flickertail, the llama asked his human, Mary.
“No, but Norma’s daughter, Tracy mentioned that Paint had a filly earlier this year,” said Mary. “Are you going to close your detective business?”
“I thought I’d look for another assistant first. No one can take Paint’s place and she is already missed but I don’t want to work by myself any more either.”
“What about another partner, like Paint was? Why just an assistant?”
“I want to make sure we work well together before I make that kind of commitment again.”
“Do you have anyone in mind?”
“A few friends but they all come with baggage. Snow wants a 6 to 7 month vacation. She can’t handle the warmth. The teenager who helps you and Tom is leaving for college soon. William, the turkey disappears for a few weeks around Thanksgiving and we don’t see hide or feather of him until after Christmas. Sammy, the skunk covers up any scent of the crime scene. The house dogs, Cookie and Coco, while great scent hounds, never saw a body of water they didn’t want to splash around in.”
“What about Alice’s cat, G.G.? She’s helped you and Paint in the past with several of your cases.”
“I actually have been giving her a lot of thought. Her climbing abilities have proven invaluable and her grey fur makes her practically invisible. She does have a lot of cattitude, though.”
“I find her cattitude charming.”
“It can be a bit wearing, but she does make me laugh and nobody’s purrrfect.”
***
“I smell a rat,” said Flickertail’s new assistant G.G., the cat.
“Oh, that’s Randy,” said Flickertail as he spied him in the shadows of the barn. “Come over here Randy and I’ll introduce you to G.G..”
Randy shook his head vigorously and scurried under the barn.
“Can I have him for dinner?” asked G.G..
“You can have him to dinner but not for dinner.”
“Why not?” demanded G.G.
“Because we don’t dine on our friends and that’s not negotiable.”
“Oh, ALRIGHT.”  G.G. stamped her foot petulantly. “Then I want to be your partner like Paint was, not just your assistant and THAT’s not negotiable.”
Flickertail thought for a moment. “Alright, but only because you have proven yourself to be helpful and cooperative on several cases already, not because you just threw a tantrum.”
“It worked,” said G.G. under her breath, but Flickertail’s banana shaped ears heard her. “It won’t work, again,” he warned her.  “Adults work things out. You’ll find me reasonable and fair, if you come to me calmly with your concerns and problems.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again,” said G.G. sheepishly.
“Thank you. Shall we shake on that?”

G.G. grinned and shook her body from her head to her paws, while Flickertail chuckled.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Growing up in the 60s

When I was 13 my foster parents bought a cottage on 120 acres up North. Dad cleared about 5 acres around the cottage and left the rest in trees. We used it as a weekend retreat year round. 
   The deer would come right up to the house because my dad had left a few apple trees in the back yard. 
   I had heard of sightings of black bears and wolves, but I never saw any. The threat of them made some interesting trips to the outhouse in the dark though. I'd go out with a flashlight and imagine every set of eyes belonged to a bear or wolf.
   My teenage years were an interesting mix of the conveniences of city life during the week and a rustic lifestyle on weekends. Eventually we had electricity, a furnace, and running water in the cottage, but at least I can say that I know what life is like without them.
   I have many happy memories of my weekends up North. At the time, it seemed like a lot of work and inconvenience but now I realize that the family was working together toward common goals. 
   Together, we added vegetable and flower gardens, a furnace, kitchen cupboards and sink, a well, running water, a toilet in the basement, and electricity. The apples, blackberries, asparagus, and strawberries that already grew there added to what we produced. During the growing season, we really did live off the land with enough left over to can or freeze.
   My dad taught me how to shoot a rifle, (a skill I haven't used since) how to recognize poison ivy, and how to read animal tracks.          Unfortunately, he didn't teach me how to recognize poison ivy before I got a bad case of it and actually had to be hospitalized for it.
   My mom and I went to flea markets and rummage sales to furnish the place, so I learned frugality and how to decorate on a limited budget. Those lessons still come in handy.
   As you would suppose, my dad loved deer hunting. I still like venison sausage but I'm not a big fan of venison otherwise. 
   Before we got the cottage, we pitched a tent in the summer a few weekends. I liked the cottage much better and so did my mom.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Together Again

Cookie and Coco were litter-mates.
   We went to the shelter, intending to get a dog. They were together in one cage. Together, they were meant to be and together, they would stay.
   Yes, they were twice as much work but that was offset by them being twice as much love, loyalty, and fun. We never regretted having two.
   They were great company for us and for each other. They provided us with so many hours of enjoyment as they played together.
   One of their favorite games was chasing each other around the evergreens in our backyard. They would run around once and then change direction like they were unwinding after being wound too tight. Eventually one would run in one direction and the other would run in the other. When they met, they would do a chest bump.
   When one was sick, the other would lay beside his or her companion, encouraging and sympathizing.
   If one had to stay at the vet, the other would search the house, whining until they were rejoined.
  Coco was a mama's dog and Cookie was his dog. He followed me everywhere; she followed him.
   After 14 years of togetherness, she died three years ago in May and he was buried beside her two months later, together again for eternity.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

THE SUN CHALLENGER

He designed a plane.
Then he built and flew his plane.
But was he content?
No. Not yet. Not he.

So he designed a bigger plane.
He built and flew that plane.
But was he content?
No. Not yet. Not he.

So he designed a faster plane.
He built and flew that plane.
But was he content?
No. Not yet. Not he.

He designed a jet
to fly fast and high and free
And he followed Icarus
into the Aegean Sea.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Flickertail & Paint in The Case of the Missing Dandelions

Elsie was distraught when she called the P.I. team of Flickertail the llama and Paint the horse.  Her usually abundant crop of dandelions was nonexistent this year. She would not be able to offer her friends any dandelion stew or wine on their next trip to the moon.

“I can’t imagine what happened to my dandelions. I always have more than enough to satisfy even my most ravenous friends.  Can you help me find my dandelions?”

The snoops agreed to see if they could sniff out any clues. “You can pay us with 10% of any dandelions we recover.”

“Your neighbors seem to have plenty of dandelions in their yards,” Paint observed.
“They always do. Everybody seems to have been blessed with them this year but me.”

Knowing that Wilma was looking for unusual flavors for her Popsicles, Flickertail and Paint decided to pay her a visit. She didn’t have any more than the usual amount of dandelions in her yard, but they were astonished to see her capturing ants. “Surely, you don’t intend to use them in your Popsicles.”
Wilma assured them that she only used the ants for her famous chocolate covered ant treats. “I’m kept quite busy with my ant business this time of year. I don’t have any extra time for developing any new Popsicle flavors.”

Next they went to visit Rita’s cell phone bull. “I don’t even like dandelions,” he told them indignantly.

A little birdie told them that Bhawana was inventing a new tanning lotion to make ladies smooth, nubless legs more beautiful. Could she be using dandelions to add color to the lotion? Bhawana was very cooperative in showing them the ingredients she planned to use. Dandelions were not mentioned.

They had heard that William hated dandelions so they went to visit him next to see if he had nefarious plans for Elsie’s dandelions. He, of course, denied any evil intentions, but he did mention Wilma’s flying cows.  “She doesn’t have to use antibiotics on her cows, because she feeds them dandelion root and garlic to boost their immunity system.”

Flickertail and Paint returned to Wilma’s where they discovered acres of Elsie’s dandelions hidden in back of several huge ant hills.



Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stuck

When we painted the bathroom ceiling, some of the paint spattered, unnoticed, in the tub and dried. It is really stuck there. It seems no matter how hard I scrub at it, it just stays stuck.

Life is sometimes like that. We make mistakes and we can’t seem to get beyond them to move forward. We remain stuck. We are filled with regrets about the past, about things we can’t change. Perhaps fear or guilt keeps us from moving on with our lives.

We need to love and forgive ourselves and to know that God loves and forgives us. We only need the courage to ask Him. It’s always been His plan for us to move forward.


I believe I will leave one tiny speck of paint to remind me, God does not want me to remain stuck.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Book Signing April 12

On Saturday, April 12, the Fond du Lac Public Library will kick off the start of National Library Week with the Celebration of the Book, a day-long event with activities for all ages that will include a Local Writers' Fair from noon to 3 pm. Other events at the library that day:
  • Panel discussion on self-publishing (panelists TBA) 
  • Writing workshop lead by John Silah 
  • Book craft for kids in Children's Room 
  • Book craft for teens & adults
  • Free popcorn
  • Add-a-sentence public story boards  
I am excited to be a part of this event as one of the authors who will be signing and selling books. If you will be in the Fond du Lac area on April 12, I hope you will stop by to meet me and the other area authors from noon to three. If you can make it the whole day, it sounds like it will be a day of fun and education for the entire family.

FYI

In case you haven't already heard, Publish America is now http://www.americastarbooks.com/
I believe the name change took place sometime in January of 2014.

WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY?

For autographed copies of Flickertail & Paint, Barnyard Sleuths you can buy directly from my website.








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