Sunday, July 27, 2014

Chapter Eight

     I am still waiting for some of the wood to build the classical.  In the mean while I've been working on the archtop.  I have the top finished and the back almost finished, just a bit more sanding.  Soon I'll be ready to cut the f holes and make the x brace for the top.                                                
     A close family friend died this week and we have all been devastated.  You never expect someone so young to go before you.  He was an inspiration to us all.  So full of life.  He lived and breathed creativity and spirituality.  I will greatly miss him.  I was reminded of how hard it is to love sometimes.


The way of love
is not a subtle argument.

The door there 
is devastation.

Birds make great sky-circles
of their freedom.
How do they learn that?

They fall, and falling,
they are given wings.

     Maybe Chapter eight will be a small escape from reality, if only for a moment.  Thanks to an old friend, Cliff Launt, who has taken on the job of illustrating the story.  I think you will enjoy his interpretations.

Chapter Eight
Who is Mr. Struggles?

     Mr. Popper opened his eyes.  Things were blurry.  Where was he?  How long had he been unconscious?  He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and tried to focus.  Things were clearer now.  He looked about.  He was in a grand bed made of locusts poles.  The soft mattress consisted of fresh oak leaves, river moss that had been dried, and pine needles, to give it an aromatic scent.  Someone had woven a blanket out of spun beaver hair, dyed in several colors, and wrapped him in it.  The room, if you could call it that, was oval shaped, with low ceilings and convex walls.  River cane had been soaked in water and bent to form the structure, and then, what appeared to be watermelon sugar, was used to construct the walls.  It was dark, except for a single candle that was lit and burning on a small table in the corner.
     “How did I get here?”  thought Mr. Popper.  “I remember jumping off the barge, to keep from going over the waterfall, and then...  Yes, I remember seeing the dark eyes and the webbed hand on Mr. Struggles!  This must be the home of the Hellbenders!”  he thought, with a start.  “But why would I still be alive?  They surely would have let me drown.”
     No sooner than he had finished that thought, the door opened and in came Bon Bon,    walking sideways and shaking her butt like she does when she’s glad to see you.  She gave Mr. Popper a lick kiss, which mean’t she was so glad that he was alright.  
     “Bon Bon!”  he said, giving her a big hug.  “Where are we?  Where is Mr. Struggles?”
     Bon Bon made her triangle face, and Mr. Popper knew immediately, that she had answers to his questions, or she wanted something to eat.  Bon Bon turned and started out the door.  Mr. Popper followed behind, hoping for some answers.
     They entered a large room and Mr. Popper could hear Mr. Struggles conversing with someone.  The room was similar to the room he had been in, but it was much larger.  The space was bright.  Lit up by what, he hadn’t been able to detect.  And then he saw it.  There was a huge window.  It went from floor to ceiling.  It was the waterfall!  He could see it!  It was the waterfall, but they were behind it!  Not only behind it, but under it with the afternoon sunlight shining through.  It was breath taking.
     He looked to see who Mr. Struggles was talking to, and laid eyes on the strangest creature he had ever seen.  She was average size for a person, but she was not a person.  She had webbed feet and hands, long, braided yellow hair, and her skin was shiny, like nitrocellulose lacquer.  She was red like wild strawberries, and black like midnight.  Her eyes were golden slits, like cat eyes and she was looking at him.
     “Ah, Mr. Popper.  I see you have recovered.  Let me get you some breakfast and a hot cup of tea.”  she said, with her most unusual voice.
     Mr. Popper was startled by her speech, which sounded like an old squeaking mattress, as you turn over in it, during the night.  “Thank you for your hospitality.  I should love a cup of tea.  Could you please explain where we are, and who you are?”  Mr. Popper asked.
     “You are in the underwater kingdom of the Frog Women and Turtle Men.  I am Sallianda Mull, the Queen of the Frog Women.”  she explained.  “We saw your fight with the Hellbenders and rescued all of you before you went over the waterfall.  We have brought you to our kingdom, under the Tuffaluktee, to rest from your injuries and to help you in anyway we can.”
     “I can not express our gratitude for all you have done for us.”  Mr. Popper said, and bowed low to Sallianda.
     “It was and is our privilege to help you.  We have heard of the stolen Music Water, and your mission to return it.  We would love to assist you in any way we can.”  she said.  “I will go and prepare your breakfast and leave you all to discuss your plans.”  she said, as she left the room.
     “Mr. Struggles?  Are you feeling alright?”  he asked.
     “Yes.  I slept well and I feel quite rested and ready.”  Mr. Struggles responded.
     “I hate to eat and run, but I think we should be on our way as soon as possible.  Polly and the girls are out there by themselves and we must find them.”  Mr. Popper added.
     “I fully agree.”  he said.
     “Mr. Struggles, I”m a little concerned that with your propensity toward, how should I say, bad luck, that maybe your helping might do just the opposite.”  Mr. Popper said, trying to be as delicate as he could with Mr. Struggles feelings.
     “I am so sorry.  I will try not to interfere.  I am cursed and there seems to be no hope for me.  I’m sure I don’t pretend to know why the Shamans wanted me to be a member of this mission.”  he apologized. 
     “No need for apologies.  We just need to be more careful.”  Mr. Popper kindly spoke.  “Why do you feel as though you’ve been cursed?”
     “Because I have.”  Mr. Struggles said emphatically.  
     “Would you be so kind as to share your story with Bon Bon and I, so that we may understand?”  he asked.
     “Yes, I guess if we are going to be on this journey together, we must have no secrets.”  Mr. Struggles began.  “When I was young, I was quite selfish and very foolish.   I and my associates would go out most nights to see what kind of trouble we could make.  We loved to play jokes on others and have, mean spirited fun, at their expense.  One night we were leaving a pub.  It was quite late when we came upon an unusual looking old man.  He had long red hair and wore a tam.  He had a coat that almost drug the ground, with a large half moon and stars on the back.  And he had a most curious looking cane.  It had the head of a tiger carved on it, with precious stones and mother of  pearl inlaid in the wood in beautiful letters of an unknown dialect.  I asked the old man if I could see the cane, but he was quite reluctant.  He said it was special to him and that we should leave now before we regretted it.  We surrounded him and I took the cane, thinking I could sell it for a good bit of money.  As we began to walk away from the old man, he began to cry.  I turned to look at him, just as the first tear rolled off his cheek.  Before it could hit the ground, the cane, that was in my hand, jumped to catch the tear in mid air.  As it did so, it fell to the ground.  I reached down to pick it up, but it had become a snake.  It bit me and left two holes in my hand, that are still there today and serve as a reminder of how foolish I was as a youth.  With that, all my friends left me.  The old man reached down and picked up the snake, which now had turned back into the beautiful cane.  My hand began to swell and I felt a strange sensation sweep over my body.  It was like a dark cloud descended on me.  ‘You have been cursed my foolish friend.’  the old man said.  ‘From this day forward, all your good fortune has been replaced by bad.  You will bring ill will on everyone you know, and everyone you meet.  You will forget who you are now and all your life will be spent struggling until you have come to the end of yourself.  The only cure for this curse is for you to become empty of yourself.  Only then will you realize who you really are.  This will be hard, but in the end can be a great gift if you will let it.’  I never found out who he was, but I assume he must have been some sort of a great wizard.  As the days and weeks went on, I found his prediction to be true.  I couldn’t keep a job, because I would always mess something up.  I couldn’t maintain a friendship, because something bad would always happen to the other person.  And strangest of all, I couldn’t remember who I was, and no one seemed to recognize me.  So, I took the name Mr. Struggles and that is who I became.”  he said, shaking his head.
     “Thank you for sharing that with us, Mr. Struggles.  Now I think I understand you better, and what we are up against.”  Mr. Popper said.  “Perhaps this journey will serve as a sort of penance, that will help to break the curse.”
     “I can only hope that you are right, Mr. Popper.”  said Mr. Struggles doubtfully.
     After breakfast, they were escorted to a grand cathedral.  It had windows one hundred feet high, that looked out under the Tuffaluktee.  Fish of all kinds could be seen swimming by, as well as the dreaded Hellbenders, but the journeyers were all safe inside.  The room was beautifully decorated with large tapestries and plush braided rugs.  It had paintings of the history of the Frog Women and Turtle Men on the walls, that looked very old.  And in the middle of the room, was a golden throne.  On the throne was a very short, pudgy, old Turtle Man.  He had the face of an old man, with a long grey beard, and the body of a turtle.  
     “Welcome my friends.”  he said, with a tone of authority.  “I am Octavius Woodring.  I am the Lord of the Woodrings.  We are the main sect of the Turtle Men.  I know you are anxious to be on your way.  If you would tell me how I can be of service to you, I will try to help as best I can.”
     “Lord Woodring, we are trying to recover the Music Water for the counsel.  In order to do so, we must elicit the help of the Dillieyards as trackers to the den of the Tigers.  We need to leave here and find our way to the Dillieyard’s town where we will hopefully meet up with the rest of our party that we were separated from.”  Mr. Popper explained.
     “Very well then, I will have you brought to the northern tunnel.  From there, you will be able to follow the tunnel to the edge of the Dillieyards camp, avoiding the dark woods altogether.”  said Lord Woodring.
     “That is most wonderful news.  Thank you so much for your help.  We will always think fondly of our short time in your kingdom.”  Mr. Poppers said.
     They were lead out to a small tunnel.  Only big enough for them to crawl on their hands and knees.  It was totally dark.  You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.  They were instructed to go all the way, which would be several miles and take many hours, until they felt a stairway.  Then take the stairway up.  Now it is quite a scary thing to crawl for hours in the pitch dark in a tunnel that is so small that you cannot turn around in, but this is precisely what the three of them did.  Mr. Popper lead the way, with Mr. Struggles in the middle, and Bon Bon bringing up the rear.
     “I think I feel the stair way!”  exclaimed Mr. Popper, after many hours of crawling.
     The journeyers began to climb the stairs.  There must have been thousands of them.  After what seemed like hours, Mr. Popper came to the end of the staircase.  He felt around in the dark and found a latch to a door in the ceiling.  As he opened it the sunlight poured in and blinded them all.  He poked his head above ground, and  squinted in the harsh light.  There before them was the village of the Dillieyards.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Chapter Seven

     Nothing new on the guitar front this week.  Just waiting for money, although I may do some work on the archtop tomorrow.
     Here is chapter seven for those who are still reading.  Also, I have put up a place for you to enter your email address if you like, and then when I post you'll get an automatic message telling you there's something new to look at.

Chapter Seven
Dream World

     In the morning, the girls woke to the most wonderful smell, of Polly’s pineapple and pear upside down pancakes, with hot blueberry syrup and lots of butter.  The girls were all starving after all the dancing, the night before.  During the night, the magic had worn off and all the animals went home to their own beds.  
     “I think I could eat ten pancakes!”  Keona exclaimed.  
     “I think I could eat twelve!”  said Thea.
     “I eat more!”  spouted Una, who was new to the idea of talking.  “I eat this many.”  she said as she held up all her fingers and toes.
     “There are plenty,”  Polly said,  “so help yourselves.”
     The girls ate until they could eat no more.  Keona ate ten; Thea ate twelve, and little Una ate fifteen.  Her belly was so full, she looked like she had eaten a soccer ball. 
     After breakfast, they loaded up Donkeyhotie and headed once again into the dark woods.
     After some time, they came upon a pool in the midst of the woods.  Smaller than a pond, but clear and clean looking.  
     “This must be fed by a spring,”  said Polly, “in order for it to be so clean.  We can fill our water bottles here and rest awhile.”  she said as she sat down on a big rock.
     Thea got out her water bottle and headed for the pool.
     “Look in the pool!”  she said, with a start.
     As they all ran over and peered in, what they saw was astounding.  Beneath the water was another world.  There were trees and flowers and strange brightly colored birds.  There were squirrels and rabbits and things deeper down, moving around, but they couldn’t make them out.  And everything looked as if it had been painted by some impressionistic artist like Monet, or Renoir.  It was all strangely beautiful and also oddly familiar.  Almost like they had been there before.
     “Isn’t it lovely?”  said Thea.  “It looks like a moving painting.”
     “This is most beautiful,”  said Polly, “but I think we should be careful.  This could be some sort of deep magic.  It may not be what it appears to be at all.”  she cautioned.  “Let me fill our water bottles, and then we better head on, before it gets too late.”  She leaned over and dipped a bottle into the pool.  Much to her surprise it wasn’t wet and and no water filled the bottle.  “This is odd.”  Polly whispered.  “The water isn’t wet.”
     “How can it be water if it’s not wet?”  asked Keona.
     Just then, Una, who had yet to learn how to swim, let out an ecstatic shout, and jumped in the pool, feet first.  With out a hesitation, Polly jumped in to save her, followed by Thea and Keona.  When they hit the water there was no splash.  There was no ripple on the surface.  There was no feeling of dampness on their clothes, and strangest of all, they could breath under the pool.  Una squealed with laughter as she landed on dry ground.  Polly, being so relived, didn’t notice how their features had changed.
     “Polly, you look like you’ve been painted.”  Thea said.  “No, you look like you are paint.”
     Polly looked at the girls and then at her own hands and arms.  It was as if they had been painted on canvas and then had magically come to life.  They looked like themselves, but yet different.  They had the same flesh tones, but mixed in were blues and greens, yellows and reds, which you wouldn’t think strange in a painting, but in real life, seem curious.
     “It looks as if we’ve all been altered by this pool in some bizarre way.”  Polly answered.  “I think we should get out of here.”
     Polly tried to pull herself out of the pool, but when she touched the surface, it was now hard like thick glass.  She could see Donkeyhotie on the bank looking down at them, but she could not reach through to the surface of the water.  Donkeyhotie looked on, not sure how to help.
     “It looks as if we’ll have to find another way out of here.”  Polly said, worriedly.  “Let’s explore a bit and see what we can find.  I’m sure we will find a way out without much trouble.”  she said, unconvincingly.
     So, they set off to find a way out.  They walked among tall willow trees, that weeped down with long branches, like worshipers bowing to a sacred deity.  They traveled through huge fields of velvet wild flowers, that looked like thick plush persian rugs, and smelled of exotic fragrances that were new to them all.  There was a smell like burn’t sandalwood  combined with lilacs, and something like cotton candy.  There was also a smell like autumn, mixed with spring, and shaken with a hint of a snowy winter’s day.  Then there were the creatures.  Things they had never seen, yet that also seemed familiar.  Bumblebirds.  These were tiny birds.  About the size of large bugs.  They were black and yellow and buzzed around the girls curiously.  There were flying fish and barking spiders; singing red pandas, and grass that carried you along as you walked on it like a conveyor belt.  Most curious of all were the clouds.  They all had faces and would watch them as they walked along, only never saying a word, except to whisper something to one another every so often.
     In the distance, before them, they began to see the figure of a man.  He was tall and thin.  Wearing a knee length red jacket, with the collar turned up and no shoes.
     “Let’s see if we can get some directions from that man and maybe figure out where we’re at.”  said Polly pointing to the strangely dressed man.
     As they got closer and tried to make out what he looked like, they realized they couldn’t.  The more they looked at him the more his features blurred.  Keona tried, to no avail, to focus on him.  She would stare at him and then suddenly not remember why she was looking at him, or even remotely remember anything about his features.
     “Hello sir.”  said Polly, with her usual friendly tone.  “My name is Polly.  We are lost and not sure where it is we are.  We have come from the other side of the pool, but can’t seem to get back that way.  We should very much like to return and be on our way.    Could you tell us what this place is called and how we might find our way out?”  she implored.
     “It is my pleasure to have you here.”  he said, as his features continually blurred and shifted.  “My name is Philemon and you have ventured into Dream World.  You have all been here before, although you may not remember.  We have met, but you will not likely remember me.  I will be your guide while you are here.  I shall try to help you and will answer any questions I can.” he said, as if they were old friends.
     “What is Dream World?” Keona asked, feeling strangely comforted by this seeming stranger.
     “Ah, Dream World is the most magical place of all.  It’s a place where you can learn to fly, or ride dinosaurs, or talk with the trees, or even swim with whale sharks.  This is the place where you go when you are sleeping.  I happen to live here.”  Philemon explained.
     “So, are you saying we’re dreaming?”  Polly asked, somewhat skeptically.
     “No.  I should say if you came by way of the pool, you are awake.  To be awake in Dream World is a privilege few have.  It means you are free.  Free to do as you wish, or not to do as you wish.  You are simply free.”  he said, with a smile.
     “We wish to be back on the bank with our burro and on our journey, if you would like to know what we wish.”  Polly said, starting to get rather annoyed.
     “Well then, I can help with that.”  he said, and then began to explain.  “You can never go back the way you come in.  It is always uphill.  The trail is usually nice when you begin and gets harder and harder as you go.  Things will go from quite lovely, like they are now, to dark and direful.  And then you will meet Pesadilla.”  Philemon said, and paused as if pondering the name.  “She will show you the way out, if you can conquer your fear.  She is of the dark; made of the dark.  Of things that frighten.  Of secret fears that no one knows.  She is part of you and has seen the rooms, in your mind, that need to be swept clean, or unlocked and opened, even though there may be terrible things inside.  She is lovely, but dangerous, and you have all known her since you were children.  As a matter of fact, you knew her best when you were children.  The girls will be the first to recognize her.”  Philemon said, glancing at the girls.
     “I don’t understand.”  Polly frustratedly said.  “Is this woman, Pesadilla, somehow over Dream World?  Why does she have the authority to let us go, or keep us here?”
     Philemon replied, “She only has the authority you give her, but she knows the way out.”
     “Why can’t you show us the way?”  Polly inquired.
     “Because I live here.  If I understood what you all, already know, I should leave here with you, but that was never given me to know.”  Philemon answered.  “You will understand soon enough.  For now, I think we should be on our way, if you will follow me.”  he said, and turned, and began walking toward a trail in the trees.  
     Polly and the girls followed Philemon into the forest.  It was mythical.  A land that you only read about, or come up with when you are day dreaming, instead of doing your school work.  They started up a slow incline, that began to take them up a great mountain.  There were huge moths, the size of eagles, flying around them as they walked.  They were black and red, or a green and blueish dragon burst.  There were birds of all kinds and colors and of course the Bumblebirds.
     “I should like to hear the birds sing. Would it be alright if I gave them a taste of the Music Water from your bottle, Polly?”  asked Keona.
      “I think that might be nice, and maybe it will put a little spring in our step.”  Polly answered.
     She handed the bottle to Keona, who pored a small bit on a giant water lily.  When the birds heard the faint call of the Music Water, they came to drink.  The sound was like a symphony warming up.  Tuning their instruments and checking their music, and then it began.  Like the sound of a thousand captured angels being set free, or the sound of sunlight dissolving into liquid, and running down a mountain side melting the snow as it goes.  The gift of song, to a songbird, is the gift of life.  It made their hearts light, and their steps seem fewer.
     For some time, the trail was sunny and an easy walk, but then it turned steep.  The trail began to climb, with many switchbacks.  Finally they reached the peak.  They found themselves standing on a bluff overlooking a great valley, covered with dark storm clouds.  There was a cool breeze blowing, which was very refreshing to them.  As, they looked down, a dark figure moved across the valley floor, like a shadow.  An ominous feeling overcame them all.
     “Do you see that black shape moving across the field?”  asked Polly.
     Philemon replied, “That would be Pesadilla.”


Monday, June 30, 2014

Finished Templates and Molds

     I finished the templates and molds for the classical guitar I'm building for my friend Michael.  Here are a few pictures of everything except the acrylic templates.  We will hopefully be ordering the wood this week.  Then I will begin with the neck and bending the sides.  Should be fun and maybe not too frustrating.

     And here is chapter six.

Chapter Six
The Dark Woods

     “Where are they, Polly?”  cried Keona.  “Are they going to be alright?”
     “The last I could see of them, they were floating down stream on the barge.  I’m sure that they’ll eventually get off and be fine.”  Polly said, quite unsure of that fact.
     “But, how will they find us?  The woods are too thick for us to find them and I don’t know how they would find their way back to us.”  she said, frightened by the thought.
     “You are right about the woods.  We have been separated and the best thing for us to do is to head to the Dillieyard’s village and hope that they will be there when we arrive.”  Polly said.
     “But, what if they’re not there?  How can they find their way without the map?”  Keona said, anxiously.
     “They know to head due North when they cross the river.  Mr. Popper is very resourceful and I’m sure between his knowledge of the woods, and Bon Bon’s sense of direction they will be just fine.”  she said, matter-of-factly.
     “I don’t want to go in the dark woods!”  shouted Thea.
     “I know it is scary, but we have each other and we will be strong as long as we’re together.”  said Polly, trying to comfort the situation.
     “I won’t go!  You can’t make me!”  Thea yelled, and with that she became very serious.
     “Uh oh.” said Polly.  “Please don’t be too serious Thea, it will upset Una.”
     But it was too late.  The more Thea thought about not going into the woods, the more she couldn’t be moved.  The more she couldn’t be moved, the more serious she became.  The more serious she became, the more her powers began to show.  At first she started to change color, from her usual rosy complexion, to a dull gray.  She became duller and grayer, as she began to grow.  As she began to grow her shape changed.  She went from the shape of a little girl, until she was round.  She got grayer and rounder and bigger, until she had become a huge boulder, sitting on the river bank.
     “We’ll never be able to get her in to the woods now!” cried Keona.  “What will we do Polly?”  
     Then it started.  Una had taken one look at her sister, who had turned into a giant rock, and started to whimper.  Her mouth turned into a frown, and her eyes began to fill with tears.
     “Here it comes.”  said Keona, putting her hands over her ears.
     Una began to cry, but this was no ordinary crying.  It sounded like thunderbolts from the heavens, mixed with a thousand people dragging their fingernails across a chalk board, all at the same time.  The sound of car alarms, and fighter jets; of jack hammers and train whistles; of smoke detectors and cell phone ring tones.  
     Polly calmly looked at Una and said,  “Don’t cry.  It will be alright.  I shall sing you a song to make it all better.”   and without a thought, she began to sing the magic song, that only she could sing.
     She held up her hands to form a circle, “Here’s the ball for baby.  Big and soft and round.  Here’s the baby’s hammer.  See how she can pound.”  she sang, as she lightly pounded her open palm with her fist.  “Here’s the baby’s music.  Clapping, clapping so.  Here’s the baby soldiers standing in a row.”  she sang, holding up her ten fingers.  
     Una had started to quiet down slightly, and now only sounded like a rocket ship on lift off.
     “Here’s the way the baby plays, Peak-a Peak-a boo!”   Polly chanted, covering her face and then uncovering it quickly when she shouted “boo”! 
     With that Una started to giggle and smile, although she tried hard not to.  Her crying had calmed to almost the sound of a fog horn.
     “Here’s the baby’s trumpet.  Toot too too too toot.”   Polly hummed, holding her thumb to her mouth and waving her fingers as if they were trumpet valves.  Then she put the index finger of her right hand under the palm of her open left hand and sang,  “Here’s the baby’s parasol to keep the baby dry.  Here’s the baby’s cradle.  Rock a bye.”  Now she had begun to bring her voice down to almost a whisper.  “Rock a bye.”  She sang, gesturing as if she had a baby in her arms.  “Don’t you cry.  Go to sleep.  Baby bye.”  she finished, slowing to a stop.  
     It was quiet.  She looked and Una was asleep.  She felt something on her lap.  Thea had turned back into her self and was sitting on Polly’s lap.
     “How did you sing the magic song, without the Music Water?”  Keona asked, rather puzzled.
     “Well, I don’t know.  I just started singing, because it’s what I always do to calm down Una.  I wasn’t thinking, that without the Music Water, I shouldn’t be able to.”  Polly replied,  quite confused.  And then she had an idea.  “Keona.  Try to sing a little song for me.”
     “But I can’t.  No one can, because the Tigers have taken the Music Water.”  she said, acting as if Polly should have known this.
     “Just try for me please.”  pleaded Polly
     So, Keona opened her mouth and began, but nothing came out.  “I told you.  I can’t sing.”  she said, frustratedly.      
     “Now go over and have a drink of water from my water bottle, and then try again.”  Polly asked.
     Keona drank from the bottle and then opened her mouth.  “Moses supposes his toes they are roses, but Moses supposes erroneously.”  she sang, much to her surprise.  She began to dance and sing over and over again, “Moses supposes his toes they are roses, but Moses supposes erroneously.”  When she finally stopped she asked, “But, how is it possible, Polly.”
     “Get me the map, please.  I think I know.”  Polly said, with confidence.
     Keona brought her the map and she unrolled it and laid it out flat.  “Just as I thought!”  she exclaimed.  “We are here.”  she said pointing to the edge of the Tuffaluktee river next to the dark woods.  “See here, the river goes around these woods, which the Dilleyards live in.  Up here,”  she said pointing to the land upriver from the dark woods.  “is Bear Lake.  It is in a land the local tribesmen call, Little Canada.  I believe this must be where the Tigers live.  They must have put a drop, or more, of the Music Water into Bear Lake.  The Great Tuffaluktee flows in and out of it, and would carry the diluted Music Water all the way here.  My water bottle was empty and I filled it in the river just now!”  she said, excitedly.  “Not only do we have some Water Music for our journey, but we have a good idea where to find the Tigers.  We must fill all our water bottles, but we will save mine to use only if we should need the Music.”  she said.
     After all the excitement, they had a nice cup of tea, and Donkeyhotie ate some tall grass that grew near the river bank.
     “It is time for us to head north through the dark woods.  We must try to gain several miles and set up camp before dark.”  Polly said.
     And so, they entered the dark woods.  The sky couldn’t be seen and the trail was small and overgrown.  It was quiet, of course.  No bird song, or peepers.  No crickers chirping, or bugs buzzing.  Without the Music Water it was deathly quiet.
     “Polly, why haven’t the birds and bugs drank from the river.  If they had it should be noisy with all the life in the woods?”  Thea asked.
     “The animals only drink from the ponds, lakes, and streams.  They are afraid of the Knotty Heads and Hellbenders, and so, won’t go near the river, unless they have to.”  Polly explained.  “I should think that, before the Tigers stole the Music Water, it was probably very noisy in here.”
     They traveled for several hours, deeper and deeper into the dark woods.  The compass would give them direction when they came to a fork in the trail.  It was beginning to get on towards night when Polly stopped them and said, “I think we should set up camp in that clearing.  We can camp next to that large lone tree.”  She pointed to an area that was mostly tall grass, with a few rocks, and one enormous pine tree in the midst.  In this plot of land, they could see the sky.
     Everyone was very tired and so, were thankful to rest and have some supper.  
     “I shall set up the kitchen and cook our supper here by the tree, and we should set up our hammocks on those trees over there in the dark woods.  she said, as she pointed to the woods on her left.  “That way our food won’t attract animals to where we will sleep, and we won’t be bothered by mice and opossums, and such, when we lay down tonight.”
     The girls got their hammocks out of Donkeyhotie’s saddle bags and began to set them up, when they heard a stick snap in the woods.  
     “Shhh.”  whispered Keona.  “Did you here that?”
     “Dak woos!” said Una.
     “I heard it.”  Thea said.  “There’s something out there.”  she said, with a start.
     “Polly.”  Keona whispered.  “There’s something in the dark woods.”
     Polly turned from her camp stove just in time to see four of the biggest panthers she had ever seen.  Two were pure black like night time, with bright yellow eyes.  The other two were reddish brown, with black rings around their tails and snow white paws.  They all had razor sharp, metallic claws and huge ivory teeth.
     “Back slowly over here by me.”  Polly said, trying to stay calm.  “Don’t make any sudden moves, and don’t run.  Keona, reach into the saddle bag and hand me the matches.”  she said, as the panthers drew closer.  
     Keona did as she was told and put the matches into Polly’s hand.
     “This large tree that we are camped by is called a burning tree.  They grow by themselves and stay very dry.  Panthers don’t like fire, and with this match I should be able to... “  Polly said, as she lit the match and touched it to a single needle on the tree.
     There was a huge roar as the whole tree burst into flames.  With that, the panthers jumped back and Keona ran for the water bottle with the Water Music in it.  She took a long drink and then began to dance a silly dance around the burning tree, laughing loudly as she went.  The panthers looked on, not sure what to make of her.
     “Panthers you are not so bad.  You look to me, a little sad.”  she sang, with all her might, as she continued to dance the most silly of all dances.  “It seems to me you’ve been a sittin, and now you need to dance like kittens.”
     With that, the panthers stood up on their hind feet and began to follow her around the burning tree, doing the most silly dancing you have ever seen a large feline do.  As they danced, they began to laugh.  As they laughed, they got smaller.  As they got smaller, they got cuter, until the mighty, fierce panthers turned into kittens.
     “Panthers, now you look so nice, maybe we could dance with mice.”  she sang, and as the words left her lips, several field mice jumped into the chorus line and began to dance along.
     She sang, “As we dance this little jig, we need some help from the wild pigs.”
     Once again, out from the dark woods came a herd of wild pigs.  Black and pink, with sharp tusks and curly tails.  They ran in just like the others and stood on their hind feet also, but they danced the silliest dance of all.  Laughing, snorting, and farting all at the same time.
     “Don’t just stand around and stare.  What we need are dancing bears.”  she sang, in such a silly voice, that the pigs had tears running down their faces from laughing so hard.
     Out from the woods came five big fat brown bears.  They stood on their hind feet and began dancing.  One of them took Polly’s hand, one took Thea’s, and one took Una’s, and lead them on to the dance floor.  Not wanting to be left alone, Donkeyhotie joined in shaking his backside and swishing his tail to the song.
     They danced for hours as the night grew dark and the stars came out.  The burning tree continued to burn.  Finally the dancers were spent.  
     “I shall fix us some supper.”  said Polly.  “I hope you are all hungry.  Now I have a few things to cook.  If you would all bring me what you have, I’ll make my magnificent stew.”
     All the animals went scurrying about gathering what they liked to eat.  Polly put a large pot on the fire.  To it she added potatoes, onions, turnips, carrots, celery, acorns, berries, roots, and tall grass, that Donkeyhotie had gotten.  When it was finished she ladled each of them a bowl full and added some catnip to the kittens’ bowls.  They all ate until they could eat no more and lay down to sleep.      
     Polly looked around, as the girls and all the creatures lay sleeping.  She looked up at the bright stars in the dark sky and said a prayer, that Mr.Popper and his troop were resting well tonight and that they would all see each other soon.  Then she leaned over and blew out the burning tree, which looked exactly as if it had never caught fire.  She laid down in her hammock and fell fast asleep.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chapter Five

     I went to Florida this past weekend to see my brother and sister.  Consequently I haven't done any work on the guitar, but here is chapter five of the story, along with Martha's illustration.

Chapter Five
Crossing the Great Tuffaluktee

     It had been five days, and the travelers were tired and dirty. They lost a day, by making the mistake of letting Mr. Struggles read the map.  They wandered around in circles, until they finally found the trail again.  They had covered many miles and were hopeful to soon see the Valley of the Lukers. 
     Thea asked, “How much further Mr. Popper?”
     Now, Mr. Popper was the worst person to ask.  He had absolutely no sense of distance.  He would always think that they were almost there, even if they had ten miles left to go. So he would always respond, “I think we’re almost there.  Probably just around the next bend.”
     Polly shook her head in unbelief, but the little girls didn’t know better.  “Maybe this time he’ll be right.”  thought Polly.
        Just then they emerged from the trees to see the most glorious valley.  It was wide and open, and full of blueberry bushes,fruit trees and tall grass.  There were herons and geese, and turkeys and deer in the meadows.  There were wild flowers of all kinds and colors, that made the valley look as if it had been freshly painted by some brobdingnagian artist.  The sun was shining and they all felt renewed and refreshed just by seeing this much of their destination.  The walk had been worth it, just to behold such a lovely place.
     “This must be the valley.”  Polly shouted.  “I had no idea it would be this beautiful.”
    “How much further to the river?” asked Donkeyhotie.
     “I should say, it’s probably just around the next bend.”  said Mr. Popper confidentially.
     Polly shook her head.
    “Look!  I can see the river!”  shouted Keona.  Then she ran around in circles, made crazy faces, and did cartwheels until she was out of breath.  Her sisters also joined in the fun and Bon Bon chased her tail until she was dizzy.
     Sure enough.  Right before them was the great Tuffaluktee river.  It was maybe a mile or more across.  No one knew for sure how far it stretched, but it was beautiful.  Blue like sapphire with hints of turquoise, and deep.  Some said it had no bottom.  It was infinite like space.  In that infinite space lived the otters, the trout people (brown,rainbow, and speckled), the frog women and turtle men, and, of course the fearsome knotty heads and hellbenders.  
     “Can anyone see the barge that we need to cross the river on?”  Mr. Struggles asked.
     “Yes, I see it.  It’s there, just past that last grove of orange trees.”  Polly answered.
     On their way to the barge, they filled their knapsacks and saddle bags with blueberries and apples, oranges and figs, and even blackberries and pomegranates.
Donkeyhotie ate several apples from right off the tree.  He especially liked Pink Lady, Macintosh and Winesap varieties.  And the girls ate blueberries and blackberries until their hands and faces were stained purple.  Una had to show everyone her tongue, which looked as if she had dipped it in ink.  Then they all laid down in the tall grass and rested, with the afternoon sun warming their tired bodies and lifting their spirits.
     “I have to admit that I’m a little apprehensive about crossing the river after hearing what Veaster said about the Knotty heads and Hellbenders.”  said Mr. Struggles.  “Does anyone know much about them?”
     “I know a little.  Although, I have never seen a Hellbender, but I have come upon some Knotty Heads in Caney Fork Creek years ago.”  Mr. Popper added.  “The Knotty Heads are fish.  When they are young, they have small bumps, or warts on their pale green heads.  As they grow the knots get bigger and turn dark green and red.  They make a sucking noise when they speak, that’s hard to listen to.  It sounds almost as if someone were trying, in vain, to draw their last breath, while choking up something stuck in their throat.  The Hellbenders, or Waterdogs, are huge salamanders.  They are roughly the size of large dogs.  They are slow to move on land, but swift in the water.  They have sharp claws on the ends of their webbed feet and hands, and very sharp teeth that can eat fish, bones and all.  They are beautiful colors.  Iridescent blue, pumpkin orange, blood red, deep purple, canary yellow, pure white, neon green, and every combination in between. 
     The Dilleyards used to fish the smaller creeks.  Not with a pole and line, but with burlap sacks.  They would go down stream and dam up the creek, then several Dillieyards would walk in the water, up stream, and drive all the fish toward the damed up area.  They would be waiting with the sacks and simply scoop up all the fish they could carry.  Then they would keep the ones they wanted to eat, but he Knotty Heads were too bony, so they would throw them on the dry land, where they would die from exposure.  And the Hellbenders were so fierce, that they were afraid to get near them, so they would tie them up in the bags and throw them back in the water.  It would take some time for the Hellbenders to chew through the bag and escape.  That is why they don’t like humans and are so protective of the river.  They are afraid that one day the Dillieyards might find a way to dam up even the infinitely deep Tuffaluktee.”  
     “That is so cruel.”  Keona said, with compassion in her voice.  “Maybe we can show them that not all humans are like that.”
     “Hopefully we won’t see any, and we can simply cross the river without incident.” interjected Polly.
     After they had rested and eaten their fill, the journeyers headed down to the river bank.  They came upon the dock where the barge was tied.  It was a small barge.  More like a raft than a barge.  It was obvious to them all, that they could not all cross at the same time.  The barge had a cable and pulley system attached to it that ran all the way across the river to a large oak tree on the other side. It ran through a pipe that was securely  fastened to the side of the barge.  When the rope was pulled on, it would travel through the pulley system, and one could pull the barge across the river without too much difficulty.
      “I’m afraid we can’t all fit on the barge together.”  said Mr. Popper.  “I will stay behind with Bon Bon and Mr. Struggles.  Polly can take the girls across with Donkeyhotie first, and then send the barge back for us.”  he said, feeling better about Mr. Struggles not riding across with the girls.
     Polly lead the girls onto the barge with Donkeyhotie.  “No sign of Knotty Heads, or Hellbenders yet.”  said Polly with relief.
     “If we’re lucky, we’ll all make it across before they know we’re here.”  Mr. Popper added, with concern.  “We shall see you on the other side.”
     With that, Polly began to pull on the rope.  It was a fairly windless day, and so the water was calm and the barge traveled easily across the great Tuffaluktee.  After, maybe an hour, Polly and the girls reached the bank on the other side.  There was a small field, and then the woods.  These woods were no ordinary woods.  They were thick and dark and there was something foreboding about them.  The trees were huge and it appeared that almost all sunlight was kept out by their branches.
     Polly helped the girls and Donkeyhotie off the barge and then waved her arms to Mr. Popper to signal that he could pull the barge back.  Mr. Popper could barely see them, but could make out the signal, and so, began to pull the barge back across.  He pulled for an hour, but would not let Mr. Struggles help, for fear something bad might happen.
     With the barge back on their side Mr. Popper, Mr. Struggles, and Bon Bon boarded the barge.
     “Mr. Struggles, I should much appreciate it, if you would sit with your hands in your pockets, and no matter what, please don’t try to help.”  Mr. Popper pleaded.
     With that, he began to pull on the cable and the barge began to make it’s way across the river.
     They had gotten about half way across the river and could see the girls playing in the field and Polly waiting for them, when the water started to ripple and bubble around them, as if boiling.  Bon Bon began to bark and run from one side of the barge to the other.
     “What is it!”  exclaimed Mr. Struggles.
     “I Believe the Knotty Heads have found us!”  yelled Mr. Popper.  “Try to stay calm.  They cannot hurt us as long as we stay out of the water.  I will continue to pull us across  and we will try our best to ignore them.”  
     Mr. Popper’s arms were getting tired from so much pulling, but he knew better than to ask Mr. Struggles for help.  The boiling of the water continued and the sucking throaty sound of the Knotty Heads started.  It was a horrific sound when made by many schools of them.  This further added to there anxiousness to get to the other side.
     Just then they felt something hit the side of the barge.  Port side, Mr. Popper saw a large, rusty orange colored, webbed hand, grab the deck of the barge.
     “The Hellbenders have found us!”  shouted Mr. Popper. 
      He was on his feet now and kicked the Hellbender off the side of the barge.  Starboard side another Hellbender had climbed on board.  It was a vibrant shade of pink with black claws and yellow eyes.  Mr. Popper kicked him off also as Bon Bon barked ferociously.  There were more coming from every direction.  Aqua blue ones, and bright white ones, and then the biggest one Mr. Popper had ever heard of.  It was blood red with coal black eyes and steel gray teeth.  He was coming straight for Mr. Popper.  
     Mr. Struggles, who had been sitting, with his hands in his pockets, like he was told, felt for his knife.  
     “I must try to do something.”  he thought to himself.  With that he jumped to his feet and lunged at the giant beast with his pocket knife, yelling  “I’ll save you, Mr. Popper!”
     As he did so, Mr. Struggles tripped and fell with his pocket knife held out straight in his hand.  He came down right on the cable that led to the oak tree on the other side, and severed it in two.  Mr. Popper kicked the large Hellbender off the barge and the rest of the salamanders slipped back into the river.
     On the shore, Polly and the girls had been watching in horror, and now watched as the barge began to sail down stream.  they ran along the shore until the barge, with Mr. Popper, Mr. Struggles, and Bon Bon, faded out of sight.
     “What shall we do?”  shouted Mr. Struggles.
     “We must stay out of the water and hope that we will come to a bend in the river that will put us ashore on the same side of the river as Polly and the girls.”  Mr. Popper said, trying to calm the situation.
      He began to notice a rumbling sound that seemed to be growing as they headed down stream.  
     “Do you hear that rumbling, Mr. Struggles?”  asked Mr. Popper.
     “Yes, now that you mention it.”  replied Mr. Struggles
     As the sound went from a dull roar, to an almost deafening one, Bon Bon began to bark.  The hair on her back stood straight up and her tail began to wag from right to left.  Mr. Popper knew this mean’t immanent danger.  He looked down stream, maybe one hundred yards and saw the most massive waterfall he had ever seen.  It was a drop of five hundred feet or more.
    “Bon Bon, Mr. Struggles.  There is a waterfall right in front of us.  We will surely be killed if we stay on this barge.  We must jump into the water and try to swim for shore!”  he yelled, over the pounding of the waterfall.
     “But what about the Knotty Heads and Hellbenders!”  shouted Mr. Struggles.
     “We shall have to take our chances!”  yelled Mr. Popper.

      And with that he pushed Mr. Struggles into the water and jumped in behind him.  Bon Bon dove in and began dog paddling for the shore.  They swam with all their might, but the pull of the waterfall was too much.  The more they swam, the less they seemed to move toward the shore.  They were worn out and the current was beating them.  Mr. Popper was so tired from pulling the cable, and fighting the Hellbenders, and now fighting the drag of the waterfall.  He felt himself begin to blackout.  He looked to see where Mr. Struggles and Bon Bon were and spotted them off to his left.  He felt a tug on his shoulder and the last thing he saw, were two coal black eyes behind Mr. Struggles and Bon Bon, and then a webbed hand grabbed them both from behind.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Back Work Board

     I ended up not having the time off I thought I was going to, so I didn't finish the back work board, but I did make some progress.  Here is a picture of the work board.  It has to be dished out to a 15 foot radius.  I've started the carving, but still have a few more hours to go.   Also, here is a picture of my new vise and shop stand, holding my guitar.  It is a truly amazing tool.

     Here is something from Rumi I read this morning.  So true.

You risk your life to feed desires,
yet you give your soul only short grazing spans,
and those grudgingly.

You borrow ten and repay fourteen.
Most of your decisions can be traced back
to cuisine and sex.

The fuel basket goes from one stokehole
to the next.  Six friends hoist
your handsomeness and carry it
to the cemetery.

Food changes going from the table to the latrine.
You live between deaths,
thinking this is right enough.

Close these eyes to open the other.
Let the center brighten your sight.

     And here is chapter four, for those following the story.

Chapter Four
The Adventure Begins.

     After what could only be described as a sleepless night,  Polly and Mr. Popper met up with the rest of the team.  The girls had not slept well, because they were so excited about their eminent adventure.  Mr. Struggles had gone to bed and gotten tangled in his hammock, and so, slept face down all night and had to have someone free him in the morning.  Bon Bon snored all night, as she usually does, and felt quite refreshed.
     The journeyers met the elders and tribal representatives at the edge of the tribal grounds.  
     “Here are your provisions.  We have packed food for a month.  Not the best food, but it should keep you well nourished.  We have hammocks for all of you, a medical kit, with everything you should need, and a few special surprises, we hope will come in handy.  This is your pack burro, ‘Donkeyhotie’.  I think you will find him, a very able beast.”  the representative said with a pleasant smile.
     “I like oats and straw, apples and figs.  I like to have my nose scratched, and don’t walk right behind me, because I like to poop when I walk.”  Donkeyhotie said, matter of factly.
     Veaster nodded his approval to Donkeyhotie and then began to address the travelers  with the last of their instructions.  “I can’t tell you how much this means to the tribe, that you are all willing to take on such an adventure.  Here is a map.”  he said, as he handed it to Polly. “I have mapped a course to the Dillieyards village.  You will travel deep into the mountains, and when you come to the Valley of the Lukers you will have to cross the great Tuffaluktee river.  There is only one place that we know of to cross.  Look for a wooden barge with a pulley and rope system attached to it.  You should be able to cross there safely.”  he added, trying to comfort their fears.  “Do not set foot in the water, for the Knotty Heads and the Waterdogs (also known as Hellbenders), do not like outsiders.  They can be very territorial and unpredictable.”  he warned.  “After you cross the great Tuffaluktee, you will need to head straight north to the Dillieyards settlement.  The forest is thick with rhododendrons and mountain laurel. It will be difficult to tell direction, so I am giving you a compass, which should help to get you there.” he said, as he handed it to Keona.  
     With a look of grave seriousness, he lowered his voice and said, “When you get to the Dillieyard village, you must ask for their chief. He is called Big Dee.  We know little of him, except that when he breathes, smoke issues from his mouth.  He is painfully slow to act and he loves to eat.  We have given you several boxes of Little Debbie cakes to offer him as a token of your good will.”  he said pointing to the saddle bags on Donkeyhotie.  “As you may have heard, there is a legend about the Dillieyards being Luck Suckers.  We do not have any proof of this, but take the necessary precautions.”  he warned, with a tone that made them all shiver with dread.
     “Monsieur Veaster.  I am not familiar with this legend.  Would you please share it with us, so we may be better equipped when we meet them?”  Keona asked innocently.
      “I shall tell you what I have heard, but bear in mind, that this is a story and nothing more.” he cautioned. “It was many years ago, before I was an elder, and before many of you were born.  There was a man from our tribe who left to seek employment with the Dillieyards.  His name was T Roice Settlehymer.  He met Big Dee and worked for him for seventeen years.  When he returned he was near death.  The shamans nursed him back to health.  He told incredible stories, of how the Dilleyards would look deep into your eyes as they conversed with you.  As they did so, the luck that each person had, would be sucked out and stolen by the Dilleyards.  It got so bad, that everything T Roice Settlehymer would do turned into folly and ruin, and at the same time everything the Dilleyards did turned to fortune and riches.  T Roice didn’t understand what was happening, until one day he happened upon a long time employee of Big Dee.  His name was Pabbie More.  T Roice new Pabbie from their years together in school when they were young.  Pabbie had been the smartest student, with the most potential.  It was thought that he would probably be an elder one day.  As the story goes,  he greeted Pabbie who did not remember T Roice at all.  Pabbie said he was in a hurry, for he had to be a Pollar bear in a cousin's funeral.  He mean’t, a pall- bearer.  After that he would have to go to Abraham Lincolnton’s house, to get a bullnoser to take to Nose Hair’s house, so they could kill the black ricoosters, that lived in the stacoozies.  What he mean’t was, he would have to go to Abraham Lincoln’s house to get a bulldozer to take to Rose Hair’s house, so they could kill the brown recluses, that lived in the jacuzzis.  Then Pabbie yawned and fell asleep standing up.  T Roice Settlehymer new instantly, that this was not the same man that had gone to work for Big Dee several years before.  It was as if his luck had been sucked away, and with it, his brains.  T Roice fled the land of the Dillieyards, with nothing but his life, never to return.”  Veaster concluded.
     “As I cautioned you before, this is only a story, which we have no proof of, but if I were you, I should try not to look directly into their eyes.” he emphasized once more.  “Now if you follow the map and keep a steady pace, you should arrive at the Tuffaluktee in four days.  If there are no further questions, we will bid you good day and Godspeed.”
     “We look forward to seeing you soon, with our mission behind us and the Music Water returned safely to it’s resting place.  When we meet again, I shall play us a beautiful summer’s evening, with the noise of crickers and peepers, and a huge bon fire with marshmallows and chocolate.”  Mr. Popper smiled and said enthusiastically.
     With that they turned, and putting one foot in front of the other, began their adventure.  Mr.Popper led the way, with Donkeyhotie behind, followed by Keona, Thea, Una, Mr. Struggles, and Polly. With Bon Bon bringing up the rear, wagging her tail from left to right, which mean’t she was, so happy, or she wanted something to eat.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Acrylic Template

  After many attempts, I finished the template for the headstock.  I didn't have any quarter inch plywood left, so I made it out of some scrap acrylic.  I took a picture of it on top of the book I'm using as a guide to building this guitar.  I have the next two days off and hope to finish the back work board.  Then we can order the wood and begin building.

   Instead of a quote, I decided to include a video. Cheryl Wheeler is a great song writer and quite a good storyteller.   This song is the way I feel all the time about my life with Donna.  
       And finally, here is chapter three, for those of you who are still reading.

Chapter Three
The Meeting

    The tribal meeting room was all but full when Polly and Mr. Popper got there.  The elders were there and the magicians.  The mystics and shamans, and the musicians.  The clowns and the comedians, and of course Bon Bon.  Bon Bon was a rather large English labrador.  She was completely black except for a small patch of gray on her muzzle and she always wore a red collar.  When I say she was black, I don’t mean the conventional black, but a black like space.  Something so dark that only the light makes it possible to see.  The same way the sky can only be seen at night, because the stars are there.
     Bon Bon was well known and respected within the tribe, for her wisdom and special powers.  She did not have the gift of speech, but she would communicate through her expressions.  When she made her eyes look very small and round, she was sad, or wanted something to eat.  When she made her eyes large and dark brown, she was in excitable agreement, or she wanted something to eat.  When she barked she was angry, protective, wanting something to eat, or looking for squirrels.  When she made her top knot head, she was not sure, uncommitted, or wanting something to eat.   And when she made the triangle face, she was in complete knowledge and understanding of the situation, and had an answer to the problem, or she wanted something to eat.
     Polly and Mr. Popper took a seat and waited for the proceedings to begin.  There was much talk and much anticipation in the air.
     A hush fell on those present as the door opened and the three tribal heads interred the room. They were cats. Not huge lions, or panthers, but small house cats. Otis, was a large tabby Tom cat, with a tiny, squeaky voice ; Fern, his twin sister,  was small and black, with white feet that would blossom into flowers as she opened and closed them, padding the air; and Veaster.  He was the old man of the tribe.  Not regal like a king, or pampered like a head of state, but worn and weary.  Like someone who has lived his life for others.  He was gray, with the most hypnotizing yellow, snake eyes you have ever seen.  He had two fangs that protruded from his upper lip and his back had a patch of hairlessness, where he had pulled his hair out with his teeth, out of anxiety.  His ears were shredded from fights he had endured, protecting the tribe.
     Veaster spoke first, “It has been reported that the sacred Music Water, that has been kept safe by the council in the chambers at White Side Mountain, has been stolen.”
     With that the crowd went wild.  People began to shout their questions and concerns.  The magicians began to blow fire from their mouths and the shamans began shapeshifting into various mythic beasts.  
     “So that’s why my dreameradoo won’t play.  Polly, this means the music is gone!”  Mr. Popper exclaimed with the shock of someone who had lost the very keys to life as he knew it.
    “But how can that be?  How could someone ever have done such a thing?”  Polly replied with great unbelief.
    Then from the front came a small high pitched squeak.  At first no one paid it much attention, but then, like a persistent  alarm clock in the morning, they began to quiet down little by little until all that could be heard was the tiny voice.  It was Otis.  He was squeaking with all his might trying to calm down the crowd.
     Now that he had their attention he began his speech, “Savages, please listen! This is very important.  It appears that the Tigers have stolen the Music Water.  We have eye witnesses that saw a tiger fleeing the chambers with the sacred water vase.”
     Again, there was a small uproar at the mention of the Tigers, but Fern put a quick stop to it by opening her paws and making them into flowers, which always fascinated everyone.
     “Please listen to what we have to share and keep your comments until we open up for discussion.”  She said with an heir of authority.  “Now Veaster would like to address you on the details and our plan to return the Music Water to the Council at White Side Mountain.”
     Veaster began to share what they knew of how the Tigers had broken into the Chambers and stolen the Music Water.
     To understand how important the Music Water is you must know a bit of it’s history.  The Legend says, that over a thousand years ago, one of the fathers of the seven tribes , that existed then, known as Lazerham, was exploring a new mountainside in the central region of what is now called Middlend.  He came upon a hole in the earth that was twice the size of a man.  He went into the cavern and discovered that it was well lit by the morning sun shining down the hole.  As he progressed, he found a clear pool of water that must have been several hundred feet deep.  He reached down to touch the water and it sang a song.  Now what was so surprising to Lazerham were two things.  One was that no one had ever heard music before.  There were no bird songs. No wind whistling  in the pines.  No chimes.  No drums.  No instruments of any kind. No one had ever sang or even whistled.   As the legend tells, there had never been a sound that could be called a musical note, up until that moment.  So, you can imagine Lazerham”s surprise. But an even bigger surprise was the second thing.  The song that was being sung was a song about Lazerham.  It was a song specially crafted for him. 

    Lazerham.  You are a good man.
I have searched for you as the shepherds do,
for the lamb that has lost it’s way.
Lazerham.  There is a plan
From the start we’ve been apart
But now let the music stay.

    As the legend says, Lazerham went back to his village and told the elders of the tribe.  They went before the elders of the seven tribes and it was decided that they would take a vase and fill it with the Music Water.  Then they put the vase in the chambers, so that no one, but the Council would have access to it.  They then filled in the hole in the earth, so that no one would ever find the water source and be able to use it for themselves.  For, they feared that if it fell into the wrong hands the Music might make people do who knows what.  They then decided that they would give a drop of Water to each tribe once a year.  If that sacred drop was mixed with a lake of water it would give the tribe music for a full year.  The music was strictly monitored by the elders of each tribe according to what they thought was fitting.  At first the water sang wondrous things.  It gave direction to people's lives.  It brought healing to those that would swim in it.  It brought comfort and great joy to all the tribes.  But as the years went on that wonder became less and less.  Some tribes only cared about the Music Water for entertainment.  Some didn’t much care for it at all.  The Water began to sing more shallow songs.  As the tribes grew, they fragmented.  At first just a few would split and start their own tribe, but then more and more.  The more tribes there were, the more the Water became diluted.  The elders would only give out half drops, and then quarter drops.  Each tribe developed their own genre of music that they thought was best.  Some tribes began to ban any type of song other than what the elders dictated.  Some tribal members were beaten, tortured, and even killed for singing different songs.
     The musicians of the Savage tribe were given freedom of song, but the Water became so diluted that it was hard to hear the deep music that their hearts yearned for.  
     “The plan to capture the Water Music from the Tigers and return it to the Chambers, will be a dangerous one.”  Veaster cautioned.  “The Tigers are fierce and very sly.  They have been hunted for years and will not think twice to attack any man or woman.  And they know the mountains.  It will be easy for them to hide and they will be hard to track.”  he warned.  “For this reason we, as your elders, have decided that we must solicit the help of the Dillieyards.”
     Once again the crowd erupted in a frantic commotion.  The comedians started yelling bad one liners, and the clowns ran around squirting seltzer water down people’s pants and throwing pies.
     “But they are the luck suckers!”  someone shouted from the back.
     “Quiet down, please!”  Veaster shouted.  “They may very well be luck suckers, but we don’t know that for sure.  We need their tracking skills.  You all know that they are extraordinary hunters, and have been tracking and hunting the Tigers for centuries.  Without their assistance we may never discover the Tigers’ den.  While I agree, that this could be very dangerous, we still think it is our only option.”  he said with all the authority he could muster.  “Now we have put together a team that we think would best be suited for this task.  I will not force anyone who does not wish to go, but I would hope that you all would rise to the occasion and do the right thing for the betterment, not just of the tribe, but of the whole world, for with out the Music Water, how will we survive?”  he asked with a heavy heart.  “As I call your name please come forward.  Mr. Popper.”
     Mr. Popper stood, but Polly held his hand tightly and would not let him go.
     “It’s alright Polly.”  Veaster reassured.  “You will be going with him.”
     Polly didn’t know whether to feel better about this news, or not.  She didn’t want either of them to have to leave, but she wanted to do what she could and if the elders thought she was up to the job, then who was she to think differently.
     “We have chosen Mr. Popper, because of his musical abilities.  We feel that when the vase is in his hands he will treat it with the utmost care.  Making sure that it won’t break, or spill and that it will make it to it’s final home without incident.”  he explained.  “As for Polly, we know that she would worry too much if she were not along with Mr. Popper.  Plus her abilities may also become very valuable.”  he knowingly said, with a smile.  The next member of the team, we deliberated about for quite some time.  Ultimately we found that we could not do without him.  That is Mr. Struggles.”
     The crowd went crazy this time with shouts of, “Are you out of your minds!”  and “This will be a “disaster!”  and “You of all people should know what happens when he’s around!”
 Mr. Struggles looked as shocked as everyone else.  He was not used to being asked to do anything.  Mr. Struggles had a reputation with the tribe that was not at all positive.  It seemed that wherever he went things got harder.  It was impossible to understand, but it was true.  If he helped you wash your windows, one would break.  If he helped you paint your house someone would fall off a ladder and hurt them self.  If you asked him to go for a walk with you, you would twist your ankle and have to hobble home.  He was nice enough, but no one wanted his help.   
     “Now, now!” shouted Veaster.  “We have given this much thought and have consulted the shamans and they verified our decision.  If Mr. Struggles chooses to go, it will be his decision and no one else's.”
    There was still quite a bit of murmuring, but the crowd seemed to accept this decision.
     “We feel strongly that, because of her strong sense of smell and her powers, that Bon Bon should also go.”  he said with much enthusiasm.
    The crowd nodded their consent and Bon Bon waged her tail, which showed her approval, or she wanted something to eat.
     “And finally, for the rest of the team.  This was a very hard decision, because of their young ages, but we have chosen the girls.”
     There was a gasp that came up from the crowd and Polly went white. 
     “How can they expect them to do something so dangerous at such young ages?”  Polly whispered to Mr. Popper.
    “I’m sure I don’t know, but if the elders think that the girls can help, then I’m sure it will be fine.  Plus, you know the strange and powerful abilities each one has.”  Mr. Popper said confidently.
     The girls had made their way down front.  They looked so small in front of the huge crowd.  The oldest was Keona.  She was six.  She was what some people would refer to as a firecracker.  She was loud and full of energy.  She loved to yell and sing and dance and run around.  And most of all she loved to be silly and laugh.  This was her power and it would serve them all well on their adventure.  The middle child was Thea.  She was four.  She also loved to laugh and play and do the things her sisters did, but she could also be serious.  A person could say the wrong thing to her and she would start to frown.  Then she would become very serious.  This was her power and it would serve them all well on their adventure.  And finally the youngest.  Una.  She had gone over to Veaster and picked him up and was rubbing her face on his.  He tried to get away, to no avail, and so gave up and began to purr.  She had just turned two.  She was also loud and loved to play and have fun, but if something happened to her she would cry.  This was no ordinary crying.  This was of a different nature.  This was her power and it would serve them all well on their adventure.
     “Now that you have all come forward, we should like to know if you all accept this great task that will benefit all of humanity?”  Veaster asked with anticipation.  “If you accept you will all leave tomorrow.  Your provisions have been arranged and your course has been mapped.  We know that this is much to ask of all of you, and there will be much danger and hardship, but you will be honored for your service for generations to come.  What say you?”
     They all of one voice said, “Yes we will go.”  except for Bon Bon who made her eyes large and dark brown, which mean’t  she was in total agreement, or she wanted something to eat.