Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chapter Ten

     It has been a crazy week.  I worked six days and have been trying to keep up with an online music theory class.  I'm having to order some tools to proceed with the guitar I'm building, so it may be a few weeks before there's any action on that front.  But here is chapter 10 of the story for those who are keeping up.  It is a step back in time to explain how people travel from one place to another in Middleland.  Cliff was too busy to do illustrations, but sent me this email, that I think explains the idea of thin spots quite well.  You'll understand this more after you read the chapter.  Here is Cliffs letter, "Is the thin spot the place where memory and emotion travel in a non-linear fashion? The electromagnetic energy is the love. So the love could dispel the light energy if it was strong enough. It would create a thin spot in time because of the pureness of love. Love moves one to higher dimensional levels. Time is relative to the speed of light. The speed of light increases at each dimensional level. Love is faster than light. That is why science can measure protons but not electrons. Protons are the light electrons are the love and neutrons are the awareness. ….who needs a large hadron collider when we got Mr. Popper and Mr. Struggles?

Chapter Ten
Thin Spots

     “Mom, when we step into the Thin Spot, will we see Polly and Mr. Popper right away, or does it take time to get there?”  Keona asked her mother.
     “You’ll see some bright, beautiful lights.  Then everything will spin, up and down, left and right, and side to side.  The air will feel thick like water, and you’ll see the other travelers going to their own particular destinations.  It will take, maybe ten minutes, after that.  It’s like riding on a fast moving stream of air.”  she said.  “Oh, Polly and Mr. Popper will be so glad to see all of you.”  she said as she looked down at Una and Thea.
     Every summer, for as long as she could remember, she had wanted to go and stay with Polly and Mr. Popper.  This time she was getting her wish.  Not only was she going to see them, but she was going to take her sisters with her, and best of all, she was going to spend the whole summer with them in the village of the Savages!
     “I’m so excited to go.  I can’t wait to see grandma and grandpa.”  Keona said.
     “You’ll have so much fun.  Polly and Mr. Popper are always off on some kind of adventure.  It will be a summer to remember.”  Skyla Barns Nautical Noot said excitedly.
     Skyla Barns, was the mother of the girls.  She was of the tribe of the Nautical Noots.  They were a tribe that lived by the sea.  They lived off of what the sea could provide.  They were great fishermen.  They were hard workers and also loved to farm the earth.
     Skyla Barns was a young lovely women.  Tall and slender, but muscular from the hard work she did in the village.  Her shoulder length brown hair, complemented her eyes, like the moon complements the night sky.  But her smile was the thing that would captivate you.  She had a smile that was welcoming, and at the same time mischievous.  As if perhaps, she knew a secret that, if you tried hard enough, she might just tell you.  She was a master of Reflexprophecy.  If you were unsure of where your life was headed, you could make an appointment with her.  She would come to your house with her special lounge chair, that she would unfold, and have you recline in.  She would then massage different places on your feet.  This would cause you to see things that might be.  I say might be, because once you would see these things that might be, you could change them, by changing your behavior.  For instance, if you loved to eat candy and drink soft drinks, and you saw that by the time you were thirty all your teeth would be gone, you could stop drinking soft drinks, and cut down on candy, and you would change your destiny.  She also loved to work with the earth.  She made waterfalls and caves, and courtyards with talking cobblestone.  She once made a flower garden that was nothing but dirt in the morning, but by evening was a veritable jungle.  Then the next morning would be gone and grow anew each day, always different.
     “I don’t think it’s much further to the Thin Spot, girls.  I know we’ve traveled for a long time, but it will be worth it.”  Jessewheatzer said.
     Jessewheatzer was the son of Polly and Mr. Popper, and the father of the girls.  He had met Skyla Barns, when he had left home in search of the things that young men go in search of, and then meet young women.  After which, they can’t remember what they were searching for.  He had fallen in love with her instantly and they married.  He stayed on with the Nautical Noot tribe and raised the girls there.  He became an Au Courant Aggregator; a fancy title for someone who collects the present.  People would hire him mainly for weddings and special events, but some would hire him just to document their lives.  An Au Courant Aggregator, of which there are few, and Jessewheatzer is one of the best, capture pieces of the present and store them in books.  If, say, you hired him to capture your wedding, he would take a moment of the bride’s wedding dress, and maybe, a moment of her hair shining in the morning sunlight.  Maybe take a moment of the scent of the bridal bouquet and the warm wet feel of the first kiss.  And maybe take a moment of hearing the bridal procession and the laughter of the guests at the reception.  If the two were preoccupied enough, he sometimes could capture a moment of pure love.   Later he would put these in a book.  When the book was opened, whoever opened it would relive these moments as if for the first time.  They would feel the kiss.  They would laugh with the friends.  They would wear the wedding dress, and they would love and be loved.  It was a special gift and an awesome responsibility  to be an Au Courant Aggregator.
     He was tall and ruggedly handsome, with a muscular physique that was wrought by hard work.  His eyes were blue like Polly’s, with the same depth of vision.  His hair had tamed down from when he was a child. At that time it looked like a dandelion ready to blow away in the wind.  Now it laid down, mostly, except when there was an electrical storm brewing, and then it would stand up as if so alarmed it wanted to fly away.  The Nautical Noots would always know when a storm was coming, simply by looking at Jessewheatzer’s hair.
     “Are we almost there Dad.”  said Thea.  Hours earlier she had seen the clearing in the tree line on top of the mountain that they were now on.  She had thought it was a clearing, but it was actually a hole in the sky.  This was a Thin Place.  There were several of them throughout the world.  They were hard to spot.  From a distance they looked like clearings when they were on a mountain top.  In the woods, or on water they were much harder to see.  A hole in the dimension of space and time does not look like a hole in the ground, or a doorway.  It really doesn’t look at all.  It just is.  The shamans of old had found this one on Mt. Washington.  There happened to be another one just outside the Savage’s village, and so, this would be the portal for the girls to see Polly and Mr. Popper.  The shamans had used these thin places to travel to the City of God, where they would inquire of Him for their tribesmen.  People like you and I began to use theses places as a portal to our loved ones.  
     “I see the clearing up ahead.  It should be here somewhere.”  Jessewheatzer replied.
     As they got closer there was a most unusual place directly in front of them.  They could see through it, yet things behind it were slightly bent, or skewed.  If you weren’t looking hard enough for it, you would walk on by and never know it was there.
     “Is that it!”  shouted Una.
     “I think it is.”  Skyla Barns replied.  “It’s time for you all to enter the thin place.  We will be in touch with you when we can and we will be here on the first day of September to bring you home.”  she said with a tear in her eye.
     “Remember, when you enter the thin place hold hands.  Keona will be in charge, because she is the oldest.”  Jessewheatzer reminded them.  “Keona, remember that you will need to think about Polly and Mr. Popper with all your might, in order to get to the right place.”  he warned.
     When you entered the portal, it would take you to wherever your heart’s desire lie.  If you traveled in a group you would hold hands and choose a person to lead.  That person would have to concentrate on their heart’s desire and that is where you would end up.  Keona knew this would be a breeze, because she had wanted to spend the summer with Polly and Mr. Popper for so long.
     “Give us hugs and kisses, and off you go.”  said Skyla Barns, choking back her tears.
     The girls all gave hugs and kisses to their parents, and then walked toward the thin place holding hands.  Keona first, then Una, followed by Thea.  Jesseswheatzer and Skyla Barns watched as the girls walked closer to the portal and then suddenly disappeared.
     Inside it was so bright that they had to squint to see.  There was a swirl of colors in every direction that made them all dizzy.  They couldn’t tell if they were right side up, or upside down.  They didn’t know if they were standing on the ground or the sky.  Una started to feel sick, and then it stopped.  It was calm and they could feel the movement beneath their feet, even though they were simply standing still.  It felt like they were floating in a gentle river.  The air was thick like water, but comfortable.
     “Look at the people!”  Una said.
     All around them were people of all races and tribes.  Strange looking people with odd clothes carrying bags and baskets.  Some with families, and some by themselves.  Some with dogs or cats, and some even with elephants and ostriches.  Everyone standing completely still yet moving by in every direction on all sides.
     And then with no warning, and nothing but a familiar feeling, they were there.  Keona could feel the hot humid summer air on her skin.  She smelled the familiar fragrance of honeysuckle and lilacs, and then there she was.
     “Polly!”  Keona yelled, letting go of her sister’s hand, as she ran and jumped on her grandma.  
     “You’re here!”  shouted Polly as she picked up Una and hugged Thea and Keona all at the same time.
     “What about me.  Don’t I get any hugs?”  said Mr. Popper, pretending to look sad.
     With that, all the girls jumped on him and they hugged each other and laughed.
     “That seems like so long ago.”  Keona thought.  “Who would have thought that only two weeks ago we came to see Polly and Mr. Popper.  That was before the Music Water was stolen; before we volunteered to help; before we crossed the Great Tuffaluktee and got separated from Mr. Popper, and before we met Pesadilla and escaped from Dream World.”  she pondered silently to herself, as she sat with her sisters on the edge of the pool, while Polly hunted through Donkeyhotie’s saddle bags for something for them to eat.  “Mom said, Polly and Mr. Popper were always off on some kind of adventure, but I never thought it would be like this.  I can’t think of a better way to spend my summer.”  she thought with a smile of contentment on her face.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Chapter Nine

     I went to Wilmington to do a job last weekend, and went to Durham to see Pat Metheny this weekend, so I'm behind on everything.  The Metheny concert was one of the best I've ever been to.  We even got to see him super glue his fingernail back on to play his final tune.  Needless to say, I haven't gotten any guitar work done, but I did recieve the rest of the wood.  It is beautiful.  I hope to start on the neck this week.
     I waited an extra week to give Cliff time to do the illustrations for Chapter Nine.  I think they came out great.  Very odd and twisted.  Not unlike a nightmare.  This is a scary one.  Proceed at your own risk.

Chapter Nine
Pesadilla’s House

     The girls and Polly made their way down the mountain side, heading for the valley below.  The air was hot and the breeze had stopped.  It was deathly calm and quiet.  The storm clouds had moved in, but just hung overhead, watching them in silence.  The faces of the clouds had grown old, with dark black circles where their eyes used to be.  
     After some time they made their way into the valley.  It was a sea of green grass, outlined with oak trees and the mountain they had just walked down, on one side.  It should have been a pleasant place, except for the total quiet and the dark clouds, and the feeling of things that might be watching from the woods.  It felt as if something was brewing.  Like the calm before a storm.  And now the clouds had begun to smile, but not a happy smile.  There seemed to be something malevolent about it.   As if they knew something, or someone was coming to do the girls harm.
     “There she is.”  whispered Thea, pointing to a dark figure walking toward them.  “I recognize her.  She is in my bad dreams at night.  I don’t want to talk to her.  She scares me.”
     “I know her too, but I haven’t seen her in a while.”  said Keona.  “She has been in my dreams too.”
     “I shall talk with her and you girls stay behind me.  Don’t get close to her and don’t speak to her.”  Polly cautioned.
     “You must listen to her and do as she says, if you are to ever leave here.”  Philemon said.  “She knows the way.”
     The dark figure moved closer and closer.  As it did, Polly began to see her features.  She was tall with long, straight black hair that fell to her waist.  She looked to be Mediterranean, but her complexion was very pale, and she was much too thin.  Like a concentration camp survivor, or a cancer patient.  Her eyes were black and deep set, and she wore blood red lipstick and nail polish.  She was wearing a black robe with a blood red fur collar to match her lips.  She appeared to be floating on the grass, although her robe was too long to see her feet, and she had, what looked like, a hairless tail, like a rodent, wrapped around her and sticking out from the front of her robe.  There was something hideous about her, but also beautiful.  Polly had a faint recollection that she may have seen here before.
     Una saw her and began to whimper.  She opened her mouth to let out a loud scream , but nothing came out.  She was frozen with fear and held on to Polly’s leg.
     “Good afternoon ladies.”  Pesadilla said, with the same wicked smile that the clouds had.  My name is Pesadilla and I am the princess of this corner of Dream World.  I have watched you since you entered by the pool.  We don’t have many who come here lucid.   Have you had a safe journey thus far?”
     “It has been fine, but we really must be going.”  Polly answered.  “Philemon informed us that you could show us the way out.”
     “Yes, there is a way.  It is close by, but whether you can find it, is up to you.  I can only point you in the right direction.”  she said.  “You must go to my house.  The door is open.  That is where you’ll find the way out, if you are brave enough to face your fears.”  Pesadilla instructed. 
     “But what do we do when we enter your house?”  Polly questioned.  “Is there a passage way somewhere?  How will we know where to find it?”
     “The first thing I would do, if I were you, is lock the doors and make sure all the windows are latched.”  she warned, and then looking down the trail she added.  “It looks like they have caught your scent.  You should probably be going.”  
     Down the trail Polly and the girls could just make out the shape of something heading toward them.  It had begun to grow dark and the wind had started to pickup.  It was hot like a summer fever and the clouds began to quietly moan. 
     “Polly, I think they’re wolves, but they’re walking on their hind legs like humans!”  Keona shouted.
     Polly knew what they were, because this had been her childhood fear.  “They’re werewolves!”  she yelled.  “We must hurry!  Where is your house Pesadilla?”
     Pesadilla turned, and with a calm malicious smile, she pointed up the trail to an old ,two story, run down house.  The house was dark and foreboding.  It was set in a clearing with oak trees around it and a small graveyard on the right side of the property.  There was something about the house that disturbed Polly.  Had she read about this house in a book?  Had she seen a picture of it somewhere?  She couldn’t put her finger on it.  But now, there was no time to think.
     “Run girls!  We must get inside that house!  The werewolves are coming!”  Polly commanded.
     “I have lead you as far as I can!”  Philemon yelled after them.  “Face your fears and you’ll find the way!”
     As they ran they could hear the growls and barking behind them, like a pack of wild dogs, but these were more cunning.  They were huge like grown men, with sharp teeth and claws, and wild dark empty eyes.  But the worst thing, was that they had hands, which could open doors and windows, or pull loose siding boards from a house, or even climb to a rooftop to find other ways in.
     They made their way to the house and ran up the large porch.  Polly opened the front door and the girls ran in.  She latched the door behind them and looked around.  It was cold.  Like a dark basement on a summer day.  It smelled of mold and was lit with candles on the end tables and oil lamps placed here and there.  
     “We must do as Pesadilla suggested and make sure all the windows and outside doors are locked.”  Polly frantically said.  “I’ll check the upstairs windows and you girls check the downstairs.  Una can stay with me.”
     Polly climbed the old spiral staircase, that squeaked with every step.  She and Una checked the windows and the door to the attic and made sure they were secure.  As they walked down the hallway to head back downstairs, Polly saw a wood carving hanging on a bedroom door.  She took the oil lamp and held it up to read the inscription.  It said, “As a great fish swims between the banks of a river as it likes, so does the shining Self move between the states of dreaming and waking.  The Self is free from desire, free from evil, free from fear.”  She pondered this as she carried Una down the stairs.  
     Back downstairs, Polly checked on the girls, who had checked all the doors and windows on the first floor.
     “I think we’re secure in here for now, but I must find the way back to the other side of the pool.”  Polly said, as she heard the first of them hit the front door.
     There was a loud thud as the first werewolf hit the door with its huge paw.  Then began a terrible scratching noise from all around as the others arrived and tried to find a way in.  They began to howl, and the clouds began to wail causing the wind to pick up outside.  It became darker and darker and the girls clung to Polly’s legs.
     “We must search the house for the passage back!”  Polly shouted over the noise from outside the house.
     They began to walk from room to room and as they did so, they could see the werewolves, through the windows, trying to get in.  As they passed by the large picture window on the right side of the house, they could see the graveyard lit up by the last rays of the evening sun.  Thea stared out the window.  “What is that?”  she thought.  “What are those things rising from the graves?”  although she knew what they were,  but didn’t want to believe, because they were her greatest fear.
     “Polly!”  Thea shouted.  “Look at the graveyard!”
     As Polly turned her gaze on the picture window, she saw what appeared to be people floating up from the graves into the air.  They had clothes on from long ago.  Hats and dresses that no one wears anymore.  There were old people and children.  And they were coming toward the house.
     “They’re ghosts!” cried Polly.  “We must continue to look for the passage!  We haven’t much time!”
     They started up the stairs, staying close together.  “Perhaps the passage way back is up here.”  said Polly.  “It didn’t appear to be downstairs any where.”  Just then there was a large crash from the basement.  “Girls, did you lock the cellar door?”  Polly asked anxiously.
     “I didn’t know there was a cellar.”  Keona answered.
     “I think the werewolves have found a way in through the cellar.”  whispered Polly.  “Be very quiet.  Don’t let them know where we are.”
     From down stairs they began to hear the scratching and growling of the first werewolves to enter the house. Thea saw, through the hall window, that the ghosts had surrounded the house and were trying to open the windows.  Polly heard the first creak of a foot on the staircase and then felt the paralyzing fear, of looking straight into the eyes of a werewolf.
     “Quickly, in here!”  Polly shouted as she opened the door to the room with the wood carving on the door.  Keona and Thea ran in while Polly picked up Una in her arms and closed the door just as the werewolf lunged at her.  She fumbled with the door latch, but got it closed before the creature could turn the knob.  Now the werewolves were in the hall. They began to scratch and claw and pound on the door, with howls of rage.  Thea went to the window to see if there was a way out.  She pulled open the curtains and  screamed.  She was  face to face with a ghost!  It had floated up to the window and called it’s friends.  “Now they know where we are!”   Thea cried, as she closed the curtains tightly.
     “Polly, what should we do!”  cried Keona.  And then came a noise from inside the closet.  It was the sound of something moving around.  Keona ran to the closet and pushed a chair under the door knob.  Whatever was inside turned the knob ever so slowly and tried to open the door, but the chair kept it inside.  “Quick!”  shouted Keona, “Help me hold the door shut.  I think there’s a monster inside.”  She knew this, because this was her greatest fear.
     Polly and Thea came and sat in the chair, but the thing on the other side was strong and it would be impossible to hold it back forever.  The bedroom door was also wearing thin from the werewolves clawing their way in.  And the ghosts had been loosening one of the panes of glass, and would soon be in.
     “Help Polly!  What should we do!”  shouted Keona.
     “Perhaps the answer was on that plaque on the door.”  Polly said.  “Maybe the power that Pesadilla has over us, we have given her by giving into our fears.  This is a nightmare, but we are awake, so we can choose it’s outcome.  If we can move from dreaming to waking and, the Self is free from desire, from evil, and from fear, then we must be ourselves. We must conquer our fears by meeting them face to face.  We must be who we truly are... Savages!”  she said as she got up off of the chair and moved it from the closet door.
     “What are you doing Polly!”  Keona shrieked in fear, as she braced the door with her back.
     “We must all face the thing we fear the most, Keona.  Pesadilla is nothing more than part of our subconscious mind that is trying to tell us something through our nightmares.”  Polly said.  “I think the way out is through that door.”
     “But I’m afraid!  I don’t want to open it!”  Keona cried
     “We all have our doors to open.  And we will be here with you.”  Polly said  “There seems to be no other way.  You’ll have to trust me.”
     “Alright, but stay by me.”  she said and took Polly’s free hand.  Polly’s other hand was holding Una, and Thea was clutching onto her leg.
     Keona slowly opened the door.  The thing on the other side grew quiet and all Keona could hear was her own heart beating.  She peered into the darkness and found a little girl looking back at her.  Not just any little girl, but one that looked just like her. It was her.  She was looking into a mirror.
     “I don’t understand.  It’s just a mirror.  There’s nothing scary in here.”  she said relieved, but perplexed.
     “I think I understand.” said Polly.  “Go open the window, Thea.”  
     Thea was reluctant, but trusted Polly and did what she asked.  She slowly opened the curtains and could see the ghosts trying to get in.  She unlatched the window and quickly raised it, closing her eyes tight as she did so.
“Thea.  You can open your eyes.  It’s alright.”  said Polly.
  Much to her surprise she also saw a little girl.  It was Thea.  She was looking at herself in a mirror instead of a window.
     “You have both faced your fears and now it is my turn.”  said Polly heading to the bedroom door with Una in her arms and the girls holding on to each leg.
     “Polly, don’t do it!  They are still out there!  We can hear the howling of the werewolves, and even smell them on the other side!”  Keona hollered.
     “If I’m right, and I think I am, this has been nothing more than a chance to face our fears.  None of this has been real, anymore than a dream is real while you are dreaming it.  What is important is what we have learned about our fears and how they cripple us.  They keep us from being who we really are.  They keep us from seeing the shining Self.”  she said as she turned the knob on the door and opened it.
     The howling and scratching had disappeared along with the werewolves and ghosts,and they found themselves standing on the edge of the pool looking at a most welcome sight, Donkeyhotie.

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.