Some Insights into my Arrogant One

Some Insights into my Arrogant One

Arrogant One in office“I want you to see the photographs I took.”

My Arrogant One marched into my office, unceremoniously swept a pile of books and folders off a chair and onto the floor, and plopped himself down, a superior look on his face. He held out his camera and wrinkled his brow with irritation when I did not immediately jump to take it.

“Well?” He tapped his foot impatiently. “I have been waiting all afternoon to show these to you.”

On phone with AnnaColton giving Blue an apple“I’m sorry. Some of my other characters wanted to hear more details about Colton and his pony, so I’ve been busy.” I had received a call from Colton’s mom, Anna, that morning and had shared with my characters some news about Colton’s progress with Blue. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/06/09/news/

The elf yawned. “Boring.”

I frowned. “The others don’t think so, and neither do I. We happen to care about Colton.”

shaggy pony in barn“Why? If it had not been for that other malodorous pony that invaded our yard and my shed . . .”

My eyebrows shot up. “Whose shed?”

My Arrogant One blushed. “The shed,” he amended, quickly relinquishing his claim of ownership. “Anyway, as I was saying, if it had not been for that foul-smelling creature, we would not even be aware of the boy who had owned it.”
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2017/12/31/mystery/
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/03/25/mystery-solved/

Her, not it. Mystery, aka Peaches, was a mare, a female pony.”

“Whatever.” My Arrogant One waved dismissively.

I sighed and shook my head. “So sorry, I forgot. If you do not directly benefit from someone or something, that person or thing is beneath your notice.”

The elf sneered. “The boy is not our responsibility, yet Cleric and the Gypsy lad would have us think of nothing else. That is all anyone spoke of at lunch today.”

ConversationI scoffed. “I think there’s something wrong with your memory. Everyone was involved in their own discussions until after lunch, when I shared the news about Colton. You yourself spent the entire time at lunch telling my Bounty Hunter all about the pictures you took.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/06/09/news/

“I was going to tell everyone about them until you monopolized the conversation.” The elf pouted.

I ignored his complaint. “What’s so important about these photos?”

He thrust the camera at me again. “Well, just look at them.”

Arrogant One's photosI took the camera and quickly downloaded the photos onto the computer. I brought up the images on the monitor and looked through them. There were three dozen images of various birds, mammals, insects, and flowers.

“Nice.”

“Nice?” The elf looked thunderstruck. “Nice? That is all you can say about them?”

I shrugged. “They’re nice. What else would you have me say?”

My Arrogant One jumped up, grabbed his camera, and stomped out of the room. I shrugged and went back to work, first gathering the items the elf had tossed aside and replacing them on the chair. I could reorganize them later. Right now, I had a blog to write.

Bounty Hunter in officeI hadn’t gotten the first paragraph typed when I felt the hairs on the back of my neck prickle, and I had the distinct sensation I was being watched. I looked up and saw my Bounty Hunter lounging against the door jamb. His posture was casual, but his eyes bore right into mine.

I frowned. “What’s your problem?”

“I had cause to speak with you, milady, but I saw you were busy, and I did not wish to disturb you.”

His eyes had lost some of their intensity, and he shuffled one foot back and forth across the carpet, but I was still wary. I glared at him long and hard before I replied.

“Well, you did. What did you want to talk about?”

“The elf.”

Arrogant One full body 2Bounty Hunter full body“My Arrogant One?” Somehow, I wasn’t all that surprised. Those two were pretty tight. If I had offended the elf, I should have expected his sidekick to take me to task. On the other hand, despite the two of them being all but joined at the hip, my Bounty Hunter never seemed to hold any illusions regarding the annoying elf. He came to me just as often to complain about his cohort as to defend him.

“Yes, your Arrogant One.” My Bounty Hunter walked across the room and gestured at the items piled haphazardly on the chair. “Do you mind if I move these?”

At least he had the courtesy to ask. “No, I guess not. Just put them on the floor. I’ll reorganize them and put them away later.”

manuscriptsBounty Hunter full body 2I studied my Bounty Hunter as he moved the items and took a seat. I was always a little guarded around him. I never quite understood him as well as I did my other characters. I didn’t even really remember him from my two unpublished manuscripts, the books from which my other characters had fallen. I was pretty sure my Bounty Hunter didn’t make his appearance until Book Three, which was barely started at this point.

I shook my head and tried to drag my thoughts back to the conversation. “So, what has my Arrogant One done now?”

“I wish to speak to you regarding the elf’s photographic efforts.”

“Oh?” I lifted an eyebrow. “Is his nibs still pouting because I failed to go into raptures over his images?”

My Bounty Hunter winced. “Mistress, I fear you fail to understand the importance the elf attaches to his efforts. Perhaps you could be a tad kinder, show a modicum of interest and enthusiasm.”

“Like you were showing when the elf was talking your ear off at lunch, telling you over and over, ad nauseam, of each and every tiny detail of each and every image?” I smirked.

My Bounty Hunter had the grace to look properly chastised. “I admit in spite of my best efforts to the contrary I allowed my boredom to show.” He shrugged. “But having you brush off his accomplishments is a far worse blow to his self-image than my boredom, which I doubt the elf even noticed.”

I scoffed. “Since when does my Arrogant One allow anyone’s actions, words, or opinions, to damage his self-image?”

“You would be surprised, Mistress.” He rose and headed toward the door. “You would be surprised.”

Arrogant One's photosAfter my Bounty Hunter left, I decided to give the photos another look. I was surprised to realize some of them were quite good, especially the flowers. Deciding I had been too dismissive of my Arrogant One, I went in search of him. I found him in the conference room, deep in discussion with Cleric.

Arrogant One and Cleric“But I am not asking you to show me how to do anything that would harm them. I only wish to be able to attract the animals closer and to get them to sit still long enough to capture their image.”

Cleric chewed on her lower lip as she listened to the elf. She fidgeted with her belt as she replied. “I wish I could help you, truly! But, forsooth, I fear my talent for communicating with animals is a clerical ability granted me, not a skill that can be taught.”

My Arrogant One scowled, and Cleric blanched. I hurried over to intervene. “You seemed to do quite well getting the animals to pose for you. I was impressed with your results.”

My Arrogant One gave me a penetrating look. “You did not seem all that impressed when I shared my images.”

Backyard 050I tried to look remorseful, wishing I had learned the art of blushing at will. “I apologize. I was in the middle of something when you came in, and I guess I was just upset at being interrupted. After I finished my work, I looked at the images again. They are quite good.”

“Really?” The elf looked at me suspiciously.

“Really. Why don’t we go back to my office and look at them again?”Elf

Cleric brightened. “Are these the photographs you were taking in the front yard this morning? I saw you when Sorceress, Dragon, and I returned from collecting our botanicals.”

The elf nodded.

“May I see them, too?” Cleric blushed. “I am very interested in photography. Perhaps I can learn something from you. The images you took on our nature walk were outstanding. I love the way you work with the lighting.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/06/02/a-change-of-pace/

arrogant one

My Arrogant One held his head high, grasped his cloak in both hands, and rocked back on his heels. “Of course. I would be most gratified to have you view my images.”

My Arrogant One and Cleric followed me to my office. I quickly removed the contents of two chairs and placed the materials neatly on a table, before the elf had a chance to knock everything on the floor again.

When we were seated, I jiggled the computer mouse to wake the machine from sleep mode, and a page of thumbnails of my Arrogant One’s photos filled the monitor.

Arrogant One's photos

“I love the flowers. As Cleric said, your use of light in your photography is impressive, especially for a novice.”

We viewed the photos, and I pointed at two of them. “On these two, you captured insects on the flowers.”

“Was that intentional?” Cleric leaned closer to inspect the images. “Or was it just a fortuitous accident?”

Insects on Butterfly Weed

“I will admit, I did not notice the flies on the milkweed until I studied the images later. However, the other insect on the purple coneflower – some sort of small grasshopper or katydid, I believe – was my intended subject.”Insect on Purple Conflower

“That is a splendid capture, exceptionally sharp and extremely vivid!” I congratulated the elf, who visibly puffed up with pride.

Butterfly (1)Butterfly (2)I brought up several other images. “You also got some nice images of the Monarch butterflies. They can be difficult to capture, as they don’t tend to stay still very long.”

After we admired the butterfly images, I brought up three other photos. “I am particularly impressed with these close-ups of the two dragonflies and the damselfly. They are tack sharp and the damselfly is especially vibrant. And, like the butterfly, they are difficult insects to capture this well as they tend to flit rather than alight.”

After Cleric and I made a few more positive comments, my Arrogant One asked, “What about the photos of the animals? To me, they seem lacking. I am certain I could have achieved better results if I could but coax them nearer and get them to pose.”

“Well, let’s see. Let’s examine the birds first.” I paused and studied the photos. “The fledgling American Robins might not be as sharp as some of your other photos, but they are cute images of a baby bird.”

My Arrogant One hung on every word as I critiqued his photos, nodding his understanding.

“The soft focus on the Blue Jay adds interest. It almost looks like a watercolor.”

Blue Jay

The elf nodded and looked pleased.

“I think you tried to get a little too close with the Downy Woodpecker. The focus is not as sharp as it might have been if you had just pulled away a bit. But the mouthful of suet and the reflection in the bird’s eye lend interest to the image.”

Downy Woodpecker

The elf studied the photo. “I see what you mean.”

“The images of the Hairy Woodpecker and the Red-bellied Woodpecker on the tree trunks are outstanding, not only as portraits of the birds but as behavioral studies, the way they show the birds in their natural surroundings.”

That comment garnered another proud smile.

“With the Red-winged Blackbird, you again used lighting to your advantage. The bird can be clearly seen, with a lot of definition to the feathers. Even the eye is visible, which can be difficult with a black eye on a black bird.”

Red-winged Blackbird

Another nod and a proud smile.

“And, finally, you couldn’t ask for a cuter shot of the Song Sparrow taking a dust bath. Again, it is a sharp portrait as well as a good behavioral image.”

Song Sparrow taking a dust bath

The elf was absolutely beaming.

I brought up the last five pictures. “Now the shots you got of the Eastern Chipmunks and the Eastern Cottontail bunnies are adorable.”

“Adorable?” My Arrogant One scoffed. “Just because they are, in your opinion, adorable animals, it does not follow that my images of them are any good.”

Eastern Chipmunk (2)Eastern Chipmunk“Oh, but they are!” Cleric gushed. “Look at the raised paw on the first chipmunk, and the stuffed cheeks on the second one. As Mistress said of several of your other photos, they are excellent portraits and wonderful studies in the behavior of the animals.”

The elf looked mollified. “And the rabbits?”

“The two shots of the bunnies that were eating are solid behavior studies, but the last one is, in my opinion, the best of the three.” I pointed. “The look of curiosity and boldness on that bunny’s face is priceless!”

Eastern Cottontail baby (3)

My Arrogant One wrinkled his brow. He nodded slowly, then asked, “Do you consider me the best of your characters at photography?”

I studied the elf’s face before I answered. “Is it important that you be the best?”

Arrogant OneHe glanced at Cleric and seemed reticent to say anything. Finally, he hung his head and shrugged. “It would be nice to be the best at something.”

Then, without another word, he jumped up from his chair and dashed out of the room.

Elf facing rightCleric and I sat, gaping after the departing elf. This was a side of my Arrogant One I had not seen before. From the look on her face, I don’t believe Cleric had ever seen it, either.

Finally, Cleric spoke. “Mistress?”

“Yes?”Cleric and camera

“I had hoped that I would learn to be the best photographer. Somehow, though, I do not believe it is as important to me as it is to your Arrogant One.”

I nodded again. “I wonder what makes it so important to him.”

“You do not know?” Somehow, my Bounty Hunter had entered the room unnoticed.

“No, I don’t.” I frowned.

Bounty Hunter full body 2Arrogant One full bodyMy Bounty Hunter smiled wistfully. “In our world, your Arrogant One was one of the most renowned illusionists in the elven kingdom until something happened, and he was forced into exile. Later, he became something even more important. He became accustomed to being treated with respect and deference, but never forgot what it was like to be scorned and humiliated. Here in your world, he is just an arrogant elf, not respected for anything. He is not the best illusionist, not the best at communicating with animals, not the best horseman, not the best with weapons, not the best at anything, really, except maybe causing trouble and dissension. He often feels that same humiliation he once knew in exile.”

He paused and let Cleric and I consider this before continuing. “So, when we went on that nature walk and you praised his photos, he thought he had found something at which he could excel.”

 

I nodded. “And that is why it is important to him. He needs at least one thing that will garner him praise and not derision.”

My Bounty Hunter smiled and saluted as he left my office. Cleric sat silently for many long moments before rising. “I think I will go ask your Arrogant One to teach me how to use light to make my photos better. And maybe I can help coax some animals into posing for him.”

I smiled and nodded. As she left, I turned back to my computer. I still had a blog to write. I wondered if my Arrogant One would object to me using some of his photos in my blog.

My Arrogant One and I hope you have enjoyed his photos. I can assure you he is very proud of them, and would love to hear from you if you like them, too.

Be sure to return next week for more of the adventures and misadventures of my little band of displaced characters. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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News

News

telephone1Backyard 050I hung up the phone and hurried out of my office. I went upstairs and stepped through the French doors onto the deck. I squinted and raised a hand to shield my eyes from the bright sun as I scanned the yard. I saw my Foreman, my Young Hero, and my Gypsy exercising their illusory horses, performing complicated maneuvers similar to those my Foreman would have used when he was a commander in the elite King’s Guard in his own world.

Dwarf and hamI looked around the rest of the yard, but didn’t see any of my other characters, so I went back inside. I headed for the kitchen, figuring it was the best place to look for at least one of my characters. Sure enough, my Old Dwarf didn’t disappoint. There he was, rummaging through the refrigerator, looking for a wee snack as he termed the full ham and the two loaves of bread he was appropriating.

“You do know it’s only an hour until lunch, right?” I raised my eyebrow as two jars of pickles, and a gallon each of coleslaw, potato salad, and pasta salad joined the food he had spread out on the kitchen table.

Dwarf and food

“Eh?” The old reprobate’s eyes widened in surprise. “Be it thet late already?” He opened the refrigerator again and snatched a six-pack of root beer. “I be havin’ ta be hurryin’ then, or I will na be done me snack in time ta be eatin’ me lunch.”

I shook my head. I knew better than to argue, so I just changed the subject. “I just saw my Foreman and the lads working their horses, but I can’t find anyone else. Do you know where the rest of the gang is?”

My Old Dwarf slapped a ham sandwich together and took a big bite. He talked around the mouthful of food, spewing crumbs all through his beard. “Yermisserbenookiniscar…”

I held up my hand. “Would you please learn some manners? Not only is that gross, I can’t understand a word you’re saying.”

Miles waving from carThe dwarf swallowed his half-chewed food, almost choking, then washed it down with a full can of soda. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and began again. “I be sayin’ thet yer mister been tookin’ ’is car inta tha place wot be fixin’ it.”

“I know where my husband is. What about everyone else?

“Wale, I been seein’ tha annoyin’ elfie oot in tha front yard earlier. He been prack-tee-sizin’ wit thet camera. His sidekick, yer Bounty Hunter, been wit ’em, but dinna been lookin’ too happy aboot it.” He paused and stroked his grizzled beard. “An’ tha goodly lass been goin’ off early this mornin’ wit tha magic lass an’ tha big beastie. They be gittin’ low on bits an’ bobs fer their spells, an’ be needin’ ta be collectin’ some bo-tan-i-cals.”

 

I nodded, trying not to look disappointed. “Okay, I guess I’ll see everyone at lunch.” I looked pointedly at all the food the dwarf had piled up on the table. “That is, if there’s anything left for lunch!”

ConversationWhen we were all assembled for lunch, I was eager to share some news, but everyone was chattering away. Miles was telling me what repairs the mechanic had made to the car that morning; my Foreman and the lads were discussing equestrian maneuvers; Cleric, Sorceress, and Dragon were cataloging the botanicals and spell components they had collected; and my Arrogant One was crowing to my bored Bounty Hunter about the beautiful photos he had taken in the front yard. Only my Old Dwarf remained unconcerned about the conversations around him, digging into his lunch as if it had been days rather than minutes since his last meal.

On phone with AnnaWhen it looked like everyone was finished, I cleared my throat and announced. “I had a phone call from Anna, if anyone’s interested.”

Everyone looked up and gave me their full attention.

Gypsy“From Anna? Of course, we’re interested!” My Gypsy’s eyes widened with interest.

Elf facing right“Anna called? Oh, I hope there is good news!” Cleric leaned forward to hear.Young Hero close-up

“How are Colton and Blue?” My Young Hero also joined the conversation.

“Well, Anna said after Clara and Rocky visited, Colton made a determined effort to make friends with Blue.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/05/26/an-anxious-day/

“Did he have any luck?” My Gypsy almost held his breath as he awaited my answer.

I tilted my head and rubbed my jaw with my thumb. “Not at first. But a strange thing happened. Anna made arrangements to take Blue to the facility that trained Peaches, who we knew as Mystery, to have him evaluated. She wanted to make sure Blue had the potential to work with a blind rider before she and Colton invested too much time on the pony . . . and before Colton became attached to Blue.”

“That makes sense.” Cleric nodded. “It would be heart wrenching for Colton if he became attached to the pony and then they found out Blue was not suitable for him.”

I nodded. “While one of the trainers was evaluating Blue, she suddenly had the feeling she knew the pony. Since all their animals are microchipped, it was easy to confirm.”

“Microchipped? What is that?” Sorceress furrowed her brow.

“Yes, I have never heard that word.” My Bounty Hunter leaned in to hear.

microchipMicrochipping a horseI sighed and raked my hand through my hair as I tried to think of a way to explain microchipping to a group of medieval characters. “Well, a microchip is an electronic device about the size of a grain of rice. It is like a computer chip in that it contains information that can be used to identify an animal in case the animal is lost or stolen. The microchip is implanted in an equine’s nuchal ligament, which is just below the base of the mane, halfway between the horse’s poll and withers. Then the information contained on the chip can be read with a scanner.”

“I think I understand.” Sorceress nodded, but she and the others still looked confused.

“It sounds like a simple identify spell.” My Arrogant One looked bored.

The others brightened as they thought they understood now. I considered correcting the elf, but decided it was probably the only explanation they really needed. I shrugged.

“Yes, well anyway, when they scanned Blue’s microchip and checked their records, they found Blue had been trained at their facility many years ago. He had been matched up to a small boy who had Cerebral Palsy.”

John, Casey, and Old Blue“A boy?” My Gypsy frowned. “But John said Blue belonged to his daughter.”

“Yes, but remember John said he purchased the pony at an auction, not from a training facility.” My Young Hero steepled his hands as he spoke, and looked to me for further information.

I nodded. “The people at the training center have no way of knowing what happened to Blue after he left their facility. Sometimes a pony’s rider will outgrow the animal and move on to a larger horse. Sometimes the rider passes away. Sometimes the rider’s financial circumstances change, and they are no longer able to keep the horse. The animals are supposed to be returned to the facility if they are no longer needed, but sometimes, like with Blue, that doesn’t happen.”

My Young Hero raised an eyebrow. “So, when John and his daughter found Blue at an auction, they had no way of knowing he was a trained therapy horse, just what Casey needed. Boy, talk about finding a hidden treasure!”

I agreed. “Yup.”

“So, if Blue is a trained therapy horse, will he be suitable for Colton?” Cleric fidgeted with the belt on her robe.

Colton and Blue in round pen“Anna said the trainers are going to work with Blue and Colton. They already had their first session. The trainers put Blue on a lunge line and took him and Colton into the round pen. With the trainer maintaining control through the lunge line, they let Colton ride the pony. Blue was a perfect gentleman on the lunge line, and he responded to all Colton’s cues, so it might work out.” I smiled. “But the most encouraging thing happened after the session. Colton was helping put Blue back in his stall, and he held out an apple for the pony. Instead of walking away like he’s been doing, Blue took the apple and stood next to Colton while he ate it.”Colton giving Blue an apple

“That’s a big step! I bet Colton’s happy.” My Gypsy wore an ear-to-ear smile.

I furrowed my brow. “Well, it’s a good first step, and maybe Blue will come around in time, but Anna said Colton still needs time to work through his own feelings. He still misses Peaches and he feels guilty trying to make friends with Blue. He’s doing it mostly because of what you told him.” I directed my remarks to my Gypsy. “Anna said you made a big impression on Colton when you explained how much Blue misses his former owner, and how depressed the pony is. Colton’s doing his best to put his own feelings aside and help Blue. Anna said her son told her I have you and my relatives and friends to help me with the loss I’ve suffered, but Blue only has me.”

“He is a very empathetic child!” Cleric swiped a tear away. “I hope it works out for them.”

I got up and started clearing the table. “Anna said she’ll keep us in the loop, let us know how Colton and Blue make out with their training and their bonding. And she’ll let us know when they come home, if we want to visit.”

“You bet we will!” My Gypsy whooped, and my other characters nodded in agreement.

Be sure to join us again. Maybe the phone will ring, and Anna will share more news about Colton and Blue. In the meantime, maybe we can persuade my Arrogant One to show us the photos he took in the front yard. Or maybe we can discover what is behind his sudden passion for photography.

We’re always glad to have you along for the adventures and misadventures of my little band of displaced characters. And remember – we’ll leave the porch light on for you!

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An Anxious Day

An Anxious Day

Cleric popped into my officeCleric popped into my office for the third time that morning. “Have you heard from Anna yet?”

I folded my arms in front of me and frowned. I was tired and cranky. It had been a late night followed by an early morning, and I had a lot of work to do. I glared at Cleric. “What did I tell you the last two times you asked?”

“Ummmm…you said you would let me know as soon as you heard?” Cleric blushed and lowered her eyes.

I continued glaring. “And did I let you know anything?”

Cleric looked up and furrowed her brow. “Well, no, Mistress. That is why I am asking.”

I groaned and raked a hand through my hair. “Did it ever occur to you that I have not yet let you know anything because I have not yet heard anything?”

“Maybe I should come back later.” Cleric beat a hasty retreat.

“Yes,” I called after her loudly. “Maybe you should come back after I let you know I heard something!”

Old Dwarf popped into my office“Eh, now how kin ye be lettin’ tha lass be knowin’ ye been hearded summat iffin she do na be comin’ back?” My Old Dwarf entered my office and plopped himself down in a chair opposite me.

“Why are you bothering me?” I scowled at the old reprobate as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a half-eaten sandwich.

The dwarf gave me a look of pure innocence. He took a big bite of his sandwich and talked around the mouthful of food. “I be botherin’ ye, lass?”

“Ye be, er, I mean you are.” I averted my eyes and tried to ignore the bits of food that spewed onto the dwarf’s beard as he chomped his food open-mouthed. “What do you want?”

“I jus’ be wonderin’ wot been happenin’ las’ night at thet auction place ye an’ tha udders been off ta.”

I heaved a big sigh and gave him the short version. “Anna got a pony for Colton.”Anna, Blue, Colton

“Eh?” The dwarf raised one eyebrow and waited. “There mus’ be more ta tha story ’en jus’ thet.”

I glowered at the rotund figure. “Why do you want to know?”

“Jus’ cure-ee-os-ka-tee.”

“Yeah, well, curiosity killed the cat.”

“Wot cat?”

ColtonI heaved a bigger sigh but decided the only way to get rid of the dwarf and get back to work was to give him the rest of the story. “Okay, do you remember Colton, the boy whose pony showed up here several years ago?”

Mystery being led“Aye, he be tha owner o tha wee beastie ye been callin’ Mystery.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2017/12/31/mystery/

“That’s right, the one whose name was actually Peaches. She was a therapy animal, specially trained to work with Colton, who is blind.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/03/25/mystery-solved/

“Aye, I be rememberin’.”

“And you know Peaches died recently.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/sad-news/

The dwarf nodded and took another big bite of his sandwich.

Blue with ears pinned back“Well, shortly after we received the news that Peaches had died, Cleric had a dream. In the dream, Peaches told her where to find another suitable pony for Colton.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/05/05/a-new-mystery/

“So’s ye been tellin’ Colton’s mam aboot tha dream, an’ she been getting’ tha pony fer her laddie?”

I shook my head. “No, we couldn’t tell her about the dream. We could never explain that. But we did get her to go to the auction with us.”

My Old Dwarf grunted and stuffed the last bite of his sandwich into his mouth.

I saw he wasn’t going to budge from the chair until he heard every last detail, so I related all that had happened the previous evening at the auction. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/05/12/what-will-we-find-at-the-auction/ and https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/05/19/a-good-deal-or-crazy/

I finished with another sigh. “Since it was so late when we finished getting the pony settled, Anna decided to wait until today to tell Colton about it. She said she’d give me a call later today and let me know what happened.”

Just then, Cleric peeked into the office again. “Any word?”

Before I could explode, my Old Dwarf jumped up and hustled Cleric away, scolding her loudly. “Iffin tha lass been hearin’ anythin’, she been tellin’ ye. Now, ye do na be botherin’ ’er no more taday. She be busy.”

I rolled my eyes, shook my head, and tried to get back to work.

When the phone finally rang about a half-hour later, I checked the caller ID and snatched up the receiver.

On phone with Anna“Anna! What’s the good word?” I held my breath, hoping that Colton had been pleased with his new pony.

“Sorry, Marge, there is no good word today.” The voice on the phone was weary. “When I told Colton at breakfast this morning I had gotten him a new pony, he threw a fit.” Anna did an impression of Colton’s voice. “How could you do that? Peaches can’t just be replaced! She wasn’t a saddle or a truck or a pair of shoes. She was family!”

Anna paused, then continued in a normal tone. “And then he stormed off and locked himself in his bedroom. I could hear him in there crying for over an hour.”

“Oh, Anna, I’m so sorry! I knew it would be hard introducing a new pony so soon after he lost Peaches, but I didn’t think he would react like that. He didn’t even go out to meet Blue?”

“He wouldn’t hear of it.”

I apologized again. “Is there anything we can do?”Petting Old Blue

I heard Anna sigh. “No, but thanks. I’ll give it a few days and see if Colton will at least go out to meet Blue. If not, I guess I’ll have to return the pony to John.”

After promising to let me know if anything else happened, Anna hung up, and I went off in search of Cleric.

* * *

Old Dwarf and ClericThe aged dwarf led Cleric into the conference room. He looked into her cornflower-blue eyes, wet with unshed tears, and he spoke gently to her. “Now, lassie, yer heart be in tha right place, but I do na be thinkin’ thet ye be thinkin’ this through.”

“Wha . . .what do you mean?” Cleric hiccupped with the effort to control her tears.

“Lassie, ye be tha one wot been knowin’ Mystery better’en any o’ us. An’ ye be tha one wot Mystery been talkin’ ta in tha dream. Ye be tha one wot be knowin’ wit’oot a single doubt thet tha new pony be tha one tha laddie be needin’. But ye do na be tha one wot be needin’ ta be talkin’ ta tha laddie.”

Cleric’s brow furrowed. “Why not?”

Gypsy, Old Dwarf and ClericBefore the Old Dwarf could answer, the conference room door opened. The Gypsy lad walked into the room and joined the conversation. “I could not help overhearing . . .”

“Ye coulda been helpin’ it, laddie, iffin yer great big ear dinna been pressin’ agin tha door!” The twinkle in the dwarf’s emerald green eyes belied his annoyance at the lad.

Ignoring the jibe, the Gypsy addressed Cleric. “I agree with the dwarf. You are not the one to talk to Colton. I am.”

When Cleric started to protest, the Gypsy cut her off. “Look, you may be the one who knew Mystery best, but I think I am the one who bonded with Colton.”

Cleric tilted her head, considering her friend’s words. Finally, she nodded. “Very well. But I will go with you.”

The Gypsy turned to go. “We will take the horses.”

Cleric grabbed his arm. “Dragon released the spell after the trail ride last September. I do not have a horse.”

Dragon appears“I will create another illusory horse for you.”

The three companions jumped at the voice. They looked around and saw Dragon shimmering into sight, curled up in front of her ersatz fireplace.

The dwarf gaped at Dragon. “By tha great god’s beard! Be ye tryin’ ta be stoppin’ me heart in me chest? Where did ye be jumpin’ up from?”

Dragon puffed a small cloud of black smoke from her nostrils. “I have found it advantageous at times to remain concealed. Usually that means fewer disturbances of my nap.”

The big beast turned to Cleric. “I presume you want the same horse as before?”

Cleric nodded, and Dragon began intoning an incantation.

Just two hours later, Cleric and the Gypsy dismounted in Anna’s driveway. In the nearby paddock, Blue studiously ignored the newcomers but Anna’s dapple-gray mare, Rosie, whinnied a loud greeting at their approach. Anna appeared at the barn door moments later to see what was disturbing Rosie.

riding up to Colton's

“Clara! Rocky!” Anna called to them, addressing them by the names they had used before. “What brings you here?”

The Gypsy smiled. “We were just taking our horses out for a bit of relaxation on the trail, and we found ourselves on your road. We did not think you would mind an unannounced visit.”

“Of course not! You’re always welcome to drop in.”

“How is Old Blue settling in?” Cleric led her horse over to the fence and reached toward the pony to pet him, but he walked away.

Clara shrugged. “He isn’t a kicker or a biter. When Rosie ran up to him, he just ignored her and walked away. He pretty much ignores me, too.”

“And Colton?” The Gypsy furrowed his brow. “How is he with Colton?”

Clara sighed, and slumped her shoulders. “Colton refuses to come out and meet Blue. I don’t know how to convince him.”

The Gypsy pursed his lips and squared his shoulders. “Perhaps if I talked with him?”

Anna shrugged again. “Be my guest. He’s in his bedroom – upstairs, first door on the right.”

Rocky and ColtonThe Gypsy handed his horse’s reins to Cleric and walked to the house. He found Colton in his bedroom, the door wide open. Remembering Colton was blind, the Gypsy called to him before entering the room. “Colton? Hi! Remember me? Rocky? Clara and I were out riding, and we thought we would stop by and visit. May I come in?”

“Sure. I remember you.” Colton sniffled and rubbed at his eyes. The Gypsy could see the boy had been crying. Before he could say anything, Colton turned toward him and blurted, “Do you know what my mother did? She got a new pony for me! It’s as if Peaches was no different than a pair of shoes I outgrew, or a truck that broke down.” The boy balled his hands into fists, and he punched his pillow. “Peaches can never be replaced!”

Boy_on_a_Horse“Of course not!” The Gypsy sat on the bed next to Colton and put his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Peaches was very special. She was more than just your pony. She was your friend. Friends can never be replaced.”

“That’s right!” Colton nodded. “I knew you’d understand!”

“Oh, I do!” The Gypsy’s voice caught in his throat. “My family raised horses. It was my job to gentle the colts once they were weaned. Every year, I made friends with these colts, and every year they left for new homes once I had gentled them.”colt

“That’s horrible! You lost your friends over and over again?” Colton’s blind eyes widened.

“I did, but then the next year I would have more colts to gentle, and I would make new friends. I came to realize that none of the colts I helped raise could ever be replaced, but I had enough room in my heart for each new colt that came along. I didn’t stop missing the ones that were gone, but I did make new friends that helped me not miss the old ones so much.”

Colton didn’t say anything for a long time. When he did speak, his voice held a new note of understanding. “You’re saying that this new pony isn’t to replace Peaches, but to help me cope with my loss?”

Coping with loss

The Gypsy nodded and smiled. “That is exactly what I am saying. But there is more to it, something you do not know about the pony.”

“What’s that, Rocky?” Colton sounded curious.

John, Casey, and Old Blue“Old Blue used to belong to a little girl, a girl who couldn’t walk and had to use a wheelchair. She and Blue were best friends. Blue took care of her the way Peaches took care of you. But a few months ago, the little girl died. Blue lost his friend, and now he’s just as sad as you are. He needs someone to help him cope with his loss, too.”

Colton frowned. “Is that the truth, Rocky? The pony’s owner died? You aren’t just saying that to make me feel sorry for the pony?”

“Colton, I do not lie to my friends.”

Colton paused, and furrowed his brow in concentration. Finally, he squared his shoulders and set his jaw. “Rocky, will you introduce me to the pony?”

“Sure I will, Colton! I have a feeling you two are going to be very good friends.”

Will Colton really give the pony a fair chance? Will Blue give Colton a chance? Be sure to come back next week and see what happens when Colton and Blue meet. I’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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Colorful Autumn Nature Walk

Colorful Autumn Nature Walk

Arrogant One facing rightstill raining

“I cannot believe it is still raining!” My Arrogant One stomped his foot and scowled as he looked out the door at the gloomy drizzle.

ShedBounty Hunter

“And I cannot believe you have not yet repaired the leaky roof in the shed.” My Bounty Hunter glowered at his companion.

My Arrogant One drew himself up, rocked back on his heels, and grasped his cloak in both hands. “I have done my part. I do not see you offering to help!”

Dragon breathing smoke

Dragon shook her scaly head, and black smoke drifted from her snout. “I cannot believe you two are still complaining about everything! Did you learn nothing from our recent exercise, the Gratitude Scavenger Hunt?”

(Part 1) https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/09/23/were-doing-what/
(Part 2) https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/09/30/gratitude-scavenger-hunt/

My Arrogant One rounded on the bulky beast. “Oh, and I am to understand that by virtue of the fact you participated in that assignment, you are suddenly Little Miss Sunshine?”

Dragon blinked. “I do not believe there was anything sudden about it. I have always had a sunny disposition.”

What?” My Arrogant One and my Bounty Hunter screeched in unison, and several other of my characters doubled over in laughter.

sorceress-facing-right“You are one of the most mercurial individuals I know.” Sorceress raised an eyebrow at her reptilian friend. “I am always tempted to consult my star charts before approaching you, to determine if you are more likely to aid me or incinerate me!”Elf

Cleric nodded, and she fidgeted with the silken cord belting her robes. “I fear I must agree with Sorceress. You are subject to extreme mood variations.”

dragon looking rightfireplace2Dragon harrumphed and glowered at her companions. “I see. Well, you do not have to worry about approaching me at all. I am going to the conference room and bask in front of my fireplace.” She stomped away in high dudgeon, and the rest of my characters resumed their complaining.

Two days later, the change in both the weather and my character’s attitudes was nothing short of amazing. The day dawned clear and bright and unseasonably warm after several weeks of cool, rainy weather. My characters chatted amiably during a rushed early morning meal. Anxious to be enjoying themselves outdoors, they gobbled their breakfast and dispersed to their individual activities shortly after first light.

My Foreman and the lads headed to the illusory stable to spend the day working their horses. Cleric, Sorceress, and Dragon went out to gather botanicals for their spell components. My Old Dwarf went with them to look for rocks and pieces of wood that might prove suitable for carving.

camera for blogMy husband saw me gathering my camera equipment and gave me a big smile. “No need to ask what you’re planning! Nature photography! Do you have someplace special in mind?”

I returned his smile and held up a brochure from a nearby wildlife preserve and nature center. “I think I’m going back to this preserve. I really enjoyed it last time I went. It has a variety of habitats – a big lake, a hardwood forest and a native pine woodlands, wetlands, prairie, and savanna. What are your plans for the day?”

Miles sighed. “I need to take my car in for servicing today. Then I have to stop by one of the lumber yards and pick up some roofing shingles for the shed.”

I nodded. “Well, okay, I’ll try not to miss you too much!” I gave him a hug and a quick peck on the cheek before we were interrupted.

“Mistress?”

I turned around and saw my Arrogant One and my Bounty Hunter standing there. To my experienced eye, they appeared suspect.

I furrowed my brow. “Yes?”

“Would it be possible for us to join you today?”

I had rarely heard my Arrogant One sound so meek. My frown deepened. “Why?” Realizing how rude I sounded, I backpedaled. “I mean, why would you want to? I didn’t think hiking and nature photography held much interest for either of you.”

“Quite the contrary!” My Bounty Hunter’s eyes widened, and he assumed an open and guileless demeanor. “We have enjoyed past nature walks we have taken with you.”

“And we must wait for Master Miles to purchase the necessary supplies, so we can repair the shed roof. Therefore, we have nothing pressing on our agenda for this day.” My Arrogant One seemed nervous, clutching his cloak and shuffling his foot.

I hesitated, an uneasy feeling coming over me as I watched my two characters standing there awaiting my decision, displaying uncharacteristic patience and courtesy. “Well, okay, but you know the rules. You’ll wear modern garments and take no weapons or magic paraphernalia.”staff

My Arrogant One’s eyes widened. “Not even my staff? You yourself use a walking stick, and my staff functions perfectly as such.”Walking stick - Marge

I narrowed my eyes and considered. “Very well, you may take a walking stick – but remember that is to be its only function.”Walking stick - Bounty Hunter

My Bounty Hunter’s mouth curved into a smarmy smile. “Then I, too, will bring one – I have a thick longbow that easily doubles as a walking stick.”

My uneasy feeling grew stronger.

“Okay, but I want no trouble from either of you on the trail today. If we encounter other people, they best not be able to tell your walking sticks are anything other than just that.”

They both nodded, but as I turned, I thought I saw them exchange furtive glances.

“Meet me at the car in 15 minutes.”

*  *  *

It took less than a half hour to drive to the preserve. I parked near the nature center and the three of us piled out of the car. I grabbed my camera and equipment, and we all took our walking sticks. I locked the car and pointed to a path exiting the parking lot to my left. “Let’s start with the trail to the lake.”

“Why not start at the nature center? We are right here.” My Bounty Hunter pointed to the building surrounded by bird feeders adjacent to the parking lot.

I shook my head. “I’d like to finish our walk there. Right now, there’s too much activity around that area. School groups go in and out all morning, and it can get noisy. The birds tend to stay away. But things quiet down in the afternoon, and the staff refills the feeders then, so our chances of seeing birds there will be better at that time.”

My two characters nodded. I led off, expecting them to follow me. Instead, they hung back a bit. I thought I heard them arguing, but when I glanced back over my shoulder, they were already scurrying to catch up with me.

We had not yet gotten out of the parking lot when my Bounty Hunter grabbed me by the arm. I yelped and pulled away.

He raised an eyebrow. “It is a good thing Cleric is not with us. She would be squealing right now.” He used his walking stick to point to a reddish-brown snake slithering across the blacktop.October Hike - snake 2

I ducked my head sheepishly, realizing my Bounty Hunter’s intentions had been harmless. “Uh, yeah. It looks like a Red-bellied Snake.” I took a few quick shots of it before it reached the edge of the asphalt and disappeared into the grass, and we continued walking toward the lake.

My Arrogant One studied the trees. “The foliage is surprisingly colorful! I did not think this would be a good year, with the earlier drought followed by the heavy rain over the last few weeks.”

I nodded. “I had the same misgivings. Glad to see we were wrong.” I took a few photos of the trees.

As we walked toward the lake, I pointed out the animals I saw, identifying them for my two companions as I took photos. “There’s an American Robin in that tree. There’s a White-breasted Nuthatch on that tree trunk, and another hanging upside down from that pine bough. And there’s an Eastern Chipmunk on that rock in front of the fallen log.”

We passed out of the woods and found ourselves next to a large lake.

“Canada Geese.” My Arrogant One pointed. “We have them on our pond, and we seem to see them on every outing.” He leaned on his staff and watched the birds swimming in the clear blue water.

I nodded, maneuvering to a good spot to get some photos. “They’re very common.”

“Look!” My Bounty Hunter pointed to some birds soaring silently overhead. “Those strange looking birds are not Canada Geese. What are they?”

“American White Pelicans. They’re one of the largest birds you’ll see in North America, and they have massive bills that they use to scoop up fish.” I tried to capture a few images of the birds in flight.

The squadron of pelicans landed on the far side of the lake, too distant for my camera to get any good shots. We left the lake and took the trail to the left, skirting a large wetland adjacent to the lake. We found two more Canada Geese there and I took their photos.

Then my Arrogant One pointed. “Are those not the tall birds you like so much? I believe you called them Sandhill Cranes.”

I nodded and smiled, taking photos of two crossing the meadow toward the tree line.

My Bounty Hunter tapped me on the shoulder and pointed. “Another one.” I snapped a quick photo as it tried to hide in the tangle of vegetation.

October hike - Sandhill Crane 3

As I turned, I spotted a few American Goldfinches eating the seeds of the wildflowers in the field, and I stopped to take several photos. “They flit around so quickly, it’s hard to get a clear image of them.”

After I got their pictures, I took some shots of a tall tree in the middle of the meadow, decked out in its coat of autumn yellow, then took several more photos of the fall foliage.

As I turned around, my companions were standing a few feet away, huddled together, examining their walking sticks and holding a whispered conversation. I furrowed my brow but held my tongue as they quickly rejoined me on the trail.

As we approached another section of woods, my Arrogant One pointed at something with his staff. “I am seeing a lot of similar-looking birds in the trees and bushes along the forest edge. What are they?”

“Fall warblers can be very confusing, but I believe they are Palm Warblers.” I took aim and snapped a few quick photos.

“That one looks different.” My Bounty Hunter pointed at another bird in a nearby tree. “Is that the one the Gypsy identified for me once as a White-throated Sparrow?”

I nodded. “I’m impressed you remembered!” I snapped the photo.

October Hike - White-throated Sparrow 1

My Bounty Hunter also spotted a Blue Jay high up in a bare tree, and my Arrogant One pointed out an Eastern Bluebird on an old fence post. I got photos of them both. Then, just before we entered the next wooded area, we found another snake. “This one looks like a Garter Snake.” I snapped his photo as well.

“Look here.” My Arrogant One pointed. “There are several different types of berries along this path.”

“They’re good food for the birds.” I took some photos of the berries before looking up at the nearby trees.

“Look! The berries have attracted some Cedar Waxwings. Those birds are basically fruit eaters. In the fall, hundreds of them can gather and strip a berry patch in minutes.” I scanned the trees. “This is a very small flock.”

“That one looks different.” My Arrogant One pointed to one of a pair of birds sitting on a bare branch. “But the one with it looks like the Cedar Waxwings you just showed us.”

“They’re both Cedar Waxwings. The one that looks different is a juvenile. I’m surprised there aren’t more with the flock.” I focused my camera and got a shot of the two birds.

October Hike - Cedar Waxwing with juvie

We continued along the path, and I took some more photos of the trees and wildflowers. Once again, my companions lagged behind. They were again whispering, but they quickly stopped and hurried to catch up with me.

Soon we were back at the nature center. There were numerous birds and critters feeding on the seed that had fallen from the feeders, or watching from the nearby trees. I identified a Red Squirrel, another Eastern Chipmunk, some Fox Sparrows, some Dark-eyed Juncos, some more White-throated Sparrows, and both male and female Northern Cardinals.

Finally, I figured I had taken enough photos, and I turned to my companions. “Ready to go home?”

“Already?” They both seemed disappointed.

“Miles will probably be home by now with those roofing supplies you need. And I need to start making dinner if we want to eat tonight.”

My two characters nodded reluctantly, and we walked across the parking lot to the car. As we took our places in the vehicle, I wondered about their behavior, their whispered conversations, and the furtive glances I thought I had seen them exchanging several times. After turning it over in my mind, I decided maybe I was just being paranoid. I decided it best not to spoil the good time we had had by confronting them. If something was afoot, I would probably find out soon enough.

Be sure to join us again next week. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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Gratitude Scavenger Hunt

Gratitude Scavenger Hunt

6-19-13 - Miles 001“You know, it’s been blissfully quiet around here the past few days. Ever since you insisted your characters participate in that . . . what was it called? The Gratitude Scavenger Hunt? (https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/09/23/were-doing-what/) . . . we’ve hardly heard a peep out of them!” My husband sighed contentedly. “They don’t even take meals with us.”

“I know.” I smiled at him. “They really seem to be enjoying it. They even asked if they could have a few more days to work on it.”

“Are they all still working downstairs in the conference room?” Miles furrowed his brow and tilted his head.

“Yeah, why?”

He chuckled. “Well, it’s been four days now, and I haven’t heard anyone killing your Arrogant One yet.”

I laughed. “Well, Dragon arranged individual offices off the conference room, so everyone could work in private without interfering with each other or getting on each other’s nerves.”

Miles shook his head. “I still don’t understand how the conference room works. It looks different every time I go in there – a different size, a different shape . . .”

I gave his hand a squeeze as I tugged him out of his chair. “Don’t try to understand it, honey. It’s magic. Let’s just get some dinner.”

“The leftover corn chowder?” His eyes gleamed.

I nodded. “Yup. And some roasted cauliflower and broccoli.”

“Now, that’s magic! Race you to the kitchen!”

*  *  *

dragon talking

“Everyone has finished collecting or creating their items or images, or preparing their illusions, for the Gratitude Scavenger Hunt, Mistress.” Dragon’s maw stretched into a wide, toothy smile and her tail twitched with excitement.

“Very well. Let’s go down and see what everyone has.”

Miles and I followed the bulky reptile down the steps and into the conference room. Everyone’s items were displayed on the huge round table in the middle of the room. My characters milled around, each slowly taking their place next to their individual items.

“How do you wish to do this, Mistress?” Cleric fidgeted with her rope belt and shifted her weight from foot to foot.

“Well, let’s see.” I rubbed my chin while I considered several approaches. “I think the best idea is for me to read off each category from the list, and everyone can take turns presenting their items for that category.”

I looked around at my assembled characters, who nodded their understanding and agreement. I was surprised how nervous they all appeared. Cleric wasn’t the only one shuffling back and forth on her feet, and I thought I saw several characters sweating. I hoped that meant they had taken the activity seriously, perhaps had even learned something from it.

I picked up my list and began. “The first item you were to find was something that makes a beautiful sound. Who wants to start?”

gypsy-facing-rightMeadowlark singing - framedMy Gypsy eagerly stepped forward and held up a picture of a bird. “I chose a Meadowlark. Their sweet song is a magnificent sound.” He whistled, perfectly mimicking the slurred, flute-like melody of the Eastern Meadowlark.

Young hero 2horse neighing in frameMy Young Hero stepped forward next. “I think a horse makes a beautiful sound, neighing to a friend, or whinnying to greet the day.” He held aloft a picture taken from a magazine.

mens-991728_1280Horses galloping - framedMy Foreman nodded and raised his picture. “I think the sound a horse makes is beautiful, too, only I selected the thundering sound of their hooves as a herd of steeds gallops across a field.”

dragon looking rightWind blowing - framedDragon took center stage next, holding aloft a photo. “I think the sound of a loud wind rushing through trees is beautiful. I enchanted this picture to produce that sound.” As she murmured an incantation, the sound of rushing wind filled the room for a few moments.

Elf facing rightwind-chimesAs the sound died down, Cleric stepped forward, holding a small wind chime she had constructed. “I do not believe this would withstand the force of the wind from Dragon’s enchanted image, but I think when the chimes are tickled by a gentle breeze, the sound they produce is most beautiful.” Cleric gently shook the chimes, making a soft tinkling sound.

sorceress-facing-rightWaves lapping against the shore - framedSorceress waited for the melodious chimes to quiet before producing her item, an enchanted image of waves lapping against the shore. “It is the beautiful sound that used to lull me to sleep on my native island.”

Bounty Hunterwaterfall - framed“I am afraid I cannot produce the sound effects, but I chose this photo of a rushing waterfall to depict something that makes a beautiful sound.” My Bounty Hunter showed us the photo.

DwarfDinner gong“Well, I be havin’ sound ee-ffects!” My Old Dwarf grinned as he clanged a triangular gong. “I be thinkin’ there be nuttin’ wat be makin’ a sound as bee-you-tee-full as a dinner bell.”

Arrogant One facing rightThe last of my characters to share his first item, my Arrogant One, stood apart from the group. He was scuffing one foot back and forth in an uncharacteristic display of stage fright. He cleared his throat several times before mumbling his explanation. “The most beautiful sound I have ever heard was produced by an audience clapping and cheering.” He passed his hand over an enchanted image, and the room was filled with thunderous applause, and loud cheers and whistles.

Applause - framed

It took quite a few minutes to get my Arrogant One to silence his enchanted image, as he closed his eyes and basked in the conjured applause. But soon I had my characters back to the task at hand.

We moved quickly through the next four categories.

Lightning stormThe catagory find something that smells amazing produced few surprises, among them being Dragon’s choice of a lightning storm. “Have you ever really smelled the air after you see a huge bolt of lightning?” Her nostrils quivered, and her tail twitched in delight.

Field of wildflowersBounty Hunter’s field full of wildflowers was equally surprising. “What? You think someone in my profession cannot appreciate the delicate fragrance of wildflowers in bloom?”

Catnip was rather predictable as the item Sorceress thought smelled amazing, as was her choice of milk for the next category, find your favorite beverage. Both choices reflected her exotic heritage, and I could almost hear her purring as she made her presentations.milkcatnip

 

 

 

lemonade

Dragon’s choice of lemonade as her favorite beverage, however, was unexpected. “Not too sweet, though.” She grimaced. “Sugar negates the delightful burn of the acid.”

rose-quartzFind something that is your favorite color produced few surprises. Cleric’s choice of rose quartz was predictable. “It is the color associated with the deity whom I serve back in my world.”

Equally predictable in that category were my Old Dwarf’s choice of pewter mugs, my Arrogant One’s selection of gold coins, and my Gypsy’s option of a Northern Cardinal or Redbird.

sunflower

Again, it was Dragon and my Bounty Hunter who surprised me. “And what is wrong with the color of sunflowers?” My Bounty Hunter scoffed.

Sky after sunsetDragon smiled a toothy grin, then explained her choice. “The color of the sky right after sunset is most pleasing to me. It also has a very personal meaning.” She glanced at my Young Hero. “When I was younger, I had not yet developed my ability to change colors. Someone back in my world once likened my color to that of the sky at twilight.”

There were no surprises at all in the category find something useful to you.

fireplace2“Of course, I chose my fireplace.” Dragon looked around, her expression daring anyone to make a remark.

Battle axe“And I be lost wit-out me battle axe.” My Old Dwarf brandished it, then gave the axe head a quick swipe with a polishing cloth.

saddle

My Foreman nodded. “As I would be without a saddle.”

dagger - bullseye

“And I, without my dagger.” My Gypsy flipped it end over end at a target hanging on the wall, scoring a perfect bulls-eye.

 

My Young Hero claimed a bag of holding as his most useful item, while Cleric needed her healing herbs, Sorceress, her scrying bowl, and my Bounty Hunter, a disguise.

Magician's staff“My staff is my most useful item.” My Arrogant One puffed himself up. “It is a focus for my magic, a walking stick, and a weapon. I can also tie a bundle to it and carry it over my shoulder or tie a string to the end for a fishing pole.”

That brought us to the last category – find something to give someone else to make them smile.

Dragon scale 2“The best gift I could give someone to produce a smile would be one of my scales.” Dragon held a small iridescent scale in her hand. “It is not only beautiful, but it is almost indestructible, so the recipient could conceivably have it for a lifetime. It grants powerful protection and has magical properties that can be activated by those with the proper knowledge. How could such a wondrous gift fail to make someone smile?”

Wood carving

My Old Dwarf showed us a small wood carving he had made. “I be thinkin’ thet summat I be takin’ tha time an’ effort ta be makin’ wit me very ownest hands be puttin’ a smile on anyone’s face.”

flowers

My Foreman nodded. “I envy you your talent, my rotund little friend. All I have to offer to put a smile on someone’s face is a posy.”

dried flowers and herbsCleric smiled. “Those flowers would certainly make me smile. I also chose flowers, but mine are an arrangement of dried flowers and herbs.”

 

Charm

 

“I would give someone a charm or a talisman.” My Gypsy displayed his offering.

heart-shaped stonesMy Young Hero admired his friend’s item. “My gift would be similar.” He held out a handful of small rocks. “Nature created these heart-shaped stones. They made me smile, and I am sure they would do the same for anyone to whom I would bequeath them.”

book

“A book has always seemed a much-appreciated gift.” Sorceress held up a tome adorned with flowers.

bottle of wine or spirits

“As is a bottle of fine wine or spirits.” My Bounty Hunter indicated his item.

 

My Arrogant One was the last to present his item. All eyes turned to him, and we waited. He scuffed his toe back and forth on the carpet, and he hung his head. “I have never given a gift to anyone. I have nothing to make another smile.”

My other characters seemed unsurprised. “Selfish people rarely know how to make others smile.” Although Dragon meant it to be a whisper, her voice carried through the room, and I saw my Arrogant One’s face turn scarlet.

Surprisingly, it was my husband who came to the annoying elf’s rescue. Miles walked over to the conference table and picked up my Arrogant One’s staff. He turned to the pompous figure and held out the staff. “Take it.”

Cautiously, obviously fearing a trick, the elf reached out and took hold of the staff.

“Now, perform.” My husband turned and rejoined me and the others watching the elf.

“What?” My Arrogant One furrowed his brow and tilted his head.

“You have a great gift to share, with which to put a smile on everyone’s face. Create some illusions, give a performance. That is what you can give someone else to make them smile.” Miles raised an eyebrow at the elf.

Slowly, a smile spread across my Arrogant One’s face as understanding dawned. He drew himself up, rocked back on his heels, and held his staff aloft. He treated us all to a truly amazing performance of illusory magic and sleight of hand. When it was over, the elf had no need of an enchanted image to create applause.

Performing illusion

Once the hurrahs had died down, I addressed the group. “I hope you all had some fun with this Gratitude Scavenger Hunt. I also hope you learned something from it.”

My characters all nodded and murmured among themselves. Finally, Dragon spoke for the group. “I believe it has become obvious to all of us that complaining is a waste of effort. If we are bored, we can always engage in fruitful and enjoyable activities. We are grateful to you for making us realize this.”

“I think we also learned to just look around us for things for which we can be grateful, like a beautiful sound or smell, a pretty color, a favorite beverage.” My Bounty Hunter nodded toward the conference table holding all the items he and his companions found for the Gratitude Scavenger Hunt.

“And I am grateful to have learned that everyone has something to give to others, and that giving is as pleasurable as receiving.” My Arrogant One smiled.

“Good lessons, all!” I beamed at my characters. “I hope you all keep your feelings of gratitude going forward.”

“Wale, I be real gratitudinal iffin dinner be ready soon.” My Old Dwarf winked and headed for the stairs.

We hope you all enjoyed the Gratitude Scavenger Hunt as much as my characters did, and I hope you enjoyed the insight into each character, with the choices they made for each category. In case you missed anyone’s presentation, here is the list of characters and the items they chose for each category.

Gratitude Scavenger Hunt

Be sure to join us next week for another adventure! We’ll leave the porch light on for you!

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We’re Doing WHAT?

We’re Doing WHAT?

rainMiles and I were in the living room with some of my characters, watching the storm outside. Driving rain pounded against the windows and booming thunder shook the house.

Gypsy close-up“Oh, great! The rain is coming down in buckets!” My Gypsy frowned at the scene unfolding in the yard. He turned away from the French doors to the deck, stomped across the living room, threw himself into a chair, and crossed his arms over his chest. “I am so tired of being stuck inside! First, everyone was sick. Now, it looks like the annual monsoon season we had back in our world! The ducks from the pond are now swimming in the back yard!”Ducks swimming in the yard

Young hero 2“I know!” My Young Hero wore a frown identical to his friend’s. “We have not been able to exercise our horses or go on an outing in weeks! I am going to forget how to ride if we are not able to get to the horses soon!”

Foreman facing right closeupMy Foreman snorted. “We just went on a trail ride three weeks ago. (https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/09/02/an-old-mystery-revisited/) But I agree. I am impatient for the weather to clear, that we may spend another day in the saddle.” He sighed and raked his hand through his hair as he stared at the back yard, now flooding with the overflow from the pond.

Cleric and Sorceress stomped into the room, with Dragon close behind.

Sorceress wrinkled her nose as she looked out the door. “When is this rain going to stop? Cleric and I have need of more botanicals for our spell components!”

Dragon snarled at her companions, and dark smoke spurted from her snout. “Why ask me? I do not control the weather!” She shivered. “It is so damp! I know I am going to get sick again! I need my fire.” She conjured her illusory fireplace and curled up on the floor in front of it.Smoke drifting from Dragon's snout

“Oh, now you will roast us all to death, because you are cold?” Cleric glared at Dragon, who responded by twitching her tail and spewing more clouds of black smoke.

Arrogant One facing rightbounty-hunter-facing-other-directionMy Arrogant One and my Bounty Hunter strode into the room, coming to a dead stop in front of the doors.

“It is still raining!” My Arrogant One placed his hands on his hips and contorted his face into an exaggerated pout. “The shed will be flooded!”

“It would not be flooded if you would fix the leaky roof!” My Bounty Hunter spoke casually, but there was steel under his words.

The elf rounded on his sidekick. “I did! I cannot help it if every time I fix one leak, two more appear! And I do not see you doing anything to help.”

Dwarf and hamMy Old Dwarf wandered into the room, munching on a ham. He shook his head at my Arrogant One. “Eh, ye be needin’ ta be doin’ more ’en jest be magickin’ tha leaks! Ye be needin’ ta be usin’ hammer an’ nails, elfie.”

“Do not call me elfie!” My Arrogant One’s voice, a 200-decible screechy approximation of an operatic soprano, startled several ducks that had been swimming in the back of the flooded yard.

“Okay, that’s enough!” I scowled at my characters. “All I’ve heard all morning is complain, complain, complain!”

“We are sorry, Mistress.” Cleric tried to look contrite. “But we are bored and getting on each other’s nerves.”

I rose from my chair and folded my arms over my chest. I narrowed my eyes as I looked around the room at my characters. “Well, I have an idea how to stop being bored. You are all going on a scavenger hunt.”

Elf facing right“A scavenger hunt, Mistress? What is that?” Cleric’s cornflower blue eyes were filled with curiosity.

My eyes widened. “You never went on a scavenger hunt when you were a youngster?”

Cleric shook her head.

“Have any of you ever been on a scavenger hunt?” I looked around the room. Only three of my characters nodded.
Gypsy
My Gypsy leaned forward. “I remember going on scavenger hunts! My grammy organized them for all the children in the village. They were fun!”

Young hero 2My Young Hero frowned. “My parents used to organize them for my brother and me, and some of our friends. I was never very good at finding the things on the list.”
Dwarf and ham 2
“When I be jest a young pup, me mam and pap been sendin’ me off on scavenger hunts all’a time. I be real good at ’em.” My Old Dwarf took another bite of ham.

sorceress-facing-rightSorceress frowned. “Mistress, for those among us who were deprived of such a fun activity in our youth, could you please explain in detail this concept of a scavenger hunt?”

I sighed. “Well, in a normal scavenger hunt, the participants are given a list of items they must find and collect within a set amount of time. The winner might be the one who collects every item on the list, or perhaps the first one to collect all the required items.”

bounty-hunter-facing-other-directionMy Bounty Hunter grunted. “You said in a normal scavenger hunt, this is how things are done. Are we to infer that this will not be a normal scavenger hunt?”

I nodded. “That’s correct. In a normal scavenger hunt, you need to collect the physical items appearing on the list. They could be things like string, a button, a flower, a feather, a leaf. However, the fact we are confined to the house would greatly limit the items I could put on the list. So for this scavenger hunt, you need to be creative. If the item can be found in the house, and it is something small enough to carry, you may collect the actual item. Otherwise, you can collect a picture of the item.”

scaly dragon looking rightDragon thrashed her tail. “And, pray tell, where are we to find pictures of these items?”

magazinesI laughed. “I have stacks of old magazines I’ll bring to the conference room. You can look through them. Also, if you are artistic, you can create your own picture of the items. You can get all your art supplies from Miles. He has paper, scissors, color pencils, chalk, charcoal, paint, and ink. I think he even has crayons, glue and paste.”

6-19-13 - Miles 001I looked to Miles for confirmation, and he nodded. “Yes, I have anything you might need. I’ll put it all in the conference room, next to the magazines.”

IllusionI smiled. “And, for those of you adept at magic, you may create small illusions of the objects.” I glanced at my Arrogant One. “You are not to create anything that would cause any harm or damage.”

The elf scoffed. “As if any of us would!”

Several of my characters rolled their eyes.

My Young Hero chewed on his bottom lip and furrowed his brow. “How many items will be on this list, and how long will we have to collect or create them?”

I stroked my chin as I considered the question. “There will only be six items on the list, and you will have two days to complete the scavenger hunt.”

“And everyone will be looking for the same items, Mistress?” Cleric fidgeted with her corded belt.

for scavenger hunt

I shook my head. “In a regular scavenger hunt, everyone would be looking for the same things, like a button, a coin, a feather. But this is going to be a Gratitude Scavenger Hunt. All of the items on the list are things that make you happy, things for which you should feel grateful.”

I looked around and saw nothing but blank stares. I sighed. “Okay. So, let’s say one of the items on the list is something that makes you laugh. That would be something different for each of you. One person might choose to write out a joke, while another person might choose to copy the words to a silly song or find a funny picture. So, no, you will not be collecting the same items.”

Everyone groaned.

“Will there be a prize for collecting all the items on the list? Or for being the first to complete the scavenger hunt? Or, mayhap, a prize for the most creative representation of an item on the list?” My Gypsy sounded hopeful.

I shrugged. “We’ll see. I think the prize, or benefit, of the hunt is just to stop dwelling on how miserable it is to be stuck inside and remember all the things that make you happy, the things for which you should be grateful.”

arrogant-one-facing-right“Well, I for one, have no intention of participating in such a juvenile endeavor!” My Arrogant One pompously drew himself up, rocked back on his heels, and grasped his cloak in both hands. “I have more important things on which to spend my valuable time.”bounty-hunter-facing-other-direction

“Afraid you would not be able to find the items?” My Bounty Hunter smirked at his companion.

The elf sneered. “I assure you, I would have no problems finding any item on the list.”

“Good.” I narrowed my eyes and stared at him. “Because all of you will be participating.”

“Oh, very well! Just give us the list, then.” My Arrogant One folded his arms in front of him and tapped his foot impatiently. “The sooner we get started, the sooner we can end this nonsense.”

“I’ll have the list for you shortly after lunch. I will make a copy for each person.”

* * *

My characters milled about as I handed out copies of the list for the Gratitude Scavenger Hunt. They started reading the lists as if they couldn’t understand them.

Something that makes a beautiful sound?”

Something that smells amazing?”

Your favorite beverage?”

My Arrogant One scanned the list I handed him. His eyes widened. “Something to give someone else to make them smile?” He blinked, then thrust the paper back at me. “This is utterly ridiculous and a total waste of my valuable time!”

I put my hand up in my best imitation of a cop stopping traffic, and I narrowed my eyes. “Keep it. You will participate.”

My Old Dwarf grinned as he read the list. “Eh! This be too easy, lass! I be back in a few minutes wit all me items.”

“Remember to put some thought into the items you choose. Don’t pick something just because it’s easy. And don’t pick something you think is the expected item. Like I said before, everyone will choose different items. There are no right or wrong items for this Gratitude Scavenger Hunt. Any questions?” I looked around at my characters. “No? Then go have fun!”

Gratitude Scavenger Hunt - Master list

 

What items do you think each of the characters will collect? Be sure to come back next week and see! We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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