Friday, December 30, 2016

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The Enchanter Heir by Cinda Williams Chima, a book review

Next in line in The Heir Chronicles, The Enchanter Heir by Cina Williams Chima is really good… even if, like me, you missed the steps between it (The Wizard Heir and The Dragon Heir) and the first book in the series, The Warrior Heir.

Jack and Ellen appear again, but definitely as background characters. It is fun to see them in this book which is predominantly about Jonah Kinlock and other survivors of the Thorn Hill incident. I'm not sure if what happened at Thorn Hill is mentioned in The Wizard Heir or The Dragon Heir, but it easily could have been.

Jonah is the enchanter referenced in the title and he is a loner among misfits. Probably a stronger enchanter than he would have been if he'd not been part of the Thorn Hill incident, he also has some other abilities which are being put to use by his mentor and keeper, Gabriel, when we begin the book.

The desriptions of music and focus on it throughout this story is really enjoyable and believable. I particularly liked that music calmed Jonah's younger brother Kinzey's flames. Although there are a few other characters in the story, I'm left wondering about what other gifts are represented and manifested in those who are in Safe Passage.

I enjoyed this story very much. Even so, I was disappointed that there are a few appearances of foul language. For that reason, my children will have to wait until they are a bit older to read this part of the series. My eldest daughter was disappointed to learn my decision because she thoroughly enjoyed The Warrior Heir.

Have you read The Enchanter Heir by Cinda Williams Chima? What did you think of it?



If you like my book reviews for youth and adults, come back on Monday, January 2nd for a new review.  Children's book reviews are the only ones that will appear on Friday from here on out.  Hope to see you in a couple days to check out my latest youth fiction book review!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

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learning to burn, part 17

The table is full and most of the other farm hands are finishing their plates when Eminghare and Ofonode arrive. Primina stands and points to one of the two places available, “You will sit there, Ofonode.”

“Yes, ma'am.” He can see quite readily that his place has more food than Eminghare's and at least more dishes than the others. His cheeks grow hot as he wonders what the others think about the favor Primina is obviously showing him.
“Have you found that you can do the work, girl? What is your name, anyway?”
“I am called Eminghare. And, yes. I can do the work.” Eminghare is sitting up straight in her chair, looking directly into Primina's face. Ofonode wonders if she is feeling challenged. He would if someone asked him such a question.
Primina's eyebrows lift. Without looking away from the girl, “How is she doing, Ofonode?”
“Very well. I have been pleasantly surprised.”
The surprise in Primina's expression seems to deepen, “Have you finished the hay, then?”
“Not yet. Yesterday we had the same amount to do and it took all day. Today, we'll probably finish soon after lunch.”
“Good. Take Eminghare to work with Boarch when you've finished with the hay.”
A surge of disappointment surges through Ofonode, “Yes, ma'am. And I'll finish the barn on my own, then?”
“Yes. I'm sure you can handle it, right?”
“I will.” Ofonode wonders if Os will be willing to help him for a little while right after lunch. He glances at Eminghare and realizes she's been staring at him. She quickly looks away, though, as he looks over at her. What was she thinking? Why was she watching me? Is she worried about work with others? Ofonode wishes he could just ask her direct questions. But he feels sure, based on their interactions thus far, that she wouldn't answer him, so he decides he won't ask. He'll wait for her to tell him what she's comfortable telling him.
“I have the napkin from breakfast, Primina. May I return it and use my lunch napkin to take some food with me. I can't eat everything right now, but it can really help to have to it along.”
“Sure. Just make sure you return it at dinner.”
“Yes, ma'am.” He packs the napkin full plaintain mosa and sinasir. He hopes Eminghare will be happy with these. The main dish was a sweet potato curry, which he ate all of because it wouldn't have transported well by napkin. The other guys at the table are looking at him with various expressions most readily interpreted as jealously. Well, I'm not going to waste it by just leaving it on the plate.
Ofonode waits outside of the dining room for Eminghare. He walks with her and they leave the house. About half-way to the barn, Ofonode hands her the napkin, “I thought you'd like to take it to your friend. I'll get to work in the barn and when you're finished, come and we'll get the rest of the hay into the loft.”
Eminghare's pale cheeks bloom with bright red spots right in the middle, “Thank you, Ofonode. That's very thoughtful and kind of you.”
“You're welcome. I hope you'll tell me about your friend sometime. But even if you don't, maybe it would be a good idea if you only disappear with food when we're able to work together. Unless, of course, you want others to know you're feeding someone out there.”
She nods her head. “Thank you for keeping my secret. I really appreciate it.”
“Sure.” Ofonode walks to the barn and Eminghare moves off into the field. As soon as he's sure she's gone, Ofonode talks to the air, “I know you're there, Os. What do you think about helping me out around here when I come back from bringing Eminghare to work with Boarch later?”
“I think you should ask me when you come back alone. Boarch might have you do something else.”
“That's true.”
The invisian can feel another question, but refuses to help the boy ask it.
“What do you think of her?”
“I think she could be dangerous. As much as she won't talk. She is a secret keeper. They can be good, but also bad. Tread carefully in your interactions with her, Ofonode.”
“Your answer is what I was expecting. I have been careful, haven't I?”
“Revealing that you knew why she wanted the food was potentially a bad move. If she is on the dark side of secret keeping. If she's on the light side, you've given her greater reason to trust you with her secrets. Just don't give her any of your private information. Because she's so untrusting, perhaps that's a good reason not to trust her.”
“You're right. She should be back any minute.”
“Who are you talking to, Ofonode?”
“My friend.”
“Do you talk to any lizard? Or just the one you travel with?”
“Well, if I knew all lizards as well as I know my friend, I might talk to all of them.”
Eminghare laughs and Ofonode wishes he could think of something else that might make her laugh more.
“If I told you I talk to some lizards, too, would that surprise you?”
“I don't know. I guess I'd have to know the lizard.”
Eminghare smiles, “I might introduce you to one tomorrow if you'd like.”
“I would like that a lot.”
She nods her head. “Maybe I should catch this time.” Eminghare says this as she begins to climb the ladder to the loft.
Ofonode grabs a bale of hay and tosses it to her as soon as she tells him she's ready. The two work together steadily. Ofonode feels sadness grow in him as the stacks of hay diminish. This isn't the kind of work that is conducive to having a conversation, so he just tosses her a new bale each time she says the word.
Eminghare joins him at the door to the barn and hands him the napkin, “Thank you, again.”
Ofonode smiles and nods. The two walk out, Eminghare walks beside him, watching him carefully so she'll know where to go. Ofonode stops suddenly, turns, and looks at her for a moment. Eminghare looks up into his face and waits.
“Would you sit next to me at dinner?”
“Uh, sure. I guess I can. I mean, if there's a place next to you, I will.”
“I'll make sure there is.” They continue walking together in silence. I wish I knew what I could ask her that would get her to open up and talk to me. It's too late for now, we're almost to the field Boarch is working. Or probably just watching.
Ofonode stops and points off to the field and a small shed sort of building, “That's where Boarch is with a few guys. Don't work too hard or they'll wonder what kind of being you are. It's better if you don't surprise them as much as you did me. Please tell me you'll work a little more like a girl while you're with them?”
“A little, maybe.”
“Good. Okay. I'll see you at dinner.”
Eminghare just nods her head while chewing lightly on her lower lip.
#
Why are they so late for dinner? Prayer has already been said and the others are eating quietly.
Ofonode can't help but notice that he doesn't have quite as much food in front of him as he did for the past three meals, but still he has more than any of the other hands do.
A clomp of many feet indicate the arrival of the workers from the field. He's sure they've just come from the bathhouse because Primina wouldn't tolerate anything else.
When they come in, Eminghare is not with them. Ofonode stands and is just about to speak when she comes through the door. She looks very small after all the big guys that are already settled at the table. Already standing, Ofonode pulls Eminghare's chair out from the table and whispers, “Are you okay?”
She nods slightly and whispers back, “Later.”
The two sit and eat without another word between them. Ofonode reaches down to share his food and with Os throughout the meal. Ofonode watches Eminghare carefully and eats so that he's finishing when she does. “I'm leaving the extra napkin at my place, Primina. Thank you again for letting me use it. Dinner was wonderful. I'll take Eminghare to the women's rooms. She can stay in any room that doesn't have anything in it, right?”
“Good. You're welcome. That's fine. You can walk the hall, but don't go in any of the rooms, Ofonode.”
“Yes, ma'am.”
Eminghare rises and Ofonode does as well.
As soon as they are outside, “Are you okay. You look… I don't know, different.”
“Sure. I'm fine. That work was very different. What are we doing on this farm?”
“I'm not sure what you mean?”
“Well, I was expecting to do some sort of regular field work. But we didn't do that at all. They guys were digging and Boarch was watching. So, I started digging, too. Apparently the others already know how deep to go because after a few tries Boarch was only standing near me and he was very particular about the depth. I don't know. I felt like I was about to do something horribly wrong the whole time. It was worse than any physically strenuous work would've been.”
“I don't know. I haven't worked in the field. I guess no one really spoke about it at all, then?”
“Not a word. I mean, Boarch was fussing at me almost the whole time. But the guys didn't even say a single word to each other. It was really weird. I'm not going to stay longer than tomorrow. I was hoping to stay a few more days. But not because of this place, honestly. I was hoping to stay…”
Eminghare sighs in exasperation. “This way… not talking and being very secretive is not natural for me. I don't like it. I was going to wait until tomorrow, but would you come to the field behind the barn with me tonight?”
Feeling suddenly on alter, Ofonode works hard to carefully modulate excitement out of his voice and hopes Os is following as he usually does, “Sure.”
Eminghare nods to herself and leads the way. When she stops, Ofonode doesn't see anything out of the ordinary. Eminghare whispers into the air for a few minutes. Nothing she says is anything Ofonode can understand. A moment of silence and then a large dragon, very much like Os's dragon form appears almost immediately in front of Eminghare.
Ofonode grabs her shoulders and pulls her behind him, “Oseratin!” he shouts, “I need you now!”
Os wraps himself around the front of Ofonode's ankles and lays himself across his feet. Ofonode looks down, “That's not exactly what I was thinking.”
The dragon has moved only enough to land and in the process shifts into a small lizard form, just smaller than Os. Ofonode's mouth drops open.
Eminghare steps next to him and whispers, “She almost never takes this form. I've only seen her like this twice in the year we've been together. I think she really likes you!”
When the small lizard moves very close to Os, Eminghare's eyes open wide. The smaller lizard touches Os and the two disappear. Eminghare looks at Ofonode. “Why did they disappear?” Ofonode asks, “My friend has never disappeared like that before.”
“Just because you haven't seen it, doesn't mean he hasn't.”
“You mean, your friend disappears like that regularly?”
“Pretty often. When it's just the two of us, she doesn't, but if anyone else approaches or whatever, then, yes. I think she might be shy or just very careful.”
Has Os been able to do the same thing and I just didn't know it? Feeling very wary and nervous, Ofonode wants to speak to ease the tension he's feeling, “What is your friend's name?”
“I call her Binbin. But I don't know if she has a name she calls herself. She doesn't speak or anything. At least… not that I know of. Isn't Oseratin the name you've given your friend?”
“Uh… well, no.”
“How do you know to call him that?” Eminghare is looking intensely into Ofonode's face.
She hasn't really looked at him for long and never so directly, so Ofonode feels a bit uncomfortable and answers without thinking, “He told me.”
“What!?”
“Hasn't your friend ever talked to you?” he asks starting to wonder if he shouldn't have answered her question so directly.
“No… Not that I'm aware of. I mean, what do you mean by 'talk to'?”
“You know… talk. Like we're talking.”
“Then, no. Definitely not. She's never talked to me. Why would she not talk to me is she can? We've been together so long! Do you think she doesn't trust me?”
“I'm not sure why she wouldn't after so long… I'm sure there's a good reason for it, though. I just think it's amazing that you have an invisian with you, too!”
“In-invisian?”
“Okay, right. You wouldn't know that's what she is because she hasn't spoken. How about we talk about something else until they come back so she can tell you what she'll tell you and we'll go from there.”
Eminghare looks away as Ofonode makes the suggestion. She looks at everything around him and them unwilling or unable to let her eyes settle anywhere.
Ofodnode waits in silence. Does she still not trust me? Even though we both have the same sort of friend? Maybe it's just that she's scared, generally these days. I can't imagine what she's been through.
Slowly, Eminghare's eyes slow in their scanning of the area and eventually settle on Ofonde's chest. “Sure. What should be talk about?”
“Well, I'd like to know why you wanted me to meet your friend.”
“Oh.” Eminghare sags in what looks like relief to Ofonode. “I was hoping we might travel together. Since you've already been to Trebukenan, I'm guessing, you aren't going north, so we're headed in the same direction. It would be nice to have someone to talk to and safety in numbers and all that. I guess Binbin might talk now, but it's been a little difficult to travel alone in the sort of forced silence that comes with traveling with someone I thought couldn't speak.”
She is relieved! This is why she brought me out here anyway. “Without talking to Os, my first reaction would have been to say no if you'd asked me before now. But since I know you travel with an invisian, I think he'll be willing to have you two join us.”
“But what about you? Are you willing to have us join you?”
“Sure.” he tries to say keeping the excitement out of his voice. “It would be nice to feel like I'm helping you travel more safely. I have to tell you, though, funny things sometimes happen while we're traveling.”
“You, too?” Eminghare's eyebrows are high and her eyes wide.
“Yeah. What weirdness have you experienced?”
“You first.”
“Eminghare, if we're going to travel together, you've really got to try to trust me. I think I am a trustworthy sort of person.”
She sighs. “Well, you saw that Binbin can fly. And boy am I glad. She saved me from huge snake-like things. One of those crazy-creepy things even flew, but couldn't get very high.” Ofonode is leaning toward her, intently listening to everything she's saying. “She can also breathe fire, but not easily. After she does, she has to sleep for a long time. So she's only done that once. And once…”
Before she can continue, the two small lizards reappear.
“It has been so long since I've seen another invisian friendly with humans. It has been a pleasure to see and become aquainted with Bineenia. You are, Eminghare, a very fortunate young lady. I want to convey my deepest sympathy for your silent travels. Binia, here, never learned to speak in your language. She has been trying to communicate with you for the whole of your journey, but has only been successful in a few instances. And she's unsure whether you understood that it was she who you heard in your mind.”
“Oh! I'm so glad! I thought she was unhappy with me for some reason!”
“Let me continue, my dear. I have much to share with you.” Eminghare nods and listens closely as Oseratin continues, “Binia, as she prefers to be called by anyone other than you, she has grown very fond of your name for her, but would prefer if Ofonode would please call her Binia, is an invisian. We know Ofonode has told you this. Since we will travel together, as you two have arranged, Binia and I believe we should communicate some specifics with the two of you and make plans together.”
Ofonode and Eminghare nod their heads and drop into squats.
“Okay. To begin, Ofonode you will know much of this, but I have not told you all, so please pay close attention. Invisians are alien to this planet. You have encountered a few of our kind who desire to overtake the planet and consume, use as slaves, or simply kill those like you. Binia and I are not like them. Unfortunately, those like us are the minority and we were scattered very early in our time on the planet because most of us are scientists of the Holy Order.
“You might find it difficult to believe when you simply hear the words, my dear, but after you see what we will show you in a little while, you may more easily believe that we, invisian, were created by the same God you call Father. We also worship him and call him Father.”
Os pauses for a few moments after Eminghare sucks in a deep breath of shock. Her face is very still and she seems to be trying to process what she's heard. “Please continue Oseratin.” She says in a whisper full of air, like she's having a difficult time catching her breath.












Tuesday, December 27, 2016

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my thoughts: on children

It seems wildly apparent to me that our culture is really not pro-children. Being anti-child isn't the “it” way to be as yet generally, but we definitely seem to be headed that way. Although I use we, I use it loosely to reference our culture. As in so many ways, in this I also tend to have a counter-cultural mindset.

The most upsetting experiences I have had with the not completely anti, but also unfriendly-to-children cultural atmosphere is in the church. While I am a member of a particular church and I definitely do include them, I'm speaking of the church in broader terms. I have found a few exceptional groups, but overall, I've found that even Christians are unfriendly to children as a rule. Not just in the edifices of the church, either.

I believe children are the future. Isn't there a song that says that? Maybe Michael Jackson sang it or was a part of it? Anyway, as the future, they are really what all of this… they are the point of all our efforts. Unless, of course, you agree with the person who told me about the only three things that motivate people (for the record, I still disagree with those three). ←LINK to first post about MOTIVATION

As a result of my disagreement with those (LINK TO MY THOUGHTS ABOUT) motivations, and perhaps because I believe love is actually the number one motivator, I believe most folks inherently know that children are the reason for all of it. Most folks know that children are the actual why behind and within just about everything we do.

So, why do we have the cultural disregard and devaluing of children? I don't actually know the many-faceted answer to this. I think it's got so many sides that it connects to most everything that is touted to have value of the world. However, ultimately, and like the overall picture of the Mandelbrot Set, I think it's because evil has led us to believe that other things are more important than including children, or valuing children, or having children.

I have been long working to teach my children to serve. Sometimes I think my efforts are working. Other times… well, they are children. There have been some wonderful service opportunities organized by my church in various places and by various people. Apparently these folks have talked about me (gossip?) and made sure to include in the announcement about the service projects that only certain age children were welcome. Well, because of the circumstances of my life, if any of my children are excluded, the whole family won't make it. This is just one repeating example of the unfriendliness to children I reference.

Another manifestation is the cruel words I've heard on more than one occasion about my family size. One guy was even so direct as to use tone of voice and words to tell me I was crazy. Most folks use neutral words combined with derogatory tone to communicate the same. The only reason anyone would do this is if they have fallen prey to the predominant culture of child-devaluation.

Do you see what I've described in our culture?




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my thoughts: on the difference between knowing and learning

Knowing is having the facts.  Being aware of truth.  Acknowledging steps necessary to accomplish something.

Learning is applying facts, truth, and steps.

Knowing is cerebral.  Learning is practical.

The former is easy.  The latter, much more difficult.  Application is far more invasive and consuming than holding information in one's synapses.

The two are worlds apart.  Yet some would use them interchangeably.  No!  We must know before we can fully learn, it's true.  But just because we know something, doesn't mean we've actually learned it!

I'm a great example of this!  I can tell folks how to do any number of things I haven't yet mastered application of.  This is, perhaps, a YUCK of being a teacher personality.  Seeing clearly HOW to do something comes far more easily than making myself consistently DO it. 

Thus... I'm a fluffy girl who knows TONS about the process of weight loss!  And that's just one example of a chasm between knowing and learning in me.  I've got lots more, unfortunately.

How about you?  Can you think of any instances of something you know, but haven't fully learned yet?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

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The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell, a book review

The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell could be a wonderful addition if you have a collection of Christmas stories you like to pull out only for the time of year you choose to celebrate our Savior's birth.

A child dies and has a difficult time adjusting to becoming an angel until he receives something he misses from earth. The thing he receives becomes his gift to the Christ child, the night of his birth. And thereafter becomes something even more amazing when accepted by God for his child.

This story was originally written by Charles Tazewell for entertainment radio broadcasting back in 1939. It's debut as a children's book was in 1946. It's also appeared in a magazine and as a film production. It has been published in many languages and Time Magazine declared it an international classic.

It is an awesome story! I got teary voiced and then teary-eyed while reading it. I would like to have it for my children's book collection.

Have you read The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell? What did you think?

Friday, December 23, 2016

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The Grey Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima, a book review

Have you read The Grey Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima?  If you haven't yet, I hope you will consider it.  It is the third book in Chima's Seven Realms series and quite good.  Somehow I've missed the first of the series and started with the second.  I look forward to reading the first and fourth.

If you have read it, tell me what you thought of it!

Raisa, the main character and princess heir, continues her learning. Will she return to her mother and make claim on the Grey Wolf Throne?  Or will her efforts to become the next queen be foiled by her many enemies?

Wizards and spell casting make this series fit nicely within the fantasy genre.  Raisa has the gift of prophecy and sees the other wolf queens at specific times.  It's interesting to learn, very specifically, in this book when she sees the other queens.  In the previous book, their appearance was more alluded to than directly explained.  And since I haven't read the first, I'm not sure if she saw them then or not.

This series is meant for older youth and young adults.  I will not let my children read it until they are older.  The youth in the series have few if any problems with kissing just about anyone they meet and no problem with getting hot and heavy with numerous other youth.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

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learning to burn part 16

 Please read from the beginning.

Ofonode sleeps fitfully. He keeps waking, wondering why no one told him about the danger at the creek. Os seems to be sleeping well. He knows he should be as well. If for no other reason than that he needs to regain his strength. He felt so tired and weak when he laid down.

A little earlier than necessary, Ofonode rises unable to sleep. He leaves the small closet-like room. He's grateful for the private space, but feels cooped up and a bit claustrophobic. Outside, he begins the chores he's been doing since he arrived. He moves through the tasks without focusing on them at all. 

His thoughts are completely focused inwardly until he hears a rustling in the tall grass outside the barn. He knows for sure none of the animals have been released to graze. The barn cats are big enough to make such a sound. What could that be? Ofonode feels like he must go outside to see what he might see, but thinks he should stay in the shelter of the barn. What if the thing making the sound is big enough to do harm to the animals? 
 
His body has already moved him close to the door. And almost as if in answer to his own question, he steps outside. The sky is dark, but light enough so as to walk comfortably. The tall grass is dark, though. He stands at the main door to the barn and stares in the direction he thinks he heard the grasses rustle.

“Is there food and water I might have, here? I am very hungry from traveling.” a thin, fragile looking yet beautiful young lady says as she steps around the corner of the barn that Ofonode is not looking at. In reaction, the boy jumps almost out of his skin as he spins around to face her.

“Wh-where did you come from?”

“Most recently? Or do you mean where was I born?” The young woman looks very weary, but Ofonode doesn't feel able to trust her because of the sudden way she seemed to appear.

“Most recently, I guess.” he says.

“I recently left the area of Overton. Is there anything to drink, at least?” she asks with a sigh in her voice.

“Yeah. Sure. I'll get some water.” He turns away and back into the barn, quickly returning with a canteen.

“Thank you.” she says as she accepts the container of water. She gulps it down greedily. Lots of water spilling onto her neck. 

Ofonode can't help but notice how pale she looks in the still dark of the early morning. He wonders if her coloring will look very different in the light of day. She is very pretty. I wonder if I should… if I can trust her… “What's your name?”

“Does it matter? You don't really want to help me, do you?”

“No. I mean, it's not that I don't want to help you. I-I just don't know. I don't know you and whether you're someone I or we should trust.”

“Well, I guess you can decide to try or not. I'd like to know which, though, because I'd rather avoid the town center if I can. I prefer wide open spaces to crowded streets. But if you're not going to trust me, I'd like to know so I can go to town and try to figure out where I can work until I can continue my journey.”

“Oh… well, I'd still like to know your name. And where are you going?”

“I'm just traveling for the sake of the journey, actually. No particular destination in mind. It's been interesting so far. Enjoyable, even with the hardships I've faced because I've chosen to travel extremely light and alone. Traveling alone for a girl is a bit different than a guy. Have you ever traveled?”

“Yes, actually. I'm only here to earn enough for food to continue my journey.”

“Is that right? Are you traveling alone?”

“No. I have a friend.”

“A girl?”

“No. A guy.”

“Do you have a particular destination in mind?” she looks away like she's trying not be interested, but very much wants to know.

“Yes.”

“I guess you don't really want to tell me. That's okay. I guess if I knew where I was going, I wouldn't tell everyone I met. Anyway, my name is Eminghare.”

“That's a really interesting name. Do you know what it means?”

“Yes.”

“Oh. Okay. Well, if you want to ask Primina and Boarch if they can use your help, I'll introduce you to them.”

Eminghare's face brightens with a smile, “Yes please. Thank you. That's really kind and helpful of you. I really appreciate it!”

Ofonode feels himself blush a little. She's stunningly beautiful when she smiles. She hands him the canteen, which he puts back in its place. When he returns to where she waits outside the door of the barn, she is leaning heavily against the outside wall looking extremely weary and even paler than before. The air around her seems to glow a little, which makes her look even more pale. Maybe that's just because the sun is coming up and I can see what her skin actually looks like.

Realizing he's seen her, Eminghare stands up and smiles a half-smile, “I guess I'm really tired. I didn't realize how exhausted I was when I approached you.”

“Traveling is tiresome. I understand. Let's go to the main house and see if Primina is up. I'm sure she is by now. I'm pretty sure she's usually the first one to rise.” Ofonode is walking and Eminghare follows him, trailing a bit behind.

“Okay.” The sigh is back in her voice.

Ofonode opens the door to the main house, “Primina. Someone arrived this morning. Can you use the help of a girl for a few days?”

Primina bustled out of the kitchen to meet Ofonode and Eminghare on their way in. Primina looks the small girl over, “I don't know. Can she actually work? She looks rather frail.” The lady owner looks to Ofonode to answer her questions.

Ofonode looks at Eminghare. She is standing very straight and as tall as she can manage. Her face is tight with what he imagines is indignation. 

“Well, I don't know her personally, Primina, but she did travel here on her own in the dark. She's got to be pretty capable to do that. I mean, I haven't traveled at night and I have my friend. I can't imagine what it would be like to travel alone. Just based on that, I think she must be pretty capable and definitely strong enough for any of the work the other girls do.”

“I just don't have need for another girl, though. Do you think she can work with you and do any good? That's where I need more hands.”

Ofonode feels doubtful, but decides he'll just work harder to make up the difference. So he answers, “I think she'll be helpful.”

“She can stay. But just because you suggest it. If she'd come in here on her own, I'd have sent her on her way. What's her name?”

Just as Ofonode was going to answer, she speaks for herself, “I am called Eminghare. Thank you for allowing me to stay and work for you. I won't be here too long.”

“Thank Ofonode. It's only because I think highly of him that you'll stay as long as you need.”
Eminghare nods her head.

Primina walks away, “Breakfast will be ready in a few minutes. Go ahead and sit at the table. I'll get yours out first so you can get to work.”

“Thank you, Primina. I really appreciate it!” Ofonode looks over at Eminghare and smiles. She responds with a tight smile. He steps away, leading her to the long dinging table.

Ofonode waits for Eminghare to sit so he can choose a place next to her. When they are both settled he asks, “Why are you traveling?”

“Why are you?” she returns.

“Well, I guess I need to. I was having some difficulty learning something back in my village. And I realized a need, so I decided to leave in hopes of fulfilling it.”

“That's very cryptic.”

“Well, it's an answer. You only returned a question. I guess I don't know if I should try to trust you since you seem so unwilling to try to trust me.”

“Okay, well, my journey has been for much the same reason. I'm afraid I return home unable to answer the need, though. At least I have learned a lot as I've traveled.”

“My Aunti, Kokofeko, often said that sometimes the destination of a journey isn't as important as the traveling. I didn't understand her when she said it, since I'd never been off our plateau, but now I do.”

“Plateau. You live on a plateau? I mean, you lived on THE plateau?” Eminghare is now sitting straight up in her chair. If Ofonode hadn't seen the fatigue in her only a moment before, he wouldn't know she was extremely tired to look at her now.

“Yes… why?” he says with some misgiving.

“That's the only place I haven't been!” Eminghare's eyes are glassy with excitement mixed with fatigue.

“Um. What do you mean?” Ofonode can't help but feel even more unsure of the girl with the way she looks and is asking questions.

“I've been all over Oghodua Egbe and no one could ever tell me anything about the plateau. No one knew anything about what I was looking for. I wanted to find out, but being so very much in the wasteland, I didn't have a way to get to it. Would you tell me about it?”

“Why should I?” Ofonode feels unsure and unwilling to trust Eminghare. Mostly because she wasn't willing to share with him, but also because her reaction has been so very unusual.

“You don't have to.” She can see mistrust as if written all over his face. “I can understand why you might not want to talk to me about it. I haven't been very open and trusting. That's okay. We'll get to know each other and then we'll share our stories.”

Primina comes through the door just then, carrying a large platter.

Ofonode's mouth starts to water as soon as Primina sets a plate down in front of him. She also puts a bowl and two cups down in front of him. She sets a plate and one cup in front of Eminghare.

“Thank you Primina.” Ofonode says as she returns to the kitchen.

“Wow. She really does think highly of you. I'm surprised you aren't fat with the way she feeds you, Ofonode.”

“I might be if she always fed me like this. I've only been here a few days and this is the first time she's given me so much food for breakfast.”

“But she's given you this much for another meal?”

“Well, last night she gave me a second portion before anyone else.”

“Why. What did you tell her?”

“I asked if anyone had seen a large lizard at the creek.”

“Oh.” Eminghare looks very thoughtful. “How large was it?”

“Very. Easily bigger than me and any other guy on this place. I'm pretty sure it could eat me for one meal.”

“And it was trying to, I'm guessing.”

“Yes.”

“And they didn't warn you about the thing there. And you got away even though they've never heard of anyone getting away before, I guess.”

“Well, yes. How did you guess so perfectly?”

“I think this must be similar to the beast near Overton and the one near Flindernan. I bet there's such a thing happening near every place people go to live. I think the people let travelers feed the beast near their home and that's why, for the most part, people don't travel much… and even fewer return home when they do travel.”

“Really? There are a few in my village who left and returned. They never told me such an idea.”

“Did they travel extensively? Or only visit a couple towns?”

“I don't know for sure. Maybe only a couple.”

“That's why, then. I'm sure it's easy to overlook… or just remain ignorant about such a thing. I've traveled the whole continent. It's very easy to see patterns when you travel so much and to so many places. Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm sure there's such a beast around every town and city I've visited.”

“How have you been able to travel so far?”

“Oh… I have my ways. I could ask the same of you.”

“I'm not alone.”

“You've said that. Where is your travel companion?”

Almost as if on cue, Ofonode catches a glimpse of Os's tail coming through the main dining room entrance. “He's just come in. I'll introduce you in a minute.”

Eminghare looks around.

Once Os is sitting comfortably on his lap, Ofonode says, “This is my friend, Oseratin.”
Eminghare looks at Ofonode and then down at the lizard on his lap. She giggles, “But that doesn't count! I thought your friend was another young man.”

She just called me a young man. Everyone else has called me a boy. Does she see something different in me. Responding to her Ofonode says, “He absolutely counts. Just because you can't see what I know, doesn't mean he isn't helpful while we travel.”

Eminghare cocks her head to the side, “I guess so.” She seems to contemplate the lizard as Ofonode gathers some food into his napkin and put it on his lap. “You feed him really well for a pet.”

“He's not a pet. He's my friend. And he has helped me more than I can say.” Ofonode smiles at Os when he looks up. Oseratin feels very pleased and shivers a little. The girl sees it all and begins to wonder.

“When did you meet him?”

“Just outside my village.”

“Oh. So you haven't known him your whole life, then?”

“No. I guess he's sorta known me, though. He's been watching me and my village for a lot longer than I've been alive.”

“Really!” 

Ofonode feels like he's said too much. When he looks down at Os, the invisian seems to shrug a shoulder as he continues eating. Still, treading more carefully, Ofonode focuses on eating his wonderful breakfast.

“He must be very old, then. Do you have any idea how old your friend is, Ofonode.”

“How would I know. He's a lizard. It's not like he can tell me.”

Eminghare feels sure that the lizard isn't just a lizard and that, somehow, he can communicate. She wonders if the lizard on Ofonode's lap is like her friend, Itohan, hiding in the tall grass. She hopes to bring some food for her very soon. Surely Itohan is very hungry.

“You should finish eating, Eminghare. We should get started soon. The others will come to the table soon and I don't want them to see all the dishes I've had. I can't finish it. Would you like some?”

“Yes, please. Do you mind if I put some in a napkin and keep it with me? I've learned I shouldn't eat too much in one sitting right after traveling long. But I am still very hungry.”

“Sure. That's fine with me. I'll just let Primina know I've borrowed her napkin and I'll return it at lunch time.”

“Thank you.” Eminghare removes the items from the plate Ofonode hasn't finished and wraps them in the napkin. Standing, she gathers the corners together and flips a light rope she's been wearing around her waist around the corners and drops the napkin. Ofonode jumps slightly, sure the food will end up on the floor. It doesn't. “Should we bring the dishes to Primina?”

“I will. I don't want her to see what you're doing with her napkin.” The girl nods. Ofonode gathers up all the dishes and deposits them on a counter calling his thanks to Primina and letting her know the other napkin will return at lunch time. Ofonode leave the kitchen before Primina can respond and leads Eminghare out of the house. “Just stay with me and try to see what you can do to help. The restroom is over there,” he says indicating a small building off to one side and about half-way between the barn and house.

“I will. May I take a few minutes to myself before I join you in the barn?”

“Uh… okay. I guess that's fine.” Eminghare disappears around the side of the barn and Ofonode walks into it.

When she joins him, she looks somehow more relaxed, a slight smile in all the features of her face. Ofonode barely notices, feeling more burdened than usual with his desire to make it seem worthwihle to Primina to have Eminghare here. The girl joins him in his efforts and seems to be a good worker.

As they work through the morning, Ofonode notices that she is able to do a lot more than he thought. She turns out to be much stronger than she looks like she would be. She is, after-all, tiny. She carries hay and feedbags like they weigh nothing and even tosses hay up to him with more precision than the guy he worked with yesterday. The longer they work together, the more Ofonode appreciates Eminghare.

“Have you been to Trebukenan?”

“Yes, of course. I've been to every major city and town in the land. Ontewon was my last hope. Honestly. I wasn't using hyperbole when I said I'd been everywhere. Why?”

Last hope. I wonder what that's about? It must have something to do with the thing she's been searching for and not found. “I was just thinking how much they would love you there.”

“Oh? Why do you think so?”

“Because you're such a good worker. And so strong.”

She bows her head for a moment. When she raises it to look at him, there is a new and different sparkle in her eye. “And is this a good thing to you, too, Ofonode?” Eminghare smiles in what might be flirtatious. She looks very cute to Ofonode and he wishes he understood how to interact with her.

Ofonode blushes lightly, “Yes. Strength and truly working hard, not just saying one can work hard, are very good character traits.” She smiles as she turns away to pick up another bale of hay and bring it to the bottom of the ladder they've been piling them next to in their routine before tossing them up to the loft. Ofonode carries two and places them carefully in the pile.

“To answer your question, they did like me there. Still, I had to continue.”

“Where are you trying to go now?”

“I return home.”

“You said you feel like a failure. But surely you've learned a lot and grown. So your time away cannot have been a complete loss, right?”

“This is true. I have been gone a very short time to my people, but it has been long for me.”
He hears something familiar. Who was it that said something similar… “What do you mean? A very short time for your people?”

“Oh, I'll tell you about that another time.”

Why does what she said about time away sound so familiar? Ofonode ponders over this question while they move the rest of the hay to the bottom of the ladder.

Tramdon interrupts Ofonode's thoughts when the other guy calls from the door of the barn, “Primina said to get you and the new girl for lunch since you'd not come on your own.”

Ofonode and Eminghare bring their last load of hay to stack at the ladder. “Thank you, Tramdon. Have you already eaten?”

No. I was just about to sit down when Primina sent me to get you.”

Are we really that late?”

Yes. I thought for sure I would be the last one.”

Okay, we're coming. You don't have to wait if you want to go ahead.” Tramdon nods and runs ahead.

We need to stop at the bath house before we go to the table. Primina would be angry if we tried to eat dirty as we are.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

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observations: flawed or flawless

I once overheard a woman say that she 'had it out' with another woman.  She commented that she hoped the other woman felt good in her perfection.  "As for me, I'm imperfect.  I'm happy with my flaws."  This is a sort of conundrum, isn't it?  I mean, if you're happy with your flaws, then they can't really BE flaws.... right?

So I've been thinking a bit about this.  If someone says such a thing... is it really conveying a spiritual laziness?  They don't want to do the work necessary to make those weaknesses (flaws) into strengths (points of perfection in a flawed human).  I think that's definitely a possibility!

Perhaps in other situations, the character trait or other issue that someone else identifies as a 'flaw' isn't really one.  I've definitely experienced that.  It sure can grow to feel like one when people point at it over enough years... like the way people have said I'm too trusting.  Well... since we live in a fallen world in which folks really enjoy intrigue, this trait that folks point to all too often really can be troublesome... and painful.  But that doesn't make TRUSTING a bad thing... it just makes me unusual in a fallen world in which most people learn NOT to trust much sooner than me.  And still I struggle with being too trusting!

Yet in other situations, perhaps the flaw is really just a momentary problem that someone is able to see simply because of bad timing... sorta like driving West at just the wrong time of day when you absolutely cannot get the glare of bright sunlight behind anything... no visor low enough... no way to sit up straight enough to manage it.

Do you think we should work on making our flaws into strengths?


Friday, December 16, 2016

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The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima

An awesome story continues in The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima.  My daughters will not read this trilogy until they are a bit older because the youth seem to have little moral integrity.  It's not a part of their culture, so it makes sense to the book.

I started this series with this book.  I'm sure I will enjoy reading the first and seeing how Chima set things up that have and are coming to pass in this book.  She is a good storyteller with almost poetic prose at times.  I'm able to get INTO the story in the way that one feels a bit like coming out of a dream when the real world calls our attention away from the story.  In fact, a neighbor arrived to share some news while I was reading and I didn't realize he was walking toward me until my little boy mentioned it.  So, I definitely recommend it.

This fantasy follows two main characters with a few secondary characters.  One of the two main: a wizard youth learning to use and control his magic and navigating his way through the the political difficulties he faces is interesting and engaging.  The other main character, Raisa, known as Rebecca Morley, is a strong princess under cover.  She's trying to make her own way in the world rather than succumb to being controlled by a man in an arranged marriage.

Will she be able to choose her own way?  Will her marriage be for love or simply the best political move she can make?

Have you read The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima?  What did you think of it?



Happy birthday to me!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

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learning to burn part 15

Start at the beginning.

The layout of this town doesn't make as much sense to me as the others. I don't even know where to begin, Os.”
The lizard just looks at him.
Ofonode sighs. He walks up to a door and peers through the window at the top. It looks more like a dwelling than a place of business. He keeps walking. He hasn't seen anyone yet. He walks up to another door and looks through the window. Another dwelling, he decides.
Instead of walking up to every door, he walks a few blocks and stops. He sits next to Os on the water container. I just don't know what to do. How can a town not have people out and about? And be so quiet. It's just strange. Maybe I should turn off this street and see what I can see.
A couple blocks down, Ofonode is able to see that the smaller individual dwellings end and a very large domed building, more like his village's dwellings than any of the other buildings he's seen since he's been gone, rises up to fill a large space. It's not made of earth, but it's definitely a dome. Ofonode walks up to it, stands on his toes, and peers into a closed window a little higher than his eye level.
All the people in town must be here. Ofonode is awestruck to realize it must be true. He rests back on his flat feet and pulls the container around the building until he comes to a large set of double doors. They are closed and look very heavy, so Ofonode find a place in the shade of the building to sit. He doesn't wait long when both doors open wide and a steady stream of people stream out. Some walk away purposefully, while others straggle along and stop to chat along their way. They are all pretty quiet, but it's no longer oddly silent in the town near the building.
Ofonode approaches a small group of men, “Hello.”
They look at him and seem surprised.
I arrived while everyone was in the large building.”
An older man with a long white beard smiles, “That must have been weird! I hope you didn't feel too unwelcome. We enjoy visitors. Of course, we weren't expecting you or we would've had someone at the gates to give greetings.”
That's okay. I don't need anyone to welcome me. It was pretty weird, though. What was everyone doing in the building?”
Another guy, a little younger looking than the first, “Today is Sunday, my boy. We were worshiping the Lord, of course. What else would we do today? After lunch and a nap, we'll be back for more. You can join us then.”
I didn't realize what day it was. I guess I lost track of time while I was traveling. I'd be happy to join, of course. My friend and I ran out of food and I'd like to get cleaned up.”
While Ofonode was speaking a woman had approached and whispered to one of the men. “Why don't you come with us. You can help on the farm for a few days to earn up enough to re-provision yourself before you leave. You don't have to leave, of course. I'm just guessing you'll want to since you've come this far.” The man she'd whispered to nods his head.
That sounds good. Thank you,” Ofonode says looking at both the woman who spoke and the man who nodded. The man and woman walk away and beckon the boy to come with them.
#
I don't really like working on this farm. To Os he says, “I've always loved working in my Aunt Kokofeko's garden. Why do you think I don't like the farm work here?”
Os looks around, “Probably because they do things very differently here. The ground is sore. They think they return nutrients to the soil in that stuff they add to it, but it really only hurts the planet. Can't you feel it? I think you can. Maybe you just don't understand how to tell the difference between your voice in your head and the others.”
Wha-,” just then Ofonode saw Primina, the woman from the town who had invited him to work on the farm, approaching from the house.
Today is extra hot. We're calling a mid-day rest. We'll eat at the regular time, but for now you need to put the tools away and sit in the shade somewhere.”
Thank you, ma'am. I'll do that.”
Make sure you're on time for lunch. I won't save yours if you're not there and someone else wants more when the pot is empty.”
Yes, ma'am. Of course. I'll be on time.”
Good.” She returns to the house.
I need to ask you about what you just said, but I think it's a good idea to stay quiet while we walk around the place. I never can tell when one of the other hands will pop out from somewhere. Maybe we can rest in under the tree over there. Do you think that would be a safe place we could talk, Os?”
Os looks at the tree in the middle of the field to which Odonode had pointed. “I think it would be safe. I was hoping you'd want to walk over to the creek. I'd like to sit in the middle of it for a few minutes.”
Ok. We'll do that and talk later.”
The lizard nods his head and walks behind Ofonode as the boy carried some tools to the shed near the barn. Tramdon is leaving the shed as Ofonode appraches the door, “The rest of us are going to the pond for a quick swim. Will you join us?”
Not this time, Tram. I was really looking forward to sitting by the creek.”
Sure. Next time, then. We'll make sure to tell you when we go.”
Thanks.” Ofonode puts the tools away and lifts Ofonode to his shoulders. He sees the other young men walking to the pond and wishes he could join them.
We can go to the pond instead, if you'd rather, Ofonode.”
Were you reading my mind, Os?”
No. You were watching the others so long I thought you might prefer it.”
I already agreed to the creek. We'll go with the guys another time. It's going to take a while to build up enough credit to get to Riverton. It seems to me that Primina and Boarch aren't as generous as Estie and Maybella.”
They don't have the same resources your previous two employers had. I think they're as generous as they believe they can wisely be.”
Yeah. I didn't mean what I said as an unkindness. Just an observation.”
Since we can't see anyone coming here around the creek, I think we shouldn't talk, Ofonode.”
You're right. I'll just dip my feet in the water over here and you can sit in the flow upstream.”
The friends separate. Ofonode leans against a tree near the creek and lets his feet rest in the water, not minding a bit that his pant legs get wet. From where he sits, he can see Os stepping into the middle of the creek. A part of him wishes he were small enough to sit under water and feel the current move around him. He sighs as he closes his eyes.
When he looks over at his friend again, his heart jumps into his throat making it impossible to make a sound. As he scrabbles to stand, he falls into the creek and flounders in his haste to reach his friend. Os looks at his with hooded eyes and then they pop wide open. Ofonode is sure his friend can see his terror. The lizard shifts into his dragon form and pops into the air in just the nick of time to avoid being snapped up by a large crocodile-like lizard.
The large croc-like thing shifts its attention to the flailing boy. Ofonode can't seem to get his feet under him because of the slick stones on the bottom of the creek.
Get out, Ofonde!” Os shouts.
Odonofe sees the thing approach with it's mouth open wide. It has four rows of sharp teeth and seems to be smiling, if that's even possible. It's so close. There's no way I'll get away! Fear, spikes in him so hard his head and heart hurt. So quickly he's not able to think another coherent though, Ofonode bursts into the air. A moment later, he's hovering next to Os. Ofonode looks around and sees the wings his fire has made.
Fear. Fear has made you wings to keep you alive, Ofonode. Did you realize it?”
I guess so. It's exhausting, Os. I need to get down. It's almost time for lunch, anyway. We better get back. I can't miss this meal!”
The two settle to the ground, Os much more gracefully than Ofonode. Os helps the boy up, “Now you just need to have faith in your flame and God's provisions. These wings are meant to be yours on demand. I'm sure of it. They wouldn't have shown up again if they weren't one of your flame's gifts. Something else would have happened to get you out of that invisian's way.”
That was an invisian, too? It's so close to people!”
Not really. When do the folk come to the creek. They have their pond and a well. They don't need this water. Their pond created it. They have plenty of cool fresh water right there.”
I guess. But that thing is awfully big to be in a creek!”
I'm sure it doesn't stay in one place. Why don't you ask if the people on the farm have seen anything like it.”
I will.”
Os shifts back to his lizard form. Though Ofonode offers his hand, Os decides to walk. Anyone can plainly see the boy is exhausted. The two make their way to the farm house.
#
Os and Ofonode finished their food. The others are still eating, so Ofonode didn't ask for more. He knows everyone must be finished before anyone gets more. Os is listening carefully to the conversation, waiting to hear Ofonode break in with his questions. He rises up to rest his front feet on Ofonode's chair and finds his friend is sleeping. He climbs up and plops himself on Ofonode's lap. The boy wakes with a start. He looks down to find Os sitting in his lap. The invisian has never done such a thing. He realizes he must have fallen asleep.
Quietly listening, Ofonode waits for a break in the conversation.
Have any of you ever heard of a giant reptilian monster in the creek over there?”
The table goes absolutely silent and still. Boarch, who usually remains silent during meals, speaks, up, “Yes. Didn't we tell you to stay away from the creek, boy?”
No. I haven't heard anything from anyone about staying away from it. I was just over there today.”
Yet, you're here. How is that possible?” Primina asks, her face chalk white and her hands shaking.
I guess I got away, right?” Ofonode begins to feel a little defensive. It wouldn't be good for them to know more about me than they already do. I can't let them find out about my flame.
How did you get away, Ofonode?” Tramdon looks like a little boy as he stares at Odonode looking wonder-struck.
I'm not exactly sure, to tell you the truth. I thought I was a goner and then I was out of the creek entirely. I'm just glad to be alive.” That's basically the truth. I don't know how to make my flame give me wings.
And you still have your lizard. I know I saw it. You both got away. That's a miracle!” Tramdon is pale now as he makes his proclamation.
Everyone at the table nods their heads.
When Primina serves more, she doesn't ask Ofonode if he wants any, she just serves him a large portion. Ofonode smiles and thanks her. The other farm hands look away, pretending not to notice that he has been favored.

Friday, December 9, 2016

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The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima, a book review

Cinda Williams Chima weaves of a tale of fantasy about Jack coming of age in the present day amid medevil rules for those with gifyed with magical abilities in The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima. We meet Jackson as he is hoping to go out for the soccer team. Very early on, he has to choose between tryouts and following through with doctor's orders concerning medicine he has taken his whole life. His choice is the reason we have this tale to enjoy. Is he a wizard? Or a warrior?

I do recommend this novel. I am allowing my 12 year old to read it because it doesn't delve into any questionable subjects and there aren't any steamy scenes. I like that magic is set in present day and still feels potentially plausible. It's easy to get into this story as a female reader and I imagine, since the main character is male, it would be even easier to do so for a guy. I'm looking forward to reading more of Chima's work. I'll let you know what I think of what I read.

Have you read The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima? What did you think of it?