Tag Archives: humor

Just Clowning Around


Rodeo clowns are real heroes. A suspendered dude with a barrel for britches who keeps a 2,000-pound bull from stomping a mud hole in you certainly gets my accolades!

But where are the clowns if you’re not a rodeo star?

I sure didn’t see any a couple of desperate times while growing up on our Arizona ranch. For example, one time a mama cow with no sense of humor took after me across the corral yard.

This non-divine bovine had no idea I merely wanted to pat and admire her new calf. No ma’am. She was prejudiced. She decided, spur of the moment, I was the new serial cow killer in town.

The moment she rolled those big, well . . . cow eyes . . . at me, I knew I’d best be moseying right along, thank you, like r-i-g-h-t n-o-w!

That four-legged express train roared from standstill to 100 mph in one picosecond. My fight or flight syndrome clicked in at about 100.1/2 mph, and the chase was on.

As I hit the corral and shimmied up the slats like a monkey in a tree-climbing contest, I felt  mama cow’s head slam into the boards underneath my shoe soles.

So where were those nice clowns to save my skin that day?

I didn’t see a single one as I wheezed and gasped on the safe side of the fence.

Ol’ Mrs. Udderly let out a snooty bellow, pawed the ground a few times and—I promise this is true—swaggered back to her doe-eyed baby calf.

Sheesh!

Another memorable time, I was allowed to go on a day-long, calf-gathering drive. This was way back in the Macho-via era when cowpunchers were mostly gnarly handed males with parentheses-shaped legs bowed from living on the back of a hoss.

Women folk who went on cattle drives had to be 1) amazing cooks, or 2) look like Jane Russell.

Being twelve years old and looking in no way like Miss Russell, I perceived this privilege as very big indeed. By the late hour in which I was granted this exquisite honor, all the good and grand horses were taken by the higher and mightier cattlemen.

Me? I was stuck with Little Shet, a spotted, squatty Shetland pony.

Little Shet was surefooted enough. The only trouble was his gait and style. He bounded up each hill and down each gully with his short pudgy legs working twice as fast and hard as the other horses’ long graceful legs.

The truth is, he looked like a cartoon with all that extra effort and movement.

What else could I do but hold myself as straight as a matchstick in my miniature “Little Shet” saddle and try not to think about how my head was a good three or four feet below the other riders’ heads?

The most agonizing part was that one of the other riders in the cattle drive happened to be a neighboring rancher’s good-looking son whom I had a fierce crush on!

Several times, I caught him smiling at me that day. Or was he smirking? I wasn’t sure.

Everything would have worked out just dandy if that little dollop of a horse hadn’t gotten ornery when we arrived back at the barn that evening. Sometimes horses do that, and I don’t know what triggered Little Shet’s change of temperament. Maybe he was just happy to be home.

I can forgive lots, really I can. But being bucked over Little Shet’s head, hair-first, onto a carpet of fresh cow patties would have tried anyone’s patience!

Stomping off in my high-heeled boots, my head reeking but held high, I remember thinking,

“Where are all the clowns to settle MY horse and escort ME to the chute?”

I’ll tell you where they were…

 They were draped over their steeds whooping, hollering and slapping their thighs!

 

Copyrighted, original art by Benito, “The Collegian,” Tarrant Community College, Fort Worth, Texas

 

What is a Cowboy? Read D.B. Jackson’s explanation.

 

Just for fun . . .

 

“Wanna hear a secret? Madge was caught with unauthorized media and she’s udderly miserable.”

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Clearing out Cobwebs


I’m ready for vacation. So what?

Spring has erupted with an outbreak of green buds, insanely happy twittering birds and a sales surge in allergy meds.

Synonymous with spring is spring cleaning, that time when we attack every inch of our lives with renewed determination to clear out the cobwebs.

Spring House Cleaning

Hubby’s idea of spring cleaning – or otherwise – is to throw all the out-of-place things in a closet, on a shelf or in layers in drawers. His redemption comes from his incredible speed. He can take an upside-down room and make it “appear” guest-ready in no time.

Conversely, I deep clean a room by attacking the drawers, closets and anything else attackable. My spring or fall cleaning can take 10-13 days. I suck out dust-germies behind drawers with a shop vac, pull the curtains down, scrub walls and baseboards, etc. Nothing is safe!

Brain Cleaning

Spring is also a time to air out our frontal and temporal lobes, as well as our cerebellums.

My prescribed formula for this therapeutic brain drain *see below* works especially well for overworked executives/office personnel, students, all medical folks, beleaguered moms/dads and red-eyed, swollen authors breathlessly huffing and puffing to write constantly while building a grand social platform the size of the Pacific Ocean.

Jodi’s Recommended Brain-Cleansing Method

Lollygag. Hard. On your living-room couch, in a pool chair, lounger or in a hammock for a minimum of two hours. Do not think any deeper than, “What can I pig-out on later . . . wonder what’s on the tube tonight . . . why are stick figures so creepy . . .”

Stuff like that.

Absolutely no telephones or electronic gadgets allowed.

Yes I know.

Disengaging from our screens is like asking us to nose-push a pinto bean from San Francisco to the top of Pike’s Peak.

But you can do it. That screen is a wimp. A weenie. You are powerful. You are Iron.

I believe in you!

Sigh. Just try it, okay?

I boldly proclaim two sessions of concentrated lollygagging will shake off the chaotic grundge and prepare you for vacation and those lazy hazy days of summer.

Your family deserves it.

And guess what?  It just might reintroduce you to

. . . silence.

. . . idle fingers.

…going without any outside communication for two whole hours.

Pow!

Vintage stuff!

Just remember…a drained brain is a happy brain!

 

What is your method of shaking off your worries and responsibilities on the eve of a long weekend or vacation? What about spring cleaning . . . do you do it? Is it a family affair? Please share!

 

Just for fun . . .

I refer all media “borrowers” to my film, Psycho.

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Series: Soups On! ~ Homemade Chicken Soup


Chicken soup with vegetables

Wikipedia says Americans consume approximately 2.5 billion bowls of Campbell’s canned Tomato, Cream of mushroom and Chicken Noodle Soup each year.

Canned soup . . . really?

Perhaps it’s because they never tasted really delicious homemade soup?

My mission, if I choose to accept it, is to share my best soup recipes so canned-soup addicts can wean themselves off the cans.

Will it work? The proof is in the soup, yes?

*Almost* Homemade Chicken Soup

  • 2 chicken breasts with bones, skin & some fat removed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lg. onion, chopped or sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, including leaves, sliced
  • ½  head cabbage, coarsely sliced
  • 1 large potato cut into chunks
  • 1 large or 2 med. tomatoes
  • 1-8 oz. can mixed vegetables
  • 1 pkg. dry Ramen noodle soup w/seasoning packet
  • 1-1/2 cup uncooked minute rice
  • Store-bought chicken broth, optional

Boil chicken in a large pot with the bay leaf. When thoroughly cooked, remove to a platter to cool. Clean the broth by straining it. I sometimes discard half and use chicken broth for the rest of the liquid.

Add onions, celery, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, and the can of mixed vegetables. Simmer until potato chunks are tender. Meanwhile, clean chicken off bones and shred. Be careful not to include any small bones.

Add chicken pieces to soup. Add packet of Ramen seasoning. Break Ramen noodles into halves or thirds. Add the rice. Cover, simmer for five minutes and serve. Accept compliments graciously!

Comment:  Serve with hot rolls, cornbread or crackers.

Comment:  I concocted this soup about 20 years ago, and it has never failed to please.

Homemade chicken soup is supposed to provide medicinal benefits for at least the common cold, and science backs that up. I just know it’s delicious. And soothing. And nothing warms a winter evening quite so well.

Just for fun . . .

I told you borrowing unauthorized media would sour your stomach.

I told you borrowing unauthorized media would sour your stomach.

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

The Day the Public Library Stole My Feet


Thanks to John Wayne, most of us remember the Alamo.

British Museum Reading Room, London, Great Britain

And because of Bodeen’s lovely screenplay adaptation of I remember Mama, lots of us, well, remember Mama.

But get this.

I remember *gasp!* before the Internet.

Let me tell you a story . . .

Once upon a distressing day, in a faraway time we called the ‘80s,

I went solo to the downtown public library for a day of hard-core research.

Before Google. Before Yahoo. Before  *diabolical laugh* cell phones!

Picture it!

Jodi is . . . 

. . . driving downtown to *please use Piers Morgan’s voice for the next five words* the Grand Poo-Bah Public Library.

Okay, put Piers’ voice away now.

Ahem. As I was saying,

Jodi is . . . 

1) driving around and around a monstrosity of a downtown public library on one-way streets getting quite desperate for a parking spot AND A POTTY.

2) snortling (which is a cross between a chortle and a snort) and slapping the steering wheel when she finds a just-vacated parking spot in front of the library and won’t have to park eight blocks away in the seedy parking lot run by a guy named Lefty.

3) ignoring angry faces of two drivers who arrived at sacred parking spot two seconds later than she did. Hard to ignore ugly hand gesture of one angry driver.

4) attempting to fit her Chevy Suburban “tank” into a parking space the size of a kitchen sink. Result: Failure.

Now Jodi is . . . 

1) stomping away from Lefty’s parking lot muttering about her lousy parallel-parking skills and the eight-block walk to the library.

2) loading up her shoulders, arms, wrists, and back with STUFF as if she’s a Grand Canyon pack mule.

3) walking and huffing and glowing (because women don’t sweat) all the way to the library on numbed-out, but very cute, high-heeled feet.

4) climbing the steps into *grab that Piers voice again* the Grand Poo-Bah Public Library.

Put Piersie’s voice away. He’s done.

Inside hallowed library halls, we’ll discard the third-person narration and switch to first-person narration. 

As usual, I was hungry to pounce on every fragment of information inside that lofty, pseudo-Roman-Greek-pillared structure of learning and its tens of thousands of yellowed tomes.

I still needed to use the potty. I unloaded all MY STUFF inside the tiny toilet enclosure, reloaded it to walk to the sink, unloaded it to wash my hands, and reloaded it one more time to walk out the door.

Whew.

I emerged at last from the ladies’ room into a Pantheon of Brilliance. Deeping inhaling the library fumes circling my nose gave me a natural endorphin high. Or was it all the dust mites floating in the air from page-turning currents?

Not sure. Nevertheless, just absorbing that cathedral of knowledge invigorated me.

Achy feet? What achy feet? I was in literature heaven, baby!

I dug my bag of bricks out of the two-inch groove in my shoulder and unloaded it on the blond wood of a nearby library table. Of course, I actually unloaded a bag of ancillary books, notebooks, paper, 3×5 cards, pens and a turquoise nylon lunch sack with a sandwich and a juice box, but it felt like bricks.

Obsolete card catalog files at Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University

Zealously grabbing pens and a stack of notecards, I headed to the catalogued card drawers, giddy with research ecstasy. Two or three steps later, rationale reared its ugly head.

What about MY STUFF?

I looked over my shoulder at my STUFF sitting innocently but tall on the library table. I caught movement from the corners of my eyes. Were furtive characters slithering around the perimeter walls eyeballing my heap of treasure? It certainly seemed so.

I mean, we are talking DOWNTOWN.

What choice did I have? I reloaded my STUFF and took it to the nearest Dewey Decimal lounge.

This was before computerized book cataloging. The few dark-age relics vintage screens in the library had wrap-around lines of people waiting to learn how to operate them.

The lucky few currently in front of the terminals were flanked by two or three library assistants pulling their hair out patiently explaining the mechanisms to minds not yet accustomed to absorbing cyber information.

Really similar to explaining nebulae to your great-great granny.

I know. I know. It’s far too much for some of you to imagine this kind of antiquity without envisioning dinosaurs grazing out on the library lawn. Just because I’m a little jealous of you right now, I’m not going to tell you if dinosaurs were out there or not.

Back to my story.

After bloodying my cuticles STANDING and searching through the overstuffed card drawers and pulling out fuzzy-edged cards with Dewey’s special number codes and compiling a list, I reloaded my STUFF and limped – more like a step-drag-step – to the first aisle of books on my list.

That’s when the fun really started because I . . . 

 

1) dropped my STUFF on the floor between my feet.

2) hunkered over it protectively since aforementioned duplicitous characters ventured ever closer to my personal space.

3) perused book after book.

4) wrote furiously on note cards with one eye on my STUFF.

5) scooted STUFF further down the same aisle.

It became a pattern.

  • Drop STUFF.
  • Scan immediate area.
  • Select books.
  • Stand, bend, squat.
  • Write notes.
  • Put books back into place.
  • Gather pens and cards.
  • Reload STUFF.
  • Next aisle.

Write with both eyes on the disheveled man with trousers rolled up to his knee on one leg. Try not to stare at man’s hairy, pasty leg or listless socks banding his ankles.

He shot me a bet-you-don’t-have-LifeLock stare.

Hold it!

LifeLock wasn’t invented yet!

Okay. I remember now.

It was a bet-I can-run-faster-than-you glare. I scowled at him with and hovered closer to my STUFF, especially my purse.

This went on for about three hours.

Task completed

Factoids painfully gathered, I stumbled out the magnificent double doors of the downtown public library, down the steps and back to my Suburban dragging my derrière and, of course, my STUFF.

After the eight-block walk, I threw all that crap STUFF into the back seat. Sitting under the wheel, my key in the ignition, I rummaged through my purse for the precious index cards full of research gold.

I dug and dug. I jumped out and flung open the passenger door. I tore through my tote bag, books, notebooks and turquoise lunch sack.

No cards.

Miserable as a hound dog in a corset, I had to face the facts. I’d left my cards on a bookshelf back at the library. Had to put them down, you see, to reload all my STUFF.

I stood there grasping the side of the Suburban, teetering on my fifteen four-inch heels and arguing with myself. Should I trek the eight blocks back to the library on the off chance that my cards were still sitting there undisturbed, and not being crinkled *softened* that very moment to use as roll-yer-own cigarette paper?

Nah!

I drove home blathering something like wub wub-wubbie woo. In retrospect, I believe that meant the public library had stolen a lot from me that day – my back muscles, my research cards and , most especially, my feet.

My feet weren’t feet any more, but numbed out blocks of wood suffering from a blister epidemic.

That’s my sad story.

Lesson learned – when I go to the library these days, *which, incredulously, I still love to do* I take a human STUFF watcher along.

AND I NEVER, NO NEVER, wear high heels to the big downtown public library!

What about you? Do you remember the prehistoric days before the Internet? Did you ever get into a mess like this one with no one to help you out of it? If you’re a writer or researcher, what percentage of your research do you do inside an actual library?

Done with Dewey by Tali Balas Kaplan at the ACLS  Blog (Assoc. for Library Service to Children).

USC Doheny Library card catalog room. Four walls lined with small drawers, all empty. Replaced by the Internet terminals at left

 

Arrow

 

Just for fun . . .

 

Stop with the unauthorized media, Tony, and one day, you'll be a big shot like me.

Stop with the unauthorized media, Tony, and one day, you’ll be a big shot like me.

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Pop Goes the Website!


Ahh! Nothing feels more refreshing than a new Website first thing in the morning...

Ahh! Nothing feels more refreshing than a new Website first thing in the morning…

Out With the Old

My OLD website/blog was just sixteen months old when I decided it was time to recreate and refresh my www-world. It seemed the right thing to do with Novel Two of my Southwest series coming out soon.

J-MomNewPicAnd then there was the new profile photo my daughter phone-snapped of me in front of a green shower curtain. That certainly deserved a special place to live, right?

Two months later, and after a lot of sweat equity on my part and from my awesome web designer – Laird Sapir, voila ~ a new website and blog!

Time to let all my sweet peeps know! But how?

A Risk

It’s always a risk to assume what we knowhave, or do will slightly interest anyone else. I began to imagine this conversation:

Someone perfect:  “Hey, Jodi, what’s new?”

Just me:  (Breaking out in big, silly grin) “Oh, not much . . . except I have a new website and blog!”

Someone perfect:  “Really? Cool. (Huge yawn) “Well, have to go file my toenails. Talk later.”

Just me:  “Well, phooey.”

With that make-believe exchange in mind, I thought: Okay then. What is the best way to

present my new website/blog without boring everyone to tears innovatively?

First my brain swelled up like a bag of pink cotton candy. Then it rattled around my skull in a 360. I contemplated all kinds of crazy stuff to do to celebrate this momentous occasion. Stuff like . . .

  • hiring a mariachi band of Russian ex-patriots to march down the main street of Winona, Minnesota, or
  • throwing a boloney and cheese blowout, or  
  • rolling a crate of oranges down Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world

    Lombard Street, San Francisco, California

    Lombard Street, San Francisco, California

To be honest, nothing seemed to fit.

Then it hit me.

POP!

I am the popcorn-nut of all time. If statistics are correct and Americans really do consume 15 billion quarts of popped corn annually, I’m guilty of consuming at least 7 of those billion quarts per year. That’s how much I love my popcorn!

You say, what’s the connection between popcorn and the unveiling of my new website and blog?

I say . . . POP.

That’s the connection.

  • Popcorn POPS!
  • My new, Southwest-themed website designed by Memphis McKay POPS!  

Get it?

Popcorn per w-cMaybe not, but for hanging with me this long, I want to give you something – my Texas Hot Chili Popcorn recipe. It’s hanging out in the “Chuckwagons and Campfires” section of my website, *here’s a link.* It’s so hot, you’d better call the fire department before you serve it!

By the way, thank you thank you thank you for sharing my joy in presenting my new Cyber-Home!

Your opinion matters to me.

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

The Octopus Knows – A Round-Robin Rising


 Hankering for some round-robin fiction?

 Green-eyes

It’s my turn to participate in The Octopus Knows, and I’d love it if you’d come along for the ride.

As far as round-robins go…this one’s a doozy. It all started when one of my very creative blogging/writing friends, Laird Sapir, suggested a collaborative writing project to interject a little craziness into our writing lives. The simple rule is that each writer begins where the last writer left off.

Laird wrote the first segment to get us started, and she keeps a nice log documenting all the subsequent segments. It’s great fun to read the entire “novella” and enjoy the different writing styles of all the participants. It’s turning into a humorous, innovative work of fiction with suspense, mystery and drama!

Segment XIV was written by Karen Pullen, mystery and short-story writer.

 

Previously in The Octopus Knows…

Though it was almost their demise, Ninja, Simon and Marguerite manage to save the world by closing the portal to an alternate universe of antimatter. With only two minutes to spare before certain death, the three manage to escape by desperately clinging to one another and the gunbrella, which conveniently opens into a giant parasol. A breeze lifts them up and away toward a faint light high above. They land somewhere on a ledge in the side of a rocky wall. Ninja is suffering the most from the heat and lack of water…

The Octopus Knows, Chapter Mox-Nix, Segment XV

Filtered sunlight streamed through the mesh, lighting one side of the craggy red rock and casting a warm glow on the exhausted threesome. Simon attempted to lift one of Ninja’s tentacles glued to his shoulder. It felt like raw cookie dough.

“Don’t,” Ninja rasped. “Please.”

“Where in the Black Hole are we?” Marguerite asked, casting a troubled look at Simon. Ninja was perishing before their very eyes.

Simon nodded to let her know he was as worried about Ninja as she was. “Well, our predicament doesn’t look so bad now that it’s light. Let’s see…we seem to be in a canyon with a gravelly bottom and a strange piece of something covering the opening.”  Simon’s voice was artificially cheerful.

Ninja raised his head off the back of Simon’s hair. “My dear fellow partners in crime, or should I say, galactical advocates of the experimental kind? I’m afraid the end has come. Now Merguerite, don’t look like that, my lovely. It’s been a good run, and all good things must end sometime.”

“What the blazes, Ninj!” Marguerite was suddenly all flashing eyes and angry energy. Stop talking like that! You’re not going…going…” She collapsed in a heap of sobs, her hands covering her face.

Simon stared. “I didn’t think you had any emotions left, my sweet,” he couldn’t help saying. He walked to her with Ninja’s head bobbing slightly with each step. “Here, old gal. Pull yourself together.”

Good God he loved that woman. His whole façade of liking men had been a smokescreen to hide his crushed heart. She was an addiction, and he’d succumbed to it in every nuclei of every cell of his being. Geez—he actually loved her more since the accident. Oreos and crap food had never taken away the pain of losing her.

Marguerite dropped her hands and fastened those beautiful green eyes on him. They were filled to the brim with tears and something else—desperation.  Help Ninja, they pleaded.

A swishing sound made Simon look down. A small stream rushed onto the gravel below and surrounded an embedded boulder like a horseshoe, turning the greedy ground a darker shade. Ninja lifted a shaky head off Simon and sniffed the air. “Wha…what’s happening, Simon?”

“Water! Beautiful H2O is happening, my slimy, tentacled friend!”

Simon was already scooting down the rough rock wall, his extra weight making him slip and slide, but descending nevertheless. Ninja sat atop Simon like a little child clinging and trusting it’s daddy. At the bottom, Simon dropped to his knees in the watery liquid.

“Can you release yourself, Ninja?”

“Afraid not,” Ninja replied in a tiny apologetic voice.

Marguerite was suddenly there dipping her scarf in the water and spreading it over Ninja, squeezing and patting. “Ahhh,” Simon cooed. Again and again, Marguerite lifted the scarf full of the life-saving fluid and applied it to Ninja’s scorched, sticky limbs. At last, Ninja slid off Simon and into the water. His tentacles looked like eels winnowing through the shallow stream. He laughed his shrill octopus laugh, which sounded exactly like a whippoorwill to Simon, and sang his favorite song, God Save the Queen, twice without stopping. Why that particular song was Ninja’s favorite was a mystery to Simon, but it was downright music to his ears right now.

Marguerite was laughing and splashing right alongside Ninja. Simon gazed at her, transfixed by her beauty. How could anyone so lovely be so deadly?

“Simon, look!” Her screech shook him from his stare. Marguerite was pointing at a giant cat’s head peering through the mesh at them. Ninja swam near. The three of them watched in shock as the cat pawed at the wire. It moved. The cat swiped again. One more swipe and they would be exposed. Would they die like mice in the jaws of an oversized feline?

“Quick…where’s the gunbrella?” Ninja gasped.

“It’s supposed to be on the ledge, but I don’t see it now!” Simon yelled.

“Are you both insane…it didn’t just disappear into thin air!” Marguerite shrieked.

A huge paw was reaching down toward them…was this the end? 

Two chubby hands encircled and lifted the cat. It rose above them with a disappointed meow!

“Kitty-Tom, I’ve been looking all over for you. It’s your turn to wear the baby bonnet today,” said a youngster’s voice above them.

Hollow eyed and breathing hard, the three collapsed against each other. Marguerite pulled away.

“Damn nation, Simon, you swallowed the X-Raniam powder inside the vial in your wand, didn’t you?” Marguerite’s eyes sparked with anger. “You crazy fool! Don’t you remember what happens if you take that powder after drinking Courvoisier? And don’t tell me you didn’t nip plentifully when you went back to your apartment!”

Simon’s eyes darted east and west in rapid succession. He smacked his forehead and groaned.

Ninja pushed off Simon’s legs and did an attractive backstroke in the water. “She’s right, old boy. I just did a few calculations. Judging from the size of that cat’s head, I’d say we’re all about two inches high.”

Simon sat down in the water. “But…but…but…why are you and Marguerite shrunken? I’m the one who drank the combination,” he sputtered.

“The heat and intensity from those power waves when we were saving the world, I’m afraid. Then we wrapped ourselves together like wontons and floated into air. Any organic change in you would have transferred to us. It’s just science,” Ninja explained, coming to a stop and leaning on one tentacle like a bent arm. His face held a sad but accepting expression.

Marguerite made her way up the side of the rock and peered over the top. “What the…?” she said.

“What do you see, my dear?” Ninja asked.

“Cactus. Saguaro cactus. A rock yard. Your stream is coming from a garden hose, Ninja! Our mesh is a piece of rusted screen.” She gasped and put a hand over her mouth. “My God, I think we’re somewhere in Arizona!”

“That’s impossible! Marguerite, come back down, dear. You’re delusional. We’ll figure this out together. Come on now. It’s all been too much,” Simon said, standing and reaching his arms toward her.

“Shut up, Simon! I know the Southwest when I see it. You forget that I’ve broken some huge cases here—that South American Mafia ring, the Interplanetary Dread Society case… this, my careless, stupid lunatic…is Tucson!

*****

What will happen to two-inch Ninja, Simon and Marguerite in Tucson? And where is that blasted, elusive Mr. Jones hiding out? Tune in next week to find out what happens next. Lyndsey Jones will take us on our next adventure with The Octopus Knows!

 

 


 

 

 

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Hear Ye! HearYe! Wikirandom Winner Arm Wrestles Godzilla!


Godzilla? Uh huh. More about that later. First, some important business…

We have a Winner!

As the April winner of the Wikirandom Writers Challenge – a three-sentence flash-fiction contest – it was my privilege and honor to launch the May challenge. The prompt was “the whitest sand” taken from a random article in Wikipedia. 

I found it extremely difficult to judge my fellow writers’ efforts. Each entry was a jewel unto itself. Reading just three delicious little sentences, my emotions were stirred, ideas jumped into my head, I started writing the next lines…well, here, see what I’m talking about:

Laird Sapir wrote about a tiny blue diecast car discovered in the whitest sand “…rusty, and lonely for the boy it once belonged to!” Couldn’t you just die of curiosity?

Then Doris McCraw comes at me with a romantic reflection that has me wondering what in the heck happened to that person who left the protection of those aching arms?

Liv Rancourt’s character gave up Montenegro to sit by “a crappy, old pool” with someone. Wow! That SOMEONE must have been SOMETHING!

Ellen Gregory, quite simply, wrote the first lines of a smash movie hit.

You see my dilemma, don’t you?

I went into the closet and put on my black Judge Judy Robe and sat on a marble bench in the yard and let the birds do-do on my head. Not really, but I might have if I’d owned a judge’s robe. Instead, I slept on it…for about six nights. At last, I came to a verdict, er, I mean, decision, basing it on the fact that this particular entry was not only incredible like the others, but it also had an indefinable quality that played over and over in my head. 

Are you ready?

 

The gavel has hit the sound block.

The winner is…

Elaine Smothers!

Here’s what she wrote:

 

 

The skies grew visibly angry, and waves of raging breakers pummeled the shore in rapid succession; impassioned witnesses to an evil deed. Leaning his weight against the shovel, a malevolent smirk played across his face and he spit on the ground, a merciless epitaph to his latest handiwork of hatred. Sometimes the whitest sand holds the darkest secrets.

See what I mean? Congratulations, Elaine!!!

My days on the bench have ended. It’s time to pass my judicial seat to Elaine Smothers. I have to say, I’m quite glad to retire from the bench and go back to just being an author! Thanks to all of you who took time from your busy schedules to create a little entertainment for the rest of us. A contest is only as good as the contestants, so please participate wildly in the next challenge.

Wait! What about Godzilla?

Oh, I forgot to tell you that Elaine and Godzilla have scraped the arm wrestling. They’re staging a mud wrestling event right along with the June contest. I’ve already bought my front-row tickets. I hear seating is limited, so don’t delay! 

What a talented group of writers you are! Take it away, Elaine…

 

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Adopt a Tiki…and other (Wiki)Random thoughts


Did you know Tikis are great companions? I’ll tell you why after this important announcement –

Last month, I was honored to win the WikiRandom Writers Challenge. The challenge was to create (preferably off the top of my head) a three-sentence story based on a prompt chosen by March’s winner from an article she found by hitting Wikipedia’s Random Article button.

Now it’s my turn to find the May 2012 winner

The rules are simple. You use the prompt I select in a three-sentence story and post it in the comments section below. The winner will be announced May 29, and he/she receives a cool badge to display on his/her website plus lots of, as the creator of the contest – Laird Sapir – says, adoration and praise!

*Assuming best infomercial voice* But that’s not all! The winner will also host the next WikiRandom Writers Challenge on their own blog any time in June and will serve as the presiding judge over the June entries.

Why (Wiki)Tiki?

I’m still a country gal at heart. When I win something, it’s a cotton candy, ride-the-Ferris-wheel kind of moment for me. So, when Ellen Gregory picked me as the WikiRandom winner in April, I kind of wanted to dunk my head in a tub and bring up a cob of corn with my teeth. I knew that wouldn’t be much fun for you, so I decided to share a little something near and dear to my heart – (Wiki)Tiki.

Why You Should Adopt a Tiki.

  • They enjoy the beach/pool and love to sunbathe.
  • They don’t care how you look in your swimsuit.
  • They keep an eye (or several) on your towel and suntan lotion.
  • They don’t sneak any of your Gatorade.
  • They are huge Adele fans.
  • They don’t like chemistry or P.E., so no college tuition.
  •  They love jokes. Even tell a few themselves if you listen carefully.
  • Doggie piddle is okay as long as you hose them off afterward.
  • They think both donkeys and elephants are cute, so they’re politically correct.
  • They hate commercials and pointy hats.

That’s just a few of the many reasons why you should adopt a Tiki. I know you can’t wait to run out and buy your very own, so without wasting any more of your valuable time, are you…

Ready for Your Prompt?

 

(張嘉福) (同中書門下平章事)

 

Just kidding! Your prompt is:  the whitest sand . . .

Have fun!

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Lather: The Twinkle Jackson Story / a Round-Robin Excursion


“Those are really undercover squirrels at my feet, you know” – The Golden Goddess, sister of Juniper Jackie aka Jupernia

How can I explain our far-out fantasy, Lather: The Twinkle Jackson Story?

I can’t.

My writing and blogging group was bored and became excited to take on another Round Robin tale of extreme proportions. It’s rollicking fun to blend our various writing styles *think fingernails on a chalk board!* to produce a story like none other. Our first experiment, the Octopus Knows, was a grand adventure, definitely worth reading, and I think a lesson in group therapy! Here’s the link for brave Round-Robin Reading aficionados.

You can read Chapters 1-6 of our current tale on the links below. If, after reading Lather, the Twinkle Jackson Story, you experience any of the following:  total brain crash, loss of saliva or Restless Toe Syndrome (RTS), please contact Laird Sapir – the creator of this maniacal activity. She also designed the beautiful Sparkle Sudz Soap graphic. Yes, she’s a mad scientist of the galactic-graphical kind, and we’re hopelessly devoted to her leadership in our RR *Round Robin* ventures!

Previous chapters:

Without further ado, the Twinkle Jackson story continues. Note: If this yarn messes with your IQ, please don’t contact us. Thank you.

Chapter Seven

“Mom!” Twinkle gasped. With a cry, he grabbed his mother around the neck.

“Hang on, son!”  Jupernia shouted as she half slid, half flew down the curve of the spaceship pulling Twinkle with her. She had been shocked, pleasantly so, that they were still planted in Geraldo’s vegetable garden and not soaring through the galaxies.

The big buffoon, she sighed, thinking of her husband inside the house. All this racket and he hadn’t once come outside. She could picture him snoring with his chin on his chest, slumped at his work table—a neon yellow Stanley Surform wood/plastic shaver in one hand and an unfinished toy in the other. How she did love that Earthling!

“Soon,” she said, barely above a whisper. Twinkle felt, more than heard her speak, as they swooshed toward the ground.

“Soon, what, Mother? And what in the name of all that’s chiseled from wood is going on? Where have you been? Are you really the Golden Goddess’ sister? What are you doing with that overgrown crustacean?”

Jupernia didn’t answer. Touching ground, she pulled from her dark cloak a glowing box encircled by a sparkly silver cord. Slipping off the cord, she twirled it in the air like a lasso. The circle at the end hooked the tip of an oxygen tube on the spaceship.

“Yes!” she said, immediately closing her eyes and humming Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The Crustaship, including the Shrimperators swarming the craft’s ramp like disturbed fire ants, disappeared in a poof of sappy mist. Twinkle knew it was sappy because he tasted it. He’d chewed enough tree sap in his young life to be a sap expert.

Jupernia crossed her arms over her chest in an X and smiled. “I’ve been saving my last lasso loop for a time like this,” she said.

Twinkle fell backward on his dad’s squashed squash plants. His mind was exploding. He looked at his mother. Who was she?

“Come,” Jupernia beckoned, leading the way into their open-air summer gazebo. Once inside, she removed the heavy dark cloak and placed it and the glowing box on the white painted iron table between the matching iron chairs. “Twinkle,” prepare yourself. I need to explain fast before Lord Lobstar’s minions break the sap-mist code.

Twinkle blinked rapidly and stroked his curls.

“My sister and I look like Earthlings, but we are really from Planet Juniper located in the Fir Galaxy – a place where trees and hair have the perfect conditions – you might say, conditioner – to thrive. You probably wondered why I became a professional tree climber. Now you know. It’s in my Tree-N-A. The lemon-mint conditioner I always made in a tub in the basement is the same mixture everyone uses on our planet.

Juniper, a Planet of the Fir Galaxy

“Why did you come to Earth in the first place, Mom?”

“I simply fell in love. I met your father while attending a wood class at Maple University, and oh, the things he could carve out of wood. It just filled my heart with joy! We Juniparians are allowed to visit other planets, of course, but certainly not to stay, or marry the inhabitants. I stayed, married, and my little sister followed me here. We were banned from returning, and Golden took a job with Sparkle Sudz Soap. Soap became her substitute for sap.

I became a wife and mother.” She ran her fingers through the top of Twinkle’s hair and smiled lovingly at him.

“Son, our national anthem is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Need I say more?”

Twinkle was angry. Not about being half Earthling, half Juniparian. No, that was kind of cool. He was angry because his Mother left them without a word. He was angry that his father was so weak he’d become a hoarder and shrink-wrap-bulk purchaser since she left. Mostly, he was angry at the torment he’d suffered at the claws of Lord Lobstar.

“I never thought my own mother would throw in with a Lobster Mobster,”  he sulked. Twinkle dipped his hand in his pocket, withdrew it and blew through the “O” he formed with his thumb and forefinger. A medium-sized bubble slipped into the night sky.

“You’ve never met your Grandpa and Grandma Woods, Twinkle. I wanted to fix that. When I got word that our planet was in trouble, I went undercover to help. You see, we’re a gentle people, as trusting as limbs, uh, I mean, lambs. The way I heard it, when Lord Lobstar first showed up, Juniparians felt sorry for him. He’d lost the love of his life and had self-exiled himself into space. He seemed so humble, so peaceful. In time, he became a citizen and ran for Conifer Councilman. He won! His next office was President of Pine, our largest continent. In time, he became the Fir Forrester, our planet’s primary leader. He talked Juniparians into giving up their glowing boxes and silver cords, our only weapons, to show absolute faith in him.

“As he became physically weaker from being so long out of his own environment, he turned briny and bitter about his past. He made up outlandish stories about his home planet, denying that he was an Earthling. Son, you…you won’t believe where Lord Lobstar is actually from. I’m almost afraid to tell you.”

Twinkle jumped from his chair and ran onto the lawn. He twirled around three times and did a shoulder stand. “Tell me! Tell me!” he babbled, his eyes flickering like an old black and white television screen. Jupernia bit her knuckle. Her son was exhibiting symptoms of Wooden Head, a Juniparian illness triggered by stress overload. She needed to quickly tell him the rest of the story and get a ground-up bark malt down his throat before it was too late.

“Okay, son. Calm down. Lord Lobstar is from Earth. From the Pacific Ocean to be exact. His girlfriend was one of our undercover agents who masquerades as a squirrel under the sea. She fell in love with Larry the lobster, a simple lifeguard and weight lifter who loved to show off his muscles on the beach. Who could guess that Larry’s downfall and heartbreak would come from a crazy little guy who wore square pants…a mutant sponge they call SpongeBob?”

Twinkle’s rolling saucer eyes and dribbling mouth scared Jupernia.

“Yes, it’s true. Lord Lobstar is from Bikini Bottom. When Sandy dumped him for SpongeBob, it broke him. Messed him up pretty bad. Sandy, out of guilt, and due to his continual insistence, invented a Crustaship for him. He sailed away into the heavens until he found a planet to take over—ours. Now his only motivation is revenge.

His evil scheme is to destroy SpongeBob, Patrick, and even his distant cousin, Mr. Crabs. He desperately needs a half Earthling, half Juniparian to accomplish his goal, and that’s where you come in.

“My dear and only child, Earth and Juniper’s future is at stake.

“We have to find a way to save Bikini Bottom!”

 

Oh my…Bikini Bottom is in grave danger! What will happen? Can Jupernia save Twinkle from Wooden Head disease? Will the Sap-Mist wear off too soon? Is the Golden Goddess really on their side, or is she up to something more sinister? Stay tuned for the next chapter! The continuing lineup is sitting quietly on Laird Sapir’s blog. Thanks for joining us. We needed the sane brain cells you brought with you!

I always love to hear from you.

 

 

 

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.