Monday, November 30, 2009

October Pictures

Okay, done with National Novel Writing Month. Here are pictures of Nick and Xander in October. You see how scholarly Nick is.

Sorry about the sideways picture. If I spent time trying to rotate it correctly, I would be here for another hour. I'm not kidding.

Sir Reddy and Sir Pants Decide On Something and It Is Time for the End

Sir Reddy said to Sir Pants, "We've had a lot of strange and silly adventures together."

Sir Pants said, "They were fun."

"Yes, fun," said Sir Reddy. "Even when they didn't make much sense."

"Especially when they didn't make much sense," said Sir Pants.

"Oh," said Sir Reddy. "Yes, I suppose you're right. I really liked the adventure where we met the

"I liked the colored owls," said Sir Pants.

"Of course," said Sir Reddy. "Who wouldn't? And it was so nice meeting Nella the magician, wasn't it?"

"Yes!" said Sir Pants. "It was fun to make her a gift."

"Remember the day when we both got a cold and couldn't go out and didn't do anything but blow our noses and wash our hands?"

"Yes," said Sir Pants. "There isn't much to say about that day."

"No," said Sir Reddy. "There isn't. I'm glad I don't have to blow my nose every minute today."

"Me, too," said Sir Pants. "And my lips aren't chapped. It's a good day."

"Oh, I almost forgot!" said Sir Reddy. "We saw Princess Pieplate on one of our adventures. That wasn't so bad."

"It was pretty nice," agreed Sir Pants. "And Prince Pastepot. He's always good for a laugh."

Sir Reddy nodded.

"There was one thing I didn't get to say to you during our adventures," said Sir Pants.

"What is it?" asked Sir Reddy.

"You are my best friend and I like you."

Sir Reddy smiled. "I like you and you are my best friend!"

"Well, that's settled," said Sir Pants.

The End

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Owl Song

Nella liked her bird feeder, even though she had to keep it locked in her closet, because whenever any other birds came close to her room, her owl got grumpy.

But she said it was her favorite, and Sir Reddy and Sir Pants were happy she liked it.

Nella sang a song to them:

"One owl went flying out the door,
One more than there was before.

Two owls went flying right past me,
The second one green as a willow tree,
The first one was as blue as blue can be.

Three owls went flying in the sky,
The third one, a red one, went right by.
The second one green as a key lime pie,
The first one blue like a dragonfly.

Four owls flew into evening dusk,
The fourth one black as a walnut husk
The third one red like a fire truck,
The second one green like rainforest muck,
The first one blue as a blue-dyed tusk.

Five owls flew and said, "Hoo, hoo,"
The fifth one was purple to tell the truth,
The fourth one as black as a big to-do,
The third one red as a bright caboose,
The second one green, green like goo,
The first one you know by now was blue.

Six owls decided to land in a barn,
The sixth one yellower than foamy barm,
The fifth one as purple as thread on a garn,
The fourth one black as if to warn
Of coming night the owl red like yarn,
The second one green as a sick schoolmarm,
And the first one as deep blue as a tarn.

All six of them wanted to rest before hunting,
The yellow and purple on old and torn bunting,
The black and the red ones on bales of hay hunching,
The green one thought rest sounded like a fun thing,
The blue one was already dreaming of punting.

Such an owl coterie was never seen before
And people believe they came straight from lore.
But I saw them with my own eyes that bored
Into the sight of them and remembered evermore.

If you see them don't hurry to tell the tale;
The owls I speak of won't leave any trail.
If you try to prove it you'll most likely fail.

So ends the song that I'm singing to you,
I'm stopping it quickly to go to the loo."

Then Nella said, "Excuse me," and ran out the door to go to the bathroom.

"Bye," said Sir Reddy and Sir Pants.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Twelve Colored Birds

It was time to give Nella the gift.

Sir Pants and Sir Reddy climbed the stairs up to her room in the tallest tower of Caraway Castle. They climbed ten steps. An orange owl flew right above their heads.

"What was that?" exclaimed Sir Reddy, who had not been expecting anything to fly over his head.

Sir Pants was a bit shaken himself, but he said, "It was an orange owl," very matter-of-factly.

"Pretty," said Sir Reddy, looking after it.

It was soon gone.

Sir Pants and Sir Reddy climbed twenty steps. A purple owl flew over their heads.

"What was--" said Sir Reddy, but then he realized what it was. "Oh."

"That was a purple one," said Sir Pants.

"Pretty," said Sir Reddy.

The purple owl was soon gone from their sight.

Sir Pants and Sir Reddy climbed thirty more steps. A red owl flew right over their heads, so close they could hear its wings beating the air.

"Whoa!" said Sir Pants.

"A red owl," Sir Pants and Sir Reddy told each other, at the same time.

"Pretty," said Sir Reddy.

It was soon gone in the same direction the other owls had flown.

"Where do you think they're going?" asked Sir Reddy, as he and Sir Pants climbed more steps.

"Who knows?" said Sir Pants. "Maybe the same place we're going." He smiled. He was just joking.

A green owl passed over their heads.

"A green one, now," said Sir Pants.

"Pretty," said Sir Reddy.

After that owl was gone, Sir Reddy said, "Let's try to guess what color the next one will be."

"How do you know there will be a next one?" asked Sir Pants.

"It's likely," said Sir Reddy.

"Brown," guessed Sir Pants.

"Blue," said Sir Reddy.

A blue owl flew over their heads.

"You cheated," said Sir Pants. "You must have seen that one coming."

"I wasn't guessing," said Sir Reddy. "I was telling you what color it was. Not brown."

"Yes," said Sir Pants a little grumpily.

After a pause and a few more steps, Sir Pants said, "Yellow? Do you think the next one will be yellow?"

"Either that or brown like you said, or black," said Sir Reddy.

"That covers a lot of territory," said Sir Pants.

The next owl that flew over them was yellow. Very soon after that a black owl flew by.

"Will there be any more?" Sir Pants wondered.

A white owl flew over them.

Sir Pants and Sir Reddy climbed fifty more steps. A brown owl flew overhead.

"Are...we...almost...there?" asked Sir Reddy, panting. He was very tired from climbing all those steps.

"," said Sir Pants.

Before they could knock on Nella's door, she opened it. Out of the door flew an orange owl, a purple owl, a red owl, a green owl, a blue owl, a yellow owl, a black owl, a white owl, and a brown owl. They flew out the top window of the tower and were gone. Sir Pants and Sir Reddy went into Nella's room. In it sat a gray owl, harrumphing and settling its feathers down. It shook its head back and forth a few times.

"He gets a little territorial," said Nella. "Would you like some tea?"

"We brought you a gift," said Sir Pants. He didn't want to have to look for another tea cup.

"Ooh!' squealed Nella. "What is it?"

Sir Pants and Sir Reddy handed her a bird feeder.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Roc Cooks Chicken

chapter by Xander Powers and Kristy Powers

The roc was cooking chicken. It liked chicken.

Sir Pants and Sir Reddy did not know the roc.

So they weren’t invited to eat the chicken with the roc. That was good, because the roc was so hungry and wanted to eat the chicken all by itself.

After it ate all the chicken all by itself, the roc was thirsty for some milk. First, it drank some milk. Then, it ate a whole elephant! A big knight man showed up. Sir Pants and Sir Reddy came with the big knight man. They saw a horse to ride. And then they saw two horses to ride to catch the basilisk.

But only they took away the horses. They needed to find the basilisk and the horses. And the basilisk and the horses were just right there, right over a pillow hill.

And the horses and the basilisk peeked out of the pillow hill. And then the knights scratched the horses. One of the knights scratched the basilisk’s wing. Then they all saw the Astro Boy! He had something he could shoot out of his arm. He was going to shoot the basilisk. He shot it! Oh, and the basilisk was all killed. The basilisk was hurt on one of its corners, and Sir Reddy gave the basilisk a Cars movie Band-Aid. The basilisk tried to lick him.

And then, dinosaurs and monsters and dragons and knights!

Knights Fight and Mythical Beasts and Monsters and Dragons Fight

Sir Pants and Sir Reddy hammered. They hammered, hammered, hammered, and hammered some more. They were making good progress on the gift for Nella.

Then a basilisk swooped in and carried away the gift.

"Oh, no!" shouted Sir Pants. "There goes my gift! That very dangerous basilisk took it away!"

Sir Reddy said, "Strap on your sword. Make sure you've got your helmet and shield. We will chase the basilisk and get your gift back."

"I always have my helmet, shield, and sword," said Sir Pants, insulted. "I am always ready. But aren't you scared of the basilisk?"

"No," said Sir Reddy. "This is what knights do. They chase and fight. And guard things. And give things to nice magicians. We will find the basilisk."

Sir Pants and Sir Reddy ran off after the basilisk. Unfortunately, they did not have horses to ride. But they ran very fast.

They encountered a minotaur.

The minotaur said, "Stop! You may not go past me!"

"We have to go chase a basilisk," explained Sir Pants.

"I am not going to let you," said the minotaur.

"Then let's fight," said Sir Reddy.

"Okay," said the minotaur. "If you can beat me in a fight, I will let you pass to keep chasing the basilisk."

Sir Reddy hit the minotaur over the head with his sword. The minotaur was very dizzy and fell down.

"Okay," he said, "you can go."

Sir Reddy and Sir Pants ran after the basilisk.

Then a chimera ran up to them. It roared and hissed and bleated at them with its lion, serpent, and goat heads.

"You cannot go past me!" said the chimera with a roar, hiss, and bleat.

"We have to go catch that basilisk who carried away my gift for Nella the magician," said Sir Pants.

"No!" thundered the chimera.

"Oh, just fight already, Sir Pants," said Sir Reddy.

They fought. The chimera let them pass.

They could not really see the basilisk anymore, but they knew which direction it had gone. They kept running.

Then they saw a cyclops. He looked scary. Sir Pants got ready to fight so they could pass by the cyclops. He drew his sword. The cyclops raised his hands in the air.

"Hold on," said the cyclops. "Please don't fight me. I just wanted to know if you wanted some stew. I made some in my deep, dark cave and there is too much for me to eat all by myself."

Sir Reddy and Sir Pants were very hungry.

"Okay," they said.

They went to the cyclops's deep, dark cave and sat down on the ground in front of a huge fireplace to eat some stew. The bowls of stew the cyclops gave them were enormous. So were the spoons. Sir Reddy and Sir Pants ended up eating chunks out of the stew with their bare hands. Then they tilted the heavy bowls to drink all the broth.

"Ha ha!" said the cyclops. "I put something in the stew to make you drowsy, so I could tie you up and keep you as prisoners!"

"Oh, no!" exclaimed Sir Reddy. "What was it you put in the stew?"

"It was Galloping Mint," said the cyclops.

"Oh, right," said Sir Pants in a cheerful voice. "I love that stuff in the mornings. Are you sure that was supposed to make us drowsy? It usually wakes me up!"

"All us knights drink that stuff for tea when we camp out during sieges," said Sir Reddy. "I feel quite energetic. Let's go catch that basilisk!"

"Hmmm," said the disgruntled cyclops as Sir Pants and Sir Reddy ran away.

A sphinx caught up with them.

"Whatcha doing?" she asked.

"Trying to catch that basilisk who took my gift," said Sir Pants.

"I know of a faster way to catch it," said the sphinx. "I can fly. You could ride on my back. I'll catch that basilisk in an instant."

"Sounds great," said Sir Reddy.

"Wait, what if it's a trap, like the one the cyclops set for us?" asked Sir Pants.

"Don't worry," said Sir Reddy. "The cyclops's trap didn't even work."

"Oh yeah," said Sir Pants.

They got on the sphinx's back. She flew strong and fast. They could soon see the basilisk in the distance again.

"What do you want me to do to that basilisk once we catch it?" asked the sphinx. "Shall I tear it to little pieces?"

"Um...." Sir Pants thought about her offer.

"No, I don't think so," said Sir Reddy. "That would be not nice."

They saw a hydra down below.

"Oh, that's my best friend the hydra," said the sphinx. "I'm going to stop and say hi."

"No!" said Sir Pants. "We have to catch the basilisk!"

But the sphinx was already landing on the ground. She and the hydra had a lot to talk about. The hydra especially had a lot to say out of its nine mouths.

Sir Pants and Sir Reddy decided to run after the basilisk again while they could still see it. After a while, they heard a loud panting behind them. It was the hydra. The hydra was running with them.

"I want to eat the basilisk," said the hydra, "when you find it."

At that point, they caught up with the basilisk. It was facing off to a very large, green Western dragon. The dragon breathed fire at the basilisk. The basilisk stared at the dragon. The dragon started to whimper.

Then the hydra jumped in between them, and the dragon stopped whimpering. It flew away, breathing a little smoke out its nostrils just to prove that it still could.

"I want to eat you," the hydra said to the basilisk.

Sir Pants noticed that his gift for the magician was lying on the ground between the basilisk's clawed feet.

The basilisk hissed and stared at the hydra meaningfully. The hydra shrugged.

"Doesn't hurt me," said the hydra. "I've got nine heads to share the sting."

The basilisk grunted in disgust and turned away. It left the gift that Sir Pants and Sir Reddy had been hammering for the magician. Sir Pants ran up and retrieved it.

"Let's go home quick, while we can," he said to Sir Reddy.

Sir Reddy nodded eagerly.

They started home. Eventually, they met a harpy. The harpy offered to fly them home so they could get back quicker. They were a little suspicious, but when a chupacabra walked up and offered good references for the harpy, they agreed to ride her back home.

As they flew, they saw a leviathan in some dark waters below. Later, they saw a gorgon hanging out by an open fire with the legendary cerberus, who was barking quite loudly. The gorgon laughed. At some point, a red-colored Western dragon passed them.

"Hello," it said to them.

"Hello," they said back.

"Sir Pants, maybe some other time we can come back and meet the rest of these creatures," said Sir Reddy.

"Agreed," said Sir Pants.

They went home and went to sleep.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I Can't Think of Titles While A Baby Is Crying

Couple of things that interest me:

It was Erik's idea recently for us to have nights of the week when we do particular things after the kids are in bed. It has worked out fantastically so far. We do Business slash Sustainable Practices Night (everything that needs to be discussed, scheduled, budgeted, or done plus brainstorming about little projects we can do around the house to live more sustainably); Golf Night for Erik when I stay home with the kids; Library Night for me when Erik stays home with the kids; TV Night (Thursdays for The Office, of course); Board Game Night; Night Off, otherwise known as the Gator Game in football season; and Date Night At Home. I love how we anticipate the different nights, and not for the TV shows that come on. Except for Thursdays. I believe it's important for the kids to see that their parents love each other, have fun together, and do things for each other sometimes that don't involve the kids. Xander notices when we have game nights and sounds excited when he asks, "Do you play game with Daddy?" "Daddy, do you play game with Mommy?" This is on his way to the bathroom for the fifth time that night, of course. He likes the games we play with him (Candy Land, Word Bingo, Dora Dominoes, the Minotaur's Maze game that's a bit above his head) and we intend to include him in the more interesting family and adult games as soon as he's able. I've seen some pretty cool looking strategy games for very young kids that I am itching to get for him, like Gulo Gulo. A couple of the euro games we have now could be played by an 8-year-old. Only four and a half years to go! I'd like to keep the game playing exciting so it's something the whole family wants to do together as an alternative to watching TV. Don't get me wrong, we do plenty of that, too, but I want other things in our lives. Xander loves to watch Nature with Erik or home improvement shows with me and that's pretty nice, too. TV relieves stress well and promotes cuddling. But I am off track.

The other thing I wanted to mention, particularly to any grandparents reading this, is that our children are fortunate to have lots and lots of toys and books, so please don't feel the need to go all out for them for Christmas. Now it is at least half my doing that they have so many toys and books, so I understand the allure of buying things for them. Make yourself happy. Just know that they don't need anything. Trains, cars, trucks, stuffed animals, blocks, crayons, pirates, mythical beasts, dress-up clothes, dinosaurs, cozy quilts, puzzles, games, books for all ages, knights, stacking cups, pictures, lacing beads, hanging monkeys, movies...they've got all that and more. I'm trying to make all our holidays about happiness, and for us a lot of times that means simplicity. But happiness comes from a lot of different places, as long as there's love, so do what you do.

Nick is crying angrily and that's my cue to go. I guess one thing he would put on his Christmas list is a 24-hour IV of milk. That might make him happy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sir Pants and Sir Reddy Finally See a Mirror

Sir Pants and Sir Reddy stared into the mirror in the hidden closet in the magician's room. There they saw murky, shadowy versions of themselves. (It wasn't a very good, flat mirror, so they looked a little bit wavier than their normal selves.)

Sir Reddy waved and said hello. At the exact same moment, the murky, wavy version of himself waved and said hello. Sir Pants jumped up and down once. The Sir Pants in the mirror did the same thing at the same time.

"I see," said Sir Pants. "I think I understand now."

Nella the magician nodded encouragingly.

"The doubles of ourselves do what we do as soon as they see us doing it," said Sir Pants. "Can they come out of the closet?"

He backed up and pulled Sir Reddy back by his arm, to give the doubles space to come out. But as they backed away from the mirror, the strange doubles of Sir Reddy and Sir Pants disappeared.

"Where did they go?" asked Sir Reddy. His eyes were open wide. He was worried about what had happened to their doubles.

Nella closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, she put a smile back on her face.

"Walk up to the mirror again," she suggested.

They did. Their doubles reappeared in the mirror!

Sir Reddy and Sir Pants stared. They tried backing away again. The doubles disappeared. They walked back up to the mirror. They reappeared. They tried this again and again, sometimes waving and shouting and jumping at their doubles, and sometimes not. Their doubles did all the same things they did.

Finally Nella said, "Stop! Arrgh. Let me help you."

She took up a red crayon that was hidden behind a tower of dried leaves and drew a red dot on both Sir Reddy's and Sir Pants's noses.

"Go look in the mirror again," she said.

They did. The mirror versions of Sir Reddy and Sir Pants also had red dots on their noses.

"How did that happen?" asked Sir Pants.

Sir Reddy, while looking in the mirror,  carefullly touched the red dot on his nose. The Mirror Sir Reddy did the same thing. Sir Reddy touched the dot five times in a row, quickly. So did the Mirror Sir Reddy. He touched the dot five times in a row, slowly. The Mirror Sir Reddy touched the dot five times slowly. Sir Reddy hit himself hard in the chest, as did the Mirror Sir Reddy, and yelled, "Ow!" The Mirror Sir Reddy did all of the same things at the same time.

"That is Sir Reddy!" shouted Sir Pants, who almost understood now.

"That is a reflection of Sir Reddy in the mirror," corrected the magician.

"So the mirror..." said Sir Pants, looking questioningly at Nella.

"...shows you a reflection of yourself when you are standing in front of it," Nella said.

"These guys are boring," announced Sir Reddy. "Can we go now?"

"Come back and see me some other time," said Nella. "Maybe I will find another tea cup when you come."

"Goodbye," said Sir Reddy and Sir Pants.

They left the magician's room at the top of the Castle Caraway tower.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sir Pants and Sir Reddy Talk to the Magician

The magician asked Sir Pants and Sir Reddy to please come in. They went into the magician's room. It was small. There was a table in one corner, a stool near the door, a wooden bed frame and mattress in another corner, and one small window. The table, stool, bed, and floor were all heaped with piles of things. It was hard to tell what the things were because they were lying all on top of and tangled around one another. The window showed them just how high up they were in the magician's room at the top of the castle tower. Sir Reddy almost fell over looking at how far it was down to the ground.

"I know it's here somewhere," mumbled the magician, meanwhile. The magician was throwing things from the piles up in the air in order to see what was underneath them. The magician was looking for something.

"May I help you?" asked Sir Pants politely.

"Oh, I was just looking for my tea cup so I could offer at least one of you a cup of tea. But I don't see it anywhere."

"May I?" asked Sir Pants again, reaching toward the magician's scraggly hair.

"Yes," said the magician.

Sir Pants pulled the china cup out of the magician's nest of hair and wiped it off with a hanky he carried in his pocket. Although Sir Pants often looked dirty because of the strange dark bronzy color of his armor, he liked to clean things up. So he always kept a hanky with him in case it were needed.

"Thank you!" said the magician delightedly.

Sir Reddy stood up again. It had taken him a while to get up because, while he was laying on the floor, he could see the most fascinating kind of fluorescent green and black striped spider spinning a web on the ceiling. Eventually, that got boring.

He got up and said, "Who are you? I know you're a magician, but what's your name?"

"Sir Reddy!" said Sir Pants. "That's not very good manners. Excuse him," he said to the magician. "I am Sir Pants and this is Sir Reddy. And you are...?"

"Nellawellabella," said the magician. "But everyone calls me Nella."

The magician thought for a minute.

"Actually, that's not true," the magician said. "Not everyone calls me Nella. I think only two people know who I am. And now you two. So about four, total. If you'll call me Nella, then I can say that all the people who know about me call me Nella."

"Certainly," said Sir Pants in his deepest, most self-conscious polite voice, "Nella."

"My mom used to call me Red," said Sir Reddy. "It was shorter, you know."

Nella nodded.

"We're looking for a mirror," said Sir Reddy. "By the way. Have you got one?"

"Sir Reddy!" said Sir Pants again.

"I have a mirror," said Nella.

Sir Pants gasped. "You have a doubler?"

Nella pursed her lips. (The magician was a woman.) After a while, she said, "Not sure. What's a doubler?"

When Sir Reddy and Sir Pants had taken turns interrupting each other to tell Nella their ideas about mirrors, she nodded her head slowly up and down.

"I think I understand," she said. "Well, come here and look."

She opened a door that neither Sir Pants nor Sir Reddy had seen before.

to be continued...

Best Friend

Yesterday at breakfast Xander said, "Where's my best friend Bailey?"


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nick's Playtime

Xander has wanted to get into Nick's toys so bad since I put them out. Most of them were Xander's toys at some point but he has FAR outgrown them. One would think. He wanted to play with Nick's (Xander's old) animal blocks when I said it was Nick's playtime, so I let him get them out with Nick.

I said, "Nick, aren't you lucky that Xander's going to play with you!"

Xander handed him a few animal blocks. Nick held the zebra in two hands for a while--very cute. Then he started putting it in his mouth and dropping it over the side. I guess Xander made an executive decision that Nick wasn't playing right. He told Nick to just watch him. Now he is playing with all the blocks entirely on his own in front of Nick's chair. As Nick fusses now and then, Xander says, "Nick, you watch me."

Time for Mommy to let Nick play in a little bit different way. Off to the bassinet with the mirror, still his favorite.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sir Pants and Sir Reddy Still Don't See a Mirror, But They Learn About Cleanliness

Just as Sir Reddy was about to turn around and let himself tumble all the way back down the stone stairs because it would be easier than continuing to climb, they reached the top of the castle. There was a door.

"I will open the door," announced Sir Pants.

"Yes, of course," said Sir Reddy faintly. He was still trying to breathe and his legs were shaking from the long climb. "Aren't you going to knock first?"

Sir Pants thought for a minute.

"Yes," he said. "Here I go."

Sir Reddy said, "Aren't you tired at all?"

"Yes," said Sir Pants. "It doesn't matter. Don't let your body fool you. You are perfectly fine."

"But my body is saying that it's about to sit down," said Sir Reddy.

His legs buckled and Sir Reddy caught himself by slapping his palms up against the cold stone wall of the stair way.

"Oh well sit down then, by all means," said Sir Pants.

Sir Reddy's body collapsed on the floor into a position that looked a little bit like sitting, only it was lying down.

The door opened.

Sir Reddy gasped. "Sir Pants, the magician knows we're here even before you knocked!"

Sir Pants glared at Sir Reddy. "Only because he heard us talk to each other outside the door."

"I'm not a he," said the magician.

Sir Pants and Sir Reddy stared at the figure standing just inside the door of the room at the very tip top of Castle Caraway. They could tell it was a magician because of the long shapeless cloth draped all over it and the tall conical hat that slumped over on top of its head. It was a dark material, either navy blue, or gray, or black, or a dirty brown, or something else that was dark. The hair coming from the magician's head was wispy and long as it should be, but it was hard to tell what was hair and what were other things that had gotten caught in the hair. Sir Reddy thought he saw a tiny china bowl up near the shoulder area and Sir Pants was in the middle of counting spider webs, although it was very hard to do because the webs were partly made out of the magician's hair and so they were all sort of connected.

To be continued...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sir Pants and Sir Reddy Still Quest for a Mirror

As they climbed the stone stairs, they passed someone else. This someone was called Prince Pastepot, and he was Princess Pieplate’s younger brother.

“Hello!” he said to Sir Pants and Sir Reddy.

“He…llo,” said Sir Pants and Sir Reddy. They had to pause a bit because they were running out of breath after climbing all those stairs.

“What are you going to do?” asked Prince Pastepot. He was a very curious boy.

“We…’re go…ing to…” began Sir Reddy.

“Oh,” said Prince Pastepot. “Guess what I am going to do!”

“What…” began Sir Pants.

“I’m going to a birthday party!” said Prince Pastepot. “Guess what I’m going to give the birthday boy?”

“What…” began Sir Reddy.

“I’m going to give him this collage I made all by myself!” said Prince Pastepot. He held up a paper that was covered with strips of different colors of paper and large globs of paste.

Then he ran away.

Sir Reddy looked at Sir Pants as if to say that Prince Pastepot had trouble paying attention, too. Sir Pants looked back at him as if to say that he had noticed. They kept walking.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sir Pants and Sir Reddy Quest for a Mirror

Sir Pants and Sir Reddy stood around a lot. Part of the job of being a knight was to stand around guarding things. It took up a lot of their time.

People usually don't realize how boring it is to stand around guarding things until they have to do it themselves. When Sir Pants and Sir Reddy discovered how boring it was, they put their money together and bought a book that they could read out loud to each other to pass the time. It was called Frog and Toad Together. In it was a story about being brave. Frog and Toad looked in a mirror to see if they looked brave. Sir Reddy and Sir Pants thought it would be a good idea to look in a mirror to see if they looked brave. People were always telling them they looked brave, but they weren't even sure how they did it. If they could find a mirror to look in, maybe they could find out what looking brave was and how one went about doing it.

"What is a mirror anyway?" asked Sir Reddy. He asked because Sir Pants knew a lot about how things worked. Sir Reddy only knew a lot about how flags worked. To be precise, he knew a lot about how his flag worked. It had a heavy pole that Sir Reddy had to prop against his body to get just the right balance and it waved in the wind or whenever Sir Reddy had the energy to move the whole ensemble back and forth.

Sir Pants shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know. But look at the picture. There are two Frogs and two Toads. Maybe a mirror is something that makes one person into two, and two people into four."

"It doubles things," suggested Sir Reddy.

"Yes," said Sir Pants. "Maybe it doubles things. How did you know that word?"

"Well," said Sir Reddy, "when Princess Pieplate asked me if I wanted one big piece of pie or if I wanted her to double it by slicing it into two pieces, I told her right away I wanted it doubled. Two pieces of pie are better than one piece of pie."

"Well, actually..." said Sir Pants, but he let the words trail off when he saw the indignant look on Sir Reddy's face.

'How could anyone ever think that two pieces of pie are not better than one piece of pie?' Sir Reddy was thinking. 'I'm not sure I can even listen to this.' He opened his mouth to say something.

"Never mind that," said Sir Pants quickly. "We want to find a mirror, so who is the best person to ask for help?"

"Princess Pieplate?" said Sir Reddy.

"I suppose we could start there," said Sir Pants doubtfully. "I was thinking of the magician up at the top of Caraway Castle, but we will probably pass Princess Pieplate on the way."

As soon as two more knights came to take up the guard, Sir Reddy and Sir Pants started up the winding stairs to the top of Caraway Castle, which was the castle they had been guarding. They did pass Princess Pieplate on the way. Princess Pieplate was on the way to nearly everything. She loved to bake pies so that she could pass them out to everyone she met. As she passed pies to people, she stopped to talk to them to find out any news they might have. Then she passed that news on to the next person along with her pie. It was a hobby of hers, and really the only thing she did at all. After bringing the magician up at the top of the castle one pie a day for many months, she had gathered a lot of useful information. The magician had told her she wanted to be a journalist. When Princess Pieplate asked what was a journalist, the magician said, "Well, you'd have to be born in the twentieth century at least, and even then you could end up as a nosy parker instead." Princess Pieplate asked many, many more questions about all this but in the end all she really got out of it was the word. Journalist. What a beautiful word it was.

But this has almost nothing to do with Sir Pants and Sir Reddy, who were still climbing up stone steps that spiraled upward until you could get dizzy just by looking up.

To be continued...

Sir Pants Tries to Tell A Story

Sir Pants said to Sir Reddy one day, "I want to tell you a story."

Sir Reddy said, "Great, great." He waved his red flag at a passing bird. Sir Reddy was quite proud of his bright red flag because it was new and not faded like the flags of lots of other knights he knew.

Sir Pants sighed. Trying not to use a whiny voice, he said, "I don't think you're really listening to me."

"Yes, a story, great," said Sir Reddy. He was still waving his bright red flag at the bird. It did not show any sign of stopping to admire his flag. But maybe if he waved harder, it would come back to take a look.

"I want to tell you the story of how I got to be this bronze color all over," said Sir Pants.

"Hello!" shouted Sir Reddy.

"Hello," said Sir Pants, but Sir Reddy was not talking to him after all. Sir Reddy's face was pointed straight up at the sky.

Sir Pants sighed again. "I have to go get my lunch very soon, so I'm going to tell you the story now. Please pay attention to me."

"Okay," said Sir Reddy. He smiled at Sir Pants to encourage him to go on.

Sir Pants said, "Once, I was a little boy."

Sir Reddy looked back up at the sky. If he squinted his eyes, he could just barely see a black dot in the sky that was the bird. It had flown very far very fast. It didn't seem to think much of Sir Reddy's new red flag.

"...and my papa said there was no way to get another one and I would have to do without," said Sir Pants.

"Oh, that's too bad," murmured Sir Reddy. He realized he had missed part of the story. He had no idea what Sir Pants was talking about.

Sir Pants frowned.

"Why are you always frowning?" asked Sir Reddy. "We have the best job in the world. We dress up in armor and wave flags around and get free meals and everyone thinks we're pretty neat. Just relax and enjoy it. I always do."

"I don't always frown," said Sir Pants, looking sad.

"To me you always look mad or sad," said Sir Reddy. "You should smile more."

"Easy to say," said Sir Pants.

"Hard to do?" guessed Sir Reddy.

"No, actually," said Sir Pants, "it's pretty easy to do. I smile when I'm happy."

"I guess you're not happy now," said Sir Reddy. "Your forehead has lines in it."

"No, I'm not very happy now," said Sir Pants. "I wanted to tell you a story about my bronzeness but you didn't listen to me. I asked you to pay attention, but instead you paid attention to the bird flying by."

"Oh," said Sir Reddy. "Yes, I paid a lot of attention to that bird. It didn't pay any attention to me, though." He frowned.

"You see," said Sir Pants, "you are frowning yourself, now."

"Yes," said Sir Reddy. "I didn't like it when I couldn't get the bird's attention."

"And I didn't like it when I couldn't get your attention," said Sir Pants.

"I'm sorry," said Sir Reddy. "I don't want you to be unhappy. I want you to be happy. I didn't pay attention to you today, but I'll never do that again."

"Let's not get carried away," said Sir Pants. Then he smiled.

By Car, Boat, and Train

Grandma visited from Thursday night until yesterday morning. It was wonderful. Xander played monsters, dragons, knights, and pirates with her about eight hours a day. Now he has new phrases and ideas that he got from all that play with Great-Grandma. Nick loved her. When she first held him, he looked at her for a minute uncertainly, almost cried, and then decided to smile instead. The rest of the visit he just watched her adoringly.

We went to downtown Jacksonville one day she was here and took the riverboat taxi across the St. Johns to the huge downtown library. We had coffee, browsed an interesting book shop that had lots of old editions of children's books, took a tour of the children's section in the library, listened to Xander read his daddy some words out of books he had never seen before, and then took the overhead train back to the car. On the way, a fire engine pulled up next to us and the firefighters got out to help an injured man in the plaza. It must have been Xander's best day ever. We never heard a peep from Nick, but he didn't sleep the whole time.