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Monday, December 31, 2012

Writing Sin - Chapter 12

This book is now Published on Amazon, please buy a copy :-D
Writing Sin

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mortal Goddess - Chapter 8

Chapter 8

My goodness Devius! You have been so unhappy since you returned from our stay with the Hamiltons. This is very unlike you. What happened seven months ago to upset you like this?” Emmaline asked her son. Devius shrugged; he didn’t want to talk about it.
Well, I hope that you’ll cheer up once you marry your fiancée. I can’t believe that the wedding is only a month away.” Emmaline chattered on, hoping to bring her son out of his gloom.
She still couldn’t believe that Devius had allowed her to arrange a marriage for him. It had been too easy for her. She had merely entertained the Duchess – who had a beautiful but spoiled daughter who had apparently set her cap for Devius. Hence the reason that the Duchess had deigned to have tea with her.
The Duchess advised Emmaline of her daughter’s desire to marry Devius and had asked for her help in arranging the match. Emmaline informed the Duchess that Devius had already given permission to her to arrange his engagement, and they immediately began planning the wedding.
Emmaline then informed Devius of his pending nuptials and he had merely nodded his acquiesce. He had even ordered his valet to buy an engagement ring and deliver it to the Duchess’ daughter, Anne. Devius had been extremely kind and patient with Anne, never treating her with anything less than courtesy and respect. He never let her realize how miserable he really was.
Emmaline, as concerned as she was for her son, was ecstatic! She was already planning how to spoil the grandchildren that she would be seeing in – if everything went according to plan – less than a year.
Mother, I have to pay a visit to a friend in the country, I should be back in a week,” Devius announced suddenly, his brooding finally getting to him.
Emmaline frowned, maybe I should pay a visit to Olivia. Olivia always gave such good advice and Emmaline had a feeling that she could use some advice right about now.

*******
Gia, this is your fault, isn’t it?” A moody Aira asked. Aira was about two weeks away from her expected due date. She’d had a relatively easy pregnancy, but she still got nauseous whenever she ate or drank anything that wasn’t utterly bland, and none of her herbs helped much.
That’s because you aren’t taking them regularly like you should be,” Gia’s spirit said, reading Aira’s thoughts. “Also, you have done nothing but mope about the house for the last month.”
That’s because my brothers won’t let me go anywhere,” Aira retorted. She was working in her mother’s garden, but her belly was so big that it was getting in the way. She sat up in frustration.
Imagine what they would do if they knew I was carrying twins!” Aira giggled, pressing her hands into her belly. Being a midwife had certainly helped her make her pregnancy as comfortable as possible. Even though she still got nauseous at the drop of a hat. Which was what she had just accused Gia of being at fault for.
That is not my fault,” Gia reiterated.
How could he stay away so long?” Aira whined. It had occurred to her to leave her people and go to him, but she had decided against it. Her people meant more to her than almost anything!
Why haven’t you gone to him?” Gia pressed for clarification.
I don’t know where he lives.” Aira used the first excuse she could think of. “Besides, he would see my condition and immediately offer to marry me. Then how would I ever know for certain if he married me for me or because he got me pregnant?”
Gia’s spirit sighed in frustration and mild aggravation.

*******
Officer, I’d like to offer the information that I have about the death of the midwife Gia,” Devius said to the head of the police department closest to the Hamilton property. After he had introduced himself, of course.
And what information do you have?” The officer asked brusquely. He shuffled papers around on his desk to illustrate just how busy he was and how little he'd appreciate Devius wasting his time.
I believe I know who killed her,” Devius answered, feeling unbelievably relieved to finally get this weight off his mind. His conscious would not let him rest until he came forward with his evidence.
The officer straightened up and stopped fiddling with his paperwork. Gia had helped his wife with the births of his three sons and any information about her death would be greatly appreciated. He had talked to Aira and the tenants living on the Hamilton lands, but he had come up with nothing conclusive.
I believe Thomas Smith is directly responsible for Gia’s death,” Devius said.
Thomas Smith! His family is among the most influential in the area. Do you have any proof of what you accuse?” The officer asked suspiciously, secretly believing that the man was actually capable of such treachery.
Not anything concrete, but I had visited him the morning of the murder. We had chatted about various things, during which I mentioned that I was staying with the Hamiltons and he had displayed a distaste for them. Which really has nothing to do with anything, but he boldly said that he heard that there was a witch on the property.
I carelessly replied that whomever had said that might have been talking about Gia. I’d heard how eccentric she was, but I didn’t have any evidence that she practiced witchcraft,” Devius explained.
You accused Gia of such a horrible deed without any cause, and then blame Thomas for her murder?” The officer asked angrily.
I have thought endlessly about that day, and I have concluded that Gia would most definitely be alive today if I had not said what I had, but I do believe that it was Thomas who actually killed her. For one thing, the killer had written a message on the ground, so that limits the suspects to those who can read and write. Also, every member of the Hamilton household was home at the time, so they can all vouch for each other.
Except for Aira and myself. I believe she was in the village, and I was sleeping on a rock by a pond. Aira must have been riding her horse nearby, for I heard her scream and quickly followed it to Gia’s house,” Devius embellished slightly, for he had no desire to explain his affair with Aira to the officer and ruin her reputation.
I believe I saw another rider quickly leaving the area, but I paid no attention to him as I had seen that was Aira bent on rescuing Gia and was intent on stopping her from harming herself. The house was engulfed in flames, and Aira would not have survived if I had not stopped her,” Devius continued.
I believe you, except for the fact that you didn’t come forward right away, but I need concrete proof, and you haven’t any,” the officer said.
Wasn’t there any evidence at the murder site?”
No, the only thing left after the fire were a bunch of liquor bottles, and we can’t prove that Gia didn’t already have them herself,” the officer answered.
Gia didn’t drink from what Aira has told me about her. What brand of liquor was it?” Devius asked.
Come to think of it, they were bottles from the Smith family distillery,” the officer mused as he remembered viewing the evidence, his hope beginning to rise.
So, we have some proof,” Devius stated hopefully.
Yes, but very little, and they were left at the site, so we’d need to go get them anyway. I have talked with Aira, and you have confirmed much of what she said, but without a solid witness or a confession, we have no case. I highly doubt Thomas’ll confess.”
Have you questioned Thomas?”
No. You’re the first person to accuse him, and frankly we can’t question him without more proof,” the officer informed him.
Thank you anyway,” Devius said, standing up to leave.
Mr. Mansfield, I can’t say anything official, but if anybody knows anything about what happened, I’d bet my life that it’s his sister,” the officer said as he shook Devius’ hand. Devius nodded in understanding, then left.
Once on his horse, Devius was drawn in the direction of the Hamilton estate; more specifically to Aira’s pond. He didn’t want to see her ever again, but no matter how hard he tried, he just could not make himself go anywhere else.
Unbeknownst to him, his guardian spirit was teaming up with Gia – who was tired of Aira mooning over him – and together they were physically dragging him to the pond. Well, at least as physically as two spirits can get. They knew that Aira had snuck away from her brothers – when they weren’t looking – and had made her way to the pond to relax.
Devius was finally able to stop himself when he was able to see the pond. Tears came to his eyes as he watched the woman he loved bathe. He could only see her head, neck, and the very top of her shoulders. It was as if the rest of her was jealously being guarded by the pond. Feeling his presence, she looked up.
How long have you been there?” She asked, though she had only sensed him for a moment. She prayed that it wasn’t any longer.
Just a moment,” he confirmed her senses.
What do you want?” She asked, surreptitiously looking to see if he could see her pregnant belly.
I miss you,” he blurted out honestly. “My life has not been the same without my Goddess by my side.”
Then why have you waited so long to come back?”
At first, it was because you told me to leave you alone, and I was in too much pain to face you. Then, I became engaged,” Devius replied solemnly.
Oh… Well... congratulations on your marriage,” Aira murmured, trying her best not to cry. “I hope she makes you happy. I just want to tell you that I missed you too, but I… I… I meant it when I said that I never want to see you again… Pl-pl-please, just go.”
No Aira. I’m not married yet, and I know you don’t mean what you said. I love you. I think I’ve loved you since I was born, and I will continue to love you until I die. Longer than that even.”
What about your fiancée? Does she love you? Are you willing to break her heart? I have never said that I love you, never once. What makes you think that you can break the heart of a woman that loves you to be with one who doesn’t?” Aira asked.
Aira, she can’t possibly love me; our marriage was arranged by our mothers. She can have any man she wants, and she only chose me because I would make the best decoration on her arm. She is the only daughter of a Duke and she was bred to fill his position. I have talked at length with her and she has made it clear that she does not want me to interfere with her handling of the business. She will not make me happy, nor I her, I suspect. Please, don’t push me away,” Devius pleaded.
You think you can abandon me all this time, and then expect me to welcome you back with open arms? What if I don’t want you?”
If you can honestly tell me that you never want to see me again, I will walk away. What choice do I have? I still half believe that you could turn me into a puppy, but even if you don’t want a relationship with me, please, let us remain friends. In either case, I’m going to break off my engagement. I’ve decided that you are the other half of my soul and I cannot marry anyone but you! If you won’t marry me, then I’ll settle for just your friendship,” Devius confessed, bared his soul, hoping to impress upon her his deep emotional need. Praying that she didn't want to be nothing more than friends, but unable to be parted from her any longer.
Aira sighed, her pain and anger melting. “I love you... and I’ve missed you, but I’ve changed since you left. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be kind and sweet every second of the day. I’ve become moody and I let people know exactly how moody I am at any given moment. I’ve gained weight and I talk to myself. Are you sure you still want me?” She asked.
Always,” he promised.
Slowly, Aira walked out of the pond, watching Devius’ expression as he took in the new shape of her body.
By God! You’re pregnant! Why didn’t you tell me? I would have dropped everything to be here with you!” Devius said, taking her into his arms.
I didn’t want to trap you. If you were going to come back to me, it was going to be of your own free will,” Aira responded.
I have a few things to take care of, but I will be back. You won’t be too disappointed if I leave for just a few more days, will you?” He asked, hugging her as if he never wanted to let her go.
Yes, but I’ll understand. I’ve moved back in with my family, you’ll find me there, and hurry! The baby’s due in less than two weeks.”
Does your family know that I am the father?”
No... I never did feel like talking about it,” she replied.
Do you think that you can wait for me so that we can tell them together?” He wanted to be on hand to apologize to her family for letting her bear this burden alone for so long.
Yes,” she promised mischievously.
He kissed her deeply, trying to leave but unable to let her go. She pushed him away.
I thought you had to go.”
I do. I’ll be back soon. I love you.” He kissed her again.
I love you too,” she assured him, kissing him in return.
Slowly, he backed away until he bumped into his horse. Then, he mounted and forced himself to ride away as quickly as his horse could run so that he could be back as soon as possible.
That went rather well,” Gia congratulated herself out loud.
Aira grinned. “Yes, it did!”

Go To Chapter 9 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Once again, the Gods smite my arrogance

In my life, I always strive to live with grace. Not in the sense of being graceful like a ballerina, but in the sense of being serene and accepting and very go with the flow. I love to try and help others and often give advice. In my heart, I just want everyone to live happily.

Apparently, I get over confident and arrogant far too easily. For example, I recently posted tips on how to get over a cold super fast. They are still good tips, and they do work, but apparently I got cocky. I sat online thinking that I held the secret to good health in my hands!

The thing about having a fever is that it makes me tired. So after successfully inducing a fever, I stayed in bed to sleep it off for close to two days. I could breathe just fine, but my throat was sore and I could tell that the congestion was there, it was simply not making me miserable.

Then I got out of bed and my fever almost went away. I thought for sure that I was just about back to normal. THAT'S when the Gods decided to punish me for my arrogance. They pointed their fingers at me, laughed, and told me to suffer. (Really wish they weren't so frickin' hard on me!)

My nose suddenly felt like someone had turned on the faucet and then walked away without turning it off. I was blowing my nose every. Five. Seconds! I took my garlic, which helped in the sense that it thickened things up and effectively turned off the faucet. Except that doing that gives me a headache that most people would literally kill to get rid of.

In desperation, I took some vicodin to get rid of the headache without suppressing any of my symptoms and making them take longer to heal. I discovered something that surprised me, but upon further reflection, probably shouldn't have.

Vicdin actually clears up the sinuses. This is what I didn't want to happen since it tampers with the body's natural immunity, but it does. An hour after taking the vicodin, I felt much better... for about an hour, grr!

Vicodin is basically a legal form of opium. In the past, there was a very versatile medicine called laudanum which was basically a liquid form of opium, and it was used for headaches, coughing, as a decongestant, and to help a person sleep. Basically, all the things that drug companies would much rather we have to pay them a ton of money for instead.

Anyway, it's the same reason that codeine is so effective. I wasn't thinking about that when I took the vicodin. I took advantage of the temporary lull in my symptoms to go back to sleep because by this time, I had been awake more than 12 hours and desperately needed sleep.

BUT I need to back up a bit in my story to give you the full effect.

So, just as I was crawling out of bed feeling pretty okay from my fever - before the nose started running - Gryffin lingered in bed with a thundering cough like mine. He moaned and groaned and generally sounded pathetic. He finally managed to crawl out of his room and watched some TV.

"Mama, can you get me the bucket?"

Oh man, this is never a good sign. The bucket was actually occupied, so I got him a huge metal mixing bowl instead, and sure enough, he soon filled it. Hubby made him empty and clean it himself, which normally I would have objected to - a sick person shouldn't have to clean up after themselves after all - but I was starting to feel pretty miserable, and didn't think quick enough to object. Besides, Gryffin simply did it without complaining.

Then he lay down and moaned and groaned and coughed and sneezed for a while until I gave him some fermented cod liver oil and garlic. Then he perked up and felt better for a while. Then he went to bed and slept - which is really the best way to heal.

So - of course - the moment I am hoping to go back to bed, Gryffin is awake again. I have no idea why, but this always seems to happen with Gryffin. He tries to be awake at all times I am, even when I want to go to bed but don't want to leave him alone, sigh...

Anyway, I am tentatively feeling better today, and Gryffin is nice and quiet, cuddled up in the chair watching TV. Phoenix made himself some malt-o-meal, and is also being mostly quiet. THIS is one of the reasons I wish my kids got sick more often, but I AM grateful that they aren't sick ALL the time.

Meanwhile, I've only eaten 2 apples and a handful of pork rinds since I first got sick. One of my more unpleasant symptoms is this nasty taste that makes it unappealing to eat or drink just about anything. Now that I am feeling a little better, I think I might actually be able to eat something.

Whining alert!

So of course I have absolutely NO desire to cook! I would rather starve than cook, and I don't want to eat any carbs, so I can't just grab some cereal or another apple. Therefore, I am probably going to haunt the kitchen until I either 1- muster up the motivation to cook, or more likely 2- hubby gets home and empties MY pan which he used and then left full of carby leftovers that I can't eat.

In any case, here's wishing everyone a happy day. A happy Yule. And even better, a happy Day the World DIDN'T End :-D

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How to Beat a Cold ASAP! Naturally.

Everyone and their brother has a cold remedy. Most of the time, they sound crazy and then don't work because they are taken with an over the counter cold medicine that suppresses the symptoms and makes the whole thing take WAY longer.

This isn't a remedy. At least not in the sense that I'm about to suggest taking this crazy thing because my grandmother's brother's wife's second cousin swears by it. This is giving your body everything it needs to kick that cold to the curb :-)

First of all, the immune system is pretty complex. It has a whole army whose sole job is to defend you from viruses and bacterial infections. The very first thing you need to do to get rid of your cold quick is to feed that army!

1 - Take a dose or two of Fermented Cod Liver Oil. I actually recommend the liquid - Cinnamon Tingle flavored, chased by milk - but as you'll see, the link is to capsules so that you don't have to taste something you think is going to be icky. This stuff is HIGH is vitamins A and D - and other fat soluable vitamins - that are vital to a healthy immune system.
2 - Take a spoonful of Acerola Cherry Powder. The Acerola Cherry is nature's most potent source of vitamin C, and we all know how important Vitamin C is when it comes to healing a cold.

If you are anything like me, you get frustrated easily when your nose runs and makes your throat sore. At this point, you might be VERY tempted to take a decongestant or other over the counter drug that suppresses your symptoms. RESIST THIS URGE! It will only make your body have to work that much harder and longer to fight off the virus or bacteria! If you must do something to clear your nose, try using a Neti Pot.

Instead, arm your army. Give your body the tools it needs to fight the cold/flu/sinus infection.

3 - Buy a bulb of garlic, preferably organic. If you can have sugar and prefer to drink a warm and soothing drink, make garlic lemonade. If you can't have sugar (which works better anyway), chop a clove of garlic up as finely as you can. If it's a small clove, chop two so that you have enough to fill a spoon. Insert the spoonful of garlic in your mouth and then immediately chase it with milk - preferably organic and whole, or better yet farm fresh - swallow the garlic like it's a pill. This gives your immune system nature's antibiotic, antiviral, and antimicrobial as a weapon it can use to kill the cold. It seriously works on any invaders, and better yet, it doesn't kill all the good guys (probiotics) that are trying to help your immune system. (You can also take some BioKult to give your body even more support in fighting the invader.)

If you don't like or are allergic to garlic, use ginger. Fresh, dried, or powdered. Swallow it like a pill like the chopped garlic - use it like the Acerola Cherry powder, or drink it like a tea. Combine it with raw honey and lemon for extra weapons in your arsenal :-)

Now that your body's army is fed and armed, take your temp. Are you running a fever? If yes, good! Cover up so that you are warm and comfortable and let the fever do it's job of killing off the infection. Seriously, viruses are picky about temperature. That's why a virus will make your nose run, give you a fever, and make you sweat. The body is responding to the threat by trying to kill it in an oven too hot for it to handle (and trying to get it out of your body as quickly as possible via your nose). Pick a temp you are comfortable with - such as 102 or 103 - and so long as you are under that temp, let the fever do it's job. Do NOT mess with it!

4 - If you are not running a fever, induce one. I did this by covering up with my blanket, layering my husband's blanket on top of mine, and then putting a heating pad under (actually between since I was laying on my side) my feet. It took a while, but when I first lay down, I felt miserable. I couldn't stop coughing and it was hard to breathe. The heat slowly cleared up the stuffiness in my nose, got rid of my headache, and stopped the coughing. After I started to sweat, I let it continue until I just couldn't take it any more! Now I'm cooling down as I write this blog, but I have not taken anything to lower my temp. I started with a fever of 99.6 - so it was very low grade - and after cooling down for an hour, my temp is only 100 degrees.

REMEMBER to keep hydrated! Drink plenty of water, especially once you start to sweat. If you happen to have on hand, or have the inclination to make some broth, drink the broth to give your body yet another weapon to use to fight the cold (flu, sinus infection, whatever you've got). If you don't have broth, stick with plain water. Anything with sugar in it is just going to feed the virus or bacteria and make it stronger. Seriously AVOID all sugar as much as possible!

To be honest, the fever is really all you need to get rid of a cold (or other invader). The fever kills it. End of story. Then the white blood cells come in and clean up the dead viruses or bacteria. Giving your white cells the food and weapons I mentioned simply makes them the strongest army they can be so that if any invaders survive, they can make short work of them.

I felt better in a matter of hours, but my body still has some work to do. Even so, clear sinuses and no coughing is the best progress ever! Good luck and hopefully you'll be feeling better in no time too :-)
\
Lastly, while you are waiting for your fever to kill your cold, try reading up on why fevers are actually good for you. Here's a book that takes about one man's experiences running a clinic that used all natural healing - back before all natural healing was the latest trend, lol! It's called Back to Eden, and is very inspiring to read, even if it does advocate vegetarianism - which I don't.

Have a happy day :-)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Falling Snow - Basic Crochet Hat Pattern

Today I posted a pic on my Facebook showing the hat I recently made for my son Phoenix, and people seemed to really love it, so I thought that I'd post instructions for how I made it :-)


This hat was crocheted using Thin Chenille yarn in Baby Blue. Such as this, or alternatively, this for a darker blue. The thickness of the yarn doesn't really matter except that a thicker yarn is going to work up bigger and may need more yarn. I do not remember how much I had of this yarn, but I am going to guess that for the hat and the scarf both, I probably used 3-4 skeins. Always buy more than you think you'll need :-D

I also used a wonderfully soft white yarn that is so delightful to touch that I ALMOST didn't want to let Phoenix have the hat when he was done! It's called Sinsations, and I can totally understand why it's called that since it is SINFULLY soft!!! This yarn is expensive, but I only used one skein for the hat and the scarf, so it's totally worth buying :-D

I used an H-8 5.00 MM hook. If using thicker yarn and desiring a bigger hat, use a bigger hook.

To start, chain 20. This is equal to 10 for the front of the hat and 10 for the back of the hat. If you fold this chain in half and hold it next to your ear and it doesn't seem long enough to cover your ear, then add more. If it covers your ear, you'll be fine :-) (I mean the ear of the person you are making the hat for OR a person of similar size.)

Chain one more for the turning chain. Turn and then:
- Row 1 - Single crochet into each of the 20 chain stitches. Chain one to turn. (Note: a single crochet is made by sticking your hook into the chain, yarning over the hook, pulling through a loop, and then yarning over your hook and pulling through both loops on the hook. In British terms, this is actually called a double crochet.)
- Row 2 - Working in the back loops only (if you look at the stitch from the previous row, there are two pieces of yarn that you normally work under both. To work in the back loop only, stick your hook between the two pieces of yarn - into the center of the stitch looking down from the top - and then out the back of the stitch. Work as a normal Single Crochet.), complete 9 Single Crochet stitches (usually abbreviated as SC). Then, in the 10th and 11 stitches, make two Single Crochet stitches each. Once done with this part, you will now have 13 Single Crochet stitches. There should be 9 left to work. Finish working those 9 stitches for a total of 22 Single Crochet stitches.Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 3 - Working in the back loops only (Hint, the ENTIRE project is worked in the back loops, so if you haven't figured out what I am talking about, please ask me!), complete 22 single crochet stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 4 - Working in the back loops only, work 9 Single Crochet stitches. In the 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th stitches, work 2 Single Crochet stitches each. You'll now have a total of 17 stitches worked and 9 un-worked. Finish working those 9 ending with a total of 26 stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 5 - Working in the back loops only, complete 26 Single Crochet stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 6 - Working in the back loops only, work 11 Single Crochet stitches. In the 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th stitches, work 2 Single Crochet stitches each for a total of 19 stitches worked and 11 un-worked. Finish working the 11 leftover stitches for a total of 30 Single crochet stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 7 - Working in the back loops only, complete 30 Single Crochet stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 8 - Working in the back loops only work 13 Single Crochet stitches. In the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th stitches, work 2 Single Crochet stitches each for a total of 21 Single Crochet stitches worked and 13 unworked. Complete those 13 stitches for a total of 34 stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 9 - Working in the back loops only, complete 34 Single Crochet stitches. At this point, your hat looks kind of rainbow shaped, lol! Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 10 - Working in the back loops only, work 15 Single Crochet stitches. In the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th stitches, work 2 Single Crochets each for a total of 23 Single Crochet and 15 unworked; work them for a total of 38 Single crochet Stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 11 - Working in the back loops only, complete 38 Single Crochet stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 12 - This is the last increase row! Working in the back loops only, work 18 Single Crochet stitches. In the 19th and 20th stitches, work 2 Single Crochet each for a total of 22 stitches worked and 18 unworked. Finish working the rest of the stitches for a total of 40 Single crochet stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 13 - Working in the back loops only, complete 40 Single Crochet stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Rows 14-30 - Working in the back loops only, complete 40 Single Crochet Stitches. Chain 1 to turn.

At this point, your hat will look somewhat like a hat, lol! Holding you beginning chain together over one ear, check to see if the hat is ALMOST wide enough to fit your head - or better yet, the head of the person you are making this hat for. (There is still about 12 more rows to add, so don't forget that when guestimating width.) Don't worry if it seems a bit short and no longer actually covers your ears at this point. If the hat is NOT wide enough, add 4 more rows of single crochet worked in the back loops only. When the hat IS wide enough, it's time to decrease!

- Row 31 (or 35 if extra rows were needed.) - Working in the back loops only, complete 18 Single Crochet stitches. In the 19th and 20th stitches, work a decrease by inserting hook into the 19th stitch, yarn over and pull through a loop. DO NOT complete a Single Crochet! Now stick the hook into the 20th stitch, yarn over and pull through a loop. Yarn over and pull through all three loops on hook. Et Voila! you have now made 2 stitches into 1. This can also be accomplished by simply skipping the 20th stitch, but it leave a hole in the hat. NOW decrease the 21 and 22 stitches. Once done, you will have 20 stitches worked and 18 unworked. Finish working those 18 stitches for a total of 38 stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 32 - Working in the back loops only, complete 38 Single Crochet stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 33 - Working in the back loops only, work 15 Single Crochet stitches. In the 16th and 17th stitches, decrease. In the 18th and 19th stitches, decrease. In the 20th and 21st stitches, decrease. Once more, in the 22nd and 23rd stitches, decrease. You will now have a total of 19 stitches worked and 15 left to work. Work those for a total of 34 stitches worked. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 34 - Working in the back loops only, complete 34 Single Crochet stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 35 - Working in the back loops only, work 13 Single Crochet stitches. In the 14th and 15th, 16th and 17th, 18th and 19th, and 20th and 21 stitches, decrease. Remember, a decrease is combining 2 stitches into 1. This will be 17 stitches worked and 13 unworked. Work the 13 for a total of 30 stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 36 - Working in the back loops only, complete 30 Single Crochet stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 37 - Working in the back loops only, work 11 Single Crochet. In the 12th and 13th, 14th and 15th, 16th and 17th, 18th and 19th stitches, decrease. You now have 15 stitches worked and 11 unworked. Complete the rest of the Single Crochet stitches for a total of 26 stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 38 - Working in the back loops only, complete 26 Single Crochet stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 39 - Working in the back loops only, work 9 Single Crochet stitches. Decrease in the 10th and 11th, 12th and 13th, 14th and 15th, 16th and 17th stitches. This will give you 13 stitches completed and 9 unworked. Complete those 9 for a total of 22 stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 40 - Working in the back loops only, complete 22 Single Crochet stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 41 - LAST decreasing row! Working in the back loops only, work 9 Single Crochet stitches. Decrease in the 10th and 11th, 12th and 13th, stitches for a total of 11 stitches worked and 9 unworked. Finish the 9 stitches for a total of 20 stitches. Chain 1 to turn.
- Row 42 - Working in the back loops only, complete 20 Single Crochet stitches.

CHECK FOR FIT! at this point, the hat should be wide enough to fit the head, but not necessarily long enough. If it IS long enough to cover both ears, then you won't need as many white rows, but even so, more is better than not enough, lol! Working in the back loops only has created a ribbed stitch effect, and makes this hat stretchy. Even so, it is a good hat to make oversized :-)

Decide which side is the inside and which is the outside. Fold the hat so that the INSIDE of the hat is on the OUTSIDE. Sew or crochet the sides together, fasten off the yarn and cut it and then weave in the loose ends.

ALMOST done! Whew!

Turn the hat so that the OUTSIDE is on the outside, lol. At one of the side seams, attach the fluffly Sinsations yarn with a slip stitch. (A slip stitch is when you stick the hook into the stitch you are working, yarn over and pull a loop through, but rather than yarn over again to create a Single Crochet stitch, continue pulling the loop through the loop on your hook.)

- Round 1 - Working along the bottom edge of the hat, Single Crochet until you come back to the beginning. Slip stitch into the beginning Single Crochet. Chain 1 to turn.
- Round 2 - Working in the back loops only, work a Single Crochet stitch into all stitches until you get back to the beginning. Join to the first stitch with a slip stitch. Chain 1 to turn.
- Rounds 3-8 - Repeat round 2. When finished, fasten off and cut the yarn, then weave in the loose end. This is where you can change the length. If you don't need the hat to be as long, you can omit rounds. If you need the hat to be longer, add some rounds. Keep in mind that you should only have enough of the Sinsations yarn left to complete about 1 more round. If you think you are going to want a lot more rounds, you are going to need to buy more yarn.

YEA!!! You are done! Congratulations on your cute new hat :-)

A friend of mine wanted me to teach her to read Crochet Patterns, that is why I took the time to write ALL of the instructions out. A Crochet Pattern uses abbreviations so that it would look like this:

- Row 37 - Working in BLO, work 11 SC. DEC in the next 8 st. SC across for a total of 26 stitches. Ch 1 to turn.

This abbreviation makes it a LOT simpler to write a pattern, and is easy to follow if you know how. Generally, if you can't figure out what an abbreviation means, the pattern will tell you that - for example - DEC means decrease, and will even tell you how to do that. Usually, this info is at the end - or the beginning - of the pattern.

Good luck and have a happy day :-D

Friday, December 7, 2012

In Brist's Time - Chapter 5

Chapter 5


Brist opened her bag, took out her mini digital video camera, and inserted a blank DVD into it. She placed the shopping bag containing the rest of them into her bag which still had most of her stuff in it; seeing as how she hadn’t wanted to unpack yet and had ordered her maid not to because she wanted to do it herself.
Drew had been home when she returned from Belana’s. They’d sat down and talked for a few hours. Drew told her that he planned to go to the casino for a few hours, and then he was going to have the family jet fly him back to Minnesota. Brist sighed morosely.
“You miss Jesse, huh?” Drew asked. Brist nodded.
“What I don’t understand is if he really had someone else he was in love with, then why did he have sex with me just a few days before he broke up with me? I mean I would have known if he were in love with someone else… I would have sensed it, even if we were in the back of the limo. Not to mention, why would he give me a ring if he were going to break up with me? Something just doesn’t make sense.”
“Well if you ask me, I’d say you’d be in far more misery if Dad found out you were having sex in the back of the limo,” Drew remarked dryly.
“How’s he going to find out? Besides even if he did find out, it wouldn’t be until we were back in Minnesota, and by then it would be too late to do anything,” Brist said with a shrug.
“What if you are pregnant?” Drew asked.
“Nah, I’m on the shot, and we used protection,” Brist informed him. Drew hugged her and then re-announced his intention to go gambling. Brist had watched as he left, then ran up to her bedroom to find something to do.
So here she was, desperate for anything to keep her mind off Muskles. She decided to see how well her video camera worked. At 11:30 PM her parents came home, but she didn’t notice. She was busy walking around the house, as if recording the first exploration of some ancient ruin.
She descended the stairs around 11:45 and headed to the library. At first, the words her parents were speaking were so horrible that her mind refused to understand them. Even so, Brist felt her world shatter.
She simply stood in the doorway of the parlor recording her parents – who were so engrossed in their conversation that they hadn’t even noticed her presence. Her strength seemed to be depleted by just hearing this conversation of betrayal; the tiny lightweight video camera seemed too heavy for her to carry and so she set it on the nearest table, unknowingly giving it a perfect view of her parents. She stood – as if mesmerized – as the words her father was saying finally sank in.
“You want to know what’s wrong! I’ll tell you what’s wrong, Ellen. I went to surprise Brist after work one day and sent her driver home with my car, but instead of surprising her, she shocked me! She and that boyfriend of hers wouldn’t have noticed me if I had been in the back seat with them and when I pulled into his driveway…. Ellen she pulled her underwear out of his pocket practically right under my nose! Even with the privacy glass blocking my view of the backseat, I could well imagine what was happening,” Brist’s father said in a pained voice.
“So… I took care of the matter the only way I knew how. I paid the boy the money he needed to go to college to become a computer programmer. Damn expensive too, but it could have been worse, he could have been going to Harvard Law for 8 years. It was agreed that he would break up with our daughter immediately, and that he would stay as far away from her as possible. Which shouldn’t be too hard seeing as now that he has the money for college, he’ll be enrolling in the most prestigious school for computer programming in the country, which happens to be located in Florida.” Her father finally finished his explanation of why he had been in a bad mood lately.
Brist’s mother looked at him disapprovingly, but she never had a chance to say any thing.
“How could you! I will not live another moment in the same house as that man, Mother!” Brist shouted as she came back to her senses. She grabbed her video camera and ran from the room. Once she reached her bedroom, she remembered to stop the camera from recording, then she stuffed it in her bag. She was suddenly glad that she hadn’t unpacked and therefore didn’t have to waste anytime packing. With her bag strap securely circling her neck on the opposite side of which the bag hung – which reminded her that it was heavy – she prepared to leave the house. Making sure that it was secure, she was glad that it wasn’t likely to fall off if she didn’t hold on to it tightly. Then, as quickly as she could without tripping over her own feet, she raced down the stairs and out the door.
“Wait! Stop! Where are you going?” Her mother called after her frantically. Suddenly it was raining. Hard. “Edward! Go after Her!”
“Calm down Ellen, this storm will prove to be too much for her and she’ll be back in less than 5 minutes,” he reasoned, certain of his logic.
Exactly 5 minutes later, the old grandfather clock started its announcement of the midnight hour. At the first stroke of midnight, lightening lit up the sky and thunder started a series of deafening booms that got louder with each strike of the clock. Finally – just after the last stroke of midnight – the storm, the lightening, and the thunder stopped completely, as if it had been just a figment of an overactive imagination.
During the 12 strokes of midnight, Brist had finished saddling Cream, mounted up, and rode her out of the barn. She intended to ride to Belana’s house to spend the night, but the thunder had gotten so loud that it frightened Cream, who bucked and threw Brist to the ground a total of 20 feet from the stables, her bag landing on her with a muffled thud.
Renee, the stables master, had seen the whole thing from her apartment above the stables and rushed to where Brist had fallen, but Brist was nowhere to be found. Renee quickly assessed the ground to see if Brist had remounted and rode off, but there were no tracks on the ground other than the ones that came from the stables to this spot. Renee shook her head, she had come down from her apartment on stairs located on the outside of the stables and had had this spot in view the entire time. She was positive she would have seen if Brist had gotten up and walked, ran, or rode away, but there was nothing indicating Brist did anything other than disappear. Cream was nowhere to be found either.
“She hasn’t come back yet and now the storm has stopped!” Still inside the house, Ellen was hysterical. Just then, there was a knock at the front door.
“I’ll bet that’s her now,” Edward said, rushing to open the door.
“I saw her fall. She landed not 20 feet from the stables, but when I got there – to the exact spot where she had landed – she had vanished,” Renee informed her employers, half numb with disbelief.
Ellen was surprisingly calm as she placed a hand on her husband’s arm. “Edward, dear, isn’t it funny that at a time like this, I remember that there’s an envelope behind the painting of my great-great-great-Grandmother addressed to me? I am supposed to open today.” She went to the painting feeling as if absolutely nothing in the world was more important at the moment. She pulled the envelope out from behind the portrait and held it up for a second. “See.” She opened it, and quickly read its contents.

Mom,

In the master bedroom, above the fireplace, you must push in the center brick, then go into the closet within a minute and push against the back wall.

Your ever-loving daughter,
Brist

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Adventures in Candlemaking - Part 1 - Oil Candles

Today - for no reason that I can truly understand - I got an urge to make candles. I had visions of fat and happy candles proudly standing on top of holders burning merrily away. I looked forward to making these candles and watching them burn with something akin to motherly love.

And then I realized that there is pretty much only one way that most modern people makes candles: By buying wax, melting it, and pouring it into molds. That's... boring and not the authentic experience I was hoping for, lol!

I thought to myself that there had to be a way to make candles that didn't involve buying anything. There HAD to be a way to make candles using only what I had on hand at home. As it turns out, there is :-D

Here is a link to a nifty tutorial on how to make a coil for an oil candle that provided the inspiration for my first foray into candle making.

So, a basic oil candle required just a few things that I had here at home:
- Wire of some sort. Considering that my hubby makes Chainmail, we had plenty of that.
- 100% pure cotton string, which I have because I crochet :-D
- Oil of some sort to burn. I decided that since this was a simple test to use sunflower seed oil from when we last made eggrolls. It's working beautifully!
- Lastly, something to put the oil in! I used a nice candle holder that has seen some hard use - as evidenced by the huge burn on the side - and a jar lid that I fished out of my recycling bin.
- Optional - I added some of my gardenia perfume to give the second candle a hint of scent.


All in all, a very satisfying first foray :-D However, I need to play with the wick more to get a taller flame.
These candles were super easy, fun, smokeless, and long lasting. Well worth throwing together whenever  you just want to add a bit of ambiance to your home :-)

Have a happy day!

Monday, November 26, 2012

In Brist's Time - Chapter 4

Chapter 4


            “Brist, dear, your father and I are going – Oh! I didn’t realize you had company!” Brist’s mother exclaimed upon finding guests in her daughter’s room three days later. It was the day before Brist’s birthday, and Ellen hated to leave her alone tonight, but perhaps Brist wouldn’t mind if she had company.
“Mom, this is Belana and Randy. They’re from the town about a mile away from Treepass,” Brist introduced the two friends she had spent most of the last three days with.
“Nice to meet you,” Ellen expressed with immaculate manners, modeling to the cousins just exactly where Brist learned her manners from. Brist denied that hers were anywhere near the perfection of her mother, but Randy and Belana knew better. Brist exuded the aura of a well-bred lady, albeit a teenager, and manners were just a part of the package.
“Brist, I just came in for a moment to inform you that your father and I are going to a dinner party, and seeing as how it’s the night before your birthday, and I’m feeling ever so guilty for leaving you alone tonight, I’m going to give you a few thousand to go shopping with. If your friends would like to join you and spend the night afterward, well, I see no problem with that,” Ellen permitted, embracing her daughter, then handing her the envelope containing money that she had prepared in anticipation of giving it to her daughter.
“Also, here are the keys to the Rolls. Tell your brother that while your father and I realize that he has made up his mind to return to Minnesota tomorrow afternoon, we would have no objection if he wished to spend his last night in Atlanta doing God knows what. Or if he would prefer, there are some chips to the Silver Star casino in Dunwoody. Maybe if finds some entertainment here in Georgia, he might decide to stay.” Ellen sighed somewhat wistfully. Even though she would win no medals for mother of the year, she certainly wouldn’t get jailed for parental neglect, but for reasons of control more than anything. She hated to have either of her children out of her range of influence for very long.
“Ellen! We’re going to be late!” Edward called as he made his way to Brist’s bedroom.
“Coming Dear,” Ellen responded, obeying her husband’s request to hurry. Just as she was about to exit the room, Edward entered it.
“I don’t know where my son is, Brist, but if you should see him, please tell him for me that he can spend however much he wants if he goes to the casino, and anything he wins is his to keep.”
“I will Daddy,” Brist answered.
“We’ll not be home until after 10. I can’t say exactly when. I love you honey, have fun,” Ellen wished, standing by her husband.
“Yes, have fun princess, and be a good girl, okay?” Edward added to his wife’s instructions. Then he held his arm out, which Ellen took, and the two of them departed the room. Soon, they were completely out of the house, safely ensconced in the car that had been waiting for them.
“Do either of you want to go shopping before the mall closes?” Brist asked her two friends.
“Sure!” They answered simultaneously.
“Okay then.” Brist smiled.

*******


“Hey! What do you know, they have what I need here, cool! Now I can go home and test out my mini digital video camera, woohoo!” Brist said to herself in a softly excited voice.
“Are you done shopping then?” Randy asked.
“It’s time we got home, or else my mom’ll get pissed,” Belana added.
“Sure, just as soon as I purchase this,” Brist replied.
“It’ll be quicker if you just stuff it down your shirt.” Randy grumbled, and Belana nodded. Both were truly afraid of what Belana’s mom might do if they were late.
“Not if I got caught, besides there’s no line.” Brist pointed to the lane that just opened, then quickly got into it before anyone else discovered it. Gently, Brist set her shopping basket on the counter, allowing the clerk to ring up the tower of 100 DVDs that she had decided to buy.
“That comes to $31.86.” The clerk stated. Brist handed her the money, and then held out her hand for the change. Once it was placed in her hand, she gathered up her belongings, thanked the clerk, then left the store with Randy and Belana close on her tail.
Soon, the trio was at Brist’s car. Brist opened the trunk and motioned for Randy and Belana to place their bags inside it. Belana thanked Brist again for the outfits she now owned. Randy followed suit, waiting for Belana to get out of his way so that he could place his bag in the trunk.
“You guys! It was nothing!” Brist demurred. “I happen to have parents with money, and most of my friends do not. I just consider this my way of sharing the wealth.”
“Still, you are way too generous. You bought each of us not just one new outfit, but practically a whole new wardrobe, and accessories to match!” Belana said in awe, still not able to believe how much money had been spent on just shoes alone.
“My mom doesn’t buy me this many shoes in a year, let alone at the same time,” Randy added. “I really appreciate it. We – and all the kids in our small town – go to school with a lot of kids whose parents do buy them these kinds of clothes, and now, for once, we won’t look so different.”
“I agree, but I hope you don’t think of us as the type of people who will be your friend so long as you give us stuff,” Belana stated, worried.
Brist smiled and shut the trunk. She had spent the last few moments fussing with the contents of the trunk in order to hide her modest blush, but since she could no longer pretend to organize their things, she had to close it and fend off these compliments before she burned up completely.
“Listen, I know what kind of people you are; you proved your niceness before I ever flashed any money. If you were just being friends with me to get money out of me, you wouldn’t have been able to spend these last few days giggling and playing silly games with me without some ulterior motives creeping in. So what if I am way too generous, it’s in my nature and I can’t help it! Now, let’s get y’all home before you get in trouble,” Brist demurred. She climbed into the driver's seat. The cousins shrugged and joined her in the car. Belana sat in front; Randy lay across the back seat.
The two girls chatted on about everything from favorite colors to favorite actors. Belana curiously asked Brist more about sex, and Brist answered as accurately as possible. Meanwhile, Brist was doing her best to get the cousins home on time.
“Damn!” Randy exclaimed as he happen to see the speedometer and how fast Brist was going, but all too soon they were in front of Belana’s house. They were even on time!
Belana’s family, like just about every family that lived in this tiny town, had a farmhouse that had started out small, and then grew over the years. Each of the town’s families had a small parcel of land that they worked, not really for profit, but for themselves. They all kept most of what they grew, and only sold their crops when there was an excess.
All in all, the town was self sufficient, but not monetarily well off. Which was just fine by them, they were simple folks and they took care of their own. Usually, their children didn’t attend school beyond what was required by law, and nearly everyone who had ever been born here, died here. There were only a few exceptions, one of those being Randy’s great-grandmother. She had married a man who asked her to move to another state, they became ranchers and were prosperous enough to last for a few generations, but Brist had learned over the past few days that Randy’s mother had fallen ill a few years ago, and caring for her had taken up all of their resources. Then, she had cruelly died anyway. (His father had died when he was still very little.)
Naturally, his mother and her ancestors had always kept in touch with their relatives in this small town. So when she died, they hadn’t even hesitated a second in deciding to take him in.
Brist looked admiringly at the house as they approached; it had survived so much. Amy was waiting on the porch when they arrived, and she did not look pleased to see Brist. In her mind, in addition to any prior reasons Amy had for hating Brist, she now hated her for stealing her friends, the only two people in the whole town who were exactly her age.
“What have you been doing all day?” She snapped. She looked positively pissed-off.
“We shopped,” Randy answered simply.
“Will you stay awhile?” Belana asked as her mother stepped onto the porch.
“Actually, I’m feeling a little tired, and so I think I’ll go home, but tomorrow – since it’ll be my birthday – I’ll ask my parents if we can use the jet to fly to Disneyland and stay in our beach house for a week, or maybe to Paris and stay in our house overlooking the Champs Elysee,” Brist suggested.
“Disneyland!” The cousins exclaimed. “How cool is that?!”
“I’m sorry, but you two can’t go,” Belana’s mother stated with a firm frown.
“But-” Belana protested.
“No buts! I said no!”
“No problem, we can go somewhere closer to home, say more shopping at the mall?” Brist suggested, directing the question at Belana’s mom.
“We’ll see,” Belana’s mom responded. Brist smiled one of her dazzling and disarmingly charming smiles that lit up a whole room.
“Marvelous! I’ll come by about 10 am then, Okay?”
“Sure,” Belana’s mom said dryly, tempted to roll her eyes.
“Bye Belana, bye Randy.” Brist turned to wave at Amy, who looked about ready to kill her, then got in her car and left.

Go To Chapter 5

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

In Brist's Time - Chapter 3

Chapter Three


“Brist Anne Southerland! I don’t know what you think you are doing, but Dad will definitely not be pleased!”
“Drew! What are you doing here?”
“The air conditioning isn’t working properly, so mom gave me directions to get here figuring a swim might cool me off, but never mind what I’m doing here, what are you doing, hmm?” Drew demanded.
“I’m swimming with my friends,” Brist said defensively. She was now sitting, hugging her knees to her chest. So was Belana, but Randy was trying to hide behind Brist.
“Swimming! That’s funny, cuz it looks to me like you’re naked, lying on a rock with a naked guy and another naked girl, and to make matters worse! My baby sister is kissing what has to be the first male she’s seen since she was dumped by her boyfriend of a year,” Drew said over-protectively. Belana saw the wounded look that fixed itself on Brist’s face at her brother’s words, and decided that she had had enough.
“Drew Southerland! I don’t know what you think you saw, but your sister, my cousin, and I were innocently tanning in the sun. You obviously don’t have much trust in your sister, so I will tell you, nothing was going on!” She snapped, angered by the fact that he was making them all feel like naughty toddlers than the near-adults that they were.
“Oh really? Nothing?” Drew asked in a condescending manner.
“Drew, you are absolutely disgusting! What do you think would happen? Did you think that I would have sex with her cousin right in front of her? Or did you think that she would join us?” Brist would have stamped her foot in anger if she hadn’t been sitting on her butt, trying to keep herself as covered as possible.
Drew stammered for a moment then grunted. “Well I came to swim, and I’m not leaving until I do,” he stated matter-of-factly.
“Fine, Drew, whatever. Could you just give us a few moments to get dressed?” Brist asked. She loved her brother dearly, but he could be so immature sometimes.
Drew nodded, then wandered off to a secluded spot to change into his swim trunks.
The three skinny-dippers took that moment to jump off the rock, wade to shore, and get dressed as quickly as possible. As soon as Drew deemed it safe, he returned to the pond and pulled Brist into an embrace.
“I’m sorry I went off like that, I was just freaked is all. I’m mean admit it, you would have been concerned if you’d been in my position, wouldn’t you?” He asked, sincerely sorry that he had over-reacted.
Brist nodded slowly. “I guess.”
“Hey listen, you guys don’t have to leave just yet,” Drew offered, not wanting to be left alone.
“Oh we weren’t going to, see? I brought a picnic lunch for us to enjoy.” Brist held up the basket she was about to unpack.
“Oh,” Drew uttered, then left them to swim in the pond alone for a while.
“Oh Belana! Of all the days for the a/c to break down!” Brist sighed.
“Yeah too bad, I was actually having fun. Question?”
“Yeah?”
“Were you and Randy actually kissing?” Belana asked curiously. “I mean I was half asleep and didn’t see or hear anything.”
Brist smiled and looked at Randy, who cleared his throat, and blushed.
“You were!” Belana exclaimed.
“Well, I could tell that it was his first real kiss, and I was trying to determine if Jesse had ruined me for other guys,” Brist said.
“Hey! It wasn’t my first kiss,” Randy protested in a whisper so that Drew wouldn’t hear. “Can we please talk about something else?”
“Sure. Um, thanks for today Brist, I’m glad Amy stormed off and left us to get to know you,” Belana told Brist.
“Yeah, me too. I’m having fun, and we rarely ever have fun around Amy,” Randy added, glad for the change in the conversation.
“You’re welcome, but don’t worry, today isn’t over yet,” Brist said as she unpacked their picnic lunch.
“Pack enough sandwiches,” Belana remarked dryly when she saw the heaping plate of them that Brist withdrew from the basket.
“What kind are they?” Randy asked.
Brist laughed. “Our cook makes hundreds of these sandwiches everyday for the servants to snack on. Egg salad sandwiches are a favorite among the servants, so is tuna.”
“Mmm, delicious,” Randy murmured.
“Mmhmm,” Belana agreed.
“What’s to drink?” Randy asked after the three had gorged themselves on the sandwiches and humorous conversation. Brist pulled a couple of fancy looking bottles out of the basket.
“Wine?” Belana giggled.
“Don’t worry guys, it’s non-alcoholic,” Drew said as he joined the group.
Belana and Randy made exaggerated sounds of disappointment, causing Brist to laugh.
“Hey, do I know you?” Drew asked Belana.
“No.” She shook her head, smiling.
“Then how’d you know my name?” He wondered.
“Easy, we were talking about you before you showed up,” Belana teased.
“You were?” He asked gullibly.
“Actually yes, but we were talking about who might happen upon us. I mentioned that you probably wouldn’t. Guess I was wrong,” Brist chuckled.
“So Brist, if anything had happened here today, you would have told me, wouldn’t you?” Drew asked.
“Of course Drew, you’re my big brother, I tell you everything. I told you about every time with Jesse, didn’t I?” Brist answered.
“Yeah,” Drew nodded, reassurred.
“Just like you tell me everything… like you told me about you, Lillian, and certain events that took place under the bleachers,” Brist prodded, causing Drew to snort in laughter. Then he sighed.
“I don’t know why I had to come here, I would have rather stayed in Minnesota so that I could see Lillian every day. God I miss her!” Drew lamented.
“Drew, you are 21 now, why don’t you just tell dad that you’re old enough to stay in Minnesota without parental supervision.”
“What and miss seeing my beautiful sister everyday?”
“Ha! I’m not beautiful and you know it! God, just look at me!” Brist exclaimed. Drew shrugged and shook his head, as if to say “whatever you say babe.” Randy looked puzzled.
“What do you mean you’re not beautiful? I think you’re gorgeous,” he admitted.
“Gorgeous! Do you have glass eyes!? Just look at me, I have this horrible shade of red hair, and my eyes are purple! Look at them,” Brist ordered, slightly pulling down her right bottom eyelid to give Randy a better look at her eye. This caused her three companions to laugh. “And, I’m short. It’s so infuriating that Drew is a whole 8 inches taller than me. Take it from me, I am not beautiful.”
“If you say so,” Drew chuckled.
“See,” Brist said as if Drew had just confirmed her opinion.
Everyone finished their lunch, except for Drew, and sprawled out on the grass in relaxation. The quartet chatted amicably for a while, until a natural lull occurred in the conversation. Brist took this as a cue to unpack dessert.
“I hope everyone likes my surprise,” she said mysteriously. She deliberately created an air of suspense by removing half a three layered milk chocolate cake – having a generous amount of lush fudge between the layers, whole and pieces of ripe raspberries imbedded in the cake, and an opulent frosting made out of melted dark chocolate chips and crushed raspberries – out of the basket. After it was safely out of the basket, where it had been in its own protected compartment, she set it down with an exaggerated flair.
“Voila!” She announced.
“Mmm,” Belana moaned appreciatively. “If you had told me about this, I would have saved more room!”
“Hey, it’s half gone!” Randy protested.
“Randy! Don’t be so selfish, there’s plenty left to go around!” Belana chided. Together, the group polished off the delicious cake in no time. Not wanting the day to end, but not wanting to swim again so soon after eating, and yet antsy to do something, Brist decided to pack up and bring her new friends to her house.
“Coming Drew?” She asked her older brother.
“Naw, I’m gonna go tanning on the rock a while,” he replied lazily.
“Ok, but be careful, you just ate.”
“I will, don’t worry. Where you off to?”
“Our house.”
“Oh, well, I don’t know how you got here, but you can’t take the golf cart back.”
“Don’t worry, we’re riding horses.”
“Ugh! I don’t know how you can stand those things!”
Brist shook her head and laughed. This comment from a would-be hobby farmer!
“What?” Drew asked suspiciously.
“Some farmer you’ll make.”
“Hey, I like petting animals, not riding them,” Drew defended himself.

*******

“Wow! You live here?” Belana asked.
“Yes.”
“This place is cool!” Randy exclaimed.
“It’s okay.” Brist shrugged modestly.
Okay?” Randy questioned as he jumped off his horse. He immediately offered to help Belana down from Cream.
“Well it’s kinda weird. It looks like an old plantation, which it is, but it has everything uncharacteristic of that time period. It was built by my really-great grandpa. Anyway, I think it would be cool to have lived in it back then.”
“Not me! Life was probably horrible! No video games, no TV... How did they live?” Randy asked emphatically.
“Apparently they managed somehow!” Brist laughed. She snuggled up to Cream’s face a few moments, then told her and Honey to go to the stables to be rubbed down. As she watched them walk to the stables, she noticed Renee watching them come towards her, and motioned for Renee to care for them alone this time. Once she received a nodded confirmation from the stable master, she led her friends inside.
“Hmm, the air must be working again,” Brist remarked as she showed them into the library, which was the first door to the right of the entryway.
“Do you two want anything to drink?” She asked.
“Sure”
“Yeah, I am a little thirsty.”
Brist went to a table that was somewhat centrally located, opened what appeared to be a tiny laptop computer, touched the part of the screen that said ‘kitchen,’ and waited for an answer from the cook.
Moments later, Rachel, the cook, was heard asking what was needed. Brist ordered three glasses of her favorite juice, and after she received confirmation of prompt service, she re-closed the intercom panel and turned her attention back to her friends.
“Brist! What an awesome picture of you!” Belana exclaimed. “I’ve always wanted to dress up in a beautiful old-fashioned dress like that.”
“Amazingly enough, that’s not me. It’s my really-great grandma, and as if that weren’t weird enough, her name was also Brist. Brist Southerland Evans to be exact, and it’s so freaky because my mother’s name is Ellen Evans Southerland.”
“No way that could be anyone other than you,” Randy said, examining the portrait of the long dead woman of Brist’s ancestry.
“Want to know something even weirder?” Brist asked.
Both Randy and Belana nodded. Brist carefully reached behind the huge painting and pulled out an age-yellowed envelope.
“This letter is addressed to my mother and was discovered when she was 16. Her parents had decided to restore the painting, and – for the first time since it was placed here – it was moved. Lo-and-behold, this was wedged into the corner of the frame. On it are instructions for it not to be opened until 10-7-2001. Hey! That’s my birthday! Anyway, it says it’s from my really-great grandma Brist,” Brist informed them, passing the envelope to them to examine. Once she got it back from them, she replaced it behind the painting.
“That is so weird!” Randy exclaimed. Belana agreed, rubbing the sudden set of goosebumps off her arms.
“Well, stories are passed down through the generations about how crazy she was, and how she thought she was from the future. Isn’t that funny?” Brist asked.
“She thought she was from the future?” Belana questioned.
“Mmhmm, I can’t remember from exactly when she claimed to have come from, but they say that she had in her possession the most odd machines. Machines that could capture a person like a photograph, yet it moved when viewed. Not to mention the machine used to view it with. Then, there was a machine that made such horrible noise that no one could bear to be around it except for her, and they say that she called the horrible noise music, and whenever she listened to it she would dance in the most unseemly way. In fact, her love of dance inspired my, ahem, male ancestors to keep a very sharp eye on their daughters to insure that they never exhibited any of my many greats grandmother’s undesirable behaviors.”
Brist made a sound that indicated she was puzzled, and then continued on. “Odd, I recall hearing tons of stories about Brist, and they’re all told in order to discourage inappropriate behavior from the females of the Evans family, but I don’t recall ever hearing of any other females in the family other than my mother. I mean not even anything about the wives of my male ancestors that helped continue on the line, nor anything about any of the female children that died at a young age and are buried in the family cemetery. I find that insulting, don’t you Belana?”
“Yes, my family is abound with stories of courageous women starting with my first ancestor to inhabit the area. They say that she and her husband had a somewhat sad life to begin with, but that she was able to give up her most precious possession to ensure the continuation of our line. Apparently, she made a very good friend with an influential woman of what must have been the Evans family, who helped her and all those people who were depending on her to survive, and founded the town that we live in,” Belana explained.
“Well, my favorite story passed down to me from my Grandmother is about thieves,” Randy informed them, deciding to contribute his own stories to their musings about the past. “As my Grandmother told it, our family once resided in England, in a fair sized – but by no means huge – castle, and for some reason, the castle and all its inhabitants fell on hard times. In hopes of a better life, they packed up and moved to America. However, the trip itself cost everything they had, and the enraged and desperate men took to raiding the owners of the ship that had transported them to America. They watched carefully over the owners and their family, and at every opportunity robbed them of everything valuable they had on them at the time,” Randy told them with an excited gleam in his eye.
“How vexing that must have been for the ship owners and their family!” Brist laughed, taking another drink from the glass of juice that had arrived during their discussion.
“Mmm! This is the most delicious juice I’ve ever had, is it watermelon?” Belana asked.
“Yes.” Brist smiled, a low moan indicating that this was her favorite juice. Randy continued his examination of the library. He thought that there were certainly a lot of books, but not really one interested in reading, he made no comment on it. However, there was a cabinet made entirely out of glass which was filled with an amazing amount of different liquors.
“Nice liquor cabinet Brist. Think we’d get in trouble if we sampled its contents?” He asked.
“Well if you and Belana were of a legal age to drink, then no, we could all, ahem, sample until we couldn’t see straight and started seeing visions of fish swimming in the air, but since you are not, then we cannot,” Brist stated, coming to stand next to Randy in front of the cabinet. Belana following her, her breath catching at the sight of not only a variety of liquor, but a wide range of ages on them too.
“Wow this brandy is labeled ‘1695!’” Belana exclaimed.
“Amazing isn’t it? Do you know how much work goes into the upkeep of such an old alcohol? It needs to be strained every few years, and even then this particular vintage must never be drank in large quantities, or else the drinker may die of alcohol poisoning. See, alcohol continues to ferment, grows stronger over time, and never stops. That is why the finest wines are of an older vintage, but more than that, they must come from a decent batch to begin with, for adding age to bad alcohol just makes it worse,” Brist explained simplistically, not wanting to confuse them with technical terms.
“How do you know so much about alcohol?” Randy wondered out loud.
“Ever since anyone can remember, there has always been a cellar full of ‘homemade’ alcohols, and every member of our family has been taught the basics of it creation. It was especially a passion of my mother’s, and she taught it to me. Therefore, I know a fair amount about alcohol.”
“Was Drew taught too?” Belana asked, curious about Brist’s handsome older brother.
“Yes, but my father would never let him truly pursue the subject, Drew was bred to take over the company, and I was taught to pursue whatever subject that pleased me as long as I also learned those subjects that would make me an asset when it came to hosting business dinners, or parties. I am the perfect hostess; I can make drinks – especially martinis – oversee preparations, and make small talk all while keeping an ear open for any profits to be had. It’s all quite horrible when you think about how it’s almost discrimination. I must be made ready to compliment my future husband perfectly, yet in a way, it’s allowed me such great freedom. I mean I’m not quite yet 18, but I have come to appreciate that while Drew’s the boy and must one day take over the business – or so Dad would like to think – I have been allowed to do as I please because I’m female,” Brist informed them.
Suddenly, she blushed. “I realize that it may sound like I’m bragging, but I really can do anything. I’ve personally made sure that not only am I able to do anything I set my mind to, but also to do it better than anyone else. Okay, I’ll stop singing my praises now!” Brist blushed harder, not sure why she had felt compelled to tell them so much. She took another sip from her glass.
“It’s getting late, Randy and I had best get home,” Belana stated abruptly after she glanced at the clock.
“Bei’s mom will be pissed if we aren’t home by 8:00,” Randy added.
“No problem, let me drive you home,” Brist offered, then for the second time since they’d been there, went to the tiny laptop computer-shaped console on the centrally located table and opened it. Since she was unsure of where her mother was located, she touched the box on the screen that indicated that the entire house would be able to hear. “Mom?” She questioned, waiting a few moments for a reply.
“Yes dear?” Her mom’s voice asked through an almost invisible speaker on the table.
“I’m going to borrow a car for a while, I’ll be back in about a half an hour,” Brist informed her.
“Sure thing honey.” Brist was infinitely surprised that her mother hadn’t argued, or insisted that she have Drew drive her. Hmm... she must feel bad for me...

Go To Chapter 4

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