Hidden Kingdom (Chapter 2-adding page 9)

To see the complete Chapter 1, use the following link;https://catchafallingstarbook.net/2018/11/24/hidden-kingdom-chapter-1-complete/

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An Unexpected Gift 

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This post is a movie review for Thor : Ragnarok , though I don’t really plan on talking about the movie very much.   It was an excellent comic book movie in the same tongue-in-cheek comedy tradition as Guardians of the Galaxy.   It made me laugh and made me cheer.   It was the best of that kind of movie.  But it wasn’t the most important thing that happened that night.

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You see, I spent the weekend in the hospital thinking I had suffered a heart attack during the Thanksgiving holiday. I thought I was facing surgery at the very least.   I knew I might have had an appointment to play chess with the Grim Reaper.   It is a lot to worry about and drain all the fun out of life.

Well, one of the things that happened that day, Tuesday, my first full day out of the hospital and, hopefully, out of the woods over heart attacks, was that I received my new replacement bank card because my old one had a worn out, malfunctioning chip in it.  So, I took my three kids to the movie at the cheapest place we could find.  I tried to run my bank card for the payment, and it was summarily declined.  I had activated it previously during the day, and there was plenty of money in the account compared to the price, but it just wouldn’t take.  So I had to call Wells Fargo to find out whatever the new reason was for them to hate me.  It turned out that it had already been activated, but a glitch had caused it to decline the charge.  While I was talking to the girl from the Wells Fargo help desk, the lady who had gotten her and her husband’s tickets right before us put four tickets to the movie in my hand.

The middle-aged black couple had lingered by the ticket stand before going in to their movie just long enough to see a sad-looking old man with raggedy author’s beard and long Gandalf hair get turned down by the cheap-cinema ticket-taking teenager because the old coot’s one and only bank card was declined. They were moved to take matters into their own hands and paid for our tickets themselves.

That, you see, was the gift from my title.  Not so much that we got our movie tickets for free, but that the world still works that way.  There are still good people with empathetic and golden hearts willing to step in and do things to make the world a little bit better place.  The gift they gave me was the reassurance that, as bad and black as the world full of fascists that we have come to live in has become, it still has goodness and fellow feeling in it. People are still moved to pay things forward and make good on the promise to “love one another”.  I did not have a chance to thank them properly.  I was on the phone with Wells Fargo girl when it happened.  The only thing that couple got out of their good deed was thank-yous from my children and the knowledge that they had done something wonderful.  I plan to pay it forward as soon as I have the opportunity.  Not out of guilt or obligation, but because I need to be able to feel that feeling too at some point.

I do have one further gift to offer the world.

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After we got home from the movie, I opened an email that contained the cover proof for my novel, Magical Miss Morgan.  Soon I will have that in print also if I can keep Page Publishing from messing it up at the last moments before printing.  It is a novel about what a good teacher is and does.  It is the second best thing I have ever written.

Sometimes the gifts that you most desperately need come in unexpected fashion.

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Hidden Kingdom (Chapter 2 adding page 17)

The weekly update of Hidden Kingdom.

Catch a Falling Star

If you would like to see the complete Chapter 1, it can be found at this link; https://catchafallingstarbook.net/2018/11/24/hidden-kingdom-chapter-1-complete/

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Peach Pie

Whether we are talking Syrians or Hondurans or even relatives from Florida, everybody could stand a slice.

Catch a Falling Star

peach pie12

In the 1960’s back in Iowa, family reunions started happening around this time of year.  We would make long treks to distant parts like Spencer, Iowa or Coralville, Iowa to meet with cousins by the dozens, with Great Aunts and their great families… people we looked somewhat like and were actually related to, but usually didn’t see more than twice in any given year.  And there were some who lived in far off Cleveland, Ohio that you only saw twice in the entire decade.  And it isn’t real easy to play with the kids you are related to but don’t see every day.  Squabbles happen more often than not.  What was the solution to that kind of warfare?  According to Great Aunt Marie, the solution was a nice piece of peach pie.  The offending cousin and I would each get a slice of the solution to eat side by side…

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On the Highway (a quick poem about going faster)

I am a truly awful poet. And I know it. But my feet don’t show it. They are not Longfellow’s.

Catch a Falling Star

The Road Home I painted this oil painting looking West on Highway 3. My home town in Iowa is just beyond the next hill.

On The Highway

Leave dirt roads behind…

On the highway you go faster.

Pavement gives you ease to speed.

In fact, why use that two-lane road?

The Interstate is faster.

Limited access off and on…

The legal limit goes up to 70…

Or even 75…

85 with no cops around.

Straight over the horizon…

Into the mist-blue distance…

You are not really going anywhere…

But you will get there faster!

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Double Portrait in the Nude

I did a double-duty pen and ink illustration of two nude girls in a PG-13 sort of mode. It is not intended to be pornography. It is also not intended to draw viewers to my blog just because I happened to notice an uptick in views whenever I put a nude in an art post. I wouldn’t do that… would I? At least, not in a way that you could prove that was my intent.

There is an actual plan for using this drawing. It could work as an illustration for one or two or even three of my novels. You could argue that these are the twin-sister nudists, Sherry and Shelly Cobble from the book Recipes for Gingerbread Children. Here is the link if you want to read it to prove me wrong; https://www.amazon.com/Recipes-Gingerbread-Children-Michael-Beyer-ebook/dp/B07KQTMN7R/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=154752An0896&sr=8-1&keywords=michael+beyer+books+recipes+for+gingerbread+children

Notice, you can get it for one dollar on Kindle, or free with Amazon Prime membership.

They could also be used as an illustration for one of the fairy stories, representing the two nude Storybook fairies, Gretel and Anneliese. They also appear in Recipes, as well as potential appearances in future fairy stories.

Anyway, I have already gone and done it, posting this picture I drew today, to give you a good look at either Shelly or Anneliese’s shapely behind. I won’t make the mistake of posting it on Facebook.

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The Unquiet Teacher Brain

I still think like a teacher at five years retired, so I present this blog post as proof that I don’t take my own writing advice when I write.

Catch a Falling Star

Miss Morgan oneYesterday, as I was reviewing a movie that is almost as old as I am (in December, 1961 I was 5), I couldn’t help but think like a teacher.  If I were going to teach this movie as a piece of literature (and movies ARE literature!  Don’t argue with me!!!), I would start with an anticipation guide… or I could call it a lesson focus.  I would tell the students a little bit about why this movie is important to me.  I would give the background information about how Walt Disney wanted to make a musical picture like The Wizard of Oz, and even bought the rights to Oz books by Frank L. Baum to make it happen.  It was supposed to be a starring vehicle for his popular Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeers, and ended up starring Annette Funicello (and I would never mention anything about my childhood desire…

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Aquarium, Terrarium, Planetarium

Angelfish are like the kings of the aquarium. They swim about in slow, stately fashion.

As a teenager I was very much into raising tropical fish in an aquarium. Having fish to watch and fuss around with is a healthy, mind-calming hobby that literally helps you learn about environmental issues. Keeping an aquarium is all about keeping fundamental forces of biology in relative balance.

The lovely pearl gourami is a fascinating finny friend that fills the tank with beauty and color.

Some fish are there just for beauty. The angelfish and gouramis I have pictured already are mainly that. Though you could also say that kissing fish, the pink kissing gouramis, also provide comic relief.

Kissing gouramis actually perform the kissing ritual in the tank, and I really don’t know why, but I suspect it is about courting and sex.

Goldfish are the pigs of the fresh-water tank. They are slow and rather stupid, and they eat massive quantities of fish food, so they also poop excessively.

Keeping an aquarium is a balancing act.

Albino Angelfish
Neon Tetra

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a fancy Veiltail Guppy

If you put the wrong fish together, problems ensue. Fully grown angelfish will eat expensive guppies and neon tetras. Goldfish waste so much fish food and make so much fish poop that the tank has to be cleaned nearly every day to prevent it become a befouled cesspool of toxic filth and bacteria. Unless…

Cory Catfish

You employ bottom-feeders like the corydorus catfish or the red-tailed black shark (actually a loach, not a shark) to feed on the waste and be the janitor-fish.

A carefully balanced tank is a living work of art that grows and changes and progresses…

Red-Tailed Black Shark

…Until something goes wrong. Every fish tank I ever put together eventually had a crisis that made the whole ecology crash. All the fish would die and the tank would smell bad. This would usually happen when I wasn’t there to tend it as needed, when I was away at college or on vacation. Water has to be refreshed. The water can never be allowed to cool lower than seventy degrees, even in winter. The air pump can’t break down and stop aerating the aquarium. The filter has to be clean and unclogged. And disease has to be treated.

In a way, our entire planet earth is like that too. Of course, if it was all sealed under glass, it would be a terrarium, not an aquarium. But we can identify the same sorts of threats to the ecosystem of the terrarium we live in as would be found in a tropical fish tank. Donald Trump and his Republican fat-cats are the goldfish. Global warming threatens the air and water in the tank. An asteroid could break the glass and spill the contents out. So many things could crash our carefully balanced fish tank. And there is an even greater environment out there beyond the edges of our little solar system. Does the title make sense now in a way it didn’t before? No? Oh, well, I tried.

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When the Captain Came Calling… Canto 11

Canto Eleven – Clubhouse Craziness

Two days had passed since the magic cat had given Valerie the strange wooden statue.  Now, it sat on the crate that served as a table in the middle of the Ghost House.  The newly re-formed Pirates were all there.

“I think it’s called a Tiki idol,” said Pidney.

“How do you know that, Polack?” sneered Conrad Doble.

“It looks kinda like the ones in the Tiki Bird Show at Disneyland,” said Pidney sheepishly, “Mom and Dad took me there when I was twelve.”

“Didja like the show?” asked Doble.  “The singing birdies and everything?”

“Yeah,” said Pidney matter-of-factly, “I have always loved everything by Disney.”

Both Valerie and Mary Philips smiled at him.  Pidney was always gonna have a lot of the little boy he used to be in him.

“It reminds me of the book you were telling me about, Mary,” said Ray Zeffer.

“What book?” asked Pidney.

“Ray was there when I showed the book to Mr. Salcom.  He’s in my Modern Novel Class third period.  It’s the book about the last voyage to the South Seas.”

“The one your Uncle Noah gave you,” added Ray.

“Noah Dettbarn is NOT my uncle.  He’s just a family friend.”

“Did your Uncle come to visit you recently?” asked Danny Murphy.  “Since he came home again, I mean?”

“He’s NOT my…  Oh, never mind.   It came in the mail a month ago.  It’s where I got those stories I was telling you about, Pid.”

“Oh, yeah.   The stories that you’re gonna share with us to become the Merlin of the Pirates,” said Pidney.

Valerie admired the way Pidney’s eyes sparkled when he talked about stuff that excited him.  And Mary’s stories were always something that excited him, no matter where she got them from.  Mary’s eldest half-brother, Branch McMillan wrote lots of fantastic stories full of lies and jokes and other nonsense.  A lot of that had rubbed off on Mary.

“So, you have a magic book after all?  Like old Milt Morgan had?”  Conrad Doble looked at Mary with an accusing stare that made Val want to punch him in the ear.

“Well, it’s not a magic book.  It’s a ship’s log book.  It has latitudes and longitudes in it, sonar readings, and some stories about what Captain Noah Dettbarn has been up to that are either huge honking lies, or the most fantastic things that ever happened to someone from Iowa.”

“Cool.  You have the book with you?” asked Doble.

“Not yet.  I’ll bring it to the next meeting.  I have to read all the stories myself first,” Mary said.

Doble squinted at Mary.  Valerie thought that must either mean that old King Leer didn’t believe her, or that his tiny brain was being squeezed too tightly by all the information Mary had just given him.  Surely it was the latter thing.

“What are we gonna do with the Tiki-thing?” asked Pidney.

“You really got it from a magic cat?” Ray asked Valerie.

“Well, I don’t know if it’s a magic cat, exactly.  It’s that ugly white alley cat that lives behind the Main Street businesses, by the water tower.  Crazy old Miss Haire asked me to go talk to it.”

“And did it talk back?” sneered Conrad Doble.

Pidney and Ray both glared at Doble, apparently not liking the tone of voice he used with Valerie.   But it was pretty much the same ugly tone he used with everybody.

“Um… It talked to me… yes.”

“But I didn’t hear it,” said Danny.   “Only Val has the witch ears that crazy old Miss Haire was talking about.”

“Witch ears?” asked Mary.

“She calls it the knowing,” answered Valerie.  “She says it is using all your senses to tell you more than any one thing can tell you by itself.”

“That’s real dog poop!” growled Doble.

“Miss Haire is rather eccentric,” said Mary, “but I believe she’s a good person at heart.  Did she say anything about the Tiki idol?”

“We talked to her before we got the idol,” said Val.  “We didn’t see her or talk to her afterwards.”

“Well, I think we should look up more about it in the library,” said Mary.  “Val, isn’t your aunt the head librarian?”

“My Mom’s sister, Aunt Alice, yes.”

“Can you, Pidney, and I meet in the library tomorrow afternoon?”

“You bet!”  Val liked the idea of looking stuff up with Pidney.  Using his football muscles to pull books off shelves and turn encyclopedia pages really appealed to a girl who liked to see football muscles in use and up close.

So, it was settled.  The Captain’s log book would be the magic book that sealed the New Norwall Pirates, and Valerie would get to do research with two of her favorite people on Earth all because of a silly little wooden-headed man in a grass skirt and a very ugly mask.

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