Billybob-Dave the Squirrel

I have a folder where I keep a collection of “Word of the Day” emails.  As a fun exercise to keep my writing skills and imagination supple and well-oiled,  I’m taking a word from that collection to use within a short story.  I haven’t decided on the frequency of writing yet. And,  It may be a daily thing or once a week. Can you guess what word I used?

Billybob-Dave, an ordinary squirrel, was uncommon indeed. Dave, as we shall call him, was unlike most of his kind. He could remember where his treasures were hidden.

Dave, a bit naive, did not notice that several of his brethren squirrels were whispering and watching him closely.

One fine midsummer’s day, he decided with the innate nature that tells a squirrel that it’s time to hoard your food, set off to go a’ gathering. He didn’t notice several squirrels following him like brown furry darts through the tree limbs.

After Dave collected all he could carry, he mosied about until he found the perfect spot to dig a hidey-hole. Once dug, he dropped his collection into it and covered it up. He ran off to go hunt for more edibles.

The squirrels watching from above were simply gruntled that they could raid Dave’s cache of goodies.

“Joe-Bob and you, Joe-Don, go follow Billybob-Dave.” ordered the leader of the dray. “Joe-Dan, Joe-Fabio, and I will stay here and dig up his goodies.”

Dear reader, instead of the last name, squirrels will start with the family name and then add the first name with a hyphen betwixt the two.

Off went Joe-Bob and Joe-Don to follow Dave. The three left behind scampered down the tree to dig up Dave’s treasures, chattering with squirrely glee.

Meanwhile, Joe-Bob and Joe-Don, noticed Dave was headed back to his hidey-hole to deposit more goodies. They flew from tree to tree, squirrels being the natural acrobats they are, and beat him back to the hidey-hole. There, the others who stayed behind were stuffing their faces with Dave’s hard work.

“He’s on his way back!” they clamored in unison.

The squirrels dropped Dave’s booty, scattered up into the tree branches, leaping from limb to limb and away out of sight.

Arriving at the hidey-hole, Dave was quite disgruntled at what he found. All his hard work eaten and spread willy-nilly about. Dave learned a valuable lesson this day. And, he remembered his wise mama squirrel’s words, pay attention to what and who is around you when storing your goodies. Dave had to admit, he wasn’t and didn’t pay attention to anything but the joy of collecting. Dave, an optimistic type of chap, went about his business of finding a new place to store his batch of goodies. This time, he kept a wary eye out for anyone or anything that might be spying on him.

©2021 Tracy Swartz

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Muscle Relaxers, Tanka & Haiku

on the couch, I sit
hungover stupor, staring
muscle relaxers
helpful for muscle spasms
not for the morning after

muscle relaxers
side effects include brain fog
morning hangover

©2021 Tracy Swartz

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Mowing, a Tanka Poem

I hate to mow grass.
It’s hot and bugs are biting.
I hate mowing grass.
Have I made my point clearly?
Mowing is not my favorite chore.

©2021 Tracy Swartz

And, I’d like to present today’s haute couture mowing fashion: This is a must-have when the temperatures are 90 degrees & above with equator-like humidity.

Long sleeve denim shirt. Too-large blue jeans (the sort that you have to continuously hitch up while mowing. This look does not require a flash of the neon blue grannie undies.) Dirty blue baseball cap. Matching light blue surgical mask (because your allergies are acting up & this is the first year in forever they have made their presence known). Pulling the look together, one must add stolen socks from the Hub’s sock drawer (the sporty white no-show type). Old smelly discolored sneakers with nary a tread left so you can slip & slide on the grass clippings.

In addition to this ensemble being THE fashion statement of mowers, it will protect you from the blood-sucking mosquito cloud of doom. (because the Black Swamp still haunts these parts & she likes us to remember that).

The claim above has not been evaluated by any reputable fashion house nor anyone with a lick of common fashion sense.

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E’s Hope Dragon

E is the granddaughter of The Sandwich Queen, my friend & sister in Lunch. Earlier this year, E (age 5) was diagnosed with Metachromatic Leukodystrophy. It’s a rare hereditary brain disease. There is no known cure. Currently, E is in the hospital recovering from a bone marrow transplant. The hope is that this will stop or slow the progression of the disease. She has to be there for a total of four months.

The Sandwich Queen asked me to draw a dragon (E loves dragons!) that the family could use on t-shirts & such to support E. Of course, I said yes. That’s still a work in progress. That led to me asking if I could make a dragon doll for E.

Ever get those intuitive nudges to do something even though you had never done it before? That’s what it was. A strong pull to make a dragon for E. I wanted it to be along the same lines as a Guatemalan Worry Doll. A doll that would be helpful to E as she travels the difficult road ahead. What I came up with (I didn’t know what to call it until a few days ago) is a Hope Dragon. Here is the letter I wrote to E:

Dearest E,

Hello from the land of The Great Black Swamp! I found your dragon. Yes, Dear E, you have a dragon!

A few days ago, I was out checking my gnome traps. I looked inside and, lo and behold, there was a dragon trapped inside of it. Dear E, I trap gnomes because they are naughty things and cause all sorts of trouble. I don’t hurt them. I move them deeper into the swamp where the gnomes can run amok freely and not hurt themselves or anyone else with their gnomish antics.

As you may know, one must be careful when approaching dragons, no matter their size. Oh no, it’s not because all of them are fierce, terrible, and frightening. Dragons have this odd thing that happens when they are cooped up too long. They become a bit gassy and, that makes their burps mighty and full of fire. I have a theory that volcanoes are mountains with a gassy dragon trapped inside. That’s a story for another time.

Luckily, the dragon wasn’t inside the trap for too long. Guess what? It could talk! It’s rare to find a dragon that can talk to just any old human it meets. It’s rare to find a dragon in a gnome trap in a swamp too!

Once freed from the trap and after a good wing stretch, it told me that it’s looking for a girl named E. Well, I knew YOU had to be the E it was looking for! Can you imagine why it was looking for you?

Well, Dear E, this is a rare Hope Dragon. They show up when humans are doing hard things. And, when the dragon heard all the tough stuff you are dealing with, it knew it had to help. The dragon was so worried that it would not find you because it had gotten lost. Funny things happen in the Great Black Swamp and often make magical directional sensibilities go wonky.

Anyway, the dragon told me that there are only a handful (or a paw full if you’re a dragon) of humans who ever receive help from a Hope Dragon and its heart.

The Hope Dragon is here to talk to whenever you feel scared, lonely, or terribly sad. It likes to take those feelings and gobble them up. Sometimes you might feel that way when your dragon isn’t nearby. That’s why the dragon wants to give you its heart so that you can always talk to it, no matter how far away you may be. Isn’t that cool? It’s a big heart for such a small dragon but not so big that it can’t fit in your pocket or under your pillow as you sleep or held in the palm of your hand.

Now, Dearest E, I release this Hope Dragon and its heart into your care. And, you, only you must name your dragon. Please let me know what name you choose because no matter how many treats I gave it, the dragon refused to tell me.

The Black Swamp Gourdess

And without further ado, I’d like you to meet E’s Hope Dragon.

E loves pink, purple, & glitter, so I had to incorporate all that glory into the dragon. What self-respecting swamp dweller would send a found dragon off without a note of some sort? And, not any ordinary letter would do. It had to be on a scroll. Scrolls are super easy to make and a lot of fun! The heart is made of rose quartz. It’s pink perfection for E to hold when she’s away from her dragon.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to Martha Boers who inspired the arms and the legs of E’s dragon. I’d like to also acknowledge Mugiwara Cosplay and BubblyLeaf . These tutorials helped me figure out how to make a dragon’s tail and the perfect wings. And, last, but certainly not least, Bunnola (my kiddo). They helped with the photography and editing.

Shhhh. E’s sister M is getting a unicorn doll. M was the bone marrow donor and a super rock-star about the whole thing. I’ll keep you up to date on that!

Before that adventure, though, I’m going to dive back into a daily Haiku or Tanka poem and get back to work on The Story of Daemons. Plus, there are Gnords to introduce and, I’d like to make my very own Daemon. She’s long overdue.

Either sleep is overrated or, I need to become a vampire to get all this done. And yes, I’d prefer to be a vampire that sparkles in the sunlight, thank you very much.

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