Saturday, June 25, 2016


Having Jo for a little brother could be a pain sometimes, Ro thought, but not today.  Today Jo was her hero! 
When it got hot outside, he knew just what to do with his powers: with a wave of his arms and wiggle of his fingers he changed the Team RoJo fort into a pool with a slide!!
They'd been in the middle of their fourth side to side race when Gramps Blaze simply appeared in the middle of the water, sort of bouncing up and down like a cork on Ro and Jo's waves.  After winning the race, Jo swam over to Gramps Blaze and splashed him, which turned the pool into a giant splashfest, of course.  Nana Terri, cane and all, came slowly down the steps into the refreshing water and laughed at the splashers until she got a butt-load of water in the face and said, "if you can't avoid them, join them," and started hand-plowing the water, sending great sprays of it toward her grandchildren. 
"You should have seen them racing," Gramps Blaze said, laughing after the kids started playing a game of water basketball with the little floating net Mom and Dad had gotten them.  
"Yeah?  Great!  We can give them their swimming scales," Nana Terri said. 
"No reason why they can't get their diving scales too," Gramps Blaze said, "they were diving into the deep end of the pool earlier, and doing a darn fine job of it, too!  But now that the serious scale business if over, I'm thinking it's time for more fun! And besides, I'm getting thirsty!"  Suddenly, with a wave of his hand, the wonderful in-ground pool that Jo had whipped up turned into something even more spectacular. 
"Wow!" Ro and Jo said, looking around them.
"What the…" Jo gasped.  "What happened?"
"Try the slide now!"  Gramps Blaze said.  "It's a root beer float!"
Ro swam up to a giant scoop of ice cream, bigger than her, and licked it while treading root beer.  "This is awesome!"
The kids swam around, the bubbles from the root beer tickling them all over, and took little sips as they swam, then licked the ice cream blobs when they ran into them.  Gradually the root beer got creamy with the melted ice-cream – Ro loved that. 
Nana Terri laughed and shook her head at Gramps Blaze who took a big mouthful of root beer and sprayed it up into the air like a whale spouts water.  "You are crazy, my love!"  she giggled. 
"But fun!" Gramps Blaze said, and dove beneath the surface of the sweet brown liquid and tickled Nana Terri's toes.  Then he came up behind her and reached around to tickle her tummy. 
And got splashed with root beer, just like he'd planned – opening his mouth to catch as much as he could.  Never let root beer go to waste!  Especially creamy root beer! 
As Ro, Jo, Nana Terri, and Gramps Blaze bobbed around in the sticky, sweet, creamy soda, Mom sat in the living room with her friend Connie the Couch Potato.  When Mom heard everyone in the yard splashing around and having so much fun, she thought she knew what was going on – a pool.  She urged Connie to come outside and see what her magical family was capable of – but mostly she just wanted to get her friend up off of the sofa and outside in the fresh air and sunshine, for Connie was not very healthy – very much overweight because she never moved around much.  Just getting her to walk outside took effort. 
But when she finally did haul herself up off the sofa and out the kitchen door, her mouth dropped open in complete surprise. 
Before her in the yard was a giant glass mug, taller than she was, filled with root beer and ice-cream – and people were swimming it in!!
"Oh my goodness, Cait!  What on earth?!"
"Come join us!" Ro & Jo said.  "There's a slide!!" 
Sure enough on the far side of the giant mug was a shiny blue sliding board that landed sliders right into the root beer with its little ice-cream bergs. 
"I don't have a bathing suit," Connie called up to Ro. 
"No problem!" Jo said, and holding on to the rim of the giant mug with one arm, waved the other. 
Suddenly Connie's capri pants and tank top turned into a red bathing suit. 
She gasped, looking down at herself. 
"You're all set!" Jo said, giggling. 
Connie looked over at Mom and smiled.  "I can never find bathing suits that fit me very well, but this is perfect.  How on earth did Jo do that?"
"Uh, well, magic?"  Mom said.  "But you have to keep it a secret, okay?" 
"I get it.  Your secret is safe with me!" Connie said, and couldn't resist trying out the root beer float pool.  Up and up she climbed to the very top of the ladder, and plopped herself down at the tippy top of the slide. 
WHOOSH! Down she flew, into the sweet, creamy root beer below. 
KERSPLASH!! She landed, spraying root beer everywhere, even over the rim of the mug onto Mom, still standing below, who laughed and shrugged and climbed up the ladder. She couldn't resist; it looked like so much fun.  Who would want to resist? 
Connie said, laughing, "That was awesome!  I want to slide again!"
With that, she swam over to the edge of the mug and swung her leg over, holding the rail of the ladder steps, and climbed up them to the top of the slide again. 
"That slide is brilliant, Gramps Blaze," Mom said.  "She really loves it.  Climbing the steps a lot is good exercise for my friend Connie." 
"Yes.  And even if she drinks the root beer and licks the ice cream, climbing the steps and swimming will work it off." 
"Very good!  Very sneaky!  I like it," Mom laughed as Connie's splash landing drenched her in sweetness. 
Up the steps, down the slide, and swimming over to the edge of the mug to climb back up over and over again burned off about a million calories all afternoon for Connie – not to mention she used her muscles all day, and breathed fresh air and got a lot of sun. 
But most important, Connie realized how much nicer it was to be off the sofa.
As it began to get dark, Jo changed the giant root beer float mug into a regular swimming pool with water again, and the gooey, sticky, creamy, root beer float they'd all been coated with washed off.  They dried off with towels Jo had wiggled and waved his hands to glide out to them from the linen closet.    
Then Gramps Blaze took over and waved his hand and a warm breeze blew, drying swimsuits and hair.  As soon as everyone was completely dry, Jo waved his hands and changed swimsuits to shorts and tops and flip-flops. 
Mom invited Connie to come swimming every day if she wanted, and Connie promised she would. 
By the middle of summer, she'd lost 50 pounds, and her muscles were firm and strong.  She not only climbed up the slide's ladder a whole bunch of times every day, but she swam in Ro and Jo's races too. 
But it was right after Connie went home that first time, that Gramps Blaze, Nana Terri, and Mom met in the fort with Ro and Jo.  Jo waved his hands and his vest and Ro's himation, already glistening with several scales each, floated toward them, and then down over their heads to settle on them, ready for their new scales. 
"Okay," Mom said.  "You get Swimming Scales, Diving Scales, and Healthy Exercise Coaching Scales."  She pressed each scale on Ro and Jo's chests, in a row with the others they'd already earned.  They of course stuck there magically, and Ro and Jo beamed with pride.  Earning these scales had been too much fun to consider work. 
Mom smiled, knowing what was going through Ro's mind, because she hadn't shielded it, and said, "After all that root beer and ice cream, do you have room for cheesy mashed potatoes and salad?"
"Sure!  Yay!" Ro and Jo jumped up and down, but before they hurried into the house from the fort, they turned to Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze.  "Want to have dinner with us?" 
"Well, sweetie, we would love to, but we have to get back home and feed the squirrels and raccoons and birds in our yard," Nana Terri said, hugging her beloved grandchildren. 
"Thank you for making the pool into a root beer float!" Jo said to Gramps Blaze, giving him the whopper of all hugs. 
"You're welcome!  It was a blast!"  Gramps Blaze said, hugging Jo and his sister tight, and then they were off – Ro and Jo into the house for dinner, and Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze back home to Knight Island and their animal friends. 
Later Ro wrote in the family journal that she would never have believed earning scales and training could be so much fun. 
She could hardly wait for the next Team RoJo adventure! 

TD – 6/25/2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016


In his rotten old tree, in a haunted forest far away from the Team RoJo fort, Gnomeanie watched his shadows swirl around and around.  Usually the shadows made pictures for him, sort of like the fog in Grandma Crystal's crystal ball, but not today.  What was going on, he wondered, grumpy and impatient. His shadows never failed to show him what was what. 
He watched the shadows like most people watch TV, and he'd seen Princess Rosie and Kid Joey in the dark swirls right up until yesterday, but now he couldn't see much of anything.  Just a lot of fuzzy darkness.
Oooh!  They were using magic powers to block his shadows out!  He would get even with them! 
He stomped around inside his dingy tree trunk, stamping and grumbling, and looking perfectly ridiculous.  And he looked even more ridiculous when he stubbed his toe on his chair (there was only one at his table because he was too mean for company) and had to hop. 

The more he thought about the good magic protecting Ro and Jo, and that crazy old Gramps Blaze of theirs, the angrier he got until he stomped out of his tree and became so hot-headed that steam popped his hat right off of his head about twenty feet in the air!  It got stuck on a tree branch, and he got even madder, shaking his fists at it hanging there, swinging back and forth like it was enjoying not being on his angry, mean little head.  He snapped his fingers and a bird, sitting quietly in its nest on a nearby branch, sighed and flew to the hat, and grabbed it with its toes. 
The hat landed on Gnomeanie's upturned face, which made him sneeze, which blew the hat back up in the air, but not so far as the branch this time. 
Finally, he pulled it snug onto his head again, and stomped back into his grody little house. 

In Gnomeanie's rotten tree trunk there was no love and no laughs.  The mean little gnome squatted, royally ticked off at his shadows, that still blurred with static and couldn't even let him hear what was going on with Blaze Wizard, let alone see!  He would have to go shadow shopping he supposed! 
He was so mad he burned his macaroni and cheese blowing on the flame to make it higher.  Ooh!  He hated when that happened. 
He hated a lot of things, Gnomeanie did! 
But more than anything in the whole wide world, he hated being tiny, and had some very tall and very mean plans for getting even with the one who'd made him that way.  The Blaze Wizard would be dealing with Gnomeanie very, very soon.  He would be very, very sorry for messing with a Gnome as mean as Gnomeanie. 

Who did that Blaze Wizard think he was, shrinking Gnomeanie down to almost nothing!  He would fix that sorcerer!  Wait and see! 
Gnomeanie's shadows crouched in the corner, hoping he really would go shadow shopping at the magic store tomorrow.  He was always yelling at them.  And he never played shadow tag or shadow racing, or shadow hide-and-seek with them.  He was boring and mean.  But for the time-being they were stuck with him. 

Little did the shadows know that Gnomeanie's mean thoughts about the Blaze Wizard had shown up within the crystal ball in the Team RoJo fort that very day, and caught Ro's attention. 
Who was that mean little Gnome, and why was he so mad at Gramps Blaze?  And how could he talk to his shadows?  Ro hadn't known that shadows could even talk, let alone do favors for you.  Why was the Gnome so mean to his shadows?  At first, when she saw him in the crystal ball talking to his shadows, she thought they were his friends, keeping him company all alone in his grubby little house.  But then he yelled at them, and they seemed to hide in the corners like they were afraid. 
She looked around the room at all the shadows, and wondered if any of them could talk, or might like to play with her.  She'd never thought about that before. 
She would try talking to the shadows hanging out in her room later; it might be fun to make some new friends, but right now she stood up from the table in the fort, blew a kiss to the crystal ball, knowing that Poppy was in there somewhere, and took off into the house to find her brother Jo.  He was probably using his magic power to build a castle with his blocks, just by waving his fingers. 
She giggled, remembering the first time he'd tried that.  He kept banging the blocks into the towers, sending them crashing to the floor in his room.  But now, with a lot of practice, he built higher and higher towers, and when they crashed it was usually on purpose. 

Inside the house, when Ro came to Jo's door, Kato greeted her with wagging tail and a big slurpy kiss on her hand – until she bends over, he thought, and then I'll slurp her right in the face.  He loved Ro and Jo; they were his favorite humans in the whole world.  He loved kissing their faces too, because there was always a little peanut butter in the corners of their mouths, or mac and cheese on their chins.  They always missed spots when washing their faces– sometimes he wondered if they did that on purpose so kisses would taste good. 
But right now, Ro seemed to be in Jo's room on Team RoJo business.  She looked quite serious. 
"Hi!" Ro said, sitting down next to her brother who was on his belly on the floor, drawing a picture.  "Can I see?"
Jo finished coloring in the very bottom part of the picture, and handed it to his sister, as Kato licked his hand, mainly because there was a spot of syrup on his wrist from breakfast.  Kato loved Jo who sometimes would sneak him a little piece of whatever he was eating, which was really cool, and he missed even more spots when washing his hands than he did on his face!  That left Kato a lot of tasty slurps during the day, especially after meals. 
"Oh my goodness!" Ro said, looking at Jo's drawing of the mean little Gnome she'd seen in the crystal ball in the fort earlier.  The very gnome who talked to his shadows – or rather, yelled at his shadows -  and the very gnome who was so mad at Gramps Blaze. 
"How did you see this?  I wasn't trying to send you the thoughts," Ro said to Jo. 
"Well, you weren't trying very hard to keep them to yourself either.  Sometimes when you get a little scared or mad, your thoughts leak into my head." 
Ro's brows lifted in surprise.  "Really?" 
"Yeah.  When you couldn't find your book-bag yesterday and you were running late for the bus, totally heard you say dammit." 
Ro's eyes got wider.  "Yeah?  You think any grownups heard it?" 
"As a matter of fact, I heard it, honey-bear, but it was meant to be inside your head, so I'll let it go," Dad said, peeking around the partly closed door, smiling, and winking at Ro.  "What are you guys up to?"
"Just drawing pictures," Jo said, and Ro nodded, while Kato sat panting between them. 
"Daddy," Ro said when her father started to continue down the hall to the kitchen.  He leaned his head back into the room. 
"'Sup?" he said to Ro. 
"Dad, have you ever seen this Gnome before?"
Dad took the picture Ro offered him, and shook his head.  "No.  I don't think so.  He doesn't look very happy, does he." 
"He looks mean, and he's mad at Gramps Blaze about something," Ro said. 
"Really?  Maybe you should talk to Gramps Blaze about this, then.  It's one thing for a gnome to be grumpy, but it's another if he's mad about something.  Last thing we want is magical trouble on our hands." 
Ro looked over at Jo and said, "Let's go find Gramps Blaze and see what this is all about."
The magical kids got up off the floor, and with Kato at their heels, took off through the house, out the back door (with a bang), across the yard, and into the fort.  They would use the crystal ball to get in touch with Gramps Blaze.  It was faster than using the phone – and more fun, too!
Ro gently rubbed the crystal ball with her hands the way Grandma Crystal had taught her, and concentrated really hard on Gramps Blaze.  The fog swirled inside the crystal ball, making the children very happy because being able to bring the ball to life meant that they were getting better at using their powers every day. 
Slowly Gramps Blaze's fuzzy face came into focus.  "Hi guys!  What's up?" he said, smiling. 
"Hi Gramps Blaze!" Ro and Jo said together, and then Ro got right to the point because talking through the crystal ball still took a lot of energy from both her and Gramps Blaze.  "Gramps Blaze, do you know this grumpy gnome?" Ro asked as Jo held his picture toward the crystal ball so Gramps Blaze could see.
Gramps Blaze laughed.  "Oh yeah!  I know him alright!  That's Gnomeanie!" 
Ro and Jo looked at one another, and Ro said, "Well, he seems like he's really mad at you, and I think he's trying to get his shadows together to play a trick on you." 
Gramps Blaze laughed.  "You think I should be afraid of that silly gnome, even if he is a mean little motor scooter?" (That was one of Gramps Blaze's little sayings – mean little motor scooter.  That could mean that someone's mean, like Gnomeanie, or it could mean that a story or movie was scary.  Ro and Jo thought Gramps Blaze was hilarious.) 
"I was just giving you fair warning about what I saw in the crystal ball," Ro explained. 
"Is that little twerp giving you problems?" Gramps Blaze asked Ro. 
"Not exactly, I could see him in the crystal ball this morning, and thought he might be trying to bother you." 
"Well, I know he's mad at me, because I'm the reason he's so tiny now." 
"Really?" Jo asked, amused already at Gramps Blaze. 
"Yeah.  I was taking a walk the other week and he tripped me, the mean little bugger.  So I told him if he was going to play little mousy games, he should be the right size, and I shrunk him down to the size of a mouse.  He's ticked off because he doesn't have enough magical power to reverse my spell," Gramps Blaze said, a smug smirk on his face. 
Ro and Jo rolled their eyes, laughing.  "Oh Gramps Blaze, what are we going to do with you?" 
"Take me fishing!" he suggested. 
"We're still training for our scales."
"Well, you could earn some scales if we go fishing," Gramps Blaze said. 
"How?" Ro and Jo asked at the same time, both enjoying fishing. 
"Do you know how to use your powers to catch fish?" Gramps Blaze said, and Ro and Jo had to admit that they did not know how to use their powers to catch fish. 
Seconds later they found themselves in The Kraken, the boat that Jo and Gramps Blaze had fixed up like new.  Gramps Blaze had sucked them into the crystal ball, geared them up with fishing rods, a net, and sunscreen, then whisked them into the boat that he'd already plunked down into the middle of the Knight Island cove near where he and Nana Terri lived. 
"I love your magic, Gramps Blaze!" Jo said, excited to be on the water in the little boat again. 
"Me too!" said Ro, who gave her grandfather a hug. 
Gramps Blaze hugged them back and then clapped his hand to his forehead.  "Uh oh!  I forgot my tackle box, and we don't have any bait." 
A second later he said, "No biggie!"  He wiggled his fingers at the hooks dangling from the fishing poles, and suddenly there were worms curled around them.  A purple worm on Ro's hook and an orange worm on Jo's.  They were making funny faces at the kids and Gramps Blaze. Kato barked at them, and wagged his tail. 
"Settle down, Kato," Gramps Blaze said, planting his feet wide apart as he sat on the little bench seat, and grabbing the gunwales of the small, rocking boat.  Kato sat down, never taking his eyes off the worms who now stuck their tongues out at the silly dog. 
"Gramps Blaze!  They are too funny!" Ro said. "We can't use them to catch fish!"
"They are special worms.  When the fish come at them they climb up the line so they don't get eaten," Gramps Blaze told Ro, and everyone cast their lines into the water.
As they waited for fish to bite, Ro said to Gramps Blaze, "So how long are you going to keep Gnomeanie mouse-sized?"
"Until he straightens himself out and changes his attitude," Gramps Blaze answered, and then, wondering where all the fish were, began to wave his hand around a little.  The kids knew what that meant, for sure.  Soon there was a fish on Gramps Blaze's line, and he reeled it in until it dangled in mid-air, flapping and wiggling, mad that the worm that had made faces at it and teased it was now halfway up the line, wiggling and laughing at it. 
Just then Jo had an idea.  He wiggled his fingers, and soon there were fishes on his and Ro's lines too! 
"I was wondering how long it would take you to realize you could use your powers to fish!" Gramps Blaze said, chuckling.  "Okay, whose fish is biggest?"
"Mine!  It's really big!" Ro said, excited that she could out-fish her magical grandfather. 
"Want any of them for lunch?"
The kids said, "Nah, we just like saying hello."
"Okay, then, we'll toss 'em back in." 
"Okay, Gramps Blaze, I get how Jo can use his powers to fish.  But what about mine?  How can I practice my powers by fishing?"  Ro said, and then added, meaning to tease, "By telling him to bite my hook inside my head?" She laughed when she said that, but Gramps Blaze raised his eyebrows, and stared evenly at her, waiting for her to get it. 
"Really?" she said, "I can do that?"
"Give it a try," Gramps Blaze answered, and the trio cast their lines into the water again. 
Within a couple of minutes there were fish on all three lines, and different ones than the fish Gramps Blaze and Jo had hooked. 
"Well done, sweetie!" Gramps Blaze said to Ro, and then all of a sudden all three of them were sitting at the table in the fort, staring into the crystal ball, the fishing gear nowhere in sight.  Gramps Blaze must have stowed it away magically while they were traveling. 

"Now about Gnomeanie.  Ro, do you think you can call him up?" Gramps Blaze said. 
Ro placed her hands on the crystal ball and rubbed them around a little, then the swirls of mist formed inside it.  Soon they began to fade away, and Gnomeanie changed slowly from a blur into a grumpy gnome. 
"Get out of my head!" he yelled at Ro, until he noticed Gramps Blaze standing behind her, and then he got even madder.  "Who are you, little girl!" 
"Look who's calling who little!" Ro giggled.  She didn't usually tease people about how they looked, but Gnomeanie had been mean to Gramps Blaze, and she thought that Gramps Blaze's magically shrinking him was not only fair, but hilarious. 
"Hey!  You watch it, young lady, or I'll…I'll…" 
"Bite my toes?" Ro said, having a hard time saying the words for the giggles. 
"I demand you restore me to my normal size!" the angry gnome shouted at Gramps Blaze over Ro's laughter, now doubled by Jo's, and a couple of happy barks from Kato as well. 
Gramps Blaze rolled his eyes, and gave a little snort of laughter himself, then said, very seriously to the mean little gnome, "you want the spell reversed?  You know what you have to do." 
"It was just a joke!" objected Gnomeanie. 
"I skinned my knee, tore my sweatpants, and had the devil of a time getting back on my feet!"  Gramps Blaze said, anger stirring in his eyes, remembering the pain. 
"Why would you trip somebody with booboos inside their legs?" Ro said, putting her arm around Gramps Blaze's waist, her eyes sad that someone would hurt him. 
"It was just a joke!" Gnomeanie would not back down. 
"Well it was a mean joke!" Jo chimed in, a frown on his usually smiling face.
When Kato heard the unhappiness in the voices of all his favorite people, he gave a cranky little growl, to show his support.  Gramps Blaze, Ro, and Jo all looked down at him, because he was such a sweet natured mutt, none of them ever pictured him angry.  
Gnomeanie stared out of the crystal ball into Gramps Blaze's eyes, not budging, until finally Gramps Blaze lifted his arm as if to begin waving his hand over the ball to make Gnomeanie disappear. 
"Wait!" Gnomeanie said, a touch of panic in his eyes and voice.  "Okay, okay!  I'm sorry I made you fall down.  I just meant to see you trip a little, not really fall.  I guess that wasn't too funny, after all."
"That's all I wanted to hear," Gramps Blaze said, and waved his hand over the ball.  Instantly, Gnomeanie puffed up to his usual height and plumpness. 
"No more picking on people," Jo said.  "Because Gramps Blaze isn't the only one who can shrink you now."
"Agreed," Gnomeanie huffed, and then Ro placed her hands on the ball and the grumpy little Gnome disappeared into the fog. 
"Are you sure you can shrink Gnomeanie down, Jo?  Because you shouldn't say things you can't back up.  Suppose he calls your bluff?"
Rather than using words, Jo raised his arm and began to wiggle his fingers.  Suddenly, Ro began to shrink down, and down, until she was the size of a mouse.  Kato sniffed her to be sure it was his dear Ro, and then barked at Jo. 
"Hey!" Ro squeaked, sounding very much more like a little girl mouse, than a little girl human.  "Alright! You made your point!  Now make me big again!" she said to her brother, her arms crossed. 
"Okay, you asked for it!" Jo said, wiggling his fingers again, and Ro began to grow…
…and grow, and grow until she bumped her head on the ceiling of the fort. 
"Ouch!" she said, rubbing her head.  "You better be careful!  I could just step on you like a bug!"
Jo gasped and in two seconds Ro was all back to normal, and Kato barked again, wagging his tail and licking her hand. 

"Well, I guess you earn a few scales after all today," said Gramps Blaze.  "You each get your Magical Fishing scales," he winked at them.  "Get it?  Fishing scale?"
Ro and Jo groaned at the pun, and then Gramps Blaze continued.  "And you also get a "Respect Your Elders" scale for understanding why Gnomeanie was wrong to trip an old fart like me, especially one with booboos inside. And since even Kato growled at Gnomeanie for that one, I guess all three of you get a scale.  "Yay!" Ro and Jo said together, and Kato gave a little excited yip, his tail wagging frantically.
 And, Jo, you did a great job earning your "Shrink A Meanie" scale. 
"Thanks, Gramps Blaze!" Jo said as his grandfather waved his hands and attached the sparkly orange scales to Jo's vest, and Ro's himation, the long Greek cloak that had been given to her by the goddess Athena.  Then he leaned forward and attached Kato's to his collar. 
"I'm very proud of the progress you're making!" Gramps Blaze said, hugging his grandchildren, and scratching Kato under his collar just the way he loved it. 
"Okay, Ro, you gotta send me back home before Nana Terri thinks I got lost." 
Ro giggled.  "Okay, Gramps Blaze.  We don't want you to get in trouble." 
"Oh trouble isn't so bad, I just don't want Nana Terri to worry.  Love you guys!" 
"Give Nana Terri hugs and kisses for us!" Ro called out as Gramps Blaze shrunk down and floated into the crystal ball, then disappeared into the swirls of fog. 
"Will do!" was the last they heard from him that day. 
"Can I have your picture of Gnomeanie?" Ro asked Jo. 
"Sure, but why would you want a picture of that ugly old mean motor scooter?"
Ro giggled.  "Well, maybe he learned his lesson and will be nice from now on.  But either way, I want to put your picture in the family journal and write down what happened today." 
"Okay," Jo said, handing her the picture. 
"Hurry up and write it all down so we can find Sir WHIP and go for a ride!" 

Sunday, June 12, 2016


Ro almost couldn't sleep for the excitement!  Hanging out at Grandma Crystal's house for a week was fun all by itself, but this would be a working vacation for Ro for she had a scale to earn.
Finally she drifted off, dreaming of what amazing adventures lay in wait for her as soon as her eyes popped open in the morning.  She heard Mom and Dad downstairs talking and laughing with Grandma Crystal, she heard a spoon clinking in a cup, she heard Dad let the dogs outside.  She tried listening in with her powers, not to be rude, but just to see if Grandma Crystal told Mom and Dad anything about what she had in mind for Ro in the morning. 
"Hush and go to sleep, Ro, or I'll make you wait an extra day!" Grandma Crystal said, inside of Ro's head.  She giggled, closed her eyes, and snuggled down into her pillows and covers. 
Just then Dad let Kato back inside and he cycloned up the stairs and down the hall then WHAM! Dove onto Ro's bed, giving her a big, wet, slurpy kiss goodnight with his tongue that was almost as long as his tail. 
He plopped himself down next to her, scooched all up, curling himself to fit perfectly in against her belly, and sighed, getting down to some serious sleeping.  Ro's arm wrapped around him, loving his warmth, and his goofiness.  He was Ro and Jo's best friend, constant companion, and Super Snuggler. 

Come morning, Ro and Jo both beat Grandma Crystal up into the attic, even after loading the dishwasher.  Of course, Jo's powers made short work of that chore, let me tell you!  Just by flicking his fingers, he opened the dishwasher door, slid out the racks, and sent dishes floating through the air to settle gently into their places in the machine.  Then the door to the under-sink cabinet flipped open, a dishwasher soap packet floated into its little compartment, the lid closed behind it, and the dishwasher door closed itself when all was ready.  When Jo poked his finger in mid-air, the start button pushed in on the dishwasher and the machine whirred into life.  Jo smiled over at his sister who wiped the table, rinsed and wrung out the dishrag, hung it over the sink faucet, and turned to him. 
"You're getting really great with your powers, dude," she complimented her little brother. 
"Been practicing all week.  I do everything with them.  Getting my socks on is tricky.  I still have to wiggle the pointer finger on both hands.  But I get 'em on faster than Gramps Blaze gets his on! 
"He's old with boo-boos inside his knees like Nana Terri!" 
"He's a wizard with all kinds of powers!" 
"Well, yeah, I guess you have a point," Ro giggled. 
By the time this conversation took place, Ro and Jo were in the attic, and they were there first – Grandma Crystal was nowhere to be seen. 
"Wow! She must have been tired last night to sleep in.  She's usually outside pulling veggies out of the garden by now." 
"You guys are lame!" Grandma Crystal said, and Ro giggled, thinking the voice was inside her head, but Jo giggled too, and Ro had not shared the thought with him. 
"You heard that?" Ro said to her brother. 
"Yeah!" he said, looking around to see if Grandma Crystal was hiding in a corner somewhere and they just hadn't noticed. 
"Really?  In a corner?  You think I can't find a better hiding place than that?"
"Whoa!" Jo said, spinning around, his eyes scanning every nook and cranny where his grandmother might be.  They even looked up on the ceiling, thinking Gramps Blaze might have spelled her and stuck her up there somehow.  No dice. 
"Oh, come on!  Give me some credit!  I don't need Gramps Blaze to simply play hide-and-seek with my grandchildren!!  Like I said, though, you guys are lame!"  by then Grandma Crystal was giggling, and loving messing with her powerful grandchildren.
"Jo look!" Ro said, pointing to the crystal ball on the table, which they leapt toward, laughing. 
"'Bout time!" Grandma Crystal said, rising out of the crystal ball in a swirl of cloud. 
Ro and Jo hugged their grandmother, still giggling at her antics, and then Grandma Crystal got right down to business. 
"You, my darling granddaughter, have a big day ahead!  First, BEN Owl is going with you," she said, and as if on cue in a play, BEN Owl flew up to the attic window, outside, and perched on the sill.
"Joey Ow…I mean, BEN Owl!" Ro said, excited to see her dear friend.  She had a feeling he would be around today, and put on one of her special shirts Grandma Crystal had made with shoulder pads.  Wearing the special shirts, BEN Owl could sit on Ro's shoulder, dig his talons in for balance, yet not scratch or otherwise hurt his friend. 
He landed on Ro's shoulder and nuzzled her face with his soft feathery one.  She reached up and scratched the scruff of his neck, and he leaned into her fingertips, enjoying the treat.
Then all eyes were on Grandma Crystal.  Ro asked, "What am I learning about today, Grandma Crystal?  I can't wait!" 
Grandma Crystal hooked her index finger, and the kids and Kato, who had caught up once he'd finished gobbling up his morning food in the kitchen, joined her around the table on which the crystal ball sat. 
"I've enjoyed our conversations all week, Ro," Grandma Crystal said, smiling.  You are getting very good at sharing your thoughts." 
"So much easier and faster than using a phone!" Ro said, giggling. 
"You are getting great at describing with sending visions, like pictures from your head to mine.  That takes some effort, and extra power.  Very good, hon!" 
Ro beamed in the praise, and Jo smiled.
"And you, Jo! You have done all of the housework all week!'
"I can do chores and watch TV at the same time!"
"He's been doing all my chores too!" Ro said.  "I love when he practices using his telekinetic powers!"
"Wow, Ro, that's a big word!" Grandma Crystal said, impressed.
"I asked Gramps Blaze what the official, magical term was, and he told me.  It's easier than saying, my brother moves stuff by wiggling his fingers." 
"Yes, I suppose it is!  You get extra points toward your Research Scale!"
"Awesome!" Ro said. 
"Okay, ready for an adventure?" Grandma Crystal said, and both kids shouted "Yeah!" and Kato yipped, his tail wagging. 
"You are going to take a little trip," Grandma Crystal said, her voice all mysterious.  "Ro, I want you to relax and take a deep breath, breathing in light and clean, fresh air, then breathe out all the old, stale air, and any troubles that might be hiding inside your head.  This is called a cleansing breath, remember?"
"I remember," Ro said, closing her eyes and filling her lungs with fresh air, then releasing it slowly, then breathing normally again. 
"Okay, Ro.  I want you to concentrate on shrinking you, BEN Owl, Jo, and Kato down really small.  Small enough to fit inside the crystal ball.  But first, I want you to think about ancient Greece where the goddess Athena lives.  Remember we talked about her?"
Ro felt her tummy tighten with excitement.  She loved Athena!  She'd been reading all about her all week! She hoped Grandma Crystal would tell her some more about her.  Maybe she would teach her how to read library books while they were still on the library shelves, without ever leaving the house.  That would be so cool! 
"Hey! Where are you?" Grandma Crystal put her thought right inside Ro's head. 
"Sorry, I was just thinking about Athena.  Are you going to teach me how to study in the library in my mind?"
"Maybe," Grandma Crystal thought to Ro, and Ro sensed a smile on her grandmother's face, though her eyes were still closed tight. 
Grandma Crystal rubbed her hands over the crystal ball gently, like you rub a tiny puppy's head. Soon the foggy swirls appeared, and then kindof cleared up.  As they did, Ro, Jo, BEN Owl, and Kato began to see shapes, Ro in her mind, and everyone else with their eyes.  There was a mountain with clouds at the top of it.  "Mount Olympus," Grandma Crystal said aloud so that Jo, Kato, and BEN Owl could hear, as well as Ro. 
This was Ro's scale to earn, but BEN Owl was eager to go on this adventure, and it was a good opportunity for Jo to learn some history.  Kato, of course would go along because he followed Jo everywhere. 
"Okay, Ro.  I want you to hold hands with your brother.  BEN Owl will remain on your shoulder, and somebody needs to hold onto Kato's collar," Grandma Crystal instructed.  Jo reached down and did so with the hand that wasn't holding onto Ro's. 
"Everybody ready?" Grandma Crystal said. 
Nods from everyone around the table, and of course a tail wag from Kato.
"Okay, Ro, remember all the stuff you've read about Athena?  About Mount Olympus, about how it looks, and about life there?"
"Yes," Ro answered, picturing all of it in her mind. 
"Well, I want you to picture it all inside the crystal ball."
Ro concentrated harder than she had ever concentrated in her life. Soon she could see it all inside the ball, everything – all the gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus, what they were doing, even what they were saying to each other. 
"Very good, sweetie," Grandma Crystal said, admiring her granddaughter's detail.  "Okay, here's the final part: Now I want you to picture yourself, your brother and your friends inside the crystal ball, on Mount Olympus."
"How do I get us all back?"
"Same way." 
"But the crystal ball will be here."
"You can't see the crystal ball with your eyes shut, right?  It's all about what you create in your mind, Ro.  All about what you envision."
"Oh!  I get it!  I can be anywhere and create the crystal ball in my mind and it still works!"
"Exactly!" Grandma Crystal said, squeezing her hands together, excited for her granddaughter.  She would have so much fun with her powers!  "Now put your mind on creating Mount Olympus again.  Get all the little details right, sweetie." 
Ro focused again, and soon had a clear picture of Mount Olympus in her head. 
"Okay, when you're ready, think yourself into the crystal ball," Grandma Crystal said. "Do you have the family journal!"
Ro nodded.  It was in Jo's magic backpack along with her way cool Starry Night pen.  After answering Grandma Crystal in her head, she put her mind back on Mount Olympus. 
"You guys should stand up," Ro said, standing.  "There won't be any chairs under us when we get to Mount Olympus." 
When everybody was ready, Ro concentrated once more, very hard, with her eyes squeezed shut. 
A moment later Jo said, "Wow!" and when Ro opened her eyes, she gasped. 
"I did it!  I actually thought us to ancient Greece!!" she clapped her hands in excitement while BEN Owl, on her shoulder, gazed at her face with pride swelling in his heart. 
"Well done, my friend!  It's remarkable how well you imagined this place.  Let's walk around a little, and get our bearings."
BEN Owl pointed the way, and the children and their friends passed people who nodded politely, though cast uncertain looks at the way Ro and Jo were dressed. 
"Why are the guys wearing dresses?" Jo asked softly in his head.
"This is a place called ancient Greece.  That means this is the country Greece, but the way it was way long ago.  They didn't cut cloth to make clothes, they hung big squares over the person, then tied it with belts and hooked it together with pins.  The main dress thing underneath everything else is called a chiton.  Men and women wear them," Ro answered right into everyone's heads, happy she'd been reading up about Greek history while reading about Athena. 
"Do they all wear the same underwear?  How do they keep it on?"  Jo thought another question to Ro, who smiled at his curiosity about ancient Greek undies, and shook her head. 
"It's sort of like a big cloth diaper.  A little hard to explain, and I couldn't find a name for it."
"Just the same shape, but bigger, and it's folded around the waist sort of the same way.  But it's made out of cloth, not plastic like the diapers you used to wear.  We can look it up later," Ro explained, all between her and her brother's minds.   Then BEN Owl was leaning forward, pointing the way for her to go.  "Okay, to the right now, Prin…I mean, Ro." 
"You still want to call me Princess Rosie, huh?" Ro said, smiling, fond memories of her childhood rolling through her mind. 
"It's a habit I will overcome as we spend more and more time together.  You are not a tiny girl anymore.  You have grown powerful, my dear friend," BEN Owl answered, then nuzzled her face with his own.  "We're almost there, he said.  "Just up these steps here…"
They turned a corner into the throne room of Mount Olympus.  Ro and Jo stopped in their tracks, stunned. 
"Wow!" Ro whispered, unable to make her legs move, though BEN Owl nudged her – twice.  The children and Kato saw a room full of thrones, with a few gods and goddesses sitting in them, chatting.  Over half of the thrones were empty, as the gods and goddesses were very busy, of course. 
"It's alright, Ro. These are all of Athena's friends and family – the Greek gods and goddesses," BEN Owl said softly in Ro's ear.  "Athena's throne is to your right, the fourth throne in, and…"
Before BEN Owl could finish his directions, Athena stood, and approached Ro and her brother and friends.  Athena didn't smile, but she looked pleasant enough.  She stopped a few feet from Ro and offered her arm up. 
"Bellerophon Euclid Nicodemus! What a pleasure to see you!  How are your parents, my friend?"
BEN Owl flew over to visit with Athena, and after nuzzling her (much like he nuzzled Ro in greeting and affection) he turned his head to introduce his new friends to his goddess. 
Jo shook her hand, remembering to keep it firm, but not crushing, like his dad had taught him. "Hi, I'm Jo," he said, and Athena smiled.  "I'm Athena. It's very nice to meet you, Jo."
Kato sat and offered his paw, which Athena, amused, also shook.  She patted his head when he gave a little yip and wagged his tail.    
But Ro stood, awe-struck.  Her eyes were wide, her mouth a little open, and she couldn't make the words come out.  Athena took her small hand in her large ones, and shook it, gently, and said, "so you're the young one who Bellerophon speaks so highly of."  
Ro blushed all the way to her toes, and cast her eyes downward.  "It's nice to meet you," she managed to squeak out to her idol. 
"It's very nice to meet you too.  I think we will be good friends.  Would you like refreshment?" Athena led the four mortals to her throne, where there were pillows strewn at its foot, and everyone sat.  "I wove the fabric for those pillows, you know," the goddess made a little small talk…
…and Ro found her voice.
"They're beautiful.  You are the goddess of crafts!  Along with the goddess of war and wisdom."  Ro stared at Athena, liking her powerful build, and confidence. 
"Yes, that's right, I am.  Would you like to see some of the things I've made?"
"Sure!" Ro said, excited, and Athena led them to a room full of baskets and pottery, and woven fabrics.  "Have you ever spun wool into yarn?" she asked Ro and Jo, who both shook their heads no.
"Come; I'll show you. It's rather fun." 
Ro and Jo each got a try at the spinning wheel, and came away with a small skein of yarn. 
"Have either of you used a potter's wheel?  I invented that too.  Want to give it a spin?"
Ro made a little bowl and Jo made a vase, which turned out very well, though just a little teeny bit crooked. 
Athena looked at the children and smiled.  "You've accumulated much to carry," she said, and turned toward the wall where there were some baskets stacked.  To the left of that pile was a basket that was softer, like a tote bag.  "Here – put your things in this, so they'll be easier to carry," she suggested, and the children tucked their crafts into the basket, which Athena handed to Ro. 
"Was there something that you wanted to ask me?" Athena turned to Ro, and thought the question right into her mind.  Ro's eyes widened as she nodded, suddenly shy again. 
"Well then?" Athena said, waiting patiently.
"I thought you wore a helmet," Ro said very softly.
"Oh!  The whole goddess of war thing!  Well, young one, I only wear the helmet and armor when I'm fighting a battle.  And that's not my favorite thing, you know.  I'd much rather everyone get along – but sometimes wars happen.  Would you like to see my armor?" 
Jo nodded right off, but Ro, hearing that Athena wasn't fond of war, thought about it for a moment, and said, "If it doesn't make you unhappy." 
"Oh, Ro, it's fine.  I don't like war, but my armor protects me when I have to be involved in one." 
Athena took them into another room where armor was stored, and soon stood before her own.  Athena held her helmet out for Ro, who reached to touch it, but looked to Athena first.  "Go ahead," the goddess said softly, and Ro ran her fingertips over the smooth metal.  Her whole hand tingled.  She was touching the helmet of a goddess!  And the goddess Athena, her idol.
Athena caught her thoughts and smiled.  She lifted the helmet up and placed it on Ro's head.  BEN Owl gasped, and Jo smiled.  "Wow!" he whispered.  Ro said nothing, she was too shocked and excited to think of words.  Athena caught that too.  "I'll be watching you from up here on Olympus.  You are going to have wonderful adventures, little friend, and doing amazing, good things with your powers." Athena said. 
When the goddess took her helmet off of Ro's head, she saw the envy in Jo's eyes, and couldn't disappoint him.  She placed the helmet on his head, and though he was thrilled, because – goddess helmet! – he didn't get the tingly sensation Ro did. 
There was a true connection between Ro and Athena.  BEN Owl had felt it when Athena clasped hands with the girl. 
As all good things do, this time with Athena came to an end.  Athena shook everyone's hand again, saving her goodbye to Ro for last. 
She went to her throne and lifted something from beside it, then returned to the small group of mortals and stood before Ro.  "There's one last thing I have for you, small friend."  She shook the bundle in her arm, and it opened into a sort of cloak.  "This is called a himation, Ro.  And it's a very, very special one.  If you ever find yourself in trouble, wear this, and it will make you very, very powerful – unbeatable."
Ro smoothed her hand over the fabric, sort of like a sheet. "Thank you," she said. 
"I sense that you are a good spirited girl, and will only fight on the side of justice.  I trust that you will always honor me when you wear this himation."
"Oh yes, Athena!  I will always make you proud!" 
"Very well then," Athena said, stooping to place a kiss on Ro's forehead, and Jo's as well, though again, while Ro felt a definite tingle at Athena's touch, Jo just felt a little kiss. 
Athena bent down and patted Kato, who licked her hand, then she nuzzled BEN Owl, stroked his feathers, and then returned him to Ro's shoulder. 
"I think the whole day has passed in your time, my small friends," Athena said softly.  "Travel safely." 
Ro and Jo thanked Athena for their remarkable day, and then, Ro, wrapped in the himation that Athena had given her, closed her eyes and concentrated with all her might, first on picturing Grandma Crystal's attic inside the crystal ball, and then on her, Jo, Kato, and BEN Owl in the attic inside the crystal ball. 
Suddenly there they were, inside the crystal ball with Grandma Crystal peeking inside it.  Ro thought them out of the ball into the attic, and turned to peek back inside the ball.  She could see Mount Olympus, and just make out a teeny tiny Athena waving to her.  She waved back just before the swirls of fog filled the ball. 
She hugged Grandma Crystal, and said, "I love my power!  I love Athena!" 
"You can tell me and everyone else about your adventure while we have dinner.  The whole family is here.  Hurry and wash up!"
Ro placed the himation in the basket – the goddess basket that Athena had made! – and went into the bathroom to wash her hands before dinner.  Then she hurried downstairs, with the basket, to show everyone.  
When she got to the kitchen, she was surprised to find it empty.  There was a buzzing of voices in her mind.  Not words, exactly, but very excited.  Suddenly, it came to her – they were all in the fort!  Of course! 
She started to run out the door, and then had an idea.  She concentrated very, very hard, and pictured everyone in the fort, and then pictured the fort inside the crystal ball. 
Upstairs in Grandma Crystal's attic, the crystal ball began to glow and become warm.  Ro smiled.  Once she had the fort inside the crystal ball, she imagined herself with everyone inside the fort and poof! 
She opened her eyes in the midst of her Team RoJo family.  Everyone was there – Mom, Dad, Grandma Crystal, Gramps Blaze, Nana Terri, Mimi and Poppop, Nana Rose, Gary Gargoyle, Sir WHIP, BEN Owl, Brie, and Kato.  She could feel Poppy hovering next to Grandma Crystal, too.  And then they surprised her by standing and clapping. 
"What?" she said, not understanding, really, what the big deal was. 
"You, honey bear," Dad said, "Really did a great job today, and so did your brother.  Come and sit down and tell us all about your adventure!"
Ro took her seat next to Jo, Kato between them, and the two of them told the rest of the team all about Athena, how she taught them to use a potter's wheel, and a spinning wheel, both of which she'd invented.
They showed everyone the pottery they'd made, the yarn they'd spun, and of course, Ro modeled the himation that the goddess Athena had given to her.  Grandma Crystal came over to Ro as she stood in the ancient Greek clothing, and smiled, running her fingertips over the fabric very gently.  "This isn't like any cloth I've ever seen or felt.  It kindof glows, doesn't it?"
"Yes.  Athena told me it will protect me if I'm ever in danger." 
"Wow!" everyone said, all eyes on Ro. 
When Ro started to take off her himation, Gramps Blaze stood up.  "Wait, Ro.  Leave the himation on.  While you were at Mount Olympus we were all back here watching, of course.  When Athena gave you the magical himation that will protect you, we all talked it over and decided that rather than your vest, your scales will be attached to the himation.  Whenever you're on a serious mission, you will wear the himation, and very soon it will be covered with scales that will protect you from all harm, because you will have the magical scales and the power of a goddess protecting you at the same time.  Also, if you and Jo should ever be in trouble, the himation is big enough to wrap both of you inside it.  Very cool!" 
Ro nodded, smiling.  Very cool indeed!
"Now," Dad said, standing up and smiling a huge, proud smile.  "Ro and Jo, come over here." 
When Ro and Jo stood before Dad, Kato between them, of course, he lifted three sparkly orange scales from the table.  Ro could see behind him, that there were more than just the two.  She couldn't see how many though, but she would have been surprised. 
"Ro and Jo, and you too, Kato, for using your very best manners in the presence of a goddess, you each get a Manners scale."
Dad attached the scales to Jo's vest, Ro's himation, and Kato's doggie vest, that Grandma Crystal had made earlier that morning and brought with her to the fort. 
"Ro, for learning to use the crystal ball for time travel." Dad attached the scale to her himation. 
"Jo, for using your powers to do chores," Dad said, smiling at Jo's surprise. 
"I didn't know that got a scale!" Jo said, a big, proud smile on his face. 
"Yep!" Dad said, and stuck the badge on his vest. 
"And both of you get a Crafts scale for creating pottery and yarn with Athena's inventions!" Dad said, placing a scale on each of their vests. 
"And one more for Kato," Dad said, leaning down to attach the scale as Kato sat very still – except for his tail of course, that was wagging at least seventy miles an hour.  "For being very brave and not freaking out when being transported through time." 
Even Ro and Jo had to clap hard at that one.  Kato was growing up and with every adventure he was less nervous, and very much more brave.  Ro and Jo hugged Dad, and then Kato, then each other, and then everyone else. 
"What's for dessert?" Jo asked, smiling, because scales are nice, but strawberry shortcake was fit for – well – fit for a goddess.  He wondered if there was strawberry shortcake in ancient Greece.  Maybe Ro would take him back in time someday soon to ask Athena. 

Later on, when everyone had gone their separate ways for the evening, Ro wrote everything down in the family journal with her way cool Starry Night pen, and when she finally closed the book, sat the pen on top of it, yawned and stretched, ready for a good night's sleep, she broke into a huge smile. 
What a wonderful, fun, day!  She had traveled through time using her own amazing powers, earned three scales, met the goddess Athena and learned to use her inventions, and had been given a magical protective himation!  What could be cooler than that? 
She could hardly wait for her next adventure!


And Team RoJo will be back next week with more fun and adventures!  Come join in! 

TD  -  6/11/2016