Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Baby Fox - a poem by Gramps Blaze!

Baby Fox

The baby fox leaps in the air,
Intent on play, without a care,
For mother fox is watching near,
So her sweet son should have no fear.

With brother fox and sister too,
He jumps and skips 'mongst tall grass dew.
Up in the air his red coat shines,
The sun not blocked by distant pines.

This little vale does care for all.
The trees around create a wall,
And food and water here abound.
From outside world there is no sound

The little one now needs to rest,
For he is tired from all his jest.
Yet into nest he does not go,
For high above, white clouds do show.

They dance about with changing shapes,
And first appear as lambs with capes.
The fluffy lambies dance about,
And cause the little kits to shout.

And weary though they all might be,
They mimic lambs and dance with glee.
But soon their fluffy friends depart,
And other shapes before them dart.

Animals, all shapes and sizes,
Weave about and leave their prizes.
High above in deep blue wonder,
Fleecy clouds do show their splendor.

But now the time has come for sleep,
And mother fox does take them deep,
Into the den which is their home,
Where she has built a safety dome.

So little fox does nod and yawn,
For in his bed he'll sleep 'til dawn.
Brother, sister, and his mother,
Gathered round with love will smother.

Blaze McRob

Saturday, July 23, 2016

TEAM ROJO & FRIENDS - BLOG 11 - CATHERINE'S VISIT

Ro and Jo liked that they never really knew what would be happening each day, and today was no exception.  Usually Gramps Blaze or Grandma Crystal, using her crystal ball would whip up some surprise, like turning the fort into a Karate dojo, or whisking them off to some exotic place or time, but today had less to do with family magic than friendship magic. 
Ro and Jo were running relay races in their yard with Kato and Brie, who were both pretty fast runners and had gotten really good at handing off the batons to their friends as they rushed back and forth at top speed, building muscles, improving coordination, learning to work together as a team, and of course having tons of fun and practicing good sportsmanship. 
All of a sudden, a cloud seemed to cover the sun, and it got very shady in Ro and Jo's yard.  They looked up to see if it looked like it would storm, and got their surprise for the day, because there in the sky was a giant, sparkly red Chinese dragon swooping toward their yard, carrying some very special passengers – Catherine Galloway and her mom and dad! 
"Cool!" Jo and Ro both murmured at once, clapping and jumping up and down as Shen Lung's huge form spiraled down, down, down, until he finally touched the ground in the yard very gently, and leaned very low so that his human passengers could climb down onto the grass.  Once they were safely on the ground, Shen Lung shrunk himself to human size, just as Sir WHIP swooped off of Ro's windowsill and landed next to his friend in the yard. 
"Hi Catherine!" Jo said to his friend, giving her a hug, as did Ro. 
"Hi guys!  Long time no see!" Catherine said, smiling. 
"This morning Catherine said how much she's missed you since you moved to a different school, and so Mr. Galloway and I asked Shen Lung if he would bring us for a visit," Mrs. Galloway said, hugging the children.  "Poof!  Here we are!" 
Ro and Jo invited Mr. and Mrs. Galloway into the house to visit with Mom and Dad, and then returned to the yard to play with their dragon friends. 
"So what have you guys been doing this summer?"
"Training for dragon scales, mostly," Ro said.  "And we've done some really cool things!  We met the Goddess Athena, and Samuel Adams, and learned to do all kinds of cool stuff." 
"Wow!" Catherine said, "You guys have been so busy!  What do you have to do to earn dragon scales?"
"It depends on the scale," Jo said, knowing he couldn't really tell Catherine too much about the family magic, but he could tell about the regular human stuff like doing exercises to get in shape and doing good deeds, like rescuing a little kitten named Smudge from a tree.
"Wow!" Catherine said again after hearing the smudge story.  "You're a hero, Jo!" 
Blushing, Jo said, "I guess, a little." He so wanted to tell Catherine about his cool power! 
"I have to go to the bathroom," he said quietly so as not to draw any attention to himself, and he went inside the fort while the girls waited outside. 
Once inside the fort he went to the crystal ball on the table and moved his hands over it, watching as the fog began to swirl within it. 
Gramps Blaze and Nana Terri's faces appeared, smiling at their grandson, already knowing he had a dilemma to discuss with them. 
"'Sup?" Nana Terri said, and Jo smiled. 
"Hi!  I have a problem, and I can't ask Mom and Dad because they are in the house with company and it would be rude to bug them."
"Nice manners. Impressive.  What's the problem?" Nana Terri said. 
"Thanks.  The problem is, our friend Catherine is here."
"Oh!  The little girl whose friend is Shen Lung the dragon?" Gramps Blaze said. 
"Yep!  She knows magic exists, and Shen Lung and Sir WHIP are friends.  She asked about our summer so far, and we told her we met Athena and Samuel Adams, and I think she thought we were pretending.  Do we have to let her think that, or can we tell her stuff?  And can I show her my powers?"
Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze glanced at one another, as they always seemed to do, and they smiled, nodding. 
"Catherine seems like a sensible girl.  She keeps the secret about her own magical dragon really well, so I don't think there's a problem telling her about your very special summer activities.  Just make sure she understands everything is secret." 
"Awesome!" Jo said, then blew kisses to Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze as he turned to race back into the yard.  Gramps Blaze and Nana Terri laughed at their grandson's excitement as they faded from view inside the crystal ball.  By the time that happened, Jo was in the middle of the yard where Ro and his friends were watching a butterfly perch on Catherine's finger. 
"Whoa!  That's really cool!" Jo whispered, slowly walking up to the small group of humans, canines, and dragons.  The butterfly fluttered its wings, and landed on Jo's nose, it's little legs and wings tickling, but he stood very still so as not to frighten the little dude. 
Catherine waved her hand slowly through the air, and suddenly there were dozens of butterflies fluttering about, and they all landed on Ro, Jo, Sir WHIP, Shen Lung, and of course Catherine.  A few even landed on Brie and Kato's heads. 
"Wow!" Ro said, covered in yellow, white, and multi-colored delicate creatures. 
Red and orange scales showed through the flitting wings of hundreds of butterflies that had lighted on Shen Lung and Sir WHIP, each little butterfly face nuzzling their magical friends. 
"Wait!" Jo said, moving slowly so as not to frighten the little winged friends, and headed for the fort.  He came back out with a small camera, and huddled with Ro and their friends, covered in butterflies, and held the camera up into the air.  Then, with a wave of his hand, the camera floated before the group, far enough back to get everyone in the picture.  Then Jo moved his finger in the air as if pressing the button on the camera, and the camera, several feet away and out of Jo's reach, clicked and snapped the picture, the flash making everyone blink. 
The camera, with Jo's hand controlling it, took several pictures that afternoon, floating around the kids and their friends, snapping pictures as they played tag, had snacks, looked into the crystal ball in the fort, and looked at pictures in the Family Journal of Athena and Sam Adams. 
"That butterfly-calling power is great!" Ro said, writing everything down in the family journal about Catherine and her powers. 
"Thank you," Catherine said.  "I asked my mom and dad on the way here this morning, if it would be alright to tell you about some of the magic I can do.  They knew you've kept the secret about Shen Lung, so they said it would be alright if I shared secrets with you." 
"Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze said the same thing when I asked about letting you in on our secrets," Jo said.
"When did you talk to Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze?" Ro asked. 
"When you came into the fort to use the bathroom, right?" Catherine said, smiling a knowing little smile. 
"How did you know that?" Ro said, and Catherine looked into her eyes, and thought her the answer.
When Catherine's answer formed in Ro's mind without Catherine saying a word out loud, she got it.  "Oh!  You have the same power to read and send thoughts that I do!  That will be a lot of fun since we don't go to the same school anymore!  We can talk without talking!" 
"Yeah!" Catherine said, a huge grin on her face.  "But never during tests!" 
Ro laughed.  "No way!  But we can study together for them!" 
"That's would be really neat!  We can have a study group and do homework together without even leaving the house!" 
"Yeah!" 
"And I can get you snacks out of your kitchen without even being in your house," Jo said. 
"You will save my mom a lot of work!" Catherine said.  "But still, you guys really have to come visit sometimes, for real, you know?  Hugs are much better in person!" 
With that, Catherine climbed aboard Sir WHIP, with Brie along for company, and Ro, Jo, and Kato climbed onto Shen Lung.  Soon the dragons swooped and flipped and loop-de-looped way up in the sky, their human friends shrieking with laughter, their canine friends barking and howling in delight as Mom, Dad, and Mr. and Mrs. Galloway stepped into the yard to watch the spectacle in the sky that only they could see. 

TD – 7/23/2016







Friday, July 15, 2016

TEAM ROJO & FRIENDS - BLOG 10 - FLOATING HOUSE


One morning Jo was the first one awake in the whole house.  Even Kato wasn't up and slurping yet, but curled up with Ro, still deep in his little doggie dreams. 

Jo used the bathroom, and on his way back to his room, it felt like he was walking uphill.  Weird. 

Weirder still, once in his room, he began to feel like he was leaning to the left…or, perhaps…

Could it be that the house was leaning? 

Something was up, for sure, and Jo walked over to his window, shoving a few toys out of his way with his foot to clear that path. 

He saw…

…nothing. 

The sky was there, all blue with those little puffy clouds and all, but the side yard was gone.  The street in front of their house was gone, everything was gone.  Just sky! 

The house was floating in the air! 

"Wow!" Jo said on a sigh, "What the…?"

He stood in front of his window for a moment, trying to figure it out.  How could their house be up in the air?  It was heavy, so without wings or an engine it was impossible for it to fly. 

Yet here it was, up in the air, no land in sight, nothing but air and sunshine. 





Jo sat on the edge of his bed, trying to figure out what to do.  He supposed most kids would run to their parents, scared, but he didn't want to be a baby and do that.  Even Kid Joey, (Jo as a very little boy before he'd started training as a member of Team RoJo) wouldn't have been scared.  He would have tried to figure things out for himself – and that is exactly what older Jo would do. 

He looked out the window again.  The house was fairly steady, actually.  It tilted a little bit here and there when the wind blew, but for the most part the whole thing seemed safe, just in the air.  He smiled and supposed nobody had ever before felt turbulence in their house, only when traveling in air planes.  Ha!  Ro would have to write this down in the Family Journal! 

Ro!  He should wake her up.  This could be a quest for Team RoJo. 

But then, Ro always seemed to be solving problems and knowing what to do.  She already had more scales than Jo.  Maybe it was his turn to fix something.  To figure out what to do. 

Still standing at the window, he closed his eyes and tried to feel his power inside him, in his mind, in his arms, in his hands and fingers.  He made fists, then stretched his fingers out, again and again, until he could feel his power tingling. 

With his eyes still closed, he imagined his normal view out the window, trees, grass, neighbor's houses, the street and driveway with cars parked on them. 

He took a very deep breath, then let it out, and whispered, waving his hands as if he were washing the window in front of him, "Everything come back, I want to see everything as it used to be."

When he opened his eyes, everything that belonged in front of his window was there!  Yay! 

He hurried and grabbed clothes out of his drawer, dressed himself, and ran to the back door in the kitchen, on his way to the RoJo Fort. 

He almost screamed when he pushed open the screen door, ready to leap out of it. 

There was nothing there but air and clouds! 

He yanked the screen door shut with a bang, and slammed the inside door as well, his heart beating so fast he thought it would jump out of his chest!  He ran back to his bedroom, surprised that everyone – Mom, Dad, Ro, Kato, and Brie – hadn't heard the gasping, banging screen door, slamming back door, not to mention his running feet in the hallway.  More weirdness. 

But the main weirdness was the floating house. 

And now, the floating neighborhood, since he'd used his power, he thought, looking out his window to see everything the way it was supposed to be…but floating up in the air along with his own house. 

Was he the one floating his house too?  Was it all because of his power? 

He thought about it for a few moments.  What had he been doing just before he saw that the house was floating?

Using the bathroom. 

Could that have had something to do with the house floating? 

There had been soap bubbles in the sink when he'd washed his hands – he thought they were cool.  He thought how cool it would be to float through the air like a bubble, being able to see everything, everywhere.

Hmmm.  Could he have somehow thought that and his power made it come true? 

"Wow!" Jo said.  "How cool is that?"  And then he thought about it.  "And how bad is that?  Me floating is one thing, but the whole house and neighborhood?  I have to do something!" 

He sat in the middle of his bed, folding his legs like a pretzel, and closed his eyes.  Usually he could go outside and practice using his power, but today, there was no going outside, at least until he'd already used it.  He'd made this happen, apparently, while standing at the bathroom sink.  So he figured he could fix it sitting in the middle of his bed. 

He breathed in and out a couple of times, until he felt calm, and could feel his power tingling throughout his body. 

"Okay," he whispered.  "I am ready for the bubble to land, gently on the earth, and for my neighborhood and house to land exactly where it was before, and for everything to be exactly the way it was before I dreamed about floating in a bubble."

He saw it all in his mind, the house and chunk of his neighborhood floating inside a giant bubble, slowly drifting down, down, down until it settled into place right where it was supposed to be. 

Jo leapt from his bed and ran to the back door.  There it was!  There was the yard, the fence, the RoJo Fort!  He opened the back door, then the screen door, and, holding onto the door jamb, he reached his leg out and touched his foot to the back step.  Solid.  He, still holding the door frame, stood on the back step, then tested the ground around the house.  Solid. 

Behind him Ro's voice said, "What's going on?  You're up and dressed already?" just as Kato darted past Jo and into the yard, having to pee like usual in the morning.  Soon, Brie, having heard the commotion in the kitchen followed Kato out, and once they'd taken care of their businesses, began to chase each other and romp around in the grass. 

Jo turned to his sister, who was getting milk out of the fridge, and smiled. 

"You have some writing to do in the Family Journal.  I think I might have just earned a scale." 

"Really?" Ro said, looking up at him after pouring them each a cup of milk.  "What did you do?"

When he told her, she nodded.  "Oh yeah!  Scale city for you!"

When they'd finished breakfast, Ro and Jo crossed the back yard and went into the fort, followed by Kato and Brie, panting from all their exercise and play in the yard.  They ran right to their water bowls and began lapping for all they were worth. 

Ro and Jo stopped in their tracks in the doorway, staring at the table in the middle of the fort. 

Well, actually they stared at the space directly above the table.  There was Jo's sparkly orange "Use Your Power to Fix a Mistake" Scale – floating about three feet in the air. 

Ro and Jo smiled, nodding, and said at exactly the same time, "Gramps Blaze!  It was a test." 

Jo grabbed the scale and said, "I only wanted to float in a bubble by myself, not float the whole house," as he attached it to his vest, and Ro grabbed the Family Journal and wrote down Jo's story.  "That's why the scale is for fixing a mistake.  I'll bet Gramps Blaze is sitting in his house drinking his coffee, having a good laugh about messing with me already this morning!"



Miles and miles away from Ro and Jo's house, Gramps Blaze indeed sat at his kitchen table, drinking his coffee and watching the squirrels munch all the food he'd placed outside for them. 

Suddenly, his Marine coffee mug lifted off the table, and floated up, up, up into the air, all the way to the ceiling, out of Gramps Blaze's reach, even when he stood up! 

A huge smile crossed his face as he watched his mug of coffee floating there, perfectly level, as if teasing him, "Ha, ha, ha!  You can't reach me!" 

It floated there for a few moments, then began to come back down, finally settling gently on the table, exactly where it had been before, and Gramps Blaze sat back down, chuckling.  "Okay, Jo, you got even.  Good job," he said, taking a sip of his piping hot coffee. 

Ro, miles and miles away in the RoJo fort, smiled, hearing Gramps Blaze's thought, and told Jo.  They both laughed and ran outside to play for awhile with their doggie pals, hoping that Sir WHIP and BEN Owl would show up so they could have an adventure. 







TD – 7/15/2016

Saturday, July 9, 2016

TEAM ROJO & FRIENDS - BLOG 9 - BOOGIE WOOGIE BEAR

Summer time for a lot of kids means vacation, sleeping in, staying up late, and having time to daydream and play non-stop. 
While Ro and Jo did some of those things some of the time, most of their time during the summer was spent earning scales. 
It never failed to surprise them what their parents and grandparents would come up with to make their training interesting and fun while teaching them survival and social skills. 
Like today, a warm Tuesday morning and Grandma Crystal had swooshed them into the crystal ball, which in turn planted them in a huge forest.  They had a compass and some mysterious directions.  Their task was to get themselves out of the woods and into the small town near the woods where they would find Gramps Blaze and Nana Terri having lunch in a little diner.  If they made it out of the woods and to the diner by lunchtime, they would get their scales.  If not, they would have a different test tomorrow. 
Ro and Jo made up their minds they would have those scales today – along with a double order of French fries with their grilled cheeses. 
When they landed in the woods, Kato between them, they high fived, and Ro read the compass. 
"The little town is north.  We are facing southwest, so we have to turn and walk this way," Ro said, turning herself around and pointing. 
"But the trail doesn't go that way, it goes more northeast," Jo said, looking a little worried. 
"Maybe we're supposed to find our way to the town without depending on the trail," Ro said, and started off into the trees, following the direction of her compass. 
Her broken compass. 
Grandma Crystal watched her grandchildren through the crystal ball, and shook her head.  They were going to end up lost. 
Of course there was no need to panic, she could collect them out of the woods any time she wanted by using her crystal ball, but she decided to see what would happen.  Sometimes the coolest things happen when plans go wrong.

As Grandma Crystal sipped her tea and nibbled some toast, Ro, Jo, and Kato hiked through the trees, side-stepping shrubs, ducking under low hanging branches, and listening to hundreds of birds above their heads, singing their morning songs. 
Deeper and deeper into the forest they wove, until finally Ro noticed that the compass was just kindof spinning around, not reading any direction at all. 
"Oh, no!" she said, "I think our compass is broken.  How are we ever going to find our way out?"
Jo shrugged.  Well, we know it's sometime before noon, so the sun would be in the east part of the sky…"
"Fat lot of good that's going to do us!  We can't see the sun or the sky under all these trees!" Ro said. 
"Should we call Grandma Crystal?" Jo asked.
"No!  I want my scale!  We will figure this out!" 

Just then there was a crunching sound, like someone – a really BIG someone – was hiking through the trees like Ro and Jo.  The children's eyes widened. 
"Who would be out here in the middle of nowhere other than us – and we're lost!" Ro whispered, not at all happy to hear a stranger out there in the trees somewhere. 
But Jo's eyes widened even bigger as he pointed a shaky finger through the trees.  The other hand he clapped over his mouth to keep from screaming.
Ro grabbed Kato's collar when she saw him start to leap in the direction Jo was pointing, thinking she was probably saving his little furry life because there, in a little space among the trees was the biggest bear Ro and Jo could imagine.  They'd never seen one in person, but he was almost as big as Sir WHIP when he was stretched large enough for them to fly on his back. 
"What on earth?" Ro said, ducking behind a tree, but peering around it, trying to figure out what the bear was up to. 
"Is he doing what I think he's doing?" Jo said, snickering. 
"I think he's doing ballet steps!" Ro said, smiling. 
The bear indeed leapt lightly into the air, splitting his legs gracefully in spite of his enormous bulk, and landed ever-so-lightly and spun around in the leaf cover on the forest floor. 
And then Kato barked. 
It was a friendly bark, and his tail was wagging, but Ro and Jo had never met a bear before, especially a big one like this, and they were a little afraid that he would be upset that they'd been spying on him – even though it was innocent-by-accident spying. 
"Who's there?" the bear called out, surprising the daylights out of Ro and Jo. 
"He talks?" Jo said to Ro. 
Ro took a deep breath, and stood straight, gathering her dignity and courage, and stepped through the trees, Kato's collar still in her hand. 
"It's just me and my little brother and Kato." 
"Your little brother's name is Kato?" the bear asked. 
"Uh, no!  This is Kato – our dog.  My little brother is Jo.  I'm Ro." 
"I am Ohkwa:li," the gargantuan bear said, bowing deeply. 
"Wait!  That means bear in the Oneida language!  Are you Haudenosaunee?"
"I am from that area, yes.  I was visiting my cousin in the Poconos and exploring the forests of Pennsylvania.  How do you know about the Haudenosaunee?"
"Because my grandmother, Nana Terri, and her mom, Nana Rose, are part Haudenosaunee." 
"Well, then, I'm pleased to meet you," the gigantic bear said, reaching out his massive paw with scary sharp claws to shake hands.  Ro and Jo shook hands with the bear, and Ro couldn't help herself.  She had to ask. 
"We you doing ballet?"
"Yes.  I was.  I only have one CD for my little machine, and it's Mozart.  The only thing I know how to dance to that kind of music is ballet." 
"You've never heard any other kind of music?" Jo asked. 
"There are other kinds of music?"
"Sure!" Ro piped up.  "There's country, rock, pop, rap, blues, and one of my favorite kinds is Boogie Woogie!" 
"What on earth is Boogie Woogie?" the bear asked. 
Suddenly, Mom's Kindle Fire appeared on the ground beside Ro's feet.  "Thanks Grandma Crystal," she said, knowing that her grandmother could hear her through the crystal ball, and must have wanted to help. 
Ro was surprised to find that she could actually get on the internet in the middle of nowhere, but that probably had to do with Grandma Crystal watching over this whole thing. 
She pulled up some Boogie Woogie on Youtube and held the little device up so the bear could see. 
The bear's jaw dropped at the sight of the dancers spinning, twirling, flipping each other over their shoulders, and sliding their partners between their legs and tossing them into the air. 
"That is amazing!  Let's dance, tiny human girl!" Ohkwa:li said, snatching Rosie into the air. 
It happened so fast Ro screamed, Kato barked, and Jo yelled, "Hey!  Be careful!  Put Ro down!"
The bear, sorry to have startled Ro and Jo and their canine buddy, sat Ro back on the ground.  Tears formed in his eyes and he looked very sad.  "I just wanted to do a different kind of a dance.  It looks like fun." 
"Well, maybe you could find a girl bear more your size.  It would be more fun if you could," Jo said. 
"There are no other bears in this whole forest.  I'm only here because I got lost – I live far away in New York State, you see." 
"Wait!  I have an idea!" Ro said, and whispered in her brother's ear. 
A moment later Jo waves his hands in circles in front of the bear, and to Ohkwa:li's surprise (but not Ro and Jo, the bear wasn't the only magical being in this forest!) he began to shrink! 
Down and down he shrank until he was only a little taller than Ro. 
Ro clapped, and started the music over again.  "We have to be careful of your claws!" she warned in a soft voice so as not to make Ohkwa:li feel bad. 
"I will," he promised, and took Ro's hand into his.  He swung his furry foot out, and Ro moved hers out in the same way.  She kicked out between his legs, then he kicked between hers, and then he grabbed her hand and swung her out to the side, then pulled her back in. 
Soon he was swinging her over his shoulder, down to the ground between his legs and spinning to catch her and lift her back to her feet on the other side. 
Jo giggled at the sight of his sister dancing with the Boogie Woogie Bear in the middle of the woods. 
They danced for hours, until they were completely pooped!
"I think we missed lunch with Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze," Jo said, sitting beside Ohkwa:li and Ro who were both panting and all sweaty from their dance frenzy. 
"That was more fun than I've ever, ever had," Ohkwa:li said, grinning with his big, sharp teeth.  "But I have to be going because I have to find my way back to my cousin's cave."
"Are you lost too?" Ro said. 
"Yes, I believe I am," Ohkwa:li admitted, embarrassed that he could be lost in a forest.  He was a bear, after all. 
"We might be able to help you," Jo said, and he and Ro looked upwards. 
Just then fog covered the forest floor, and swirled about the children and Kato and Ohkwa:li. 
A moment later all four of them found themselves sitting against the coffee table in Grandma Crystal's attic instead of the tree in the forest. 
"Grandma Crystal, this is Ohkwa:li, or as he may be known from now on, Boogie Woogie Bear," Ro introduced her new friend and dance partner.  Jo smiled and Kato gave a happy little yip, relieved to be back in civilization where there were water bowls, dog treats, and peanut butter to lick off Ro or Jo's fingers. 
"Pleased to meet you, Ohkwa:li!  I think I know just the person who can help you." 
Grandma Crystal waved her hands over the magic ball and suddenly within it appeared Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze, sitting in the little diner, waiting for their grandchildren to appear.  They were late.  Very late.
And then they faded from view inside the crystal ball and appeared in the chairs along the wall in Grandma Crystal's attic. 
"I knew something was up!" Gramps Blaze said, standing up.  "Got sidetracked, did you?" he asked Ro and Jo.  Kato barked, wagging his tail, and Gramps Blaze said back to his blue tick hound buddy, "I see.  Well, you couldn't just leave the poor guy in the middle of a forest out of his home state, could you?"
Nana Terri walked over to the crystal ball and thought, I know just where to send him.  Ro concentrated hard and picked up Nana Terri's thoughts.  She opened her eyes, looked at the crystal ball and said to Nana Terri, pointing to the woods inside the crystal ball.  "So he would have to walk in this direction for three miles, and then turn left.  And Jo and I would have had to walk back to the trail and follow it instead of turning and we would have come out to the road, right?" Ro said, pointing to the forest inside the ball. 
"Right!" Nana Terri said, and Gramps Blaze nodded. 
"Good job!" he said.  Then Ro transferred Nana Terri's directions into Grandma Crystal's mind. 
After hugging everyone goodbye, and flipping Ro over his shoulder just one more time, (he couldn’t resist!) Ohkwa:li shrunk even smaller until he fit inside the crystal ball. 
Once in there, the swirls of fog inside the ball changed into a forest – but not the one Ro and Jo had been in earlier, where they'd met Ohkwa:li – this was a different forest in New York State, where Ohkwa:li and his family lived. 
He looked up and waved, not actually being able to see Ro, Jo, Kato, Grandma Crystal, Gramps Blaze, and Nana Terri, but knowing they were there just the same.  Then he turned and hurried into the trees on his way home for supper. 
"Speaking of supper," Gramps Blaze said, and then snapped his fingers.  Suddenly everyone was at the diner. 
Ro and Jo got grilled cheeses with their double order of fries, and snuck Kato a double cheeseburger under the table. 
They got giant sundaes for dessert as Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze heard all about the Boogie Woogie Bear adventure. 
"So, you not only get your "follow-directions-out-of-the-woods" scales, because you figured out how you would have gone if the compass hadn't been broken, but Ro, you get a dancing-with-a-magical-bear scale!" Gramps Blaze said, handing over the scales.  Ro and Jo clapped, and Kato let out a tiny little excited yip. 
"Shhh!" Ro shushed him.  He wasn't supposed to be in a restaurant, but he was part of Team RoJo, after all. 
Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze laughed and clapped at the telling of Ro and Jo's tale, from the beginning. 
As soon as everyone was finished with their ice-cream, Gramps Blaze snapped them all back home where Ro entered their adventure into the Family Journal just before she turned in for a good night's sleep.  She knew she and Jo needed their rest – who knew what adventures they would have tomorrow! 

TD – 7/9/2016


Sunday, July 3, 2016

TEAM ROJO & FRIENDS - BLOG 8 - MEETING SAM ADAMS

Sir WHIP, Kato, BEN Owl, and Gary Gargoyle surrounded Ro's bed one Saturday morning, knowing they weren't supposed to wake a sleeping child, but excited because there was so much fun lined up on Independence Day week-end. 
They wanted to get the earliest start possible, and that meant that as the sun peeked into Ro's room through her curtains, so had they.  But as she slept on, they finally gave up and just lined up at the edge of her bed, waiting for the first peep from their dear friend. 
Jo came into Ro's room at around seven, rubbing his eyes and yawning. 
"Yes!" said Sir WHIP, a big grin on his face, a little fist of victory shaken in front of his chest.  "Jo, we aren't supposed to wake Ro up unless it's an emergency.  But you're her brother.  You're allowed to annoy her…" 
Just as Sir WHIP finished his sentence, Kato lost his patience, and with a little yip leapt upon Ro's bed and slurped her all over her face. 
She promptly pulled her covers up over her head. 
Kato was having none of that!  He rooted under her covers with his cold, wet nose, until it poked Ro's belly, right where it peeked through between her pajama top and bottoms, and she squealed.  Then, having found the opening, he scrooched his whole head under the covers and slurped her face. 
"You crazy dog!"  she giggled, flipping the edge of her covers down off her face and shoulders and gasped at the sight of her brother and all their best friends lined up around her bed.  "Jeez!  You scared the daylights out of me!  What's goin' on?"
"Daylight!" Sir WHIP said, somewhat impatiently.  "That's the word!  It's daylight!  Has been for forever, and you just keep snoring all through it!"
Jo laughed, softly, and said, "Mom and Dad are up already.  They are packing up the cooler and a box of stuff to take to Grandma Crystal's."
"Oh!  That's right!  Fourth of July weekend!  Yay!" Ro said, happy and excited.  She and Jo and their friends had been looking forward to Fourth of July for...well…since last Fourth of July was over! 
"Big cookout at Nana Rose's house!  And everybody will be there!" Jo said, outside the bathroom door while Ro made her pit-stop and then washed up. 
"I know!  I can't wait!  We can toast marshmallows and there's gonna be fireworks!" Ro chimed in, leading the way down the hall to the kitchen. 
Mom and Dad were just finishing up packing, as Ro got the peanut butter out of the fridge and made herself and Jo sandwiches and bagged them up in Ziplocs for an on-the-go breakfast. 
She dipped her finger into the jar and gave Kato a lick, because it was one of his favorite things, and because it was fun to watch his tongue (which was a long as his tail!!) slurp and flap trying to get the sticky peanut butter into his tummy.  She quickly dipped the finger of her other hand into the jar to get a taste for Brie as well, and then, when the dogs were done with their treat, she washed her hands, put the jar in the fridge, and tucked the sandwiches into her tote bag, waiting for her on the chair. 
Jo had Capri Sun pouches for each of them, and he and his sister, and all their friends, canine, dragon, gargoyle and owl, followed Mom and Dad out to the car.
"Okay," Dad said, "Dogs in the back, kids in the back seat, Mom in the front.  Gary, Sir WHIP, and BEN Owl, you'll be taking to the sky and meeting us at Grandma Crystal's, right?"
Ro and Jo leapt out of the car.  "Can we ride on Sir WHIP and BEN Owl?  Oh please, please, please!!"
Dad laughed.  "It's up to them if they want to lug all your extra weight."
BEN Owl and Sir WHIP smiled.  "We were hoping you'd ask," Sir WHIP spoke for both of them, and with that, BEN Owl and Sir WHIP led the children into the back yard where they made themselves large enough to carry humans.  Ro and Kato climbed aboard Sir WHIP, and Ro hugged BEN Owl's neck as he took off, followed closely by his dragon friend. 
Sir WHIP and BEN Owl beat Mom and Dad to Nana Rose's house by a long shot!  Ro and Jo were delighted to find that Nana Terri, Gramps Blaze, and Grandma Crystal had already arrived for the party, and were busy setting up the grill, setting the massive picnic table, and putting sodas, bottles of water, iced tea, and lemonade into coolers.  Mom and Dad were getting bags of ice for the coolers on the way down, and would arrive very soon indeed. 
Sir WHIP and BEN Owl landed in Nana Rose's huge yard on Knight Island, and Ro, Jo, and Kato climbed into the grass as fast as they could, so the hugging could begin! 
"Gramps Blaze, are we going fishing?" Jo asked.  "Is 'Kraken" in the water?" Jo held his hand up over his eyebrows, shading his eyes, looking toward the water to see if the little boat was ready for adventure. 
"Well, maybe at some point this weekend we'll get out there and catch us some fish, but today, my friend, is a day for a different kind of adventure," Gramps Blaze said, smiling.  "Don't worry!  You will have fun!" 
Ro and Jo helped the grownups bring out the badminton net and set it up.  Badminton was a fun game, sort of like tennis, but with a shuttlecock instead of a ball.  Everybody could play, even Gramps Blaze and Nana Terri, who had booboos inside their feet and legs, and Nana Rose who was pretty old – Nana Terri's mom!
Just as the badminton game was set up, Mom and Dad pulled into the driveway and soon Brie was out and around, sniffing everyone and looking for a drink of water after her long car ride. 
Ro saw to that, and Dad hauled the bags of ice over to the coolers and dumped them in.  Then Jo helped him bring over their own large cooler.  "Thought about you, Gramps Blaze," Dad said, nodding toward the box in the back of the car. 
"Sam Adams," Ro read on the side of the box.  "Beer.  Is that picture the man that makes the beer?"
"Yes," Gramps Blaze said, "but he was also a very important man in the history of the United States.  He was one of the Founding Fathers.  Have you learned about him in school?"
"We've learned about Independence Day, and George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Hancock.  Oh, and Benjamin Franklin," Ro answered, trying to remember stuff she'd learned months ago in Social Studies.  "Oh! And Paul Revere who warned everybody that the British were coming!" 
"Well, Sam Adams brewed beer, but he was way more involved in the government, and eventually became Governor in his home state of Massachusetts after the Revolutionary War."
"He got people together by writing letters about the unfair stuff that England was doing," Ro remembered out loud.  "I do remember him a little." 
"Yes he did, Ro, very good!" Gramps Blaze was impressed.  "England was making taxes very, very high in the colonies – higher than the colonists could afford, and they were not letting the colonists be part of the government in England." 
"Wait!  I know what that's called!"  Ro thought for a moment, and then said, snapping her fingers, "taxation without representation!"
"Exactly!" Gramps Blaze smiled at her excitement. 
"And that's when the Boston Tea Party happened!" She added. 
"Yep!  The colonists, encouraged by Sam Adams and his pals the 'Sons of Liberty', were really mad at King George, and threw overboard a whole shipment of tea because the taxes were so high." 
"And then came the Declaration of Independence and the war for independence."
"Right," Gramps Blaze said, finishing putting the beers in the cooler to get icy cold.  Ro had been handing them to him, and stopped with one last bottle in her hand, gazing at the picture of Sam Adams on the front. 
"I wonder what it was like back then?" Ro said. 
Grandma Crystal, snipping some dill-weed nearby in her herb garden, heard the last part of the conversation between Ro and Gramps Blaze, and smiled.  "Easy enough to find out," she said.
Ro's brows rose in surprise.  "You mean go there?  Go and meet Samuel Adams?"
"Why not?  You met the goddess Athena on Mount Olympus, and that worked out okay.  Why not meet Sam Adams?" 
"But the crystal ball is in the fort," Jo said, walking up, having heard what Gramps Blaze had been saying about Samuel Adams, and getting super interested when Grandma Crystal mentioned using the crystal ball to travel back in time to go meet him. 
"Oh, well, we can't have that!" Gramps Blaze said, waving his hands, and POOF! The crystal ball magically appeared in his palm.  Grandma Crystal smiled.  "Show off." 
"That be me!" Gramps Blaze smiled a silly smile, and handed the crystal ball to Ro.  Go sit it on the kitchen table and we'll get busy with it right now."
"Will we be back in time for the cookout?  I want some hot dogs!" Jo said, worry curling his face into a frown.
"Oh sure!" Gramps Blaze said, flapping his hand, waving away his concern.  "We have plenty of time!  Remember, time inside the ball is long, but out here, it seems like you've only been gone a few minutes.  You'll be back before Dad gets the grill hot!" 
Ro and Jo and all their friends and family stood around the kitchen table, watching the swirling mists inside the crystal ball, their hands on the orb, feeling its coolness.  Then, after a few moments they felt it getting warm, and they knew it was almost time.  Kato yipped, feeling it too, and Ro smiled, though still concentrating very, very hard on the American Forefathers, especially Sam Adams. 
Suddenly, Ro and Jo, Kato, BEN Owl, and Sir WHIP were all sucked into the ball.  Everyone else watched as the Team RoJo adventure unfolded.  
Ro and Jo had never seen a city like Boston in 1776.  Cities now had hundreds and hundreds of cars and people.  They were really noisy and busy, even at night.  This Boston was quiet.  There were people out and around, but no car engines.  Just horses clip-clopping, pulling carriages. 
"Wow!  I want to go for a ride in a carriage!" Jo said. 
"I want clothes that look like everybody else's," Ro said, and Jo smiled, looking around. 
"Come on," he said, and tugged Ro into an alley.  Waving his hands, he changed his and Ro's clothes into what he'd seen people wearing in the streets.  A long dress for Ro, and knickers and a shirt and waistcoat for himself.
Sir WHIP shrunk himself down to fit in Jo's coat pocket, for a dog was a common sight in Boston, and though an owl riding upon a little girl's shoulder would be an oddity, BEN Owl was still one of God's creatures and explainable as a pet.  But a sparkly orange dragon?  No sense pushing their luck. 

"What's that smell?" Jo said, wrinkling his nose as he, his sister, and their friends stepped out of the alley and onto the street. 
"I think it's horse poop," Ro answered as they continued on down the King Street toward the wharf. 
It wasn't long before they came upon a group of men, listening to a man maybe a foot taller than Ro's four-and-a-half feet.  He was a little chubby, he had big, dark blue eyes, and wore plain clothes, no ruffles on his shirt like some of the men around him, and while they had horses, he seemed to be on foot.  While he was mannerly, he was plain speaking, even the children understood what he meant, and in a clear voice he spoke about problems that Great Britain and King George were creating for the colonists. 
"That's him?" Jo said, smiling at the man. 
"Don't scoff," Sir WHIP said from the pocket of Jo's vest, his voice respectful.  "He was famous all over America and much of Europe for the way he got the word out about the British.  He got everyone in Boston and the colonies organized to fight for our Independence!  He is an amazing man.  No one more dedicated to freedom." 
Jo still smiled, but not in a smirky way.  "He sounds cool." 
"Very cool," BEN Owl said from Ro's shoulder.  "The Father of the American Revolution." 
"I thought that was George Washington," Ro said. 
"Father of our country.  There's a difference," BEN Owl said.  "Samuel Adams got things rolling long before the war or the Declaration of Independence.  He stirred up the people in a big way, just as he is now." 
The small group listened to the man, whose power showed in his words about freedom, about standing up for rights, and about his intense dislike for King George the Third. 
Ro caught sight of Kato starting to nose through the legs of the men standing to listen to Sam Adams, and reached down to grab his collar to no avail.  She didn't have the heart to grab his tail, the only part of him still visible. 
"What the…what's wrong with him?" Jo whispered to his sister, surprised at Kato's behavior, worried that they would draw too much attention. 
But in a way, Kato made it possible for Ro and Jo to meet Mr. Adams. 
They exchanged a brief look, and then began shouldering through the small crowd. 
When they burst through the last couple of people in their way, they looked down and saw exactly what had drawn Kato's attention and somewhat rude behavior. 
For in front of them stood Kato, sniffing Queue, Sam Adams' big, black, shaggy Newfoundland dog.  
Sam Adams' stopped short, at first frowning at the children's interruption, but then smiling at Queue and his new-found friend. 
Kato was fascinated with the smells on this dog!  He smelled like fish and poop (from crossing streets filled with horse-drawn carriages), wood smoke, and salt air, just like Boston did. 
"Kato!" Ro said, her voice quiet but stern, while she grabbed his collar.  She realized Mr. Adams' voice had stopped, and she looked up and winced when she realized that his eyes, (not to mention all the eyes in the entire small crowd of men) were fixed upon her.  "Oh, Mr. Adams, I'm really sorry!  Sometimes Kato forgets his manners." 
Sam Adams laughed, as did many of the men in the crowd.  "No apology needed, young lady!  Your Kato is a handsome dog!  It's nice to see that he and Queue are becoming friends!  How is it that you are all the way here at the wharf without supervision, though, my dear?  Are you lost?  And who is this fine young gentleman with you?  And how is it that you have an owl on your shoulder?  What an odd pet for a young lady!" 
The questions almost overwhelmed Ro, but she stood her ground, and answered them quietly and politely.  "We were taking a walk.  We have been learning about you in school (true, but she didn't mention that she attended school over two-and-a-half centuries in the future), and I, well, Jo and I wanted to hear what you had to say." 
"Learning about me in school, are you?"  Sam chuckled.  "Are they saying mean or kind things about me there?" 
"Depends on the lesson," Ro said, having gotten herself in a bit of a pickle.  Who really knew what children of this day and age were taught in school?  She should have read up on that stuff, but there hadn't been time. 
All the men around Ro and Jo laughed at her response. 
"We are not lost, and our mother and father know we're here.  This is Jo, my brother, and BEN Owl, my pet owl.  He is a descendent of the goddess Athena's owl." 
"You know that for sure, do you?" Sam Adams' said, taken with Ro's intelligent answers and politeness. 
"Yes," Ro answered, and without giving Mr. Adams or his friends gathered around him a chance to ponder that answer, she said, "I'm glad Kato and Queue are making friends too.  And Jo and I are very happy to meet you, Mr. Adams." 
"Likewise…" Sam Adams began, reaching out to take Ro's hand and plant a gentle kiss upon it, charmed by her. 
"Oh!" Ro caught on when he didn't continue.  "I'm sorry!  My name is Ro." 
"Ro and Jo.  Nicknames I presume?"
Ro smiled and nodded.  "Rosebella and Joseph." 
"Beautiful Rose.  A name well suited to you!  And Joseph – a fine name for a fine young lad."  He shook hands with Jo, and reached down to pet Kato, who licked his hand.  "My, this dog's tongue is almost as long as his tail!" he said, laughing as Kato sat and offered his paw.  "And very well-mannered as well!" 
Ro and Jo laughed as Mr. Adams shook with Kato, then rubbed the dog's belly when he flopped over on his back. 
Once the petting was finished, Sam Adams stood and face Ro and Jo.  "You said you wanted to hear what I had to say, did you have a chance to listen, and did you understand?"
"Yes.  A little.  You're a very smart man, Mr. Adams," said Ro. 
"Well thank you, Ro.  Do you have any questions for me?"
"Well, yes, actually.  You always talk to grownups about standing up for liberty.  But no one really talks to young people my age and Jo's age.  What can we do to help our country?" 
"That's an excellent question, my dear!  How bright you are!" Sam Adams seemed very impressed with Ro's question.  She blushed and thanked him for the compliment. 
"There are many ways youngsters like yourselves can help the cause.  You can speak to your parents about liberty, and about standing up against tyranny.  You can always speak your mind, and tell the truth about everything.  And you can believe that justice will prevail and tell everyone you meet about how you feel. 
"You must be careful, but courageous!  Can you do that?"
Ro and Jo exchanged a glance, then nodded and Ro said, "I think so.  We will try very hard to be like you." 
Sam Adams knelt down and hugged the children, and accepted a big slurpy kiss from Queue's new friend, Kato.  "Then our country will be in good hands as you grow up into fine adults!" he said softly. 
"Thank you," Ro and Jo said together, almost as if they had planned it, then Jo said, "Well, we have to be going now.  We don't want to worry our parents." 
"Of course.  Very nice to have met you both, and you too, Kato and BEN Owl!" Sam Adams said, watching after the children who made their way back through the crowd of men, though this time the crowd parted for them to get through. 
Sam Adams went back to his speaking as Ro and Jo made their way up King Street and, trying to go as unnoticed as possible, stepped into the alley they'd used before.      
They gradually vanished from 1776 Boston and appeared in the crystal ball as their parents and grandparents watched, then they pushed out of the ball and became solid in the kitchen, still in their 1776 clothing! 
"You're really dressed just right for Independence Day!" Grandma Crystal said, admiring the fine linen of Ro's long dress. 
"Yes we are!" Joe said, tipping his tri-cornered hat and bowing slightly.  "Now if you good people would be so kind as to lead us to the hotdogs!" 
Everyone laughed as Team RoJo and their family and friends filed out the back door and to the picnic table.  Dad was just starting to place the hotdogs on the grill that was finally hot enough. 
Soon fireworks would burst overhead, and somewhere, Ro and Jo knew, Sam Adams would be watching. 

TD – 7/3/2016