Buyer beware

I have recently learned about a day camp for children with special needs.  I am very concerned about it because the parents who might send their children to this might think that it was safe.  I think that is the furthest from the truth.

Yvonne Perry, creator of the “We are 1 in Spirit” blog and self-published author of books about being a host to “walk-in” entities, is holding a “Special Needs Children’s Day Camp” Monday July 10 through Wednesday July 12.

It is being held at a retreat center that she bought. She won’t even give out the address until you pay for the day camp.

There is no oversight or supervision to this.  There is no agency that is sponsoring this, no system of checks and balances.

Would you trust your child, especially one with special needs, to this person? Look into her eyes.  What do they tell you about her?

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She talks openly about being a host to “walk-in” entities.   She says that she has been taken over by multiple different personalities and spirits.  In the medical world, this is called “multiple personality disorder”.  In the spiritual world, this is called “possession”.

Either way, I wouldn’t think this is a person who should be left alone with children who would have a lower level of ability to communicate their needs.  Special-needs children are even more vulnerable that other children.

From the ad for it –

–“Nurturing the Special Needs Child” is a day camp for children K-5 through 4th grade, facilitated by Tiffany Holt and Yvonne Perry. Intuitive and special needs children are invited to participate in this program near Ashland City, Tennessee. This “hands-on” classroom is a 3-day workshop (Monday through Wednesday) designed for understanding the imaginative child and enhancing his or her self-esteem.”

 

So how much for all of this? For three days (8 am to 5 pm) of leaving your child alone with someone who is not trained, not licensed, not an authority in anything at all … $150.

The other host is Tiffany Holt, who according to the ad “is a certified K-8 teacher and Master level Reiki teacher. She is a Special Educational Assistant at Kenrose Elementary in Brentwood, Tennessee.”

But is this true?  All we have to go on is the words in the ad.

Wisely, the person with no real qualifications is at the end of the ad –

“Yvonne Perry is a former pre-school music teacher, a sound healing therapist, and the owner of Sweet Home Retreat Center. She is the author of many books, including “The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children”, which was inspired by her grandson (now 16 years old) who was in touch with the spirit world at an early age. She loves gardening, singing, being in nature, playing with kids, and creating beauty and harmony in everything she touches.”

as well as this …

“Yvonne Perry is a metaphysical author, light language practitioner, workshop facilitator, and shaman-ka who helps people shift into their most loving authentic selves. She does this through healing sound therapy and her books, prayers, seminars, coaching, and spiritual services.”

What is a “shaman-ka”?  She made this up.  Along with everything else.  “Sham” is more like it.

Be sure to read between the lines and notice that she charges people to “heal” them with her “light-language” (random non-language mutterings that she describes as speaking in tongues) as well as her “sound therapy” (singing random notes at people).

She is unlicensed, untrained, and unsupervised.  She has no certification in anything she does.  And yet she thinks that she can charge people for her “talents”.

Would you hire an electrician to rewire your house without making sure he was trained and licensed first?  No.

Would you allow a person to teach (or even babysit) your child if they were not certified to do so? No.

Then why would anyone pay this woman to “heal” them – or worse, leave their children alone with them?

I said nothing when she began her “healing” services over a year ago. Adults have to make their own decisions about what they do with their lives.  But I have to speak up when she starts thinking it is OK to say she is qualified to teach children – and special-needs children (who are more vulnerable).

She has written many books, and people might think that this means she has been reviewed by other experts in the field.  Most authors submit their work to a publishing company who checks out their work to see if it is accurate before they will publish it.  However, she skipped that step and self-publishes.  Therefore, she has no oversight.

Full disclosure – I wrote something for her that became part of her “light language” book.  This was before she decided to charge people for her services.  I am in agreement that people need to re-connect with the Holy Spirit in whatever way possible, but I disagree with charging money for it.

 

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Half soul

David was born with only half a soul, but nobody noticed for years. He was a twin, not conjoined, but still half of a whole. The doctor said that they were identical, but he and his brother thought otherwise. To their eyes, they looked only as similar as brothers do, nothing unusual or special. They also didn’t have the same interests or tendencies as most identical twins did, and would point these facts out to their mother when she would bring up their connection when one would bring a new girlfriend over for dinner. Because the doctor said so, she too was convinced they were identical and no amount of fact would make her budge.

She was long dead before there was any suspicion that one of her sons had suffered any ill effect from his natal experience. You can get by with half a soul if you get the correct half. Daniel was lucky. As the one who was on the left side of his mother’s womb, closer to her heart, when the quickening happened at 18 weeks of gestation, he got the good half, while David, on the right side, got the bad half. Now the bad half wasn’t evil per se, it just wasn’t quite up to snuff. It made him less compassionate, less caring. He was a bit self-centered, a little selfish, even.

Daniel was usually picked first for group projects in class because he simply worked well with others, while David was usually picked first for any sport that required ruthlessness, like rugby or dodgeball. Compassion never won a sporting match, after all.

Neither one felt left out by this arrangement, which had developed quietly and surely over the years. Neither one realized that the repetition of this pattern, determined by their divergent natures from their half souls, over the many years shaped them into the people they had become. They were in fact identical, as the doctor who delivered them had said, but they were as different as the two sides of the coin – one thing but with two halves, both different. Just like with a coin, with one side you won, and the other, well, you didn’t.

David wasn’t bad, he just wasn’t good either. Some people thought he was shy, and that was part of it. He wasn’t shy out of actual bashfulness or a desire to be polite, whether they were friends, family, or coworkers. He kept to himself because deep down, he didn’t like other people. He thought they were lesser than him.

In school, he blamed his average and never exceptional grades on his belief that the teachers were jealous of him and gave him lower marks then he deserved out of a desire to put him in his place. He was convinced they had a coordinated plan to subtly remind him every report card day that they were in charge and he wasn’t. He was sure that they did this to him and only him out of a mistaken desire to keep him from getting full of himself. He was sure that they were operating on the premise that too much praise early on and the child wouldn’t get along well with others – they’d either lord it over their classmates or they would shun them. They were doing it for his own good, he told himself, so he said nothing to anyone, not even to his brother.

When they moved three states away after his father’s job transfer, the low grades continued and he just knew that the teachers at his old school had sent a letter explaining their plan along with the transcript to the new school. Never once did he think that his lackluster grades were due to a lackluster performance. He maintained his fecklessness throughout his life, never quite amounting to much in whatever he did.

He wasn’t a schmuck, but he certainly wasn’t a mensch either. He had married well, with a patient wife who usually made up for his social gaffes. Their son, an apple from the tree, was possibly even more socially inept than his father and even with a graduate degree still lived at home and waited tables for a living. Members of their church gossiped that David’s wife, Jane, had married him as either a favor to him (she was forever taking in strays and rehabilitating them) or as someone who wouldn’t have the spine to challenge her whenever she wanted to do her own thing. Headstrong men were challenged by strong women. They felt threatened by a woman calling the shots, so some nontraditional girls chose to stay single, associate with other women, or marry a man who acted tough but really was a wimp. The latter was most certainly the case.

He was all show and no go. At work, where he was a manager solely out of attrition, he would bluster about schedules and vacation requests from his employees, but clam up when they would confront him with the unfairness or duplicity of his newly minted rules, which never seemed to apply to him. He had become a manager because of budget cuts. His job as an designer was being eliminated, so he had a choice: become a manager or go find another job. He was already counting the months until retirement (it was under 100) so it made more sense to take what they were offering, distasteful as it was, than get a cut in his pension and have to start all over at the bottom of the pile somewhere else.

Fortunately upper management put him at a location where he could do the least amount of damage – one with little business. They were few customers and enough staff to cover his ineptitude. This worked well until further budget cuts and staff complaints forced him out of his office and at the service desk, assisting customers. It didn’t matter that he didn’t know how to use the software to look up auto parts or how to use the cash register to sell them. He had glided by on ignorance and feigned helplessness for too long. It simply wasn’t fair to force his subordinates (in position only, not a know-how or aptitude) to do all the work while he spent his 40 hours a week reading a book, chatting with friends from his previous office, or writing his latest novel on work time.

The CEO was aware of how much he shirked. Everyone knew. The only person who was fooled was David, he thought he was doing a fine job. He thought he’d coast right on for another year until it was time to retire. Little did he know that his invisible handicap was soon to catch up with him. Little did he know that going through life with only half a soul would have negative repercussions very soon.

The story of my heart

This is a mini art journal that I created, using a 5.5 x 3.5 inch notebook from Archie McPhee as the base. I got it from American Science and Surplus as a three-pack, on sale. The notebook said “people to avoid” on the outside.

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All of this took about a week, because of the many layers that had to completely dry.

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I pulled out several sections from the middle of the book to give me enough room to add what I wanted to add. I find this step critical to producing a final piece that is flat-ish.

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I worked on this as a complete unit – not page by page, but I’d do each part of the process to the whole book.

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I used gesso to prime the pages.

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I added various washi tape to the edges, mostly where the pages had started to come apart from the gesso. It had made the pages stick to each other and I’d had to pull them apart.

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Then I added swipes of “Distress Ink” mini stamp pads to the pages, pressing them together and then opening them back up to create a transfer. Getting this to dry without permanently sticking the pages together was a real bear. I had to keep checking on it. I suspect I should have painted each page separately instead of doing the entire thing at once, but that would have taken a lot longer.

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I pulled out my used copy of “Mysticism” by F.C. Happold and pulled out some random pages. I used the mini stamp pads to color them.

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Once dry, I randomly tore the pages into smaller pieces. Only when that was done did I look at the words on the pages to choose which ones would be in the book. This is how the title of the mini journal came about – it was on the section I’d randomly chosen for the first page.

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I then selected various brown and sepia stamps to add.

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I added every Chinese fortune cookie message I had that had a “Learn Chinese” message on it. This tiny art journal is a mini Chinese dictionary.

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I used brown ink to color the cover, added more stamps and stickers, and then sealed with with contact paper once dry.

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Ghost bike

I took the time today to stop and photograph this “ghost bike” memorial. I have passed it on the way to work for two years now, and finally figured out how and where to stop. Isn’t that the secret? Noticing, studying, planning? Making time to see things that you would miss otherwise.

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The text reads “In memory of Michael Alexander Rivas who was killed while bicycling on May 16, 2012. by a distracted texter-driver who did not suffer any consequences for his actions. Texting and driving is against the law but is unenforceable.”

This is at 28th St. and Old Hickory Boulevard, in Old Hickory, TN, a suburb of Nashville.

I had initially tried to share information about this using Google maps, but the images weren’t that good for such a small thing. The first view is from March 2016, and the second is from December 2016.

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The March 2016 images of this area were taken in a car travelling North on OHB, while the December ones were taken in a car travelling South.  This bike does not show up clearly in the March images, and is too far away in the December ones.  So I knew I had to do this myself.

I had to study what landmarks were there before the bike, so I could stop before it and walk to it.  I needed a place to park my car – I couldn’t do it on OHB itself – too busy.  Also, there were usually many cars behind me, so even slowing down to turn off the road was often difficult.  Today was the day – I’d prepared, and there wasn’t much traffic.  I also had left my home with a little extra time.

I did a little research online and found this from the blog of Genea Barnes, who has driven all over the US to photograph and document ghost bikes.  She says there is only one in Nashville. This is it.

“The ghost bike I found was for Michael Rivas at 28th and Old Hickory St. After I had shot the bike, I noticed a woman changing the water that the flowers were in. I stopped and chatted with her for a few moments. She had known Michael, said he was around 30 years old, and she told me that his parents lived right around the corner if I wanted to go knock on their door. I chose not to, I felt it could be intrusive. I gave her my card, and she said if she saw them, that she would pass it along.”

Here is his obituary from the Tennessean newspaper:

RIVAS, Michael Alexander Age 31 of Old Hickory, passed away on Thursday, May 17, 2012 as the result of a tragic accident. Services to celebrate Michael’s life will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 20, 2012 in the Chapel of Spring Hill Funeral Home, conducted by Pastor Keith Enko. Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, and from noon until service time on Sunday. Interment will be in Spring Hill Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to the Emmanuel Lutheran Church Building Fund. Online condolences and memories can be shared with the family at http://www.springhillfh.com. Michael was born on August 17, 1980 in Nashville, the son of Dr. Alejandro and Beverly Ann (Branson) Rivas. He was a member of the Emmanuel Lutheran Church. He graduated from Donelson Christian Academy and Middle Tennessee State University. Michael had worked in several restaurants. Michael was a very kind, loving and giving person who loved and was devoted to his family. He will be missed by all that were blessed to have known him. Surviving are his loving family, including his parents, Alex and Bev of Old Hickory; brother, Christopher and his wife Margaret Rivas of Mt. Juliet; grandmother, Mary Branson of Old Hickory; the light of his life were his niece and nephew, Emma Grace Rivas and Carter David Rivas. He is also survived by his extended family and a host of friends. Michael was greeted in Heaven by his maternal grandfather and paternal grandparents.

Here is his picture –

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From his condolence book:

May 22, 2012 | Nashville, TN

I worked with Michael at the Davidson County Election Commission. I fondly remember how he always had a smile and and upbeat attitude, everyday. When I think of him and his smile, he always made me laugh. I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.”  Carlatina Hampton

There were many other notes, but this one talked about him as a person, instead of just how sorry they were for the loss.  I wanted to gain a picture of who he was. A memorial should show the person, not just the name and dates.

He lived at 3215 Lakeshore Drive, Old Hickory.  This is about 5 blocks away from where the bike memorial is.

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The house was bought 8-1-1981 for $90K but now appraises at $541K.  It is a one-story stucco house built in 1960 and is 3,146 square feet, with 4 bedrooms and three baths.  The land it is on is .87 acres and it has the lake to its back.

Here is information about his father –

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Dr. Alejandro Rivas is a surgeon in Nashville, Tennessee. He received his medical degree from Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and has been in practice for 47 years.  He works for the Otolaryngology department of Vanderbilt University at 1215 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37232.  According to WebMD, he also sees patients at his home Monday – Friday 8-3.  Here is the phone number (615) 847-4949, and here is the fax (615) 847-5396.  He is affiliated with Tri-Star Skyline hospital and Vanderbilt.  He is 72 years old, which means that he was around 36 when his son was born.  He accepts multiple forms on insurance, and has a 5 star rating on “Healthgrades”

Michael’s mother, Beverly Ann (Branson) Rivas was born  03/02/1951 and is 66, which means she was 30 when Michael died.  She is listed as a Republican.

Their marriage was announced in the Sunday, November 9th 1975 edition of the Decatur, Illinois Herald.

BRANSON-RIVAS Beverly Ann Branson became the bride of Dr. Alejandro A. Rivas in a Saturday afternoon ceremony at Pilgrim Lutheran Church. A reception followed at Cresthaven Country Club. The bride is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Rick Calhoun Branson of 2480 W. Olive St. The groom is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Cesar Rivas of Rivas, Nicaragua. The new Mrs. Rivas is a graduate of MacArthur High School, Decatur School of Practical . Nursing and Parkland College. She is employed by St. Mary’s Hospital. Dr. Rivas is a graduate of National Institute Rosendo Lopez in Nicaragua and the University of Mexico Medical School in Mexico City. He is a resident (of) general surgery at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Tenn. The couple will make their home at 704 Berry Rd. in Nashville.

Invisible war wounds – poem

My Dad had PTSD,
invisible war wounds
from a war
he never left home for
in fact, he had to
leave home
to leave the war.

He was a son of a veteran
who brought the war home
in his pockets,
in his perfectionism,
in his need for things to be
just so
and it never was,
because it never could be.

Gone were the days
of an innocent youth,
it never happened.
He was trained by an incompetent,
unwilling
drill sergeant,
masquerading as Dad.
He was living in an army
he never enlisted for,
was shanghaied
simply by virtue
of being born.

The wooden dolly

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Maybelle was a bad doll, but she couldn’t help it. The wood that she’d been carved from was terribly damaged. Only one person knew that, and he wasn’t telling. He couldn’t. He was dead. The act of creating her had been the last thing he did. He hadn’t planned it that way.

Drogon was the village doctor – medical and otherwise. If you were out of sorts, you went to Drogon. Before that you’d have gone to Drogon’s father, and now you’d have to go to Drogon’s son, even though he was only seven. These kinds of doctors didn’t get trained in schools, or even by their parents. There was no apprenticeship. The moment the father breathed his last, his spirit and everything he’d learned traveled into the son. It had gone on so long that everybody in the village accepted it as normal, just like how flowers came out in the spring and leaves went away in the fall. The village was many miles from any other so the residents had no way of knowing this was unusual. It was only in the past decade that they’d even learned they weren’t the only people in this country, or even on the planet.

They’d never ventured any further than a few feet from “the edge of the world” as they called it. Why would they? Everything they needed was here. Exploration comes from want and need. If you have everything you want or need, you don’t tend to go exploring. Art was created for the same reason – out of a sense of lack and loss. Folks who felt content weren’t artists. Artists were forever plagued to create even more art, because what they made never felt quite right to them. The fact that they had a sense of something missing in the world caused them to make art – but then still feel incomplete.

Drogon was an artist as well as a doctor – never satisfied with his work. He was certain he could do better with his healing. This was unlikely, since he’d inherited 16 generations worth of healing knowledge when his father died. Everything his father had learned had passed on to him, as it had happened to himself when Drogon’s grandfather had died. It was an amazing process. One day you were yourself, the next you had all these voices in your head giving you unsolicited advice on what to do. It was a little like a family reunion but only one person heard the jokes, and thankfully nobody brought the green bean casserole.

Not many years after their first visit from the outside (as everything other than the village was called), Drogon had a visitor from very far away. He was told that everyone there spoke a different language than him and thought differently, acted differently, dressed differently. He was told that they weren’t as clever as the villagers, because they couldn’t make up stories to entertain themselves in the evenings. He was shocked to learn that hundreds of people would even pay to sit and listen to a person entertain them, to tell them stories, even hearing stories through the air on something called television, rather than in person.  Drogon thought that there must be a huge drought on stories there to have to go to that extreme.

This visitor wanted Drogon to make her a very special doll – one that could tell stories to her people. She’d had a successful career as a ventriloquist, but this would be different. This would be special. This would be so amazing that she could retire early, at the top of her game. She wouldn’t have to suffer the indignity of having to do ads for life insurance or hearing aids in her later years, as so many of her fellow performers did. She wouldn’t have to hawk (or hock) anything. She’d be set, if only he would make this new dummy with some of his magic. She told him nothing of her own needs – only that he would be helping her people with their story-sickness.

Drogon had assured her that he had no such skill, no ability to make wood talk, but she was persistent, and he soon felt sorry for these people so far away who had to pay someone to do something they could do for themselves. He promised nothing, but said he would try. That night, he did something he’d never done before – he called a family conference.

That night, he called together all 16 generations of healers from his family. Never before had Drogon even attempted to rouse them. Normally they were just there in his head when he needed them. But this was different. This was a sickness as sure as malaria, as certain as cholera. To be without stories was a sickness of the soul, a certain death. Sure, you could live without stories, but it would only be half-life, a sorry existence. He told his ancestors, all those healers before him, that they would be giving the greatest gift of healing they could ever give if they would do this one thing for him.

It took them eight days to agree to try, and another ten to figure out how. Three more days and the performer from the faraway country was leaving. Drogon had to act soon on their suggestion. He wasn’t sure if it would work but he had to try. Early the next morning, before the sun had risen but after the birds have begun to sing, he went to the center of the village to the story tree. This was the tree where they all met every evening for stories and at least once a week for council. It was the center of the village. As far as anyone knew, it was the reason the village was there.

The tree at the center of the village was older than memory and bigger than dreams. A dozen grown men could stand around it with arms outstretched and embrace it in a circle. Its branches stretched out 40 feet all around and were thick enough to provide shade on the hottest of days and protection on the wettest ones too. Drogon looked at it, this member of the village he’d known the longest, and told it his tale. He asked it for its permission to do what must be done to cure the people he’d never seen, would never see. He told the tree that they would sing songs about it for years in the future, to honor its sacrifice of itself. There was no answer back. He hadn’t expected one, but he had tried all the same. He’d tried because to not try would have meant the guilt of what he was about to do would be on him and his descendants forever.

He assumed all must be well with the tree’s silence. “In silence it went to the slaughter, a willing sacrifice, the cure for their disease.” The lines of a half-forgotten prophecy came to him then and he felt better. Surely it was about this time, and this event? He felt the odd tingle of power that always happened when a prophecy came true, when to be became now.

With spirit ghosts from all of his ancestors helping, he had the tree chopped down in less than an hour, and quietly enough that none of the villagers awoke.

He had selected one log to use for the doll.  It was from the heart of the tree, and was a warm sepia, the color of dry autumn leaves, the color of coffee with a hint of cream, the color of the people it had loved for so long.  He had planned to carve it himself afterwards to complete the ritual, but first he had to call the spirit of the tree into it.

Right now it was like any other spirit after a trauma – floating around in the air, hovering close to its body.  Car accident victims were the same. The spirit gets pushed out before it has a chance to realize that the body is no longer a safe vehicle for it. Meanwhile, it hasn’t prepared itself for the journey it must now embark upon to return to the All-spirit.

Many souls think they have years before them to prepare for that mapless and solitary trip. Some are surprised at a sudden death and they linger around the body longer than they ought. There was a danger to living humans in these places – the spirit might try to take over, to evict the living soul, or to try to double-up. This led to what the villagers called “possession”, and what Westerners called “mental illness”.  Some spirits stayed in the area of the accident for weeks afterwards, the body buried elsewhere. This meant that it was possible to cross paths with a homeless spirit without even realizing it. Perhaps this was why some people in America had started putting up roadside memorials at the site of a fatal car crash – to subtly warn others of the risk of contamination. Perhaps they knew this truth deep down, on a subconscious level.

Drogon meant to call the spirit into the wood but it was harder than he’d imagined. None of his ancestors had ever been through anything this immense, so they couldn’t offer anything useful in the way of advice or warning.  They were all winging it.  They knew it was in their best interest, as a group, to be as careful as possible.  This much energy in one place could possibly make all of them wink out of existence.

There was a reason that tree had been so big – it had held the hopes of the village for thousands of years. It had fed them with stories the same as a mother feeds her babies with milk from herself.  It had sheltered them as a mother hen shelters her chicks.  All of that spirit was too much to try to condense into one tiny log, but it tried.  Perhaps the tree wanted to help out those nameless people who were so far away. Perhaps it trusted the village doctor, who had sat under its branches in the cool of the evening, just like his father and his father on back into the mists of time. He wouldn’t bring harm, no, not him.  So the tree sacrificed itself, went easily, almost willingly.  And yet it still was too much spirit to distill down into one log meant for one little doll.  The energy poured in, but once the log was full (over-full, actually, in the same way you can cram more sugar into tea if you pour it in while it is hot), it spilled out, and up, and over Drogon, and in a flash of blue-violet light, embraced him, and erased him.

The sound that was created in that moment was like the sound of a waterfall swollen by spring rains, or that of a thousand bees swarming to find a new nest.  It was sudden and sure and scary, like a lion before it charges upon a hyena foolish enough to prey upon his family.  It was then that the rest of the villagers awoke to discover the remains of Drogon next to the felled tree.  They ran to find Drogon’s son, knowing that he would now be able to explain what happened. The only reason they knew it was Drogon was from his clothes and the beaded jewelry he always wore.  His body had been reduced to ash.

Drogon’s son, only seven years old but now the village doctor, took it upon himself to complete the doll.  It had to be done.  Otherwise, the death of the tree would have been in vain.  He also had to atone for the actions of his father, as well as the ancestors who had agreed to this disastrous plan.

Out of a sense of guilt, the lady from the faraway land offered the villagers ten times the amount of money for the doll than she had originally agreed to. They wanted nothing – no money, no school, no hospital.  Nothing could repay them for the loss of their tree.  To accept payment would be to cheapen its sacrifice.  They gave her the completed doll, hoping to never see it or her ever again.

The lady went on to become famous for her ventriloquist act, retiring earlier than she’d hoped. Her fans were amazed at how much better she had become. The skits were sharper, wittier, if a little edgy these days.  They marveled at how adept she had become at throwing her voice without apparently having her mouth open.

She kept the doll with her all the time to keep her secret.  She lived alone for the same reason.  When she had first returned from her trip, she was living in an apartment, but soon made enough to move to a large home, far away from people.  This was good, because otherwise they would have heard the wooden dolly arguing with her owner.

It all came to an end one humid summer night when the home went up in flames, reducing both the lady and the doll to ashes.  Arson investigators scoured the ruined property shaking their heads.   They agreed that the fire looked like it was set on purpose by the doll, but since this made no sense, they quietly agreed to officially state that the performer had dropped a cigarette while smoking in bed.

Lost and found penguin

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Sara thought Petey was her brother, and nobody had the heart to tell her otherwise. They’d grown up together, after all. Sarah and her mom had found him hopping on the shoreline near their home in Athenree, New Zealand. Rockhoppers were all over the coast, but it was rare for one to venture into Shelly Bay.

They left him where he was, and her mom promised that they would check on him the very next day. The toddler wanted to take him home right then but her mom said they didn’t have anything for him to eat. Sara didn’t think that was a good enough reason because she knew the Four Square market was open. Mama had to admit she was worried that he might be lost and looking for his family. She hadn’t wanted to say that, not knowing how Sara would take it. Would she feel for him, be sad that he was alone, and then insist on adopting him right away? This was not a situation she wanted to deal with on a Tuesday afternoon. She just wanted to go on a wander with her daughter and then come home to afternoon tea and a nap, preferably in that order.

Sara was concerned, but not overly so, and Mama again assured her they’d come back tomorrow and check on him. She hoped that he’d be gone and forgotten by then. Children have such short memories, and sometimes that was a blessing.

The rest of the day passed uneventfully. Mama had forgotten about the little lone penguin by the next afternoon. But he hadn’t forgotten about them. As soon as she opened the garage door to leave for their daily walk, he was standing there in the side yard. Sara shrieked with delight and started to run towards him. She hadn’t forgotten about him at all. Mama called to her to stay away but it was too late. She was already embracing him in a full-on hug as only a toddler can. It was a hug that was a bit like a tackle and a lot like a reunion after a wartime deployment. Fortunately the penguin seemed to be just as enthusiastic, flapping his stubby wings and chirruping in high-pitched squeals. You would have thought they were long-lost friends if they were of the same species.

Mama stood there in amazement, taking in the scene. Maybe he had followed them home? They lived not far from the shoreline, and there weren’t any roads he (Mama assumed it was a he – how do you to tell?) would have had to cross. How long had he been there? Sara’s voice broke through her musings.

“Mama he’s here! Our Petey!” she exclaimed in delight, her face lighting up like the sun.

“Sara, sweetheart, we can’t keep him, he’s a wild animal. There are laws about this.” She wasn’t certain about this but it sounded very parental to say. “And Petey? Is that his name?” – knowing that naming a pet meant it was harder to get rid of it. Name it and keep it. Anonymous animals came and went, but named ones stayed. How did she come up with Petey? They didn’t have any friends or relations named that. It wasn’t out of any picture book they’d gotten from the library to read at bedtime.

“He told me his name was Petey!” Sara beamed, and she hugged him all the more. He seemed a little overwhelmed and on the verge of being smothered by this point, but overall still quite happy to be found. Mama wondered if Sara could translate his squeaks and chitters. “How did he tell you, baby?” She used her most reasonable voice now. This wasn’t in her plans. Daniel would be upset when he came back from his business trip tomorrow to discover they had adopted a penguin. Or a penguin had adopted them. She wasn’t sure.

“He told me in my heart,” Sara said, and letting go of her newfound best friend with one hand, she placed it over her heart to show her mom. Sometimes she had to point things out to her mom to make sure she understood. Even toddlers know that parents can be a little dense sometimes.

Sara’s mom wasn’t sure how to take this. Was her daughter making things up again? Or was this a sign of a mental illness? It was hard to separate the two sometimes. Was this why so many artists and writers went off the deep end? This wasn’t going so well. She was supposed to be the adult, after all, supposed to be in charge. Toddlers weren’t supposed to run the show, although they often did. Adults just thought they were in control. Meanwhile, toddlers determined when and if they slept, and where and how they ate. The fact that Sara was an only child amplified her power over her parents.

It was not long before Petey became a member of the family. He lived outside, however, so he wasn’t a full member. Mama thought it was safer all around to not bring him inside, and the weather was always mild where they lived. She was concerned that if they brought him in they’d have to notify the animal control department. But if he lived outside, they could still think of him as “wild” and he could come and go as he wished. If they brought him in there might be shots and laws to be considered. Plus, there was always the thought that it wasn’t fair to keep him in. Daniel, once he got home and was consulted, remembered a roommate he’d had in college who’d kept a bird in a cage as a pet. He’d always thought there was something cruel and vain about that, because birds aren’t meant to live inside like dogs or cats. They are meant to be free. Penguins were birds too, after all.

Sara’s parents started to think of Petey as their second child, and while they never said that out loud to friends or coworkers, they were never so bizarre as to refer to him as their “featherbaby”. He was an animal, a quasi-pet. They loved him, but he wasn’t human.

Except to Sara. She remained the only child that Mr. and Mrs. Fullerton had, so she didn’t know any different. To her, Petey was her younger brother. It didn’t matter to her that he never learned how to speak English and never went to school. She understood that he was a little different than her friend’s siblings, and she was OK with that. All of her childhood she looked forward to going home after school and getting to see her best friend, who still waddled about in the back yard, still pleased as punch to see her.