“Once upon a time …”

Once upon a time … a Barn Owl nest was destroyed in a storm, and the only survivor was a young female. (“I’m a Barn Owl, so I can do this!”)

Once upon a time … a Jackalope (Antelope/Jack Rabbit) climbed into a rowboat to escape a storm, but the boat was washed out into the sea. (“I can’t swim, so I have to think this through carefully!)

Once upon a time, an abandoned kitten fell off a fallen tree and into a swollen river. He was lucky to be able to grab a branch and pull himself out. Exhausted, cold, and wet, he dragged himself into a hollow log and curled up. (“Did anybody leave any food in here?”)

Once upon a time, a man was planning his retirement.  His dream was to buy a little farm out in the country, where he could live the rest of his life at his own pace, and with the tranquility of the countryside surrounding him. (“It will be lovely to have no obligations to others, and just do whatever I want … and on my timing. Heaven!”

So what happens?

Well …. The Barn Owl accidentally bumped into the Jackalope, and between them they saved a kitten. All three found an old farm to live in and were planning on living “happily ever after”.

The man retired and, as planned, bought a little farm in the country. Everything went according to plan until …

The following is an excerpt from “The Odessa Chronicles”:

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Joshua Jeremiah Jonathan Jacob Jackson Pebblestone had worked pretty much all of his life, and was now retired and about to start living his dream. He had bought a small farm, out in the country, so that he could enjoy the sights and sounds of rural life. He had been planning for this moment for many years, and now here he was … opening the old wooden gate to his own little farm.

He looked at the gate and smiled, for engraved in the top bar were some letters. The letters were almost totally hidden by years of weathering, and blended in with the wood, but he had noticed them the first time he saw the farm. He had traced his fingers over the letter shapes, and quickly realized that they spelled “Moonbeam Farm”. Perfect! he had thought to himself. Perfect!

He walked cross the yard, unlocked the farmhouse door, and went directly into the kitchen, where he made himself a cup of tea. His belongings had all been delivered earlier, so he sat down and smiled. This was what he had worked for. His life, from now on, was going to be one of peace and tranquility.

His first night there was uneventful, but … the next morning? He walked into his living room and the cushions that should have been on his sofa were gone! He found them all piled up in the corner of the room, very close to the fireplace. He shook his head and thought, I don’t remember putting them there. Why would I put them there? Oh well, I’ll put them back on the sofa. He did so immediately. When he woke up the following morning, the sofa cushions were once again on the floor and near the fireplace. I must be moving them while I am asleep, he thought to himself.

He later went over to the barn and was also rather puzzled by what he saw. The barn had clearly not been used for a considerable time, and yet one small area in one corner was very neat and tidy. There was some straw there, which had an indentation in it, as though some small person had been lying there. He also noticed that, on the other end of the barn, there was a pile of small bones on the floor, as if dropped from above. He looked up, but all he saw was a large wooden beam, which helped to support the roof.

One night, he woke up rather earlier than usual and heard a sound from downstairs. He quietly got out of bed and put on his slippers. By the light of the moon, he slowly went down and into his living room, where he quickly turned on the light. He saw that not only was there only one cushion on the sofa, but he also saw a cat near the fireplace, with another cushion in its mouth!

He thought it looked friendly, so he bent down and said, “Who are you then?”

The cat turned its head to face Joshua, and said, “I am Dewey. Who are you?”

Joshua was in shock, as he had not been expecting the cat to talk. “Ummmm … well, I am Joshua Jeremiah Jonathan Jacob Jackson Pebblestone, and I live here.”

So do I,” said Dewey, “but I was here before you!”

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“The Odessa Chronicles” is a book of short stories based around those four characters, and is suitable for ages 4 to 104. If there is a child still within you, you will love the stories. You will love the characters involved. You will love how they keep their quite different personalities, and yet slowly progress to not only living together in harmony, but how they also eventually became best friends.

“The Odessa Chronicles” is available from any on-line book retailer, or direct from Friesen Press Bookstore. For reviews, amazon.com has the most. Click on book cover over to the right (may have to scroll) for more information.



The Odessa Odyssey

“The Odessa Odyssey” is a much longer story than the others in “The Odessa Chronicles”, and below is Part 1: The Problem with Odessa.

For readers who not familiar with the characters in The Odessa Chronicles, Odessa (a Barn Owl), Jaxon (a Jackalope) and Dewey (a cat) all live together on a small farm owned by Joshua (human), also known as the man-servant. In this particular story, there is a Florence (human) who is staying with them as a friend of Joshua.

The sun had set on Moonbeam Farm, and the man-servant was finishing up some final cleaning before settling down for the evening. Dewey had finished his after-dinner nap, and was once more awake and curious to see everything that was going on, which was typically nothing at this time of day. Dewey was very happy to be involved in nothing.

The man-servant suddenly turned to him. “Dewey,” he said, “we’ve had no adventures for a few days. Why don’t you go over to the barn and invite Jaxon and Odessa over for the evening? Perhaps we can plan something?”

Dewey looked up at him. “You have no idea what’s going on here, have you?”

“What do you mean?” asked the man-servant.

Before Dewey could reply, the man-servant’s Florence came into the farmhouse. She looked at the man-servant, and then at Dewey, and then back to the man-servant. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “Did I interrupt something?”

The man-servant told her what Dewey had said. Florence again looked at both of them. “Do you mean about Odessa?” she asked.

“What’s wrong with Odessa?” asked the man-servant.

Dewey and Florence looked at each other, and then Florence said, “We cannot tell you. Odessa told us in confidence.”

The man-servant walked around the kitchen table, in deep thought, when suddenly he stopped. “If Odessa is having some kind of trouble, then she must understand that we are all prepared to help her resolve whatever it is. Dewey, please go over to the barn and ask Jaxon and Odessa to come over here.”

Dewey walked out the farmhouse door, across the yard, and into the barn. A few moments later, he came out of the barn, across the yard, and back into the farmhouse. “Where’s Odessa?” asked the man-servant.

Dewey looked up at him. “She’s not coming over. I told you that things are different around here at the moment.”

“Well,” said the man-servant, “go back and ask Jaxon to come over.”

“It won’t do any good.” said Dewey. “He knows about Odessa as well.”

The man-servant looked very puzzled. “Well … do any of you know why I am the only one here who does not know what is going on?”

Florence stepped forward. “I think Odessa told the others, because they would probably understand, given that creatures in general lead rather uncomplicated lives. She told me, because she knew that I would be able to see things from a female’s perspective. I did suggest that she tell you, but she said that you are already confused enough and felt bad about making you even more so.”

“What could she be struggling with?” asked the man-servant.

Florence shrugged sadly. “I know what her problem is, but I have no idea how we can help her.”

“Okay,” said the man-servant, “I’ll take a walk over to the barn and see if she will talk to me.”

The man-servant went over to the barn and, as he entered, he saw Jaxon a few steps in front of him. “Hey, Jaxon!” he said. “Would you mind going over to the farmhouse? I would like to have a very private chat with Odessa.”

Jaxon did not say anything, but turned and headed out and across the yard to the farmhouse. As the man-servant walked down towards Odessa’s roof beam, he noticed how eerily quiet it was in there. When he was standing beneath the beam, he happened to look down and noticed that there were no small bones on the floor. Now he was starting to get concerned, because Odessa always dropped her bones on the floor while eating various meals up on her beam.

He looked up, and saw Odessa staring at him. “Hi, Odessa!” he said. “I thought that perhaps you and I could have a talk.” Odessa continued to stare at him, so the man-servant continued. “There are no bones down here on the floor. Is everything okay?” There was no response. “Odessa, I know that something is going on in that little bird-brain of yours, so how about we talk about it?” Again, there was no response. “Odessa … perhaps I can help you. Perhaps we can all contribute to helping you.”

The man-servant realized that he was making no progress whatsoever, and decided to go back to the farmhouse and see if anybody could come up with a plan that would encourage Odessa to open up about whatever was bothering her. Once back in the farmhouse, he explained everything that had happened, and it was Florence who came up with the best idea.

“It would seem to me, Joshua,” she started, “that if Odessa will not come down and talk to you, then perhaps you could go up to her. Perhaps if you were on her beam with her, she would feel more inclined to talk?”

The man-servant looked at her in total disbelief. “How on earth do you expect me to get up to that roof beam?” he asked.

Florence looked at him and slowly shook her head. “I don’t believe that you asked that question.” she said. “How about using a ladder?”

The man-servant suddenly realized that he had rather overlooked the obvious, and went back across the yard and into the barn. He got the ladder from the corner (close to where the tractor was parked); took it over to near Odessa’s roof beam; hauled up the extension, so that it was long enough to reach; leaned it against Odessa’s roof beam, and started climbing up. “Odessa! I am coming up!”

Odessa looked down at him, as he slowly climbed the ladder. She watched as he carefully stepped off it and sat straddling her beam. Now they were facing each other. “Well?” said the man-servant.

Odessa looked at him. “Well what?” she asked.

“Well,” repeated the man-servant, “what’s going on in that bird brain of yours?”

“Nothing important at the moment.” said Odessa. “I am rather puzzled as to why you would go to all that trouble, just so that you could sit next to me on a roof beam. It must be some human rationale that we higher species would not understand.”

“Higher species?” exclaimed the man-servant a little exasperated. “How on earth do you see a Barn Owl as a higher species?”

Odessa blinked her large eyes. “You were the one who decided to climb up here to see me. Figure it out for yourself!”

The man-servant was smiling. “I really have missed your visits to the farmhouse, Odessa. It is so strange to be able to say something, and not be reprimanded for some aspect of my use of English. Why don’t you come back to the farmhouse with me?”

Odessa looked down at the beam. “Sorry, Man-Servant, but I really do have a lot on my mind at the moment, and I need some alone time to try to figure things out and decide what I should do.”

“I can understand and respect that,” said the man-servant, “but perhaps sharing your thoughts with me might help. Perhaps I can help you in ways that you had not considered.”

Odessa once again stared at him. “You are a male … a very confused male, and you have probably not experienced what I have experienced.”

“Well, how do you know that?” asked the man-servant. “Tell me what you are having trouble with, and I’ll tell you whether I have experienced it.”

“My wings are shrinking.” said Odessa.

The man-servant looked at her. “Really?” he asked. “Your wings are shrinking? You are right, I cannot possibly relate to that.”

Odessa gave a half-smile. “They’re not really. I wanted to have a laugh at your expense. I’ve missed you too.”

The man-servant smiled again. “Look, Odessa. All you guys are very important to me, and if I can help any one of you with some personal issues, then I most certainly will do my very best. You are a very special Barn Owl, Odessa, and I love you dearly. What’s wrong?”

“Your English is really bad.” said Odessa smiling. “Anyway, why don’t you climb back down that ladder and sit in Jaxon’s straw. It has to be more comfortable for you than straddling my beam. I’ll be down in a minute.”

The man-servant climbed back down the ladder and sat down in Jaxon’s straw pile and waited. It was not long before Odessa landed next to him. “I really don’t know how to explain this,” she said, “but there is a big part of me that I know nothing about.”

The man-servant was very puzzled. “I don’t understand,” he said. “What part of you are you talking about?”

Odessa looked directly at him. “My dad.” she said. “I know nothing about my dad.”

The man-servant was deep in thought, and then said, “Odessa, I did not really know my dad either. He was killed in military service when I was very young.”

Odessa was disturbed by what she had just heard. “I am very sorry, Man-Servant. How did you eventually put it behind you and move forward?”

“Well,” said the man-servant, “I did have an advantage over you. My mom would tell me stories about him, and I saw pictures of him.”

Odessa was very quiet. The man-servant watched her for a few moments, and then said, “C’mon. Let’s go over to the farmhouse and talk with the others. There must be something we can do to help you with this.”

“I know what I would like to do,” said Odessa, and then continued. “I would like to go back over the Big Water to the cliff where my home was, and see if my dad is still alive around there, although he would be really old now. I couldn’t do that flight again, though, as the Big Water is far too big.”

When they got back to the farmhouse, the man-servant told everybody that he now knew what Odessa’s problem was, and that he had a plan that might help. Odessa looked up at him. “What is your plan?”

The man-servant looked at Odessa, then at Jaxon, then at Dewey, and finally at Florence. “I think we should leave Moonbeam Farm for a while and all go on an adventure.”

Florence looked at him in disbelief. “Joshua!” she said. “Do you really think that the distractions of an adventure will help Odessa?”

“No, of course not,” said the man-servant, “but an adventure over the Big Water, to where she was born, very well might.”

Odessa turned to him. “Are you serious? How are we all going to get across the Big Water and come back?”

The man-servant smiled. “You leave those details to me. Now let me see … today is Thursday, so is everybody game to start this new adventure on Saturday morning?”

He saw smiles appearing around him, and even Odessa had summoned up a smile. “Thank you, everybody,” she said. “This is so important to me, but I could not do it on my own.”

Florence touched the man-servant’s arm. “Can we go and have a chat in the kitchen?”

“Of course, we can,” said the man-servant, and they both went into the kitchen.

“Joshua,” she said, “this is likely to last beyond the weekend, isn’t it?”

The man-servant nodded. “Yes, Florence, it will certainly last beyond the weekend. It could take all next week. We simply cannot know. You are wondering about your job, right?”

“Yes,” said Florence. “I cannot leave them for that long without any warning. I would do anything to be with you all on this adventure, but it would not be fair to the company I work for. I have an idea though. You guys take off on Saturday as planned, but leave me some instructions regarding how to meet you over there. I’ll talk to the people at work, and tell them that I need to take a week or two off. As soon as I have all my work projects up to date and organized, I shall somehow find you all.”

The man-servant grinned. “I think that is a wonderful idea, Florence. I’ll sketch up a map showing our anticipated direction, and note whatever Odessa can tell me about the other side of the Big Water, so you will have some idea where we should be. It will be so nice for all of us to be together on at least part of this rather special adventure.”

They both walked back into the living room and explained the situation to Odessa, Jaxon, and Dewey. After the expected initial disappointment, they were happy that Florence would eventually be joining them.

“Well,” said the man-servant, “I have a busy day coming tomorrow, as I have to find a boat for us all, so I am going to bed now so … goodnight, everybody.”

The question of course is “So what happens next?” If you have a tendency to gamble, then you can wait and see if I Post other parts of this story.

If you really want to know how it develops and finishes, then the book is available from all the usual on-line book retailers, and is currently being sold at a reduced price if ordered directly from Friesen Press Bookstore. Click the book cover over in right side column (may have to scroll) for more information.

The Balloon Adventure

Below is the story “The Balloon Adventure” taken from the book “The Odessa Chronicles” which was co-authored by myself and Carolyn Shelton. For more details, please click the book cover in the right column (may have to scroll).


Every year, the Town of Greenwoods hosts a hot-air balloon display. People come from miles around to see all the brightly colored balloons, and some even get to ride in them.

One evening, at Moonbeam Farm, our four friends were spending time together, when the man-servant stood up and announced, “I have an idea for an adventure tomorrow!”

Odessa looked at him. “Well … do we have to ask, or are you going to tell us what it is?”

Jaxon was excited. “What is it, Man-Servant?”

Dewey stretched out and flexed his claws. “Will there be food?”

“Well,” said the man-servant, the Town of Greenwoods is holding its annual hot-air balloon show tomorrow, and I thought that we could all go and perhaps get a ride in one! What do you think?”

Jaxon was jumping up and down. “Oh, I’ve never been in one before, and apart from when Odessa carries me around, I’ve never flown anywhere.”

Odessa tilted her head to one side and stared at the man-servant. “You’re kidding … right?”

“No,” said the man-servant, “absolutely not. I think it would be an exciting experience for all of us.”

Odessa muttered something very quietly as she walked away, but then she turned and faced the man-servant. “Let me see if I understand this correctly. I am a Barn Owl, with a wing span of well over three feet. I can fly very low and very quietly over fields, if I have to. I can also fly at a considerable height and at up to fifty miles per hour, if I wish. My body is quite aerodynamic, so I can swoop, glide, and turn with minimum effort … and you want me to ride in a basket, under a great big balloon, with a fire beneath it heating up the air? What reason could you possibly have to suggest that I would find that fun?”

The man-servant looked at her and shrugged. “Well, you don’t have to come with us if you don’t want to, Odessa.”

Odessa looked around at Dewey, Jaxon, and then back at the man-servant. “You have to be kidding!” she said. “You three in a hot-air balloon? Who knows what will happen? I’ll be with you all right, but I shall be flying alongside the balloon.”

The next day, all four of them made their way over to the field where all the hot-air balloons were. The man-servant liked one that was a really bright orange with yellow circles all over it, and was having an interesting conversation with the owner. “Could me and my friends here go up in it with you?”

The balloon owner looked at Dewey and Jaxon. “Sure!” he said. “Can you get in right now? I am planning on taking her up in a few minutes anyway?”

The man-servant picked up Dewey and then Jaxon, and placed them both on the basket floor. He then climbed in with them. The balloon owner was finishing talking to some other people, after which he started the burner under the balloon, and untied the rope that was holding it down on the ground.

At that moment, Odessa, who had been on the other side of the basket, suddenly spread her large wings and took off. The balloon owner had no idea that she had even been there, and in total surprise, dropped the rope. Odessa was rapidly gaining height, as was the balloon, but the balloon owner was still on the ground, looking up at his balloon as it started to look smaller and smaller the higher it went.

As soon as the basket started moving, Dewey and Jaxon got up, looked over the edge, and saw the ground getting farther and farther away. Jaxon turned to the man-servant. “This is so exciting! What a good idea you had!”

The man-servant looked at them for a moment. “Well, guys … we have a problem. We left the balloon owner on the ground, and I don’t know how to fly this thing!”

Just then, Odessa flew alongside them. “Having fun, are you?”

The man-servant looked at her. “Odessa, you do realize that you startled the balloon owner so much that he is still in the field way down below us?”

“Really?” said Odessa. “I wonder why. I am big enough to be seen.”

The man-servant continued. “Odessa! We need him up here with us in order to fly this thing! I have no idea how it works!”

Odessa turned and landed on the edge of the basket. “You need him here? How would you propose we arrange that? Would you like me to go down and ask him very nicely if he would mind flying up here? Perhaps you would like me to go down and pick him up? Perhaps Jaxon could magic him up here? How about you figure out how to fly this thing? Man-Servant, you are riding in a balloon! How difficult can it be? You have no motor and no wings to worry about, just a big bag of hot-air … and most humans should be familiar with that situation!” She then took off and flew alongside them once again.

The man-servant was not particularly impressed with Odessa’s overview of their situation. “Odessa,” he said, “we are going higher and higher!”

Odessa looked puzzled. “I know you are, Man-Servant. I’ve been keeping up with you. What’s your point?”

“My point,” said the man-servant, “is that the higher we go, the cooler it is going to get, and the more difficult it will be to breathe. I have no idea how high this balloon is likely to go!”

At that moment, Dewey tapped the man-servant’s leg to get his attention. The man-servant turned and looked down. “What is it, Dewey?”

Dewey looked up at him. “Is there any food in here? And by the way, neither Jaxon nor I recognize any of the land below us, so we think that we’re lost!”

The man-servant turned to Odessa. “There’s another thing. I have no idea where the wind has taken us. We’re lost!”

Odessa did not see the problems. “Would you like me to go down and see where you are, so that you’re not lost any more?” she asked.

“What purpose would that serve exactly?” asked the man-servant.

“Well,” said Odessa, “if I must repeat myself … you wouldn’t be lost any more!”

The man-servant was getting a little flustered now. “Think, Odessa! What purpose would be served by knowing where we are, when we are so high in the sky?”

Odessa landed again on the edge of the basket, right in front of the man-servant. “What is your problem? You don’t know where you are, which means that you are lost. I offered to find out where you are, and solve that problem for you, and all you do is get rude and tell me to think. I am thinking, which I suspect is more than you are doing!”

The man-servant was very apologetic. “I am sorry, Odessa. I didn’t mean to be rude, but you are missing the whole point!”

Odessa looked at him. “And the whole point is?”

“Well,” said the man-servant, “knowing where we are is not much use, when we are up in the sky and have no way of getting down.”

Odessa looked at Dewey and Jaxon. “Do either of you know why he cannot communicate?”

The man-servant overheard the comment. “Tell me, Odessa. What part of my communication am I having trouble with?”

Odessa stared at him with her big round eyes. “You are going on about where the wind has or has not taken you. You are concerned about how high this balloon will rise. You are concerned about the falling temperature, and you are concerned about breathing. It seems to me that you are concerned about everything, except what you should be concerned about!”

“Oh, I see,” replied the man-servant. “So tell me, Odessa, what should I be concerned about?”

“How to get this balloon down to the ground!” she said.

The man-servant laughed. “Right! Okay, genius! How do I do that?”

Odessa turned her back to him in disgust, and then said, “Let some heat out of the balloon. Pull the parachute vent cord!”

The man-servant looked around for a cord, and found one that went right up and inside the balloon to the very top. When he pulled on it, he noticed a flap open in the top of the balloon, and he felt the balloon lurch a little. He was then aware of a sensation of slowly going down.

“We’re on our way back down to earth, guys.” Then he turned to Odessa. “How long have you known about the parachute vent cord?”

Odessa shook her head. “You have no idea how much I know about different things, but you have to ask, because I am not a mind reader.”

The man-servant looked thoughtful. “So, all the time that we were out of control, you knew about the parachute vent cord?”

“Yes, of course,” said Odessa.

The man-servant was getting flustered again. “So why did it take you this long to tell me about it?”

Now it was Odessa’s turn to get flustered. “I have had enough of this uncalled for verbal abuse! You kept going on about everything else, so how was I supposed to know that you wanted this balloon to go down? I am going to fly away for a while now to burn off some frustrations, but before I go, you might want to practice using that cord, because you are going to need it when you get closer to the ground. Bye!”

As Odessa took flight, the man-servant called after her, “Why would I need to do that?”

Odessa replied, “You’ll find out!” and then disappeared out of sight below the basket, as she headed for the ground.

The man-servant had some snacks in his pocket, which he shared with Jaxon and Dewey. All three of them looked over the side of the basket, and could see a patchwork quilt of fields. They were losing height quite fast now, and the man-servant was wondering how best to handle the landing. Perhaps they should all jump out immediately before the basket hit the ground, but … what speed would they be doing when they hit the ground? The man-servant thought to himself, How can I slow this balloon down?

He decided to see what would happen if he used the parachute vent cord to close the hole in the top of the balloon, and not too surprisingly, the balloon slowly decreased its rate of descent. It then seemed to be stable for a while before starting to go upwards again. The man-servant soon found that he could control the balloon’s rate of descent, but could do nothing about its speed, which as they were getting closer to the ground, seemed to be quite fast.

Suddenly, Odessa was once again flying alongside them. “Hey, Man-Servant, are you in a race or something?”

The man-servant looked across at Odessa. “I am so glad to see you! How do I slow this thing down?”

Odessa looked at him “I have no idea! But if you guys can all get together in there, and then move around as one, you can influence the direction that this balloon is going. I would suggest that you practice right now, because you’re only about one hundred feet off the ground, and travelling at a good speed. I would suggest that you aim for that haystack ahead of you, and off to your left.”

The man-servant, Jaxon, and Dewey all moved to the left side of the basket. It slowly started turning to the left, but looked as if it was going to hit the ground before the haystack. The man-servant reached over, closed the top vent with the parachute vent cord, and the balloon slowed down its rate of descent. All three of them watched the haystack come ever closer. In a few minutes, they braced themselves for the inevitable collision that was about to happen.

The hot-air balloon basket caught the top of the hay stack and ejected our three adventurers, who fell out onto the hay bales. The balloon then dragged the basket over the haystack, and they watched as it started heading back up into the sky. Within a few minutes, they heard a familiar whoosh-whoosh sound, as Odessa flew over and landed on the hay next to them.

“Well guys,” she said, “did you have a good adventure?”

The man-servant, who was now sitting up, replied, “Yes, thank you, Odessa, but I really don’t think that it’s over yet. We still have to get back to the farm.” Jaxon and Dewey were now both looking at the man-servant.

“Do you have any idea where we are?” Jaxon asked.

The man-servant shook his head. “No idea, Jaxon, but we must find out so we can plan our route back.”

Odessa was hopping around on the top of the haystack. “Isn’t anybody going to ask me?”

The man-servant looked at her. “Sorry, Odessa. Do you happen to know where we are?”

“I know exactly where you are,” said Odessa, and then all went very quiet.

The man-servant shook his head. “Okay, Odessa, can you please tell us where we are? No wait … WOULD you please tell us where we are?”

Odessa replied, “You are on the top of a haystack!”

The man-servant looked her in disbelief. “What?” he asked. “Is that it? We know very well that we are on the top of a haystack!”

Odessa stayed very calm and stared at him. “Well, what else do you want to know?”

Jaxon decided to try to help out and said, “Where is the haystack, Odessa?”

“Beneath you!” said Odessa. “I am surprised that you had to ask!”

Dewey decided to try his best. “Odessa,” he said, “I am hungry and tired. Please tell me where the haystack is located.”

“Oh, that’s easy,” said Odessa. “It’s located at the edge of a field. If you look down over the sides, you will see the field!” Dewey rolled over and went to sleep.

The man-servant was deep in thought, when suddenly he looked directly at Odessa. “Do you know where this field is, relative to the Town of Greenwoods and Moonbeam Farm?”

Odessa rolled her eyes. “Of course, I do. Have you forgotten that I flew here with you?”

“That’s the most intelligent thing you’ve said so far,” said the man-servant. “So where is it?”

“Where is what?” asked Odessa.

“This field!” replied the man-servant rather loudly.

“It’s beneath this haystack!” said Odessa. “Not only are you really slow in catching on to things, but you are also being quite rude to me. Do you want my help, or should I just fly back on my own?”

Jaxon then intervened. “Odessa … what direction do we need to go in order to get back to Moonbeam Farm?”

Odessa pointed with one of her wings. “You see that church spire in the distance? Well, that’s the Town of Greenwoods.”

The sun was dropping below the horizon by the time Dewey, Jaxon, and the man-servant had climbed off the haystack and started walking towards the distant church spire. Soon it would be getting dark, and they had to look for somewhere to sleep. Odessa had been flying overhead, and decided to go down and find out why they had stopped. The man-servant explained that they were all tired and had to sleep.

Suddenly, the man-servant turned to Odessa. “We were flying for quite some time, so how is it that we can still see the church spire in the Town of Greenwoods?”

Odessa looked at him. “That church spire is not as close as you seem to think it is. I could probably get there before it gets dark, but you guys are going to take much longer. You should also know that the wind changed direction while you were ballooning, and you were heading back when you landed in the haystack.”

“Wait a minute,” said the man-servant. “Are you saying that, if we had stayed in the basket, we would have been blown back to the Town of Greenwoods?”

“Yes!” said Odessa.

The man-servant was starting to get upset. “Odessa! Why on earth did you suggest that we crash into the haystack, if you knew that we were heading in the direction of home?”

“Really simple to explain,” she said. “You barely had any control over the balloon, and you were travelling along at a pretty good speed. If you had waited, you may not have had such a convenient place to land. You may have hit the church spire. You may have been blown over the Big Water. You may have simply disappeared beyond the horizon!”

“Okay! Okay!” said the man-servant. “You’ve made your point. So, what do you suggest we do now?”

“Well, Man-Servant,” said Odessa, “you have never slept outside at night around here, have you?”

“No,” said the man-servant. “Why do you ask?”

Odessa looked at Dewey and Jaxon and, turning back to the man-servant, replied, “It’s not safe for these two to be out in the open like this at night. You need to find a shelter somewhere, or perhaps go up into that tree over there.” She pointed to it with one of her wings. “You cannot underestimate the night life around here,” she continued. “Remember that I am nocturnal and know these things. I have seen a number of cats your size, Dewey, being attacked by a pack of coyotes. It’s not pretty, but then cats really should stay indoors at night for their own safety.”

Dewey ran over to the tree and climbed up high into the branches. The man-servant picked up Jaxon and put him in his jacket pocket, and then climbed up the tree as well, wedging himself in a place where two large branches joined the trunk. Jaxon was snuggling down in his pocket when he made a discovery. This was the pocket that had the snacks in it, and there were some left!

Throughout the night Odessa watched, from the top of the tree, for any signs of problems. Dewey was snoring away on his branch, and Jaxon was quietly finishing off the snacks. The man-servant did not think that he would sleep, but he did, and soon it was daylight.

As soon as the rays from the rising sun hit their tree, they all climbed down. “I hope nobody is hungry,” said the man-servant.

“No … I’m not,” said Jaxon.

Dewey looked at him. “Why aren’t you hungry? I’m starving!”

Odessa went over to Dewey. “I have some small rodent pieces left over, which you are welcome to have.”

Dewey looked at her disapprovingly. “I am used to eating much better than that!” he said.

“I have no doubt that you are,” said Odessa. “But … at this moment, you have limited choices.”

Dewey reluctantly accepted Odessa’s offer of food, but Jaxon and the man-servant turned away rather than watch him eat the morsels Odessa provided. The man-servant had already checked his pockets for food, but there was nothing there except a few crumbs!

They were soon once again making their way across the fields, and the church spire started to get closer and closer. Odessa was flying overhead, to keep them company, but then she suddenly turned, swooped really low, and landed directly in front of them. “Man-Servant!” she said. “You have to change direction!”

The man-servant stopped and looked at her. “Why?” he asked.

“Because you are still heading for the church spire!” said Odessa.

“Well, that’s where we want to go,” replied the man-servant.

“Okay,” said Odessa. “But you can’t blame me later!”

The man-servant was puzzled. “What would I blame you for, Odessa? That church spire is the Town of Greenwoods, and that’s where we want to go.”

“Okay,” Odessa said, “if you say so.”

It took them another two hours to reach the edge of the town, and the man-servant recognized some of the houses alongside the road. “I know where we are!” shouted the man-servant. “This is the road that we use in order to get into town.”

Jaxon looked up at him. “I’m tired, Man-Servant. If you know where we are, do you also know how long it will take us to get back to the farm?”

The man-servant looked down at Jaxon. “Yes, Jaxon, it will take us about another thirty minutes.” He then looked around in order to work out which direction to go. “We have to turn around and go back the way we came,” he said quietly.

Jaxon was puzzled. “But if we just came from that direction, why do we have to go back the same way?”

Odessa landed next to Jaxon. “I shall explain, Jaxon. The church spire, being in the Town of Greenwoods, was a natural place to focus on initially; however, what the man-servant seemed to overlook was the fact that your final destination was not the Town of Greenwoods, but rather Moonbeam Farm. I tried to tell him that it was time to change direction, but he would not listen … as usual. It was a shame really, because while flying around watching over you guys, Moonbeam Farm has been visible to me for the past hour!”

The man-servant moved closer. “So, you are saying that we should have turned off this road a long time ago?”

Odessa rolled her eyes. “Man-Servant! That is exactly what I am saying, and before you get rude again, may I remind you that I did say some time ago that you had to change direction! Of course, you being a big human and me being a lowly little Barn Owl … you ignored me as usual!”

A little over thirty minutes later, they were all back at the farm, and having a feast on the rug in front of the fire. The man-servant turned to Odessa, who had been staring at him for quite a few minutes.

“What’s up, Odessa?”

“I think an apology might be appropriate about now,” she said.

The man-servant looked at her. “Okay, Odessa … I guess I am sorry.”

Odessa jumped up and down. “You guess? Man-Servant, your insensitivity never ceases to astound me. There is nothing to guess about, and anyway, it’s not me you should be apologizing to, but Jaxon and Dewey. You made their journey much longer than was necessary!”

The man-servant turned to Jaxon and Dewey. “Odessa is right. I’m sorry, guys!”

Odessa turned slightly and winked at both Jaxon and Dewey. The man-servant didn’t see it.

Home Isolation Time!

With so much  time being spent at home, what a golden opportunity is being provided to  catch up on some thought provoking (or just plain fun!) reading and (bonus) … all three books are now on sale (details below)!

The links below go to the FriesenPress Bookstore, but the books are also available world-wide from all the usual on-line book retailers.

“Who Said I was up for Adoption?”

A true story about a man (me!) who had never really liked dogs since being bitten by one when in his teens, and yet he was adopted by almost 80lbs of  German Shepherd/Rottweiler with just a bit of an “attitude”.  The first eighteen months (the basis for the book) was an emotional  roller coaster ride for so many reasons and, unlike so many other dog stories, the hero (our beloved Ray) is still alive and well!


*Note: “Who Said I was up for Adoption?” is now available direct from the FriesenPress Bookstore at discounted prices of $11.99 for the paper-back, and $19.99 for the hard-cover formats.


“The Odessa Chronicles”

If you would prefer something lighter, how about a book of short stories suitable for children ages 4 to 104!  If you want to amuse that inner child, or perhaps a young friend or relative …….


*Note: “The Odessa Chronicles” is now available direct from the FriesenPress Bookstore at discounted prices of $10.99 for the paper-back, and $17.99 for the hard-cover formats.


“Just Thinking”

Finally, if you want something that will encourage some introspective thinking, but in a poetic verse format …..


*Note: “Just Thinking” is now available direct from the FriesenPress Bookstore at discounted prices of $6.99 for the paper-back, and $15.99 for the hard-cover formats.

We keep hearing about people who are getting bored with staying at home, but that’s probably because they have yet to purchase one  or two or  three of these books! You won’t know what you have been missing until you get at least one!  The question is “Do you like dog stories books, or pure fiction fun stories, or some thought provoking verse?” Given that they are all currently on sale if purchased direct from the FriesenPress Bookstore … why not get all three?

“The Odessa Chronicles”

“The Odessa Chronicles” is a book of short stories which we know (from feedback) is entertaining for children of all ages. If you are still in touch with the child within you, then it could be just what you need to brighten up those overcast days! Continue reading

“The Pumpkin Games” Part 2

When she woke up, it was morning! She was lying on the sofa in the farmhouse with a blanket over her. “What happened?” she asked. “How did I get here?” Continue reading

Author Bio!

Author’s introductions to their books can be interesting and, while I have an intimate relationship with my history, I thought perhaps some of you would be interested in my books intros … courtesy amazon.com

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The Heartworm Dilemma.

As many of you already know, Ray’s first medical checkup after moving in with us tested positive for heartworm. Further testing produced an assessment of Stage 2 (Stage 4 is considered terminal) which could possibly be treated. The cost was high and the process could kill him; the treatment period was long at 6 months, and he would have to be kept as calm as possible throughout the treatment period to give him the best chance of surviving it. Euthanization was also an option.

Continue reading

Book! Book! Book!

Given our recent erratic weather which is culminating, as I write this, into a major snow storm accompanied (just to make it more exciting) by strong winds … Mother Nature has had/is having a high degree of influence over how I spend my time. Continue reading