A Diversion From Our World?

Our world is currently a stressful place to live, as we hear about global warming, violent uprisings, discrimination, intolerance and of course COVID! I am not a great believer in escapism as a method of dealing with unpleasant/stressful circumstances, but sometimes __________________?

The following is the Introduction from “The Odessa Chronicles” (a collection of fun short stories), and gives you some ideas about the personalities of the various characters. The book is available from all the usual on-line book retailers around our troubled world, so perhaps there is a point where escapism is a healthy approach to life? Christmas is also not too far away, so perhaps you should not only treat yourself … but others as well!

Odessa is a Barn Owl – Jaxon is a Jackalope – Dewey is a cat – Man Servant is a human

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There was the familiar whoosh-whoosh sound as Odessa flew down from her roof beam, and landed on the floor very close to Jaxon. “Where are the others?” she asked.

Jaxon rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders. “I told them to be here for an important meeting at seven o’clock this evening.”

Odessa paced around for a few minutes, and then turning sharply to Jaxon, said, “Did you make it clear that I wanted this meeting?”

Jaxon smiled inwardly. “Of course, I did.”

Just then, the barn door squeaked open and the man-servant walked in. “What’s up, guys?” he asked, looking from Odessa to Jaxon, and then back to Odessa.

Odessa just glared at him. “You’re late! Do you have no respect for other folk’s time? By the way, where’s Dewey?”

The man-servant looked around him. “I don’t see him here, Odessa.” Then he turned to Jaxon. “Have you seen, Dewey?” Jaxon shook his head. “Well,” said the man-servant. “I think we can conclude that Dewey is not here!”

Odessa was getting a little agitated. “I know very well where he isn’t. I need to know where he is!”

The man-servant smiled at Jaxon. “Well, Odessa,” he said, “we would have to find him in order to know where he is!”

At that moment, they saw Dewey just coming around the partially open barn door.

Odessa looked straight at him. “You are late for my meeting!”

Dewey just stretched out, flexed his claws, and yawned. “So? What’s so important about this meeting? Anyway, I’m here now, so let’s get this show on the road. I have some nocturnal hunting planned for tonight. By the way, Odessa, why aren’t you out hunting now? Frightened of missing your own meeting?”

Odessa didn’t blink, but just stared at Dewey. “Are all cats as uncooperative as you?”

Dewey stretched and yawned again. “Are all barn owls as demanding as you?”

Odessa turned her back on him with a “Hrummph!”

The man-servant decided to get things under control. “Odessa,” he said, “you called this meeting, and we are all here. What’s up?”

Odessa just looked at all three of them. “Do you know that all our adventures have been documented? Did you know that we have been monitored by Carolyn and Colin?”

All three of them looked at Odessa with puzzled faces. The man-servant spoke first. “I don’t fully understand what you are saying, Odessa. Perhaps you could explain it in more detail?”

Odessa did a few circles on the barn floor, suddenly looking more agitated. “Well, Carolyn and Colin are making arrangements to have our adventures published in a book! How can they do that?”

Jaxon looked at her. “Well,” he said, “given that the two of them create our adventures, I, for one, am not surprised. In fact, I am rather excited!”

Odessa went over to Jaxon. “Don’t you think that our privacy should have been considered? Don’t you think that we should have been asked first?”

The man-servant intervened. “Look, Odessa, not only do they write our adventures, but they are also writing this discussion. Whatever they decide will happen to us … is going to happen to us! We would not exist without them!”

Dewey stretched, flexed his claws, and yawned again. “So, is that it then? Is there any other business?”

Odessa walked over to him. “Do you understand anything that I said?”

Dewey grinned. “I understand perfectly, Odessa. I understand that none of us would have lives at all without those two writers, and that includes the almighty Odessa!”

“Wait a minute,” said Jaxon. “That means that our adventures will make people happy, as they read about us. That means that we might become celebrities. Just think, Odessa, people might want our autographs!”

The man-servant was also smiling now. “Yes, our adventures will be available for everybody to read and enjoy. What a wonderful purpose we will be serving! Are you still unhappy about it, Odessa?”

Odessa ignored him and just flew up and onto her roof beam. “I don’t know whether I want to be a celebrity,” she said. “Look what happens to so many human celebrities! They go really silly and act really stupid, but then … being a celebrity does have its advantages, doesn’t it? I could probably adapt if I had to. I can just imagine… ‘Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to a wonderful barn owl. Welcome … Odessa!’ I will have to give this some serious thought!”

Jaxon then made an announcement. “Look here, guys. While you have all been going around in circles with this thing, I have been using my magic to see what else I could find out.”

“What else did you find out, Jaxon?” asked the man-servant.

“Well,” said Jaxon, “our adventures are being put into a book that should be released soon, and will be available from major bookstores and on-line from Amazon.”

The man-servant looked at Jaxon. “Colin told you to say that, didn’t he?”

“Yes!” said Jaxon.

Odessa was still up on her roof beam, deep in thought.

Dewey looked up at her. “Odessa! Wake up! You do realize that Colin just made you go into a ‘deep in thought’ mode, don’t you? You really have no power to do anything. You’re just going to be an odd character in an odd book. Congratulations!”

The man-servant laughed. “Yes, congratulations to all of us, because we’re going to be in a book!”

“Does anybody know what the book will be called?” asked the man-servant.

“I know!” said Jaxon. “It’s going to be called ‘The Odessa Chronicles’!”

Odessa flew down from her roof beam. “Oh well, I can now understand things much better. A book about us is obviously an excellent idea! This meeting is adjourned.”

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For more information about the book, please click The Odessa Chronicles book cover over to the right (may have to scroll to find it!).

“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”:

**  ***  *****  ***  **

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!”

**  ***  *****  ***  **

“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.

 

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Reading during COVID?

One thing we can all do during these peculiar times is to settle down with a book. It passes the time nicely, and can be educational and/or entertaining and/or just plain thought provoking. Best of all though, you don’t have to go outside to get a book. Just order from any number of on-line retailers! In our COVID-times … what could be better?

For dog lovers, and anybody who wants to learn a little more about dogs, plus anybody who loves a “rags to riches” kind of story … “Who Said I was up for Adoption?” is a book about the first 18 months of an abandoned and troubled German Shepherd/Rottweiler Cross who moved in with us. He was also my first dog!

 

 

 

For something just plain fun to read … “The Odessa Chronicles”! Imagine an owl (Odessa); a cat, and a jackalope coming together due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, and setting up home together on an old uninhabited farm. Now also imagine a human who had just retired, and whose dream was to live out his days peacefully on a little farm. You can probably guess which farm he purchased! You can probably also guess that his life would never be the same again. “The Odessa Chronicles” is a book of short stories suitable for ages 4 to 104!

 

 

Finally “Just Thinking” is a book of poems about various aspects of life.  You may find them enlightening, thought provoking, or perhaps some will mirror your own life. One of the poems was used last year as a discussion piece for senior students at a US school!

 

 

 

All three books have links (click book cover pics over in the right side column), and amazon.com has the broadest selection of reviews. Purchasing direct from Friesen Press Bookstore may be financially beneficial!

Finally, note that all three books are available in eBook, paperback and hardcover formats.

So … given that you are being advised to stay home as much as possible, treat yourself to a book and enjoy this change of routine!

 

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 Odessa Chronicles”

Writing fiction can be a very interesting experience, particularly when the fictional characters start talking to you! As soon as I realized that there was a dialogue possibility between the characters and myself, I decided to take advantage of the situation and proceeded to arrange for two interviews with the namesake of the book … Odessa! Continue reading

“The Odessa Chronicles” – Review

The following review has recently appeared on amazon.com. What more could any author ask for?
**  ***  *****  ***  **

I got a lot of laughs out of this book. The authors say it’s for children of all ages, and I guess they’re right, since I’m in my 60s and found myself entertained with every page. But I can understand why very young kids would like it also. After all, what kid doesn’t like talking animals?

The animals in this tale get into all kinds of mischief, and have a proclivity to pull practical jokes on their human friend, whom they call their Man-Servant. And he returns the favor by pulling jokes on them.

I found the writing to be highly polished, and it flowed smoothly and captivated my attention. The characters are painted with depth and feeling. They seemed to come alive, with their own souls. And by the middle of the book I sensed that I had come to know them well, and could regard them as my fictional friends.

Life lessons are interwoven throughout 47 chapters of fun, adventure, and humor. It’s a long book, but you can digest it a little at a time, since each chapter is a self-contained story.

I purchased the Kindle version, and read it on my PC, using Amazon’s free, downloadable Kindle Cloud Reader. I found it easy enough to navigate from page to page, and the table of contents included handy hyperlinks to each chapter. So I think the authors did a good job in the technical construction of this book.

In my view, the Odessa Chronicles can rival any of the classics that have talking animals, such as Charlotte’s Web, or the Wind in the Willows. It’s a good read, and I highly recommend it.

**  ***  *****  ***  **

Well that made my day!

 

“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

“The Pumpkin Games” Part 1

With Christmas imminent, and knowing that all of you have a child (by definition … a fun person aged 4 to 104) inside you, here is Part 1 of a story which is a little out of season … but fun all the same. Continue reading

“The Odessa Chronicles” – a new review.

Reviews are so important for book sales, and so it is always exciting to see/read a new one. Below is the latest review, which includes a slightly different perspective of “The Odessa Chronicles”. Continue reading