Monday, September 22, 2008

The Tredwell Secret; Chapter 1

Chapter 1, The Tredwell Clan

Theodore and Marcus had been the best of friends since before they were born. That would seem impossible, but it is a claim these two friends confidently declare, as they were one hundred percent sure they remembered sharing many a conversation from inside one mother’s belly to the other, while their mothers knitted their first baby blankets together. They both had identical picture frames on each of their bedroom walls, depicting an image of their mummies together, round-bellied and glowing, each holding a delicious cupcake at a special tea party baby shower held for the both of them at Miss Laura’s Tea Room only two weeks before Marcus was born. Theodore claims he remembers exactly how delicious those cupcakes were. Marcus was older by Theodore by eleven days.

Their mothers were best friends from childhood. They’d grown up together on neighboring farms, gotten married to brothers in a double wedding, and had gotten pregnant at nearly exactly the same time, each and every time. If one had a girl, the other one would too, and if it was a boy, then they could count on the next baby to be a boy. It was just like that. All the cousins’ ages matched; each family had one eleven year old girl, one eight year old boy, and one fussy, pestery little girl of three each. It turned out that there would be a new set soon, for one mummy had just discovered that a new baby was to be born, so that set the other mummy to check for herself, and she discovered she too was expecting. So a whole new pair of cousins was on the way. So far, the only boys in the clan were Marcus and Theodore, and they were hoping for a set of boys to balance things out. They were already far outnumbered by girls right now. For the time being, they had one another to rely on. And like their mums and dads and sisters, they were quite inseparable.

The families were neighbors. The stone farm cottages were the childhood homes of both of the mothers, and now were where they raised their families. The farm plots bordered one another along an old low stone wall which did little to keep their sheep and goats from escaping into the others’ fields. There was a rarely traveled narrow gravel road that connected the houses by their long walnut lined driveways. The only traffic the road saw was the daily visit from the milkman, the bread man, and the postman. Occasionally, grandparents would come by, or friends or acquaintances would come for a resplendent holiday supper and to laze by the respective fires afterwards; but on the most part, it was a quiet road that dead-ended at the gate of Kennick Farm, the larger farm that wrapped all the way around both farms.

Both families shared the same surname because the two lady best friends had married brothers. They were called the Tredwells. There were the Hill Farm Tredwells and the Valley Farm Tredwells. Marcus came from Hill Farm, and Theodore from Valley Farm. Marcus and Theo were together from first in the morning until suppertime. At school, their desks were side-by-side. They were indeed the very best of friends.

Text and Artwork; Copyright© 2008 ~ Stephanie Johanesen

Monday, September 15, 2008

Colorado and Creatures

I was born in Colorado Springs; however because of the nature of my father's work, we didn't stay very long. I have no recollection of it at all. This was my first time in Colorado since. I flew in from Portland, hubby drove in from Kansas. It had been 4 weeks since I'd seen him; I was excited. It's a short flight, about 2 hours.

Mind you the Denver Airport is a behemoth. I remember the stories of its upgrade and how the new design interfered with the control tower or something, and how it was supposed to become the biggest airport in America or something, but I can now declare in my experience it's the largest airport I've ever been in and it sits in this bleak, open expanse of nothingness some miles out of town. I had to take a metro to go to baggage claim... I was tired from running around all morning dropping dogs off at boarding, picking up house so I wouldn't return to a messy house...

Vestas, my husband's company paid for this whole trip. They do a yearly shindig where they fly 2000+ employees & spouses to some location in North America for a big gathering. They pretty much took over downtown Denver this past weekend, you couldn't look anywhere without seeing someone wearing the logo or a little wind-turbine on their shirt. They arranged for shuttles to pick up arrivals, but since my husband was driving in, he came to get me. I nearly bowled him over when I came out of the terminal into Baggage claim.

We drove to Denver proper then, and it is a really gorgeous city. It has a sort of Portland-like feel to some degree; progressive, well-maintained, pretty, trendy... but it's huge, wider; open and the spaces are broad. Fewer trees. :( The hotel was crawling with Vestas employees; people from all over the world (lots of Danes, decidedly) and hubby was greeting old and new friends alike constantly. A casual cocktail party Friday night with a hosted bar, and we were off to a crazy weekend. Catered breakfasts, dinners, lunches... Hosted bars... the coyote ugly... it was a glut of relaxation, wild abandon, and fun.

Saturday, the 2000 participants were given a variety of excursions to choose from. Some folks went to see the Red Rocks concert hall, others went to drag races, amusement parks, outlet malls, some went to an arboretum; hubby and I thought we'd like to see the zoo and science museum. Portland has its own zoo, however the animals there are always crashed out. You come up to an enclosure and you're squinting to see if you can make out an animal among the shrubbery and rocks, and then you'll see a rock twitch, and you realize, oh, that's the animal.. and it's sound asleep. Nice rock/animal. I won't even broach the subject of Portland Zoo's flock of fornicating bats either... Shocking, truly shocking.

We got there on time, but there was an incredible delay in getting in, so we were very rushed. We did get to see some critters though. So I shall share some of what we saw:

Señor the Lion was quite relaxed (and shameless) on this beautiful day. Surrounded by his women, he was basking in the most indecent manner (that only a feline could possibly accomplish with such panache; a mega-feline at that), smugly congratulating himself on his indolent, blessed life. It was quite disgusting, in a hilarious, adorable way, of course.

The zeebas were enjoying a fresh armload of hay from the keepers. Not in the picture; a massive ostrich preened in the same enclosure.

The Maned Wolf (also known as the fox on stilts) and his friend were also enjoying the sunshine. They were like two foxy-mats on the ground until I made a little weird noise; both heads popped up in unison, and the ears radared in my direction. Life is good, they told me. Especially when the sun is shining.

The Arctic Fox was hiding. People would glance into the enclosure, shrug and walk away, but my husband was more intrepid and discovered this little guy taking shade against the wall beneath the fence. A noise, and he glanced up; his winter coat not quite there yet... sweet face.

The polar bears were also quite stealthily hidden; and again Dan was most diligent in finding where they were tucked away. He found this one chilling in the shade against the wall, like his little foxy friend, however he got another picture (which he didn't send me) of the bear in the cave.. she was lying there, and when we spoke to her, she lifted her massive paw and covered her eyes with it. It was the cutest thing I ever saw. Polar bear feet are the most adorable thing ever invented by nature.

These guys were quite splashy and energized, working the crowd. I especially adore their funny fin-feet and their whiskers. They're like dogs of the sea. I wanted to hug them and play kipper-frisbee with them.

So close yet so far away, my five-fingered, opposable thumbed little buddies were confined to Monkey island where they stared at us with their little people-faces and silently tried to persuade a select few of us to wade across the water and to come and play. I would have loved to, but we didn't have time to help them escape monkey island, we had pachyderms to see!

The giraffes were oh so giraffey. Why oh why can I not have one or two just for me? Their big floopy lips and their short bodies, they are like creatures of fantasy. A brand new baby one bandied around with the big guys. This adult thought the brick wall was most tasty.

Baby giraffe liked my 'horse-tongue-quack-noise' quite a bit, and gave me lots of face-time but hubby hasn't sent me those pictures yet. So for now you get this picture of him. Precious no?

At last the pachyderms! YAY! I had missed them at first, and was most crestfallen, for they are my favourites to see. But on our way back, the keepers had just let them out of their barn, and they were stamping about in their elephanty way, playing with water with thier trunks, and tossing bits of hay about. Oh, they were muddy too, very muddy, it must feel nice to have a nice mudbath on a hot day.

Splish splash, it's so nice on a warm day.

These are sizable ladies, n'est pas?

We did see some other creatures, of course; of particular interest, a bird we dubbed the 'proximity alert bird' because it was cackling away all the while, but when people approached the enclosure the cackle would intensify in pace and volume. We saw a cheetah impatiently pacing the back fence of its enclosure dreaming of springbok and miles of savannah.. We saw river otters playing in a dark tank, Kangaroos lazing in the sun, and a Tapir stretched out like a great grey lump.

That's my kind of place, that's all I have to say. We enjoyed a catered lunch at the Museum of Science afterwards and completely forgot to take pictures until just before we left, we passed through a room where the windows provided this spectacular view of Denver.

Wow. What a beautiful city. If Dan sends me more pics, I'll share. :)

After a day of excursions a grand party in fine dress... The setting a blaze of colour and live music. What fun. Sunday morning hubby and I poked and dawdled together. A tearful separation at the behemoth Denver Airport and it was all over. ::sniff:: He'll be home in a couple of weeks; we plan to have an early birthday for Dan and anniversary celebration. We're headed for a nice stay and romantic dinner at the Timberline Lodge where we were married. Perhaps you recognize it from The Shining?

I got home last night at about 10 (so tired and a tiny bit hung-over). I pick up the dogs from summer camp after work today. Then back to normalcy for me. I finished my first Tredwell illustration in pencil on the plane and at the airport. One more, plus ink and watercolours and the first chapter will go up.

Ciao everyone.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Coming Soon: The Tredwell Secret

I've started a little story, and I am having a hard time getting over the creative stall so to speak. So I decided I shall split it up by chapters and post it with an illustration every once in a while. When we reach the point where I've stalled, I'll be open for suggestions.

The story is called the Tredwell Secret; and it's a story of two young boys who are the best of friends, embarking on an adventure of great mystery.

I'll post the first chapter very soon (as soon as I have time to sit down and watercolour the first illustrations). :)

I'm off to Denver tomorrow to see my husband. I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

An Unruly Bunch

For what seemed like an eternity of the unending drone of the vicar’s sermon, the children thought they were going to perish from boredom. Father, who was as grumpy he always was on Sundays, glared at each one of the little ones if they so much as sniffed or sneezed during the service. Mother sat rapt, a soft smile on her face, reaching out occasionally to pat down Lily’s crumpled skirts. It seemed almost a miracle in itself when they were given leave to stand up, and to follow mother and father in an orderly pack down the aisle, where many other families were quietly filing out of the church. They impatiently fidgeted their way through the slow line. As now, the vicar hadn’t kept them all long enough, no, now he needed to insure that he bade each person an individual goodbye. It was grueling and torturous!

But suddenly, the line seemed to open up like a languid river fanning out in a delta, down the steps and out into the village common; and the children, as if shot out of a cannon, exploded from the church and broke into a wild run, wildly laughing and giggling and chasing one another; running circles ‘round mother, and dodging the jabs of father’s cane.

“Comport yourselves, you impertinent beasts!” father shouted, waving his cane in the air. Sandra and Timothy broke into a run, racing past their parents at full tilt.

“Oh, dear, Sandra; don’t run so, it’s not proper for a young lady…” to no avail Mrs. Souris made her plea; it fell upon deaf ears. The children couldn’t sit still, even if they were tied down.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


So yesterday's foray into the past made me poke around youtube to see what else I could find of the good and bad 80s music that floated my boat back yonder in the old country.

I came up with this parade of nostalgia:

I begin with FR David's "Words": I found this... "Live" performance (the audience is pretty much comatose... I like how they pan in on some woman who's half-heartedly mouthing words while rocking in her chair) in place of the video because the original vid from 1982 is so cheesy I'm actually embarrassed to share it. LOL. The song is cheesy too, but at 11 years old, to me it was pure musical genius and I was often bopping around the house singing "Words don't come easy" until my mother's ears bled. Next to my obsession with all things Beatles during my childhood; I believed this song was the cat's meow... I'm fairly sure he was a one-hit-wonder in Europe, but I'm not certain.

This song just rules. No denying. The Flying Pickets.

Oh, A-ha... ::swoon:: my first concert was one of theirs, and they are still one of my all-time favourite bands. I fantasized about Morten through my early teens, and still think that gaunt-faced Scandi is smokin' hot. Love the music, despite the lyris being barely intelligible.

Love the leather pants pulled up to Morten's nipples; Still beautiful though, even with the pompadour.

I love Kim Wilde... View From a Bridge was great song too.

This one isn't so obscure, I think it came to the States, right? Alphaville. [Edit: I just realized it was used in one of those 80s brat-pack movies, can't recall which one..]

I was dismayed to see this one used with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie; but it is still a great tune. The 80s were priceless, weren't they?

The video sort of has a drag-show quality to it doesn't it? Love the makeup and the swooshy top. His dance moves are Slllick baby. Good tune though, nonetheless. ;)

I have to stop, because I could be posting and youtubing all day at this rate. That's my nostalgia run for today. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Youtubery Goodness

I posted the second half of my bonnet tutorial last night. I speak in this one; and in it, amid my yammering series of 'Ums' and 'Ers'; I manage to get the message out (plus I also manage to slip in a picture of my dogs for good measure, just because). I am of course plugging my bonnet pattern on my etsy shop... but look what a fine bonnet it makes...

Incidentally; I went hunting for this video when I was reminded of it recently watching TV. This is the third time I've noticed this song in American commercials or media. I saw it in a Pepsi commercial, and now Gossip Girl ::yugh:: trailers. When I was growing up in Belgium, this song hit it very big there. I recall bouncing off the walls as a little one with my neighbor friends screaming "CA PLANE POUR MOI!" at the top of our lungs. Of course, looking back at Plastic Bertrand these days, I think he looks awfully silly in his leather pants and puffy hair--but it was the late seventies people... and Belgium too. But the quality of the song isn't the least bit diminished, 30 years later. Amazing how relevant it sounds today... Love it still. ::Screams: "CA PLANE POUR MOI MOI MOI MOI MOI!!!"

Feel free to dance.


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