King O'Toole & His Goose
Och, I thought all the world, far and near, had heerd o' King O'Toole--well, well, but the darkness of mankind is untellible! Well, sir, you must know, as you didn't hear it afore, that there was a king, called King O'Toole, who was a fine old king in the old ancient times, long ago; and it was he that owned the churches in the early days. The king, you see, was the right sort; he was the real boy, and loved sport as he loved his life, and hunting in particular; and from the rising o' the sun, up he got, and away he went over the mountains after the deer; and fine times they were.
Well, it was all mighty good, as long as the king had his health; but, you see, in course of time the king grew old, by raison he was stiff in his limbs, and when he got stricken in years, his heart failed him, and he was lost entirely for want o' diversion, because he couldn't go a-hunting no longer; and, by dad, the poor king was obliged at last to get a goose to divert him.
Oh, you may laugh, if you like, but it's truth I'm telling you; and the way the goose diverted him was this-a-way: You see, the goose used to swim across the lake, and go diving for trout, and catch fish on a Friday for the king, and flew every other day round about the lake, diverting the poor king. All went on mighty well until, by dad, the goose got stricken in years like her master, and couldn't divert him no longer, and then it was that the poor king was lost entirely. The king was walkin' one mornin' by the edge of the lake, lamentin' his cruel fate, and thinking of drowning himself, that could get no diversion in life, when all of a sudden, turning round the corner, who should he meet but a mighty decent young man coming up to him.
"God save you," says the king to the young man.
"God save you kindly, King O'Toole," says the young man.
"True for you," says the king. "I am King O'Toole," says he, "prince and plennypennytinchery of these parts," says he; "but how came ye to know that?" says he.
"Oh, never mind," says St. Kavin.
You see it was Saint Kavin, sure enough--the saint himself in disguise, and nobody else. "Oh, never mind," says he, "I know more than that. May I make bold to ask how is your goose, King O'Toole?" says he.
"Blur-an-agers, how came ye to know about my goose?" says the king.
"Oh, no matter; I was given to understand it," says Saint Kavin.
After some more talk the king says, "What are you?"
"I'm an honest man," says Saint Kavin.
"Well, honest man," says the king, "and how is it you make your money so aisy?"
"By makin' old things as good as new," says Saint Kavin.
"Is it a tinker you are?" says the king.
"No," says the saint; "I'm no tinker by trade, King O'Toole; I've a better trade than a tinker," says he--"what would you say," says he, "if I made your old goose as good as new?"
My dear, at the word of making his goose as good as new, you'd think the poor old king's eyes were ready to jump out of his head. With that the king whistled, and down came the poor goose, just like a hound, waddling up to the poor cripple, her master, and as like him as two peas. The minute the saint clapt his eyes on the goose, "I'll do the job for you," says he, "King O'Toole."
"By _Jaminee_!" says King O'Toole, "if you do, I'll say you're the cleverest fellow in the seven parishes."
"Oh, by dad," says St. Kavin, "you must say more nor that--my horn's not so soft all out," says he, "as to repair your old goose for nothing; what'll you gi' me if I do the job for you?--that's the chat," says St. Kavin.
"I'll give you whatever you ask," says the king; "isn't that fair?"
"Divil a fairer," says the saint; "that's the way to do business. Now," says he, "this is the bargain I'll make with you, King O'Toole: will you gi' me all the ground the goose flies over, the first offer, after I make her as good as new?"
"I will," says the king.
"You won't go back o' your word?" says St. Kavin.
"Honour bright!" says King O'Toole, holding out his fist.
"Honour bright!" says St. Kavin, back agin, "it's a bargain. Come here!" says he to the poor old goose--"come here, you unfortunate ould cripple, and it's I that'll make you the sporting bird." With that, my dear, he took up the goose by the two wings--"Criss o' my cross an you," says he, markin' her to grace with the blessed sign at the same minute--and throwing her up in the air, "whew," says he, jist givin' her a blast to help her; and with that, my jewel, she took to her heels, flyin' like one o' the eagles themselves, and cutting as many capers as a swallow before a shower of rain.
Well, my dear, it was a beautiful sight to see the king standing with his mouth open, looking at his poor old goose flying as light as a lark, and better than ever she was: and when she lit at his feet, patted her on the head, and "_Ma vourneen_," says he, "but you are the _darlint_ o' the world."
"And what do you say to me," says 'Saint Kavin, "for making her the like?"
"By Jabers," says the king, "I say nothing beats the art o' man, barring the bees."
"And do you say no more nor that?" says Saint Kavin.
"And that I'm beholden to you," says the king.
"But will you gi'e me all the ground the goose flew over?" says Saint Kavin.
"I will," says King O'Toole, "and you're welcome to it," says he, "though it's the last acre I have to give."
"But you'll keep your word true?" says the saint.
"As true as the sun," says the king.
"It's well for you, King O'Toole, that you said that word," says he; "for if you didn't say that word, the devil the bit o' your goose would ever fly agin."
When the king was as good as his word, Saint Kavin was pleased with him, and then it was that he made himself known to the king. "And," says he, "King O'Toole, you're a decent man, for I only came here to try you. You don't know me," says he, "because I'm disguised."
"Musha! then," says the king, "who are you?"
"I'm Saint Kavin," said the saint, blessing himself.
"Oh, queen of heaven!" says the king, making the sign of the cross between his eyes, and falling down on his knees before the saint; "is it the great Saint Kavin," says he, "that I've been discoursing all this time without knowing it," says he, "all as one as if he was a lump of a _gossoon_?--and so you're a saint?" says the king.
"I am," says Saint Kavin.
"By Jabers, I thought I was only talking to a dacent boy," says the king.
"Well, you know the difference now," says the saint. "I'm Saint Kavin," says he, "the greatest of all the saints.".
And so the king had his goose as good as new, to divert him as long as he lived: and the saint supported him after he came into his property, as I told you, until the day of his death--and that was soon after; for the poor goose thought he was catching a trout one Friday; but, my jewel, it was a mistake he made--and instead of a trout, it was a thieving horse-eel; and instead of the goose killing a trout for the king's supper--by dad, the eel killed the king's goose--and small blame to him; but he didn't ate her, because he daren't ate what Saint Kavin had laid his blessed hands on.
In closing our post for the day, here's a classic Irish song that little kids love!
Of course, Patisserie Ducubo in the film is in the modern times, not Victorian, and it's in Belgium (well, they speak French there, kids). But ((SPOILER ALERT)) you may have heard that Belgium is the chocolate capital of the world. Need I say more? (Now you know why Napoleon invaded.) Enjoy! Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day. But if you've got no Valentine this year, don't worry ~ chocolate loves you. And so do we. :)
Looks like "G" when she's trying to help me with yard work. Sometimes it's easier to just do it myself, ha ha.
G: Hey! I heard that. :P
So there you have it! That's how the Victorians kept, well...sort of, warm.
We thought this might be a good time to share some of the neat facts we learned about surviving in arctic conditions while we were researching for JAKE AND THE GINGERBREAD WARS. It was a tricky challenge to make the North Pole landscape believable, but not soooo realistic, like to the extreme of having Jake and the gang quickly freeze to death. A sudden and tragic end to the series!
That would not have been very Christmassy for a Christmas novella, methinks.
So, boys and girls, if you find yourself stuck in a snowy wasteland, first, hope that you don't run into any hungry yetis. Then follow these little tips if you want to survive. Here's a quick recap of Arctic Survival Tips from veteran Expedition Director Pen Hadow, from an article that originally appeared on CNN.com. (Original article here.)
* Wear layers - especially on your hands and feet. Keep your face covered up.
* Bring a dog and flares called "bear bangers" to ward off polar bears. The dog will smell a bear in the area before you will, then you can deploy the bear bangers to scare the bear away before he has you for lunch. (Not something I'd personally like to test!)
* Eat candy and high-calorie yummies like macadamia nuts. Well, ok, if I must. :) In the Arctic, Hadow says an adult needs to consume a recommended 5000-6000 calories a day (compared to the average 2000 calories a day) because the cold makes your body burn so much fuel.
* Don't step on black ice. If it's black that means it's thin, but gray ice is OK to walk on.
* Never travel alone, and bring a GPS.
Still not convinced you're going to make it out alive? Yeah, maybe we still need a little more training... [Video credit to the Survival Information Channel on YouTube.]
Hello Everybody! Well, this week I learned something new, something I'll bet some of you kids out there probably knew already. This was my major newsflash:
THERE ARE NO PENGUINS IN THE ARCTIC!!!
Hold the phone!
No, don't call Al Gore, that's not a global warming thing, that's just normal. Go figure!! Penguins are South Pole creatures only (well, except for zoos). And get this - polar bears are North Pole animals only, so a penguin and a polar bear could never meet in Nature.
Which is definitely good news for the penguin.
Imagine my surprise. Yes, I was researching something about whales, actually, when I just happened to stumble across a side mention of penguins only living in Antarctica.
Well, oh, SNAP, I thought, we just put penguins in the North Pole in JAKE AND THE GINGERBREAD WARS. So, I figured we had better own up to our mistake before we start getting hate mail from offended penguins everywhere.
Of course, most penguins aren't usually trained to serve dinner as waiters or answer doors as little butlers, either, so I think in a fantasy-based story, we can probably get away with it. Just wanted to share. But as it turns out, January is an excellent time to be talking about penguins, because January 20th is....wait for it....PENGUIN AWARENESS DAY.
I kid you not. Yeah, I know. You thought January was all about New Year's resolutions and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Well, think again, coz! We are T minus 10 to Penguin Awareness Day. Better start making your plans...
So, what do people do on Penguin Awareness Day? Well, according to Holiday Insights, (one of my favorite fun websites out there), they dress up in black and white in honor of penguins everywhere. Very snazzy. *g* Actually, this is a rather timely topic, since most of us felt like penguins here in the US with the "Polar Vortex" gusting through. Brrrrr!
On a more serious note, because, yes, I do realize this is a Very Silly Blog Post (it's Friday), here's a link to a very interesting article that ran a couple weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal, called SEE GROWNUPS READ, by Alexandra Alter. It's about the kinds of books we love ~ and what we write! ~ novels that are technically classed as "middle grade" but are actually for all ages.
Here's a fascinating quote about how popular these kinds of books are right now with adults as well as kids. Frankly, Eric and I had no idea our genre was this hot. We just write it because we love, love, LOVE everything about it. But apparently it's all the kick, as Jake would say. Check out this quote from Ms. Alter's article:
"Middle-grade books have become a booming publishing category, fueled in part by adult fans who read "Harry Potter" and fell in love with the genre. J.K. Rowling's books, which sold more than 450 million copies, reintroduced millions of adults to the addictive pleasures of children's literature and created a new class of genre-agnostic reader who will pick up anything that's buzzy and compelling, even if it's written for 8 year olds. Far from being an anomaly, "Harry Potter" paved the way for a new crop of blockbuster children's books that are appealing to readers of all ages. Recent hits include Rick Riordan's mythology-tinged fantasy books, which have sold have sold some 35 million copies; Rachel Renee Russell's "Dork Diaries," which has 13 million copies in print; and Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," which has sold more than 115 million copies."
To which I say: Holy Guacamole. Now that's something to dance about.
Great writers of the past like Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, Jack London, and Oscar Wilde did not write for one narrow "market segment," but for everybody. Even Jane Austen did not write "romances" for a strictly female audience, but for all ages and both sexes: Witness the dedication to HRH George, the Prince Regent, who was one of her biggest fans. (He kind of insisted on having her book dedicated to him, but that's 19th c. royalty for you. *g*) Anyway, I thought you might enjoy the article.