Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Deer in the Graveyard at 16th Street

Just published: https://peekingcatpoetry.co.uk/kathryn-atwood-2

I know the deer who were immortalized :) in the above poem survived being chased because I was able to film them about a year later. Only one appears in the video below, but as you can see, she keeps looking back towards her sister:


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Ode to a Cold Snap

Just published!

My brother's cool video illustrates line four very well. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Harry Potter and the Clue of the Screeching Owl: Harry Potter Characters in a Hardy Boys Setting (4)

Ron was sitting alone with a huge bag of popcorn in one hand, a bag of peanuts in the other, and a frothy cloud of pink cotton candy between his knees. He didn’t notice his friends entering the tent, partly because the frothy cloud of pink cotton candy was blocking his side view, but also because what he was looking at. It was a man in a cage—Harry assumed he was the aforementioned Colonel Bill Thunder--dressed in a white shirt, white riding breeches, and shining black boots. He had thick dark hair, a mustache…well, you get the picture: tall, dark, handsome, a whip in his hand. And there were four large black panthers on chairs before him.

“That’s animal cruelty!” cried Hermione, as she sat down next to Ron, who was so startled that he promptly spilled half his popcorn on a burly tattooed man seated in front of him. The man turned around with a surly expression while Ron, terrified, pointed to Hermione.

“I’m sorry, sir, that you were showered with popcorn, but that”, she said, pointing to the cage before them, “that is animal cruelty, plain and simple. These beasts weren’t intended to be whipped and trained for our entertainment. Their destiny is to be free and wild, their sleek coats gleaming in the occasional spots of sun in the rainforests of southeast Asia where they tend to be at the top of the food chain.”

Harry immediately understood that Hermione had done a lot of reading long before Hogwarts a History had become her favorite book.

The tattooed man stared at Hermione. Harry took her arm, thinking that his friend needed to get out of there fast. Then the man’s eyes filled with tears. His bottom lip began to tremble.

“Never heard ‘nuffin so beautiful in all my life” he blubbed. “Those cats should be— how did you say it, Miss? I want this tattooed on my ankle. Harry looked at the man’s heavily tattooed legs. His ankles were the only part of his legs that were free of ink.

The burly man took out a pen and a notebook.

“What was the part about them bein’ wild and free…?”

“free and wild” corrected Hermione, “their sleek coats gleaming in—”

“Wait, not so fast. Wild…and…free”

“Their sleek coats gleaming---”


Fascinating as this interchange was, Harry’s attention was turned to the cage. One of the panthers looked like he was going to jump on the trainer whose back was turned.

“ ‘eww be kiwed!” shrieked Ron, who jumped up, spilling the remains of the popcorn, peanuts, and cotton candy all over the burly man’s open notebook.

“Sorry, sir” said Ron, “but the panther! Look at the panther!”

Colonel Bill Thunder heard Ron’s voice and turned around just in time. He snapped his whip in the panther’s face, missing contact but scaring the beast enough that it jumped back onto its chair, snarling, hatred in its eyes.

The crowd broke into wild applause. Hermione stood up and looked around furiously. So did the burly tattooed man.

“You lot should all be ashamed of yerselves” the man cried. "Them beasts,” he said, pointing to the cage while reading from his notebook, “should be free and wild, their sleek coats gleaming in the occasional spots ‘o sun in the rainforests ‘o southeast Asia where they tend to be…”

But the three friends didn’t stay to hear the rest of the speech that had the crowd, as well as Colonel Bill, dumbstruck. Ron and Harry pulled Hermione out by one arm as she waved to the burly man with the other.

Part One (which contains links to the other posts). 

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Harry Potter and the Clue of the Screeching Owl: Harry Potter characters in a Hardy Boys setting (3)

Harry and Hermione jumped into the back seat and the car took off with Ron in the driver’s seat.

“Bloody ehw!” screamed Ron as he swerved the car out of the way of a flock of flying horses. They only came out on cloudy days so they wouldn’t be seen by the muggles below.

He had to descend quickly to avoid hitting then. But straight ahead was a mountain. There was no time to pull up.

“AHHHHHHHH!” screamed Ron and Harry. “Eviscerate!” cried Hermione, pointing her wand at the mountain.

The mountain before them crumbled and tumbled into the valley below, leaving a path for the car.

“Oops” said Hermione, as she saw the villagers below running for their lives.

“Avalanche Leviosa!” The rocks all hung in space while the villagers watched, dumbstruck.

“Mons Repairo!” The rocks all fell upwards and the mountain, now far beneath them, was just as it had been before they started messing with it.

Pointing her wand towards the dumbstruck villagers, Hermione shouted, “Obliviate!” The villagers, who now seemed quite small from the car, looked at each other for a moment as if they were wondering why they were all standing there. Then they went back to their work.

“A little underage magic there, eh, Hermione?” smiled Harry

“We would have been killed, Harold.” She was apparently still miffed, more so because she was breaking school and ministry rules, which she never felt comfortable doing. This brings up the obvious question as to why she spent so much time with Harry and Ron since they rarely followed rules of any kind. 

“So what does the letter say, exactly?” Harry asked Hermione, whose arms were folded tightly and whose face expressed a combination of humiliation and rage.

Harry wasn’t as interested in the contents of the letter as he was in putting Hermione in a better mood. She was always the first to raise her hand in class and loved when the teachers called on her to read aloud.  Harry and Ron needed Hermione on their side and Harry thought a request to read might do the trick. It worked.

Hermione pulled out the letter. “Dear Arthur”, she read, in a tone that sounded almost upbeat, “There have been some funny goings-on around Black Hollow. Look into it.”

She put the letter down, with a slightly disappointed look on her face, as if she wished it had been longer.

“Funny?” called Ron from the front seat, as he swerved to avoid another flock of flying horses. “Funny as in jokes? Or funny as in weird?”

“I would think the latter, Ron” said Hermione.

Harry smiled. It was Ron and not Ronald. Things were back to normal.  

“That town up ahead, Ron,” said Harry, “the one in the crater. Could that be Black Hollow?”

“It’s not a crater, Harry” corrected Hermione. “We’re not at war or on the moon. It’s called a hollow when a piece of land is lower than that which surrounds it. See how it’s much lower than those woods?”

"Looks like a good place to leave the car" said Ron, descending the car, making shre no muggles were watching. "Sincerely ‘ope there are no spiders in there."

“Why, Ron?” asked Harry, as they walked into the clearing. 

Ron stopped and scratched his head. “Not sure.”

As they neared Black Hollow, they saw, arising from the midst of the crater, a huge Ferris wheel.

“Blimey!” shouted a smiling Ron. “It’s a carnival! I love carnivals! I can smell the popcorn from here!”

He ran towards the smell, his friends tailing him, begging him to slow down. But Ron, if a bit thick, was a very fast runner, and soon Hermione and Harry were poking their heads into every carnival tent, looking up at every ride to see if Ron was riding the “Whip”, the “Octopus” or if he was soaring high on the enormous Ferris wheel.

They finally found him inside a tent labeled “Colonel Bill Thunder: Fearless Animal Trainer.”

Friday, January 4, 2019

Harry Potter and the Clue of the Screeching Owl: Harry Potter characters in a Hardy Boys Setting (2)

Ron led them to a shed behind the house and opened the door.

“It’s Dad’s muggle car.”

“Didn’t the ministry fine your dad 50 galleons for bewitching his muggle car last year” asked Hermione, looking around nervously, as if the minister of magic might appear at any moment. (Read book three to find out what sort of adventures the two friends had the previous year with a flying muggle car, a carnivorous tree, a hippogriff, and loads of other stuff. I don’t want to slow down this nascent plot with those details at this point. You’ll like it, I promise. If you don’t, then you don’t like Harry Potter and you certainly won’t like the rest of my story either.)

“I’s one’s not bewitched” said Ron. His lowbrow accent had sunk even lower since the trio had befriended Hagrid, the friendly, kind, and unusually large Hogwarts games keeper who lived in a smelly one-room shack near the school. “I’s up to us three to do that.”

Hermione looked as if she was about to say something about underage magic. Ron cut her off before she could open her mouth.  

“Don’t be such a spoiled sport, ‘Ermione” he said. “it’s only 11:00 and Dad won’t be back from the ministry until supper. We have plenty of time to put some spells on this car and then take them off again. Course, you’ll ‘ave to ‘elp us with the spell part seeing that ‘Arry and I never study.”

“Wait a minute, Ron” said Harry. “I thought you didn’t want an adventure until we have to save the school again?”

“We’re not saving the school, ‘Arry” Ron said, winking. “We’re jus ‘aving a bit o’ fun.”

“Brilliant” said Harry, grinning from ear to ear.

“But, Ron; your parents.” Hermione’s face was terror stricken. She was an only child who had been careful to never give her Muggle parents a moment of concern.

“Don’t worry, ‘Ermione” said Ron. I know Dad secretly wants me to do this. “Ave a look.”

He proudly pulled a letter out of a book he had been hiding under his shirt. The letter was on ministry letterhead addressed to Mr. Weasley, telling him that there had been some “odd goings-on around White Hollow”, a distinctly non-magical place about three miles away. Since Arthur Weasley lived the closest of anyone else in the Ministry of Magic to White Hollow, he had been asked to ”look into it.”

“But why don’t you let your father take care of it, Ron?” asked Harry.

“He slipped it into one of my books. I know he wanted me to see it.”

“Let me see that book” said Hermione, grabbing it from Ron’s hand.

“This is MY book, Ronald.”

Ron scratched his head. No one said a word for several long, uncomfortable moments.

Harry broke the silence. “Does anyone have a wand?”

“’Ere’s mine” said Ron, triumphantly. He pulled what used to be a wand out of his back pocket. It was now in three pieces.

This had happened to Ron before (see book two).

Ron was ashen-faced. “Must ‘have broken when I took my tumble down the stairs.”

“Bloody hell” said Hermione.

Ron and Harry stared at her.

“Isn’t there a spell that brings stuff to you?” Harry asked.

“Yes, Harold” said Hermione. She was beyond imperious at this point. The boys could tell because she always called Harry Harold when she’d crossed the line.  “But we’re not supposed to use magic, remember? I’ll go back into the house and get mine.”

As they waited, Harry could feel someone’s eyes watching them. He looked up to the window next to Ron’s and saw a ginger head with two piercing blue eyes and one smug smile. He poked Ron, motioning to the window with his eyes.  They book looked up to the window. Above the head was a prefect badge which seemed to be polishing itself with a rag. On closer observation, Harry could see a wand moving in slight circles that matched the movement of the rag. The badge, the hair, eyes, and smile all belonged to Percy, Ron’s brother who nobody in the family liked because he didn't have a sense of humor and was a chronic tattle-tale. He was a few years older than Ron and could use magic outside of school but he generally used it for boring things like folding his clothes and popping his pimples. Percy knew how much Ron loved the muggle car and hoped that the famous trio might do something reportable.

“Now what?” sighed Ron, nodding to the window as Hermione returned with her wand.

“Prefect Badge Runaway-us” said Hermione, waving her wand behind her back. Suddenly Percy’s prefect badge disappeared. His head did too, and the trio could hear the clattering of footsteps followed by Mrs. Weasley’s shrill voice and then the sound of someone tumbling down the stairs and screaming in pain.

“Now!” said Ron. The three friends rushed into the shed.

“Automobile-us Carpe Diem!” cried Hermione, waving her wand at the car.

“Never learned that one in school” muttered Ron to a grinning Harry.”

“You never learned anything in school, Ronald” Hermione retorted.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Looking Glass Bookstore in Oak Park

I've been wanting to write up a little opinion piece on this store for the longest time and finally did so last month. Read it here.